Monday, 3 April 2017

Sunday – an urban ride to mum's!

Sunday 2 April: Riding alone requires plenty motivation and, needless to say, some kind of a reward at the end of it; and that's why I decided to ride to mum's. The urban ride. With the blossom trees out and the daffodils in full bloom on the Purley playing fields I headed in that direction full of the joys of spring.
Blossom trees on Purley Playing Fields, Sunday 2nd April 2017
Riding down West Hill, however, wasn't exactly Spring-like; there was a cold breeze, which you might expect at 0700hrs, but it always takes me by surprise and I consider going back for an extra jumper – another layer of clothing. Needless to say I powered onwards and tackled, with relative ease, the hill that is the eastern approach to Hayling Park Road. When I reached the playing fields, there they were: daffodils in a long line behind which stretched the fields. There were also blossom trees so I stopped to take a few photographs before re-mounting and heading for the A23 and the Princess Way industrial estate with its art deco buildings and white vans.

Daffodils on parade, Purley Playing Fields, Sunday 2nd April 2017

On the Stafford Road I continued towards Wallington High Street and this time, instead of riding straight across at the mini-roundabout on Boundary Road I turned right and then left into Grosvenor Road, followed by another right into Park Avenue, at least I think it was called Park Avenue, it might have been Park Road, but either way, at the end of it there was Carshalton Park, which is always a pleasure at this time of year, so I stopped and took another photograph before continuing on my way, turning left on to Carshalton Park Road and remembering a great moment from childhood: that of riding in an Express Dairy milk float at the end of my round with Dynamic Norman, the film buff, when the float turned into Benyon Road. It was a strange sensation, one of familiarity and surprise. The sight of Benyon Road bringing to my 13-year-old attention the fact that I was almost home and the round was over.

Going through the industrial estate...
I used to love that milk round as it took me around the sleepy, leafy, middle class Woodcote area of South Wallington with its manicured lawns, water sprinklers and tall trees swaying in the summer breeze. Those roads still exist for sure, but the magic has gone and, sadly, will never return, not for me at any rate.

There's a phrase that has become commonplace in my family, one I used whenever I was asked if I was going on my milk round. "Might, I dunno," I would reply to whoever posed the question, but invariably I went out because the Express Dairy was just around the corner, a short walk up Shorts Road where Dynamic Norman, cigarette in mouth, would be waiting for me. We used to stop half way around, somewhere in the middle of Wallington, where a strange, dark-haired, unkempt man who lived in a huge Victorian house, offered us a mug of instant coffee before we continued on our way. I'm guessing the man was Dynamic Norman's friend, but I don't remember ever saying much to him, just drinking the coffee, which was always fairly strong, and then getting on with the round. I never remember doing the job during the winter months.

With these childhood memories fully intact, I rode along Benyon Road to the lights at the Windsor Castle, trying to remember what it felt like sitting in the cab of the milk float, and then I rode straight across and right into Shorts Road. The dairy has long gone, replaced by flats, but the road is the same, lined with Victorian houses and then 'Radnor' a single-storey bungalow where Adams used to live. His mum was the lollipop lady outside St. Philomena's convent school for many years. Sadly, she died recently and the house is now undergoing some kind of renovation. There was always a huge radio mast on the roof, so I guess that somebody inside was a radio ham – probably Adams.

Bare trees still in Carshalton Park...
Once under the bridge I sped into Westmead Corner and round into mum's road. Mum allows me to bring the bike into the hallway (I never bring a lock with me, that's why) and because it's so clean, being only five months old, she's fine with it and always remarks on how nice my bike looks; praise indeed!

Boiled egg, Special K, chunks of freshly chopped orange and a slice of buttered bread accompanied by a mug of tea and we sat, as always, in the 'new room' chatting about this and that: how mum has been 'doing the edges' in the garden, how one of my nieces was about to fly to Israel (she calls from the airport while I'm scoffing) and how Jon has Freddie over. Freddie is one of his many grand children and is up for the week, mum says.

Breakfast at mum's – the prize at the end of the ride
I leave and head for the smallholdings, but as I reach the Village Bakery the phone rings. It could be Jon, I thought, as I did text him to say I was about to ride over to mum's, but no, it was mum. "You've left your rucksack behind," she said, so I pedalled back, mildly frustrated with myself, to retrieve it and then set off again, deciding this time to head up Shorts Road, turn left and go straight across at the lights. It's a bit dangerous, what with the traffic, which builds up as the day progresses, but I kept my nerve and soon I was back in Wallington and powering towards the aforementioned mini roundabout at the end of Boundary Road. I turned left, rode through the High Street and out towards the Princess Way turn-off, right on to the A23, left at the Hilton National and past the playing fields, not stopping this time to admire the blossom trees or the daffodils. I rode down Hayling Park Road, heading east, turned left, then right, then right again onto the Selsdon Road, past the now derelict Rail View pub, and soon I was home. It was 0930hrs. Originally I had left mum's at 0838hrs, but I returned to pick up my rucksack, so let's say I departed around 0850hrs and it took me 40 minutes to get home. I parked the bike in the garage, padlocked it, closed down and locked the garage door and then opened my front door. I was home and all was well.

The Rail View – soon to be social housing
Postscript, the Rail View. On 30 December 2016 I visited the Rail View for the last time. I sat there, at first watching the football alone, but then chatting with a small group of regulars that had congregated near the bar. It was very late when I left and strolled for 20 minutes under dark skies in the direction of home. Having enjoyed many a 'quiet pint' at the Rail View – the nearest pub to my house – it was a shame to hear it was to close and become social housing.

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