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Friday, 29 July 2011

Welsh Bicknor

Time seems to be flying by quicker than I had imagined it could. So far we have worked our way up all the way from lands end to welsh bicknor.

We've raced a girl on a horse, fixed several punctures, been to bike shops more often than I ever thought possible.

Tonight was a particular high point. After a day which became much harder than anticipated, due to bike failure and directions (from CTC) that didn't match the road layout, we arrived back to find another fine spread prepared by Richard. He'd already taken Neil to the bike shop when we had to phone him to drive back and get a breakdown. Before you could blink he'd prepared dinner, entrees and beer.

After a dinner in the courtyard we peeled off to sort out kit. Shortly after in the dying embers of the day we played music together quietly.

A beautiful end to a lovely day.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

What a way to start...

Three days in, some very sore undercarriages (must buy cream), and miles and miles of Cornish and Devonian hills left behind us, but nothing yet here about our first two gigs, a pair of rip-snorting affairs to announce the arrival of Buskers on Bikes and their very stupid tour of Britain...

First up, Sunday, the Star Inn in St Just, and what an incredible way to kick things off... Photos to follow (apologies - these are the vagaries of living life on the road!), but suffice to say that there were moments when the whole BoB crew considered jacking the whole thing in and nestling in the arms of this perfect boozer for the next two and a half weeks. As it was, good sense prevailed, despite the numerous offers of pints of incredibly good ale... We kicked off, a little tentatively at first, with five or six songs and then left it to the St Just locals to show us how it was done. We were even treated to a spot of Cornish dancing; and as the beer started to flow more freely, so did the willingness of the whole pub to bellow along with each song. Special mention must go Giovvana on the violin, part of a trio singing Cornish songs and leading mass singsongs; Graham with his rousing rendition of 'Blackbird'; and Eddie the Snake and his didgeridoo (yes, really). BoB, by this time in their stride, finished things off with a bang and regretfully packed the van up and waved a fond farewell to possibly the greatest pub in Cornwall, and definitely the greatest clientele... A huge, huge thank you to Jonny, Julia and Louise, not only for being so generous in handing over their pub to a complete bunch of strangers, but also for being so generous in running a raffle and giving, along with the rest of the pub, incredible donations to set the BoB buckets on their way with a healthy jangle. What a place.

What could equal that? Well, nowhere we thought, until we pitched up in the Warren House Inn just outside of Postbridge on Dartmoor last night (Tuesday). A very different affair in the sense that we'd just completed an arduous (but immensely beautiful) ride across the last of the Cornish Hills, through Plymouth, and then into the long climbs of Dartmoor. So we arrived just a little jaded; but it was nothing that a pint of Butcoomb ale and an incredible welcome couldn't fix. The Warren House Inn will always be remembered in BoB circles for the roaring fire burning brightly even in the height of British summertime; apparently, it hasn't been allowed to go out for the past 160 years. An absolutely wonderful tradition, but one that the Bobbers took a little while to get used to, particularly as we set up with our backs to the roaring inferno to kick things off. A bit of a shuffle to the set list tonight, but another cracking evening with a packed pub and another bunch of people more than happy to stet involved in a bit of a singalong. In fact, there's been plenty of discussion about building in a few more bellow-slings; 'Come up and See Me', 'Walk of Life' (with a great whistle-along) and, yes, 'Postman Pat' all seemed to go down a treat. A fantastic evening, another fantastic place... Massive thank you to Janet for her support and for staging a particularly fruitful raffle. We want to come back. Please.

Next up, tonight, at the Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter. Bring it on... More news to follow...

Monday, 25 July 2011

Arrival at St Just

'The buffet car is still open despite the attendant falling and cutting his head open.' I might give the sandwiches a miss then. Thankfully I'd come snack prepared.

The trackside signage has been giving me an insight into country life. 'Scats country supplies' for example. 'Mitchell and webber garage' is less helpful.

'But you do drugs mummy' piped the child in the seat behind. 'shhh!'

As we approach the youth hostel we descend into thick fog. A stark contrast to the sunny Penzance I must say. Biscuits, tea and a massive tuna sandwich later and we start to prepare for gig number one.

(A vocal warm-up to johnny cash in the van through the fog to the star inn in st just.)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

And we're off...

After months of planning and weeks of scheming it is finally the day of reckoning. Actually that's tomorrow, but the day before the day of reckoning doesn't scan well.

My bike and gear is stowed in the van with Brian and Warren, and I am tucked into my dinky seat on the train to Penzance.

I am nervous and more excited than I've been since Christmas in 1983 when I was getting a Bmx. That was bike related too.

Watching Brian meticulously packing the van like a slow but giant game of tetris cheered me enormously. We all have different skills and abilities . Some of us know them already, and some of us are going to find out along the way.

Here's to each and every member of BOB. I am so pleased that you are all coming and I can't think of a nicer bunch of people to do this with.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Bags are packed, ready to go

Yes, that pile in the middle of the living room floor is my luggage. Earlier today I dropped my bike and instruments off at Brian's and then proceeded to fill my bag with all the bits I forgot to take there! I will look a bit silly walking around Paddington station with a bike lock, helmet, water bottles and cancer research buckets strapped to my rucksack, but at least people will be able to spot a busker on bike on his way to Land's End.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Twitter/Facebook song of the day...

Head over to to our facebook page or @buskersonbikes on twitter for our song of the day. We will be posting a song that we will be playing on our epic journey each and every day we can (probably until Sophie takes over the the driving!)

From the archive...

So, with a matter of days to go, I thought I'd purge my phone of a few photos that have been waiting to see the light of day for a little while now (and one more very recent one, taken at what the NME is calling 'the debut of the decade' - our gig on Monday night at the Abbey Tavern).

As you can see, unbeknownst to the group, I've actually opened up a BoB retail outlet just behind Carnaby Street. Now that all the papers have been signed, and the rights to our name and the profits to all our activities passed over to me, I feel I can go public. In fact, there's very little anyone else in the group can do about it. But I am looking for a few people to work in the shop on a Saturday morning (at a very competitive, minimum-wage rate) to flog the various BoB-branded goods, including tea cosies, tea towels (with my face on them), flip-flops and sticks of rock.

Also, a picture of Dom strumming his heart out at Brian's (we seem to be a little short of pictures of Dom strumming his heart out at rehearsals) and a group ride pic taken somewhere in Hertfordshire.

In other news, my bike is now officially pimped up - puncture-resistant tyres, shiny new clip-in pedals (or whatever they're called) and a full service that has left the beast purring like a kitten. I don't think I've quite yet come to terms with the fact that this - after all the thinking, rehearsing, riding and planning - is actually about to happen. Crikey.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Bob flyers are here!

Today I moved house (as ever my timing is impeccable) and in with my girlfriend Sophie. Yay!

To add to what was an already exciting day I had a couple of Bob related surprises.

The flyers had arrived! very splendid they look too.

(my rain poncho arrived too!)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

BOB Abbey Tavern Videos!!

Ben recorded the following videos at the Abbey Tavern to give you a little taster of the delights coming your way soon!!

The first is a short excerpt from "Mean son of a gun"

The second clip is from "Don't carry it all"

Thanks Ben!!

The first ever BOB gig

Well we just played our first gig. At the Abbey Tavern in Kentish Town. These photos are mostly taken during Simon's set as I had my hands full the rest of the time.
A massive thank you to all our friends and family who turned out it was good way to prepare for the 'Tour'
I managed to laugh into the melodica at one point (to be discouraged in future methinks.)
Bring on the road to Scotland.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Buskers on Bikes interview on Radio Wey by Buskers on Bikes

Via the exciting medium of twitter, a request came in from Jon Andrews to interview us on Radio Wey. A short spurt of organising via modern communication devices and it was a goer. Sophie managed to record it and upload it at the link below.

Buskers on Bikes interview on Radio Wey by Buskers on Bikes

If you want to know more about Radio Wey click here


Jon Andrews has also posted this interview on the following page.

Bob twitter hq

Here is the beating heart of the bob twitter hq. Sophie is managing to use both laptop and iPhone simultaneously as I write this. Hurry and get those tweets out before the apprentice starts!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Rainy day men

Today was a useful examination of what is waterproof in our kit. I think the short answer is not very much, save for Brian's yellow sailor's jacket.

In spite of all the sogginess, it was a good ride today. Reassuring to know wet weather doesn't necessarily equal misery and also, personally, a decent run-out with the clipless pedals before we hit the road proper in a week's time.

I also came to the decision it's definitely time to lose the mudguards. A graceful around-town accessory they may be, but they squeak, rub, get clogged with grit and mud, shake loose and basically get right on my wick. Be gone!

So plenty of learning today and a pleasure riding with everyone once again. Even more pleasurable was ringing my socks out afterwards, a cup of tea at Brian's, a pint at the wonderful Prince of Wales on Cleaver Square on the way home and the mandatory hot shower. Mmmmm. I hope they have plenty of hot water at these youth hostels...

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Clipless pedals

Well today I finally took the plunge and went clipless. I was a little nervous as it's one of those things that seems to be what separates the newbie from the seasoned tourer.

Jonny had just got some before the Cambridge ride and I was more than a little jealous as I struggled with cages and straps...

I went back to Evans in spitalfields as they'd not tried to upsell me when I went in to try the Honky Tonk.
Once we'd established that I mostly commuted but was preparing for the Lejog ride, the assistant suggested as an entry into clipless pedals an mtb shoe and pedal... Mostly so I can get off and walk.
I was initially sceptical until I realised that the 2nd pair of shoes he showed me I had initially thought of as practical town shoes.

Realising I don't normally wear Lycra into east london for fun he offered to fit them, as the bike must be close by (they have an umbrella stand for bikes... Well that's what it looks like). After practicing clipping in and out against a wall I set off. Instant massive improvement. Well happy!

Bring on those hills.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Help with stuff

Even in these hard times, companies that have already spent their budget for marketing have still offered help.
Bike food and shutt have offered help and commented on our unusual approach to the LEJOG.
I hope to take them up on their offers and we'll see how it goes.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Medicine balls and welsh hills

knew it was a good idea to to do the majority of my bike rides on that big ol heavy bike i borrowed from the neighbours!! After 5 months of what seems like cycling with medicine balls today I was able to get used to the new road bike. What a dream it was! those hills (Steep Welsh hills) did not stand a chance! Bring on LEJOG!!!! oh and the good people at bassetts (which is owned by cadburry, which is owned by kraft) will not be sending us boxes upon boxes of jelly babies :(

Also what are we going to do about buying energy food and all that? As we have 45% off at bike food are we going to to make a pot of around £20 each and buy all together or are we going to buy individually?

London to Cambridge by velocipede

Well today Jonny and decided that rather than hang around North London we'd cycle back from Cambridge.

To spice things up I thought I'd bring way too much stuff in a backpack and wear cold weather cycling gear. In keeping with the unspoken theme Jonny decided to bring a little less than he needed for the day.

We learned lots of interesting things today like how to swallow thunderflies, people in country pubs and shops are lovely and that we probably wont be going to club x in herts.

Overall a great day out.