Monday, 12 April 2010

The need for Tweed

As mentioned in my last post, Saturday was a rather exciting day for me, because it meant packing myself and my brand-new old bicycle up to London to take part in the second annual Tweed Run. As I also said earlier, I was going along as The Chap's Vintage Socialite, to participate, review and enjoy the ride and its sartorial offerings! I only managed to get a spot on the Run, because The Chap Magazine is one of the sponsors for the Tweed Run, alongside other such prestigious names as Huntsman, Pashley Bicycles (oh for one of the limited edition red Pashley Britannia to match my ruby lips...sigh!) and my favourite Hendrick's gin, who brought their Cucumber-Mobile along to serve us all H&Ts. With sponsors of that calibre, it couldn't really fail to be an absolutely splendid occasion. And it didn't disappoint.

Not possessing any tweed-based items of clothing, and it being a beautifully warm and sunny day anyway, I decided to pick one of my floral cotton summer frocks to wear. After some deliberation, I ruled out all dresses of the wrap variety, including Swirls, in an effort to avoid any unsightly flashing. I also added some (faux) spring blossoms to my bicycle (who needs a name suitable for a grand dame, by the way... suggestions in the comments please!)


Isn't she pretty? By the way, after a bit more research, I have discovered she actually dates from 1949-50,
which is still fine by me!


I arrived at the starting point relatively unscathed. I hadn't accounted for the sheer weight of my 'All-Steel' bicycle, and despite the generous help of a passer-by, lifting it up a flight of stairs to the station platform earned me some large splodges of grease on my skirt. Luckily these have 90% come out and the 10% that's left blends in with the pattern! This was followed by my first ever mile(ish)-long ride on London streets to the Tate Britain...I must confess I was so scared I mainly rode illegally on the pavements.


My friends and acquaintances before we set off! Clockwise from top: fellow Chap writer Neil Ridley and his single-speed mini Penny Farthing, plus chap whose name is Ian; Mr Jon Fowler and his 1970s Pashley; me with Ruth and Stacey from Timothy Everest, which is where my chap works.


I didn't know very many of the participants, and, because the ride was organised by the London Fixed-Gear and Single Speed cycling forums, a lot of the entrants were actual 'proper' cyclists, who have well-maintained equipment and are actually fit. But they don't wear tweed or vintage on a daily basis! So they had one advantage over us, and we had one over them! I think we set ourselves apart by starting with gin, stopping for gin and drinking gin most of the way across London!


There was, however a lovely mix of people, and of bicycles. They ranged from 'proper' modern bikes, to old boneshakers, penny farthings, tandems, 50s style low-riders and beach cruisers, and gorgeous Pashleys, Bobbins and new-old-fashioned ones.


The ride itself was absolutely lovely. It was twelve miles in total, taking in all the big London sights, like Trafalgar Square, Savile Row and Jermyn Street, Pall Mall, Piccadilly Circus, the Strand and the City. I needn't have worried about my stamina as it was also rather leisurely, and the marshals did an absolutely sterling job of keeping all 400 people together, and more to the point, stopping the traffic for long enough to get us all through big junctions (which was the only time we needed to put any welly into it!). The reaction from the crowds was 99% fantastic, with people cheering us on as we rang our bells, taking photos and waving. A large group of Jewish people shouted 'Mazel Tov' to us at one point. But a few taxi drivers were extremely bad-tempered, rude and abusive, unspeakably angry at having to wait approximately 2 1/2 minutes longer than usual at a junction. Someone apparently shouted, 'Oh look, it's the Tory Party' as we went down Savile Row!


A few 'action' shots! From the top: The back of the Chap writers! Neil is on his Penny Farthing, and I think he deserves the most praise for how hard he had to pedal the entire way! Then myself and my chap, the Whistling Tailor; finally me and my Hendricks at the very start. The last photo was taken by my chum Jon Fowler, and the top two were stolen, with permission, from the nice chap at I Bike London. Do pop to his blog for more photos!


We had a much-needed rest and refreshment stop in Kensington Gardens, where we were treated to complimentary cucumber sandwiches and special Tweed Run tea. We chose to wash our sarnies down with gin rather than tea, though, so I can't comment on the brew itself! Jon, the Whistling Tailor and I were photographed for the cover of London Cyclist, so I shall be keen to see if we do make it!

The Tweed Run ended in Bishopsgate, at the Bathhouse - a lovely old venue that used to be exactly what the name suggests. We were spoiled by seemingly unlimited Hendrick's and Tonics and the musical stylings of Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer and Top Shelf Jazz. The Whistling Tailor and I were rather shattered by this point, and we pootled off home after a while to relax and massage our aching parts! ;) As I walked away through Bishopsgate, a gust of wind lifted my skirt above my head, so after having successfully avoided it all day, I then treated all and sundry to a view of my knickers, suspenders and FF seamed stockings. Oh well - at least it all matched!

I leave you with a final montage... with a shot of me at the beginning, middle and at the very end. As you can see, even after a 12 mile cycle through a breezy London, the perm ensured that my Hot Stick set hairdo (done before I left that morning) stayed almost exactly the same! Money unbelieveably well-spent, I feel.


From the top: 12pm and 0 miles cycled, with Neil, the Whistling Tailor and a glass of gin; 1.30pm and 6 miles cycled with the WT and a teacup of gin; 5pm and 12 miles completed, with gin just out of shot. ;)

A thousand thank yous to the wonderful organisers of the Tweed Run. Thank you for having me along and I can't wait until next year. Special thanks also go to Gustav at the Chap and Therese from the Run for sorting out my Press Pass, without which I'd have been unable to attend. And an extra thank you to Dead Men's Spex for being such a fabulous vintage glasses emporium, from which I bought my lovely prescription sunglasses, and without which I would not have been able to see as I rode!

Hope all my readers had lovely weekends... don't forget to help me name my lovely bicycle - suggestions in the comments, if you'd be so kind!

Pip pip!

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

PS. Almost forgot - here's a great (and short) video of the day. Thank you to Swamibu for Tweeting it to me.

34 comments:

  1. Looks like a delightful day! I would have been a sweaty and dishevelled mess after 12 miles of cycling, no matter how leisurely.

    But my shamefully awful level of physical fitness is not important. You have a lovely bicycle to name.

    I would nominate Margaret Rutherford (maybe 'Rutherford' for short?) in honour of her marvellous role as the eccentric bicycling psychic in the film Blithe Spirit.

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  2. All those chaps in tweed on vintage bicycles...a nice sight.

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  3. As for a name for your bicycle, since you're Fleur de Guerre, what about Edelweiss?

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  4. What a fabulous day and you looked so glamorous throughout!

    I think the gorgeous bicycle looks like an Elouise, Emilia (sp?) or an Abigail.

    xxx

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  5. As I said before BIKE ENVY !!

    I think she's a Daphne !!

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  6. I can't believe I know this; the guy whose name you didn't catch is Ian. Don't know his last name, but that's him for sure.

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  7. You looked fantastic! What a fun day!

    I attended a tweed ride in Chicago last fall and we had a ball! It was an unbelievably hot day and I ended up cutting the sleeves off the jacket I had planned to wear. DH and I ended up winning best dressed!

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  8. Good suggestions so far ladies, thank you!

    BomshellShocked - how fab! I might have been in with a chance to win the 'Best Dressed Lady' prize as the judge is a former colleague of my chap, and he asked which bicycle number I had - sadly I was 'press' so I couldn't win!

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  9. I love Tin Trunk's idea of 'Rutherford' in honour of Margaret Rutherford, as a suitable name for your bike but perhaps due to the copious amounts of gin consumed throughout the journey, 'Ginny Rutherford' would be a more suitable name? It's kind of cute too!

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  10. Just lovely!! I've a basket on my bike that I am going to spruce up with flowers now! Thanks for the idea! xx

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  11. I love the styles and the bike and want to ride one badly now. haha.

    +Victoria+
    http://tiedemanntribe.blogspot.com

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  12. This is my idea of a perfect day! Thank you so much for sharing the photos and making me green with envy!

    Regards,

    Matthew

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  13. you look so adorable! your bike is wonderful!What a wonderful experience! delightful!!

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  14. Gorgeous! That looks like such fun - and I love your outfit. Very fitting for a lovely spring day :-D

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  15. As for a name for your new (old) bicycle I would choose Constance. Not only does it have the right period feel, meaning steadfastness it is more than fitting for a machine engineered to last! I would love a vintage bike but alas my hometown is far to hilly to be riding something of "all-steel" contsruction.
    Toodle pip Jim

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  16. I'm amazed at how small a world the Internet is for Alison to recognise Ian. That's the bicycle he built by hand from scratch this winter - called the Walrus Flyer - and painted in Penguin book livery. It's been a long, dull winter of grinding noises and paint fumes, but it all turned out to be worth it.

    You look absolutely amazing in these pictures. Jolly well done.

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  17. I would nominate Agatha for your lovely bicycle after the infamous Aunt Agatha of Wodehouse.

    I also like the Rutherford suggestion.

    I'm very jealous you managed to sneak a ticket. Places had gone by the time I heard about it and I would have liked to show off my new Pashley!

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  18. Looks like a jolly good day! Is it not legally required to wear bike helmets in the UK?
    I can't help you with a name - I've only just named my ukulele today after having her for a month or so.
    -Andi x

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  19. Fantastic day out! I need a bike! I love the video clip - is that Jay dancing as a follower?

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  20. Hello Andi B Goode, it is not a legal requirement to wear a cycling helmet in the UK; for now we are trusted to make the choice for ourselves. And besides, it just wouldn't have fitted in with the look of the day methinks. :o)

    Fleure; you've captured the day perfectly with your report, thanks so much for the link.

    My suggestion for the bike would be Annie, after Annie Londonderry who was the first woman to cycle round the world, and caused great scandal in doing so by wearing bloomers instead of a full skirt!

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  21. Oh it looks wonderful! Looks like perfect weather for it too.

    I can't help with names as I am terrible at naming, well, anything really. I would like to thank you for the link to Dead Men's Spex though, I need new glasses!

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  22. Oh what a wonderful post, that really has put a smile on my face today :)

    My bike is an all steel Raleigh, and I pushed it up a hill once – never again!

    You look absolutely beautiful, as do the flowers on your basket, and the ride looks like so much fun!

    Hopefully the Aus version will make its way to Melbourne very soon :D

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  23. I adore your blog! I love what you wore for the Tweed Run!

    I was just getting around to writing a post about 'What to Wear to a Spring/Summer Tweed Ride' but had been putting it off. While looking at photos on Flickr of the London Tweed Run I discovered you! Ha! There you were, the perfect inspiration!

    Shelly@RidingPretty
    p.s. I blogged about you :)

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  24. I love your blog, you are living what I see as a bit of a dream life, as my life consists of day in day out medical scrubs and raised eyebrows at my "a bit much" maquillage, hair and perfume. But we can't cover all of our light with a basket!
    I vote for Beatrice as your bike's name. Not sure why, but I'm loving it. Just named my new vintage BMW Beatrice Marie Worthington. She is my current love, deserved a proper name, don't you think? I spend time in her with the top down, a vintage coat and a cloche hat...nobody "gets" it in these parts, but I know that you would! Please keep on sharing your life and times with us, you are the quintessential girly-girl role model!

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  25. aammmmmmmmmaaaazing! Lovely stuff, the shop looks great, how I wish I were near London! The pinup panties are great.

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    i think i will follow it :)

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  29. I would nominate Margaret Rutherford (maybe 'Rutherford' for short?) in honour of her marvellous role as the eccentric bicycling psychic in the film Blithe Spirit.
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