Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Eve...more rain and blustery weather

More rain and blustery winds mean no riding today either. So much for my plan to ride out to Warlingham Green all week! Well, who knows, if I'm up to it I'll ride out on New Year's Day 2014, like I did earlier this year (to Botley Hill alone and straight back).

Not much else to report. It's dark outside, there's a load of rubbish on television tonight and, well, that's about the size of it.

This is the last post of 2013 and it's been a good year of riding. We didn't make the Black Horse Ride in the summer, but here's hoping there will be one next year as we're all raring to go. We also didn't get round to riding to the pub, which was a shame, but again, let's try and rectify that next year.

I'm not going to make any new year resolutions, but if I was going to, it would be to keep the bike in a good state of repair, rather than ride (as I tend to all the time) with a dodgy this or a dodgy that – at the moment it's a dodgy front brake and a bottom  bracket in need of fixing). I might even give the old Kona a clean, unlike Andy's Blast, which is always caked in mud.

Had a word with Phil today via texting and I think he'll be back on the bike soon...and he has a load of Christmas cake he might bring along too, so, the sooner the better on that score. Andy's partial to a bit of Christmas cake and so am I, so bring it on.

The other bit of good news in the pipeline is that Simon Cotter from down under might well be in the UK in April. If he does come over, we're planning to meet up and who knows, have a ride, although a beer will suffice. Here's hoping he comes over.

It would be great if Greg Bowles from Iowa made the trip too one of these days, although I'll be in the USA a fair bit, no doubt, so if I can get to Boone, Iowa, I'll drop by and wish him well.

Newsflash!

Just heard on the television news that the UK is 'bracing itself' for more storms and heavy weather, so I'll leave fixing my fence until it's over and done with, although it's the early part of the year that is normally characterised by bad weather conditions. We should be due a consignment of snow soon, any time between now and the end of March, although, as readers of this blog are only too aware, we've had snow in April before – back in 2008, pre-blog days. There are photos on this blog of Andy and I out in the snow in 2008.

A geeky point...

Yes, it's very geeky, but just to let you all know that the busiest year so far for this blog was 2012 with 157 posts. 2013 put in just 118!

A cringeingly poor joke...

Wife to husband: "When I married you, you said you had an ocean-going yacht."
Husband to wife: "Shut up and row."

Next ride...

Saturday 4th January 2014. Be there or be square!

Happy New Year to all those who read and contribute to this blog, especially Andy, Phil, Simon, Greg and my brother Jon (who we ought to see more often).








Monday, 30 December 2013

More heavy winds and rain...

The plan was to ride out today, alone, possibly just to the green and back, but the weather had other plans. As I write this it's raining and the wind is blowing hard outside. I can hear the rain on the conservatory roof above me – definitely not cycling weather.

It's the day before New Year's Eve and I'm in that timeless zone between Christmas and the New Year when nothing much happens and it's hard to tell whether it's the weekend or not. Well, it's not the weekend, it's Monday morning and I know that Andy's off to work today, but only for two days and then it's New Year's Day, arguably the most boring day of the year. In many ways it's like Christmas Day but without the turkey dinner and false bonhomie. There's nothing to do, most people are tired after being fooled into thinking the day before that it was all going to happen as they counted down to midnight only to discover that, on the strike of twelve, everything was exactly the same and nothing at all had changed. New Year's Day is the biggest anti-climax in the world. It's when we all sit around thinking about work, which is normally the following day.

And don't you just hate it when you get into work and find yourself wishing everybody you meet a happy new year. I often find myself wondering when, in the month of January, it's safe not to wish people a happy new year. Probably some time after the middle of the month, around the 15th perhaps. Either way it's horrible.

I've given up making new year resolutions too. Why bother? I never keep to them.

So the wind howls and whistles and the rain patters outside. The bike is in the garage and won't be seeing the road today.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Late start means a short ride to Botley Hill...

For some reason, broken sleep is characterising my life at the moment. I seem to wake up around 2am and then drift off again until around 5am, but then I'm awake and, invariably, I remain that way until it's time to get up.

This morning was slightly different. I was awake around 4am, possibly a bit later, but somehow I managed to nod off and when I woke up it was too late to meet Andy at 8am on Warlingham Green. So I texted him. How about meeting at 8.30am? Fine, so I had time to make tea and sort things out before heading off.

At Botley Hill, Sunday 29 December 2013

Weather-wise it looked cold outside. There was a frost on the road and everywhere so I armed myself with my trusty balaclava, but decided against wearing it until I'd sussed out just how cold it might be out there. In all honesty, it wasn't cold at all so I stuffed the balaclava in my pocket and headed for the green.

The weather was fantastic. A crisp, clear day with a mixture of blue skies underneath wispy cloud. When I reached the green there was no sign of Andy, but then I remembered him saying that if he wasn't there, he'd be at the pond at the top of Slines Oak Road. Sure enough I had a text saying just that, so I saddled up and headed off to meet him.

Our bikes at Botley Hill. Pic by Andy Smith.
It was getting late so we decided to head for Botley Hill rather than ride further to, say, the Tatsfield Bus Stop, the village or the churchyard.

The sun was bright and the skies blue when we dismounted and sipped our tea and then it was simply a  case of heading home again. Everything was so clear. As we rode back along the 269 we could see for miles: the City of London, Canary Wharf, the Shard to the North East and in the North West, and slightly closer, St Helier hospital in Carshalton and Quadrant House in Sutton.

Andy and I parted company half way along the 269 and we're game on to meet again next weekend. I'm off until the new year so I'm thinking of getting a ride in every day until January 2nd. But let's see how it goes – I might just have a lie-in!

Andy's Kona Blast, Slines Oak Pond. Pic by Andy Smith.
On Saturday, by the way, we rode to the Tatsfield Bus Stop the fast way. The roads were wet due the heavy rain the day before, but other than that it was a pretty uneventful ride. So uneventful I actually forgot to say anything about it!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Poor weather means no ride today...

Woodmansterne Green, Boxing Day 2013
The heavy winds and rain are back and have been battering the UK throughout the night and into the morning. Right now, it's the same, putting paid to any thoughts of another ride to Woodmansterne Green, where Andy and I celebrated yesterday morning with a piece of my mum's excellent Christmas cake.

It's odd looking out of the window. In the rear garden the trees and bushes sway, but out front things seem stiller until you look a little closer and realise that riding a bike in these conditions is not advisable.

On the way to Woodmansterne Green yesterday we saw plenty of evidence of the storms that initially battered the country on 23rd December – fallen trees lying across the road – and there's always the risk that one might fall onto cyclists.

My only regret is not biting the bullet and heading out on Christmas morning, a first for this blog, but as you can imagine, family commitments got in the way. Christmas Day and Boxing Day were both pleasant and ideal for riding, although it was cold yesterday riding downhill.

At this time of year I tend to lose track of time, but I know that tomorrow is a normal Saturday and that means a ride, albeit at 8am instead of 7.30am at Warlingham Green. The Tatsfield bus stop beckons if weather permits.

Christmas cake wrapped in foil, Boxing Day 2013. Pic by Andy Smith.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Boxing Day ride to Woodmansterne Green...

It had rained heavily during the night and the residue of wet roads and large puddles greeted us as we rode towards the meeting point at Foxley Lane, Andy coming from Caterham and yours truly from Sanderstead.

Accompanying the wet roads were the corpses of fallen trees, uprooted during the storms of 23 December. There was also a noticeable drop in temperature, not initially, but on our ride back through to Coulsdon from Woodmansterne – almost balaclava weather, I pointed out to Andy.

Being as it was Boxing Day we had some of my mum's excellent Christmas cake to eat instead of the usual cereal bars.

With Boxing Day being a kind of tradition for NoVisibleLycra, we had to take the official shot, which this year proved a problem as you'll see from the images below.

Take one: '...er, where's Matt?"
Take two: '...that's still not right, is it?
Take three: '...perfect (and I still look a little chubby).

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas 2013 to all our readers!

Merry Christmas to everybody who has the time and the patience to read No Visible Lycra, a blog that charts our cycling through Surrey and Northern Kent.

Despite some rough weather on the 23rd December (see previous post) today the weather is fine. There's a little bit of scattered rain occasionally, but then it clears up and, as now, is bright sunshine and a mixture of blue skies and cloud. I think the weather will remain as it is now for tomorrow's traditional Boxing Day ride. Andy and I are meeting in Purley at 8am and heading for our usual festive destination of Woodmansterne Green, a place we've not been to for a long time (not even last Boxing Day).

My plan today is the same as every year – visiting two sets of parents, one today and then another on Boxing Day. The problem this year? No car. It looks as if we'll be getting cabs to Sutton on Boxing Day, but our Christmas Day venue is just a five-minute walk (if that!).

As I write this, I have potatoes roasting in the oven and I've already put in a bit of culinary consultancy work regarding the turkey and its various trimmings.

It would have been a very pleasant ride this morning, and a first for No Visible Lycra had it taken place, but there's always so much to do on Christmas morning so it was not to be. Here's hoping the weather's okay for tomorrow morning.

Better go!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Heavy winds and rain batter the UK

In many ways, not having a car has been fortunate. While we had to board a train to reach pals in the New Forest over the weekend, it turned out to be far easier than driving both in terms of time and general ease. A journey of just over an hour and we were there, bar a short walk from the railway station.

The weather over the weekend was not good: rain and blustery winds, which intensified on the day we left into a full-blown storm. Throughout the south west there have been power cuts, heavy seas, cancelled flights, rocky seas and, of course, disgruntled travellers trying to get home for Christmas. Television news reports have been full of crowded airports, station concourses and the obligatory shots of storm-ravaged beaches, aircraft landing sideways and uprooted trees.

None of this bodes well for cycling, although, according to weather reports on the radio, Boxing Day is likely to be fairly good, so a ride might be possible. Cue traditional fruit cake and tea on Woodmansterne Green!

Outside now, the wind has dropped considerably. In fact, as I write this I can hear birds chirping and the trees are no longer waving about frantically in the garden and elsewhere. All is still. Earlier I discovered that two sections of our fence have blown down, which is made doubly irritating by the fact that one section had just been fixed after the last blast of wind.

Today it is Christmas Eve and ahead lies the celebrations of the festive season. Our tree has been up for the past week and we're preparing ourselves for the two crucial visits – to both mums. One lives nearby, the other six miles away – fine if we had a car, but two buses (or two trains) if we don't.

Looking forward to the Boxing Day ride to Woodmansterne Green. Here's hoping the weather holds.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Slow ride there and back...to the Tatsfield Bus Stop

I wish I'd gone out on Saturday to meet Jon at Woodmansterne Green, but car worries steered me away from what would have been a decent ride. The weather was perfect with clearish skies and not a sign of frost on the cars in other people's driveways. Still, you live and learn. I should have just got out there and rode off regardless... but I didn't.

Sunday wasn't as pleasant weatherwise. Throughout the night it had rained heavily and there were strong winds that I could hear as I lay in bed wondering whether an 'abort' text would be needed. Fortunately, it wasn't required as the weather had calmed considerably and while it was damp and grey, there was no rain.

I met Andy at Warlingham Green and we decided to head for the bus stop, the slow way. There was a heavy fog and this, in some way, lessened the ordeal of Beddlestead Lane, which Andy said I've been mentioning in a bad light in past posts. He's right, I have been, but only because it's a long, long road and a long, long upward climb that teeters on being unpleasant but somehow holds it together.

Both of us were amazed at how the road seemed to fly by and how we found ourselves at the end of it in what seemed like a few minutes. I put this down to the heavy fog. At the bus stop visibility was very poor. Cyclists and cars 'disappeared' as soon as they passed us and for this reason we decided it would be safer to go back the slow way too.
Andy's bike on Warlingham Green. Pic by Andy Smith
The ride back meant a climb up Hesiers Hill, a nasty, but short-lived hill, and then a ride around the quiet lanes to the east of the 269. We emerged at Warlingham Sainsbury's and turned right on to the Limpsfield Road, heading for the Green where we would bid each other farewell.

Our next ride together will be on Boxing Day. We're meeting at 8am on the Green and will be riding to Woodmansterne Green for our traditional tea and Christmas cake. I say 'traditional' but we haven't riden out on Boxing Day for a couple of years.

I've got a couple of days off this week and I might well take advantage of the fact and get out on the bike as I won't be riding this weekend, but let's see how things go.
Thick fog at the Tatsfield Bus Stop.
Both bikes are 'fine' although I was remarking to Andy as we rode up Beddlestead Lane that my bike was seemingly always in a state of disrepair: there was always something that needed doing. At the moment, for example, it's the bottom bracket and the front brakes. That old argument about buying a more basic bike with block brakes came up but, as Andy said, "You've got a better bike." Better, he meant, than a bog standard ride from Halford's. He's right.

Andy is considering a new stem for his Blast to raise up the bars and take the pressure off his back, which, he says, is a little strained by having to lean so far forward. He's currently awaiting the part and intends to fix it himself.

Phil has yet to rejoin us, but I'm sure he will one of these days.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Weird shot from this weekend's ride...

Nearing the end of Beddlestead Lane.

Brussels and a dodgy hotel turns out to be really good...

Now I know what the flight simulator on my new iphone is good for: whenever I'm dining alone, which is often, I can get it out and have a fly around. This evening, sitting alone in the restaurant of the Ramada Brussels (there were only four other diners throughout while I sat there) I took a World War ll Spitfire for a spin. Alright, I could have read a book or a magazine, but I was tired and I needed some kind of recreation, so a Duvel and a short-lived flight in an old World War ll fighter plane seemed like a good idea.

The last time I was in Brussels was around 2004 when I was here to find restaurants that matched beer with food (I found two) and now, nine years later here I am again. I took the Eurostar from St Pancras (the 1504 train to Lille (a great place) and Brussels Midi, and the first thing that irritated me was the fact that virtually all the way to the tunnel itself, the train was constantly in tunnels, which made chatting to anybody on the mobile phone a bit of a nightmare. I kept losing the signal, then re-dialling, then losing the signal, then reidailling and...you get the picture.
Room 324, Ramada Brussels – initially not impressed.

So I'm motoring towards Brussels in seat 16 (an aisle seat) but, fortunately, nobody claimed seat 15, so I made the most of it, spreading myself across both seats, using the laptop and doing a bit of work without having to worry anybody else, which suited me fine.

Why was I on the mobile phone? I'm going to need a new car as the oil seal – and possibly the gear box – has gone on the old Kia, which means another hefty bill and more debt. I wouldn't mind, but I'd just had a little windfall (nothing major) but it made a fair old dent in a credit card debt and now, here I am, about to get into even more debt in order to buy another car. First some idiot went up the backside of my Beamer, writing off a perfectly decent car and putting me in debt, and now the old Kia's given up the ghost and I've got to shell out extra cash that I don't have to buy a new car. I can't say I'm happy about it.

Anyway, the Eurostar. Not sure if I like the Eurostar. It's not exactly the Orient Express or the Scotsman and there are so many carriages – crammed with seats – that I never know which way to head for the buffet car. Not that it mattered, as I didn't bother. I'm trying to lose a bit of weight. Instead, I worked throughout the journey, alighting at a decidedly drab-looking Brussels and remembering how, the last time I was here, I thought it looked remarkably like Streatham (around the station area). It's a load of concrete and office blocks and, alright, it's the hub of the European Union too.

I found a cab that drove me to what must be (I thought initially) the worst hotel I've ever stayed in, although it redeemed itself considerably when it came to the restaurant. Why did I consider it the worst? Well, to be honest, now that I'm going through the blogpost I initially penned last night, while tired and irritable, I began to realise that it wasn't such a bad hotel after all and that a lot of the problems I had with the place yesterday were relatively minor. And besides, I was feeling a little miffed about the car situation, so perhaps I was being a little unfair. Having said that, things did happen when I went to check in. For a start, they didn't have my reservation, and it was their fault, not my travel company's. Then they put me in s huge room, room 324 with three single beds in it, two of which were pushed together to make a double.
Pheasant with potatoes and, I think, pears! Oh, and a glass of Duvel.
I don't like huge rooms with loads of space. For some reason I can't get a good night's sleep. I started off the night in the two single beds pulled together to make one double and after a while the air-con system started to annoy me. It was a little on the noisy side and it was too warm and I was too tired to get up and figure out how to turn it off. So, when I awoke at 0137hrs, I decided to move to the single bed on the other side of the room and there I slept until the alarm went off at 0630hrs.

The hotel is very black and while in terms of decor and while this was fine, it reminded me of a packet of Lambert & Butler cigarettes. I had a separate bathroom and toilet, a double aspect view (onto crappy old office buildings, flats and a dual carriageway) and a rubbish television set that simply didn't work (and there I was hoping to watch the 'I'm a Celebrity' coming out party. Sadly not, unless I could get it working. Remember, I'm an hour ahead of the UK, so there was a chance. But I didn't bother. I simply went to bed.

Fresh fruit salad – absolutely perfect.
 With such a bad first impression of the hotel I asked the man on the front desk what was happening 'outside of the hotel' – meaning restaurants – and he said that there was nothing. The hotel, which, incidentally, is the Ramada Brussels, is located in a kind of business/residential area.It's a EUR25 taxi journey away from Brussels Midi. Yesterday, while initially writing this post, I warned readers away from the Ramada, saying it was a lairy place and that I didn't like it, but now, in the cold light of day, changed my mind. It was only a short journey from my appointment so once all the business was out of the way, I walked back to pick up my suitcase before heading into the centre of Brussels. But the friendly Japanese receptionist made me reconsider my general bad attitude towards the place and soon I found myself resolving to stay for lunch, given the amount of time I needed to kill before jumping on a homeward bound service at 1856. And once again, the hotel delivered and I forgave them many things, like the shower, which I had so much difficulty trying to work that I opted for a bath instead, and the plug in the sink which simply wouldn't close no matter what I did.

Room 324's dysfunctional bathroom.
Last night's meal was fine, although it was initially touch and go. From the reception area I found the restaurant easy to reach as it was just at the top of a flight of stairs. Trying to reach it from another angle was problematic. The hotel reception has two long corridors running off of it and at the end of each corridor are the lifts. This in itself is odd as normally the lifts are close to the reception area – but not here. I tried to find the restaurant by taking the lift from my room on the third floor to the first floor, but gave up as there were no signs. It was best to go to reception and take it from there. At the top of the stairs, the first thing I encountered was the bar, which was nice enough, and beyond it what looked like some kind of Japanese noodle bar. This was reserved for a large party of Japanese, the real breakfast room was, in fact, the restaurant proper. I walked through to the restaurant and I spied polished wine glasses and tablecloths, not forgetting a decent-looking menu.

I ordered the specials – wild mushrooms to start and pheasant as mains – both of which were fine, accompanied as they were by some bread and, of course, a glass of Duvel (I had two) and not forgetting an excellent fresh fruit salad to finish.

This was going to be a fleeting visit. Here today, back tomorrow night, and I gained an hour in the process, which was all good.

For dinner I chose wild mushrooms, which, while fine – they were fried mushrooms – lacked any discernible wildness. I could have made them myself as it appeared to be just a handful of wild mushrooms fried in oil. The pheasant, however,  was amazing (check out the pic) and the fresh fruit salad was just what the doctor ordered.
Electric trees near the Grand Place, Brussels.

It's too dark and too cold to go out looking for 'Boris Bikes'. There are 'Boris Bikes' here as I saw a docking station the following morning as I walked back from my appointment to the hotel where I had left one of my bags. The problem is twofold, however: first, the weather (it's a bit nippy); and second the traffic (similar to London) so I didn't bother. As I approached the hotel reception area at the end of my brief walk from the nearby Rue Colonel Bourg (venue of my earlier appointment) I noticed they were advertising the restaurant and thought it would be a good idea to hang around the hotel for lunch before heading into the centre of town later this afternoon (remember, I've got time to kill until 7pm before I take the Eurostar back to London). Solution: have lunch at the hotel. And it was a good decision. Mushroom soup (probably yesterday's leftovers from those wild mushooms on offer) followed by a whole sole with vegetables) and not forgetting a Duvel (just one this time) and another of those wonderful fresh fruit salads.

Once again I was the only one in the restaurant, but that didn't matter. I took out the flight simulator again and amused myself until the menu arrived, although, in all honesty, flight simulators are very boring and soon enough I got bored. Then I chose the above and awaited their arrival. It was a very enjoyable meal and while in an early version of this very post I advised people not to bother staying at the Ramada, I've now completely revised my opinion, although it's a little out on a limb, ie nowhere near the city centre. Having said that, it was just down the road from my appointment, which was the main reason for coming here in the first place.

One thing I must mention is something that always bugs me with hotels that try too hard to be trendy. They never follow the golden rule of 'function before form', meaning that they have taps and bathroom fitments designed and installed that simply don't work – or rather prove alien to anybody who tries to use them – and I fell victim prior to breakfast. I wanted a shower, but never got one as I couldn't work out how to turn the shower on. In the end I ran a bath. Likewise, I couldn't figure out how to close the plug on the basin and had to resort to a continually running tap as I shaved (what a waste of water).

So, a shower I can't work, a plug I can't work, a television I can't work, a telephone that won't work properly, the lack of a reservation when I arrived last night and a room that was huge, you might think it all added up to a bad stay – and intially it did – but to be honest with you, when I returned in the afternoon, I thought otherwise – thanks to a friendly receptionist and a decent lunch. I'm not planning on eating more than a sandwich later on (I had an egg and cress sandwich and a bottle of Pellegrino on the train).

How could I have forgotten the Grand Place? If ever you're in Brussels, make sure you visit this great square, surrounded by fantastic architecture and, if you're there at night, a free light show. I remember back in 2004 when my photographer Rob Wilkinson and I were sitting on the Grand Place, sipping a Belgian beer and killing time after dinner before heading back to the hotel, when, suddenly, the square came alive with the most amazing light show and music, sometimes classical, other times more electronic and possibly even a mixture of the two. It's certainly a crowd puller and I couldn't very well go home without seeing it again. Taking the 79 bus from outside the hotel to the Metro I travelled on to Brussels Central Station where I alighted in the dark (it was around 4pm) and made my way to towards the square. People were out Christmas shopping, the shops were alive and illuminated – and so were some of the city's trees (see photo).


Sunday, 8 December 2013

A couple of nice images...

Christmas lights, Whitgift Centre, Croydon
Early evening from my office in Redhill, Surrey

Two rides, two days – to Tatsfield Bus Stop and Tatsfield Village

Once again, I expected cold weather in the form of frosted cars and frozen grass. We'd certainly had some during the week and, for weather nuts, the whole of the Eastern coast of the UK experienced a huge tidal surge, causing coastal houses to fall into the sea and plenty of flooding. You might be forgiven for thinking we were bound, at least, to get a soaking, but on both days it was fairly warm and bright and very clear. We could see the Shard and Canary Wharf all very clearly from a good 20 miles or so away.
Our bikes in the lanes off the B269. Pic by Andy Smith.

On Saturday we headed out to the bus stop and on Sunday we headed for the village. We'd talked about the Churchyard, but figured the benches there would be wet (with dew) so we switched back to our original plan – the village.

Once again, like the week before last, we went the 'slow way' and endured the mildish pain of Beddlestead Lane, trying to 'sectionalise' it in our heads to make it seem shorter, but it didn't work. Today, for example, the place where we stopped to take the photos accompanying this post, was virtually at the end of Beddlestead Lane. We thought it was further back, but it was only yards from Clarks Lane, where we turned left and then left again into Tatsfield village.

Andy brought along a couple of rock cakes, which looked great, but I resisted in order to lose some weight, making do with a cereal bar.

Tatsfield, unlike Warlingham, hasn't gotten round to erecting its Christmas tree yet, which is a bit disappointing.

Nearing the end of Beddlestead Lane. Pic by Andy Smith.

On both days we made our usual farewells halfway along the 269 and reached our respective homes around 10am.

Andy won't be going next Saturday so I'll need all the will power I can muster to get out of bed and hit the road...unless Phil's there to provide the motivation. Phil's missed the last couple of weekends, but he'll be riding again soon I hope.

In the news

• Nelson Mandela died last week (on 5th December) aged 95.
• It looks as if MPs will be getting an 11% pay rise.
• The two men charged with the murder of Lee Rigby are on trail and are pleading not guilty.
• A huge tidal surge along the eastern coast of England has wreaked havoc. There's been severe flooding and many people were evacuated from their homes, some of which were swept into the sea.

Monday, 2 December 2013

No cycling this weekend...

By that, of course, I mean last weekend (November 30th to December 1st). Andy and Phil couldn't make Saturday and then on Sunday, minutes prior to leaving the house, albeit reluctantly, I received a text from Andy saying he'd had a broken night and wouldn't make it. Fair enough and, as I say, I was quite relieved. But it's not good news. I should have forced myself to go out, even on a short one to Warlingham Green and back, but I didn't. I slobbed around instead and when Andy texted me last night asking if I'd gone out, the answer was a shameful no along with a 'but I'll definitely be there next week'. We'll see.

This random photograph was taken by yours truly in the Birmingham area.
The weather is closing in, it's getting colder and Christmas is around the corner. Traditionally this is a time of year when the cycling slows down a little, but we should be getting out there and hopefully this week we'll be on the Green at Warlingham and ready to rock.

Westerham has already been suggested for Sunday and we might well be in Tatsfield Village or, indeed, our famous Tatsfield Bus Stop on Saturday morning.