Posts

Start Here : Explanations

Image
  Section One is about the blog and how to use it.  Section Two   is bike routes, maps and notes. Section One  The dictionary defines 'pootle' as 'to move somewhere slowly and with no real purpose'. This isn't a diary or (usually) a diatribe. Rather, it is a home for: * My collection of  bike routes in the countryside outside N & W London.  * A  gallimaufry of notes. Some provide context on history and landscapes for the bike route and others are simply things about offbeat places and that interest me.  The format  is configured primarily for reading on a phone so  brevity is (usually) my lodestar. One result is inconsistent formatting between platforms, and typos are almost my trademark, but at least it proves I am not using AI!  Everything will always be 'work in progress' and I do this to enjoy it and grant myself a dispensation to  digress, widely, frequently and pointlessly and to update older stuff when I get around to it. I am not treating walkin

Parliament Square

Image
  The stone figures in Trafalgar Square and down Whitehall are mostly little-known military men and Kings who are probably better forgotten. In contrast, those in Parliament Square are more recent, better known, often more lifelike and fresher in our collective memory. I have to start with.... Churchill (of course)  Winnie was voted  Britain’s greatest man in  a 2002 BBC poll . Hmm. Maybe. While people at the time acknowledged his talents as a leader in wartime, They were sceptical about whether his views and character would suit the peace thereafter.  As soon as the war was over he called an election, which he lost in a landslide to Clement Attlee' s progressive and reforming government. In this politically correct world it is inevitable that he scores black marks, He was a reactionary and a racist, but at the time many were. Not modest either, he is where he is because that is the spot where, in life, he dictated where his statue should be and it isn’t the original which was th

Monarchs & Miscellanea

Image
 Now that the monarchy is a toothless institution most of us like it or tolerate it contentedly enough. But when the King or Queen played a more pivotal role in Government, the issue of their attitude and aptitude was central to the national story. There are three Kings remembered on Trafalgar Square and merit doesn’t seem to have played a part in their selection.      Charles 1st  To the south of Square, marooned by traffic on the little roundabout is  Charles 1 st   an S man on an XXL horse. Brains are no correlate of wisdom. Charles, no dope, was encumbered by a rigid belief in his divine right to be boss and made no pretence to be a man of the people. That was tricky because many of those people didn't like autocracy and had a similarly fixed suspicion that he wanted to re-introduce Catholic practices into what was then a protestant country. Cue a Civil War between his supporters and those who followed Parliament. An estimated 4% of the British English population perished, twic

Military Men

Image
What does Trafalgar Square mean to you? Maybe it's the Christmas Tree gifted by Norway every year. Maybe it is the fountains or nostalgia for Britain in its pomp.  A visit is certainly more pleasant than it used to be when, if the traffic didn't get you, the pigeons would. Thank you ex-Mayor Ken Livingstone for rerouting some of the former and banning the sale of feed which attracted the latter. Enjoy the space, the fountains and the grand buildings around it. Compared with the ugliness of Leicester Square. This is the architectural muddle that is London at its glorious best, the phallocentric school of  grand  urban space planning.   Then look again, once you have cricked your neck gazing up at Nelson, take a closer  look at this n ational mantlepiece  with the rest of its array of  nicely contrived monarchic and imperial mementoes dating back to the time when this was a stage for the glorification of the military and ask, who? And why? Is it because they are part of the story

Mapping Apps Review

Image
Some Revisions. March 2024.  For years I used the excellent 'Viewranger' app for maps and planning trips but this disappeared into the vortex of global capitalism and re-emerged, much changed, as part of Outdooractive, a German company with international aspirations.  I have searched far and wide for a better replacement, applying three main criteria namely whether the free versions: Gave you good quality maps, preferably usable offline,  Allowed me to upload my routes and for you to access them.  Would import my detailed notes on interesting or entertaining places on the routes.  This wasn’t straightforward mostly because my needs will probably be different from yours as a user and my experience is muddied but also because I am a paying user of some of the apps and not others.  Starting at the end, my conclusion was that, compared to Viewranger, they were all inferior, imperfect and irritating.  Two major issues for me were: They want to subjugate your ideas about where you