Monday, 17 April 2017

To Tatsfield Bus Stop for tea and fruit cake...

"When the spirits are low. When the day appears dark. When work becomes monotonous. When hope hardly seems worth having. Just mount a bicycle and go out for spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking." Arthur Conan Doyle.

16-17 April 2017: It's the Easter holidays, time for chocolate eggs and roast dinners, except that, so far, I've had a roast dinner but no chocolate eggs. I'm happy with that because it means I'm not going over the top, which is good. My mum came over on Saturday for some pan-fried Loch Fyne salmon, new potatoes, carrots and kale; a bottle of wine was involved, but so was driving the car so I refrained from overdoing it.

Today, more Easter festivities, it being Easter Sunday, and I've just returned from a ride to the Tatsfield Bus Stop – the slow way – and, thanks to mum's visit yesterday, I was armed with fruit cake, a big chunk for Andy and a couple of slices for both of us to eat with our tea,  a welcome change from the BelVita biscuits. It was heaven: the sun was out, the sky was blue and we were sitting at the bus stop with steaming hot mugs of tea and a large slice each of fruit cake, it's difficult to imagine anything better.

There's a story behind the cake, which I may have told before. It was supposed to be a wedding cake for one of my nieces, but mum dropped it – not on the floor, but on the countertop, and it developed a crack that rendered it unworthy for the planned nuptial nosh-up. Another cake has since been made for the celebrations. But the old cake was perfectly edible and was more than intact enough to be eaten by whoever else turns up at mum's place in search of comfort. Yesterday I drove over to mum's to pick her up and bring her here, to my house, and before we left she gave me a large chunk of the cake so I cut it in half this morning and gave one bit to Andy when we reached the Tatsfield Bus Stop.
Tatsfield bus stop – alright, I know, I know...

The weather this bank holiday weekend has been interesting: dry and sunny, but there's always been a cold breeze to make wearing summery clothing, like shorts, a little premature, although that didn't stop Andy from donning his and then grinning and bearing it, although it wasn't that bad. I stuck with my winter attire minus the scarf and balaclava.

We rode the long way to the bus stop on Easter Sunday and chatted as we made our way along Beddlestead Lane. The time flew by and soon we were gliding along Clarks Lane towards the bus stop where the cake was unwrapped. It was, I hasten to add, top quality: a rich fruit cake, very dark, but moist. As we ate cake and sipped tea we looked back along Clarks Lane at groups of Lycra monkeys making their way towards us wearing those awful luminous shoes and the skin-tight, faux sponsored, Lycra, not a good look. Andy and I constantly question the Lycra monkey 'look' and wonder why, or rather what these people are thinking as they pull on their cycling clothes. Surely they don't peek in the mirror and think, "Whoa, steady, ladies, form an orderly queue." I've said it before and I'll say it again, my only question for Lycra monkeys would be simply, "Why?"

We rode back the fast way along the 269 and nothing was awry. At Warlingham green we agreed to meet again tomorrow – Bank Holiday Monday – although the weather forecast wasn't looking good and rain was on the cards. I awoke early on Monday and it was dark and gloomy outside. It had clearly rained overnight, but was drying fast, there being just a small puddle on next door's conservatory (or extension) roof when I peered out of my bedroom window just after 0600hrs. I checked the mobile for any potential abort texts from Andy, found none and then had breakfast (Weetabix with grapes, blueberries, banana and chunks of an orange, not forgetting tea).

By the time I left the house around 0710hrs the bank holiday Monday weather had brightened a little as I rode towards the green. Before we set off I bought a box of PG Tips teabags and a small bag of sugar and then we cycled towards Botley Hill with every intention of riding to Westerham, but changed our minds and stopped at the Tatsfield Bus Stop. The Lycra monkeys were out in force again wearing their silly outfits and clippy cloppy shoes. There was no cake today, just BelVitas and tea, but we weren't complaining.

Rockhopper at the Tatsfield Bus Stop...
Andy had risked the shorts again while I stayed safe with my usual scruffy attire: trousers with a lot of pockets, a paint-stained hoody and, of course, my rust-coloured jacket, which has seen better days, but there's plenty of life in the old dog yet. although I need to address the way I look as it's neither big nor clever to look like an unshaven vagabond of the western world.

The Tatsfield Bus Stop is a very relaxing place and we're both glad it's back. The only problem is getting too settled and not wanting to ride back home. It is, as Andy pointed out, the spiritual home of NoVisibleLycra. I suggested a plaque was needed.

As for the Arthur Conan Doyle quote above, there are many reasons for it; for a start it's the God's honest truth: if you're feeling down, pissed off with life, upset by the futility of things and letting people (and 'stuff') get on top of you, just jump on your bike, get out in the fresh air and put all negative and depressing thoughts behind you.

Another reason for the quote is Mike Carter's One Man and His Bike – every chapter carries a quote, like this one. It's a book I continue to rave about and one I have often taken off the shelf just to relive the 'ride' taken by Mike around the coastline of the UK. A week or two ago I was in Waterstone's in Redhill, looking at books in the travel writing section. I had a book in my hand, I can't remember the author or the title, but an elderly man approached me and told me it was brilliant and that I must read it. If I go back there, and I will, believe me, I'll remember it's title and author and I might well buy it and read it. After the man had dispensed his advice, I felt I couldn't leave it there; I reached for Carter's book and told the man that it was the best book I'd ever read (I wasn't exaggerating). He took it from me and went to the back of the shop, where there is a sofa, just like I had done when I first discovered Carter's masterpiece. I can only assume that he bought it and enjoyed it as much as I did.

Blending the Conan Doyle quote and Carter's book, I can honestly say that if I'm feeling down or depressed, I often reach for One Man and His Bike and enjoy a randomly chosen section of the book to enjoy for a few minutes.

1 comment:

  1. Great quote. I always feel better after a cycle. Always good reading about the weekend we just had.