Forest Row Bike Club
Club Treasure Hunt: 6 August 2006
The forecast was very good, and it was warming up nicely as we all congregated outside the bike shop at 9 o’clock. For the first time since I retired I was in charge of something and I was going to make the absolute most of it. I lined everyone up to give them a briefing, and I caught Martin slouching twice. I had to give him a severe wigging, after which he was better behaved. I thought I was adequately lucid, but I had to explain everything several times. (I didn’t have to really, I just wanted to). No matter, the penny dropped eventually, and everyone split up into the following teams; Ron and Rob; Steve and Zoë; Jane and Peter; Adam and Mary; Hazel, Val and Jeanita; Tony and Val; Don and Martin. Christa had turned up, but had to leave early to go to her granddaughter’s 3rd. birthday. I’m sure she enjoyed it, Grannies always do. Thanks for turning up though, Christa. Once all the teams had pinpointed the venues from the grid references, and decided what order they were going to go round them all, one by one they drifted off, leaving Martha and me to decide what we were going to do. Martha suggested that I go off for a ride with her, as she had to be back home to put the potatoes in the oven for the barbecue at her house afterwards. I hadn’t had nearly enough of being in charge yet, so I instructed Martha that I was going to lead her around the trail, and that I would read out the questions for her to solve at each venue. She had to agree.
I hadn’t known how hard or easy to make the route, so I was quite encouraged when we encountered several teams on the trail quite early on. First we met Peter and Jane, then Adam and Mary, who incidentally looked very determined. Next we overtook Hazel, Val and Jeanita in a back lane in East Grinstead, with Jeanita zooming uphill in front of the others. Martin and Don were next, at Gullege Farm, so I had to miss out quizzing Martha there in case it gave them a clue. Martin cheekily directed me in the right direction onwards from there. I almost had to give him another wigging, but I put it down to youthful exuberance this time.
A couple of venues later, and we were heading up to Turner’s Hill. I warned Martha that half way up the hill we would have to take the right fork. ‘Oh, that means I’ve got to go in front does it?’, to which I let slip that that was because I would then be able to keep my eyes on her b.u.m. I couldn’t take it back, I’d already said it. But she is a lady, and gave me no more than a laser look. That was a close one!
As we puffed up the hill towards the Red Lion, we saw Ron and Rob already there, and once again, for a while at least, I had to hold fire on the questions to Martha. The chaps had ordered a coffee each, and when it came, it was served on a tray by a very friendly barman with bone china cups and saucers, with the milk in a lovely little decorated bone china jug, which Martha took to so much, she urged me to steal it when we left. Blimey.
We two had a pint each, and hadn’t finished them when the two lads decided they’d better get on. I didn’t even get a chance to start talking about them behind their backs when Adam and Mary zoomed up the hill towards us, not puffing at all. Adam ordered a Pimms with ice and a pink straw, while Mary made do with four pints of Special Brew. We couldn’t keep up with that, so decided to leave them to it and press on. I’d already taken Ron and Rob’s tray back, and Martha ticked me off for forgetting to pinch the jug. Only joking.
I don’t think Martha and I bumped into anyone else, but we finished the course and back to Martha’s bang on two o’clock, and into the oven the tatties went. Her husband Phil had kindly set out all the chairs and tables in the garden before going to bed, as he was on nights that night, so all that was left was to get washed and changed, pick a bowlful of tasty cherry tomatoes from the greenhouse to go with the huge salad that Ron had prepared earlier, then we sat in the sun with a glass of wine each to await the onslaught.
It didn’t seem like an hour before Ron and Rob arrived looking pleased with themselves. We’d already received a couple of phone calls. The three ladies would be a bit delayed, as they’d been given some severely duff info. about a supposed short cut across some fields behind Wakehurst Place. They’d had to climb about a hundred stiles, and were somewhere in Devon. Tony and Val were also having problems. Val’s gear mechanism is even older than Tony, and was starting to fall apart, as is Tony. I’m not sure how they got over the problem, but they did eventually manage to arrive intact. Martin arrived alone, Don having nipped off home to get changed, arriving a little later looking suave and immaculate. Adam and Mary drifted in, looking confident, no, smug. Steve and Zoë arrived a little less so, as Steve had suffered two front wheel punctures. Peter and Jane came too, with Peter recounting how he had mended his front tyre with Araldite the night before, and how relieved he was that it had held together. The three intrepid ladies made it over the last stile and back from Devon, and flopped into the three remaining chairs, with gasps of relief. Meanwhile, Peter’s ladyfriend, Siegfried, and Martin’s ditto, Carol, had arrived too, and with Martha’s Phil now up and about, and their not-so-young ‘uns Nick and Sally with us too, all was complete.
Drinks were handed out, the barbecue was well under way and herds of meat was beautifully cooked by Martha, including the world’s smallest sausages brought by Martin, who lamely tried to explain that he is a vegetarian.
By now everyone was calling for the results, and I resumed my stance of being in charge for the last time that day, if not forever. I told everyone to sit up straight, pass their answer sheets around between teams, and then I called out all the answers for them to mark themselves. That way I got to do even more talking. Neat, huh? Somebody whom, luckily for them, I cannot remember, argued as to what was a gable end window, and Martin, love him, explained that he was an architect, and would like to point out that I had worded the question completely accurately. I puffed out my chest a little more. Until I gave the answer to the question about the number of pitches on a roof, and Martin explained that he was an architect, and would like to point out that I had worded that question completely erroneously, (although he couldn’t use a word as long as that). My chest went back in a bit.
Adam and Mary emerged victorious, although their smiles wilted a bit when they were reminded of their obligation to organise next year’s hunt. Still, congratulations to you both. I think Martha, prompted by everyone else, thought that the time had arrived for me to shut up, and handed me the last sausage from the barbie, which she had ensured was white hot. It did the trick, as I find it impossible to speak through that many blisters.
The cabaret began with the elated Adam working off his adrenalin high with a bout on the Coolings’ trampoline. Impressive indeed. So much so that Ron leapt up and had a go too, with Val calling out that she refused to visit him in hospital. Undaunted, I had a go, followed by Tony, and we were then given an amazing show by his wife, Val. Not to be outdone, Martin bounced higher and for longer than any of us. Steve declined the baying mob urging him to have a go, calmly saying how age is sometimes a wonderful thing. How sage, and how true.
We were then starkly shown how old and infirm we have all become by a superb display by the lovely young Sally, who made me wish I was a hundred years younger, considerably better looking, and with even more money than I have. As it was, she didn’t even notice me. The finale was a double act with Martha, and the two of them gracefully bounced into the air like a pair of sylphs. Marvellous.
Everyone gradually drifted away home having had a wonderful time, and Phil having slipped out to work earlier, Martha was left with the washing up. I leisurely rode my way home in the balmy evening air, arriving on the dot of nine. Contemplating the terrific day, and whether I would have one more glass of wine before retiring, I began to snore in my armchair. Thank you once again, FRBC.
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