Monday, 1 March 2010

Une bicyclette, s'il vous plait

Much like open-toed shoes, cotton dresses and fruit salads, cycling regularly seems like a distant memory. We still take the bikes out on Sunday afternoons, but it's just been too damn cold, dark, and miserable to commute on them on a daily basis. There are only so many layers you can put on before you're physically incapable of moving your limbs and/or neck around, both of which, I hear, are quite necessary when winding your way through Edinburgh traffic. Whine whine moan complain complain.

But! This week end I am in Brussels. The weather has not been particularly clement - there was a terrifying moment yesterday when I thought I would get flung over the side of a railing by the frightful wind. This has not helped to paint a picture of a bicycling-friendly town. Cyclists here have to put up with steep hills, mad drivers, murderous trams, and extremely discreet (read: invisible) bicycle lanes.

Belgium does, however, excel at weirdness. This is the land of the giant blue brain, the plasticarium, and the habit of saying "please" (s'il vous plait) instead of "thank you". Hidden behind piles of single shoes, viscose rejects and broken record players at the Place du Jeu de Balle fleamarket, we spotted this fantastic plastic retro orange indoor exercize bike I just had to photograph.

Why does it have a chainguard?

The vendor tried to tantalize us with the promise of a good price, but it was just too bulky to take home. The Ryanair tyrants would never have allowed it. I hope it ends up at the Plasticarium.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Iceberg ahead

You might have noticed we've had a little bit of bad weather lately. People have been moaning about, well, this:

If you're anything like me, you're probably sick of the very word "snow", let alone the grotty, dirty, treacherous stuff, and thankful for the thaw. For the first time in a couple of weeks, we were able to take the bikes out for a leisurely ride along the Water of Leith path, heading for the charity shops and tea rooms of Stockbridge.

It was a bit muddy, but perfectly fine, until we hit this, just on the other side of the tunnel near the Broughton Tesco:

A giant puddle of floating ice. I tried to plough through it, to no avail. Resigned, I unmounted, patent-leather shoes submerged in icy water, and pushed until I was back on firm ground, squelchy but unscathed.

This is quickly becoming my least favourite spot on the path. It regularly floods, I've been shouted out by a granny who jumped out onto my path, and dogs lurk menacingly round the blind corner. Now this. Curse you, snow. Even in your last throes, your torment me.

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