Tillie & Coco

two ladies, two bicycles, two hemispheres

Category: Hills

Spencer Hill

by Tillie

Dear Coco,

Your quote about hills inspired me to post this little photo essay of a local hill, which is the main obstacle between our flat and a rather nice grocer in Wimbledon village. This morning we tackled Spencer Hill to get breakfast provisions. The hill doesn’t look terrible, but it gets very steep in one section before levelling out into a manageable climb. Alas, I always have to walk that section.

The sun came out after two days of rain, so it felt right to cycle to the shop. Our building is getting a makeover at the moment.

View from the bottom of the hill.

[No photos of actually tackling the hill, because it is always very un-dashing *struggle struggle, splutter splutter*]

The reward for climbing Spencer Hill is this rather nice telephone exchange, with bonus K6 telephone kiosks (I know they're K6s because I just read a pamplet about them!*)

*Recommended reading for street furniture nerds

Apples and vegetables. I waited outside the shop with the bikes because there was nowhere close by to park. Well, not close enough anyway.

Breakfast provisions. We wouldn't usually take an evil plastic bag of course ... oops.

The point of this story is that hills are no friends of cyclists (except for really hardcore ones), but they still shouldn’t be obstacles to breakfast.

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Cycle Superhighway 7

by tillieandcoco

You know you haven't opened your garage for a while if there's a snail on the door

Hi Coco! At least you have an awesome excuse for being MIA; I have merely been not cycling. Every train journey feels like a betrayal, but every weekend lately has featured rain and more rain. Do you want some rain with your rain? But yesterday the sun came out, and I finally dusted the cobwebs off Blackie (actual cobwebs), pumped up her tyres, and cycled from Wimbledon to Clapham Common to see my cousin David and his wife Michelle, who are back in London with their puppy. I was going to get the train until my clever husband pointed out that I could take Cycle Superhighway 7 practically the whole way! Ooh, don’t mind if I do. I set off from home and took some quiet back streets which would lead me to CS7, not very far from where it starts at Colliers Wood station. Quiet back streets are enormously pleasant to cycle along. I did have to chuckle at this particular moment (and stop to take a photo):

Mixed messages much? Whatever! Cycles allowed!

The Cycle Superhighways are not really new, but I had never used one before yesterday. They’re a far cry from the Bourke Street model, but it’s still surprisingly reassuring to have an unbroken path of blue paint to follow – people still park their cars in the Cycle Superhighway, but most drivers do their best to avoid it. The lane is more of a marker than anything. I definitely wouldn’t have cycled yesterday if I couldn’t use the superhighway – even though the route is relatively straightforward, without the blue paint there were plenty of potential wrong turns. It meant I didn’t need a map. And the superhighways even have signs which tell you how far away you are from your destination – there aren’t many of them, but it’s certainly nice to know that you’re only 5 minutes from the next landmark, especially when you’re in unfamiliar territory.

I thought it would take me an hour to get from Wimbledon to Clapham Common; but I made it in 30 minutes. David and Michelle hadn’t even left yet, expecting me to be even slower than my already generous estimate. It was a really pleasant ride – not too many hills, interesting street life to enjoy on the way, and polite drivers who waited for me to cycle around parked cars. I found a second hand furniture store outside Tooting Bec Station that would be worth a second look, and some beautiful 30s-era housing estates.

Blackie, parked somewhere other than my garage

Once David and Michelle finally showed up a billion hours later (no wonder – they took a taxi) I finally met Winnie. I am by no means a dog person, but Winnie is a delight (slash footballer):

Winne and the ball

Photo by Michelle. I should really sort out my posture.

I went home the extra long way because I was enjoying myself so much, which meant that I ran out of blue paint after Colliers Wood, but I was very much in the swing of it by then and only needed to consult the map once to double-check that I hadn’t overshot the road home. My favourite rides are always those that get me to a destination. Of course I love cycling for the sake of cycling, but I love it all the more when it’s part of something else – like grocery shopping, or getting to work. I’ve finally learned the best route from Wimbledon to South Kensington from a colleague, but am yet to try it out. Maybe next weekend if the weather holds!

Tillie

San Fran Postcard!

by tillieandcoco

Dear Tillie,

I received your postcard!

Thanks!

Love Coco xx