Sunday, 10 April 2016

A clear day – so we head to Westerham and the Tudor Rose café...

When I first woke up this morning I clearly remember catching bits of the news in between drifting back to sleep. At one point I couldn't quite make out what was going on. The news had ended and I could hear music. There's rarely music on Radio Four, that's left to Radio One, Two and Three, so what had happened? I figured somebody had messed with the dial. For a split second I wondered what day it was and there was a temporary, mild disappointment at the thought of it being Monday until I realised it was Sunday, a whole day stretched ahead of me and I should be up and out of bed and preparing for today's ride.

Outside the Tudor Rose, Sunday 11th April
The music on the radio was from Something Understood, but because I'd drifted in and out of sleep I didn't catch the beginning of the programme, so I had no idea of what it was about.

Jumping out of bed I headed towards the rear window where I pulled aside the curtain to find a bright, clear day with little sign of rain. There was a light frost on the lawn, but it didn't phase me. Time to make myself a cup of tea. And now, here I am sitting at the dining room table, lap top in front of me, writing a few words for the old blog.

Yesterday the rain continued on and off for most of the day. A fine drizzle sprayed the earth and later on the day brightened up, but while I considered 'a late ride' I knew that it would have disrupted the day. That's why Andy and I get up at the crack of dawn at weekends, it's not only about less traffic, it's about having the rest of the day free to do family stuff.

We'd planned a visit to the Tudor Rose this morning, which was great news for me as it meant I wouldn't have to carry a heavy flask full of hot water plus a mug, tea bags and milk. And I tell you what, it was something else having a virtually weightless rucksack.

I messed around on the computer and answered the call of nature, which made me a little late. I didn't leave the house until around 0706hrs. By the time I was on the road it was easily 0710hrs so I decided to push it and raced off up Ellenbridge, into SouthCote, then Elmfield and Morley and up Church Way. I was putting in a decent pace and didn't stop as Church Way turned steep. As I rode past Sanderstead Pond, I ruffled a few pigeons' feathers and then, once on the Limpsfield Road, I powered towards the green, passing all the usual places, such as Hamsey Green. When I reached the green I couldn't see Andy, but I did take a quick glance at the clock and I'd certainly made up some time. Andy was already on the road and beckoning to me to keep going. This I did and as we made our way towards Knight's Garden Centre and the quieter, more rural parts of the 269 we both agreed it was 'heads down' until Westerham.

The faster pace continued as we both kept our heads down, watching the moving tarmac as we progressed towards Botley Hill. The weather was dry and fairly warm, there were blossoms on the trees – always a good sign – and not a rain cloud in sight. We rounded the roundabout and rode into Clarks Lane, past the Tatsfield Bus Stop and down the hill in Westerham. The speed was maintained down the hill and along the road into Westerham, there was no let-up and soon we arrived. The Tudor Rose café was under new management – and had been for some time – and it had a cosy appearance about it. There were cakes on display – bread pudding, carrot cake, iced buns, you name it – but I decided that bread pudding for breakfast simply wasn't cricket, so I opted for two slices of white bread toast and a pot of tea for two. Andy ordered a sausage sandwich.

Matt and Andy at the Tudor Rose café
The sun was out so we sat outside and chewed the fat about David Cameron and the European Union and then tucked in to our breakfasts. It was absolutely fantastic. If the truth be known, this was one of the best rides we'd undertaken in a long time and I must admit that I was truly energised. Clearly, not having the haul the heavy flask and the milk and the cup in my rucksack gave me a new found energy that was clearly having a good effect.

There were plenty of Lycra monkeys around. I checked the immediate surroundings in case there were any auctioneers in the vicinity, but I couldn't see any and that probably explained why nobody had shouted 'Gavel!!!!'.

We saw Phil's mate Steve, but he didn't see us. Andy, of course, didn't know him from Adam, and he clearly hadn't noticed me. Alright, I could have attracted his attention, but that might have meant explaining who I was and I hate having to do that. "You remember, don't you? About a month ago? You, me and Phil rode the long way to the Tatsfield bus stop? You had a puncture along Beddlestead Lane?" Perhaps the explanation wouldn't have been necessary, who knows, but he didn't see me so it's all academic at the end of the day.

We headed for home. The worst part of the ride from Westerham to Warlingham (where Andy and I part company) is the bit from the town centre to the bottom of the hill. It seems to take an age, but today we took it in our stride and then knuckled down for the hill itself, which continues all the way to Botley Hill. From there onwards it's a doddle and we flew along. The entire ride was energising in the extreme. Andy and I parted company at the green, vowing to ride out next weekend and then we continued on our individual journeys (Andy to Caterham and me to Sanderstead). I powered along the Limpsfield Road and made good time, arriving home around 1010hrs.

It was to be a chilled out day. I sat and watched Andrew Marr on the iplayer, listening to Nigel Lawson's interview about the European Union – he's a key Brexit campaigner – and then Jeremy Corbyn discussing the issue of David Cameron's hypocrisy and the wider problem of tax havens, like Panama.

There was little to do. I put a couple of lightbulbs into the ceiling lights of our bedroom and chilled until lunchtime when I made cheese salad and cheese and pickle sandwiches. Lunch over I drove to Banstead Woods, having decided that four quid for the Headley Heath car park was a fucking rip-off – thieving bastards! The woods were wonderful and, on reaching home, I've been chilling out, re-reading bits of Mike Carter's One Man & His Bike, the most wonderful book. I might even re-read it just as soon as I finish Willy Vlautin's The Free. I've read all of Vlautin's output and so far it's all good. Other books on my agenda? Platform by Houllebecq and Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon. I'd also like to read David Ceserani's The Final Solution, but it's thirty quid so I'll need to do a bit of saving.

Right now, I'm enjoying a glass of Malbec, sitting on the sofa in my conservatory writing this blogpost. Work tomorrow, more's the pity, but as my dear old dad would have said, "That's life I guess, that's life." Never a truer word and all that.

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