Monday, 8 December 2014

Chicken crouton lollipop!

The sun can be deceptive if you live within the Arctic Circle. Fortunately, I don't live anywhere near it: far too cold, although I have spent some time in places like Alaska, Tromso in Northern Norway and Lulea in Northern Sweden. In both Tromso and Lulea I saw the Northern Lights and I probably saw them in Alaska too, but I can't remember.

By 'deceptive' I mean that the sun often shines brightly, creating an illusion of warmth when the reality is something totally different. I'm not for one minute suggesting that the weather on Saturday was anywhere near the Arctic conditions brought about by temperatures as low as minus 40 (yes, I went to Sweden once in a Marks & Spencer raincoat and it was minus 40). Very cold. Within a few minutes of being outside in the cold air my face started to freeze. But it wasn't that cold on Saturday morning. In fact it was only minus 1, but it was cold enough to stop me mounting the bike.

Bike at the bus stop on Sunday 7th Dec
Andy wasn't going on Saturday, but on Sunday I asked him whether he would have gone out and he said probably not. I left it for a while. I kept looking outside at the frost on the lawn. It was there all morning. After a while I lost momentum and resigned myself to simply not going. I convinced myself that it was miles too cold and it was too cold. Riding anywhere would have been unpleasant and I was planning another ride to mum's. But it didn't happen.

Sunday was a much better day. Positively balmy – the temperature was around 8 degrees, far better than minus 1. We met at the usual place at the usual time and decided to head for the Tatsfield Bus Stop – the slow way. There was a small Christmas tree on the green. When we got to the bus stop we did what we always do: sit and chat while munching biscuits and sipping tea. All very pleasant. And then it was time to head back.

While the weather might have been warmer than Saturday, an almighty fog descended on the bus stop and the surrounding area. We'd clocked it as we rode the final 200 yards or so of Beddlestead Lane and it seemed as if it was settling in for the day. Thick fog often settles in these parts and it was showing no sign of abating when we were ready to leave. As usual I was having problems with my rear light (if it's not my rear light, it's my gears or the brakes). Well, not problems, just a lack of batteries. But the thought of riding in the fog with little in the way of lights prompted me to suggest we ride home the slow way. It proved to be a good idea as minutes into turning right into Beddlestead Lane the fog disappeared. We rolled towards Hesiers Hill and then endured the punishing climb to the top. The rest was plain sailing: past Sainsbury's and on towards Warlingham Green where we parted company.

The weather was fantastic. The cold had been replaced by a pleasant 11 degrees and so, later in the day, I drove en famille to Wakehurst Place, a lovely house and gardens, owned by the National Trust, near (ahem) Crawley in West Sussex. The Christmas tree was up, there was an artist painting something floral in another part of the house, there was soup and bread in the Bakery restaurant, tea and hot chocolate too, paper lanterns and wind chimes on bare branches in the grounds, swaying in the breeze, and the usual scented candles and soaps in the shop. There was even a Father Christmas! I don't believe anymore, by the way.

We drove home in the fast fading light and ahead of us was a few hours of rubbish television in the shape of Strictly Come Dancing, the X Factor and then I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here (won by Carl 'Foggy' Foggarty, motorcycle ace). Jake Quickenden from the X Factor was second and Melanie Sykes, the 90s Boddington's model, third. All good fun. In Strictly Come Dancing, however, foul play was at work. Head judge Len Goodman, who seemingly had it in for Pixie Lott on the Saturday Show, cast the deciding vote in favour of Simon Webbe, a far inferior dancer in my opinion – and many other people's opinions too. Very suspicious if you ask me considering that Pixie Lott was by far the better dancer and had been from the word go. Even Simon Webbe was surprised to find he was still in the show. Still, that's the way the cookie crumbles and I wasn't planning on losing any sleep over it. Having said that, I woke up at 0400hrs this morning (Monday 8th December) and couldn't really get back to sleep, but I'm sure it was nothing to do with Strictly Come Dancing.

Chicken crouton lollipop? "Er... not for me, thanks."
Here's to next weekend's ride. Oh, and if you're wondering what a chicken crouton lollipop is, it's a food product available from Iceland that was advertised by Peter Andre before and after the ad breaks during I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

Not sure if I like the look of them if the truth be known. For me, eating a chicken crouton lollipop would be similar to a bushtucker trial. There's something inherently unappealing about them – or is it just me?

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