Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Not Wadhurst and around Bewl Water, but Tunbridge Wells, 24th August, 2008.

I prised the eyelids apart and leaned towards the window. Peeking through the venetian blind I was greeted with the gruesome but fascinating sight, not eight feet away, of a young female sparrowhawk plucking and then dismembering a sparrow for its breakfast. It was there so long doing this that I had plenty of time to go and make myself a cup of coffee and come back to see it fly off to the trees a little way off, carrying the leftovers for later. Cruel nature at work.

I couldn't wait to select my new winter bike, ie., one with mudguards attached, as the forecast was not good, and surprise, surprise, that persistent sort of English drizzle began to fall as I left for Forest Row. Yet again I found myself sitting in the bus shelter opposite the cycle shop on a Sunday morning. A powerful car towing a huge caravan pulled into the bus stop for a minute, no longer, while the driver got out to do some adjustments or other. So, Sod's Law being what it is, you can guess what immediately happened. Of course, a bus turned up and had to wait, blocking the main road. Result, nobody happy.

Ron turned up and straight away made for the bus shelter too, and soon we saw, through the bus windows, the sight of a bedraggled Martha outside the shop opposite. Ron took pity on her and invited her over, and soon we had a cosy little group in there, as Peter and Rob arrived too. I was thinking that I might move in there. I could make it quite comfortable.

What to do? It was plain that no-one wanted to attempt the Bewl Water ride, so it was once again decided that Tunbridge Wells was the goal. Ron and Rob set off along the Forest Way to Steve's place, and I preferred the road, as did Martha and Peter, to avoid the large amounts of crud that soon cover you if you ride the Way in the rain. Martha and I chatted and slowed down a couple of times to allow Peter to catch up, as he was wearing a tent-sized cape that was more like a sail on this blowy morning. As we carried on our chat outside Steve's house, a tetchy Ron appeared. "Where've you been? Hurry up, we're freezing." And so we crossed over and whizzed the short distance down the path to find Steve and Zoë sheltering under that nice little stone bridge.

You know those moments when you're all stood there out of the rain, and you know that sooner or later you've got to make a move, but nobody wants to? Well that was one of those. Martha and I agreed that we'd keep to the road to avoid all the muck again, and we'd meet the others at Groombridge. That's settled then. Off we go. How was it then, that a few sentences later, we realised that we were pedalling along with the others and, er, covered in muck? Incipient Alzheimer's perhaps?

In that same vein, I can't recollect a great deal of what happened later, but I do know that Peter soon turned off as he had better things to do, (can't blame him), and so did Martha, (likewise). So the Famous Five entered the TW café and hoovered up large amounts of hot food and drink. 'It's always raining when we come here', I thought to myself. Then I realised, of course, that it's because it's raining that we go there in the first place. Doohhh!

Once the rain had more or less given up the ghost, we pootled back to FR, leaving Steve and Zoë in Hartfield, and weasled our way into Java and Jazz once more, where the still-hungry Rob discovered an almost pristine croissant left on the table, with only one bite out of it. Waste not - he devoured it, but almost regretted it when the waitress followed us out as we left, trying to charge him for it!

Then off we went in our respective directions, and soon the sound of washing machines could be heard in several neighbourhoods around.

John.


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