Sunday, 20 April 2014

Day seven: Easter Sunday ride to Tatsfield village (roughly 16 miles)

As I write this at 1100hrs there is rain, thunder and lightning disturbing the peace. Rain is hammering down on the roof of the conservatory, thunder claps can be heard overhead and yes, there was even some lightning to illuminate the greyness. Earlier, as Andy and I chewed the fat at the covered bus stop in Tatsfield village, there had been nothing but a mild misty blue air and a dull breeze and when a man passed the time of day with a 'looks like rain, lads' we shrugged it off, confident that we would reach home without getting soaked. And we did, but within 20 minutes of being home, I heard the rain, then the lightning and then thunder. And now, one paragraph in, the rain has stopped as suddenly as it began and there's just the drip, drip, drip of rain, like a dodgy tap – like my dodgy kitchen tap.

The Ship, Tatsfield, Kent early this morning.
Today's ride, my eighth consecutive ride (if you include last Sunday's jaunt to Westerham*) was characterised by empty streets. Everybody, it seemed, was lying in except for Andy and I and a guy in an Aston Martin, not forgetting whoever it was erecting posters for the London Air Show, an event that sounds grander than it actually is. The rain's started up again outside, but it's very bright out there too and I'm told it'll pass over – just as well as I'm planning a drive into darkest Sussex in about an hour from now.
Deserted – Easter Sunday morning on Sanderstead High St.

Let's get back to the London Air Show. I was wondering, as we passed a huge sign for it, whether or not it might be another name for the Biggin Hill Air Show, but I was wrong, this WAS the London Air Show and it was being held in Woldingham, an area not renowned for its airstrips or airports and, in terms of aviation heritage, I can't think of any (Woldingham is garden centre and golf club territory). However, on closer inspection, it became clear that the London Air Show is to the Biggin Hill event what lawnmower racing is to Formula One. To put it bluntly, we're talking about hang gliding and stuff more akin to the Selsey Bird Man competition than anything you might refer to as 'real flying'.

When we reached the village we talked more about Andy's ride to Brighton and back, roughly 80 miles. It was odd that he was complaining about cramps as he's normally not the complaining type. Perhaps, I suggested, it was the different riding position of the racer when compared to the mountain bike. Good point, he said, but the racer was needed to cover the distance in the alloted time. In other words, he'll have to get used to it – and I'm sure he will.

I mentioned that I'd be travelling again shortly to Indianapolis in the USA where, I've discovered, they have just introduced a 'Boris bike' scheme. I emailed those behind it and they said I can buy a 24-hour ticket when I arrive, so expect a few blogposts about riding in Indianapolis in a few weeks' time.

Tatsfield village, incidentally, had been cleaned up since my last visit on Good Friday. The rugby ball and beer cans had disappeared and so had the pint glasses left by the bench near the pond (it's too small, surely, to be called a lake?).

We drank tea, munched our Kellogg's NutraGrain bars – Andy's switched from Jordan's for some reason, but this isn't a complaint – and then we headed off and I began to complain about my Tesco Tearaway tracksuit bottoms; I've been wearing them all week (see photos in all but one of last week's posts). I hate them with a vengeance, they look so untidy, cheap and loutish and are a tad immature too.

The roads on the return journey were as deserted as they were on the way out, hence the image of Sanderstead High Street above. Note the lack of traffic and people. But then this is Easter Sunday in England and people are probably nursing Saturday night hangovers or preparing for a later start than normal. I've also included a shot of the Ship, a pub at the heart of Tatsfield Village, and one I haven't visited for a beer for a long while. The last time I was there they had surfboards with sails hanging on the walls.

Home-made sausages and mash at the White Horse, Sutton, Sussex – lovely!
The rain carried on all day in the end. I drove to one of my favourite pubs, the White Horse, in the middle of the south downs in the heart of Sussex, in the village of Sutton. I've included a photo of my lunch – home-made sausages, mash, kale and carrots, washed down with a pint of one of my favourite brews – Harvey's (an established Sussex brewer in Lewes).

All the way home in the car there was rain so I abandoned a much needed visit to the beach and instead headed home on the A24, which seemed quicker than my usual route along the A29. There was also little point in stopping in Arundel as to do so would have meant getting very wet indeed.

Now, at 1909hrs, there are blue skies and sunshine and I'm told it will continue into Easter Monday, my last day off work. What a truly great week off in all senses of the word: the weather, the cycling, the trips out, you name it, and especially having the entire family at home. A highlight was Max's chicken and leek pie – a worthy meal – and one I hope to enjoy again soon.

* I've been counting my consecutive days of cycling from Monday, separating them from my usual weekend rides and that's why it's Day Seven, although, in reality, by counting last Sunday's ride to Westerham, it's really Day Eight. 

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