Monday, 19 August 2013

A heavy mist, an irritating knocking noise and some lively conversation...

My bike is sounding like a metronome and for those who don't know what a metronome is, it's a device used by musicians to keep time and it clicks monotonously depending on how it is set. The problem with my bike is the bottom bracket. It needs replacing, but I've been told by the man in the bike shop in Redhill to keep on riding it until it simply has to be fixed. I think it might be getting close to that time as the is there all the time and I'm sure it'll soon be annoying anybody cycling in close proximity to me, namely, Andy or Phil.
A spooky mist hung over the Tatsfield Churchyard on Saturday morning

The bike is suffering at the moment. Not only are punctures occuring with regularity, the brakes were recently fixed (readers might recall the extortionate bill) along with the wheel needing new spokes and so on and so forth. Today, while out on a short ride with my daughter around the block, the gears were playing up and the whole chain system froze up.

This weekend was another great one in terms of the weather. Both days were warm and, it has to be said, a little changeable: one minute sunshine then a little rain and sometimes a combination of sunshine and rain. But who's complaining? Not me. I've been off work all week, chilling at home and the weather's been nothing but fantastic. I've spent a lot of time in  Forest Row and Ashdown Forest enjoying the delights of a restaurant called Java & Jazz and Forest Row's rather exquisite bakery behind the main High Street. Today (Monday) we enjoyed Cornish pasties and Bakewell Tarts while sitting in the forest taking in the view. It's been a lazy week, but not much in the way of cycling was done (I needed the rest) and now, tomorrow, I'm back to work.

Right now, though, it's 2326hrs on Monday night and I can't sleep. Why is this? I'm beginning to wonder whether I drink too much tea. Anyway, I went to bed around 1030hrs, found myself lying in bed fully awake and now here I am writing this blogpost. It might well be that during the week I've taken life relatively easy and, therefore, I've got a lot of unspent energy keeping me awake. Perhaps it's the cake. I'm guilty this week of enjoying the odd slice of cake, the odd KitKat bar and plenty of bread and marmalade – all very sugary when you think about it (and it's got to stop) but I've been off work on what is likely to be my only holiday this year so I figure I can enjoy a slice of two of cake when I fancy it. The trouble, of course, is that I always fancy a nice bit of cake. Today it was Bakewell tart, the other day it was coffee and walnut cake, then there was the odd KitKat round at mum's (she keeps them in a house-shaped biscuit 'tin' – it's made out of porcelain. I know this because I bought it for her last Christmas).
This is an old shot of Westerham Green, our destination on Sunday.

Cycling wise, the weekend was good: a ride out to Tatsfield Churchyard on Saturday with Phil and Andy and then a ride to Westerham on Sunday, also with Phil and Andy.

On Saturday, en route to the churchyard, we encountered a heavy mist at the top end of the 269 and none of us had any effective lights. My rear light had run out of batteries and Andy's rear light was all but invisible in the thick fog.

This weekend we discussed loads of stuff as we munched our cereal bars, sipped our tea or stuffed our faces with Phil's excellent bacon sandwiches (a Sunday treat). On Saturday, at the churchyard, we discussed the prevalence of a growing so-called 'underclass' that is developing in the UK, something that many people have discussed over recent years in connection with the London riots, benefits and so forth. Phil brought it up this weekend, although I recall, about a year ago, possibly a little longer, that I brought it up having been for a wander around the Crown Hill area of Croydon. It's an interesting subject and it's well worth reading Owen Jones' Chavs in which he argues that the white working class has become it's own ethnic group characterised by people with 'dangerous dogs', hoodies and tattoos.

On Sunday we parked up on the green at Westerham, behind Churchill's statue and watched as a fellow cyclist parked up outside the Tudor Tea Rooms. "Can you watch my bike for me?" he asked and we said we would, but as soon as he'd disappeared into the shop, we started discussing how we could now nick the bike – which, we guessed, was very expensive. We were only joking, of course, but that didn't stop us working out the entire caper out loud, accompanied by much laughter. The man was wearing those strange cycling shoes that adhere the wearer to the pedals of the bike, so running after whoever rode off on the top-of-the-range machine would have been difficult. My view was that we'd need somebody in a van to take the bike to a safe house where, needless to say, it would eventually require a re-spray. The whole conversation reminded me of a conversation between Andy and I a year or so ago when we decided that being a criminal, a petty criminal, was simply not worth the aggravation. Imagine, for example, if we had stolen the bike, we'd have to re-spray it and then what? Risk selling it on Ebay? No, ultimately it would be more trouble than it was worth. Similarly, shoplifting; where would it get us? Nowhere and, as I've said many a time before, if I was caught with a tin of baked beans, I reckon I'd be going down.
The Tudor Rose Tearooms – next weekend we're having
our breakfast here!
Doing a runner from a restaurant has always been appealing and probably one of the most adrenaline-fueled capers on the books – if a chase was involved – but again, neither Andy, Phil or yours truly are capable of being criminals (we're all too nice). With that pleasing thought in our minds and having drank all the tea and eaten our bacon sandwiches, we headed out of Westerham, up the hill to Botley and home.

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