Thursday, 31 May 2012

Summer stripes....

The hot, sunny weather continues here and I am now nurturing impressively tanned arms and legs - I look stripey in the shower .... and its still May!!

Gary and I met up recently and rode gently out through the lanes in the direction of Stoke Golding. Suddenly the white flowers of the cherry are gone and in their place all over the roadside verges and woods there is a great upclouding of mustardy yellow, a kind of lemon olive, very beautiful and in the bright sunlight quite startling. It is the oaks in flower. There are a few outstanding examples on the ride today, in particular a row of three formidable trees between Far Coton and Shenton, as oaks go they are not old trees: two hundred and fifty years maybe, they have a girth about like that of a couple of pillar boxes and they stand stoutly, in their prime. They have grown quite close together, very straight, and now, suddenly they have undergone this magnificent rejuvenation. An abrupt and vivid change from leather-brown buds to olive-yellow flowers, from obscurity to clarity. Rising above all other trees around them they become the upper sun-lit edges of a great cloud of leaf. And on these bright, sunny days which we are all enjoying, the flowers burn like vast candles of yellow.

I've changed the rear cassette on my new bike - with Mont Ventoux fast approaching I decided that the benefit of a 30 tooth rear sprocket might be of benefit. Even with a compact chainset I now have a range of gear ratios close to a triple chainset. Today is the first day out on them and everything seems fine, certainly spinning up hills is slightly easier and more relaxed - whether it will make any difference over the distance we have to cover, who knows? - we'll just have to wait and see.

We get to Stoke Golding. It's sweltering now, we both look like we've just stepped out from the shower. We decide a trip to the pub would be the right thing. Replace fluids etc. So we stop at The George and Dragon. This is a village pub that has undergone some considerable updating over recent years, owned by Church End Brewery they offer an inspired collection of cask ales, quite a number of them are the pale, citrus-tanged, hoppy brews that Gary and I are partial to these days. We enjoy a couple of pints of 'Poachers Pocket' and then another couple of 'Fallen Angel' - we also tuck into a lump of Sparkenhoe Red Leicester cheese, made just a couple of miles away at Upton.

We ride back towards home through quiet lanes with birds singing and bees humming, as the sun lowers and the shadows lengthen I look around and can't think of anywhere I'd rather be.

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