Fortunately, the plan was to ride to Godstone and visit the teashop at Flowers Farm. It would mean tea and cake and, as it turned out, a real log fire. You can't get much better than that, unless a beach is involved, but we would be many miles from the sea.
|Cake and a woodburner – pic by Andy Smith|
Avid readers will know that my old Kona Scrap was always minus a gear or two and that there was never an occasion when they were all working smoothly. But now that I have a new bike with 27 gears we both felt that a trip to Flowers Farm was long overdue.
The weathermen on TV had promised rain on Sunday but the weather this morning was fine. In fact, the whole day was good. Cloudy, but not cold, so when I headed up the Limpsfield Road towards the green, I felt good and the idea of a ride to Flowers Farm, with the promise of tea and cake at the end of it, filled me with what can only be described as good vibes.
As we rode towards Slines Oak Road, we noticed the fog rolling in, a bit like in the John Carpenter movie. We thought that by heading west towards Godstone we would avoid it, but it stayed with us for most of the journey there and back.
It was weird having to tackle two off-road sections. Ever since I'd taken possession of the Rockhopper I'd managed to keep it spotless clean, but now I found myself riding through mud and puddles, albeit only for a few yards. We then rode through the leafy streets of Woldingham, past the big houses on left and right and on towards the second off-road bit through the golf course. The fog was so thick we could only just make out the trees.
Riding down Gangers Hill without lights – mine without batteries, Andy's simply not switched on – was treacherous enough, but we took it easy and eventually rode over the M25 and then the A22 towards the A25 where we rode the last few yards on the path and parked up at Flowers Farm.
How can I explain to you the greatness of Flowers Farm? A farm shop, a micro pub and, of course, the tea room, not forgetting the wood-burning stove. Andy did the honours – tea for two and two enormous triangular slices of an iced sponge cake with cherries. We took a seat in front of the fire and awaited delivery of the goods. They soon arrived and we sat there enjoying every moment. I found myself mesmerised by the flames of the fire, it's better than television, put it that way, but we still found time to discuss the pointlessness of social media and the uphill slog involved of getting anywhere near to a 'dream' job.
Soon it was time to head home. We'd been sitting there for around 40 minutes simply enjoying the solitude, the warmth of the fire, the conversation and the fact that we weren't on the bikes; but now we had the big hill to confront and as we headed towards it I cranked the bike down to its lowest gear and got on with it. Hills, however daunting, are best tackled by simply getting your head down and going for it. The fog was still making its presence known all around us; I've never known it to be so persistent, but soon we reached the top of the hill and found ourselves back in Woldingham with the golf course to our left and some posh houses on our right. When we reached the top end of Sline's Oak Road we said our goodbyes, promising to be out again tomorrow unless the rain dictated otherwise.
I road the length of Slines Oak Road and managed to handle reasonably well the steep section leading to the 269. I headed towards Warlingham alone. My ride was now flat all the way home and it wasn't long before I found myself free-wheeling down Church Way. But when I reached home I felt oddly guilty about the muddy state of the bike, my new bike, so I took it into the back garden, filled a plastic bowl with warm water and set about getting the mud off the frame. Then I oiled the chain and put the bike back in the garage.
Here's hoping we'll get a ride in tomorrow, but I don't want to lull myself into a false sense of charcuterie, alright, alright, 'security', I was just trying to be funny.