Archive for July, 2009

Mission Impossible: Afan

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Oh lordy, the bar’s been set high. I can’t possibly reach. Stress-bunny hoppity- hop and worry through the week. Braved ‘hell in four walls’ for the shopping. Promptly obliged to spend several ‘packing’ hours de-stressing, with a tube of Autosol and a tub of Turtle Wax. All dressed up and finally ready to rock.

Makin calls not convinced, my reputation for concertina-time keeping preceding me. ” No really, on the road an hour, but I’m in the ‘minor. ” “Oh well we’ll see you tomorrow ” he says. “Sod” I said, but the sod was right. Performance anxiety out the window in the face of simply trying to turn up.

Bad time to do ‘girl’. Stranded on the hard-shoulder in a skirt and inappropriate shoes. The local ‘garage’ not the AA arrive. They’re not fooling anyone, I’ve got a bigger tool box. Flat-bed to Reading to meet Keith. He did his best. After every patient fettle I putter round the lorry park trying to get Euston to cruising speed, dodging HGV’s and their bemused occupants. No dice. We were supposed to get back on the motorway heading for home. In the mess of the moment I didn’t notice we’d neither gone over or under it.. Keith took it well and we had another fettle in Newbury before trying to head back in the right / wrong direction. Eventually we do, attached to the back of the van. Keith got a hug. It was that or tears.

Five hours after leaving and back to the beginning. Frantically disengage the Moggy, unload and load up the Subie. Inevitably we’re running on empty, double back for petrol. Midnightish and finally on the road (again). Total disbelief , we have full beams or side-lights, what else can possibly go… Ramp them down. To no avail, for 200 miles I’m upsetting everything with functional lights. “I know! If could explain you’d understand, but I can’t and I’m sorry but there’s nothing, absolutely nothing I can do”. Fog rolls in nose glued to the windscreen hearing chords on well thumbed CD’s I’ve not heard before. Given that I’m stone cold sober and the only thing I’m high on is coffee this is not good.

It’s 50mph for what feels like most of Wales, hunched over the wheel a ball of stress. Finally, gratefully turn off the M4. My insides lurch remembering what my mind thought it had forgotten. Head up the valley, unsettled. There’s a low shadowy shape in the road. Thud. I should go back, but I can’t face it. Pray it wasn’t someone’s dog, try not to sob. Lost halfway up a forest road my mobile runs out of credit (well it would wouldn’t it).

The cavalry arrive in a spray of headlights, noise and gravel. Tim’s a ray of sunshine and a hug. Despite the fact that his car is wearing a landrover shaped dent he’s happy, as is everyone else. Phew. It’s 2am, two-hundred miles have taken nine hours. Raoul produces food, wine’s poured. Then it’s seriously silly o’clock , we’re down to three. Makin pulls the ‘lets wait for the sun to get up’ card. Brain shot through with lack of sleep, travelling and gin. And it’s wonderful in it’s insanity and it’s beauty.

Some snatched sleep and eventually we head out. The fast boys long gone. And oh to be back – the trails had matured and laid themselves back into the landscape. A gawky teenager all grown up. The cafe full of people and bikes. Re-united with old friends, not quite forgotten but lost along the way. Folk are met, people randomly arrive, skin gets lost, ribs get broken. A long way from perfect but still oh so lovely. Monday clinging on by my fingernails and a long, lazy, gentle chat in the blistering sunshine (is this really Wales..). I’m not ready to go and somehow I’m in a cemetery overlooking the steelworks, hugging a stranger both of us welling up. Bitter-sweet, salt and honey.

As someone said “hugs hunny, it’s been emotional”.

If in doubt..

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Woke up to find Mr Shattered was still in town and the come down from the weekend was still whirling through my mind, alongside the usual rubbish. Too much dust crowded in too small a sliver. Fretted and fought through the day.

Told to deploy bike. Feigned exhaustion, the usual excuses but nipping out on the grounds that it was quicker than walking made it a done deal. Home to grab the necessary and as per instructions , pedaled slowly through the heat to loosen up the legs and slowly unfetter the mind*

Sub-marine green woods. Blue skies. Heavy, comfortable blanket of heat. Bonus: baby black bunny and a pair Red Kites soaring over a just nude field. Sun sitting in the river. Grass grown long enough to hold hands between hedgerows. Dragonflies. Long-horned cattle cooling their feet for Constable. Balm.

If in doubt, any doubt, simply apply bike.

*There’s a streak of poetry in that Scottish soul and just occasionally a smattering of sense

(gentle smiley deployed)