Monday, 22 October 2012

Poor show on the cycling front...

A weekend of no cycling and for no reason. Andy wasn't going on Saturday, but I should have been out of bed by 6am and on the road by 7am. I wasn't. Why? Just the knowledge that I didn't have to go because there was nobody to meet at the Green. Well, that and I've been feeling a little tired of late. I think it's got a lot to do with the change in the weather. Now that summer's well and truly off the agenda, the colder, shorter days are creeping in. Next weekend the clocks go back, meaning (I think) that we all get an extra hour in bed.

It's harder to get out of bed in the winter months and I need as much motivation as I can get. So, when Andy says he ain't going, well, I lie in bed thinking to myself, 'shall I go or shall I not?' I'll get up and resolve to go slightly later than usual, but after a bowl of porridge or a slice of fruit loaf plus a cup of tea I start to feel comfortable about not going. Should I call Jon to see if he's up for Woodmansterne Green? Yes, of course. But I do nothing and soon a point of no return is reached, normally around 8am. I realise that going now would put a strain on the day; I'd get back later than planned and the rest of the day would be one of those slobby affairs of sitting around doing nothing until it's too late to do anything. Best, then, to resolve not to go; to look outside the kitchen window at the back garden and say to myself, 'I'll go tomorrow'.

Then, having decided not to go cycling, I start to feel a little resentful. 'Perhaps there's still time?' I say to myself, changing my mind and then realising, no, it's too late, the traffic's building up and so on. I visualise the route and that makes me feel tired and then relieved that my original decision was the right one.

Saturday was spent discussing cars. We've not had one since September 1st when somebody rammed into the back of the BMW, causing our insurance company to write it off and leaving us without a car. It's been a big nightmare, but as time progressed (we're approaching two months) I've found it to be a kind of blessing in disguise. I don't mind the 30-minute walk to the supermarket to pick up things like minced beef and chicken; I'm not bothered about having to cycle six miles to see mum (although I didn't do that this weekend) and, well, to cut a long story short, not having a car doesn't bother me. If I lived alone, I'd get by without a car and rely instead upon a bicycle and public transport. This, of course, is the not the case for other members of the family who, it has to be said, rely upon the car more than I do. For me, the car is just for the weekend. For everybody else, it's a lifeline, although, if it was me, I'd learn to adapt.

Looking down the festive stairwell at Fortnum & Mason. Later, in Liberty's
a shop assistant wished my a Merry Christmas – a bit premature, I thought.
What we all miss about having a car is the weekend excursions into the countryside except that, when I think long and hard about those trips, they're wasteful of petrol and time and often involve aimless driving through either Surrey, Sussex or Kent – or very often a mix of all three. It's petrol and it's also the hefty price paid in National Trust properties not only to get in to the places, but to enjoy a pot of tea and some lemon drizzle cake. In short, a big drain on resources, which, without a car, can be avoided.

I can easily live without a car. In fact, on Sunday, we went to London by train and mooched around Fortnum & Mason (to see how the other half live) followed by Liberty's and then lunch in a low-cost restaurant on Old Compton Street (The Stockpot). Stockpot has been around for years. I remember when my wife was my girlfriend, it was our place. Cheap and cheerful in one respect, but, for the money, very good value. Having said that, this time was different. I'm not sure how many The Stockpot restaurants are left, but either way, I can't remember them being cash-only establishments. I always find that a bore mainly because I never realise it's cash-only until it's too late and I then resort to checking my wallet for spare notes and coins (which I never have) and then have to resort to leaving the restaurant to find a cashpoint.

Shoppers in Liberty's, Regent Street, Sunday 20th October 2012.
In fact, I find cash-only restaurants a nuisance and a downright liberty especially when the bill arrives and it says 'service not included'. In my book, there's no tip if I've had to leave the comfort of my table to find a cashpoint in order to pay my bill. Not getting a tip obviously pissed off the waiter who gave me dirty looks as we left. He was, of course, unaware, that waiters only get one tip from me: get a better paid job and then you won't feel so disappointed when I don't tip you. I never tip, unless it's exceptional and it's rarely exceptional, even in Michelin-starred restaurants where my overriding feeling is along the lines of 'all that money and I was still hungry when I came out' or 'is there a McDonald's nearby?'

Sunday was confusing in terms of cycling. I'd put my phone on silent and then forgotten about it. I must have put it on silent on Saturday because late at night I checked it and found texts from Andy. One asked if a 7am meeting was on the cards and then another said 'abort'. I hurriedly sent Andy a text late on Saturday night asking for the normal time of 7.30am and then received one back saying he couldn't make it – so I didn't go either. Not good and I must go next weekend without fail. I'm considering going tomorrow (Tuesday) to work, but I know I'll be too tired (after watching the Panorama Special on Sir Jimmy Saville) and it's so much grief as I'll have to take a change of clothes, I'll need a shower at the office and then I'll have to cycle home, possibly in the rain.

No, this weekend was not good for cycling, but things can only get better.

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