Saturday, 28 November 2009


Today I had a final go at completing my trace of the Hampden cycle route in Buckinghamshire. I rode out to Holmer Green, then worked my way round to South Heath near Great Missenden to join up the parts of the route that I had traced previously (and fix a few of my errors). The village of South Heath, where I finally closed the loop, has already been beautifully mapped on OSM, with a remarkable amount of detail.

There's a network of national, regional and local cycle routes in the area. They interlink and overlap a lot, which doesn't always work out too well when the map is rendered. Most of them are already on OSM, but the odd one is incomplete, so once I had joined up the Hampden route I traced Sustrans regional route 3 from South Heath back into Chesham. It was getting late by then, so riding the 15 miles or so back home in the dark was interesting.

A lot of my route was alongside woodland, and I saw an astonishing number of huge mushrooms. I don't know if this is a particularly good year for them but they were certainly larger and more numerous than I can remember seeing before.

All in all, it was a very pleasant ride of fifty miles or so. Two of the local Buckinghamshire millenium cycle routes should now be complete on OSM, though it will take a few days for them to render. I've still got the last one to finish.

I like the Hampden route for the views and for some pleasant villages, but I think I saw the best of it on my first attempt. That sounds a bit churlish, when I have just ridden through some of the most desirable residential areas in this part of the world. I am sure they are wonderful places to live, and there is certainly a good mix of attractive housing. Just a bit too much on a cycle ride. The mushrooms were more memorable.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Previously on Hampden...

A week or so ago I followed the Hampden Cycle route from Amersham, North through Chesham, then North-West to Chartridge, and Lee Common, then down to Great Missenden and across to Prestwood. I was tracing it to plot on OSM. But after covering three quarters of the route, time ran out, and I bailed out and left the rest for another day. Today was that day.

My brother lives in Cumbria, so I mustn't call the recent weather round here anything worse than "iffy". So, after several days of iffy weather, when the bike was resting in the shed, I decided it was time to bunk off this afternoon and see if I could complete the circuit. I almost made it.

I had planned to go back to Prestwood then work my way anti-clockwise round the last section of the route back to Amersham.

Unfortunately I didn't get away until after lunch. Then after Beaconsfield I realised that I had left my maps at home. I had the GPS, of course, but even with that, navigating to connect up with my vague memory of where the previous effort had left off was going to be a bit hit-and-miss. I though it would be easier to start at Amersham, where the official route begins and ends, then work work anti-clockwise by following the signs round to where I had left off before.

That went fairly well. I picked up the route easily, so I was able to follow the signs without the help of a map. The weather was more-or-less OK. I discovered I was a bit slow, after more than a week off the bike. But I gradually got into my stride (if that's the right term on a bike) and I enjoyed the views. A bit of relaxing exercise didn't do any harm either.

The village houses looked particularly welcoming as it began to get dark and their lights came on. Unfortunately darkness must also have made it increasingly difficult to spot all the signs. I now know that I drifted off the route about a mile from connecting up with my previous effort - so there is still a short gap left to fill.

However, it is getting there. All but a short length of road was already on the map, but the cycle route wasn't, so Iv'e been able to add that. I like the countryside round there. So its no great imposition to have to go back in future and connect things up. A few hours and 40 miles of trundling around has probably done me the world of good.

I should do this more often. I really should.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Oh dear

Ipsos Mori on trust. Less than half of us trust pollsters.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

John Hampden

This is John Hampden, who was a 17th century politician. He played a leading role in early parliaments, and he was killed during the civil war. I can't help feeling that I should know more about him, but I don't. These people do though.

The reason he is here is that today I set off to map the Hampden cycle route in Buckinghamshire for the OSM cycle map. It is one of three loops that make up the Chiltern Heritage Cycling Trail. The Hampden route runs for 25 miles or so, to the northwest of Amersham. It is named after John - he didn't mark it out, because he didn't have a bicycle. But he lived in the area and represented a nearby constituency.

Hampden routeThis was the local council's Millennium project, so there has been plenty time for moss to grow on the signs. Helpfully that shows which way we are heading because moss always grows on the north side. Or is it the south?

Either way it is a nice route, through some pretty villages, with some good views. I covered most of it today, and I look forward to going back soon to do the rest.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Take cover

Monday, 9 November 2009

£10m cycling investment

The Department for Transport has announced funding for Cycling Demonstration Towns (Blackpool, Cambridge, Colchester, Chester, Leighton-Linslade, Shrewsbury, Southend, Southport, Stoke-on-Trent, Woking and York), a demonstration project in the Peak District National Park, and some extra funding for Sustrans to install cycle parking and cycling links to schools.

I don't think this is new money, it's just putting flesh on funding that has already been announced. That's not a reason for knocking it though.

The nearest projects to us seem to be links to the Basingstoke canal in Woking.

They've also produced a guide to best practice for local authorities, which claims that walking and cycling schemes can deliver cost/benefit ratios ranging from 18.5 to 38.4 (for every pound spent the benefits can be worth £18.50 to £38.40).

There is a lot of information on the DfT web site, and I haven't read it all yet: the press release, an assessment of the first wave of cycling towns, and the guide for local authorities.

House rules

Connoisseurs of the unique Daily Mail take on the world ought to examine the house rules for commenting on their web site, before reading this article on cyclists (link provided by Real Cycling).

  • We want our readers to see and understand different points of view”
  • “You can express a strong opinion but please do not go over the top”
  • “You must not make or encourage comments which are: defamatory, false or misleading; insulting, threatening or abusive; obscene or of a sexual nature; offensive, racist, sexist, homophobic or discriminatory against any religions or other groups"
  • "You must not pretend to be someone else (e.g. an expert....)"

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Ashmolean, Oxford

The Ashmolean museum in Oxford has been one of my favourites for a long time. Recently it has benefitted from the investment of a lot of money and effort, and this week it re-opened to the public.

Off we went, and we were delighted. We feared that it would be too busy, but it easily absorbed the influx of visitors, and the new displays are wonderful. It would be hopeless to try and describe everything, so I will just say that if you get the chance you should go and see for yourself.

After a few hours we had taken in all that we would cope with, so we went for lunch, had a long walk, and then dropped into another favourite (Pitt Rivers Museum), before heading home.

Pitt Rivers, Oxford

It was a very good day.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Utterly depressing Flickr group

Another collection of bad cycle lanes, from the Guardian.

The original is here

And there's a poll on cycle lanes here. Please treat it with respect.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


From todays Guardian -

"Argleton doesn't actually exist. It is a phantom village that appears on Google Maps. You can search online for Argleton's local weather forecast (10C yesterday), property prices (not much for sale at the moment) or for the number of a local plumber, but in reality the village's coordinates point to little more than a muddy field."

View Larger Map

Good things here

Monday, 2 November 2009

Banquet in the iguanodon

I couldn't resist adding this picture to yesterday's post about the dinosaurs at Crystal Palace.

Sunday, 1 November 2009


The Crystal Palace Dinosaurs are sculptures that were commissioned in 1852 and unveiled in 1854. When the Crystal Palace was moved to Sydenham Hill after the Great Exhibition, the new Crystal Palace Company commissioned Benjamin Waterhouse (a sculptor) and Sir Richard Owen (a biologist and palaeontologist) to build life-sized models of extinct animals. In the end, the funding ran out, and some of the planned sculptures remained uncompleted.

The reconstructions were based on fossils from the Natural History Museum, and skeletons of modern animals. They predated the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species by several years, and at the time were controversial. Within 40 years, science had moved on, and the models were recognised as being unrealistic. They fell into disrepair, but were restored in 2002, and were grade-1 listed in 2007.

When I was a child I had a dinosaur book with pictures of these, and I have waited for almost half a century to see the real thing. Today I finally made it. After all that time, I was prepared to be disappointed, and slightly surprised that I wasn't.

There's more here, here, here, here, and elsewhere.