Changing Cycles

An ongoing project exploring the use of the arts as a form of action to ensure the sustainability of the planet. and stuff.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Sent to Coventry

Day 2 of the G8 Bike ride and we've covered about 130 miles (taking my personal tally so far to over 600!) taken part in two protests (an anti-road protest in Linslade and an anti-airport expansion action here in Coventry) and held up lots of cars in good humoured fashion with flags, banners and a hefty sound system on wheels... And we've only got lost once! And that was in Watford where getting lost is almost a local custom. Although getting lost on the hottest day of the year so far wasn't the most fun I've ever had. Many faces, backs, arms and thighs are looking increasingly lobstery... fortunately not mine, (though I will have some interesting tan marks when I get back, most of which I hope you'll be spared).
My fellow cyclists are an eclectic and cosmopolitan bunch of activists, students, anarchists, vegans, cycling enthusiasts and people generally interested in adding their dissenting voices to a community on wheels as it makes its way up the country taking in as many protests as possible on the way... It's been great fun so far and I've met some quality characters, though it must be said that whilst we look like a bunch of grimy crusty new age travellers, the people we've met at the protests have been ordinary local people - mums and dads and kids and pensioners - concerned about corporate and government interests taking precedence over their own... which on a global and a local scale is kind of what this ride is all about.
Anyway, it's getting late and much as I'd like to post some more photos I'm tired and I don't want to impose upon my host's internet hospitality too much. The kind folks at the peace house (a vegetarian housing co-op/social centre/bike workshop) in Coventry provided us with an amazing feast when we arrived this evening and are accomodating us in their houses - real beds and showers and everything! (It's amazing how you begin to appreciate the simple things...) So until Nottingham you'll just have to imagine me sweating and panting in the burning sun up a big hill, and then shooting down it super-cooled by the rushing wind - with a massive smile on my face!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


I realised that only people with registered blogs on blogger can leave comments... I've tried to change the settings so that anyone can but if you still have problems just email me, I'm still checking them reasonably frequently...

Ups and Downs

I had my wallet stolen today (hence the title of this post) which was only a major inconvenience until I realised that the silver st. christopher my mum had given me was in there - ironically the safest place I could think to put it - and then it became a bit devastating. It happened in the photo shop as I was picking up my snaps, which have at least provided some consolation. Most of them aren't actually from this trip, they're from some of the preparation visits I did last month in London and Nottingham... Anyway, the captions should be explanatory.

So I'm in London now (dirty, stinking, scabby, thieving London to give it its full title today...) and until today all had been going great, apart from a bolt snapping on my front pannier rack on my way to Hitchin on friday which meant I had to get it fixed on saturday morning and subsequently had to hop a train to London (damn it!) in order to get there in time for the world naked bike ride...

The ride itself was funny, pictures to follow (though not of me, I was firmly behind the camera!)... I began by keeping my cycling shorts on but half way round felt I wasn't really entering into the spirit of it all properly so off they came. I never realised so many people in London had cameras! Most people seemed to find it all quite amusing, though there was some hostility... one person threw a bottle of yakult at me, fortunately unopened. (not very friendly bacteria).

Since putting my clothes back on I've been to a mini-seminar on sustainability and this morning I visited the Islington Ecology Centre - a green project in Gillespie park, currently overshadowed by the massive new Arsenal stadium they're building there. It was interesting to see at first hand some of the stuff we'd talked about at the seminar to do with borough councils, planners & developers and local communities trying to hang on to their green spaces... Quite how I'm going to turn all the jargon and bureaucracy into an entertaining piece of drama that engages young people I don't really know... but I'll burn that bridge once I jump off it, or however the saying goes! For now, I have a cycle ride to plan and a zillion people to phone/email. And a lost wallet to mourn for. With possibly the help of a pint or five. Enjoy the photos...

This photo and the ones below were taken at the Critical Mass 11th birthday in London about a month ago... If you don't know about CM it's basically an international movement of cyclists who get together in cities around the world to reclaim the roads and celebrate clean, healthy, human powered transport... Power to the Pedals!  Posted by Hello

This guy was cool, he just stopped on the pavement, put down his briefcases and applauded each and every one of us as we went past... I wanted to hug him. Posted by Hello

The infamous trike sound-system which I believe will be accompanying us up to Scotland from sunday... Posted by Hello

The red t-shirt twins are actually obscuring someone having a row with a cabbie which I was trying to snap... makes a good photo though! Posted by Hello

Brian Haw, who has been camped outside the houses of parliament for nearly 4 years in protest against the war in Iraq and who recently stood for parliament himself... One of my heroes. Posted by Hello

The other big ben... Posted by Hello

A more resourceful way of using a knackered old van I'd say it's hard to find...  Posted by Hello

This photo and the ones above and below were taken at the Hockerton Housing project near Nottingham. This is a settlement of five earth sheltered (ie the back of these houses is a big grassy slope which I walked up to take the photo below) houses which are some of the most ecologically sound homes in the country. And very nice they are too... have a look on their website if you want to know more or arrange a visit. Posted by Hello

Hockerton's photo-voltaic panels from above... Posted by Hello

This is me on the morning I left in my bedroom next to the big map I have been gormlessly staring at for the last 6 months... Do you detect a faint glimmer of fear behind that smile?! Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Happy World Environment Day!

Did anyone know it was World Environment Day? Prizes if you did... I'd be interested if anyone knows of any events in their area to mark this special occasion, though my suspicions are that there's not much going on...
The campsite I'm staying at here in Rotherham is hosting an Environment Fair, complete with Mystical Earth Walk, Bird Box Building and a Mini Beast Hunt... Think it's all geared towards kids but I might go along and unleash my inner child for a bit (even though my outer child is sprouting quite a hefty beard growth!)
This afternoon I'm planning to cycle to the Earth Centre which is just up the road. This was the Government's flagship millenium environmental project, kind of an ecological theme park designed to encourage us all to make our lifestyles more sustainable... Unfortunately it closed a few years after it opened due to a lack of visitors.
I think it will be a pertinent day to go and visit the defunct site, and maybe speak to some local people about why they think it was so unsuccessful; Was it a marketing failure? Were the prices too high? Do people just not care enough? Is sustainable development about as fun as cutting your toenails? Or did they take offence at more public money being poured into another millenial white elephant that preached a hypocritical message of sustainability from a Government that won't even impose tax on air fuel? Just some thoughts... I'd love to hear yours (hint: if you are reading this, please let me know by leaving a comment or three...)
Meanwhile, I thought I'd let you see my itinerary as it stands at the moment, so you can see just what I'm letting myself in for over the next couple of months! God Speed.
  • Monday 30th May: Salford – Hebden Bridge ATC [29 miles]
  • Tuesday 31st May: Hebden Bridge – Horsforth [28 miles]
  • Wednesday 1st June: Meanwood Valley Urban Farm
  • Thursday 2nd June: Horsforth – Breighton [45 miles]
  • Friday 3rd June: Breighton – Thrybergh [36 miles]
  • Saturday 4th June: Rest day in Rotherham!
  • Sunday 5th June (World Environment Day): Environment fair @ Thrybergh Country Park/Earth Centre (closed)
  • Monday 6th June: Thrybergh - Heeley City Farm, Sheffield (12 miles)/Heeley – Sherwood Forest Caravan Park, Old Clipstone. [27 miles]
  • Tuesday 7th June: Old Clipstone – Leicester [45 miles]
  • Wednesday 8th June: Environ’s Eco-house
  • Thursday 9th June: Leicester – Thrapstone [38 miles]
  • Friday 10th June: Thrapstone – Hitchin [45 miles]
  • Saturday 11th June (National Bike Week starts): Hitchin - London. [40 miles] World Naked Bike Ride!
  • Sunday 12th June: London Wetlands Centre
  • Monday 13th June: Rest day/Route Planning
  • Tuesday 14th June: London Sustainability talk, Museum of London
  • Wednesday 15th June: Islington Ecology Centre, Arsenal.
  • Thursday 16th June: BedZed Zero Impact Housing Project, Surrey.
  • Friday 17th June: Rest day/Route Planning
  • Saturday 18th June: Preparation for G8 Bike ride
  • Sunday 19th June: G8 Bike ride: London - Redfield (Redfield Sustainable Housing Co-Op) [57 miles]
  • Monday 20th June: Redfield - Coventry [54 miles]
  • Tuesday 21st June: Coventry - Nottingham [59 miles]
  • Wednesday 22nd June: Rest day
  • Thursday 23rd June: Nottingham - Nine Ladies [31 miles]
  • Friday 24th June: Nine Ladies - Manchester [41 miles]
  • Saturday 25th June: Manchester - Lancaster [55 miles]
  • Sunday 26th June: Rest day
  • Monday 27th June: Lancaster - Penrith [50 miles]
  • Tuesday 28th June: Penrith - Carlisle: [18 miles]
  • Wednesday 29th June: Carlisle - Lockerbie [31 miles]
  • Thursday 30th June: Lockerbie - Lanark [46 miles]
  • Friday 1st July: Lanark - Edinburgh[?]
  • Saturday 2nd July: Make Poverty History March - Edinburgh
  • Sunday 3rd July- Friday 8th July: Not really sure but generally hanging around the G8 summit trying (not) to get into trouble!
  • Saturday 9th July: Gleneagles – Pitlochry [41 miles]
  • Sunday 10th July: Pitlochry – Braemar [40 miles]
  • Monday 11th July: Braemar – Tomintoul [32 miles]
  • Tuesday 12th July: Tomintoul – Forres [36 miles]
  • Wednesday 13th July - Friday 15th July: Findhorn Eco-Village
  • Saturday 16th July: Forres – Tomintoul [36 miles]
  • Sunday 17th July: Tomintoul – Braemar [32 miles]
  • Monday 18th July: Braemar – Pitlochry [40 miles]
  • Tuesday 19th July: Pitlochry – Auchterarder [40 miles]
  • Wednesday 20th July: Auchterarder – Thornhill [21 miles]
  • Thursday 21st July: Thornhill – Lanark [50 miles]
  • Friday 22nd July: Lanark – Lockerbie [63 miles]
  • Saturday 23rd July: Lockerbie – Carlisle [32 miles]
  • Sunday 24th July: Rest Day
  • Monday 25th July: Carlisle – Cockermouth [30 miles]
  • Tuesday 26th July: Cockermouth – Seascale [28 miles]
  • Wednesday 27th July: Sellafield Nuclear Power Station
  • Thursday 28th July: Seascale – Ulverston [42 miles]
  • Friday 29th July: Baywind Energy (Harlock Hill Wind Farm)
  • Saturday 30th July: Ulverston – Lancaster [37 miles]
  • Sunday 31st July: Lancaster – Salford [50 miles]

To save you adding up, that's about 1500 miles so far! As I said, after this I'm planning to head south through Wales and down into Devon and Cornwall but that will rely on everything that proceeds, so I'll update as and when... Sheesh kebab, what the hell am I doing?!!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

So Far So Good...

Gotta be quick as I'm about to be kicked out of Rotherham public library where I write this post...
Despite my increasing sense of foreboding in the run up to my departure, everything's going really well; my bike's still in one piece, my legs are doing me proud, my tent hasn't blown down yet and I've even managed to cook up a few culinary masterpieces on my camping stove. My first meeting went really well, I spoke to Gail at Hebden Bridge Alternative Technology Centre who was really keen to help with the project, even talking of possible future partnerships... From Hebden Bridge I cycled to Leeds where I visited Meanwood Valley Urban Farm. The guy I was meant to be meeting had inexplicably gone on holiday, but I got to speak to the manager who was very helpful and I had a nice time looking around the organic gardens, animal pens and sustainable 'EPICentre'. In the rain. After that I cycled to Selby, North Yorkshire, where I stayed the night (and made friends with an impetuous goat!) before heading to the borough of Rotherham, where I am camping at a beautiful site by a lake, getting a bit of r & r before my visit to Heeley City Farm in Sheffield on Monday. Let's hope no-one's decided to go on an impromptu holiday... Right, I really am being kicked off now... more soon...