Sunday, 17 May 2015

Arise, Sir Lawncelot – and ride to Botley!

Despite wonderful weather yesterday I decided not to go cycling. When I switched on my mobile phone I received an 'abort' text from Phil and I already knew that Andy wasn't around this weekend or next. But in all honesty, the reason behind my laziness was simple: the past two weekends I'd been in the USA and I felt that a lie-in was in order – I got out of bed at 0900hrs. Also, there was gardening to do; two weeks without mowing the lawn had left the garden in a bad way so I had to get out there and sort it out – and that meant mowing the lawn.

A freshly mown lawn
It wasn't going to be easy. I'd have to start with a high setting and gradually increase the severity of the cut until the lawn was like a bowling green. It took awhile. In fact it took all day and by the time I'd finished not only was I sporting a healthy-looking tan, the grass was looking wonderful too – call me the Lawn Ranger, call me Sir Lawncelot. I rolled the mower back into the garage around 1730hrs and today (Sunday) I've got the top of the garden to do and I've got to dig out a few weeds in one of the flowerbeds.

There was a certain poignancy to gardening this weekend as Friday last week marked the fourth anniversary of my dad passing away. As mum commented yesterday, it didn't seem that long ago and when I think back to that time, it was very unsettling all round with plenty of job insecurity thrown in for good measure. Still, time moves on and dad is still there in all our memories. At the top of my garden there is small patch of parched grass where, back in April 2011, the month before dad died, I erected a small brick kiln to burn a few leaves. I remember making a small video of the fire to show dad – he loved bonfires and gardening – and then, a few weeks later, he was gone. That worn piece of grass, however, is still there and yesterday it reminded me of four years ago and the last few weeks of dad's time on earth.

My own personal flowerbed – eat your heart out, Monty!
So, as I mowed the lawn yesterday, bringing it down from around 10 inches to little more than an inch, if that, I thought of dad and how he used to say that the garden was a gym and how a day in the garden was the best work-out you'd ever get. He wasn't wrong. I was out there from dawn to dusk, pushing a lawnmower up and down the length of the garden, I was crouching down trimming the edges with a pair of rusty old shears and I was raking the excess grass from the lawn's surface – twice! The end result was fantastic and today, after a little bit more work, I'm going to make a pot of tea and enjoy reading my book – yes, I'm still ploughing through Ayn Rand's mammoth Atlas Shrugged and taking it a day at a time. It's a huge brick of a book that I've been carrying around for weeks and I'm looking forward to the day when I finish it. I'm certainly not going to give up as I hate the idea of not finishing a book.

To Botley Hill alone...
I wasn't going to go cycling today either, but when I awoke at 0605hrs and saw the sun shining through the curtains, I felt I had to give it go. For breakfast I had Weetabix, a banana, a slice of toast and a mug of tea and after dawdling a bit I was out there, without gloves. I headed up Ellenbridge, then turned left into Morley Road and right on to Church Way and soon I was powering along the Limpsfield Road heading for Warlingham Green – where I was going to turnaround and come back as there was no Phil or Andy. Instead, I carried on to Botley Hill, went around the roundabout adjoining Clarks Lane and then headed back down the 269 towards home. It was a good ride. At one stage on the outward journey I considered riding to Westerham. That would have been good as we've yet to ride to Westerham this year and it's almost halfway through.
Sir Lawncelot at Botley Hill, Sunday 17th May 2015
One thing is for certain, the summer is here. The birds are tweeting, the sun is shining and there are leaves on the once bare trees. There's also a pleasant smell in the air, the smell of cut grass and the smell of leaves. Here's to some great rides ahead.

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