Sunday, 30 August 2015

Bank Holiday Weekend – the Tatsfield Bus Stop and then the Village

Saturday was a little on the cool side when I left the house around 0700hrs. The skies were a greyish colour, but there were blue skies poking through as I pedalled along Ellenbridge Road en route to Warlingham Green to meet Andy. While we'd talked about riding to Bletchingley, we went instead to the Tatsfield bus stop where we met and chatted with Dawes Galaxy. No photographs were taken.

The Old Ship, Tatsfield, has been given a coat of paint and some galleons
On Sunday there was plenty of evidence that it had rained heavily during the night – there were puddles and a general gloom in the air and signs of rain and dampness everywhere. I texted Andy to say it might be best sticking to a conventional route rather than branching out and being caught in the rain. We opted for Tatsfield village and rode leisurely along the 269 towards Botley Hill seeing nothing of yesterday morning's propellor-powered hang gliders.

The Tatsfield village noticeboard – complete with colourful floral display
We're almost into September and it's getting towards the time of year when our destination is determined by whether or not the seats will be damp when we arrive. Normally this means we spend a lot of time at the Tatsfield bus stop as it provides shelter from the rain and invariably offers a dry bench on which to sit. Going anywhere else would mean standing up to drink our tea and we can't have that, can we? In fact, with the exception of the bus stop and Tatsfield village, there's very little in the way of shelter at any of our destinations.

Yesterday, as we approached 'our' bus stop on the Approach Road, we spied a Lycra monkey relaxing on our bench. He was waiting for his associates to fix a puncture further back along the road and then he (and them) would be heading for Edenbridge to tackle a few punishing hills, he said. We told him about White Lane across the way from where we were standing and explained how, once a year, there was some kind of time trail. We had attempted the climb and I remember having to dismount half way up, but Andy made it all the way; it's about maintaining momentum and keeping the front wheel on the ground.

Gimme shelter – but not today
The rain held off and we soon found ourselves in Tatsfield village where we noticed that the Old Ship pub had been painted and a couple of galleons had been left on the window sills facing the small green. We decided to sit on the circular wooden table outside the pub rather than use the bus stop – the seats were dry – and soon we spied Dawes Galaxy (odd to see him twice in one weekend). He joined us for a chinwag and told us that, apparently, Tatsfield was the most isolated village inside the M25 – a hefty claim, we thought, but it could be right as there's not much in either direction once you're outside of the village. It's about two to three miles to Westerham in one direction and around three to four miles to Warlingham and there's not much in between. In the other direction there's Biggin Hill, but in between there is nothing but rural lanes – or so says Dawes Galaxy. In fact there's nothing but twisty lanes in the direction of Addington either so, all told, Tatsfield is fairly isolated. As Andy pointed out as we rode towards Botley Hill, it's about 25 to 30 minutes by bike to Warlingham Green and no more than 10 to 15 minutes (downhill) into Westerham.

This Tatsfield restaurant offers a Sunday roast at £25.95 per person
There's an expensive restaurant in Tatsfield (isolated or not the residents won't starve – or perhaps they will when you consider the extortionate prices being charged). I went over and checked out the menu: £25.95 per person for a Sunday roast, meaning that with wine it's probably closer to £30 or more – not my cup of tea, especially when I could pay a visit to my local Waitrose, buy a decent joint of beef and a fine bottle of wine (or two) and feed a few friends for about £30.

One of two model galleons at the Old Ship, Tatsfield
Last night Andy watched Red Bull Rampage, a downhill cycling event characterised by very narrow tracks and almost vertical drops. Apparently those who take part often brag about their injuries – broken backs, bruised livers, damaged spleens, you name it. We wondered what the contestants would make of a leisurely jaunt with NVL to the Tatsfield bus stop. I imagined the scene: Andy and I plus some bleached blond American 'youth' wondering when there would be some 'action'.

"Would you care for a cup of tea, young man?"
"Tea? Haven't you got an energy drink?"
"You're not going to need one. Biscuit?"

We took a few snaps of the pub and the bikes and the galleon in the window and after finishing our tea and biscuits headed out of the village along the Approach Road and then west towards Botley Hill. Andy and I parted company halfway along the 269 and I rode on towards Warlingham Green and further north towards Sanderstead and home.

Our bikes outside the Old Ship, Tatsfield, Kent. Pic: Andy Smith.
It's almost noon but still no rain, but it's been predicted so we're expecting a downpour any second. Time to tidy myself up and see what the rest of the day has in store.

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