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This weekend was a lot about the Duchess. I cycled to the local Halford’s to get her gears checked and see if there was anything else she needed. Riding hasn’t been smooth of late and I wanted an expert opinion. We spent more than an hour there but when we were done I had smoother brakes, back wheel realigned, and more traction, for lack of a better word. They called her “Dutchie” at the shop, how cute – I think that name’s going to stay. One-way roads while cycling back combined with my lack of direction-sense meant what could have been a 3 minute journey was turned into 20 minutes as I was hopelessly lost in back roads.

Today was a foggy day and I rode down to Shoreditch for lunch. This was a proper bike ride after a long, long time. But unlike the easy rides by the river I used to enjoy previously, this was largely on Kingsland road with fast moving vehicular traffic for most of the way. But it was good for confidence building and I am definitely going to go out biking a lot more now. Going towards Shoreditch, I initially took the little lanes, off the main road, before joining it at Dalston. Even then it was a lot of fun, going down the sloping road I didn’t even need to pedal much. My favourite bit about this stretch of the road so far is the Geffrye Museum, near Hoxton station. I love its lovely building and garden; its almost like an oasis. Perhaps I’ll visit it sometime soon.

My aim for riding down to Shoreditch was also to try out some good Indian cooking at Dishoom, opened here in October last year. The restaurant pays homage to Bombay’s dying Irani cafes, and is complete with black, slow-whirring ceiling fans, and admonitions on not sleeping in the toilet or flirting with the cashier. I quite liked the place. The food I had was good too, though I really think the biryani could have been spicier but they do have to cater to local tastes I suppose. Of course the decor makes improvements on the original cafes – for instance, the tables are smarter and the lighting is much better than in the average Irani. However, I did think the floor would have been better with the traditional large black and white chequered pattern. I lingered about after lunch, taking time to sip my lassi, read the papers and had pista kulfi for dessert. Again, not the most authentic but hey, it’s kulfi 20 mins from home!

Post-lunch, I was glad to find the Duchess still in the place where I’d left her. I realised that despite all our outings together, this is the first time I’d actually made a stop anywhere, work not included. The ride on the way back was slightly uphill and I felt the full effects of the full meal. I found myself even hoping for the lights to turn red to get a breather but I pretty much had an uninterrupted ride back to Stokey. No longer fit!

This evening, I was surfing TV to find something to go with the pav bhaji I’d made and I came upon “Five go to rehab”. The Famous Five, thirty years on, as adults who’ve done rather badly for themselves in life. It was quite amusing. And following that episode was “Five go mad in Dorset”, shot in 1982 when the five were young. This was supposed to be satirical. I’d never realised as a child that Enid Blyton’s books were so racist and sexist! But publishers have been altering them since years apparently to better cater to modern sentiment. Oh dear!