Four Men: A Farrago

Hillaire Belloc’s The Four Men: A Farrago is a novel describing a 90 mile walk through the Sussex countryside, passing Brighton on the way.

Today, we were four ICC clubmates travelling through the Sussex contryside by train to and from Brighton. The original plan was to catch the train to Brighton, collect David’s new bike and ride back to London (in my case, ride to Brighton, collect the bike and ride back).

The arctic vortex put paid to that.

We preferred not to risk the snow and ice on our bikes so we took the train and planned a spot of lunch. As Jan said “Four men going for lunch in Brighton, are you going to get a rainbow T shirt?”

Bike, beer, fish and chips, man chat and a walk along the beach.

Colin, David M, Stephen and David C. According to David C’s son we look a bit like the cast of Trainspotting 2.


We didn’t return with rainbow T shirts, but David did get his new titanium bike:


‘Birthday’ celebration

Photo: A couple of shady characters.

The celebratory dinner referred to in yesterday’s post was The Trinity Hill, New Zealand, Magnum Club Dinner at The Crypt of St. Etheldreda’s church in Ely Place. A chance to sample some of the best wines that New Zealand produce (so they said). Our host was their Wine Maker in Chief, Warren Gibson.

Jan missed out a little in the early courses. Not only is she not a fan of new world Sauvignon Blanc we had on arrival but she’s not keen on tuna either, which meant Colin had double helpings of both.

When the reds came round for the lamb we were poured a 2010 and 2017 Homage Syrah. The 2017 was very young, fresh and vibrant but in need of several more years of maturing. The 2010 smelt suspiciously of a damp cellar (Jan) or truffle (Colin). It didn’t taste any better. Jan called over the sommelier. He smelt and tasted it and proclaimed that “Madame is right” and found another bottle. Much better. He said they opened the wines at 5pm to taste and for them to breathe. The proportion of surface area exposed to oxygen is small in a bottle, let alone a magnum, so that didn’t work. Decanting would have been better.

Still, we had a really nice time in a wonderful setting.

I suspect we are now known as a couple of shady characters.



Blue Monday? Not here.

Today is Blue Monday. The most depressing day of the year. Apparently.

It’s not science but a wheeze dreamed up by a travel company. It only applies to the Northern hemisphere as the weather contributes towards the formula to calculate the date.

No Blue Monday in this household. Today is the 5th anniversary of my skiing accident that broke my back and prompted our retirement. It’s a date to celebrate as my legs still work. So much so I completed a 200k ride in the cold and rain on Saturday as part of my attempt to qualify for the 1,200km Paris Brest Paris audax in August.

We’re going out for a celebratory dinner* tomorrow evening to mark the occasion.

As Dr. Broger, the surgeon who operated on me in Switzerland said at the time:

“You are so lucky, you should consider the 21st of January your new birthday”

I do. It’s Magic Monday.


*23rd January update – click here for the dinner blog entry.

Another nice mess


We went to see Stan and Ollie this evening. A gentle film about love and frienship. We both really enjoyed it.

The nice mess started a few days before the film. We received notification that the film had been moved from Cinema 1 to the smaller Cinema 2 in the Barbican. We would all be re-seated. Armed with fresh tickets we found our seats, no problem.

With nothing on the screen the entertainment started. A lady stood near us trying to read her new ticket. “I don’t have my glasses”. She couldn’t find the row letters either. She then went down the isle on the other side and tried to persuade some people that they were in her seats, to no avail. Back to the centre isle. She then walks along the row in front of us. She looked at two empty seats and walks back to the isle mentioning seats “three and four”. The couple in front of us point out that the two empty seats she was looking at were indeed “three and four”. She didn’t react. Back to same people on the other side, the seat occupiers produce their phones to show they have booked those seats. The poor lady had no choice but to seek help from the cinema staff.

For the third time the sitters are challenged. The staff member explains something to them discretely and they get up. To their credit they announce to the rest of us “We’re in the wrong cinema”. The lady was right all along.

It didn’t stop there. We sat through the adverts. When the BBFC certificate came up with “Stan and Ollie” a couple ran out as they too realised they were in the wrong cinema. Laurel and Hardy was acted out right in front of us.

The acting on the screen was excellent. Steve Cougan caught Stan Laurel’s mannerisms brilliantly. A lovely film. Recommended.

You’re having a laugh

Last night I went to see my friend Mark to support him at one of his stand up comedy gigs. It was great to see him, especially as he’s had a hard time of it of late. Here’s hoping 2019 is much better for him.

We met on our stand up comedy course, which he reminded me was two years ago. Ouch. I can’t believe that two years had passed already. I thought it was only one.

Just like all the acts last night, I took way more time than my allocated five mintes on my debut. I managed eleven minutes and loved it. It’s got me thinking. Perhaps I might give it another go. If I can find the time that is. Maybe that’s next winter’s project, though I have been working on a set in Italian to perform there one day. Now there’s a challenge.

On the way home I spotted some random slogans on the steps of Hoxton station. For some reason, one of them caught my eye. I’d like to think you won’t follow the advice as far as our blogs are concerned:



My ‘five’ minute debut two years ago.


New Year resolution

Photo: Jan striding to the pub. Since becoming an ultra runner her walking pace has got even faster.


New year, new site.

Our New Year’s resolution is more 2048 x 1536 than stop doing this and start doing that.

Today we switched to this new website.

Staying with our great friends Angela and Neil in Saltash we saw in the new year with a walk. A walk to the pub. The Rising Sun in Kingsand for crab sandwiches, chips and a pint. No dry January for us. Incremental changes work best. Think marginal gains.


Photo: It was a glorious day for a walk along the Cornish coast.

This year, Jan has passed the major sporting challenge baton to Colin. Having completed her astounding 2,018km running in 2018 in aid of Alzheimer’s research Jan is looking forward to running when she wants to, not when she has to. It’s now up to Colin to deliver on the sporting challenge by completing Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1,200km ride in 90 hours in August.

We have trips planned to The Netherlands, Gran Caneria, Tuscany, the Dolomites and another glorious summer in Italy. Who knows, we might even get that garage built. Much to look forward to.

We will blog about our adventures and observations here from time to time. In the meantime, we wish all our friends and family a very peaceful and happy new year.

Colin & Jan