Friday, 26 December 2014

Boxing Day – to Tatsfield Village with Christmas cake and tea

This morning when I awoke at 0600hrs, I lay in bed listening to a programme about Prokofiev's Peter & the Wolf on Radio Four and then, around an hour later I rose from my cosy cave and made a cup of tea and some Weetabix. I considered porridge but it meant wiping up a saucepan caked in, well, porridge, so I opted for the simpler solution: wiping up a saucepan with only traces of hot milk around its inner surfaces.

Before I jumped from bed the weather forecast caught my attention. Snow. It's on the way they say, in places like Norfolk and the Midlands and possibly even parts of South East England, but not yet – later today apparently. We might wake up to a blanket of snow. Right now (at nearly 1700hrs) it's raining so in a sense it's started and I ought to put the car away later.

This morning there was a frost on the ground and on car windscreens so I opted once again for my balaclava and flappy hat combo. When I hit the air, however, it wasn't as cold as I thought so I didn't bother with the balaclava but still took the flappy hat (with flaps buttoned under my chin for warmth).

Ready to ride home – note ridiculous flap hat and right trouser leg
But then a problem arose: no, not a puncture but a missing wheel nut. How come? The wheel moved from one side of the forks to the other and closer inspection revealed that the left hand nut was missing. I scanned the garage floor for the missing nut using the torch on my iphone, but found nothing, meaning one of two things: either somebody deliberately removed the nut in an act of sabotage (unlikely) OR (the most likely explanation) is that the nut in question somehow loosened itself and fell off in the street, probably close to the house as I would have noticed it. Now, however, I have something else to check before mounting the Kona: the front wheel nuts. I've been having problems with the thread of the front wheel for some time, so it might be something that needs attention, but on this occasion I was thinking on my feet (actually, I really was thinking on my feet – I was standing up). I used a nut from my daughter's bike (which has a puncture and so isn't being used) and I vowed that later I would buy replacement nuts. After securing the new nut on my bike I called Andy to ask him to meet me on the green. He was on his way to my house on the assumption that I'd be aborting the ride. I'd phoned him earlier to say as much but then, when I realised that all wheel nuts appear to be of a universal size, I resolved the problem as explained above and then got on with the business of riding to the green, albeit slightly later than planned.

It was cold and I noticed that Phil's curtains were drawn as I passed by. Everywhere was quiet and, to be fair, it was Boxing Day morning. People were no doubt sleeping off seasonal over-indulgence, but not me. I was in bed at a decent hour last night – thanks to crappy television consisting largely of repeats – and I'd had a civilised Christmas Day (only a couple of glasses of wine and nothing to eat at all in the evening bar one minced pie). After the Eastenders Christmas Special (sadly it was probably the only decent thing on the box) I watched 8 out of 10 Cats (which might have been a repeat) and then hit the sack.

Andy was waiting for me at the green and we headed for Tatsfield Village where we ate our Christmas cake and drank our tea, commenting on the price of a Christmas lunch at the pub opposite (The Ship at Tatsfield). A five-course Christmas lunch cost £60 per head. Pretty steep, we thought, and what were the five courses? Three would have been enough: starter, main course and dessert. Either way we were of the opinion that the price should have been no more than £40 – not £60. Imagine taking a family of four: that's £240 before you leave the house excluding drinks and what about a minicab there and back? Let's round it off to £300. Surely buying a turkey from the local supermarket along with some decent wine and other stuff would cost less than half the bill presented to the Ship's customers yesterday lunchtime...and you wouldn't need a minicab either!

I took a shot of Tatsfield's Christmas tree – this one had lights but they were off, understandably, as it was broad daylight.

A red single-decker 264 bus arrived from somewhere and dropped off three track-suited individuals who made their way to the bakery across the way, which was advertising lunch at £24.95 per head – a darn sight better value than the Ship, we thought, assuming that even if you bought a starter, dessert and wine it wouldn't add up to £60.

Time to head for home. We rode to Warlingham and parted company vowing to meet at 0800hrs tomorrow, which is a Saturday. Funny how easy it is to lose track of time between Christmas and  New Year. Funny how the days seem merge and are no longer distinguishable from one another.

I reached home just before 11am and most of the day was quite fine weatherwise, but now it's raining. Here's hoping there's no snow in the morning. Or rain for that matter.

One year ago – we rode out on Boxing Day. Click here for more.

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