|Tea round at mum's. As Andy remarked, "It's a lot more comfortable than the Tatsfield Bus Stop."|
For most of my life, I've been a child and, even though I have children of my own, I often wonder whether I am the bigger child. I'm still excited by the things that excited me as a kid and that is one reason behind this blog: my love of the bicycle and riding out of a weekend with my mates to various destinations in rural Surrey and Kent.
When I was in my early teens, my pal Alan and I would ride our track bikes (bikes we built ourselves) to and from school, into Sutton at the weekends or down to River Gardens in Carshalton where we would fantasise about owning a Milbro G10 air pistol. I still remember Alan once saying, "It would be like the Alamo," at a time when I didn't really know what the Alamo was; oddly, I was there in person, down in San Antonio, almost a year ago, and I took a photo of it, which can be found on this blog.
My brother and I often say that, given half the chance, we could easily play with our toy soldiers again and find it just as much fun as we did when were kids. All we need is the opportunity. Why is this? Because we're still kids.
And when it comes to holidays, I still have fond memories of our fortnights on the south coast when the summers were long and hot and carefree. Even today, I drive to the very spot where those holidays took place and can transport myself back to those innocent days of rock pools and ice creams, toy wooden yachts and fish & chips.
So today was particularly poignant as Andy and I rode from Purley in the early morning towards Carshalton and a planned visit to mum at the Moggridge family home where I was brought up and from where Jon and I used to play with our toy soldiers and our wooden forts in those aforementioned innocent days.
|View from the kitchen window of mum's house.|
We stayed for around half an hour before donning helmets and waterproofs, retrieving our bikes from the garage and pedalling down Rossdale and into Westmead Road, headed for Grove Park, a place that holds plenty of childhood memories for me: fishing the Wandle for sticklebacks, sending my remote-controlled tank into a derelict, war-time mortuary, playing football or just going for a stroll with dad.
We rode through Grove Park and out of Carshalton towards Wallington and then turned right into Plough Lane, straight across the Stafford Road lights into the once notorious Roundshaw Estate, where a lot of my school pals used to live in roads named after aviation heroes such as Amy Johnson and Lindbergh, not to mention the Spitfire, the Hurricane and, of course, the Lancaster. We turned left into Foresters Drive and on towards Plough Lane before turning left on to Foxley Lane where we bade each farewell.
By now it was raining quite heavily as I made my way up the Purley Downs Road, turning left into Norman Avenue and weaving my way towards the Sanderstead Hill, otherwise known as the B269 – the road that takes us to Botley Hill – where I turned right and prepared myself for the steep side of West Hill.
It rained for most of the day and only stopped as evening approached, but then started again as I ventured out to buy matches and a glue stick.
There was no ride on Saturday. For me it was because I needed a rest after the company conference in Paris. I think Phil felt a little weary too – although Phil wasn't with us today either. Is it, perhaps, not unreasonable to assume that he was burning the midnight oil again, boiling up some marmalade in huge cauldrons, bubbling late into the night over fierce flames? I wonder if Phil is really Paddington Bear as we never see them together in the same room.