Sunday, 26 February 2017

To Tatsfield Village via Beddlestead Lane...

Sometimes I wake up and wonder what the hell I'm doing getting out of bed at an ungodly hour and making breakfast. Fine during the week when there's work to be done, but at the weekend? I should be lying in, getting up around 0800hrs, if not later, having a leisurely breakfast and then slobbing for the rest of the day. Well, where's the fun in that?

This morning, though, I felt a little weary, but it was sleepiness, nothing else, and by the time I'd put the kettle on I was feeling good and looking forward to the ride.

Outside it was wet. Peering out of the window prior to padding downstairs to the kitchen I noticed that there was a large puddle on next door's conservatory roof. The skies were grey and there was a fair-to-middling chance that it would rain. Andy later told me that it did rain over in Caterham, but he pressed ahead and sure enough he was on the green waiting for me when I arrived later than expected. I won't bore you with the details.

Mist heading our way along Beddlestead Lane. Pic: Andy Smith
I aborted on Saturday and I wished I hadn't. The plan had been to ride to Godstone Farm Shop, where they make a decent cup of tea and offer a fine range of home-made cakes. We have steered clear of this place for one good reason: the steep hill on the return journey. It used to be a problem because there was always something wrong with my old bike's gears. But now that I've got a new bike it doesn't matter. There's something great about eating cake after riding a bike, but then again, there's something about drinking beer after riding a bike too or eating an unhealthy breakfast.

There were puddles everywhere as we rode towards the mini roundabout beyond Warlingham Sainsbury's. We turned left and followed the country lanes towards Hesiers Hill and then endured the slow burn of Beddlestead Lane, occasionally overtaken by well-spoken Lycra monkeys.

Halfway along we watched as the mist rolled in from Clarks Lane. It looked so good we stopped and Andy took the photograph that accompanies this blog post. We kept moving, reaching the T-junction with Clarks Lane, turning left and heading towards the Tatsfield Bus Stop, which still lacks seating.

We turned left on to Approach Road and rolled into the village where we broke out the tea and biscuits and discussed various things, such as a £15,000 electric bike from Audi that doesn't need a padlock. I can't remember the details, but Andy said something about refrigerated lorries and how , GPS would be undetectable should a bike thief decide to use one to nick the bike.

The subject of fake news came up too. My view is that a free press is part of a Western democracy, it's part of the system, like an independent judiciary and the House of Lords. So why does Donald Trump want to diss the system? Why does he want everybody thinking that the media is lying and that only he is telling the truth? And why is everybody so fucking gullible? One of the best pieces of stand-up comedy I've ever heard is Frankie Boyle's "It's the fucking banks!" sketch. Inspired.

He starts off saying that when he was a kid he used to watch Columbo and that all episodes followed the same format: the murderer was revealed at the beginning, before the pre-credits, and then the rest of the programme was about how Columbo reveals how and why the murderer committed the crime. Boyle watched the programme with his nan and despite the fact that the murderer had been revealed at the beginning, she still says, "I think she did it." A frustrated Boyle would then say, "No, nan, it wasn't her, it was HIM!!!! You saw who committed the crime at the beginning!"

For Boyle, the current situation in the UK – where everything is blamed on immigration – is similar to an episode of Columbo except that the 'murderer' is the banks. The current state we're all in is nothing to do with immigrants, it was the FUCKING BANKS!!!! The FUCKING BANKS!!! Why can't anybody see that? Is the entire population of the UK just like Boyle's nan watching an episode of Columbo?

We discussed the arrogance of Tony Blair and debated whether or not he was a war criminal and then mounted our bikes and headed for home.

The snow drops were out and the daffodils are on the way. The mornings are getting lighter and soon the clocks go forward, but neither Andy nor I have forgotten that it once snowed in April.

We rode North on the 269 – the fog having lifted – and from certain vantage points we were offered a fleeting glimpse of London from West the East. In the West the shimmering whiteness of Saint Helier Hospital bathed in sunlight and then, panning east, the Shard and then Canary Wharf. It was soon obscured by trees as we descended from the hill and found ourselves back in Warlingham at the mini roundabout next to Sainsbury's.

We parted on the Green. I'd be riding alone next Saturday and I'm wondering where to go. An 'urban ride' to mum's? Possibly. A solo run to Redhill? Could be! But we'll see what the weather has in store.

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