I am so over snow (the sequel)

Snowy saddle

Couldn’t work out why this is so frustrating for me but doesn’t seem to bother anyone else here.

Then as I wobbled back home through the slush and the blowing flakes tonight I realised. List of wants. Dry bum, dry feet, warm face, stable road surfaces……..and more covered bike sheds in Belgium.

30 years of work. 3 years as a student. 7 years cycling to school. Not once have I travelled anywhere where I had to leave my bike outside daily. The dear old UK might be Europe’s cycling dunce but I must have struck lucky with our legacy of bike sheds, some of them probably dating back to the 1960s or even earlier in the case of at least one factory bike shed I can recall.

I mean those saddle covers I see at the bike parks are awfully naff, but now I know why they are so popular everywhere else in Europe and its not just for advertising SRAM.

Saddle cover MalmoSaddle cover SwedenSaddle cover DordrechtSRAM Urban advert

A tale of two sheds – or why my great new bike shed suddenly feels inadequate

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bouval/8474784196/in/pool-platform-duurzaamheid-dordrecht

Photo RienVal (All rights reserved)

I have never given a talk in a stables before.

But at the Dordrecht Sustainability Café (Duurzaamheidscafé) last week I was speaking in the former stables of a rich merchant’s house which is now the Weizigt Sustainability Centre. Next door was an even bigger and grander room which used to park the carriages when the house was built in the 19th Century.

To keep the integrity of the space there were even two fibreglass horses in the end stalls.Dordrecht Weizigt

Dordrecht Weizigt Sustainability Centre

And how those horses must have lived. Look at this place! Expensively tiled walls and each horse has its personalised drinking trough. I’d hate to say that these were from marble, but this was a carved solid stone trough out of something impressive. If you wanted to carve a trendy modern work surface for your designer kitchen then this is the sort of stuff you would use.

It was a great environment for the informal and interactive series of sustainability talks (the café) held each quarter where local groups can come together and hear presentations and discuss topical sustainability issues.

Dordrecht Duurzaamheidscafé

But I couldn’t help but think of my own animal shed. I have been over the moon since I moved to Belgium because the house I am renting comes with old farm buildings, including a milking shed with the cow stalls still in place.

So my bikes have been given their own stalls too.Kevin Mayne's Bike Shed

Only problem is that in this one the roof leaks and there is a howling wind blowing through the space, but it is the best bike shed I have ever had. I even had this sneaking temptation to start giving the bikes appropriate names like Daisy, Buttercup and Ermintrude.

However now I have seen the Weizigt centre all that is behind me.

How could I possibly match up when those Dutch horses each had a personalised brass name plate over their stall. Now that would be some bike shed.Flora's Stall Dordrecht Weizigt