Tuesday 23rd February light to fresh N Sunny 6C
I go down to breakfast and notice that the other punters are looking at me in a funny way. On returning replete to my room I find out why. Last night I cut my hair with my newly purchased hair clippers and before breakfast had noticed a bit I missed. With the cord from the clippers too short to reach the mirror I had cut the missed bit and had forgotten to put the number 3 comb on. My head has a fully shaved trench amongst a number 3 haircut! I shave my head!
What's this? I am actually enjoying the cycling through the north west suburbs of London. The roads aren't too busy, the tarmac isn't too bad and the way is attractive.
Turning towards Elstree, the road becomes a little too steep for me to cycle up and so a long restful walk begins. I start to notice that the ditch alongside is full of rubbish, plastic mostly; bottles, bags and even lots of plastic red pipes. Drink cans, dozens of them and fast food polystyrene boxes, does it matter? The ditch is being clogged by this mass and the rubbish is getting covered by sludge. Where does it all come from?
After passing the famous film studios I find out as a small side road leading to a large bridge designed for horse traffic over the A1, has pile after pile of fly-tipped waste.
Despite disappointing road side verges, the views on this splendid sunny day are lovely and three red kites fly over. There is even the occasional nuthatch calling.
I stop just north of Potter's Bar as a red traffic light instructs me to do so. A white van stops next to me and the passenger window comes down. Without a word I am passed a large, heavy and cuddly Bagpuss! The lads in the van have seen the lads on my bike and thought that it would be a laugh to add to the collection. It is! I can't stop laughing as they drive off. Bagpuss goes next to Wally the whale, Scaggy the rabbit and Tigger.
Into Hertfordshire, I stop to text a very special friend, Diane. I know she lives somewhere around here but I haven't seen her for over ten years.
Still cycling north, I go into a community shop in a small village. I am shocked when I am told that the only way the shop can be open is if it is run by volunteers and if donations are given as to its upkeep. There are even locally knitted jelly babies on sale. It seems like a food bank for the rich in this affluent commuter belt. It is charming and the volunteers friendly. It even has a couple of tables for coffee and cake.
Carrying on with my juice bottle replenished, my phone rings and there is a voice I know so well accompanied by the laugh. Diane!
An hour or so later and we are sitting in the community shop, laughing and enjoying a coffee as Diane tells me all about the trials of her miracle daughter, Katie. As in the past with Di I don't get a word in edgeways but is is wonderful to see her. In life one is lucky if one has five friends who are close enough to be thought of as true friends; ones who are so close and very deeply connected. Di is one of those and the long years of absence melt away as she natters on.
Half an hour flies by and Diane needs to get home. I need to carry on towards Cambridge. A hug and goodbye, no words of 'keep in touch,' we may. Time will tell.
Other people sitting at the other table stop me as Diane leaves and quiz me over the bike, the Lads and the collection boxes. Elke is German originally from Hamburg, is sitting with Stephanie and is sitting with a gentleman who's name I don't catch. The latter couple have trekked in Peru and tell me of their adventures. Elke talks about Germany and her life in Canada. They all give donations to the charities I am supporting.
From here the cycling along the beautiful quiet country lanes as the sun begins to sink is relaxing as memories from the past fill my thoughts. A car upside down in a peat bog, carrying a dozen ripped down roadside Rolling Stones posters into a Putney flat at 2:00am, sunrise on Beachy head, Pyrenean streams and police car pull over and always the laughter; all are memories of a time when my best friend was Diane and we travelled together. A very long time ago yet in my mind the memories are as fresh as if yesterday.
So the year list is still 169, eighteen ahead of this time last year.
52.25 Miles 2199 elevation up 2007 elevation down