London…….not done……. NEVER!!

London…… an annual event for the Frantony family.  I know its ‘hustle and bustle’ but for us, well…. we find it a relaxing week or weekend, whichever we can fit in.  You can strangely feel quite alone amongst the busy streets and tube journeys.  Peaceful at times as you watch the many Londoners go about their daily business.  It maybe London, England, but you’ll hear a mixed bag of languages from around the world caressing the ear drums.  Russian seemed to be the flavour of our last visit.

Over the many years I’ve seen the change that technology has brought, it’s the companion to most commuters these days.  I thought it was my dodgy eyes at first, but as the people of London walk towards you.  You think they’re talking to you because they’re looking at you or where they’re going whilst disguising an earpiece that’s connected from their phone with a small microphone on the wire, talking to whomever is on the other end.  I’ve never seen so many people walk and talk.  Each person’s arms shaking in the air, all in sync with every conversation they have with every passer-by escaping the near-miss of a sudden death Karate chop. The people on the phones resemble battered old scarecrows in a whirlwind…… but I love it!

For me as a continual visitor to London, I don’t think I’ll ever have enough of the city’s architecture.  Every single building intrigues me.  I know most visitors go and see Buckingham Palace, which by the way is fantastic.  I’ve never been inside yet, I will do on the next visit when they open it up.  I have been to Osbourne house in the Isle of Wight though (enjoyed it very much).  But I do feel so sorry for Liz (the Queen to you) for living there.  The building must be a nightmare to keep clean, how she has time to do anything else baffles me.  I also hope she has something a little bigger than an electric lawnmower, her garden is a tad larger than normal.  I would suggest a goat or two but every time I stand outside, the gates are locked.  Plus there’s a few Welsh Guards standing like they’ve been covered in Viagra spray in their sentry box, also accompanied by the odd policeman carrying a sizeable gun.  Come to my place, I have a conifer tree in a plant pot hiding my waste and recycle bins.  That’s another thing that baffles me.  Not one recycle bin outside Buckingham Palace in all the times I’ve stood there. But I do have a theory.  I’m sure that the sentry boxes outside Buckingham Palace is the place where the recycle bins are kept, and the reason why the Welsh Guards are so still.  It’s because they are only stickers on the front of the bins…… just a theory by the way.   What is handy though, is that she never has any of her neighbours bothering her (like mine) “Dave can I have a cup of sugar” or “Alright if I borrow your ladders?” or “There’s no one in next door so you have to take a parcel for them.”  Hmmmmm….. maybe I’ll go to my local Police station and ask for a Policeman with a gun, I do pay my taxes after all.

So back to the London architecture.  As I walk, my head is constantly surveying above the shops to the rest of the buildings.  Something I always do in any town or city that I’m in.  One thing did stand out was how many of the buildings were in darkness from the 1st floor up at night.  So many grand buildings with so many rooms that seemed to have no life in them.

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Something else I do every time and I don’t know why, I always look up at the roof of 3 Savile Row where the Beatles played five songs ‘Live’ for the last time in 1969.  I’m 5’4”, I can look all day.  I am never going to see the roof top.  Not sure what the people of London had seen back on that very day in 1969.

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There are also so many amazing museums, I love them all even though we’ve not seen every single one yet.  The new buildings that take over the skyline are funky and different but for me it’s the old buildings that are intriguing.  Each one has so much history and so much detail.  Some with the round blue Commemorative plaques, giving the information of who once lived there which always ignites the mind to wonder of all that has happened before the very place where I now stand.  For instance, Brook Street W1. Two round blue Commemorative plaques side by side on two different buildings next to each other.  On the one building it says ‘Jimi Hendrix’ once lived here.  On the other, the composer ‘Handel’ lived and died.  Okay it was roughly 250 years apart.  But wouldn’t it have been interesting if they were both around at the same time.  No, not to ask one another for a cup of sugar or to borrow ladders or even take a parcel for your neighbour.  Although I can see it now

KNOCK KNOCK, the door opens…. “Hi Jimi, it’s Handel from next door….. you took in a parcel for me earlier.  “Oh yeah, Handel man……here it is.”  Funny how they both had similar hairstyle and the passion for making music.

London has so many pubs and so many restaurants, you will always be spoilt for choice.  From Covent Garden to China Town to the many hidden side streets.  Camden market, Borough market, someday I’ll eat my way through each food stall.  But even if I visited every weekend I’d still not eat in them all.  For the Frantony family, we wander as far and as long as we can, never in a rush.  In three days we’ll easily walk 45 miles.

It’s not as safe as it used to be though, far more electric cars due to the emission zones now.  Clearly in London it’s the way forward, won’t be long before all the taxis are electric or even better powered by the wasted words and promises that fall out of the mouths of most MPs.  All boxed up and taken from the Houses of Parliament and poured straight in to every London cab.  That is of course if you can’t afford a super car.  Yes it’s nice to have one, but to be honest it’s useless in London regarding speed.  But then again what I do like about them is that you can hear them coming a few streets away, even as far as the next postcode.  As a pedestrian this is good.  A Toyota Prius is not!  As green credentials go a Prius might be good for the planet but for pedestrians in a city?  It could mean constantly being knocked over or death by silent object.  I’m also a motorcyclist and believe that loud pipes saves lives.  If I have time in the future I might protest outside Parliament that every electric car in London has a speaker instead of an exhaust and must play loud music.  Preferably AC/DC ‘Thunderstuck’.

From every near miss (and we had a few) each time I hear some Gregorian chant in my head or a choir boy knocking out a solo as if the end is nigh.

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This I assume, is what a near death experience feels and sounds like which is slightly uncanny as the Toyota Prius moves on the road like ghosts in the Hollywood films I’ve seen.  So the super car, even though you can’t really use the full functions of a super car in London,  I think every car on the road in the city should be one.  This is not a plug so that Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, Aston Martin, Jaguar or Maserati have to give me a car for free if their sales go up now I’ve mentioned them in this blog, but I wouldn’t say no either (nod, nod, wink, wink).  Now the not hearing the car incident happened a few times whilst walking the streets of London.  To prove it, this is what my behind/rear end (bum or arse) whatever the term you use now looks like with no pants or trousers on……

Yes, these cars do give off low emissions, but I wonder if that is multiplied by the amount of gas given off by each pedestrian on the utter panic that a Toyota Prius has just sneaked up on them like Houdini on a really good day when he was at his most ‘magicest’ (if there is such a word). Or  like the butler in the film Mr Deeds (sneaky sneaky).  Although if you’re reading this and you work very high up in Toyota, I LOVE the brand and LOVE the Toyota Hilux and Land Cruiser (nod, nod, wink, wink).

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The maze of the London underground (tube station) however, I’ll never get to grips with.  I’ll never get to the point in my life where I’ll ever find my way around like it was the back of my hand.  But as each visit passes it becomes a little easier.  It’s hot, with the warm breeze fighting its way around you as the train comes in.  Even if you’re not on the platform you can feel the warm breeze whizzing through whatever tunnel you’re walking to or from.  I’m never in a rush, so I’ll always stay tight to the right on the escalators so the busy people on the way to a deadline have room to move on the left.  Sometimes the trains are busy sometimes not, just like any other City.  Always remember to hold on if you’re standing up as the train leaves the platform.  A woman on the Central line forgot to do such a thing and sprawled herself on the people sitting down as the train moved off.  Everyone laughed as she lay over four people, her feet completely up off the ground.  Again though, the architecture inside the underground is fantastic with the millions of tiles that cover the walls and ceilings, and they’re always clean, which must take some doing due to droves of people using it every day.  I’m still hoping that the CEO of the London Underground will randomly call me one day, wanting to give me a tour of the platforms and tunnels that are not used anymore (nod, nod, wink, wink).

But there is one man I’d like to meet, to say “Really??  What on earth were you thinking?  Of all the places it could have gone, you had to put it there…..!”

Marble Arch

Marble Arch, NO not Marble Arch, that’s in a good spot (not as good as the original spot).  I’m talking about the Ping Pong table right next to it.  You have to see it to believe it.  I can hear John Nash the British architect who designed Marble Arch back in 1827, saying “Now, wherever the Marble Arch goes, whatever you do, don’t go putting something stupid right next to it like a Ping Pong table!”

Then they all laughed because clearly nothing stupid like that would happen…..or would it?  So it takes some doing to take a picture of the Marble Arch without a Ping Pong table being in it.  Don’t get me wrong I like a bit of Ping Pong (please no one send me a ping pong table) but that close to an iconic structure in London, to me it’s a little odd.  They may as well go the whole hog and turn the Marble Arch into an activity centre with advertising screens, a climbing wall, abseiling and park, even somewhere to voice your opinion.

Buckingham Palace
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Who knows, next there might be a pool table outside Buckingham Palace right in front of the gates?  Or they’ll turn the Victoria Memorial in to a local Lido with a 25m high diving board duck-taped to the bronze wing.  There’s even enough room to put a tennis or netball court inside the gates of the Palace courtyard on the red gravel.  Or even a five-a-side pitch for the locals and ‘yes’ we call it five-a-side, but either 9 or 11 always showed up and the goalies were either lazy and would sometimes sit down for a sneaky rest, or they’d be the complete opposite and have arms like Mr Tickle from the Mr Men that make it impossible to score a goal.  And let’s not forget the one friend that always turns up with the gigantic Sports Direct bag (there’s always one), thinking that because they’re taking part in a sport and it says it on the bag, that it’s alright. At least playing at the front of Buckingham Palace there’ll be plenty of people running around to keep the sad lonely Lego figures that have fallen out of some poor child’s hand through the railings from the pavement.  Of course they daren’t stretch through to try and pick it up or the man with the gun won’t be happy.  Albeit the Lego figurines did get in without being seen.  So the man with the gun and the Welsh Guards are slacking a bit there.  The Royal family must have a sizeable Lego figurine collection from their front yard going on.  Using the front Courtyard, I think my idea is far more exciting for the Royal family to look at out of their many windows than the same old Victoria Memorial, traffic and lots of nosy people staring up at them.  I’m not saying this is true, but here’s a photo I took of a representative from Lego going inside Buckingham Palace the other day….

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I’m also convinced that the same person whose idea it was to put the ping pong tables so close to Marble Arch wants to put a fairground riffle range in front of the MI5 or MI6 building.  That would be okay as long as you can win the cuddly toy in the end….. especially for those men out on a first date.  Oh and by the way, if you do win the cuddly toy and hand it over to the lovely woman you’re dating, don’t start acting like you’ve just saved the planet and the macho-meter in your head has just hit dizzy heights.  Don’t think it’s a pass so that you can go all the way with her at the end of the night…. however big the toy.  But we would all love to see the fairground ‘Dunk Tank’ outside the Houses of Parliament (again such an amazing building).  Each MP could sit on a collapsing seat over a large tank of water.  The passing public have to throw the ball at a target above their heads and if it hits correctly, the seat opens up and the MPs fall in to the tank (beautiful!).  I feel this would be a good idea just before everyone goes to work.  Good for the MPs too.  That’ll make them all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the day, and if they make a really bad decision, back outside to the Dunk Tank they go (just an idea).

Well I love London.  It’s a city with so much to offer that just keeps giving.  So much to do and see.  Make it top of your ‘to do’ list every year!  Go and lose yourself.  Wander the streets.  Wander the museums, be in no rush.  Make it your time! 

So until the next visit which won’t be long, I’ll leave you with the usual Easyblend blog song but this time its two – The Beatles- Don’t let me down and AC/DC Thunderstruck

You can find out more about my book ‘Farrago: Ten Tall Tales’ and buy it here…. (click on the cover)

Full cover single

Until the next Easy Blend blog……….. 

Stay warm and fuzzy……..

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Ride like an angel….

It takes a shed full of certain magnetic twists and turns within the world’s atmosphere, that’s unbeknown to man and woman to ignite a supersonic glow inside us as we open the curtains on a given morning and think ‘BIKE’.  You rub your eyes and open the window, the smell of a beautiful day soothing

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your nostrils and caressing the face and mind.  The sun glistens across the tarmac and then…… as if in another biker’s dimensional world, the road speaks in a way as if it knows you are listening….. and in a sexy alluring way it simply says “HELLO….. ride all over me!”

Immediately after one more sniff of the fresh air, the head tilts towards where the Motorcycle sits, for me it’s the garage.  The urge now uncontrollable, it’s as if a magic finger has pressed the fast forward button that

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controls you.  The shower is on and you’re underneath it, using the smallest amount of shampoo as time is of the essence.  Within a split second there’s breakfast in front of you, less milk, less cereal than usual, eating standing up of course, there’s no time to sit.  Me…. I’ll be standing in my pants, so I properly dry off as there’s nothing worse than struggling to put the leathers on with slightly damp skin.

Then whilst still chewing the last spoon full of breakfast I pull the cover off, the bike is revealed, the leathers and boots are on……. eventually, the helmet is on so the last thing to fit in to are the gloves.  For me, I want to feel like Batman so I sit on the bike then press the key fob and the garage doors come up (you know, the part where Batman and Robin drive out of the Bat cave in the Bat mobile).  I slowly manoeuvre up the drive that takes me on to the road of freedom.

No matter who you are or where you are in the world, no matter what type of bike you have, when the weather is right, the mood is unstoppable. There’s nothing like it, smooth long winding roads with beautiful scenery.  The sound of the engine, especially the cheeky rev at the traffic lights, the feel of freedom with only the elements against your body and the hint of anonymity as the helmet covers your face or in my case now, a buff (open face helmet).  I don’t know what it is…… I didn’t ask for it, it’s just built in my DNA, but I always smile when I hear a loud bike, I have to look, for me it’s a low rider with their arms and legs stretched out in front of them………COOL…… I always say ‘May the ride be with you!’

For me living in south Wales, my usual ride is Brecon or beyond, the scenery is lovely, I don’t travel much further at the moment due to the bikes I own…… keep reading…. the pictures will follow.  So once I’ve reached my destination, either Brecon or Tal-y-Bont on Usk, I like to have a cup of tea and a hotdog whilst enjoying the view, whether it’s the mountains, the river or the Brecon Canal and if I’m lucky the RAF Jets fly past very low……. I love that! I jump every time….. I wave but they never beep their horn (for you beautiful American readers

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‘Honk’ their Horns!)  Of course, I always want another hotdog but I don’t.  Made that mistake when riding home from the beach in Porthcawl, the time when I used to own a Kawasaki Ninja 636….. you know, the sports bike where you have to lay all over the tank to ride it.  Not good in tight leathers looking like a mini Power Ranger after eating a big bag of Fish and Chips…… that was a long ride home….. and by the way, the fish and chips were this big!

It’s not that I haven’t got friends, although as I get older the less I have, but I prefer to ride alone, it gives me more freedom to go where I want and even change my mind half way through and ride somewhere else.  Also it helps me not to ride naughty, YES some of you reading this are saying ‘but sometimes Dave, naughty is nice!’ and sometimes I agree with you.  But let’s consider, if there’s 3 of you out for a ride and you’re over-taking, the

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1st rider does it easy, the 2nd rider squeezes in but the 3rd who always wants to make sure they keep up and stay with the pack will either make it without leaving enough room for a fly with his wings in his pockets beside you or…. well, the unthinkable.  I know, I know, I‘ve been there and YES, some days even if you put a Nun, a Vicar or the Pope on a motorcycle, at some point it will bring the bad out in them and the naughtiness goes straight to the wrist and they’ll want to twist and go faster.

Also it’s not always the biker’s fault, as the saying goes “Think Bike, Think Twice!”  If I was running for Prime

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Minister or President (don’t get too excited, I’m not…… not this week anyway) I’d make everyone take their bike test just so they’d understand how vulnerable you can be on a motorcycle.  There would also be other things I’d do but I’m not telling you……you might never vote for me.

Lots of things left to do in my biking world life, I was supposed to travel through America with a friend for our 40th but we both forgot to save for it……. we were stupid, I think we thought 40 was a long time away.  Top tip for anyone else, it takes 40 years!  Same time for everyone and it comes around quick.  I’ve not yet ridden a bike with Ape bars (I really want to!)  Still hoping to travel across America or maybe ride around the Italian lakes or Lake Michigan, I’d love to ride the Californian coast with the ocean to one side of me as my arms and legs stretch out as far as possible enjoying the views and the sun on my face….. maybe my 50th (not started to save yet though) or I’ll find a very generous American new friend with far too many bikes who says to me “Dave, have a month off, come ride with me…..” and his name would be Harley Davidson.  I’d even be happy having a few hours riding the Hollywood Hills, with a cup of tea and a hotdog in the middle of it all (am I asking to much?)

When the time is right I’ll know I’ll be there, but until then I’m happy where I am, The Kawasaki Ninja 636 was sold a few years ago (saving for a new bike).  I have 2 bikes which I’m keeping, both restored by myself.  I have a year 2000 Vespa et4, 125cc, it’s lots of fun, twist and go.  I also have a 1978 CB400T Superdream Cafe racer, gets lots of looks, it’s very nice…. and sounds like a thunder storm.

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For the new bike yet to come….?  Well, I’m in two minds, I’m torn, 50-50, half and half, chips and rice….. you know what I mean.  For me, it’s a choice of only 2, and they are the Harley 48 Sportster or the Triumph Bobber.

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I’m not the tallest of people and I know I fit on either one, both lovely though…..  Well, when either one arrives I’ll let you know, but until then, please ride safe you have a family waiting for you at home.  Enjoy your motorcycle, life is always better in the wind with a bike between your legs.  Let the riding clear your mind and soak up the scenery and the hotdog and a cup of tea or coffee.  But above all else, make sure if it’s a sunny day and the road is calling you, you always come back in one piece and it’s your bed you sleep in….. MAY THE RIDE BE WITH YOU!!

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As ever on the Easy Blend, I’ll let you know what I’m listening to.  Today it’s Bruce Springsteen, Rocky Ground.

You can find out more about my book ‘Farrago: Ten Tall Tales’ and buy it here…. (click on the cover)

Full cover single

Until the next Easy Blend blog……….. 

Stay warm and fuzzy……..

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