The Journal of Jon Hicks, one half of Hicksdesign.

Troika #26: Windermere

Troika #26: Windermere

Its been a fair few weeks since the last Troika as its all got so busy recently, but here we go!

I studied Natural History Illustration at College in Blackpool, but it wasn’t my favourite place in the world to be. I met some great people there, but I never felt at home. However, in my second year I was given the opportunity to have a work placement for the Lake District National Park for a year and I loved it. Not only was it a great job, the Lakes in autumn is a beautiful place to be. The colour is gorgeous and it became one of my favourite places in the world.

Here’s where I worked, Brockhole Visitor Centre on the shores of Lake Windermere (the design studio was in the attic)…

And this me at my swanky hydraulic drawing board…

I learned the basics of graphic design while I was working here, and painted many illustrations for them. Some of the work I did back then (1992–93) is actually still in use on interpretation boards around Bassenthwaite Lake, which cheers me up no end. All in all, it was a great time!

So I’ve chosen three songs that are intrinsically linked the Lake District for me:

  1. ‘The New Physics’ by The Lost Dogs
    Taken from ‘Scenic Routes’ the debut release by the US band The Lost Dogs, a supergroup made from various Christian alternative artists.
  2. ‘Virgin and Child’ by Iona
    Iona’s second album was a concept record, based on the Book of Kells. This track in particular was always in my head as I sat by Windermere in my lunch hour.
  3. ‘Animal Nitrate’ by Suede
    Sadly, I had to go back to college for my third year, and this single came out near the end of my time in the Lakes.

How to get this episode

Listen using the player above, download Troika #26: Windermere as an mp3, Subscribe to Troika with an RSS reader or via iTunes.

All music featured is the copyright of the respective artists.

Besnard Lakes live at the Islington Assembly Hall

I discovered Montreal band The Besnard Lakes a few years via Racliffe and Maconies’ afternoon show on BBC Radio 6. Their music clicked with me instantly, and have become one of my favourite bands. This week I finally got a chance to see them live in London, and it was truly incredible. I felt awkward for them though, as the venue wasn’t exactly at capacity, but hopefully by the next time they tour more people will have come to discover their music.

The big advantage was that it was easy to get right down the front, and make the most of the iPhone camera to get the shot above. Second from left is Adam Franklin from local Oxford band Swervedriver – one of the many special guests that night, which also included a three-piece string section.

I’m planning a Troika on The Besnard Lakes soon, to serve as an introduction…

Fabric Cageless Water Bottle

I’ve been trying out the Fabric Cageless Water Bottle and thought I’d blog my thoughts!

Instead of a traditional system where a bottle is held in place on the bike by an alloy, plastic or carbon fibre cage, the bottle has grooves which clip directly to the frame via two small studs. I remember a similar idea a few years ago but with magnets instead of studs. Fabric say that magnets didn’t work as well as studs in their tests.

The advantages of this are:

  • Cheaper. For £9.99 you get a bottle with two sets of studs to allow you to put a set on another bike.
  • Very low weight. At just 3g for the studs its much lighter than even a carbon cage, so one for the weight weenies!
  • This is the part I really like: Its nice and minimal – I really like how my bikes look without the cages.

When installing, I found it very easy to overtighten them. Using a torque wrench I expected it to stop but the stud just starts to collapse and obviously makes it harder to clip in the bottle. Simple answer: it just needs a gentle hand-tighten.

Using them was a bit hit and miss at first, but like all things clippy on a bike, you soon get used to it. While I would say that a traditional system is still be easier to put a bottle back when at speed, the bottle was always solid – it never came out, even over things like cattle grids.

For me the downside of the idea is not the mechanism, it’s the bottle itself. It takes more effort to squeeze and get water compared to others like my normal Camelbak Podium bottles. I found it works best if you take it out and turn it 90º, but its still not as easy.

If ever there was a product where ‘your mileage may vary’ it’s this. For my usage, the benefit of the cleaner look was outweighed by the design of the bottle itself. I’m still a huge fan of other Fabric products – especially the Saddles and Bar Tape, but this is one that isn’t for me.

Troika #25: Valentines Edition

Troika #25: Valentines Edition

This Valentine’s edition is either really early, or a bit late, depending on how you look at it!

Love songs in general are either insincere, mawkish rubbish, cheesy, or all three. There so much chaff, but (for me at least) here’s the wheat! My three favourite love songs in ascending order:

  1. ‘Sick of Myself’ by Matthew Sweet
    Big fan of Matthew Sweet, and ’100% fun’ is definitely in my favourite albums of all time list. This is the cool power-pop opener from that album, and a song that takes me back to the summer of ’95.
  2. ‘Unravel’ by Björk
    Homogenic was the first album that Leigh ever bought me, and ‘Unravel’ was the song that I associate with the early months of us getting together. Its also has some interesting cover versions too, like this one by Adem
  3. ‘First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ by Roberta Flack
    THIS. This is in my opinion the greatest love song ever made. It sends tingles up my spine and turns me into a blubbering idiot.

Dedicated to the love of my life, my ever lovely wife Leigh.

How to get this episode

Listen using the player above, download Troika #25: Valentines Edition as an mp3, Subscribe to Troika with an RSS reader or via iTunes.

All music featured is the copyright of the respective artists.

Troika #24: Dearly Departed

Troika #24: Dearly Departed

A bit of a delay in getting to this episode. I’ve hesitated over whether to do a full-on Bowie tribute as there are so many brilliant tributes already. It almost felt like jumping on the bandwagon. Instead I’ve bided my time, and its now evolved into a tribute to three people who’ve died too early in 2016: Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie and Terry Wogan.

  1. ‘Shake Your Blood’ – Probot (Dave Grohl & Lemmy Kilmister)
    In 2004, Dave Grohl did a one-off project called ‘Probot’ where he wrote and performed with his musical heroes. The song he wrote with Lemmy could easily be Motorhead. “I wrote the lyrics in about ten minutes. . . It’s rock & roll, you know. It’s not one of those complicated things”
  2. ‘Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)’ – David Bowie
    I’d been listening to ‘Blackstar’, the latest (and sadly last) Bowie album for three days when the news broke. Blackstar sounded like someone still at the top of their game, with more than plenty of creativity and verve left. A great legacy, but perhaps there was still more ideas to come (he had in fact been working on a new album before his death).
  3. ‘T-WOG$ Pirate Radio’ – Peter Serafinowicz
    Instead of The Floral Dance, I’ve chosen this homage by comedian Peter Serafinowicz. What if after his Breakfast Radio Show he went off and did a secret show on Pirate Radio? I like to believe that this isn’t Serafinowicz, and is actually Terry. It’s the kind of thing he’d do. The rascal.

How to get this episode

Listen using the player above, download Troika #24: Dearly Departed as an mp3, Subscribe to Troika with an RSS reader or via iTunes.

All music featured is the copyright of the respective artists.

The Hickensian is the journal of Jon Hicks, one half of the creative partnership Hicksdesign. Take a look at the work we do.

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