Rock and Roll London: Dave Clark

I saw recently that Squeeze, who hailed from Deptford (just up the road from me) are playing at OnBlackheath this September. My first thought was that they wouldn't have far to travel, as I like to think they still live up the road - or should that be Up the Junction? Maybe they do, but most likely they don't. 

It prompted me to think of the musical talent we have around us, especially here in London and how often we can relate to famous people from places we know and are familiar with. So when I was offered the opportunity to write this post about Dave Clark I knew exactly what my link to him would be, but I'll get onto that in a bit.

Back to Squeeze.

I imagine for them that it'd be great for them too, to play a "home" venue, especially the relatively new Blackheath festival which we went to last year.  We actually saw Squeeze a few years back too at the IndigO2 (which is part of the O2) and it was one of those rare evenings where I found myself knowing quite a lot of their songs and singing along.  And so, because they came from a few miles from where I live I formed an affinity with them.  It was either that or the fact that they were Cool for Cats...

So what's my connection to Dave Clark?

Clearly, like Squeeze, I've never met him - but I do know one of his songs really quite well. Dave Clark was the leader and drummer of The Dave Clark Five and they were, I'm told The Beatles' biggest rival. He's also a songwriter and record producer, and the song I know and have sung along to in public and no doubt rarely in tune, is Glad All Over, which was adopted by Crystal Palace Football Club as their anthem in the 1960s.

And for many years I lived opposite Palace's ground, Selhurst Park in the first house I bought, and growing up so close to the ground meant I went to quite a few games and today still follow their results. 

Dave Clark was a Londoner, born in Tottenham - I wonder what they think about his song being adopted by a South London team - and the penthouse he lived in during his time with The Dave Clark Five is currently for sale for £15,500,000 through Wetherell. I tell you it's seriously worth an online look.

Peter Wetherell, Chief Executive of Wetherell says "This is Mayfair's finest penthouse to purchase, and sits on the top two floors of the most illustrious art house cinema in Britain. The building is the stuff of Mayfair legend: Royalty, film producers, Hollywood stars and celebrities have all flocked to this famous venue and over many decades it has played host to red carpet premieres, celebrity functions and private screenings for people including General Eisenhower. Curzon Street is one of Mayfair's most desirable addresses, on the doorstep of Green Park and Hyde Park and just a short walk from Berkeley Square, Bond Street and Mount Street."

So are there any musicians that you have a local link to?

This is a collaborative post, but all opinions are my own.

A fun-filled evening with Monarch at N1 Golf in Greenwich

Just before we headed to Devon for a few days I spent a fun evening playing golf. And yes, you did read that right. Although to be fair Tiger Woods and any other golfer you can name really has nothing to worry about. The evening was courtesy of Monarch, who are one of the top airlines for golf holidays, flying to golf-ready destinations across Spain and Portugal.

It was just the week before that I'd cycled past the new N1 Golf driving range at Greenwich and wondered what it was like inside. I found out sooner than I thought.

Inside as well as the bays of the driving range, there's a very smart restaurant and bar - the Vinothec Compass where after the golf, we tasted wines, beers and some fabulous food - and I was much better at that part of the evening.

But first, the golf.  


And what a backdrop.

It's safe to say I'm not a natural golfer. But even so, it was great fun. While my longest drive in the competition was only 45 yards I did manage to whack some (that's a golfing term I just made up) much further than that.  We started off hitting balls as best we could and I have to thank Charly from PODcast, Kate from Wit Wit WooAlice from Project: Wunderlust and Kip from Kip Hakes for tolerating and encouraging my efforts. My comment about being used to bigger balls set the tone of our evening - and in my defence I meant netballs and korfballs - they're way larger than golf balls!



Mark, one of the Golf Pros at N1 Golf spent some time with each of us helping us improve, and he really had his work cut out that night. But even for me there was a noticeable difference following his advice, and I think I hit more balls first time when I followed his advice. Some I caught lovely, but one night at a golf range does not a golfer make me!

With the golf part of the evening over our attention turned to the food and drink. As you can see from the photos Vinothec Compass is far from what you'd expect from a driving range's restaurant and bar. And nor was the food.

On the menu for our "Spanish Pilgrimage" were tapas style dishes including Basque style crab, Barley, quinoa and pomegranate salad followed by the meatiest Tuna steak I can remember eating, a most tender Longhorn Onglet, some beautiful Cornish Lamb and some very tasty Sea Bream cooked in a Bilbao style. 

There were three Spanish beers too, one of those was a Spanish Ale that was both unusual and very drinkable. Moving onto the wines there was a Rioja, Galicia, Tarragona and a Zaragoza. And then when I thought it couldn't get any better then was Dark Chocolate Cake to finish. Delightful.

So my eyes have been opened. Although I clearly need more practice on the golf it really was a fun evening. In fact I'm still trying to convince MOH that we should visit and try some golf before tucking into a tasty meal. I mean, it's just down the road from us and what's the worst that can happen - it's not like I'm going to smash a window in Canary Wharf, now is it?!


* Thanks to Monarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass for a fun filled evening. 

Our Ride London

Our day started early with a 4.30am alarm but although neither of us had slept that well we were up and out of bed pretty sharpish. Our early start was different to those get-to-the-airport-to-catch-a-plane-at-silly-o'clock-mornings as this time there was breakfast that would fuel the ride and of course there weren't any suitcases. But there was a flight, of sorts.

By 5.30am we were pushing our bikes out of the house and heading to the cable car in Greenwich. And we weren't the only ones. As we reached the Royal Standard just around the corner we tagged onto a group of cyclists heading the same way. The roads were quiet and the only traffic was either buses or cars transporting bikes and their riders towards North Greenwich.

It was a beautiful morning and before MOH caught his flight on the cable car and cycled to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to prepare for the start I got him to pose for a photo, wished him well and reminded him to take some pictures along the way.

As I cycled back home from my earliest starting cycle ever (a record that's unlikely to be broken tbf) MOH was queuing to deposit his bag and then prepare for his 7.36am start time.  He even remembered to take some pictures!



Back home and recovering from the early start and the early cycle I suddenly realised I'd better get myself shifted if I was to get to The Strand on time to see MOH cycle past.

I made the 7.22am train from Blackheath with two minutes to spare and so arrived in Charing Cross with plenty of time to spare. The RideLondon app - aka the Husband Tracker - was up and working and showing MOH's progress along the route.

There were plenty of cyclists to cheer while I was waiting for him to arrive. Teams, individuals and a few in more unusual cycling outfits!

Then at 8.15am, this happened.



With MOH spotted and looking comfortable (well as much as you can on a saddle) I set off for Kingston to see him around the 22 mile mark. I had twenty minutes to wait for the next Kingston train. Armed with a second breakfast - well it was 8.45am by now and I'd been up for ages - I got the train, ate breakfast and continued to track MOH.

Just as the train approached Wimbledon I saw that he'd already passed Kingston station, so there really was little point continuing. But that meant I was in Wimbledon much earlier than I'd planned and in fact I was there before the first cyclist too.  After a wander around, thinking about a third breakfast and thinking better of it, it was still only 9.18am.

The first cyclists arrived in Wimbledon just gone 10am and shortly afterwards I made myself comfy half-way up Wimbledon Hill on the right. If you know Wimbledon, you'll know there's some grass verges well I was there and let me tell you there's not much grass on them right now. I'd brought a sarong to sit on so I was feeling particularly smug and sat down to enjoy the event while MOH took a planned break at Pyrford, at just before 40 miles.

The Husband Tracker was working well and I could see that MOH had reached Newlands Corner, where he had another planned stop in 3 hours 16 minutes. His average speed had slowed to 21.8 kph from 26.5kph at the first timing point, but it was still good and fast enough to complete the course in the allocated time and avoiding the "Broom Van" which would sweep up people that hadn't reached parts of the route by the cut-off time.

The next time I looked he hadn't moved very far at all. And he didn't move very much for a while. Quite a while in fact. 

Then my phone rang and it was MOH to say there'd been a crash and everyone had stopped and was backed up. Sadly as we know now it wasn't caused by a crash but by a fatality, our thoughts are with this rider's family.



After an understandably lengthy stop, MOH was underway again. On Wimbledon Hill there wasn't a break in the riders passing by and we think that's because some of the later cyclists were diverted around this part of the course. 

My vantage point was around the 90 mile mark and half-way up the last hill the riders would encounter.  Some just breezed by, others put thier head down and pushed themselves to the top. Just up from me was one of the BHF cheering stations, and they really did work giving their riders a much needed lift, as you can see from the photo!

Some though needed a bit of a helping hand up the last hill, and this lady wasn't the only one. 

 I counted six tandems as I watched the race go by, but didn't manage to catch one on my camera at all!

At around 3.15pm MOH cycled past. With ten miles to go I knew he'd make it as he still looked relatively fresh and was going a good speed.  



Now to get to the finish and find him, but first an ice cream - it'd been pretty warm work supporting there for the past five hours or so!

Green Park was busy when I arrived around 4.30pm, with people everywhere. I was glad of the advice from the organisers to pre-arrange a meeting place and set out to find the tree labelled with an S. Around 5.30pm MOH wandered by, so it was some time for some post-event photos with his medal. And there was just enough battery life left in my phone to do a final post of Facebook. 



It was great to hear his views on the race and on the course sitting there in Green Park. High points were cycling on car-free roads although it was weird to cycle past work in Docklands so fast; the sun on Westminster Abbey making it look even more stunning as he left London; the view from the top of Box Hill and the pretty village of Abinger Hammer and raising £450 (so far) for Get Kids Going.  Lower points were the hold ups along the route which were frustrating, especially at Leith Hill where it took 9 minutes to walk 400 metres and impacted on his time, running out of phone battery after not turning off wifi (something I suffered from too!) and being fed up of bananas!

And the answer to that all important question - would he do it again, is yes because "it's not a difficult ride."  The ballot opens next Monday, just in time for the pain and soreness to be a rose-tinted memory!

After relaxing a little - using his fleece from earlier as a impromptu cushion to sit on - it wasn't long before we headed for Charing Cross and a train home to a more comfortable seat with plans for some pizza and perhaps a glass or two of red to toast a great day at Ride London.

Oh, and to watch the TV coverage. It seems though that everyone in Greenwich had the same idea to order pizza and ours didn't arrive until 10.20pm, by which time we were more than a little hungry and more than a couple of glasses had been consumed.

Here's to a successful ballot and to next year's event!