Enamel cups and solo tweed rides

One of the best things with riding a vintage bicycle while dressed in tweed, is that you can stop at any time when you find a nice spot and have a rest. Often the riders with their modern bicycles, riding along as the tour de France yellow shirt was depending on it, while firmly gripping their protein shakes. Or the leisure commuter riders swooping along on their electrical bicycles.

I sometimes think that they do not have either the time or the interest of stopping by an old oak tree, just to sit there in the grass and watch the cloud drift along. Of course they might do that sometimes. But most of the time they have a schedule and destination for their ride, oak trees and sitting in the grass is most likely not a part of any of those either schedule or destination.

For tweed riders, the ride it self is the destination. There is plenty of time to sit down in the grass by the old oak tree and have a cup of tea and a cake. The picnic is just an extra part of the ride.

When you are out and about on your bicycle, perhaps you ride along some lovely roads in the countryside. Suddenly you feel a bit peckish, there is an sudden urge for something to drink or even eat. What would be the best food to eat at an moment like that?

Hot coco, a pate sandwich with cucumbers wrapped in baking paper. Tasty and easy to make.

For me it is just to have an old fashioned picnic good enough. There might be a café or pub around the next corner that offers a selection of drinks, sandwiches or something hot to eat. But if you ride along with others tweedians, while you sneaks in to a pub for a steak and ale pie, that might work if you are alone. But if you are a group of tweedians on an excursion and you dash in for a pint and a pie while your fellow riders sits on blankets in the field nearby. The other riders just might ever so slightly raise an eyebrow or two upon your decision. Now, if it was decided on before the ride that everyone should eat at the pub, well that is a different story.

Then we have the issue with planning. It is more convenient and practical to bring along a packed lunch from the start. Instead of looking for an establishment that is open and serves food and drinks that pleases everyone in the company. With your own packed lunch you always know what the menu is and the more than generous opening hours.

Let us say we are having a break on our ride in the country side, the sun is out, birds are chirping and the bicycle rides smooth as silk. You have found a nice spot in the shade of an large oak tree, overlooking green meadows and lush pastures. Now, what can you eat while sitting there?

Enamel mug and plate, on that picnic I brought along a cake and a small glass for spirits

In my most uneducated personal opinion, a packed lunch should be simple and easy to bring along on the ride. While neatly packed in your backpack or saddle bags, you can bring along lots of different items. For example, you can have cucumber and cheese sandwiches, or if you truly are feeling the spirit of tweed. Why not an version of English afternoon tea? Complete with strawberry jam, cream tea scones, Earl Grey tea and champagne. That is not a problem. As long as you are an master of packing and a hamper of the size of an small car. When it comes to food, anything goes. After all, it is you whom deicides what to bring along in your package on the ride.

What I personally have found out during all my tweed rides, is perhaps not so romantic or fancy as an afternoon tea set up with crystal glasses. But instead incredible reliable and sturdy. I like to pack my pausenbrot (breaktime snack in German) according to the “less is more” spirit. Thoughtful and effective.

I often bring along simple sandwiches with classic toppings. Sandwiches of the kind that every kid in Sweden have been eating since the dawn of time, or at least since the 1950’s. Prickig korv (salami), some cheese and why not that infamous smoked caviar on tube. The caviar that only people from Sweden and Finland eat. For me sandwiches like that is a bit nostalgic. I had those kind of sandwiches back when I was a kid and had packed lunches on school field trips, often with an added fruit as desert. When we were on our filed trips back in school, we thought our packed lunches were so boring. But it turns out that our parents knew what they were doing back then. Some sandwiches, something to drink and a fruit so you get energy to keep on, while hunting leaves, looking for elks or what ever the teacher wanted us to do.

On my tweed rides today I use to wrap my sandwiches in regular baking paper for easy transport and also for the classical feel, brown paper seems to go well with tweed. To drink I usually have a bottle of beer (remember to check your local regulations about drinking and riding a bicycle). Sometimes I bring a flask with hot water so I can make a nice cup of tea.

Salami sandwiches, just as back then. A beer, enamel cup and a small glass of punsch

Now when we have our sandwiches packed. What else should we pack to have a nice day on the ride? I think function is better than style, but if you can mix them both. That is when you have a winner! An enamel cup is suitable for anything, tea, beer, water. It even works with champagne, it might feel a bit odd. But champagne is still champagne, even if it is served in a chipped old enamel cup.

What else might you need? A small plate to serve your sandwiches or cake on, that always looks nice. A knife and fork might come in handy if you need to cut a cake or other delightful items offered to you. If you bring some fruit and vegetables in the bag. It will be cleaner to use an knife to cut the fruits than to try to cut a melon with your fingers. I also recommend to pack a spoon to stir the tea or coco, it is so uncivilized to stir with an oily screwdriver. No one does that…

Using an oily screwdriver as spoon to stir hot coco

Sometimes I use an old stainless steel food container, that my father used back in the 1970’s. It is just perfect to pack other items that are not suitable for wrapping in paper. Like cake, fruit, eggs, cheese, crackers and so on. Just be creative and line the box with baking paper and pack the items well.

A good tip is to use tableware that are robust and sturdy, hence my choice of enamel. I have noticed that many tweedians here in Sweden are using genuine vintage Swedish enamel items made by Kockums. Those are rather expensive and sometimes quite rare to find. That is why I have bought a set of no-name enamel hardware that I use, no big deal if I chip or loose the mug or plate. The mug with blue decorative rim costed about €4 in a surplus store, the plate were more expensive, about €15. But available at Skansen. I can use them and if they are chipped it is not the end of the world. Instead of an vintage enamel set in excellent condition, that would be a shame to chip or loose.

The cutlery I use, comes from older relatives. After they cleaned out some their old worn cutlery, I took care of them just because of this reason. It is the same with the vintage tea towels, they are old and really worn, in the end everything is matching, all in a vintage style.

It is always a good thing to bring an old tea towel or two along the ride. First of all, it is very handy to wrap all the items in to the towels so cutlery, bottles, plates and other items do not rattle or break anything in your bag. Sometimes I even strap my mug to the outside of the backpack or bicycle bag. That is something I noticed while attending the London Tweed Run back in 2018. Many of the riders had their enamel cups on their backpack, I guess they always wanted to be ready for a cup of tea? Who am I to do otherwise?

The towel also makes a nice tablecloth if needed and it is good to have something handy to wipe things clean after eating. So your back pack or luggage bags do not not reek of old beer, tea, orange fruit juice or other liquids that might have been seeping into every nook and cranny in your bag during the dirty dishes, causing rather unpleasant smells and embarrassing stains on your spare woollen sweater during the ride.

Lastly, it is a good idea to bring a thermos flask or/and a bottle with water, hot water and cold water. Cold water to drink, hot water for tea or coco and also be able to rinse the cutlery, cup, plate and your hands after eating. It is hygienic and easy.

My bicycle picnic set up the latest years. Enamel mug and plate, vintage cutlery and tea towels and flasks for water

London Tweed Run 2018, notice the two enamel cups on the luggage rack on the tandem bicycle

Vintage tea towel as tablecloth, it turned out really nice. Sandwiches with prickig korv and fried egg

This year has been a strange year, with everything happening in the world, there were a pandemic that made us rethink our ways of living and doing activities. We had to adopt to new ways of living, adjust our daily routines and make adjustments in our way to travel. For us tweedians, we could not attend many of our favourite events. There were regulations on how many participants was allowed to attend an event were strictly regulated. Because everyone was affected by all regulations, new improvised events were made, some smaller or even rethink the entire event.

The best example of a rethink was Tweed Ride Berlin. They planned to have their event in April. But as the regulations made it impossible to implement the tweed event, the Berlin organizers came up with the splendid idea of making an sort of internet tweed event instead. The decided to inform all to use the hashtag #solotweedride the riders could dress up and take their bicycle for a ride along or with a partner. Taking some photos and posting them online.

Crescent 1928 bicycle on a Solo tweed ride

We could use the #solotweedride hashtag to be a part of a large community. Of course it is not the same to dress up in tweed suits or lovely dresses, only to ride by your self or in a small group. Instead of riding along a big event with over 100 riders complete with music, prices and dancing.

But with that hashtag, riders all over the world, even those who could not travel to Berlin in the first place, were able to attend the event via a digital media. If you search #solotweedride on Instagram, there is about 179 post about that topic. It is great fun!

While I was doing some solo tweed rides, I found out that it is a special feeling of a relaxing bicycle ride. No specific destination, no time to keep. Only planning to relaxing without stress, or any rush. Riding the bicycle with packed bags, find a nice spot in the shade of some trees, preferably an oak tree and having an simple picnic.

It is very nice to escape reality for a couple of hours or so. For me, I discovered that riding early in the morning was so more relaxing than the afternoon. The fresh air, sun is gently warming and the streets are quiet. Pack an simple picnic, dress up in a tweed and take a ride. No need to join an event. Just make it as an Solo Tweed Ride, an unofficial tweed event.

Let us hope for a great tweed event filled 2021. Remember, there is always time for a relaxing ride on your own.

Happy new year dear readers.

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