03 May 2009

Cycle round the world... in London

British cyclist James Bowthorpe is currently zooming round the world trying to break the record for the fastest cycle circumnavigation: 18,000 miles in 150 days at 120 miles a day.

But we prefer to measure cycling trips in experiences rather than mileage. Somehow, yesterday, it took us seven hours to bike the 500 yards between breakfast (at the excellent Madeira cafe near Vauxhall railway station) and dinner (at the excellent German bar Zeitgeist).

If there were a cycling equivalent of air miles we wouldn't even qualify for the key ring. But it was the perfect London cycling day in many ways: cosmopolitan, quirky, cultural, sociable, with lots of interesting stuff to do and eat but with small leisurely distances in between.

We did go to other places in between, of course.

The Bicycle Belles photography 'exhibition' at Clapham Library, for example, only to find it was the size of our toilet corkboard.

A completely unsignposted secret Middle Eastern bakery in a unit in an industrial estate in Battersea: it's wholesale, but with a smile they'll sell you a huge plateful of gorgeous fresh baklava, that would be a tenner in the shops, for two quid.

A photo exhibition of East Germany pre- and post-Wall, Ortszeit, at the Goethe Institute.

A long lazy trundle round Hyde Park, home of London's boskiest postbox (above right) and the secret Victorian Pet Cemetery (right) where headstones commemorate cats and dogs and hamsters blithely called Wisp and Pluto and Sambo (and other even less politically sensitive names; it's closed but you can peek through the fence).

And finally that German bar. Shamefully, the council provides no bike parking anywhere nearby. But this bar is a little bit of Germany in Lambeth, and they invited us to wheel our bikes through the bar to the beer garden at the back. A hearty Bavarian dinner, a pint or two of Reinheitsgebot, banter with the jokey young German professionals watching the big-screen Bundesliga. If you're interested in German football, I think the result was 2-0.

So beat that, James: Portugal for breakfast, Lebanon for lunch, Germany for dinner. And we were home by seven.


  1. If you were home from dinner by 7 you must have been in America - so make that four countries.
    Does the Ortszeit exhibition include Dresden?

  2. Yes it does.

    And guess what? If you do a Google search on 'boskiest', the very top page that comes up which uses the word naturally (that is, not a page using the word simply to define or explain it) is this one, at No. 19.

  3. Do you know where that Middle Eastern bakery is in Battersea?