Thursday, 23 February 2012

Thursday... longish ride

It's warm. And as the builders finish repairing our garage roof and I survey the mountain of 'stuff' piled up like a plastic coated mountain in the courtyard I relish the idea of a longish ride out. Restocking the garage can wait a few days, besides we need to sort it out and discard some of the things that are, shall we say, surplus to requirements.

Perhaps I'll have a garage sale - I think that's what they call it?  - basically I collect all the rubbish that I’ve accumulated over the past few years, put it all on a wallpapering table and stand there shouting until it’s all gone.

Pop round if you fancy a look - here’s a few things I need shut of:
A 'Bring Back The Old Money' sandwich board. One shoulder strap perished
3 foot spa’s (2 not working and third has a slight leak)
Plastic container that allegedly keeps butter at optimum temperature
Pine needle scented eczema cream (left over from Xmas obviously)
Some old sponges somehow stained with oil
A broken black & decker drill
A collection of punctured inner tubes (the ideal winter project)
lots of tins of paint - all opened and with varying remains in varying condition - some totally solid - some usuable. Possibly.
A 'Build your own registry office' kit. Some parts missing
Conquer Your Rage With Michael Aspel - VHS video and punchbag (signed).
No need for thermals today - in fact, for a few brief seconds, I toy with the idea of shorts - but then come to my senses. I fill my water bottle, check my lights and then I'm off. There's a slight dampness to the road and in the air. The sky hangs low, cluttered with cloud. But it is definitely....warm.

The roads are quiet as I pass through Snarestone, this route is very familiar, I ride it all the time, its familiarity is comforting but I feel the need for a variation. I change course when I reach the main road and head towards Appleby Magna. The road feels fast and I'm making good progress. As I approach the village I spot a Hare - standing in the road. He seems unconcerned until I get within 30 feet of him - then he moves; slowly, gracefully - for a moment I think I will catch up with him - but then he stops playing around. He changes gear and, wow, he's gone. The hare has true speed - 45mph easy, about twice the speed of Usain Bolt - hares are scarce but they manage to fire the imagination. People paint, draw and sculpt them obsessively. Many people, often those who have never seen one, claim them as their favourite animal. Hares are seldom seen but a single sighting goes deep. If you are lucky enough to spot one its a moment to relish, it’s one of nature’s pieces of magic.

I make my way through various small villages following the path of the river Mease - a silver ribbon stretching into the far distance. I pass through Haunton and Harlsaton and then Edingale. Some fine houses here - palatial almost. I'm heading down to Walton now, alongside the river Trent - there is a lot of debris on the road as I descend into the village - tree branches, gravel and swathes of thick mud. But the sun is shining now - it's warm and it feels great. On the trees there are buds half opened, like shiny scraps of moonlight against the dark bark - this is an illusory spring, the feintest movement and change in the motionless air of a warm, silent day. But however pleasant this 'winter spring' - there is something ominous about it. It is too quiet, too soft - there is something of the dangerous placidity of a sleeping lion - the weather, this fitful beast - inconsequent, unreliant, treacherous and changing all the time. The days are fickle the seasons seem upside down.

I arrive at Barton - my Mum tells me the Post Office has been robbed this morning and that my brother-in-law, Martin, was a witness - I ask her if she's sure he wasn't involved - I could see him as the lookout man - or maybe the driver... she didn't find it funny.

49 miles today - and tomorrow I'm heading to Suffolk - one of my favourite places!

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