In December 2020 a new cafe opened up in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh. There are a lot of coffee shops in this part of town, so I was curious to find out if Modern Standard offered something different. It turns out that the coffee is roasted in Fife, Glenrothes to be precise. The Bruntsfield shop is their first cafe- the coffee tastes great and it is very competitively priced compared to the local competitors.
When I first visited Modern Standard in Bruntsfield for some takeaway cappuccinos and the barista told me that the coffee was roasted in Fife I was excited to try out a Scottish product that I had not yet heard about. I bought some of their ground coffee to try at home. The Momentum Espresso is the one they use to make the coffee in the cafe. It is a blended coffee with beans from Brazil and Columbia. I thought it was superb and full of flavour, chocolaty and nutty. Perfect for the morning brew as it was smooth and had the required caffeine hit to get you moving. I adored the smell and liked to leave the used grinds in the cafetiere for most of the day as it made my kitchen smell just like one of Bruntsfield's artisan coffee shops.
I also tried two of the single origin coffees, both from Guatemala. The Finca San Antonio was great tasting, with more citrus acidity than the Momemtum Espresso. I was happy to have this for my morning coffee and the occasional afternoon treat. The La Bolsa was incredible in every way. It had a distinct fruity taste- the tasting notes described it as 'hibiscus, red fruits, marmalade. Full body and a nuts mix finish'. The fruit also came out in the aroma and it brought a whole new pleasure to drinking coffee.
I will certainly look forward to trying more of their coffees. The website has coffees from Brazil, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nicaragua. You can buy single bags or take out a subscription for regular supplies. The website is packed with useful information about the coffees, so you can learn more about where your drink comes from. There is a QR code on the back of the bags that links to brewing guides on the website.
The founder of Modern Standard is Glenrothes-born Lynsey Harley. She has an extensive background in the coffee business and decided to locate the roasting operation in her hometown. She regularly travels out to the coffee farms to visit the suppliers and source new coffees. You will notice that the front of the bag features the 1% for the planet logo- this means that 1% of profits go to environmental and social projects.
It's another great Scottish food and drink product. The next time you are in Fife or Edinburgh, or online, give this coffee a try.
When using my bike to get around Edinburgh it is sometimes necessary to pass parked vehicles. You might be thinking 'so what?', well, a parked vehicle can make cycling feel a bit more dangerous because you have to pull out to pass that vehicle and that means going further out into the road where the moving vehicles are. This can be a frightening prospect and can be another potential barrier to people taking up cycling for everyday journeys.
And why is this important? The Scottish Government had a target of 10% of everyday journeys being made by bike by 2020. This target was not met. Parked vehicles, of course, is not the only reason that the target was not met, but it is one of several barriers to people using bicycles for everyday journeys. And whilst there continues to be low levels of investment in segregated cycle routes it means that you have to be confident to cycle on roads, where parked vehicles are a hazard.
This is my story of why parked vehicles can be a challenge to people cycling and why they are a contributing factor to the 10% target not being met.
My main cycling route for everyday journeys is along Colinton Road in Edinburgh. In a previous blog I wrote about my use of Colinton Road to take my son to nursery. Most of this road is nice and wide and allows for vehicles to safely pass bicycles. The only occasions where a person in a vehicle has passed me unsafely, a close pass, is when I have to pull out to negotiate a parked vehicle.
A person driving behind me when I pull out to overtake a parked vehicle is faced with two choices:
1. Slow down until the person cycling has cleared the parked vehicle and moved back towards the side of the road; then overtake the person cycling.
2. Overtake the person cycling at the point the person cycling has pulled out to avoid the parked vehicle.
The hope is that the driver will choose option 1 as this is safest for everyone, but sometimes people are in a rush or maybe it is not safe for them to slow down because of vehicles behind them, so they will choose option 2.
Option 2 requires the driver to give both enough space to clear the person cycling and not to stray too far onto the opposite side of the road that it puts their vehicle into the path of any potential vehicles coming in the opposite direction. The person driving is having to balance up these two factors. The driver may judge that it is more likely for a collision to occur with a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction and will wish to avoid this happening at all costs, so this may cause them to pass closer to the person cycling. Anything less than 1.5m is a close pass, as highlighted in this Police Scotland campaign video:
A close pass is a terrifying experience for a person cycling and can be enough to put them off using a bicycle ever again. There is a very real fear of being hit by the vehicle.
On the otherhand if the driver choses option 1, to slow down and wait for the person cycling to clear the parked vehicles there is the potential to cause a temporary queue of vehicles behind them. This should not be considered an issue when the goal is safety, but some people, whether driving or cycling will feel self-conscious about holding up vehicles behind them. And some road users can become impatient and aggressive in these circumstances.
What is the answer?
Looking at Colinton Road there are large parts of the road that are wide enough to have parked vehicles and I feel safe passing them and know that I will not experience a close pass. However, there are some parts of the road that are much narrower or have a blind spot where the parked vehicles make it a hazard and increase the risk of a close pass. If parking could be restricted on these sections it would improve safety for those using a bicycle and make this road more appealing for new cyclists.
These are the parts of Colinton Road that are the most challenging when there are parked vehicles:
1. The section near the Tesco and the Kilted Pig pub
This is probably the narrowest part of Colinton Road and there is always a line of parked vehicles here, no matter the time of day. When you cycle past these vehicles it is almost impossible for any drivers behind you to overtake you because the opposite side of the road is also narrow. It feels like you are holding up traffic and I cannot help but fear that one of the drivers behind me is going to try a dangerous overtake. I don't know why there are always parked vehicles here. I assume that there is no space for them to be parked in driveways, perhaps the older properties do not have driveways.
2. Opposite Tesco, parked on the double yellow, hazards on.
The Tesco has very few parking spaces, so it is inevitable that some drivers stopping for shopping will put their hazard lights on and park half-on the pavement, despite the double yellow line. I think you are allowed to park on a double yellow to load and unload, so perhaps shopping is within the law. However, it is another narrow part of the road, so it is a challenge for anyone using a bike to have to pull out to clear any vehicles parked here. It is also inconsiderate for pedestrians using the pavement as the parked vehicle can make it impossible for someone using a wheelchair, for example, to get by.
3. Outside Edinburgh Napier University.
These vehicles are only parked here on weekdays, so assume they belong to people working or studying at Napier. The issue is that there is a blind corner, meaning that if a person cycling pulls out to clear these parked cars it will be challenging for people following in vehicles to see if there are approaching vehicles on the opposite side of the carriageway. This is where a driver may decide to pass too closely to the person cycling in order to minimise risk from collision of any vehicles coming in the opposite direction.
The ideal solution is to have both segregated cycling infrastructure and places for vehicles to park. In an already congested city with tight budgets this may not be possible, so what other options are there?
Parking restrictions could be put in place, but if that means there is nowhere for people to park their vehicles it would be incredibly unpopular. Lets not blame people who own cars because our city has been designed in a way that makes car ownership the most convenient mode of transport. I wrote a previous blog post about how urban planning and supermarket locations make it unlikely for the majority of people to do their supermarket shopping by bike. Parking restrictions could be one measure to use, but it would need to be as part of a combination of measures that require a total rethink of urban planning so that car ownership becomes less of a necessity.
Another option could be to stop people using bicycles on roads that have parked vehicles and direct people to use traffic-free options. The Union Canal path is a traffic-free option that avoids Colinton Road, but it is not the quickest and most direct route and there are other issues with the canal path that I will explore in a future blog post. Using bicycles on convoluted and slower traffic-free routes is fine for leisure cycling trips where time is not important, but for the purpose of everyday journeys where you want to get there in the quickest and most efficient way (the same as people using other modes of transport) it is not as practical. For people to consider the bicycle as a viable option for everyday journeys the speed and efficiency of the route is going to be a major consideration.
I will continue to use Colinton Road as it is the most direct and quickest route for me. I don't like having to pass the parked vehicles on this road, but accept it as a risk of choosing to travel this way. However, for anybody new to cycling who is trying to change how they get about and do more of their everyday journeys on a bike I can appreciate that they may not be happy to accept that risk. In conclusion if we want to get more people using bicycles instead of motor vehicles for everyday journeys then the risk from passing parked vehicles is something that needs to be considered when planning the urban environment.
A guest blog from Mike Murray at Road and Mountain Bike Reviews
Nowadays, most people from all over the world have grown tired of the long hours of waiting brought by traffic while on their way to work or other destinations in mind. If you are among these people, there is a better option available for you to ensure an easy and hassle-free commute to your desired destination. Road And Mountain Bike Reviews will look at the pros and cons of mountain biking.
There are various ride options for you to consider and the use of a bike is considered as an option. There are many types of bicycles on the market and one of these is the most coveted type-the mountain bike.
Mountain bikes are considered the most versatile bicycle ever created. They are designed not just for commuting but are best used for off-road riding. This type of bike is very distinct because of its rugged machine with flat handlebars as well as wide and crooked tires for riding even the narrow road or dirt trails. Mountain bikes have low gears and an upright riding position which make them suitable for long and rough rides.
Types of Mountain Bikes
Now the real challenge is choosing the right mountain bike that fits with your ability and riding style as well as the kind of trails you'll be most likely to traverse most of the time. It is important to understand the basics of the different designs of mountain bikes. To help you choose the best mountain bike here are the five basic types of mountain bikes which the manufacturers use in describing their bikes.
Cross Country (XC) Mountain Bike: Built for riders with pedaling performance as their priority. This type of mountain bike is created for strength and efficacy. It closely resembles the road bikes in terms of geometry. This is super light-weight however, XC bikes trade out downhill performance for efficiency and weight.
Trail Mountain Bike: Trail bikes are the most popular mountain bike and are considered the best climbers and expert descenders. Trail bikes have more suspension, more gravity-oriented components, and a more relaxed geometry than the XC type making them more capable to dwell on all kinds of terrain. If you are into biking uphill and downhill, as well as looking for an intermittent drop or jump, this type of bike is probably for you.
All-Mountain or Endure Mountain Bike: Inspired by the moto-racing world and are more efficient going uphill than downhill bikes but are less versatile than XC or Trail bikes. Generally speaking, this type of mountain bike is way bigger than XC or Trail bikes. An all-mountain or endure mountain bike is perfect for you if you're enthusiastic to pedal uphill, to achieve the free-pedal downhill ride.
Downhill or Park Mountain Bike: Downhill bikes are well-designed for steep, gnarled road, jumps, huge drops, and speed. They are the perfect definition of a motorless motocross bike. These bikes aren't created to go any direction but down. If you're not interested to pedal uphill, and you have the resourcefulness as well as the needed skill to handle yourself well a downhill bike is meant for you.
Pros and Cons
For rough off-road riding, mountain bikes are considered king. They are much slower on road because of their big knobby tires and suspension but will boost confidence on heavy difficult narrow roads. Use of a mountain bike is perfect if your commute is on rough roads with slippery cycle paths. Since mountain bikes are a little bit expensive, it is always wise to think first before buying. Choosing the most suitable type of bike is very challenging, yet fulfilling. Here are some of the pros and cons of using mountain bikes:
The Pros of Using Mountain Bikes:
Every year, bikes have gotten more advanced in terms of function, reliability and the experience it offers. As bikes diversify, their use also expanded from fun and leisure to main transportation for daily commutes.
There are various bikes perfect for commuting, and a mountain bike is one of these. However, given the general structure of mountain bikes, people often find it challenging to maneuver this type of bike on normal roads while much easier on difficult roads. But mountain bikes are still ideal for commuting and is still recommended by many experienced bikers. Despite the pros and cons of using mountain bikes as daily commutes, the decision is always up to you and the best bike for commuting is one that provides you the most comfort and practicality so that your daily ride can be more fun and worry.
Though Scottish trails tend to be more distant and rugged, showcasing Mother Nature more than its English counterparts, cycling in both regions has seen a major increase in popularity in the past two decades.
For some, cycling is a form of ‘green’ transportation. For others, it’s a way to stay healthy or even save on transportation costs. Around the UK, bike racks and bike lanes are being integrated as standard forms of infrastructure.
However, cyclists who are also fans of football may have noticed there’s one location where bike racks are outright impossible to encounter - football stadia. Locking up bikes can be difficult—not only in terms of finding a suitable location but also given the excitement and buzz that’s palpable before each game.
However, new initiatives by the EPL and its top clubs are looking to address the lack of options for clean transportation that could affect the fourteen million fans who attend Premier League matches each year.
For clubs with smaller fanbases, incorporating ‘green’ pushes like bike racks and even multi-use amenities is one way to grow their numbers. Successful green initiatives like sustainable transportation can be coupled with other efforts, like generating fan engagement through live streaming or even free bets from The Pools and other sportsbooks.
For teams that have faced relegation often, like Wolverhampton or Southampton, these initiatives serve to keep the public interested and further define their team identity—even if their game is lagging.
However, the majority of the EPL’s top pushes for environmental responsibility in terms of stadium infrastructure are being undertaken by well-established clubs. With more revenue to spare, top teams based in Manchester and London are leading the way to advocate for a more environmentally aware sports sector.
Sustainability in the EPL
Currently, Sport Positive offers the most comprehensive guide to assess the environmental footprint of Premier League clubs. The group evaluates clean energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transportation, single-use plastic usage, waste management, water efficiency, low-carbon food options, and the club’s sustainability engagement efforts.
Clubs with 8/8 reports include Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur. Still, not every club is able to address environmental concerns, with Crystal Palace and Southampton trailing in last place for their lack of clean energy, water efficiency, and reduction of single-use plastics.
Viewed in this light, the Premier League is making visible strides toward a greener infrastructure with efforts transcending bike racks. However, Sport Positive doesn’t explicitly define whether or not a club offers bike racks outside their stadiums.
Instead, it focuses on the availability of the metro, bus, and other public transportation—as well as how much a club ‘encourages’ fans to utilize these options. In terms of options for cyclists, the best stadiums aren’t Arsenal's or Man City's, but Brighton and Hove Albion's.
Efforts to encourage green transportation notwithstanding, what do cyclists need from major clubs to make football a cyclist-friendly sport? It turns out there’s a bit more involved than just setting up bike racks.
First, cyclists need a clear route to the stadium. While missing some of England’s most famous grounds would be difficult, a lack of signage that directs cyclists to safely enter a stadium can make the journey outright dangerous. In short, cycling needs to be figured into citywide infrastructure near stadiums in the same way roads are and clearly labelled.
Secondly, cyclists need a functional bike storage facility—not just a series of metal bars. Ideally, bike ports should be covered to protect from the elements, provide sufficient spacing, and a place for locks. CCTV also provides an added measure of security and shows a club’s dedication to prioritising their cycling fans.
Third, bike storage should be modern. In other words, clubs looking to appear green will need to invest some time and thought into their bike storage options. In addition to providing cover and security, storage should also be streamlined to avoid major traffic jams like those seen on the road post-match.
There was a cycling boom from the start of lockdown in March 2020. Vehicle traffic declined to almost nothing and many people enjoyed cycling on roads that they would never have previously dared to venture onto. Bicycle sales soared and many roads had more people cycling than driving. Now that traffic levels have returned to near normal what has been the impact on this cycling boom? My personal story is a positive one, so I thought I would share it with you.
I take my son to nursery on a child seat on the back of my bike most days, unless the weather is really awful. My daily commute from home to the nursery is around 3 miles if you take the quickest direct route. I live in Edinburgh and this direct route means using Colinton Road to reach Bruntsfield. Those familiar with this part of Edinburgh will know that Colinton Road can be busy and has no cycle lane on it. Before the pandemic I never felt confident to use this road with my son because it is pretty busy with traffic, but now I am using the road most days. What changed?
I'll start by explaining the route I used to take to get my son to nursery. It was somewhat convoluted , mainly traffic-free, using the Braid Burn path and the quieter backstreets of Morningside and Bruntsfield. It is not a direct route and the Braid Burn path can be slow going as it is narrow, shared with pedestrians and has some awkward gradients and barriers to negotiate. It probably added at least another mile, if not more, to the journey.
I happily cycled Colinton Road on my own. It's not the most dangerous road in Edinburgh, but it does have a high volume of traffic at peak times. I have not had any serious incidents and only a few close passes, because the road is mostly wide enough for vehicles to give bikes space without the vehicles having to cross over to the opposite carriageway. However, I was not happy to take my son on this road, particularly when there was a near enough traffic-free, albeit longer, alternative.
During lockdown Colinton Road changed completely. There was hardly any traffic on it at all. It was bliss for cyclists! I started to use it when taking my son on the bike.
When the nurseries opened again after lockdown I decided to keep using Colinton Road with my son and have been doing so ever since. The traffic volume has risen, but not to the same pre-Covid levels. There's not really a rush hour anymore because of homeworking. The only peak for traffic in the morning is for the school children getting dropped off at the various schools along the route, but I am able to avoid this time.
Being able to use Colinton Road has made my commute to the nursery much quicker than the Braid Burn route. I am glad to be able to use this road and hope that I will be able to into the future. I do fear that if there is a return to the way things were before with everyone trying to get to their office for the same time I will no longer be confident to take my son on this road. However, the signs are that companies will be offering more homeworking and flexibility so it should mean that not everyone is on the roads at the same time.
Three miles is a short commute and in a progressive society concerned with active travel and climate change it should and must be possible for me to make that journey by bicycle and not to be made to feel that I must own a car to cover such a short distance.
I do see other people cycling on Colinton Road during my morning commute, but I have yet to see another parent taking their child on the back of their bike. There are a lot less people cycling on this road compared to the days of lockdown. It makes it a bit lonely being the only one taking their kid on a bike on Colinton Road, so I would love to see more parents feeling confident enough to use this road with their kids. I know it doesn't have a painted cycle lane or the cycle wands that are getting installed on some roads, but it is a wide road and outside the start and end of the school day the traffic volume is not too bad.
I know it's not for everyone to cycle with their children on main roads, but I just wanted to share with you that the changes in the world have resulted in a positive cycling experience for me. In a difficult year I think it is important to share positive stories.
Stephen Fabes is a doctor and this brings a unique aspect to the adventure cycling genre because he visits health care settings as he travels. This is a much deeper journey than just a bike ride. This is a 6 year, 53,000 mile, cycle around the world full of thoughtful insights about people and places. It is a fascinating, moving and inspirational travel book.
This is one of the best travel books I have read. The author is incredibly observant and brings something new and fresh to travel writing. He has a great way with words and really brings a place to life. Here is one of my favourite examples of how wonderful the writing is, when he has to replace his pedals in India:
"they'd cost 15 rupees a pop (around 18 pence- rust already included) and each weighed more than a kilogram. It was like cycling with A Suitable Boy nailed to the soles of my shoes."
It feels like an incredible amount of work went into crafting each sentence in this book as it reads so beautifully. Unlike many other books of this type the focus is very much on a sense of place and not all about the author and what he is going through. For instance, when he cycles past huge palm plantations in Malaysia he shares his thoughts about the palm oil industry and its impact on the environment.
I particularly enjoyed reading about the adventures of cycle tourists from history. Stephen has uncovered some wonderful travellers tails and used these to add colour to his own journey. In 1923 a group of Indian weightlifters spent four years cycling around the world and had incredible adventures- they even managed to acquire an autograph from Mussolini to help ease passage when faced with corrupt officials!
Stephen even gets to meet the person who has spent the longest time cycling around the world. Heinz has been doing it for 51 years! Their meeting is fascinating with some interesting reflection on whether cycling the world really does make you more worldly.
This book is full of the excitement and adrenaline of adventure cycling. Meeting people, exhaustion, things going wrong with the bike and illness, not to mention incredible parts of the planet that you may never have heard of before. I was particularly fascinated by Chin State in Myanmar, an area of cloud forest, landslides and leeches falling from above.
Stephen's contacts within the medical profession allowed him to gain an insight into healthcare around the world. He visits several settings, including mental health in India and the migrant camp in Calais. These encounters provide a richer world view than you would expect from a cycling travel book and Stephen provides plenty of thoughts on what he experiences. The most moving account was his visit to a TB field hospital in Thailand and it had me in tears.
Interestingly, this book does not end with the finishing line, but with Stephen recalling the challenges he had in returning to his normal life in the UK. This is quite unusual in cycling books and it is refreshing to have an adventure cyclist reflect on this in such detail.
This book is not only one of the most enjoyable cycle travel books I have read, but one of the best travel books. It is written beautifully and by the end you really feel like you have learned something about the world.
For many footballers, crossing the border from England to Scotland, and vice versa, is a common move. While there’s often arguments that the English Premier League is more competitive, for the names on this list, they’ve found success either side of the border. Winning titles at any level is always something to celebrate. With the 2020-21 season in full swing, let’s take a look back at some of these multi-title-winning champions!
1. Virgil Van Dijk
We start with the man who has most recently won a title. Van Dijk has been absolutely solid at the back for Liverpool, since signing from Southampton in January 2018, and is the reason why the Anfield club are often so highly thought of in Premier League odds. Van Dijk was instrumental to the Reds’ success last campaign, starting and playing every minute of domestic football. He spent two seasons at Celtic Park, in which he was a two-time Scottish Premiership winner, also winning the Scottish League Cup in 2014-15. And it was after the Bhoys got knocked out of the Champions League at the qualifying stage, that Van Dijk crossed the border, joining Southampton.
2. Kolo Touré
Next up, we have Touré – who won three titles with three different clubs. The Ivorian centre-back won his first ever silverware while at Arsenal, and in his second season, won the Premier League. He was, of course, famously part of the ‘Invincibles’ squad of 2003-04, in which the Gunners went 49-games unbeaten. He then joined Manchester City in 2009 and was instrumental in turning them into a top-six side – winning his second Premier League title in 2011-12. Touré crossed the border in 2016, reuniting with his former boss at Liverpool, Brendan Rogers, and joining Celtic on a one-year deal. During this time, he won the treble: SPL, Scottish Cup and League Cup.
3. Roy Keane
We couldn’t have this list and not include the Irish hardman. Keane won seven league titles at Manchester United, as well as three consecutively between 1998-99 and 2000-01. He is the joint-most successful Irish footballer of all time, having won 19 major trophies, 17 of which, he won at Old Trafford. The other two came when he crossed the border and joined Celtic. The 2005-06 season saw him complete the double of Scottish Premier League and League Cup – ending his career on a high, as he was forced to retire through injury. Keane is regarded as one of the best midfielders of his generation.
4. Jiří Jarošík
Jarošík was no stranger to silverware, prior to joining Chelsea. The Czech defender/midfielder won six league titles in seven years with Sparta Prague, also winning the Russia League with CSKA Moscow. While he was only at Chelsea for two seasons, and one of those on loan at Birmingham City, he still racked up enough appearances (14) for a winners’ medal, as the west Londoners won the Premier League title in 2004-05. From there, he joined Celtic and won the Scottish Premier League title in his debut season. Sadly, competition for places meant that he didn’t see out his three-year deal – and it turned out to be the final silverware Jarošík would win.
5. Henrik Larsson
Now we end with a controversial one here, as some sources say that Larsson never received a Premier League medal, during his loan spelt at Manchester United. But the Swede was a fan favourite at Celtic Park, and it’s not surprising, when in his debut season, Larsson was pivotal in preventing Rangers winning a tenth league title in a row. During his time in the green side of Glasgow, he won four league titles, as well as an additional four domestic trophies – and on an individual level, was top goal scorer for five out of six seasons. He arrived at Old Trafford on loan from Helsingborg, and scored once in seven Premier League appearances. The Red Devils went on to win the league title two months after Larsson departed, and although he had not played the required quota of league games to qualify for a Premier League winners’ medal, he was granted dispensation. Although, like we say, he claims he never received a medal.
The football world was sent into a frenzy in the summer of 2016, when it was revealed that Paul Pogba would be making his much-anticipated return to Manchester United.
The French midfielder departed Old Trafford for Juventus in 2012, but after making a name for himself in the Italian Serie A, the Red Devils splashed a then world-record fee of $89 million to bring him back to Manchester.
However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Pogba since he re-joined Man United. He has often been on the receiving end of fierce criticism from both pundits and the Red Devils’ faithful for poor performances and talk of a second move away from the Theatre of Dreams always seems to be on the horizon.
And, that seems all the more likely now that the 27-year-old’s agent Mino Raiola, who is never one to keep his mouth shut, has claimed that Pogba is ‘unhappy’ at Man United and ‘has to change teams’, which could be as early as the upcoming January transfer window!
“Paul is unhappy. He is no longer able to express himself as he would like and as expected of him,” the super-agent said.
"He has to change teams; he has to change the air. He has a contract that will expire in a year and a half, but I think the best solution for the parties is to sell him in the next market."
Last month, France manager Didier Deschamps also claimed that Pogba ‘is in a situation with his club where he cannot be happy.’
It comes after the midfielder made just 22 appearances across all competitions last season – missing large parts through injury – whilst this term he has been restricted to mainly substitute cameos, despite being back to full fitness.
Pogba started, and scored, in the recent 3-1 win over West Ham at the London Stadium, but that was the first time he has been in the starting XI, which was heavily rotated by United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær, since the defeat to Arsenal back at the beginning of November.
So, what is next for the French midfielder? Well, with just a year and a half left on his contract, the Red Devils chiefs might want to cash in on him sooner rather than later, as the more time runs out, the more they risk losing him at a cut price or even for free.
In the past, Pogba has made his admiration of Spanish giants Real Madrid clear, revealing ‘it is a dream for me, why not one day?’ when asked if he would like to play for Los Blancos, whilst Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane, who knows Pogba on a personal level, has also claimed he would like to have the midfielder at the iconic Santiago Bernabéu.
That’s why, if you were to check the online betting pages, you would see that the 13-time Champions League winners as the firm favourites to land the Frenchman’s signature.
It is then Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain who are next in line to sign Pogba at 5/1. The midfielder was born in Lagny-sur-Marne, which is just 16 miles from the centre of Paris, and the chance to move back to his homeland might just be a deciding factor for the 27-year-old, whilst for PSG, Pogba could be the missing part to their jigsaw as they still seek that inaugural Champions League trophy after last season’s crushing defeat to Bayern Munich.
A return to the Old Lady is a little further out at 11/2 while Barcelona (9/1), Inter Milan (19/1) and Bayern Munich (20/1) could also be in the running.
Whether or not Manchester United would let a player of Pogba’s ability leave halfway through the season remains to be seen, but it does seem like the clock is ticking on his second spell at Old Trafford, and this summer, when there’s just one year remaining on his contract, we might just see the back of the midfielder – much to the delight of Graeme Souness!
Paul Pogba next club odds
Real Madrid – 11/4
PSG – 5/1
Juventus – 11/2
Barcelona – 9/1
Inter Milan – 19/1
Bayern Munich – 20/1
Is it possible to do your supermarket shopping using a bicycle? Supermarkets in Scotland tend to be visited mainly by people using cars. The entire concept- filling a trolley with bulk purchases, the location of the shop and the large car park- is based on car ownership. Supermarkets do provide cycle racks and people do use bicycles for their shopping. I have been doing supermarket shopping for 2 adults and a child using my bicycle and this blog shares my thoughts about the experience.
How I transport shopping on a bicycle
I have two rear panniers on my bike and a backpack and this is sufficient to carry what I buy in the supermarket. It does not have the same capacity as a car which means I don't do a weekly shop, but visit the shop once every 2 or 3 days. Personally, this works out well because with a weekly shop you really need a big fridge and I have a small one. I also find that some of the fresher items do not last that well if you do a weekly shop. And it means more frequent exercise for me if I am doing it once every couple of days instead of once a week. The reduced capacity of my bike helps to control my spending and forces me to only get what I need and not succumb to temptation!
How I get to the supermarket
This is the main thing I wanted to write about in this blog. Each time that I do a supermarket trip by bicycle it always makes me think about how urban planning has made us so dependent on cars for short journeys.
I live in Colinton in Edinburgh and my nearest supermarket, Tesco, is a 9 minute cycle ride . That's really not far, so this should be a journey that anybody with a bicycle should be able to do. Right?
The problem is that there is no cycling infrastructure, no separated bike lanes and no painted bike lanes. It means that a person using a bike has to travel on some busy roads and be confident cycling in traffic. Part of the route is through some quiet roads in a housing estate where there is no traffic. However, to get to the quiet section you have to go on a busier road first. And this is why whenever I arrive at the supermarket I am the only one using the cycle racks or there is sometimes one or two other bikes there, but never more than that. This Tesco is hemmed in by roads that see a significant volume of traffic, probably a similar situation to many supermarkets in urban areas.
For most people the prospect of cycling on these busy roads to get their shopping is frightening, so they will use a car. There will be people who would like to go to this supermarket by bike, but if they do not feel safe they are not going to do it.
Do you need a car to get a pint of milk?
Here is another observation about this situation. Walking to this supermarket takes 25 minutes, so if someone just needs one or two things, like a pint of milk, they probably are not going to walk. We already know that not many people use a bike to get to this supermarket, which means that there are lots and lots of short car journeys being taken to reach it. It's not the fault of the people using the cars, urban planning has left them with no choice. It's not practical to walk 25 minutes to the supermarket each time you need something and cycling, if you don't feel safe on the road, is not an option. Okay, there are small convenience shops that you can walk to for things like milk, but not every location has one within reasonable walking distance and they don't stock everything that you need, so the only alternative is to travel to the supermarket.
What about public transport? There is a bus that covers this route to Tesco and it takes about 9 minutes, so the same as the bike. However, it is a 30 minute service so you are going to have to plan out your shopping trip to make sure it starts and finishes for when the bus comes. For people who do not own a car this is what they do when they visit the supermarket, but for people who own a car they may not want the inconvenience of waiting for a bus, planning their supermarket trip to the bus timetable, and having to carry bags of shopping on and off the bus.
There is another supermarket very close to where I live. Aldi, on Oxgangs Road, is 12 minutes by bike and 6 minutes by car. Again, 12 minutes is such a short time to be on a bicycle, so this trip should be a normal, everyday thing. However, like the Tesco route, the Aldi route requires you to be confident cycling on a bike next to vehicle traffic. The most direct way to reach Aldi is on the B701 which has no painted cycle lanes and no segregated cycle lanes. I come off the B701 at Oxgangs Farm Drive and head onto Oxgangs Farm Avenue as these roads have virtually no traffic, but there is no way to completely avoid busy roads when travelling to this supermarket.
Aldi has 4 bicycle racks and when I visit I am usually the only person using them. I have seen no more than one other bicycle parked there. There must be other people with bicycles who would cycle to Aldi if they felt safe on the roads.
We know that cycling and walking are good for health and the government wants us to do more of it. We know that driving, particularly for frequent short journeys that could be done by walking or cycling, is not good for the environment. Why, then, should it be so challenging to cycle for 9 to 12 minutes to a supermarket? The absence of segregated cycling lanes means that for the vast majority of people the journey to the supermarket will continue to be done by car. It should be normal to cycle 9 to 12 minutes to pick up shopping, not extraordinary, but the design of our urban areas has made it unusual to see a person using a bicycle to visit a supermarket.
Something has to change if we want society to move away from dependency on the private car for short, everyday journeys. If we really want to tackle health and climate issues then creating an urban environment where people feel safe to cycle for these short distance shopping trips is a good place to start.
This great video from Cycling UK explains the benefits to society of cycling lanes:
How about you? Do you cycle to the supermarket? Would you like to cycle to the supermarket? Tell me about your experiences and thoughts in the comments.
A guest blog from Mike Murray at Road and Mountain Bike Reviews
Scotland has lots to offer, from exploring the Scottish Highlands, amazing craft beers, beef, seafood and a cheeky whisky after a long day riding.
Scottish trail centres can be ridden all year round. Mountain biking enthusiasts from around the world come to Scotland to take advantage of the open mountain paths, steep climbs and the dare devil drops through the forest.
Not to mention the break taking landscapes. If you can ride fast here, then you will have the skills to tackle any trail. We will now look at some of the most recognised Scottish mountain biking trails.
Kirroughtree may be hard to pronounce. Its even harder to reach. However, it’s definitely worth it. Situated in the southwest corner of Scotland.
If you feel like you have driven to the middle of nowhere. If you keep driving you will reach Kirroughtree. A rocky, and rooty single track through the forest. Home to one of the longest black listed loops in Scotland called Black Craigs.
The fast flowing, rocky terrain, and technical features will test your mountain biking skills. One of the biggest highlights of Kirroughtree is the well-known “McMoab stabs” that are based on Utah trails.
The climate and scenery in Scotland are quite different. Kirroughtree is one of the seven stanes mountain biking destinations.
The drive to Glenlivet is breath taking. Home to the world renowned Glenlivet whiskey that is definitely worth trying after a day at the trail. Glenlivet trail can be found in the heart of the Glenlivet estate.
One of the main benefits of the Glenlivet trail is that it's designed for mixed abilities. The technical parts are optional, and allow you to build up your confidence at your own pace.
Situated on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park, well-known for its ancient woodlands visited by walkers and backpackers.
Glenlivet has two incredible trail loops. The single-track cuts through the forest with some extraordinary landscapes that makes the climbs fade from memory. After a day at the Glenlivet trail, a visit to the distillery at the Glenlivet estate is highly recommended.
Laggan Wolftrax is situated in The Highlands. Most well-known for its rocky black trail, Ayres rock, that tests the bravest mountain bikers.
The red loop has upper, and lower sections that allows you to get a quick exit if it gets too much. Its near Fort William and is worth a visit, or a quick pit stop at the Dalwhinnie distillery for a refreshment.
There is a small shop called Bothy Bikes that offer bike hire, servicing, or purchasing a mountain biking necessity. A great place to ask any trail related questions.
Comrie Croft is situated in Perthshire and has won many awards for the unique trail and offering on site accommodation. It offers a 12-mile network of single tracks with a variety of blue, red, or black trails.
One of Scotland’s best berm filled trails that have technical, rocky or rooty single tracks.
A really good trail for all the family. There is a skills park and a full-sized pump track. Facilities at Comrie Croft include an onsite shop and a café. Guests can choose between a hostel bed, camping, and Nordic katas.
Glentress – (Tweed Valley)
Glentress has over 55 miles over single-track loops alone. The busiest trail centres in the UK, with over 300,000 visitor per year. A brilliant trail centre to take the family as there is a trail for all abilities.
The Glentress trail has long, but not too technical trails. Ideal for tackling on a sunny day. The views are truly stunning.
For less intense trails, the GT Red and Blue lines are definitely worth trying. The Spooky woods is one of the most ridden trails in the UK, offering tabletops, descents and pure speed.
Situated 22 miles south from Edinburgh, it is easily accessible. There are lots of natural trails to explore and it offers a true mountain biking haven.
Innerleithen (Tweed Valley)
Only a short ride from Glentess. However, it feels like you have landed in a different world. The downhill trails at Innerleithen are renowned for being the best in the UK. No wonder why British mountain bikers do so well on technical World cup courses.
Innerleithen has a mix of natural and endure trails built by Dick Hamilton, cutting through the forest and offer steep drops. There are plenty of options for riders of different abilities.
A new uplift service was created in 2018, known as Adrenalin Uplift that operates Monday to Friday. You might want to try the Cresta Run; a hand-built trail. Offering you a twisty, tight and rooty trail.
Golfie is only across the road, it’s a perfect way to test your biking skills on the challenging steeps and roots.
Fort William is one of the most famous mountain biking trails in Scotland. Hosting the UCI DH World Cup sixteen years ago, witnessed by an amazing 20,000 mountain biking enthusiasts. The weather changes as often as the trail changes- you can expect four seasons in a day.
In addition to the technical trails, there are many family friendly trails for all abilities.
Scotland is brilliant for taking part in some open mountain biking. You can ride anywhere as long as it’s done in a reasonable manner. Sticking to well-designed paths and not damaging the land, or conflicting with other road users.
If you don’t feel confident navigating Scotland on your own you can contact a mountain biking guide.
One of the main benefits off going with a local mountain biking guide is taking advantage of their local knowledge, and make the most out your time out on the trail. They will make sure you get to see some amazing views.
What to expect at the Trail Centre
Visiting a trail centre is a brilliant way to hone your mountain biking skills in a safe and controlled way. However, they can be intimidating when you first arrive.
When you arrive at the trail carpark there is normally a charge for parking. Don’t forget to pay as it will be going towards the general up keep of the trail. You will see people looking hardcore on expensive bikes. However, don’t be intimidated as everyone had to start somewhere.
The majority of trail centres will have trail grading to help you pick a trail that best fits your ability and personal preference.
Green – easy and family trail. Most commonly fire roads or bike paths. Normally fairly short and are ideal for first timers
Blue- beginner trail. Similar to green trails. However, there will be more single tracks, climbs and longer trails. You might find a few mellow rocks, berms and roots to get your MTB juices going.
Red – intermediate trails. For more advanced riders. You will find more single tracks, more technical, tricker drops and descents. The majority of red routes are still rollable.
Black – expert trails. They consist of technical climbs, steep drops and big jumps. Momentum is your best friend when tackling tricky trail.
Pro Line – For the professional, for crazy mountain bikers with large drops and jumps. If it your first time at the trail. It may be worth keeping well away.
The majority of trail centres have a bike shop to get some basic necessities. Some include bike hire, servicing and maybe some refreshments. It may be good to check the trail website for the particular facilities at the trail. If you have any questions regarding the trail the bike shop is definitely the place to go.
If you’re thinking of visit a trail for the first time don’t forget the basic necessities for a day of mountain biking- a tube, multi tool, snacks, water, bike bump and waterproof clothing. Check the weather so you are prepared for the unpredictable British weather.
Spending a lot of time at the trail you will come across other mountain bikers with different ability levels. If a fast rider comes up behind you move over to the side safely. On the other hand, if you want to get past someone give them a polite wave to let them know your intention.
We hope you have enjoyed the article on “The Best Mountain Bike Trails in Scotland" and found it more helpful and informative. You may like to read our comprehensive Beginners Mountain biking guide at Road and Mountain Biking Reviews. .
I love discovering and trying Scottish food and drink. It is an important part of seeing and experiencing the country and there is a lot of great stuff out there. Here is an innovative product- Scotland's very own cola, made in Glasgow with heather extract.
I love the design of the can that features Scotland's national animal, the unicorn. It looks slick and contemporary. 'Made with Scottish water & heather extract' is printed on the front, so you are left in no doubt as to the unique, Scottish qualities of this drink.
On the rear of the can there is a neat infographic that further explores the features of this drink, including that it is suitable for vegans.
It has been several years since I last drank cola from a well-known brand, but Alba Cola tasted pretty much exactly like I remember cola to taste like. I had waited until a day where I was really thirsty to try it and it did the job very well of satisfying the thirst. It was fizzy and sweet and I did pick up something subtle with the heather flavour, but not hugely noticeable. I really enjoyed this drink and I think it is great that there is such a thing as a Scottish cola.
An ex-Motherwell footballer, Chris Ewing, noticed that in France there was a growth in regional colas. People there preferred to champion a locally made cola rather than the big brands and Chris thought a similar demand could exist in Scotland. He teamed up with Niall Holmes to create Alba Cola.
Alba Cola can be found mainly in independent retailers, so if you come across it give it a go and let me know what you think.
Vulpine's cycling rain trousers are stylish and ideally suited to cycle commuting. After using them for about one month I fell in love with these trousers. Seriously, these trousers are superb and have become my favourite piece of commuter cycling kit. They are packed full of useful features and because they look like normal trousers they are smart enough to be worn in the office or wherever it is you are going to on the bike.
Why do you need cycling trousers?
Yes, you could just wear a pair of jeans or jogging bottoms and that would be fine for short commutes and good weather. But the further you need to travel on a bicycle and the more often you do it then you will soon discover that 'normal' trousers are not going to cut it. What you need is a trouser that:
The initial thing that struck me about these trousers was the quality of the construction. They feel tough and they look made to last. When I first put them on they felt quite heavy duty, like something you might wear on a building site and when I walked in them they 'swished' noisily. I admit to not liking this at first, but within a few days I got used to it and it was no longer an issue. In fact. I happily wear these trousers on any occasion and not just on the bike.
The trousers come in khaki, forest green, charcoal and blue denim. It was the khaki colour that I wore.
That brings me to the next point, that these trousers look good. To an untrained eye they could be smart casual trousers from the high street, a trouser that could be used as office clothing or pub wear. Vulpine's mission is to offer cycling clothing that not only performs, but looks good off the bike. It is the principal of being able to wear the same gear when you cycle to work or to meet friends and not feel like you 'look like a cyclist.' If you are not a fan of lycra and/or do not want to have the hassle of changing out of cycling clothes when you arrive at your destination then Vulpine clothing is ideal.
Performance on the bike
Vulpine have really excelled when it comes to getting the balance right between a stylish trouser and a practical cycling garment. Some of the features that I love are:
The trousers are made of a material called Epic Cotton. With a name like that you're going to expect something special. It means you get a tough material that is made to last and is water resistant, windproof, stain proof and anti-bacterial.
Possibly the most important feature of a cycling trouser is its ability to deal with rain. I tested them out in light rain and in heavy showers. They performed brilliantly in the light rain, keeping out the water and drying very quickly after the rain passed. The fact that the material is breathable means that you don't get sweaty in the trousers.
In heavy showers I could feel some water coming through, but not enough to make me feel uncomfortable and once I arrived at my destination the trousers dried very quickly. Note that these are not waterproof trousers, but water resistant. It was a 6 mile ride in the heavy rain and I felt that if I had further to go and the rain was prolonged I would need to put on waterproof over trousers. However, the main market for these trousers is the city commuter and they are unlikely to be doing a lot of mileage in the rain.
These trousers currently retail for £140. It is a lot of money, but they are made to last. They also have so many useful features for cyclists that the outlay is a sound investment for a product that you will not need to replace for years to come.
For the purpose of commuting and looking presentable on arrival at your destination these trousers do a fantastic job. If it rains during your ride the trousers will repel the water beautifully. For long distance cycle touring where long periods of heavy rain could be expected these are unlikely to be your choice of garment, but for getting around the city and looking smart whilst doing it these are the trousers to pull on. I have loved wearing them out and about in town and feeling much smarter when I got off the bike at my destination.
Read my reviews of other products from Vulpine:
Merino wool socks
Henley and Polo tops
Here's my guide to spending a day in Perth. Make the most of the city's outdoor spaces and riverside location before heading to George Street where you will find the best independent retailers and Perth Museum and Art Gallery.
There is a map at the end of the blog to help you navigate to the places I have suggested here.
Perth's location on the banks of the Tay, Scotland's longest river, is one of its greatest assets. Make this your first stop- it's just a 10 minute walk from the train station.
Wide pavements on the west side of the river provide a grand, urban perspective, akin to a Parisian stroll along the Seine. However, the most delightful walks can be had on the east side of the river where you will find the Riverside Park.
This park has water features, sculptures and the largest collection of heather in Scotland- over 950 species. The pathways look onto the river and the city skyline.
Kinnoul Hill View
If you fancy a bit of a hike, head up Kinnoull Hill for one of Scotland's best views. Allow for about 2 hours to make the return walk to the viewpoint shown in my photo. You could also pop into Branklyn Garden to see the Himalayan Blue Poppies.
My blog about Branklyn and Kinnoull Hill has more detail about these places.
Continental Cafe Culture
The layout of the streets that surround Saint John's Kirk is reminiscent of an Italian Piazza. The cafes and restaurants have outdoor seating facing the church.
A good spot to enjoy the atmosphere is Hinterland, a cafe with superb coffee, home baking and sandwiches bursting with flavour. I opted for the lentil and vegetable soup and a toasted ciabatta with roasted vegetables, mozarella and pesto.
Perth city centre is full of the usual high street names, but for something different head to George Street. This is where you will discover the city's independent retailers. I have highlighted the food and drink shops here, but you can also get your hands on clothing, jewelry, gifts, crafts and bicycles on this street.
The Bean Shop
The Bean Shop offers up the delightful retail experience of buying coffee that is ground whilst you wait. The smell of the black stuff enters your nostrils from the street and gets even better when you step inside. It's like going back to the Victorian era with the floor boards, chandeliers, ceiling rose, cornicing and big wooden counter. I was handed a menu of coffees so that I could make my choice. I noticed that the Gourmet Blend is the best seller, so I went for this.
It is a busy place with staff going to and from the store room, grinding coffee, weighing it on the scales and then packaging it up in the brown bags that have a picture of the shop on the front.
The bag of coffee is such a tactile object- Squeezing it, smelling the coffee inside and feeling the rustic material of the bag. It's just such a nice experience shopping for coffee in here. I am pleased to report that the Gourmet Blend was smooth and mellow and very easy to drink.
Provender Brown Deli
On one side of this shop there is a long refrigerated deli counter with cheeses, olives and charcuterie. On the other side there are shelves brimming with interesting treats like chutneys, jams, spices, biscuits and pasta.
In the rear room of the shop there is a great selection of alcohol, including whisky, gin and Scottish beers. There are also sweet treats, like these lovely chocolates that I purchased.
Casella & Polegato
What a treat to have an Italian bakery in the city! This is the place to come for artisan bread, pastries and more. I treated myself to a packet of hazelnut meringue. This was melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness, light, but with a nutty crunch.
Relax with some Scottish craft Beer at Brewdog's Perth bar. This company was one of the Scottish craft beer pioneers and it has grown into a huge brand, but retaining the independent streak beloved of beer fans. There is a neon sign on the wall that states 'fiercely independent. Forever craft.'
The interior has all of the hallmarks of an indie beer pub. There's the retro movie sign that lists the beers on tap, the exposed brick walls and the natural wood tables. The leather seats and cosy corners are a perfect accompaniment to a cool IPA.
The outside of this building, with its jagged edge on a corner street, reminds me somewhat of New York's Flatiron building.
Perth Museum and Art Gallery
Right opposite Brewdog is the museum, a grand Victorian building. Step inside the wonderful dome entrance and discover many fascinating items. I shall share with you some of my favourites.
The sculpture court has this gem- a vase that was made for Napoleon's first wife:
One of the rooms is dominated by this bronze age log boat, made from a hollowed-out oak tree, that was found in the River Tay in 2001:
I love these Neolithic carved balls. They look so tactile. They are 6000 years old, their funtion unknown, but possibly for ceremonial purposes:
There is a great display about the largest salmon ever caught in Britain. It was realed in from the River Tay by Georgina Ballantine in 1922. It weighed 29kg and was used to feed the staff and patients at the hospital. The museum has a copy of the plaster cast of the fish, but I think this photo gives you a much better idea of how massive it was:
Old Fashioned Sweet Shop Experience
Don't leave Perth without paying a visit to this wonderful shop. It's been here for over 100 years and retains a shop front with an Art Deco/1920s vibe. B.A. Kerrigan is both a tobacconist and a sweet shop. It can be found on Methven Street, about a 6 minute walk from the train station.
If you are a smoker they've got cigars, pipe tobacco and all the accessories. They have something like 120 different types of sweets and buying these is a nice little experience. The jars of sweets are on the customer side of the shop so you are asked to pick up the jar and bring it over to the shopkeeper. What kid (or adult) wouldn't want to pick up one of these big sweetie shop jars?
The shopkeeper then empties the sweets out of the jar to clatter onto the scales. You choose your weight or just do it by eye and your treats are then poured into a paper bag. What I am describing might sound like a normal everyday thing, but the reality is that with Internet shopping and supermarkets this has become a special and rare experience. Go and enjoy it!
Tea and Cake at Effies
If you haven't overindulged in the sweets and are in the mood for a traditional tea room experience then pop into Effies. It is a 2 minute walk from the sweet shop, on the High Street. It is a little piece of vintage joy with its Victorian parlour atmosphere of chandeliers, old portraits and silver tea pots. Cakes are light, fluffy and yummy and they have over 30 teas to choose from.
That's my suggestion for a day in Perth. For more ideas of things to see and do in the city check out perthcity.co.uk
How to get to Perth
The city is well connected by coach and train, but if you are bringing your bike then train is the way to go. From Glasgow it takes just over 1 hour and from Edinburgh it is around 1 hour and 20 minutes. Some services require a reservation to take a bike. See my guide to taking your bike on the train.
Suggested Cycle Routes from Perth
If you want to explore a bit further try these cycle routes:
Many cyclists love coffee and believe a good bike ride should be accompanied by a good coffee. I am one of those cyclists, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to review some products from Rave Coffee.
"No Jargon, no BS, just great coffee made simple."
These are the words you will find on Rave's packaging and website. They capture the coffee roaster's ethos about sourcing great coffee without any of the faff that you sometimes get with other coffee companies, like fancy ways to describe coffee and too much emphasis on packaging. That's why Rave's coffee arrives in no-frills packets, but I think they still look pretty cool and distinctive. I like the crossed out phrases, used by a certain coffee-chain to describe their drinks- I think this is the 'BS' that Rave are getting at.
A bit about Rave
They have a coffee roasting operation and cafe in Cirencester, Gloucestershire. It is in the Cotswolds region, about 80 miles from London. Their range of coffees is impressive, so much to try! There are coffee blends with enticing flavours, including one called 'fudge blend evolution' that tastes of fudge. There is a vast range of single origin coffees and they do Nespresso compatible pods. There is also decaf coffee and cold brew coffee. Just take a look at their website; it is a very enjoyable browsing experience with lots to discover. Let's move straight on to the taste test...
Signature Blend for Cafetiere
First up is the Signature Blend- the photo at the top of this blog shows the packaging. I love that there is an air vent on the back of the packet so that you can smell the contents. It is an important part of the coffee drinking experience to take in that wonderful aroma. Boy, does this stuff smell good!
Then it is time to open the packet and take a look at the lovely black dust inside. These packets can easily be resealed after opening them, so you can keep the contents fresh and not worry about having to transfer it to another container.
All of Rave's coffees feature a little card with a taste profile. In the case of the signature blend it is chocolate, almond and caramel. I am not the best at picking out flavours in coffee, but I think I got the chocolate and the caramel. What I will say is that I found this coffee very easy to drink. It is smooth and not too bitter, making it easy to sink back cup after cup. It gives that all important caffeine hit, most welcome for my post-cycle java. I have really enjoyed having this coffee in my life and would not hesitate in recommending it.
The Signature Blend is currently £6 for a 250g bag and you can make savings by ordering larger quantities and/or taking out a subscription.
Nespresso Compatible Pods
I tried three different coffees from Rave's range of pods. The Signature Blend, The Italian Job and Columbia El Carmen.
The pods are 100% compostable so you can put them in your food waste bin.
Signature Blend Pods
What I liked best about this coffee was the crema, that layer of coffee foam that sits on top of the drink after it has finished coming out of the Nespresso machine. In the Signature Blend the crema is a gorgeous smooth and creamy concoction that feels lovely in your mouth. These pods have a caramel, chocolate and almond taste profile. I could pick up the first two flavours, but I wasn't too good at detecting the nut taste. It is a smooth, easy drinking coffee, so good for those that don't want something that tastes too strong.
I found these pods to be very flavoursome to the extent that I wanted to keep going back to it and taking little sips. I found it quite an addictive taste and it was pure pleasure to take in the chocolate and hazelnut flavour. I really enjoyed the strong aftertaste that remained in my mouth after I had finished the coffee. The caffeine buzz is strong on this one and this makes it ideal when you need that extra boost. A good one for when you need to get up early and on the go quickly.
Colombia El Carmen
This single origin coffee has a stunning crema formation on the top with little bubbles that feel silky in the mouth. It also came out my machine with a little swirl pattern. I could not resist taking a photo to show you this- don't you think this is a beautiful looking cup of coffee?
The best thing about this coffee is the subtle fruit taste that comes alongside chocolate and caramel. I was so pleased at myself for being able to identify the fruit flavour and not just 'coffee taste'! I loved the fruity taste so much and each day I looked forward to making my pod so that I could have this flavour in my mouth. Note that this is not an overwhelming fruit flavour and does not make this into a weird drink, but it adds something very special, in the background, to your coffee.
The Colombian El Carmen is Rave's main sustainability project. The beans are grown on a farm that supports 300 families.
The pods work out around 29 to 32p per pod, depending on the quantity you buy and if you take out a subscription to have them delivered to your home on a regular basis.
I like that Rave encourage their customers to learn more about everything that makes coffee such a wonderful drink. They do this through the tasting notes and their sustainability projects. And then there is their subscription service which is about more than getting coffee delivered to your- they call it 'monthly coffee education.' With your coffee you will receive brewing techniques, tips and knowledge. I received a brewing guide with my coffees and this is an impressive, detailed and nicely presented manual.
I was very impressed with Rave's ethos, the value and the quality of their products. If you are seeking out some new and exciting coffees to accompany your cycling life then its definitely worth checking out Rave.
Each game has a separate time limit. A football match generally lasts for 90 minutes, a rugby match lasts 80, and a basketball game just for 48 minutes.
For a commentator, restoring time is hard already, but the nature of the sport makes the job even harder.
A giant part of the commenting process takes place at the outset and the end of the day. In between the attacks, the breakaways, and the finales, commentators frequently have hours to recharge and little action with which to energize them.
“Commentating on cycling is not like snooker or tennis,” Carlton Kirby tells Betway in a recent interview, one of the principal commentators for Eurosport’s cycling coverage, who has served in the sport since 1996.
He further says, “In tennis, you never talk through a point because the crowd doesn't. In certain sports, you have to respect the action, and then you comment on it. That makes for a really easy job, as far as I'm concerned."
And also, “There are some other sports, like cycling, where the commentary has to be complete. There are no gaps - you might shut up for five seconds or so to listen to the crowd, but that's it", he mentioned.
How Does The Process work?
Commentating for hours to the end is hard enough, but commentators also have to handle directors in their ear, constant radio declarations, and an uproar of other actions around them.
“Quite often you are talking while being handed a note, being spoken to by the director, and listening to race radio at the same time as well,” confesses Kirby.
“There’s an awful lot of distractions to keep on top of, so if you happen to be looking at your notes when somebody has a moment and you don't see it, it's not your fault.”
Kirby laughs by saying, “But try explaining that to Cycling Weekly and their letters column.”
It would only take you an immediate Google search to understand what Kirby is referring to here. There are fan forums phoning for his disposal from Eurosport, and even a petition has been requested the same, referring to ‘inane chatter’, ‘terrible jokes’, and ‘unnecessary screaming.’
Good thing is, there are still plenty of fans who admire Kirby for his knowledge and excitement on the mic. However, the advancement of social media, people expressing their opinion also implies that criticism is never too far away, but Kirby is at ease with it.
“It's not like the written press where you can write something out and finesse it and shave it,” tells Kirby. “I don't have that gift. Once I've said something, a couple of hours later it's hitting Saturn. It's gone, it's irretrievable.
“There is no editing process, except between the brain and the larynx. Once it's out there you're done, so you'll just have to forgive me if I make the odd gaffe.”
His Present Activity:
While Kirby and his teammates would head across the channel for the Tour de France, the recent situation suggests he will be covering the 2020 edition from the Eurosport studios in London.
Being in France would be preferable, but, unlike other sports, the suitability of cycling commentary doesn’t alter too much when doing so remotely.
“When you're on-site, even though you're there, you're still watching a monitor,” Kirby says. “You're at the finish line, essentially watching the TV - albeit with extra screens.”
That doesn’t signify his job has not become a whole lot harder. The sights and sounds of the race and the attention of aptitude in an ample pressroom can renounce some useful chunks for a commentator.
“Being on-site gives you an awful lot of extra material,” he explains. “Especially on a long transition stage, that material is going to be gold.
“If it's one of those days where it's going to end in a sprint and you need to cover 240km, then it's gonna be a bit of a drag. The break's going to go up the road, they're going to be allowed anything up to 15 minutes of an advantage and everyone else is just having a chat - including us.”
“When you're on-site, you get up in the morning, you feel the atmosphere, you get the buzz. Breakfast is all about what was said off-camera, picking each other’s brains."
“All the other commentators from all the other nations and all their information are in the same room, so you often get people saying: 'Have you heard this?', with loads of things to share. Info-wise, being on-site is amazing.”
So, encyclopedic proficiency and behind-the-scenes chatter are two crucial elements for commentating on the sport of cycling, and on Grand Tours specifically.
Nonetheless, one other thing that Kirby believes, sets the very best apart is commitment.
There will, of course, be people who disagree, it is not something that Kirby minds. Over the years, he has found a style that certainly works for him and, after 25 years on the mic, many others to come.
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle. Follow my blog on Facebook: