season's greetings

Maastricht is a very Catholic part of the Netherlands.

recently there have been plenty of people singing carols in the streets, and children and their parents involved in "live" nativity scenes.

while partaking in the christmas tradition of shopping, I learned that the Dutch normally don't wish people a "merry christmas" unless it is actually december 25.

however, they make exceptions, in english, on other days...


winter romance

despite all the snow

there appears to be

something cosy about these

bicycle couples


summertime searching: bicycles

I was recently introduced to Google trends. Google trends is a service/function of Google's that shows how often a particular search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages.

Out of curiosity I tried "bicycle" and "velo".

The above image is the result for "bicycle" while the one below is for "velo".

Some observations I had about the results...

1. The not surprising overall, and gradual decline of searches for "bicycle" by volume. Presumably as access to and use of the internet increases, the chances are high that as a relative proportion, the search for "bicycle" would decrease. I am a little surprised that it hasn't decreased by more... but maybe this relates to point 3.

2. The surprisingly consistent/repetitive result for "velo" over the years since 2004.

3. I was pleased to see the increase in references to bicycles in the news... even if some of the references to bicycles in the news included such titles as: "Police link "bicycle thief" to Hollywood PR killing" and "Kuyt ruled out for four weeks after botched bicycle kick". (NB: the reference to the bicycle thief doesn't appear to relate to the film by the same name as posted here.)

4. That Singapore came in at number 3 on the list of countries searching for bicycles - ahead of Canada and the United Kingdom.


5. Summertime in both the northern and southern hemispheres is the time that most people search for bicycles on the internet... Not surprising...

Regardless of the weather and season... enjoy your ride.


weather report

I assume, rightly or wrongly, that the novelty of snow will wear off sooner or later.

Until that time though, I think it's rather beautiful and am very happy for it to keep on snowing.


Did Philip Larkin love bicycles?

An article in the Guardian alerted me to the fact that it is 25 years since the highly regarded literary figure from Hull (UK) died.

I mention this because the photograph of Mr Larkin, accompanying the article, shows him sitting in front of concrete pillar with a bicycle in the background.

The article reports that Mr Larkin had 4 significant affairs throughout his life. Was a love of bicycles number 5? Is this a case of another famous person with a secret love of the bicycle? (read a previous post about a couple of other famous people and bicycles here.) I wondered if there were other images of Mr Larkin with bicycles?

Although it would be difficult to answer the first two questions, a quick image search on Google later supplied some evidence suggesting an answer for the third question. It is clear that the image used in the Guardian was one, probably, from a photo shoot taken with many bikes in the background (see here). I was beginning to think that this then was just a one off, opportunistic photoshoot that just happened to feature bicycles... until I saw this book cover...

The image comes from a blog post by Joe Moran about the book/poem.

I know that many people have a say on what image is used for the cover of a book, so it might not be fair to use this as evidence for more than a passing interest in bicycles, but I'm going to anyway...

It's late on in the piece to confess that I've actually never read any of Mr Larkin's poems. However, as I'm just about to finish my current novel, he will jump to the top of the list. If there is any reference to bicycles, I'll let you know.


a little snow

a little snow never stopped anyone from enjoying a moving or stationary bicycle...