Sunday, 7 September 2014

More ramblings...and another ride to Westerham (total weekend distance: 44 miles)

Outside all is still and a little overcast and grey, just like yesterday morning. I'm in my usual place: the conservatory. It's 0643 hrs, cereal has been eaten, I've enjoyed a cup of tea and an Oat So Simple Fruit Muesli bar and now I'm getting ready for the ride. Andy and I had discussed riding to Westerham. Phil's not going. My phone is on charge as Andy might abort or Phil might reinstate himself on the ride.

It's been a busy weekend, which, this week, as last, has involved a trip to the municipal rubbish dump on the Brighton Road. I hate 'going to the dump' but over the last couple of weekends it's been a regular haunt as I've been up in the loft getting rid of stuff no longer needed: bits of old cardboard, dusty rucksacks, a green inflatable crocodile we bought in Calabria in 2007, you name it. This weekend it was the turn of an old portable television that works perfectly well but isn't digital. It's now sitting quietly in a container at the dump with a handful of discarded televisions and you can just imagine what they're saying to one another.

"Hey, man, what you in here for?"
"Same as you, brother, nobody needs me any more."
"Nobody needs you? Somebody must want you."
"Yeah? Well, it's not looking good, is it? I'm here, with you guys, waiting for God knows what."
"Well, I can tell you what's gonna happen, Bro. They're gonna kick your sorry arse, motherfucker."
"But I've got a lot of life left me in. I can be used for computer games."
"Computer games? I don't see no flatscreen, high definition, man; I just see an old-style telly."
"Old-style? You kiddin' me, man? I'm in good nick, I've been chillin' man, in the loft."
"The loft? You mean nobody wants you?"
"I guess that's what I mean? What's for dinner?"
"Hey, man. Has nobody told you? TVs aren't human, they can't eat. Get over it."

Matt and Andy, Westerham, Sunday 7th September. Pic: Andy Smith.
My second job was a trip to the local charity shop (Mind) to offload old clothes, a cycle rack, a pork pie hat and an old basket and then a trip to Waitrose to buy lunch. The sun was shining and other jobs were being threatened: cleaning the car was one and putting some new stuff in the loft was another and there was still the weekly shop to do.

What amazes me about food shopping is the price. I hate that moment when I'm standing at the check-out watching the green LED display on the till move upwards, like a taxi meter, and the smug way the check-out assistant announces, "That'll be £1,750,000. Have you got a Nectar card?" Alright, Nectar cards are from Sainsbury's. I was in both – Sainsbury's for dry goods and Waitrose for better quality meat, fruit and vegetables. The latter is our regular haunt, but it's so expensive it hurts. Although I like the fact that having a Waitrose card means I get a free newspaper. This week's Guardian was good, especially the magazine. I love reading Tim Dowling's column and this week's Experience was a man who lives in his car: first a VW Passat and now a similarly designed Audi.

I know this sounds stupid, but I'm interested in stuff like that: living rough in the woods and renting the house out (something I'll never, ever do, but thinking about it is quite fun). So the idea of sleeping in the car, ie making it my home, is also appealing, although not my Toyota Corolla, it's too small to live in. In fact, what intrigued about the guy living in his Passat (and now his Audi) was the fact that he didn't consider buying a small motor home, at least that way he'd get a kitchen table and a proper bed.

Think of the freedom! He can park up anywhere he likes; he could park in the office car park during the week and at the weekends he could find a nice spot in the woods or at a campsite or down by the sea, it's a brilliant idea – and if I was doing it I could rent out my house and make a bit of money on the side, in fact, it might even negate the need to work as I could lead a nomadic lifestyle and have it all paid for by a sitting tenant. Except that I have responsibilities to consider so it's completely out of the question. While it's totally impractical, however, I found myself secretly yearning to be that man. I even revised my fantasy about having a bestselling novel: prior to the beach house I'd live a like a gypsy, puttering around in small towns and enjoying being 'of no fixed address'. For more thoughts on this subject, click here.

The ride was virtually a carbon copy of yesterday morning, minus Phil. We were slightly faster, reaching Westerham at just gone 0800hrs, and sat at our usual table behind the statue of General Wolfe. Biscuits and tea appeared, we chatted about this and that – Andy saw our pal David last night (he was DJing at an amateur boxing event in Wallington Public Hall) – and then, after taking the obligatory photo (the shot for yesterday's post was a 'library photo' – in other words, a shot from the archive) we reluctantly hopped on the bikes and headed home. I say 'reluctantly' because there's nothing worse than the moment when, after relaxing with tea and biscuits, we get on the bikes and mentally prepare ourselves for the climb towards Botley Hill. We hate it if the truth be known and would rather simply laze around all day in Westerham than endure the pain of the hill. Alright, it's not that bad, but after chilling with a biscuit and a mug of tea, the last thing we want is to exert ourselves.

As we climbed the hill, a fog drifted in, although it was very misty below us earlier on as we rode along Clarks Lane and down the hill into Westerham.

Yesterday, I feared that the Tatsfield Bus Stop was up for sale and would soon be out of bounds as there was a Howard Cundey 'for sale' sign in front of it. It turns out that Howard Cundey is sponsoring the Tatsfield Beer Festival. As we sailed past the bus stop on Saturday there were a couple of Lycra monkeys relaxing there – the bare-faced cheek of it! What the hell were they doing sitting at our bus stop without asking permission? But we were Westerham-bound so it didn't really matter.

I reached home around 0945hrs and now, at 1425hrs the sun is shining and I'm considering cleaning the car.

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