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15/12/2014

Trail Hunting In Epping Forest


I'm not intending doing lots of cross-posting between here and my new job, but this one is nicely in line with Pastoral Review: a little while ago I hit the trails in Epping Forest to test out my new 'cross bike and did a write up for Kinoko. Take a peek at the full report here.

12/12/2014

Milton Keynes UCI Cyclocross World Cup



I was really intending to get up to Milton Keynes to witness the first time a round of the Cyclocross World Cup has been held in the UK. For lots of reasons I didn't make it, but luckily the guys over at Sunday Echappée did (amongst others). Head on over to check out the rest of their small but perfectly formed gallery.

23/11/2014

Last of the Weekday Rides



I used to work a slightly weird schedule that meant I had weekdays free to ride bikes, with all my friends stuck at their 9-5's. These days were opportunities to stretch the legs and to explore the idiosyncratic landscapes at the southern and eastern fringes of the city, rooting out the antiquated villages absorbed by urban sprawl, ancient lanes short-circuited by modern highways, and greenbelt land encroached by industrialisation.

But, as you know, I've recently changed jobs and inevitably the last of these magical days came around. The forecast was great, with a clear Autumnal sky and temps high enough for short sleeves. Heading for the lanes of Kent, beyond the M25 near Swanley, the changing seasons meant it was like looking at a completely different landscape to the last time I'd ridden here just a couple of months ago.


Looking to get out of suburbia by the fastest route possible I took Star Lane from St Mary Cray. Accessing this decaying sunken lane through a Narnia-like gap in an row of old terraced houses feels like slipping into another realm and really deserves a whole post to itself. I looped around Hextable, Ram's Wood and South Darenth, with the arcane place names really starting to work on my imagination.

At Horton Kirby I took School Lane, which I've never ridden before but turned out to be the highlight of the day. Climbing gently through atmospheric woods the road was strewn with dirt and leaf litter washed there by the previous night's rain. With none of the usual infrastructure indicative of decade or even century visible, it was like going back in time. The dappled sunlight through the trees had a hallucinatory effect and conjured visions of 18th century post-chaises and headless horsemen around every corner.

The road continued to wind through increasingly dark woodland with the only turn off closed due to... what, exactly?.. Thoroughly creeped-out it was definitely time to head for civilisation again.

Epilogue:

Of course I didn't go over 'to the other side' or anything like that; the full record of the ride is here.

20/11/2014

Announcement

So I'm now working at Kinoko, and I've updated Pastoral Review, which was long-overdue anyway. I'm not sure yet how the new job will affect the quality/subject/frequency of the blog, but I will be keeping it active for sure. Content will still be original, and of course any views expressed here remain my own.

I'd like to say a big thank you to those of you who read and encourage Pastoral Review. What I do here has become a livelihood for me now which is pretty much a dream come true - so cheers!

05/11/2014

Psyence Fiction



I don't mention music that often on here, but these guys are really nailing the Pastoral Review aesthetic so they're definitely worth featuring. Psyence Fiction hail from chilly Norway, and their delightfully gloomy vibe is the perfect accompaniment to the season. I mean, what's not to like here? Buttoned-up shirts - check, atmospheric church - check, analogue synth, woodsy guitar & lashings of melancholic Americana - check, check & check. Their limited back catalogue is on Spotify, and their new single is out TODAY! 

02/11/2014

Blog Crush: Sunday Echapée



That thing when you discover a blog with beautiful photography and ride reports from your own back yard, plus enough content to lose half a day catching up on: Sunday Ecahpée. Chapeau, fellas...

30/10/2014

Jules' John Atkins Seafoam Mixte


When Mrs PR decided she wanted an upgrade from the gas-pipe 3-speed she used through college, I knew it was a great opportunity for her to get something that would really allow her to experience the thrills of riding a real bike; that feeling of being connected to a machine rather than fighting it at every pedal stroke.

The requirements were that it should be fairly lightweight, with a step-through frame and with a reasonable range of gears. Oh, and it had to be pretty too (read vintage). Together we scoured Ebay for a couple of weeks until we hit upon this guy (or girl?); Reynolds 531 mixtie frame & forks, Suntour VX derailleurs, and some really special lugwork, all topped off with an incredible seafoam paint job. The original drop bars, levers & downtube shifters needed a bit of a switcheroo to suit Jules, but the spirit of this little beauty remains.

As far as the bike's history goes, a quick Google reveals that John Atkins Cycles in Leamington Spa have been custom building bikes since the 80's. I'll be dropping them an email with some pictures and the frame number to see if they can dig anything up.

If you're still with me, you'll be delighted to know that Jules is very happy with the bike. I shot it with the hose-clamped-on bottle cage, cable tied rear light and chain on the small ring for true authenticity. And the mid-Autumn light just makes that paint job pop, right? Enjoy...