Sunday, 25 September 2016

To Woodmansterne Green and then round to mum's...

Saturday 24 September: There was a light, blue-grey sky and a few wispy clouds and everything looked like a water colour painting when I drew back the curtains and peered outside. Somebody had left the plastic bin from the council on the lawn in the back garden. It was stuffed with cut-down shrubbery. What caught my attention was the huge, white figure 5 that I had painted on the side of the bin. It stared back at me and I felt quite proud of my handiwork.

I dressed in the usual garb and headed downstairs to prepare my breakfast of fresh fruit – blueberries, black grapes, raspberries, strawberries and sliced banana plus tea and two Weetabix with cold milk – and then set off on the ride.

Andy wasn't riding today and nor was Phil, he was preparing for winter hibernation and it will soon be time for the cardboard box, so I was heading to Woodmansterne Green for a meeting with Bon and then on to mum's for tea and biscuits.

Following the off-road trail home...
The weather was wonderful. It was dry and warm and bright. Perfect cycling weather, I thought, as I rode along Foxley Lane in Purley heading west. I half expected to see Bon, but we didn't meet until I reached Woodmansterne Green. 

Woodmansterne Green is a great place. It's peppered with big trees, there's the occasional wooden bench and it's a very pleasant place to wander around. Bon turned up seconds after I arrived, on his Cannondale mountain bike, and we walked around, chatting about old times. He remembered the time when we, that is Bon, Andy and yours truly, met at here at the green in the pouring rain and were forced to take cover under the church gateway. I mentioned how the occasion was well-documented on this here blog (click here to reminisce).

And here's a post in which you will find shots of Bon and Andy soaked through prior to taking cover under the aforementioned covered gateway. Click here. What you will find hard to believe is that it was SEVEN years ago – almost to the day.

Mind you, it is quite incredible how summery the weather was back in November 2009. Here's a few shots of Woodmansterne Green taken the weekend after our soaking. Click here.

It was nice being on Woodmansterne Green and I began to regret not bringing tea with me, but then mum's beckoned. It's a short ride to Carshalton along rural (ish) roads into Carshalton Beeches and then across the Carshalton Road towards mum's. We did this and regretted not taking the off-road path, which I later took on the return ride.

Mum was in fine fettle and made us tea and biscuits. We sat in the 'through lounge' as we used to call it, talking about old childhood memories. The 'through lounge' used to be two separate rooms and was knocked through in the seventies, when people did that sort of thing. I remembered when the space we were occupying was the back room. Where John was sitting there used to be a television set and I recalled a moment, long, long ago, when, aged six or seven, or not much older, we used to sit on the floor with a Bakewell tart, watching Doctor Who, in the days when William Hartnell was 'the doctor'. Back in those days there was no patio window, just French windows (or French doors) and I remember the 'radiogram', a Ferranti, that was a record player and radio in one polished wood unit. Dad had a number of Beatles singles (on the Parlaphone label) and we remarked how they would be worth good money if we still had them.

And then there was the gas fire. Make that 'the gas fires' as we had two of them, one in the back room and one in the front. The back room fire was a strange, petrol-coloured affair, brand name Cannon, and mum reminded us how we used to make toast on it. She hated that because of the crumbs we left behind. And then I remembered how we used to make chips in an old asbestos garage using a pair of pliers, a jam jar lid and a candle, not forgetting some cooking oil and a chopped and peeled potato. That in turn reminded me of the old wheelbarrow and how, when it had been raining, we used to pretend it was a swimming pool for our toy soldiers. The slant of the wheelbarrow gave it a deep end and shallow end, which we loved. Bon remembered how, one year, when, for some reason or other, we didn't go on holiday to the south coast, we once used a puddle behind the old garage and a broom to simulate the waves and the sea. How sad was that! But, as far as I can remember, we always went on holiday, so we weren't always using brooms and puddles to keep our dreams alive. In fact, it might have been that we had been on holiday and were just reminiscing, thanks to the puddle and the broom, I can't remember.

Further along the off-road trail...
Mum's house is full of good memories of days when it was always the summer and the sun was always shining. Days when the summer holidays seemed endless, the back garden was always bathed in hazy sunshine and populated by white butterflies, not forgetting the odd bee or wasp to make us run back to the house, and there was nothing to fret about. We didn't have a care in the world.

Soon it was time to leave and Bon and I would be parting company at the end of the road, he turning left and me right. I rode into Carshalton Beeches and back past the smallholdings and along an off-road section we hadn't used on in the inward journey, eventually turning left on to the Croydon Road and rolling into Purley, past Cycle Republic and home. Bon rode into Sutton towards Epsom, where he lives.

I reached home around 10am and later drove to Forest Row, which is near East Grinstead, where I found the Forest Row Festival in full swing. I nipped into In-Gear, the local bike shop, and purchased some oil for my chain and then enjoyed a millionaire's shortbread and a cappuccino in Java & Jazz before driving home along the A22, which is peppered with speed cameras, so I was constantly slowing down to keep within the speed limit – very annoying. Came home, watched Strictly Come Dancing – well, I had to see Ed Balls strutting his stuff – and then I hit the sack, after a bit of messing around on the lap top and reading the newspapers. All told, a great day.

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