Monday, 29 December 2014

Sunday 28th December – taking the slow way to the Tatsfield Bus Stop

The cold weather is beginning to set in. As I write this on Monday 29th December 2014 it's around minus three degrees outside (or rather it was minus three degrees). Right now (at just gone 1000hrs) the sun is shining, there is still a frost on the lawn, but I'm guessing it's a few degrees above freezing.

Saturday's ride was aborted because of heavy winds but we were out on Sunday and once again I was wearing my ridiculous-looking flappy hat and balaclava combo – very warm, but I'd be the first to admit that I looked pretty odd.

I met Andy at the usual place and we decided to ride the long way to the Tatsfield Bus Stop. While it's quite a work-out when compared with the faster way (along the 269) it's safer (no traffic) and far more sociable (it's easier to talk and ride two abreast due to the lack of cars).

Andy's racer, Chipstead Lake, Christmas morning 2014.
Beddlestead Lane is not easy. It's a slow climb and it can be tiresome. There are various markers along the way that enable us to chart our progress and soon enough we found ourselves on Clarks Lane. Beddlestead Lane has its ups and downs. It passes through woods and skirts fields and there are a couple of houses along the way, not to mention flocks of sheep watching our every movement. My paranoia towards sheep is well-documented on this blog.

We saw only one Lycra monkey en route to the bus stop and Andy commented that while he was out on Christmas Day morning (he rode alone to Chipstead Lake and gets a major 'respect is due' for his efforts) he saw a few brave Lycra monkeys and decided, as it was Christmas, to offer his season's greetings – a kind of Christmas truce. I ventured that he should have suggested a game of football in homage to the famous World War l Christmas Truce.

As for the Tatsfield Bus Stop, it was still just that: the same old bus stop. It never changes. It's a lump of wood that shelters us (and others) from inclement weather. Today, however, it was, as always, just the same old same old. Well, not quite. For some inexplicable reason, somebody had screwed a gold-coloured clothes hook into the wood. It doesn't say much for the bus service as it probably means there's enough time to take off your coat, make yourself comfortable and endure a long wait.

If I was a tramp I wouldn't sleep rough at the Tatsfield Bus Stop – it's too exposed, but it does have one redeeming factor: it's off the ground (or rather its integral bench is off the ground). In this cold weather the last thing you want if you're sleeping rough is direct contact with the ground. Why we discuss sleeping rough and being tramps whenever we're sitting at the Tatsfield Bus Stop I'll never know, but we do. Personally, I'd sleep in the small woods at the top of White Lane, in a small tent, concealed from view, although at this time of year, with bare branches and fallen leaves, it's difficult to remain hidden.
Why the clothes hook?

Perhaps that clothes hook means that somebody has made the bus stop their home. Who knows? I'll keep you informed if I see anything else there, like a sofa or a coffee table or a 'home sweet home' sign nailed to the wall and mounted in a quaint wooden frame. When Andy rode along Pilgrim's Lane towards the lake on Christmas morning he encountered an entire bathroom suite dumped in the middle of the road and, as we rode up Beddlestead Lane earlier, we encountered another example of 'fly tipping'. Somebody had left a load of domestic rubbish by the side of the road: a bedside cabinet, a vacuum cleaner – what a mess.

After two cups of tea and some Belvita biscuits we headed home. Andy branched off halfway and I continued north along the 269. I reached home around 11am and later drove to Felbridge to see Dave and his rescued dog Sasha – a Staffordshire Bull Terrier with a sad face and clearly in desperate need of a permanent home. It wasn't a 'dangerous dog', thankfully, and I quite liked her. I stayed for tea and biscuits and left after dark, reaching home around 1900hrs – home in time for part two of Top Gear's Patagonian adventure.

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