Sunday, 18 May 2014

Backwards, southward

So, I'm on a train again. Sounds like a country song. It does seem to be the only place where I actually get around to writing anything. My well meaning attempts to keep a regular tab of the daily ridiculousness of life in local government seems to have gone approximately nowhere. So anyway, I just spent the past two days cycling over hill and dale in the north of England. It was officially a trip to go see Jerry in Newcastle, as he's over to dig holes in the ground, but it was also a thinly veiled excuse to get out of the smog and curse at but secretly love monster hills. Jerry is over to take part in a archaeological dig near Hexham. I cycled past it, by chance. It looked a bit like a small castle with an allotment next to it, tucked in amongst sheep and tour bus parking. No data service on mobile phones. Not sure how Jerry, who is as big of a Facebook whore as am I, will survive. We shall see. Anyway, it sounds interesting but also sounds like a bit like Tom Sawyer and the whitewashed fence. Sure, come dig holes in my field and pay me. Anyway, I am always struck, on these cycling forays around this silly island, both by the fact that the road must go directly up the hill rather than around it, by how desolate one can feel in the middle of a densely populated island and by the fact that cyclists really do seem to all congregate around certain, well known routes and in packs rather than branching out and exploring the thousands of little dinkyshit roads to nowhere. I stopped at this overcrowded teahouse at the top of a pass in the Pennines (it's Britain... There has to be an overcrowded teahouse at the summit) and there are huge packs of cyclists and motorcyclists. Short of some usually disappointing potential serving (motorcycle leathers really should be banned as misleading under the trading standards act) I don't get the thrill of riding a loud smelly machine over a mountain. Either be comfortable and drive a car or test your endurance and ride a bike. A real bike. Maybe I'm just disappointed that most of them looked like overstuffed sausages. Whining aside, I have to say these bike rides tend to restore my faith in Britain and make me confident I picked a good place. It's hard to remember that sometimes amongst the benefit scroungers and general ickiness of Woolwich. I met a retired couple from Australia cycling the length of Britain, two middle aged guys doing a coast to coast cycling Tour du Pub and a rather dishy individual today who just did a 112 mile race in the Yorkshire Dales. Much respect. I also saw probably a few hundred squished animals along the road. Mostly bunnies. Serious critter carnage. And got rather little sleep last night in Newcastle, as my hotel room, which came equipped with earplugs and a fan, couldn't compete with the general drunken mayhem that passes for classy entertainment in Newcastle on a Saturday night. And back to work tomorrow for a big two day work week before the Chelsea flower show and cycling to Belgium. Yeah, I suppose life is OK. ☺

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