Two Museums

The Museum of London is onre of those places we ought to visit more often. We’ve seen the Roman artefacts before, and the state coaches, but there is a lot more on offer. On one of the lower ground floor, some of the exhibits are from ouyr own lifetime. I visited the then new Post Office Tower in 1966 and I still have the brochure from that visit. It cost 2/6d. They have a copy in this museum.

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Post Office Tower brochure

The London Stone is usually hidden in a cage, at a bank in Cannon Street. While building works are taking place there, the London Stone is being exhibited at the Museum. It’s just a stone, yes, but there are so many stories round it, and it was good to see it close up.

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The London Stone

The other ‘main attraction’ is a small sample of the famous 130-tonne fatberg excvated a couple of years ago from the sewers of London. Not at all photogenic but we were pleased that there was no assault on the olfactory senses.

I used to watch Watch With Mother with my Mum half a century or more ago, and it was great to see some of the puppets here. If I remember correctly, the schedule was:

  • Monday – Picture Book
  • Tuesday – Andy Pandy
  • Wednesday – Bill and Ben
  • Thursday – Rag, Tag and Bobtail
  • Friday – the Woodentops

There’s nothing like seeing your childhood in a museum to make you feel old.

But being a museum exhibit yourself is a whole new experience.

The Museum of Futures in Surbiton is currently hosting the Wheels of Time exhibion, describing the history of cycling in the Royal Borough of Kingston.

This video talks about a couple of local cycling heroes.

Liesel and Mick attended the opening night of the exhibition which was very well attended. Mick’s mugshot is on the wall with a transcript of the interview conducted a couple aof weeks ago, about his experience of using a bicycle for his job as a postman. Snippets of the interview are available to listen to too, and are as embarrassing as you would expect. So embarrassing, I didn’t want to draw attention so I took a few photos with my phone, but not using the flash.

It was interesting to learn that there used to be a couple of tracks in the area, in the very early days of cycle racing.

A second visit is on the cards, not least so I can get some better pictures. If you can, go along and have a laugh at my bits look yourself.

 

Springtime

The first thing I saw when I got up this morning was a spring. On the floor. Ah, a metaphor, I thought, Spring has arrived. And indeed, the sun was out, the sky was blue, it’s significantly warmer than last week and it was quite pleasant to walk around Chessington and Kingston today. spring in bedroomBut it’s a bit worrying, finding a small spring. Where did it come from?

Well, the house continues to fight back against being taken to the knackers’ yard. In our bedroom, there is a built-in wardrobe. One of the doors hasn’t closed properly for years, not since the last time thse doors were painted. There’s a little catch that should click smoothly and keep the door closed. With a bit of a slam, the dried-up paint flaked off, and that door managed to close properly and satisfyingly.

Until today. The little catch has broken. The spring sprung loose and the rest of the plastic must have shattered. I don’t think there’s any way to fix it.

Unlike the stay at the top of the front door. I replaced that, after the estate agent had problems last weekend. So unless there’s (again) a very strong gust of wind, the front door should no longer swing open and bash into the window sill outside the fron room.

Probably tempting fate but the door bell is still working a week or so after I fixed it and sealed it in again, despite the snow and rain. Touch wood.

No more news on the home front.

“Wheels of Time” is an exhibition aiming to document the story of cycling past and present in Kingston upon Thames. An important part of this will be people that cycle as part of their job.

I was invited to be interviewed in my capacity of ex-postman. I used a bike for the job, and they wanted me to talk about it. So I visited Kingston History Centre in Kingston’s Guildhall for the first time where I met Alex, the Heritage Services Officer, and Jarek, who conducted the interview.

I don’t think I slagged off Royal Mail management too much for the decision to replace bicycles with trolleys. Big, fat, red High Capacity Trolleys. But it was fun to talk about why I liked the job using the bike, and not so much with the trolley. The changing nature of the job over the years, especially with regard to online shopping resulting in many more parcels and packets being delivered by Royal Mail, is I think not recognised by most members of the public. And dogs came up. Like the one that didn’t like the noise the bike made. Or the one that didn’t like my helmet.

The exhibition opens towards the end of the month and I’ll put more details up nearer the time. I think this is the first time I’ve potentially been a museum exhibit.

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t cycle into Kingston today: it was quite nice outside but I didn’t want to turn up looking bedraggled, with helmet hair and stinky.

Oh, alright: it was too cold. I’m a wimp. Turning into a fair-weather cyclist.

 

Fairy Tale

 

Once upon a time, there were two beautiful teenage girls, Jenny and Helen.

Their lovely Mum, Sarah, had died and they and their Dad, Mick, were all very sad. One day, Mick said he didn’t think he should have a holiday, but Jenny and Helen thought he deserved a break. They needed a break from him, too.

Jenny and Helen collected together all their pocket money and paid for a holiday. Mick loved to ride his bicycle, so they booked up a week-long cycling holiday in Herefordshire. It was organised by a company called Bicycle Beano, led by Rob and Jane. The food was all vegetarian which was wonderful, and a week of organised rides in the countryside with a couple of dozen other cyclists seemed to be the ideal way to spend time away from the real world. And best of all, there was cake. Lots of cake.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, there lived another beautiful lady, called Liesel. Her father, Klaus, had moved to the USA, and eventually to Alaska, from Germany, when he was a small boy. After retiring, he was organising a meet-up in Germany with some of his extended family, most of whom he hadn’t seen for many years.

Klaus wanted to take his wife and children to Germany too. But Liesel thought that spending that much time in Germany with family that she didn’t really know would be a bit boring. So she booked herself some time off, away from the family. She loved riding her bike and she booked a week-long cycling holiday in England: in Herefordshire to be precise. This cycling holiday run by Rob and Jane from Bicycle Beano. Liesel wasn’t a vegetarian, but was happy to eat veggie food for a week. Especially the cake.

This was the long, hot Summer of 2003.

Mick and Liesel cycled together sometimes, although their cycling styles were totally different. On one occasion, Liesel missed a turning and roared off downhill at a hundred miles an hour. Mick chased, caught her up, and put her back on the correct route.

In the evenings, sitting around the campfire, Mick and Liesel found themselves sitting next to each other and, towards the end of the week, their fingers would sometimes touch.

After the holiday, Mick went home to Chessington and Liesel returned to Alaska. Mick visited her there for the following Christmas.

So, in the end, he had two holidays that year.

In February 2006, two and a half years after first meeting, Mick and Liesel were married. The small ceremony took place on a frozen lake in Anchorage, Alaska. Jenny and Helen were there to witness the event.

They didn’t expect to send their father to come back from a cycling holiday with a step-mother. But that’s exactly what happened.

Mick and Liesel are now grandparents and everyone is living happily ever after!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!