Sunday, 17 August 2014

Solo ride to the Tatsfield Bus Stop...the slow way

A pretty uneventful weekend on the cycling front. I had a text from Phil saying he couldn't make Saturday's ride and I knew that Andy wouldn't be going so it was time for a bit of self-motivation (which normally means a short ride to Botley and home). Having said that, the other side to self-motivation is that I tend to push myself a little further. Recently I recall riding to Westerham alone and then there was the Easter holidays back in April when I cycled every day for something like nine or 10 days.
Yours truly at the Tatsfield Bus Stop, Saturday 16 August 2014

I was tempted to do nothing, but figured the weather was so good (it was sunny and warm) I'd be foolish not to take advantage. Botley was on my mind, but I decided to ride the slow way to the Tatsfield Bus Stop instead, which was wonderful. I've said it before and I'll more than likely say it again, but cycling is really therapeutic and spiritually uplifting. Once I'd branched off the Limpsfield Road just past Sainsbury's I found myself really enjoying the tranquillity of the back roads that run parallel, give or take, with the 269. The sun filtered through the trees, there was a mild breeze and there was me, on a bike, taking it fairly easy, riding at my own pace and taking in the scenery: the cornfields, the hedgerows, the wildlife (mainly birds twittering in trees) and the occasional Lycra monkey whirring past me.

At the bottom of Hesiers Hill – one of the most peaceful places on our rides.
I stopped at the bottom of Hesiers Hill – which has to be one of the most peaceful spots on our rides – and just took in the silence, punctuated only by the sound of the birds, not even any sheep on this occasion. Once, I remember being watched by a bunch of sheep. I remember feeling a little strange about it as I got the feeling that they were talking amongst themselves – about me.  At one stage, two sheep seemed to be 'chatting' and looking over in my direction and then they called over their pals. I remember thinking it best to get back on the bike and get the hell out of there. You'll find the post in question by clicking here. Perhaps I was experiencing a little too much paranoia, but there you have it; there's more to sheep than meets the eye. Remember Babe?

Yesterday, however, there were no sheep. Perhaps they saw me coming. Perhaps they were being sheared in some nearby barn. Perhaps they were hiding and preparing for some kind of woolly ambush.

I made slow but enjoyable progress along Beddlestead Lane, thinking about this and that and taking my mind off the fact that the road always seems to be never-ending; it's only when I reached the 'totem pole' (that burnt out tree) and then the mobile phone mast, that I realised I was making progress.

The bike taking a rest at the bottom of Hesiers Hill
I free-wheeled along Clarks Lane and parked up at the bus stop. Time for tea. Normally when I ride alone I don't take any tea with me, but the original plan was to ride to Woodmansterne and see Jon and then possibly head to mum's for breakfast (and a slice of wedding cake). But Jon didn't return my text so I decided to head for Tatsfield instead. As I sat sipping tea and watching the world go by, the phone rang. It was Jon. We discussed the situation in Gaza and the Middle East and both agreed that the West should intervene against ISIS as soon as possible – what the hell are they waiting for? – and that a hard line should also be taken on Israel. Why is it, I wondered, that if anybody takes the Palestinian side of the argument, it's almost akin to blasphemy and they're accused of being anti-semitic? It's the same if you talk about immigration – you're branded a racist. Why should the Israelis always be given so much rope and be allowed – literally – to get away with murder? And how come they get to be in the Eurovision song contest?

Then, Tony Blair was brought into the discussion (he's never far away). I find it ridiculous that Blair is the Middle East Peace Envoy. I've said this before, I know, but it's akin to making Rolf Harris the UK's child protection 'Tsar' or putting Harold Shipman in charge of assisted dying. If it wasn't for Blair and Bush we wouldn't have ISIS. For all his faults, Saddam Hussein at least kept all the rival factions of Iraqi society in order and what's more, he didn't have any weapons of mass destruction, they were just a ruse to convince the American and British public that we had to invade Iraq – we didn't have to invade Iraq at all – and then, when Bush and Blair realised they'd been rumbled, they came up with the ultimate excuse: faulty intelligence. Iraq was only invaded by Bush and Blair in retaliation for 9/11 when we all know that the Iraqis had nothing to do with it – weren't the 9/11 terrorists from Saudi Arabia? In other words, Saddam Hussein was being used as a scapegoat and it gave Bush an excuse to get in there and win some lucrative reconstruction contracts for American companies like Halliburton...and let's not forget the oil. As for Blair, I can't think of a British Prime Minister who has been more destructive and a threat to world peace as Blair. And to think he was worried about his legacy! His 'legacy' is what is going on in Northern Iraq as I write these words.

The bike at the bus stop shortly before heading back home
Jon and I discussed stuff like this and then, after hanging up the phone I put my stuff away and headed home. I was going to go back the long way but decided against it as I'd left the house later than usual. I got back home around 1020hrs, did a spot of gardening and then headed to Wagamama for lunch followed by a mooch around Waterstone's and a few other shops, buying mundane items like lightbulbs for the kitchen and bathroom – not good old-fashioned bayonet or screw-in lightbulbs, but tiny, irritating, awkward little bastards that require a small black sucker device to fit them in their sockets in the ceiling. Why can't life be straightforward, I wondered?

Sunday 17th August

Today was basically a no-show for yours truly. I awoke this morning at 0200hrs – why, I don't know – and couldn't get back to sleep. I considered counting sheep, but knowing that they were after me for pissing on their parade back in the summer of 2011, I decided not to tempt fate. I started to have visions of a disturbance downstairs in the living room, going to investigate and being greeted by half a dozen angry sheep. "Remember us, Mr Moggridge? Hesiers Hill 2011? Next time you get off your bike to admire the view, think again." All I did, back in 2011 (see link above) was turn up, invade their space for a few minutes and then ride on, but they certainly weren't happy, I know that much. With counting sheep out of the question, therefore, I considered working out the area of the polystyrene ceiling tiles, like I used to when I was a kid back at home, until I realised we didn't have any ceiling tiles. I was wide awake as the time approached 0500hrs and had the choice of getting up and simply going cycling or sending out an abort text and calling it a day. Sadly, I opted for the latter. When I found my iphone on the ironing board I noted that Phil had already sent an abort text late on Saturday night so I sent one to Andy and went back to sleep. I awoke at past 0800hrs, had a late breakfast and now here I am at 1119hrs just putting the finishing touches to this post.

Andy motivated himself and rode to the Tatsfield Bus Stop, the slow way, replicating my ride yesterday and, God willing, we'll all be back in the saddle next Saturday.

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