I didn't get up to a huge amount myself - mostly due to a Friday night out with gorgeous ladies that began with drinking wine at the Royal Academy and culminated in an impromptu East-End pop party (during which we danced wildly to Beyonce, Gaga, Jessie J et al) and a very, very late night. The following day, we headed to the Tara Starlet sample sale (so to the reader who asked - yes you did see me there!), hoping to get our mitts on some of the lovely frocks this splendidly ethical English reproduction brand produces. Sadly, there was nothing to my taste on offer, or rather, we had probably missed it! Because we got there late due to the one and only thing I did actually achieve this weekend, which was to secure my space on the amazing Tweed Run! Gushing about my love of cycling will now commence...
This smashing day out was one of the highlights of last year for me. I am so, so glad I registered with utmost haste, the second it opened; because all 450 spots on this year's Run went in four minutes. FOUR minutes! Unbelievable. Of all the Vintage Mafia girls, only Jeni Yesterday and I got a spot! I absolutely can't wait, after the fun of 2010's Run. I even bought myself a bicycle especially, and it turned out to be one of my best vintage purchases ever!
While the Tweed Run was its maiden voyage, I rode this All-Steel steed throughout the summer and autumn, getting fit, breathing fresh air and generally lifting my mood with every turn of the pedal. I absolutely fell in love with cycling and my lovely bike got lots of use. She even starred in the first ever Fleur dress photoshoot, and is going to take pride of place in an installation at the forthcoming Ideal Home Show... watch this space for more information on that!
I did wimp out of cycling when it was really cold, and only brushed her off a few weeks ago for the first cycle of 2011. As you all know, I'm not a practical sort, and own no waterproof clothing, or even sensible shoes, so all-weather cycling is not for me. In fact, I went out on a damp day out last week and got absolutely covered in mud from head to toe! It was quite fun, actually, but I ruined my canvas trainers... 'twas worth it though. And it's invaluable to get lots of cycling in before April 9th... I might have survived the Tweed Run last year (12 miles after having not cycled in a decade); but my posterior took several days to recover, I can tell you!
If only I had a bit more disposable income, I would seriously consider purchasing a new steed in time for the Run. While it's super to have a genuine vintage velocipede, it rattles, the chain and mudgards are loose, its rod brakes really are quite useless (form over function for sure); and the frame is a smidgeon too small for me, meaning instead of sitting bolt-upright, I am slightly bent over. Oh, I would love to get a new one, and have spent hours looking at pictures online. If money was no object, I would get myself a Pashley Britannia.
Britannia has all the best features of the classic Princess Sovereign - dynamo lights and five gears - without being cluttered by the rear skirt guard or rack. I have never found my skirt needed to be guarded against! And with a choice of red, white or blue, I'd be absolutely torn... if only I could afford its £625 price tag! A friend of mine is selling her barely-ridden, year-old basic Pashley Princess, but since I already have one black, ultra-heavy, three geared, lightless beast, there seems little point in buying another, even for the quite reasonable price she was asking. Sadly.
Pashley are sponsoring the 'Best Vintage Bicycle' category in the Tweed Run... presumably this means the person with the best vintage bicycle also wins a brand new one! I am petitioning (not really) for them to change it to 'Worst Vintage Wreck'. I'd be a clear winner since parts of my bike seem to be held together with little more than Blitz Spirit (so I didn't even enter the category by the way)! I have, however, entered the 'Most Dashing Dame' one, and am busy planning my outfit... it won't actually feature any tweed, but it will be heavy on vintage glamour!
Slightly more affordable options for new steeds come from Bobbin Bicycles, a gorgeous shop located in Angel. I've been meaning to have a shufti there for ages, though I know I'd be tempted into buying lots of lovely accessories! Their Glorie Fairground is a slightly more affordable £425 (!) and has a very similar look. It's a classic Dutch bike, made in Holland.
And last but not least, I might consider purchasing a Dutchie ladies' bicycle. At £319 it's half the price of the Pashley, lighter and has many of the same bells and whistles; but without the lovely leather saddle. And it only comes in black. But it's still absolutely lovely!
In short, I highly recommend cycling as a hobby and method of exercise to all the vintage ladies out there. It's so much fun, keeps you slim and you look damn cool (if a little clichéd... let's be honest) when dressed in a gorgeous frock, riding an old-fashioned (or genuinely old), wicker-basketted bicycle around town. Just make sure if you go for 'fitness' rides rather than gentle pootles, that you wear something loose and washable. Sorry if that is too much info gals... but energetic cycling does make one rather hot!
Back on the subject of tweed, I am jumping up and down with excitement, for I am off to Scotland for two days tomorrow. I am doing a tour of The Glenrothes whisky distillery, after which I shall be taken on such manly outdoor pursuits as clay pigeon shooting and off-road Land Rover driving. There will also be fine food... and lots of whisky, amazingly enough! I can't wait to tell you all about it. I am concerned about the temperature in chilly Scotland, and am packing my beautifully thick Heyday tweed trousers, and will take my Puttin' On The Ritz Spying For The Allies wool suit as well, for the evening meal. Which reminds me, I have some more modelling photos to post from the shoot I did for my aforementioned smashing sponsor, which include some snaps of the previously unseen Miss Atkins Blouse. I'll leave you with these - some inspiration for the ladies lucky enough to get a spot on the Tweed Run!
All taken by the talented Mark Bonito.
See you soon!