Sunday, 6 March 2016

Solo ride to mum's and then Andy and I head for Tatsfield Village...

Never listen to anybody when they try to put you on a downer over the weather. On Friday people started talking down the weekend. "It's going to be terrible this weekend," some would say and I'd be left wondering whether I was going to be riding out on Saturday morning. "It's going to be nice on Sunday," they might add. As it turned out, it was fine on both days and I managed to cycle alone to mum's (on Saturday morning) and then to Tatsfield Village with Andy (Sunday morning).

Boiled egg, fingers, fresh fruit, bread and tea...
The weather on both days was fine. Clear skies, a crescent moon and a slightly chilly air, but not chilly enough to smack me in the face.

I took the usual route to mum's. This time, when I got there, I opted for the breakfast menu: tea, chopped orange, sliced banana and apple, two small slices of brown bread and, of course, light conversation. We sat in the new room – the room that's not new at all – and outside, while cold and crisp, the sun was shining. It was a nice day.

Breakfast at mum's is always good. We spoke about a wide range of 'stuff': mum's next door neighbour is fixing up his house. He's been knocking down walls, turning the back room into a large living space embracing a kitchen and a play room for the kids and somewhere to sit and lounge about. "But he's still got a front room," said mum.

"That's what I wish I had," I said, explaining how our house is all very 'open plan' – it was built when the 'lounge-diner' was all the rage, but it means that everything takes place in the same space: watching TV, reading, eating, everything. Fortunately we have an extension. We call it the 'conservatory' because it has huge picture windows and a flat roof, but it's not really a conservatory, it's an extension, a room in its own right and it's where you'll find my bookcase and desk and a couple of sofas that have seen better days.

Right now there are hassles at home. No hot water. It could mean a new boiler, but with the central heating still working, it's probably not the boiler – some say that won't stop British Gas from condemning what might be a perfectly decent, albeit old, boiler. It's amazing how we all take so many things for granted and hot water is one of those things. Try living without it for a few days and you'll know what I mean.

The ride back home was uneventful and I arrived at 0908hrs after a decent enough ride. As the day progressed, the rains came, but I reached home dry and that was good news.

Sunday – Andy and I ride to Tatsfield Village
Sunday was an equally pleasant day, possibly a little colder than Saturday, but again there was a crescent moon and a dreamy water-colour sky to greet me when I pulled back the curtain. No sign of Phil, but we all know how much he hates the cold. The truth of the matter, though, was that it wasn't that cold, or at least it didn't seem too bad. I didn't really notice the cold until Andy and I were riding south along the 269 towards Botley Hill. My feet were cold, but other than that I was fine and I didn't have the balaclava either.

My bike on Warlingham Green
We headed for Tatsfield Village where there is a covered wooden bus stop similar to the legendary Tatsfield Bus Stop on Approach Road. Out came the chocolate BelVita biscuits and the tea and we both sat there discussing the European Union, admitting that we don't really know enough about the real issues apart from immigration and not being beholden to Brussels for our legislation.

I'm quite torn on the issue in many ways, but in others it's a clear-cut case; and by that I mean I'll vote to stay in because I like Europe – as a place. I like the people too and I suppose like a lot of people, I buy in to the view that it's best to be a part of Europe than on the outside. Also, I'm not a 'little Englander'. I don't subscribe to the view that by being out of Europe we can make 'Great Britain great again'. We can't. And besides, it seems to me that all the people that want out of Europe are, well, a little bigoted in their leanings. I've always maintained that nationalism is unhealthy and that's what the so-called 'Brexiters' are pedalling. Union Jacks, 'who do you think you are kidding, Mr Hitler', casual racism in some cases (we've all watched those pre-election UKIP documentaries).

Sign near Tatsfield Village pond...
But then there's TTIP – the Transatlantic Trade & Industry Partnership. Why hasn't it received any major media attention? Nobody talks about it and yet it's being negotiated behind closed doors by faceless, unelected European bureaucrats and it will enable big corporations to sue foreign governments for loss of earnings, among other things. It will also bring into alignment EU and American quality and safety standards – but which way will those standards fall? Will EU citizens be winners or losers? Nobody knows.

What about 'ever closer union' and that whole sovereignity issue? What about the Euro, what about open borders and immigration? What about 'Operation Fear'? I'm hoping that over the next few weeks we'll all get a clearer view on what it's all about, but I suspect we won't get anywhere near it. Ultimately, it'll come down to our views on migrants and whether we believe the bigoted, nationalistic, Dickensian 'Brexiters' – like IDS – or those who say we'll be better off if we stay in the EU, like the Government...but should we trust the Government?

Andy with the bikes at Tatsfield
Tea and biscuits finished, we packed up our stuff and prepared for the ride home. The sun was still out, the skies were clear and the crisp air was still crisp. As we rode past Beaver World we both commented on the cold. I said it wasn't that bad, but I did have cold feet. Andy felt roughly the same. We turned right at the end of Approach Road, headed towards Botley Hill and parted company on Warlingham Green.

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