Archive for April, 2009


April 30, 2009

Christianity is the main religion in England. Protestants and Catholics live and work next to each other. The Chapel, Church and Cathedral were focal points of communities. The Dead were placed just outside. The Chapel, Church and Cathedrals of England were built to The Glory of God. Norfolk and Suffolk have the most churches because of Wool Industry wealth, and the longevity of local stone and chalk flints.
The Suffolk linear town of Debenham has all the roofs thatched and each manor house has a moat. These are 17th century houses and some of the first brick buildings in England. Chidham Peninsula southern loop road adjacent houses are all thatched nearly. Walsingham is a shrine in North Norfolk. There are cathedrals in (all) English Cities like London, Cantebury, York, Durham, Carlisle, Newcastle, Liverpool, Winchester, Ely and Salisbury. Read Nicholas Pevsner illustrated books on the Buildings of England. Henry VIII destroyed many abbeys and churches as Tynemouth and Rievaulx Abbey Ruins Yorkshire. Some were sacked by The Vikings as on Lindisfarne.

Obviously do not cycle on hallowed ground. Show respect. Locking a bicycle in remote English villages whist visiting a church yard is Your Own Judgement.

Middle England

April 29, 2009

Middle England is not a part of the country physically but a fictional concept which describes ordinary people in England. Discretion, modesty and understatement are badges of Middle England worn like Cub Scout or Brownie.

PLU is key. (People Like Us).

Uniformity, despite a Cult of Individualism. Middle England are hard at work from the very start to get their children and comunities educated to prosper under the aegis of Church and the Fear of God. Organised Sports help cement Middle England communities further. Middle England is Protestant mainly. The more south the more Middle English, the more conservative and self contained. Most large English towns and cities will have a district or set of towns which are Middle English. Wealth is made in the large cities and towns but lived out in Christian communities around the village green.

Middle England cyclists can be spotted easily. If they are older may have cycles kept in their garage since they were at University. They may have lots of equipment, even a cycle stand. Sometimes you see a Tandem.


April 29, 2009

English cities were transformed and modernised after the 1950’s involving the introduction of retail shopping centres which descended on cities dominating access and removing vistas. Cities photographed in black and white were really black with coal dust until cleaned in the 1960s. Industrial pollution caused it to rain on cities more, hence the wet hue of many photographs then. Birds, flocks of starlings, were frightened away. Signage changed technically. Trams became obsolete. Swathes of central area houses and shops in burgage plots were demolished. Shopping now indoors, not cold, not rained on. These cities were Liverpool, Coventry, Birmingham, Manchester, Derby, Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford and others. Some pockets remain in most cities, but a natural organic form has disappeared along with homogenous views. The planned capture and circulation of consumers is to blame for this. Efficient consumer palaces are co-ordinated with distribution and transport. So when cycling in England lock your bicycle and visit a bookshop to see how cities were.

Large iconic industrial structures are rare but a train journey from Middlesborough to Redcar passes still active steel mills and blast furnaces. Redcar is a resort with a wide beach within an industrial landscape. Canal towpaths, and rivers offer a view on most surviving industrial buildings. Many are derelict warehouses. Power station cooling towers, located on rivers, are visible across Yorkshire and The Midlands. Other industrial sites are visible mainly from Birmingham.

Visit St. Pancras railway station and other London stations for grand Victorian and modern station buildings.

Technology means that factories and warehouses are anonymous silver boxes. Little or no virtue or experiment has been attempted to make factories look like bunkers or anything other than functional, with exceptions like the Rolls Royce Factory and The National Space Centre in North Leicester. Miniturisation and technology do not require ornate buildings.

Wolverhampton South West

April 27, 2009

There are two main political parties in England: The Conservative Party and The Labour Party. Geographically the heartlands of these are The Conservatives occupying The Home Counties and Rural Areas, Labour the Inner Cities. Both have drifted to The Centre due to Prosperity. There is a strong link with Little England, The Protestant Church and The Scout Movement but not openly. There is a feeling that Politics in England will drift to the right and the The Conservatives will ascend into power soon. The English tend to follow and vote for what is right for the times. There is little to see from a bicycle of British Politics except The Houses of Parliament.

Far Right Parties are marginalised by the English distaste for Violence and Fascism, but Immigration and Unemployment may swing polite Middle England towards The Left or Right. However very big changes may be not far away, but this might mean just a General Election. The Silent Majority have strong local if not nationalistic views, which rarely find expression in Polite English Politics.

As a cycling tourist this is likely not spoil holidaymakers enjoyment. As some distressing wars are gathering around the world due to water shortages and overpopulation England, on the ground will appear much the same.

London Underground

April 25, 2009

The London Underground narrows in the east as London squeezes up against the meandering River Thames. The City Square Mile is intensely served by transport systems like a computer Central Processor Unit. Revenue generated in London part redistributed to The Provinces. Without London Underground, London would function only crudely, many more having to cycle to work. Without London England would be more like a Scandanavian country or Spitzbergen.(tbc)

The British Isles

April 24, 2009



April 24, 2009


April 24, 2009

Artists in the 1930’s were deployed designing camoflague for warships or as with Joan Eardley and Stanley Spencer, painting Glasgow shipyard workers building warships. Noel Coward and Lawrence Olivier, personal friends of Winston Churcill made propaganda films. At midnight Churchill walked from under the 3 meter thick concrete slab under The Treasury, which covered The War Rooms, across Green Park shadowed by agents, to a disused Underground station between Green Park station and Piccaddily station. A diagonal subterranean tunnel also linked these two. Sir Norman Wisdom was his telephonist. He then had a drink with Coward, Olivier and Keiron Bracken a young Irish MP and founder of The Financial Times. Olivier’s film Henry V was a propaganda film. The luxury of culture distilling independently on an island for thousands of years is shown in these films and paintings. England under Elizabeth I was a Golden Age where theatre and language flourished and tiny England became influential. The English Channel, 20 odd miles wide at Dover was enough to keep out The Spanish Inquisition and Napoleon. Visit the Martello Towers, round forts on The English South Coast between Suffolk, Essex, Kent and Sussex and elsewhere, constructed to repulse Napoleon. See also France, Canada and Ireland.(tbc). There are also large forts at Portsmouth and The Thames Estuary. However, foreigners say the English are degenerate: Travelling Dover to Calais on the ferry this might appear so. The local explanation is fishing towns are interbred. Its amazing how fit and healthy the French look, though.


April 24, 2009

Shakespeare lived in Deptford. a South East London inner suburb. If William Shakespeare was Italian as is alleged it would be no co-incidence since Deptford is on a Roman Road to Dover and the Roman Empire beyond across the English Channel.
Deptford is not a well-to-do district but an ordinary London High Street. There is is little to see of William Shakespeare in places. His legacy is in plays, in yourself and the character and plots of people you know. You are Henry V. She is Richard III. Timing is everything. Try and see Hamlet or Macbeth al fresco on a Cambridge college lawn in summer. The college buildings are perfect backdrops. The actors are the best in the country and the costumes add to the suspension of disbelief.

The Home Counties

April 23, 2009

Flags are an artform in themselves. The older and more simple a flag the more resonance it has with the observer. One or two colours have more impact. Red may be linked with The Blood Of Battlefield. Time passing, romanticising and detatchment mean that shapes and colours are reduced to Symbolism. England within Europe identifies more towards the English flag now. Men and women are more patriotic in England than anywhere else but celebrating St. George’s Day would be too overt for them. Flying a flag on a bicycle might be seen as excentric.