Forest Row Bike Club
Not Lamberhurst but Tunbridge Wells: 11 February
Graham, Kate, Andrew, Ron, Don, Peter, Steve, ZoŽ were all there as I arrived, fresh from 6 weeks in France and itching to tell everyone about it. ďHi, JohnĒ, I got, before everyone continued talking where they had left off. Good to be back!
Kateís bike was brand new, and she was evidently very pleased with it. It is a very nice shade of pale blue, and she was wearing a matching rain top too.
Thereíd been a good dose of rain, which I gathered had not been at all unusual of late. Mother Nature making up for the record long drought of the previous Summer, no doubt. She continued making up for it as we meandered along the Forest Way. On several occasions, we had to dodge branches which were straddled out into our path. Mustíve been a fair wind lately, too. Out on the road, the rain continued and waterproofs were resorted to. Peter brought out a magnificent cape that he had bought just after the Boer War, and had served him well. It wasnít long before I found myself rather too close to the back wheel of young Andrew, and received a mouthful of grit and other unmentionable substances which it flicked up off the road. My new cycling top was pebbledashed with the same stuff, and I instantly wished that I had the nerve to wear a cape like Peterís out in public in the light of day. I believe that horse manure was once used as the main constituent of wattle and daub plaster for walls. I was to find out why when I later tried to remove the stains from my new clothes.
Moods became a little subdued due to the weather, which didnít show too many signs of relenting, and Chairman Ron made an autocratic decision which was argued against by no-one, i.e. that we would cut the ride a bit short and head off to Tunbridge Wells instead. Nice one, Ron. And so to the Pantiles, where we piled the bikes up against a tree and went inside a warm, dry cafť where we received a lovely welcoming smile, despite the wet and spotty clothes.
There was a very attractive display of all sorts of chocolates to tempt the weaker-willed customer, and when that didnít work, the manageress brought us a dish filled with samples for us to try. No-one refused, of course, but I deserve a medal for having given in to the imploring looks of Master Chadwick and sacrificing my ones to him, and watching as they disappeared between his slavering lips.
Finally, when the lady had to admit to herself that we were going to buy no more of her merchandise, we were invited to leave, and so made our bedraggled way homeward which we eventually reached, of course, pausing only for a few of us to grab a final cuppa and a warm at Java and Jazz.
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