One of the problems with having a big basement is that if something gets put away there is a serious risk of it never getting found again.

We almost had this problem with the ham stand at Christmas and on Saturday afternoon we lost a bike pump.

The sun was out and so I thought I would take my bike out for its annual spin around the block. As the bike had been languishing in the garage for the last 12 months it was perhaps no surprise that all its tyres were flat. So started the hunt for the bike pump. Over the years we have developed a number of places for putting it where it can be found. All these proved useless and it was apparent that during a tidy up it had been put somewhere else. I found one bike pump which might have been the one one we lost before this one. Unfortunately the found pump was out of air.

So after a certain amount of huffing and puffing I went out to buy a new one.

Tyres pumped I sprayed the rust on the bike with all the WD40 I could find and took it round the block. It all seemed to work without making too much noise although by the time I got home I found myself walking with my feet six inches further apart than normal.

Most years having taken the bike round the block it goes back into the garage to develop another layer of rust for twelve months. Unusually I took it out again Sunday morning.

This time I took it into the car down to New Brighton and spent an hour and a half going all the way from New Brighton to Hoylake and back again. Possibly the most exercise I have done for quite a few years – particularly on the way back from Hoylake into the wind.

When I got home I found that my feet were now twelve inches further part than normal.

That evening we ate out of the Morito cook book – flat bread cooked in a hot iron pan on the stove, a spinach and fennel pie, hummus, beetroot borani and lamb chops.

We have spent the weekend just listening to vinyl. Last night it was the turn of Sly and the Family Stone and some particularly funky Ike Turner.

2 thoughts on “Biking

  1. your pump story made me want to send you what I’d written last week
    Reflections on writing

    A bike ride in Wales on a sunny day seemed a good way to pause and reflect on where my writing was up to. Michael and I set off on long unused bikes and with little preparation, as is our usual custom, though with a hearty packed lunch of home baked bread and wild garlic from the garden. After a few minutes, we realised we had forgotten our phones which were to be the maps for the day and so we returned to pick them up. Setting off again, I realised one tyre was nearly flat so we stopped again, took out the portable pump and realised it did not fit our narrow gauge wheels. So I went back again, searching through the garage, stuffed with wood, wheelbarrow, washing machine and general rubbish, to find the better foot pump which could not be located. After some swearing and resignation, I located another smaller one, which did the trick and I set off to catch up with Michael. The first hill near our house is pretty steep, though others do manage to cycle it. We did not and wheeled our bikes to the top sweating and out of breath.

    Then it became beautiful. The road was flat; the sky was blue, the fields green, full of lambs of all different colours and sizes and the coconut smell of the gorse was everywhere. We cycled along with a view of Anglesey and the sea ahead and the mountains of Snowdonia behind. Most of the journey was downhill or flat and we arrived with two minutes to spare at Bangor station, taking the train to Holyhead, a possible cycle ride but not for us, not yet this year anyway.

    45 minutes on the train and time to recover before cycling the few miles to South Stack and the bird reserve we used to go to often when the children were small. We could see razorbills, fulmars, choughs and herring gulls though no puffins and Michael called them all sparrows anyway. It’s a love of mine more than of Michael’s and I felt renewed enthusiasm to see more and different birds and find new places. The cliffs are spectacular, purple flowers and gorse line the edges and the lighthouse is in full view though down hundreds of steps which then have to be re-climbed. So we did not go down.

    We had our picnic, shared with a hungry racing pigeon with rings on its legs. It had wandered into the bird hide and took a while to find its way out. We chatted with people and found out more about the birds and what there is to see. Apparently it will be more exciting in a few weeks when the eggs hatch but sadly too the numbers of birds are dropping because of the warming of the sea and the decreased numbers of fish.

    We walked back to our bikes, saw a linnet and heard lots of larks up above. The dawn chorus will be wonderful tomorrow morning, if I can make it up early to hear it, which I probably wont.

    Cycling back to the station was no problem and a faster train back to Bangor meant we got there in 30 minutes. The bike ride back home though was hard and took us nearly two hours. It’s a lot of uphill and at various points feels impossible to me though I have learned that taking it slowly and with sweets to keep me going, it becomes manageable and when we did get back, we quickly felt a sense of achievement and elation. I looked in the garage and spotted immediately the pump that had eluded me before.

    So did I reflect on my writing? Maybe I did. I do recognise the stops and starts that seem to be part of the whole process and that need to be gone through to get to the end.


    23 April 2017

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