Sunday, 4 October 2015

The perfect day

Chalk and cheese is the only way to compare Saturday and Sunday. Take a look at the previous post and you'll be able to read about the fog. It was thick. Very thick. Not just patches, it was everywhere. From the moment I set foot outside the door. There was also a calmness about yesterday. As I rode along Ellenbridge Road, en route to the top of Church Way, there was no wind. Everything was still and all that could be heard was the birds. The crows. Or rather one crow sitting on a branch in one of the trees. And let's not forget the mist that hung in the trees. There was no let up.

This morning – Sunday morning – there was a vast improvement in the weather. The skies were blue, the sun was out and it remained that way all day. I nearly didn't make it. I'd woken up at 3am and can't remember when I eventually got back to sleep. Unknown to me, however, I'd turned down the volume on the radio alarm clock so when it went off at 6am I slept on, waking suddenly at 0657 – three minutes to seven. In a blind panic I pulled on the nearest pair of trousers I could find, grabbed a teeshirt, socks and trainers and went downstairs to check if Phil was waiting on the doorstep – he wasn't.

I put the kettle on, resigning myself to missing my usual leisurely mug of tea and a slice of toast. Soon enough Phil arrived. I made the 'give me five minutes' sign and got on with making the tea and then I was outside, opening the garage door and unpadlocking the bike. We rode to the green to meet Andy and then headed for the Tatsfield Bus Stop. Yes, I know, it's getting boring. If it's not the bus stop it's the churchyard or the village. We've become very unadventurous, but for some reason it suits us fine.

Today was, however, the perfect day. For a start, Phil had made his legendary sausage sandwiches. He'd bought some extra water and some more teabags so we could all enjoy a second mug of tea, and Andy had bought the Belvitas. But it wasn't just the food that made things perfect. Yes, the weather was good, but it was more than that; the conversation, the chat, the camaraderie, it was all spot on this morning. We mentioned the England rugby team's disappointing performance – the first time in the history of the Rugby World Cup that the host has gone out during the qualifying rounds. Stuart Lancaster is considering his position, although the governing body has said 'no knee-jerk reactions'.

Then we discussed rugby and footy. If I had to make a choice it would be football. Surprisingly Andy opted for rugby. We all agreed that cricket was good as it was a sport that simply went on and on and on and in between the runs you could enjoy a picnic, a few beers, anything you wanted. I mentioned an old mate of mine whose father was a novelist who lived in Spain. Once or twice a year the dad came over to the UK to watch the cricket and would take his son along. They used to spend the entire day drinking beer.

We moved on to discuss the lack of 'rogues' and cheeky chappies in sport. No more John McEnroe or Nastase, no more Jimmy Connors, no more Boris Becker (he's looking a bit rough these days, Phil remarked) no more Botham or Tufnell and no more fat blokes like Mike Gatting. For some reason Paddy Ashdown was brought up and then the conversation turned to people who had made capital out of being 'bad boys' – meaning their bad behaviour hadn't done them any harm. 'Paddy Pantsdown', Bill Clinton and his Monika Lewinsky episode sprang to mind.

I brought up my encounter with Mr Ashdown on a train coming back from Salisbury, mildly intoxicated, with my pal Louie. It's been mentioned before on this blog so I summarised. We – Louie and I – had been drinking Wadworth's 6X having presented a pub with an espresso machine. As our train pulled into the station I spotted Paddy. We joined him and started discussing time travel and how it must be possible to travel back in time if you started in the eastern hemisphere and flew in a supersonic jet of some kind. How many times would we be able to celebrate the new year before running out of time? We contemplated various scenarios, unaware that Mr Ashdown had been listening to every word we were saying. We figured we'd end up in the middle of the Pacific somewhere and then Paddy interrupted us, giving us his interpretation of the scenario we had been describing. It was one of those classic moments, which I'm sure Mr Ashdown has forgotten. Click here for Mr Ashdown's first mention on this blog.

The reason we'd been talking about time travel was because Phil wanted answers. Something about clocks and planes and a discrepancy in time. We couldn't help, but the sausage sarnies, the tea, the biscuits, the chat and the weather made it a great morning at the old bus stop. We revisited the idea of (somehow) getting a decent-sized table to the bus stop so we could enjoy a plated meal one morning, accompanied by a glass of wine or two or Buck's Fizz – something resembling a Jack Vettriano painting. It would only be possible if one of our other halves drove to the bus stop in a hired van and deposited the table and the food, but somehow we didn't see it happening any day soon.

Andy parted company halfway along the 269 and Phil and I continued on the road towards Warlingham and beyond. It had not only been a great ride, but also a great conversation and brilliant weather – nobody had any complaints, put it that way.

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