Monday, 26 September 2011

Tatsfield Churchyard and Westerham...

A short one to Tatsfield Churchyard on Saturday (24th September) followed by a longer ride to Westerham on Sunday. The weather was fine on both days and there was mum's fruit cake to eat too, which was excellent (Andy and I are both fans).

The reason for the short run on Saturday was because I had commitments - well, one commitment: to organise a car for myself. Anyway, the plan was to visit the car showrooms and to take on one of those hefty 'personal plans', but to be honest, my heart wasn't in it. I'm not that type of person. I don't fork out, or rather, commit to a huge loan for a car. Car's don't appeal, I've always had secondhand cars and I've always driven them into the ground - like now (I own a 1997 316i BMW and it's on it's last legs). And that's the whole point: sooner or later it's going to leave me stranded on the hard shoulder of the M25, M26 or M20. Except that, so far (and we're talking one month in of doing 400 miles per week) nothing untoward has happened.
My 1997 BMW 316i on the drive - now doing 400 miles 
per week on three motorways.

The plan was to cycle to Hunger's End, but my commitments meant I could only afford a short ride – but then, when I returned, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to meet the smarmy car salesmen, we decided to buy our son's similarly spec'd BMW (a coupe version of ours and the same age). So, we didn't bother with car salesmen and we've saved ourselves the worry of commiting to such a large sum of money.

Secretly, however, I'd rather like a brand new car, but the voice of reason says no - not yet at any rate.

So, Tatsfield it was, followed on Sunday by a pleasant ride to Westerham, where all the benches were drenched with dew, forcing us to lean against the statue of Winston Churchill.

The thing is, while I fully expected to be able to visit Hunger's End this coming weekend - even down to chatting with Jon at lunchtime and running through what I planned to eat (scrambled egg on two slices of thick toast and a mug or two of tea) I reached home to discover that I have to be at the tint shop to have tinted windows restored to normal (a condition of the insurance).

So, guys, if you're listening - or rather reading - I can't go to Hunger's End this weekend either!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

17th and 18th September 2011

Jon at Woodmansterne Green.
I should have motivated myself to go cycling on Saturday, but it was damp and unpleasant-looking outside, Andy wasn't going and while I did consider Woodmansterne Green, I decided that I'd cycle round to mum's in the evening instead. Unfortunately, it was raining around 6pm on the Saturday so I drove over instead.

Waking up early at mum's, I drove home after the obligatory fairy cake and a cup of tea (no, I love them, that was a joke) I reached home and then cycled back to Woodmansterne where I met Jon for a welcomed chinwag, cup of tea, two of mum's fairy cakes and an over-ripe banana.

Woodmansterne is quite a work-out even if the ride there is a little boring and suburban. The weather was fine and all was well.

I cycled home and then spent the rest of the day in the car, taking Max to Euston. I don't know what was happening, but Parliament Square had been re-routed and we ended up going south of the river in order to go north again. Not good, but all's well that ends well.

It looks as if Hunger's End is seriously on the cards for this coming weekend. Andy texted me yesterday expressing his desire to go there, Jon has been hinting at a ride there too and, well, it would be good to visit the caff again - and hopefully the eccentric shaving man will be there.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Carshalton and the Tatsfield Bus Stop...

Yesterday it was a suburban cycle through the mean streets of Croydon, Wallington and Carshalton. Went over to see mum. It was a good 12-miler, but largely suburban streets. Last night I stayed over at mum's and awoke in the early morning and listened to the rain and wind outside. I must have nodded off because I came to around 0550hrs and could still hear the rain - or at least I thought I could. I fully expected an abort text from Andy but hadn't received one. I sent him one, saying something like, 'looking unlikely' and got a reply stating it wasn't raining over Caterham way. Then I looked out. What a beautiful day! Sure, it had been raining, the ground was wet and there were puddles, but the skies were clearing, a watery sun occasionally appeared behind smoky, fast-moving clouds and it was definitely time to hit the road.

Dog Shit Alley joins Shorts Road with West Street in Carshalton.
Start the day with a fairy cake, that's my motto. I had two of them and a large mug of tea before saying goodbye to mum and driving home to pick up the bike. We aimed for somewhere with cover and the Tatsfield Bus Stop seemed like a good idea.

September 11th, that fateful day back in 2001. I was in Tamworth, visiting a chef called Matthew Shropshall and so was my photographer, Rob Wilkinson. A strange day, but there you have it.

Today, the weather was fine, but it wasn't long before I had a wet arse (thanks to the puddles) and was beginning to reconsider, as I do at this time of year, whether to fit some mudguards. Knowing me, I probably won't, I'll just put up with it, but we'll see – I don't like having a wet arse.

Today really marked a change in the weather. For the past six months, despite what people say, the weather's been brilliant. It's nice outside now – sunshine everywhere – but the last six months have been fantastic. If you don't believe me, just check back through the pages of this blog, look at the blue skies in the photographs and you'll see what I mean. I can't stand people who moan and wonder what happened to the summer, as if we haven't had one, we have!!!
A different angle on an old bus stop? New
routes are definitely needed. 

But as I cycled with Andy towards Botley Hill, I noticed a difference in the weather. It was cooler for a start, it had been raining over night, there were big puddles everywhere, my arse was wet, I was considering mudguards, something had definitely changed.

During the summer months, an overcast day is depressing in the extreme, but the only bad day I recall this summer was when we did the Black Horse Ride in June. Outside of that, it's been great. In the summer, clouds are a bummer, but in the wintery months – or the lead-up to them – a cloudy day is welcomed as it brings to mind tea and cake in front of the fire. Well, we're not quite there yet, but, as I say, a change is out there and the risk of getting a soaking has increased. Soon, the gloves will go on – I thought about them this morning too.

At the Tatsfield Bus Stop we discussed cars and mileage, Peuguots versus BMW, big cars versus small, old cars versus new and we talked about discovering new routes because when I reached for the camera to take the traditional photograph for the weekly post – this post – we realised that we had exhausted every shot the Bus Stop could offer us. We need a new route – or a new destination – and I'll have to put my thinking cap on.

Jon suggested yesterday that we head out for Hunger's End next week and I suggested that Redhill hasn't been done for a while and there's a caff there open on Sunday. And what about Boxhill? A bit far, perhaps. Andy can't make next Saturday, but he's going on Sunday so possibly Redhill and then Hunger's End the following weekend. Who knows?

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Tatsfield Churchyard

A ride to the Tatsfield Churchyard on Saturday 3 September where Andy and I chatted about Andy's London to Paris ride - for full details see Andy's report below. Sunday I aborted due to general tiredness (well, alright, a late night AND little sleep).