Deck Chair

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As the Summer swelter continues, up goes an impassioned plea “Lead me to my deck chair!!”.

The humble deck chair ….Perhaps? Or the well travelled ship’s “deck chair” – if this linen and teak could talk imagine the gossip it holds – from a Golden Era of luxury transatlantic ocean liner travel. Or the End of The Pier, seagull serenaded, fish and chips frying, spearmint rock munching of Brighton, Cromer or Southend – the World’s longest.

Called a Lawn Chair in the US, the Deck Chair has an illustrious history. It was the victim of some on board snobbery. Around the turn of the 20th century, first class passengers would typically enjoy the padded loveliness of a “Steamer” deck chair -Port Out Starboard Home – their legs raised and clad in a woolen rug, invariably sipping broth, if the climate demanded, whilst more lowly passengers would enjoy their trip on a slung hammock canvas and teak deck chair that could be positioned to follow the sun around the deck and be folded for easy stowage.

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The origins of the folding chair has its history in Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. More recently, patents were obtained in the 1880’s in the US and UK for the classic steamer chair. R Holman & Co of Boston (Mass) were the manufactures of the Steamer Deck Chairs that graced the deck of the SS Titanic. Of the 600 supplied only six survived – below is a shot of one.

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There is some debate as to the precise origins of the more rudimentary wooden framed version. Primarily it comprises two rectangualar wooden frames, hinged, with an adjustable back piece and a single length of canvas forming the seat and backrest. Some sources  attribute it to a British inventor, Atkins, in the late 19th Century whereas others credit its design to being similar to “The Yankee Hammock Chair” as advertised in 1882.  The name “Brighton Beach Chair” also seems to predate our currently understood use of “Deck Chair”.

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In my Grandmother’s house in Hertfordshire – I think it was 1976 – she had a row of Edwardian faded green canvas chairs which not only had arms and a footrest but also a large sun canopy that flapped in whatever pathetic excuse for a breeze we had that summer. I recall that the covers perished quite frequently and the local nurseryman supplied rolls of 18” wide canvass to restring your chair. The look was completed by a white parasol, two Lloyd Loom chairs – see our previous post here – Lloyd Loom Chairs – and a bentwood table covered in a circular linen tablecloth with a jug of iced lemonade and tall glasses covered in weighted net – to avoid the flies.

Similar products are still made today by people such as Southsea Deckchairs Southsea Deckchairs

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Images used with grateful thanks – Southsea Dechairs and The V&A Museum

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Black Cabs – London’s Taxis

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Any visitor to London cannot fail to notice that aside from the usual array of private cars, bikes/scooters and delivery vans that the streets are punctuated with two of perhaps the World’s most recognizable and iconic vehicles. The red London Bus – see our previous post here that features the New Routemaster Bus – Thomas Heatherwick – and the Black Cabs – London’s Taxis or more properly “Hackney Carriages”.

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It may be just an impression but certain parts of the West End, that are not already bus and taxi only, but fall within the Congestion Charge Zone – and a daily rate of £11.50 – have taken on a new character. They seem to flow better and are sparsely occupied by private vehicles but are dominated by well managed public transport provided by Transport for London (TfL) – see here our piece on the iconic London Transport Roundels –  London Transport roundels  – and the Carriage Office – the body responsible for the Black Cabs.

The Black Cab is undergoing a revolution. The streets are a battleground where private mini-cabs, recently licence-reprieved Uber cars and Black Cabs vie to secure a ride but they reflect a clash of cultures. The Black Cab driver knows where he/she’s going having successfully completed the Knowledge see our previous post here – London A-Z street atlas – The Knowledge  – whilst the mini-cab or Uber drivers world is linked to one of the many digital street services following pre-selected routes that guide the driver to the chosen post code. Simple but not foolproof!

Price is an issue but I tend to prefer the comfort of Black Cabs. However, with respect to those Uber drivers that I have met, the London Cabbie is often overall much better “value”. They tend to be better informed about London, its Mayor and its political life, the perils of supporting one of London’s eleven football teams, the most recent celebrity they carried and the best route to avoid congestion.

Cabbie’s opinions matter. In a recent and highly effective Twitter piece, Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson, the US Ambassador to the UK – probably as a result of looking for someone to go “Sarf of the River” to the new US Embassy in Vauxhall – toured several of the thirteen remaining London’s Green Cabbie’s shelters. The driver’s opinions on Brexit and the US President seem very welcome. US Ambassador Cab Shelter Tour 

A new Black Cab appeared on the streets of London at the end of 2017 competing with the most recent diesel version of the iconic Black Cab, the TX4, that was produced between 2007 and 2017. Called the LEVC “TX” and seen below next to an older TX4, the cab is built in a new Chinese owned factory outside Coventry and combines a 1.5l petrol engine with a 110kW lithium battery driven electric motor. Conforming perfectly to the zeroing of diesel emissions and the promotion of the recharge economy.

 

A recent journey in the new cab, that tend to be rented by Cabbie’s for under £200 per  week on a five year deal, suggests the comfort is still very much there. The new cab’s driver explained the electric motor delivered around 70 to 80 miles on one 50p electricity recharge and whilst the TX leasing arrangement is slightly more costly, the fuel saving is expected to be around £100 per week. Will this bring cab fares more in line with Uber’s prices?

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Other cities around the world have their own distinctive cabs, the canary Yellow Cabs – Medallion Taxi – that have superseded their checker forerunners – in New York, the Black Body and Yellow Doors in Barcelona but in its own right London’s iconic Black Cab – a vehicle designed and built for a single task – should be seen a beacon of security in an unfamiliar city. Just don’t try and flag on done if its yellow roof light is not illuminated – its occupied!

Images used with grateful thanks – Transport For Londons, Daily Telegraph and LEVC TX.

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MGB

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I was flattered to be asked to contribute To the January-February 2018 edition of The London Magazine – the Capital’s oldest. I was asked to write their 25th “My London” piece which you can see here please – My London by Mark FR Wilkins . I refer to one of London’s tribes, as a  “typical” MGB owner. I suggest that this still holds largely true, despite that the owner may now be in his 70’s although the corduroy’s will still be worn!

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These are adored British cars that have even described by Simon Chalesworth in his brilliant piece on the MGB in February 2018’s “Classic and Sports Car”, as the “gateway drug into whatever this is that we do with old cars”. I understand, that a good quality example of an MGB can be acquired at reasonable cost and by a proficient mechanic or a hired hand it can be up, running and looking fine in reasonably short order and comparable cost.

The MGB is a four cylinder, two-door British roadster – open topped/rag roofed sports car – produced by British Motor Corporation, later British Leyland, between 1962 and 1980, from its famed Abingdon (Oxfordshire) works. It used braking and suspension from the MGA and the engine dated to a design from the late 1940’s.

A previous outing of the MG brand was seen in Aestheticons with the MGA – please see here our previous piece – MG – MGA

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The MGA is a stunner and I thought it couldn’t be surpassed but those who know tell me that the MGB is infinitivly more fun and certainly a greater level of comfort – particularly later models – over its predecessor. The Sunbeam Alpine, also featured here before, seems to have set an newly raised bar one that the MGB sought to attain –  see our earlier post here – Sunbeam Alpine – Bond’s first car

Below is an MGB Mk 1, in Tartan red with a black interior and red piping. It was built in Abingdon in February 1963 and was an early car; the MGB being first shown to the market in September 1962. This car, a stunning example, is Norwegian owned and had 22 previous owners!

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The MGB with its 1798 cc BMC B-Series engine – which was upgraded in 1964 and again in 1967 – initially achieved a 0–60 is around 11 seconds but required detuning in 1975 to be comply to stricter US emission standards, the US being a key export market – you’ll note our featured image is a left hooker. The same year the MGB, which was one of the first cars to benefit from crumple zone technology, was fitted with black polyurethane bumpers to comply yet further with the US Health & Safety codes – some see these as a blight the MGB’s otherwise clean lines and great looks.

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Variants including the MGB GT – which first appeared in 1965 – the MkII MGB and MGC that both appeared in late 1967 with the latter benefitting from a six cylinder engine in a MkII MGB body. With around 9000 examples of the MGC made by August 1969 it was withdrawn and is highly regarded by collectors for its ride and handling.
 In 1993-5 the MGB bodyshell was brought out of retirement by Rover and used for a limited 2000 MG RV8 roadsters to celebrate the MGB’s 30th Anniversary.
As much as I adore these splendid small English sports car my garage is destined for others. I’d be more than keen to have a die-cast model of an MGB on the shelf in my Man Cave – join me by clicking the Amazon link below the image! 

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MG B MGB Cabrio grün Modellauto 10002 T9 1:43

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Photo credits with grateful thnaks – Trygve Sørli/www.petrolicious.com, The London Magazine, Marc Vorgers,

Brompton Bicyclesm

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I really like to cycle. There’s a “wind in your hair” moment – obviously beneath your safety helmet – when you appreciate the liberty of your pace but also the penny drops that you are actually doing yourself some good. Stamina and a general feeling of wellbeing improve immensely from bike riding.

If you are a City commuter then the idea of riding to work may be somewhat daunting. Aside from the perils of other road users, including the crazy antics of cycle messengers/couriers – who are very time poor – and the inconsideration often shown to pedal power by motorists there are distinct health and wealth benefits. Provided the weather holds, many Cities now have dedicated bike routes offering the cyclists a reasonably direct line between home, through parks and tunnels to emerge close to their work place.

Once you arrive at work – what on earth do you do with your prized bike? You can park it in a designated cycle rack with all manner of heavy “U” locks or chains seeking to prevent theft or why not carry it and place it under your desk!

Yes, armed with an engineering degree from Cambridge University and a somewhat thwarted career in computer science, Andrew Richie’s City Analysist father introduced him to those seeking to commercialize the Bickerton Bike. A patented model of collapseable bike produced entirely from aluminum profiles with no welding and reasonably light.

After extensive modification of the earlier idea to ensure that the dirtiest parts of the bike – primarily the chain – were central to the folded vehicle and named after the Brompton Oratory that could be seen from his flat, in Egerton Gardens, where he developed the first prototypes, James filed his second patent in 1979 for his folding bike. The Patent was granted on the 30th May 1984.

I am very relieved to hear that James Ritchie appears to be in that rare group of perhaps eccentric British inventors, that would logically include James Dyson and Clive Sinclair and Trevor Baylis, that are truely obsessed by their design and live and breath the prospect for their invention. Mr Richie certainly believed in his invention and spent an inordinate amount of time bringing it to market. He readily admits to being a perfectionist for whom all the design and manufacturing details needed to be just right. His belief has proved to be correct.

The Brompton is an iconic and memorable site on the street of London, New York and San Francisco.

His modesty as to his design talents is disarming. He quite rightly notes that he combined the elements of a bicycle that have been around since the Victorian era. He credits Alex Moulton – who we first heard of in relation to his design work on the suspension of Sir Alec Issigonnis’ Mini – see our pervious post here – Mini – the best selling car in Britain  who popularized the smaller wheeled bicycle and without this Mr Richie believes that he would not have conceived the idea of the Brompton.

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It appears that a favourite pastime for the legions of fans of the Brompton folding bike – aside from selecting your preferred vehicle from the company’s wide range of options, alternative parts and accessories that may be tailored to your individual needs – is to add a Brooks saddle, perhaps giving the bike a slightly more noble look. We have celebrated the iconic saddles made by Brooks in Smethwick (West Midlands) – please see our earlier post here – Brooks bicycle saddle

The cleaver team at Brompton based at their production facility in West London have devised and recently launched a Brompton bike that is powered by human and battery! See their video here Brompton’s First Electric Bike

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Can I interest you in a Brompton? The ever popular M6L model is available in either blue or black – please click on the Amazon link below the image of each bike

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BROMPTON M6L 2017 Tempest Blue Folding Bike

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BROMPTON M6L 2017 Black Folding Bike

Or perhaps you’d prefer the same look in a lighter Brompton bike – the H6L – please click the link below the image

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Brompton H6L Superlight 2017 Folding Bike Black Titanium

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The Independent, one of the UK’s more objective newspapers, in June 2018, carried a very well reasoned piece concerning electric bikes – including Brompton’s very own version. Read the piece By David Phelan here Best Electric Bikes

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Image Credits – with grateful thanks Brompton Bicycles and James Richie

Aestheticons’ Guide to Iconic European Beers – Part 2

Beer A

I am very excited by the growth of Craft Beers. The very name suggests the image of a ruddy faced and smocked farmer sucking on an ear of wheat but nothing could be further from the truth. These start ups that have emerged from the micro-brewing scene are many well capitalised business making amazing products.

The ethos of the craft brewer is not at all at odd with those beautifully crafted European beers that have seen international success.

In our second appreciation – see our first guide here – Aestheticons’ Guide to Iconic European Beers – Part 1 of some of Europe finest and most iconic beer I have highlighted those beautiful beers that stand strong to the noble tradition of brewing.

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BrewDog: I was in a bar in Camden North London about two years ago with an old friend – and a very successful entrepreneur – from the music business. He suggested a pint of Dead Pony Pale Ale. Indeed a delicious pint, but it was the usual branding and obviously compelling punk attitude that required a deeper sampling of this recent UK beer brand.

Founded by James Watt and Martin Dickie in Scotland in 2007. In 2011 they raised £2m by via crowdfunding and by October 2015 production had risen to 2.2m bottles and 400,000 cans. Their first bar was opened in 2010 in Aberdeen and their fourth being the bar in Camden – many others world-wide have followed. By April 2017 22% of the business was sold for £213m to The Shansby Group (TSG), a US based private equity firm housed in the iconic Transamerica Pyramid building in San Francisco (CA.).

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By mid 2017 the canned Punk IPA became one of the regular house pours on EasyJets European services – an accolade for sure.

Hope you will support this fabulous new movement in UK brewing? If you’d like to try a mixed case from BrewDog hit this Amazon link:
BrewDog: Headliner Mixed Case, 12 x 330 ml

Pelforth

Pelforth Brune: French beers are typically “blonde” and have many refreshing qualities. However, on colder autumn/winter days with a warming bowl of Cassoulet – a delicious traditional white haricot beans and pork stew – a delicious accompaniment is a glass of deep brown Pelforth. Its has a rich caramel aroma and profound, almost sweet, flavours for a brown beer.

Founded in Lille (Northern France) in 1921 the three local brewers, Louis Boucquey, Armand Deflandre and Raoul Bonduel, joined forces. By 1937 Jean Deflandre, Armand’s son, used high fermentation, two malts of barley and English yeast to create a beer that he called “Pelforth 43”. Why? Based on Pelican – as seen on the bottle – the French word for “strong” – “fort”. “43” refers to 43kg of barley required to produce a hectolitre of the beer – it also happens to be the name of the local infantry regiment. 

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Following various mergers and acquisitions Pelforth became part of Heineken in 1988.

I highly recommend that you try a Pelforth Brown, particularly if you like a typical mild beer – there is much in common. If that appeals please click the following AMAZON link:
Pelforth brown 6.5 ° 65 cl – 6 x 65 cl

Franks Weiss

Franziskaner Weissbier: Is a wheat/white beer – is a deep, complex and flavoursome beer – produced by the Bavarian brewing giant Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu GmbH.

The brewers origins can be traced to the late 14th century and the name derives from the German for “Franciscan” as their was a monastery diagonally opposite the original brewery. The Friar was first used as a logo in 1909. In 1922 the breweries of Spaten and Franzikaner merged.

In 1964, the Spaten-Franziskaner brewery brewed its first wheat beer. By 1984 Franziskaner Weissbier became available by export. By 2003 the brewery was selling 1m million hectolitres annually. It is claimed that Franziskaner Weissbier is now the world’s favourite wheat beer.

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In 2004 following a merger with Lowenbrau the business was acquired by brewing giant Interbrew – now Anheuser-Busch Inbev.

So you missed Munich’s world famous “OktoberFest” in September this year. Why not try a few bottles of Franziskaner Weissbier at home by clicking the following AMAZON link:
Franziskaner Weissbier Beer, Case of 12

Fullers

Fullers London Pride: Fuller’s London Pride has alway been proud that it is “Made in London”. It is in fact the UK’s best selling cask-conditioned ale and is sold worldwide in bottles. Its a deep and very flavourful ale that was first brewed at Fuller’s Chiswick (West London) Thames-side based Griffin Brewery in 1959.

The name for this fine beer stems from the early 1940’s when a flower, colloquially called “London Pride” (Saxifraga x urbium) – a perennial flowering plant – was noted as blooming on bomb sites around London left by the Blitz. The symbolism of the flower, its reliance and the resolve of Londoners to resist the misery of the War years was celebrated by Fullers.

In 1979 and 1995 at the Campaign For Real Ale Awards London Prised won Champion Beer of Britain in the Best Bitter Class. Since 2007 it has been the official beer of the London Marathon.

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One of the finest ways to enjoy a pint of Pride is at the Fuller’s owned pub in Hammersmith, “The Dove”, with its wide terraces overlooking the River Thames. It’s said to be where Charles II dined with his mistress, Nell Gwynne, and has been owned by local brewer, Fuller, Smith & Turner, since 1796.

Like many other Londoners why no “Take Pride” by clicking the following AMAZON link:
Fullers London Pride Premium Ale – 12 x 500ml

Youngs Bitter

Youngs Bitter: Progress is often a bitter pill best enjoyed with a pint of Youngs’ fine bitter. A real pint of bitter that results from many years of brewing tradition.

Since the 1550 the Ram pub has been recorded on the site of the former Youngs’ brewery in Wandsworth (South West London). The Ram was purchased in 1831 by co-founders Charles Allen Young and Anthony Fothergill Bainbridge. In 2006 the last chairman of Young & Co, John Young – a direct descendent of Charles – agreed to sell the site for re-development ending over five hundred years of brewing tradition. Sadly, Mr Young died shortly after the sale and a final brew from the Ram’s Brewery was served at his funeral.

For many years I recall seeing the Young & Co brightly coloured shire-horse drawn drays delivering beer to the local area around South West London.

Youngs Dray

Since 2006 the brewing of Youngs’ beers, to service its licensed trade – including as of August 2017, 177 managed pubs and 74 tenanted houses in the area – and its off license business was transferred to a new business – a joint venture between Charles Wells Brewery that operates from the Eagle Brewery in Bedford. Wells have subsequently acquired full control of this joint venture.

Young & Co is still based in Wandsworth. In 2007 the company moved to a new head office around the corner from the former brewery site.

As part of the 2013 redevelopment plans for the site, there is a commitment for the Ram’s historic buildings to be retained and restored to include a micro-brewery and preservation of the bank of the River Wandle that passes through the site.

I have several favourite Youngs Pubs in London. “The Guinea” in Bruton Place is perhaps the home of the finest steak in London. “The Fox and Anchor” in Charterhouse Street where you once could enjoy an early morning pint with the porters of Smithfield market and the recently refurbished “The County Arms” in Trinity Road, Wandsworth is a delightful evening local.

If you cannot get to one of the above fine pubs – or many of Young’ others – why not try the dray deliveries from AMAZON by clicking the following link: Young’s Bitter – 12 X 500ml

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So sorry to our international readers as the AMAZON links are UK only.

Images courtesy of the Brewers