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Happy Hogmanay Tartan Tidings and Cycling by Night...

Updated: Jan 18

Setting off on a bicycle commute under the black velvet skies in the early morning hours, it’s impossible not to look up and admire the veil of white lunar light accessorised by the iridescent twinkles from Venus amongst the stars...

Sitting in magical contrast to the vivid void behind, the sheer luminosity of these colours can never quite be captured by the camera lens, acting as a reminder to those early risers of how nothing else will ever compare to the gift of our human experience and being able to see through our own eyes...

Whilst everything still lies dormant and in hibernation, the enveloping stillness always prompts a moment of quiet contemplation when undertaking the daily pre-ride ritual of checking tyres and lights- allowing us to remember how small we are in this delicately balanced place we call home.

The wonder of these moments always puts into perspective how, whilst passing through, we are just one component and consequence of a much bigger design influenced by everything that’s ever come into existence in the universe...

It's moments like these which evoke both a sense of thankfulness when looking to the past, but not a moment to lose when looking to the future...

Meanwhile, sprinklings of snowdrops emerge through fallen leaves, offering the first signs of promise for the year ahead...

...and the intelligent lifeforce that animates the cosmos starts to wake up the rest of nature, which follows like clockwork.


So to embrace #cyclepretty moments during winter rides like these, here’s a list of

12 Things to Remember for Winter Cycling After Dark


1. Plan Your Route – to make the most of well maintained, well gritted cycle lanes and roads where possible.

Now thanks to cycling initiatives being rolled out across the UK and Europe, free maps showing the new infrastructures- like these printed by Manchester's Bee Network- are being made available to make this so easy*


2. Give Yourself Plenty of Extra Time to Make Your Journey- give yourself time to take it nice and slow and maybe even step off to walk from time to time


3. Make Sure Your Phone is Well Charged- in case you need to reach out to anyone




4. Share Your Location – on a map app which can track your journey, it can give peace of mind as well as an extra precaution, to tell someone which route you’re planning on following. Maybe even share your location so they can check to make sure you've arrived safely.


5. Do the Journey with Someone- safety in numbers can always offer some reassuring encouragement at the prospect of cycling in the dark, allowing you to start your day in a way that's as refreshing as it is sociable.


6. Wear Bright High Visibility Items of Clothing– you don’t have to wear utilitarian high vis vests if you don’t want to. However being mindful to wear brighter coloured items where you can will still serve their purpose.

7. Test Your Bike Lights Work Properly and Always Use Them- bike lights are an absolute must. Even during the daytime there isn’t as much daylight at this time of year, meaning the middle of the day can still be pretty dark. For more hints and tips around the best lighting to use, Cycling UK have a brilliant YouTube video which can be found here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IA8MqiCHaEg&list=PLO8Abx_zF0LXCS1lxyOidURpik1Oh93gQ&index=11&t=26s


8. Always Cover Your Brakes and Look Far Ahead- thereby allowing yourself plenty of time to check for ice patches in advance of reaching them.  Should this happen, gradually come to a stop by the kerb and just walk with your bike until it’s safe to set off again. 

9. Get your Bike Serviced- this can be done at a relatively low cost if done by a local mechanic like Panos Bikes of Chorlton in South Manchester*. This is always worth it’s weight in gold to be sure your mode of transport is ready for the winter elements- not to mention the grit salt on the roads!


10. Make the Switch Into Winter Tyres Where Possible- ask your local bike mechanic for more information on what tyres are right for your model of bike.







9. Wear a Helmet  - although they're not mandatory we recommend wearing one for cycling around busy spells of car traffic, fog and ice patches that can be around at this time of year.


12. Layer Up- Dress in lots of compactable, lightweight layers, or at least take extra layers with you. That way if you don’t build up much speed during your journey because you’re being careful, you can still make sure you keep warm and dry.









Now with everything you need to safely enjoy a winter ride this month, here's...

Four Cosy Things To Do for a Cycle Pretty January


1. Celebrate Hogmanay with a Tartan Bicycle Winter Picnic

Embrace the full spirit of the New Year celebrations by taking a mismatch of tartans and basket full of Scottish delicacies on a group ride...

To guarantee warmth when huddled around the mini fire pit, homemade haggis, short bread and a nip of whiskey make a lovely combination...

Alternatively, if you would like us to organise a winter bicycle picnic for you, the different options we provide are as Instagramable as they are memorable.

More information on these can be found here...


2. Make Home Made Pizzas with Christmas Leftovers for a Film Night...

It's probably the only time when the fridge-freezer is completely full with left over cooked meats, cheeseboard, vegetables and festive condiments...

Rather than let anything go to waste though, it makes the perfect opportunity to maybe cycle over to friends or partners and have a cosy date night in of making home made pizzas and watching films...

...and trust me when I say a white sauce-based pizza with baked camembert cheese, steak, greens and cranberry sauce is an absolute winner...


3. Order A Tartan-Inspired Flower Bouquet

Taking inspiration from the Royal Stewart tartan so symbolic of Scotland's rich historic culture...

...the wide array of multicoloured winter floristry available at this time of year can be arranged to incorporate lots of velvet-textured flowers in crimson reds and creams, with accents of sapphire blue winter berries, deep magentas and splashes of yellow running throughout...

... so why not keep up the cheer and replace the Christmas tree with a large bouquet, brimming with colour. If you'd like to enquire, please drop us a message at enquiries@bloomsbicycles.co.uk

4. Support the RSPB and Go on A Bird Watching Bicycle Adventure...

January is the month that marks the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' "Big Garden Bird Watch" weekend. Falling this year between 26th -28th, why not take a cruise to your local RSPB charity book shop* and buy a preloved bird watching pocket guide to keep in your basket, ready for any future finds during your next parkland adventure...


In the Cycle Pretty Boutique…

We've got some really exciting news that we've been so looking forward to sharing with you... We're now retailers of the one and only Original Duckhead Umbrellas!

As a female-owned business from the UK, Original Duckhead was founded in 2012 with a mission to disrupt throwaway culture in the umbrella industry. With 1 billion umbrellas being thrown away every year and only a marginal amount of them recyclable, these umbrellas have been made to tackle plastic waste head on as they are each made from nine recycled plastic bottles...

In an array of jewel colours, the Flower Maze design makes this a versatile accessory that will pair with any winter coloured outfit...

Having a nice bike is one way to add a cheerful twist to everyday commuting life, to then accessorise it with a complimenting umbrella that lives in the front wicker basket makes this even more the case :-)


From January's Book Corner Club…

From our bookshelf collection of Canterbury Classics this month, we review The Hunchback of Notre Dame...

Written in 1831, at a time when the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was falling into disrepair, Victor Hugo created what still to this day is one of the most passionate and gripping novels known the world over. Later becoming the spark to kickstart the renovations of the iconic building now so inherent to the skyline of Paris, it's said Victor Hugo was completely moved after witnessing the ancient Greek word 'ANARKH' engraved onto an obscure nook in one of the cathedral's towers. Translating to the word 'fate', Hugo was said to have been totally captivated by the undercurrent of fatal melancholy from the way the word was so intentionally engraved in a place so hidden from the world.

It was upon this one word the book was founded...

Set in 1482 during the reign of King Louis XI, the strikingly beautiful Esmeralda finds herself pursued by three men in love with her, one of which forces his unwelcomed advances on her.

"Love is like a tree: it grows by itself, roots itself deeply in our being and continues to flourish over a heart in ruin. The inexplicable fact is that the blinder it is, the more tenacious it is. It is never stronger than when it is completely unreasonable."

Subsequently she is wrongly accused of attempted murder and being a witch. From this the course of her life is changed...

Naturally caring and compassionate, the bell ringer Quasimodo becomes struck by how beautiful Esmeralda is after she takes a drink of water to him while he is being publicly flogged in the stocks...

"Perhaps you still have some light in the bottom of your soul..."

After this moment Quasimodo's fate is sealed too, after he realises his heart will never feel the same...

(sorry for the photo bombing, Bella the dog can't help herself...)



For more information on the newly rolled out Bee Network cycling infrastructure around Manchester, please visit: https://tfgm.com/

For more information on the services provided by Panos Bikes of Manchester, please visit:
















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