Sunday, 19 March 2017

When using the C-word is more than justified...

Spring is on the way. Andy's Kona outside Tatsfield village
The C-word. You know the one I mean, it rhymes with 'hunt' and most women find it terribly offensive. Well, there are times when its usage is justified – and widely welcomed by the general public. There are certainly occasions when, rather than vilify the person who has uttered the word, the world sits up and pats the user on the back or sticks up a thumb in agreement. Now is one of those times.

"I may have run the country," said former Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne on Friday. "But I've never run a paper."

George Osborne
Well, that's as maybe, but in many ways, it was an odd thing to say. He could quite easily have commented, "I may have run the country, but I've never taken anybody's tonsils out." Can you imagine the horror of being wheeled into the operating theatre and seeing Osborne, gloving up, and saying, "I may have run the country, but I've never been a heart surgeon."

The news that Osborne had been appointed editor of the London Evening Standard came as a big shock to Andy. I broke the news to him at the Tatsfield Village bus stop after pouring the tea and munching on a BelVita. He couldn't believe it. 

"Osborne Osborne?"
"The very same," said I.

Reaching for my iphone, I found the BBC website and showed him what I regarded as a rather offensive news story.

"It's true," I said, but he still had that flabbergasted look.

Osborne has been appointed editor of the London Evening Standard, a UK free sheet that can be found on many a London railway station in the late afternoon and early evening. It is read by weary commuters on their way home from work and while I don't 'commute' into London, whenever I'm there I occasionally find myself bringing home a copy. Not any more!

There are so many things wrong with Osborne being editor of a newspaper. First, he is MP for Tatton in Cheshire and some Conservatives argue – or rather question – whether he could represent his constituents effectively while editing a daily newspaper on top of various other jobs he's doing, including being an adviser to Blackrock, supposedly the world's biggest investment fund, for which he is getting a cool £650,000 for just one day's work a month. [Insert expletive here].

In addition he's getting the best part of  million pounds for various speaking engagements and let's not forget his £75,000 MP's salary. 'Two Jags Prescott' has nothing on 'Loadsajobs Osborne.'

Once again, I find myself thinking that this is why we have Trump in the White House and Brexit in the UK; and I don't blame those who voted for either of them. People have had enough of the hypocrisy, enough of the unfairness and enough of the double standards. Don't forget that it was George Osborne who had the audacity to tell us 'we're all in it together' as he set about his austerity politics alongside his partner in crime, David Cameron, the man who put his party before the interests of the country.

Osborne earning well over a million pounds per annum brings other people's hardships into sharp focus. A report in this Saturday's Guardian explains how girls from low-income families in the UK are struggling to afford sanitary protection. It's hard to believe that a charity that provides sanitary products to women in Kenya has agreed to do the same for girls in Leeds where Freedom4Girls reported that local schools are worried about truancy when that time of the month comes round. [Cut to Osborne with his collection of high-paid jobs and privileged lifestyle and remember him telling you to cut your cloth accordingly and that 'we're all in this together', 'this' being the financial crisis that was brought about by the banks].

It is argued that Osborne will use his new role to attack the government, which some MPs describe as 'blatantly disloyal' according to a front page report in the Guardian, while other MPs have said that Osborne is gunning for the role of Mayor of London. What? He can fit that in as well?

I feel sorry for the journalists (if there were any) who applied for the job and found they had lost out to George Osborne. I can only guess what they were saying on Friday afternoon. [Insert expletive here].

With the current row about Russia's possible involvement in Western politics – and in particular its supposed role in the US presidential elections – it should come as no shock that they were involved in the Osborne deal. The London Evening Standard is co-owned by the former KGB officer Alexander Lebedev who has been quoted as saying that Osborne will be good for the newspaper. 

Silly haircut one: Michael Fabricant
Anybody with an ounce of intelligence knows that the UK media predominantly leans to the right – the Daily Telegraph is known as the 'Torygraph' and then we have white van man's bible, the Sun and Murdoch's other newspaper, the Times. On the left wing side there's the Guardian and the Daily Mirror. But to have a Tory running a newspaper as editor while he's still an MP! Why even bother reading it? I was going to say 'why bother buying it?' but it's a free sheet so all you can do in protest is not pick it up – play with your smartphone on the train home instead.

Andy says he doesn't buy newspapers anymore for the simple reason that they don't tell the truth. He's right: they only tell 'the truth' in the way they want you to believe it, with a party political slant. Arguably, you're safer with television and radio and, perhaps, using the Internet to get a range of views on whatever the subject might be. But now, of course, the London Evening Standard has gone one better. Not content with simply accepting that the public know there is a right wing bias in the press, they've decided to come right out with it and appoint Osborne, a Tory MP, as the editor. So, if you want to be fed Tory propaganda, more so than you were already, read the London Evening Standard. I won't be picking it up the next time I'm in town.

Silly haircut two: Donald Trump
The ride to Tatsfield village was characterised by grey skies and the sound of Andy and I ranting. As we wove our merry way around the quiet country lanes that constitute 'the slow way to the Tatsfield village bus stop' we unleashed our venom on Sturgeon – odd, isn't it, that the current and former leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) are both named after fish. Once again that whole 'blind faith in ideology' argument raised it's ugly head as I suggested that the SNP was like UKIP, a one-trick pony. UKIP existed to take the UK out of Europe (and is now floundering) while the SNP is designed for taking Scotland out of the Union.

Personally I don't think the majority of Scots want to leave the UK – they said so in the last referendum – and, as I've said many times before, nationalism is a dangerous thing. It's odd that Scotland wants to move away from Westminster and be governed by Brussels instead. Fortunately, May has laid down the law. She wants to deal with Brexit before saying yes to another Scottish independence referendum and who can blame her?

And then there's last week's elections in the Netherlands. Thank God Geert 'silly haircut' Wilders didn't win. He looks like a cyber Nazi from the future.

Check out those haircuts!
Silly haircut three: Geert Wilders
In fact, talking of haircuts, is it just me or does a silly haircut come as standard these days for so-called 'populist' politicians? Just take a look at the haircuts of three high profile 'politicians', all involved in 'populist' politics – albeit the wrong kind of populism in my opinion. What's populist about fascism? Boris Johnson (he who led the UK out of Europe); Geert Wilders in the Netherlands; and, of course, 'the Donald'. What have they in common? Stupid, stupid haircuts!

I don't know whether Michael Fabricant would describe himself as a populist politician, but his haircut bothers me and it should bother you too.

Silly haircut four: Boris Johnson.
After parting at Warlingham green, Andy and I rode our separate ways to our respective homes and I found myself experiencing many different emotions. The Osborne story had left me feeling peeved, miffed, angry, powerless and, above all, disillusioned with the people who are supposed to be leading the way in the world. Instead, they are exhibiting nothing but their own greed and ignorance and deserve everything they get. In short, they're a bunch of hunts, I thought, as I rode along the 269 towards the pond and free-wheeled down Church Way with my hands off the handlebars – just for the sheer fucky-offyness of it. I'd say we need some kind of revolution, but I'm beginning to think we've already had one.

Monday, 13 March 2017

To Tatsfield village...

We expected rain. We didn't get it. Despite weather forecasters on television saying there would be rain early on Sunday and running throughout the day, there was nothing but grey skies and mild temperatures.

The blossom trees are out, which is the first sign of spring, there's no need for the balaclava and it's light when I get up in the morning.

We met at the green and rode to Tatsfield village, and on our return to the green we both agreed it was a great ride and that summer was definitely on the way.

All told, a great weekend with two rides: one to Flowers Farm near Godstone (see previous post) and Sunday's ride to Tatsfield Village.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

To Flowers Farm...

Sometimes, the smallest of mistakes can be catastrophic. Well, not catastrophic, but when I realised I'd left my keys in the office, it dawned on me that to get the bike out of the garage I would have to go through the back door instead of the front and use my emergency padlock key, the one I keep in a matchbox. Alright, it wasn't the end of the world, but it was mildly annoying – and made even more so when I discovered there was no milk.

Fortunately, the plan was to ride to Godstone and visit the teashop at Flowers Farm. It would mean tea and cake and, as it turned out, a real log fire. You can't get much better than that, unless a beach is involved, but we would be many miles from the sea.

Cake and a woodburner – pic by Andy Smith
We haven't been to Godstone in a long while and that's because there's a big hill on the return journey. It's so steep that if the gears on our bikes were playing up – and they often were – it was not worth the hassle.

Avid readers will know that my old Kona Scrap was always minus a gear or two and that there was never an occasion when they were all working smoothly. But now that I have a new bike with 27 gears we both felt that a trip to Flowers Farm was long overdue.

The weathermen on TV had promised rain on Sunday but the weather this morning was fine. In fact, the whole day was good. Cloudy, but not cold, so when I headed up the Limpsfield Road towards the green, I felt good and the idea of a ride to Flowers Farm, with the promise of tea and cake at the end of it, filled me with what can only be described as good vibes.

As we rode towards Slines Oak Road, we noticed the fog rolling in, a bit like in the John Carpenter movie. We thought that by heading west towards Godstone we would avoid it, but it stayed with us for most of the journey there and back.

It was weird having to tackle two off-road sections. Ever since I'd taken possession of the Rockhopper I'd managed to keep it spotless clean, but now I found myself riding through mud and puddles, albeit only for a few yards. We then rode through the leafy streets of Woldingham, past the big houses on left and right and on towards the second off-road bit through the golf course. The fog was so thick we could only just make out the trees.

Riding down Gangers Hill without lights – mine without batteries, Andy's simply not switched on – was treacherous enough, but we took it easy and eventually rode over the M25 and then the A22 towards the A25 where we rode the last few yards on the path and parked up at Flowers Farm.

How can I explain to you the greatness of Flowers Farm? A farm shop, a micro pub and, of course, the tea room, not forgetting the wood-burning stove. Andy did the honours – tea for two and two enormous triangular slices of an iced sponge cake with cherries. We took a seat in front of the fire and awaited delivery of the goods. They soon arrived and we sat there enjoying every moment. I found myself mesmerised by the flames of the fire, it's better than television, put it that way, but we still found time to discuss the pointlessness of social media and the uphill slog involved of getting anywhere near to a 'dream' job.

Soon it was time to head home. We'd been sitting there for around 40 minutes simply enjoying the solitude, the warmth of the fire, the conversation and the fact that we weren't on the bikes; but now we had the big hill to confront and as we headed towards it I cranked the bike down to its lowest gear and got on with it. Hills, however daunting, are best tackled by simply getting your head down and going for it. The fog was still making its presence known all around us; I've never known it to be so persistent, but soon we reached the top of the hill and found ourselves back in Woldingham with the golf course to our left and some posh houses on our right. When we reached the top end of Sline's Oak Road we said our goodbyes, promising to be out again tomorrow unless the rain dictated otherwise.

I road the length of Slines Oak Road and managed to handle reasonably well the steep section leading to the 269. I headed towards Warlingham alone. My ride was now flat all the way home and it wasn't long before I found myself free-wheeling down Church Way. But when I reached home I felt oddly guilty about the muddy state of the bike, my new bike, so I took it into the back garden, filled a plastic bowl with warm water and set about getting the mud off the frame. Then I oiled the chain and put the bike back in the garage.

Here's hoping we'll get a ride in tomorrow, but I don't want to lull myself into a false sense of charcuterie, alright, alright, 'security', I was just trying to be funny.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Ride aborted

Last night many vivid dreams. One involved waiting for, or looking at, a bus and then deciding to take the train, only to discover that the station was closed except for a side exit and when I followed the path leading into the station I stopped at a pair of sliding glass doors, which were closed. Behind me there was nothing but darkness. On attempting to pull the doors apart they opened and I was back on the streets again, or rather awake. It was just gone 0330hrs. Then, later, another dream. I was miles from home en route to work, but wearing only jeans and a tee-shirt in the rain. The bottoms of the jeans were wet and ragged and I realised that I was being foolish to dress in such a way and decided to turn back. Ahead of me, however, a long, long road stretching into infinity and lined with street lights. I met a friend and told him I needed to talk. He seemed concerned but I reassured him it was nothing to worry about and continued on my journey.

Perhaps another cup of tea?
I woke up again and it was still the dead of night. Or so it seemed. Outside it was dark, but the birds were awake. When I glanced at the clock it was something past four and I considered getting up and sitting here, like I am now, writing this blog, but decided against it. I had another vivid dream and then I could hear the radio. It was morning and time to get up. I wanted to stay where I was in the warmth and this made me check whether it was raining. Spitting a little so I refrained from an abort text and headed downstairs to make a bowl of fresh fruit and a mug of tea. I have the tea beside me now, but the bananas and grapes, the blueberries, the Weetabix biscuit and the yoghut and honey are gone leaving an empty bowl by the side of the lap top.

There's 20 minutes to go before I have to go outside and jump on the bike and head towards the green and having not gone out yesterday I'd like a ride today. Yesterday, like today, was supposed to be a wash-out, according to the weather people on the BBC. But it was a wonderful day of wispy clouds and sillouetted aircraft circling Heathrow. Later there were some dramatic skies and it wasn't too warm, but a ride to mum's was aborted due to a late night. I had assumed that I would wake up to rain and that Jon, who was expecting to meet me over at mum's for breakfast, would remain in bed, but no, he was up and ready to roll and when I sent the abort text he was disappointed that I wouldn't be there. "Shake a leg," he texted me. We chatted over the phone – a poor substitute – but it will suffice until we eventually get our acts together (or in this case I get my act together).

I had been in Clapham at the Northcote pub with a pal. We drank the beer we were brought up on, Youngs Ordinary Bitter, still the best pint in the world if you ask me. But I'm not getting any younger and the thought of a ride so early in the morning after a night in the pub was not appealing, so I didn't go out.

Now it's Sunday and the weather is not too dissimilar to yesterday, slightly cloudier and, as I said earlier, spitting rain, but with 10 minutes to go until I need to be out of the house, there is no abort text from Andy. I'd better go make the tea...

Roughly an hour later...
After making the tea I headed outside. It was a strange day. While the wind howled, the trees were still and ebony black against a grey-blue sky. I rode along Ellenbridge, on to Southcote, right on to Elmfield and left on Morley. Then I turned right on to Church Way and headed up the hill until I heard my phone ringing. It was a text from Andy. "It's raining," it said, so I called him. He was in his garage about to jump on the bike when the downpour started. I suggested we abort the ride as I knew full well the rain was headed in my direction. Sure enough it was, but I was in denial. Perhaps I should grin and bear it and ride to the green, or head over to mum's? I circled the road a few times and then rode around the block, but when I looked down at my trousers they were getting wetter and wetter. Where's the pleasure? There wasn't any, but I rode around anyway. I rode down Church Way, turned left into Arkwright, right on the Ridgeway and right again on to Southcote before heading down Ellenbridge. While soaking wet I was still in denial and thinking about breakfast at mum's. I turned left on to Barnfield and then it hit me: be sensible, go home and get dry so I did a u-turn and rode home.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

When profit is involved, trust nobody...

A few thoughts worth expressing. Last week while munching biscuits at Tatsfield Village, Andy and I touched upon a subject dear to our hearts, that of people being expected to work for nothing. The big, blatant example, of course, is internships where, basically, you work for nothing in order to gain the experience. This is outrageous and shouldn't be allowed, but working for nothing is not limited to interns.

Last week at Tatsfield Village we discussed the whole notion of how photographers are asked to take on an assignment for no pay but should be grateful for the exposure they'll be getting. This is another commonplace reason given by 'employers' for not paying their workers. "We can't pay you, but it's good exposure," they might say, unwittingly using the word 'exposure' in front of a photographer.

Trendy REVL ad, I wonder if they paid the agency?
So I'm on the way to work yesterday (1st March 2017) and there's an article in Metro, the free newspaper that people pick up at train stations or on buses. Inside, on page 3, I read the headline: Paid to Party! App offers dream blogging job. Well, being a blogger it grabbed my attention, but, as with everything in this world, it's not as good as it's cracked up to be; in fact, in this case it's downright unbelievably bad and yet another example of what I'm discussing here.

A company called REVL is offering 'an all-expenses paid six-month stint as a blogger'. They're looking for a fun and creative person to attend four events, exhibitions, concerts or nights out in London, every week and then they want them to write about their experiences.

Now, I'm a journalist, a writer, whatever you want to call me, and normally the deal is straightforward. Somebody might ask me, say, to cover an exhibition or attend a conference and write something about it, and the idea is that I say 'yes' and they pay me for my time and trouble. Simple. But not REVL. Oh no! Metro continues, "The job is unsalaried but the firm says it will give the successful applicant a chance to be London's 'next big influencer'. Oh, well that makes all the difference! They could be London's next big influencer! No they won't be, this is a nasty, uncalled for ruse to get somebody working for nothing at a time when we all need to earn as much money as we can get.

My view is simple: if the work being carried out by the person who isn't being paid is making money for the company that has decided NOT to pay that person, well, that's bordering on the criminal. If you're making money for a business, you should be paid for your efforts.

And another thing...
I don't know about you, but we all seem to have to pay for so much these days that having a job is absolutely critical. There's simply no time or reason why anybody should have to work for nothing, especially as even healthcare is something that costs an arm and a leg, or, in the case of surgeon Ian Paterson, a breast.
Paterson denies 20 counts of wounding with intent, says Metro
A report on the front page of the same edition of Metro alleges that Mr Paterson, a cancer surgeon no less, has been accused of 'needlessly' removing women's breasts – 'possibly to improve his earnings'. This is what really worries me about anything to do with health. Once a profit motive is introduced there's no telling what's going to happen.

Personally, I'm now wary about having an eye test or going to the dentist because I'm wondering whether what they say I need doing is the truth or a lie. Suddenly going to the dentist or the optician is like taking the car to the garage. The optician or dentist is basically walking around you, metaphorically kicking the tyres and making up reasons to charge you more money. I'm due to go to the dentist and I know that things will need to be done – when have you ever gone anywhere and been told, "no, absolutely fine, see you in six months"? the answer is never, because these people want to earn money from you. Why? Well, there are a host of reasons: a new kitchen extension, an exotic foreign holiday, some much-needed landscaping for the garden, a new car, you name it, they need to earn the money. Inject a profit motive and people aren't so much interested in your welfare but their own.

"First, you'd better make an appointment with the hygienist," the dentist will definitely tell me when I'm sitting in the chair. That's going to cost me around £55. Then there's the job that needed doing when I last went, but held back (and haven't been since because I simply couldn't afford the £250 plus bill I would have been charged). When I do go I'm expecting a bill approaching £500 and the thing is, how much of it is absolutely necessary? Not being an expert, I don't know. Unfortunately we have to trust people and where money is concerned, you can't trust anybody.

It's the same with the optician. I'm due to have an eye test, but what are the chances that they're going to say, "No, absolutely fine, keep the glasses you've got and we'll see you in 12 months." Not going to happen. They're going to up the power of the lenses, try and sell me new frames and bingo! A profit for them and an empty wallet for me.

I feel sorry for those who went under the knife of the aforementioned Mr Ian Paterson. Prosecutor Julian Christopher QC, according to Metro, said that 'the 59-year-old had 'his own obscure motives' for the deception. He said he may have inflated his workload to keep up his image of being 'at the top of his game' – or simply enjoyed the power of making people think their lives were in his hands."

If mechanics can charge for unnecessary work on your car, then beware of surgeons, opticians and anybody else driven by a profit motive as you might discover that work you're told needs doing, doesn't.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

To Tatsfield Village via Beddlestead Lane...

Sometimes I wake up and wonder what the hell I'm doing getting out of bed at an ungodly hour and making breakfast. Fine during the week when there's work to be done, but at the weekend? I should be lying in, getting up around 0800hrs, if not later, having a leisurely breakfast and then slobbing for the rest of the day. Well, where's the fun in that?

This morning, though, I felt a little weary, but it was sleepiness, nothing else, and by the time I'd put the kettle on I was feeling good and looking forward to the ride.

Outside it was wet. Peering out of the window prior to padding downstairs to the kitchen I noticed that there was a large puddle on next door's conservatory roof. The skies were grey and there was a fair-to-middling chance that it would rain. Andy later told me that it did rain over in Caterham, but he pressed ahead and sure enough he was on the green waiting for me when I arrived later than expected. I won't bore you with the details.

Mist heading our way along Beddlestead Lane. Pic: Andy Smith
I aborted on Saturday and I wished I hadn't. The plan had been to ride to Godstone Farm Shop, where they make a decent cup of tea and offer a fine range of home-made cakes. We have steered clear of this place for one good reason: the steep hill on the return journey. It used to be a problem because there was always something wrong with my old bike's gears. But now that I've got a new bike it doesn't matter. There's something great about eating cake after riding a bike, but then again, there's something about drinking beer after riding a bike too or eating an unhealthy breakfast.

There were puddles everywhere as we rode towards the mini roundabout beyond Warlingham Sainsbury's. We turned left and followed the country lanes towards Hesiers Hill and then endured the slow burn of Beddlestead Lane, occasionally overtaken by well-spoken Lycra monkeys.

Halfway along we watched as the mist rolled in from Clarks Lane. It looked so good we stopped and Andy took the photograph that accompanies this blog post. We kept moving, reaching the T-junction with Clarks Lane, turning left and heading towards the Tatsfield Bus Stop, which still lacks seating.

We turned left on to Approach Road and rolled into the village where we broke out the tea and biscuits and discussed various things, such as a £15,000 electric bike from Audi that doesn't need a padlock. I can't remember the details, but Andy said something about refrigerated lorries and how , GPS would be undetectable should a bike thief decide to use one to nick the bike.

The subject of fake news came up too. My view is that a free press is part of a Western democracy, it's part of the system, like an independent judiciary and the House of Lords. So why does Donald Trump want to diss the system? Why does he want everybody thinking that the media is lying and that only he is telling the truth? And why is everybody so fucking gullible? One of the best pieces of stand-up comedy I've ever heard is Frankie Boyle's "It's the fucking banks!" sketch. Inspired.

He starts off saying that when he was a kid he used to watch Columbo and that all episodes followed the same format: the murderer was revealed at the beginning, before the pre-credits, and then the rest of the programme was about how Columbo reveals how and why the murderer committed the crime. Boyle watched the programme with his nan and despite the fact that the murderer had been revealed at the beginning, she still says, "I think she did it." A frustrated Boyle would then say, "No, nan, it wasn't her, it was HIM!!!! You saw who committed the crime at the beginning!"

For Boyle, the current situation in the UK – where everything is blamed on immigration – is similar to an episode of Columbo except that the 'murderer' is the banks. The current state we're all in is nothing to do with immigrants, it was the FUCKING BANKS!!!! The FUCKING BANKS!!! Why can't anybody see that? Is the entire population of the UK just like Boyle's nan watching an episode of Columbo?

We discussed the arrogance of Tony Blair and debated whether or not he was a war criminal and then mounted our bikes and headed for home.

The snow drops were out and the daffodils are on the way. The mornings are getting lighter and soon the clocks go forward, but neither Andy nor I have forgotten that it once snowed in April.

We rode North on the 269 – the fog having lifted – and from certain vantage points we were offered a fleeting glimpse of London from West the East. In the West the shimmering whiteness of Saint Helier Hospital bathed in sunlight and then, panning east, the Shard and then Canary Wharf. It was soon obscured by trees as we descended from the hill and found ourselves back in Warlingham at the mini roundabout next to Sainsbury's.

We parted on the Green. I'd be riding alone next Saturday and I'm wondering where to go. An 'urban ride' to mum's? Possibly. A solo run to Redhill? Could be! But we'll see what the weather has in store.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

To Tatsfield Village...

You can't beat birdsong in the morning, especially if there's a woodpecker on percussion. It's one of the pleasures of being up and out of the house early, the sounds of birds singing, the lonely pigeon cooing on a silhouetted roof top, a rogue seagull, perhaps, as you wind your way around the empty streets, past the drawn curtains of everybody else who are simply not as mad as you are; they're in bed, listening to the radio or sleeping, but either way they have chosen a lazy start to their day. You, on the other hand, are 'out there' in more senses than one, hitting the tarmac, listening to the sound of fat tyres whirring on gravel.

It was my second day of such craziness. Three weeks out of the saddle and I was feeling it. Andy was the same. It just goes to prove that if you let up on the exercise your body soon falls back into a state of weariness and after a while you'll lose momentum completely, you won't be going anywhere, you'll just be drinking tea in your dressing gown, looking out on the long, uncut grass in the garden and dreading the day, which is never far off, when the lawnmower has to be dragged from the garage kicking and screaming and that awful word 'gardening' becomes part of the lexicon again.

Always start the day with a healthy breakfast...
But not today! The climb out towards the Limpsfield Road was not easy as I was a little out of condition, but it was achievable and soon I found myself bombing through the deserted, one-sided high street of Sanderstead, past the lonely recreation ground, Waitrose and Majestic Wine and on towards Hamsey. I reached the green before Andy. The clock said it was 0720hrs, which meant it had taken me just 10 minutes to get there. No way! I checked the iPhone and it was 0733hrs, just the same as yesterday. It's a 23-minute journey if I step on it.

Where to go? It had to be Tatsfield Village, the slow way, although I found Beddlestead Lane a little tiresome and was glad to pass the mobile phone tower and slip gently on to Clarks Lane. We free-wheeled into the village and came to a gentle stop at the bus stop where the flask of hot water, the teabags and the biscuits came out and we sat there, chewing the fat about this and that. Donald Trump, Brexit, the capitalist system, the fact that nothing is really as expensive as we're led to believe it is and that, ultimately, we're all being ripped off, our politicians aren't listening to us and that's why there's Brexit and Trump. We moaned about Blair's arrogant and misguided notion of campaigning to stay in the EU and then, suitably exorcised of all that had been bothering us – including the fact that Clarkson's The Grand Tour was basically a continuation of Top Gear – we headed out of town, in the wrong gear – well, that was my excuse.

The ride back was smooth. We rolled north along the 269 towards Warlingham Green where we vowed to be back on the green next Saturday. Godstone was suggested as a possible destination. There's a farm shop near Godstone, on the A25, that sells decent cake and a decent cup of tea. On that note we parted and I sailed down the Limpsfield Road towards Sanderstead and home.

It had been a good ride and equally good weather, similar to yesterday, but without the fog. The temperature has been mild, but apparently more severe weather – in the shape of heavy wind – is coming our way, that's if you believe what you read in the newspapers, not that I'm suggesting it's fake news!