It really feels like summer has arrived. Rather than cycle home straight from work, I took a detour, out on one of Gloucester’s many cycle routes. It reminded me how much of a “country” city really is. Gloucester has so many parks and green spaces, not to mention the majestic Robinswood Hill which is completely within the city limits. It was brilliant to discover what felt like secretive cycle ways and green spaces that seem little used. As I cycled from Tuffley to Robinswood, I kept discovering new cycle routes which I never knew existed and all perfectly safe. I emerged on the Stroud Road near to the Waldorf Steiner school and Pound Farm nursery. My curiosity led me down a lane, passed the school and then on to a gorgeous little church called Saint Margarets (pictured). Unfortunately, the church was closed but the grounds were beautiful and very serene. It felt like a little Oasis on the city’s outskirts. The graveyard was very peaceful, a couple of lovely benches to tempt the tired walker, cyclist or visitor. Some tremendous views onto the slopes of the Cotswold Hills to the south and south east and then to the Forest of Dean and May Hill to the west. As I reflected on these views, it reminded me I am neither a city lad, nor a country lad but a mix of both. Where city and country meet, you find the best of two worlds. All in my backyard.
Twas the summer of ’92 and a near perfect pitch in coastal Normandy. The September rain had all but subsided and it was time to get on bikes. When it wasn’t, it was time to brave the shower block and the laundry, leaving the shivery confines of the tent. It was a bright breezy kind of sunshiny day when I met our Claudette. She possessed legs that travelled, but then I guess I could move some if I had eight. I could certainly improve upon my 100 metres Personal Best. The Seventeen-legged race would prove most interesting. No doubt, it would end up in a crumpled heap somewhere short of the finishing tapes.
Claudette was no Supermodel, despite her long slender limbs. She was, however, a snappy dresser, donning a purple beret to beat off the purple rain. She was also embraced in garlic to keep away aracnophobic teen spirits one might suspect. The obligatory two-wheeler was, however, conspicuous by its absence, as were the pearly fumes from those foul cigarettes that only the French and Spanish know how to manufacture. Like me, she abhorred French tobacco.
Her chilling presence was nevertheless threatening and besides, I wanted the sink she was defiantly basking in. At this point, every sinew of muscle in my body froze compliantly, as did every hair on my body, which was by now, keenly standing to attention. From this uneasy disposition, I pondered the best form of attack. Predictably, I chose the tried and failed approach of conquering phobias. Namely, the sledge hammer to a nut technique. In the absence of a double-barrelled shotgun, there was, as luck would have it, a rather large potted plant located conveniently in close proximity.
I grabbed it hastily and raise it about three feet above the hapless Claudette, who was by this time, failing to charm me with her Gallic sex appeal. Did she flinch or wince? No. Not an inch. The stubborn French arachnid held its ground with typical Norman arrogance. It reminded me of those fearless ravens who for some inexplicable reason hug the nearside of motorways just for the sheer hell of it. I am always intrigued by such behavioural patterns in the bird kingdom. As I pondered this phenomenon, I released the giant potted plant. There followed one of the longest pauses in memory. I stood anxiously, half expecting the cursed creature to limp out on all eights. In my reluctance to play the waiting game, I sheepishly removed the plant pot. To my horreur, the infernal insect sluggishly made haste in an inordinate sideways direction. She appeared to sound out a few French expletives and retorted with a Gallic shrug of the shoulders. Still suffering from a mild state of shock, I made for the exit, deciding to postpone the laundry for another day.
Shocks were definitely the order of that particular day. On my return to the tent, I caught sight of three scrawny wild cats making off with my ham. That’s jambon in French but merely FOOD to Les Trois Chats! Too this day, these cats remain unnamed and I shall not what I called them as they scrammed from my pitch. Suffice to say, it wasn’t French, and it wasn’t polite. Vive La France!
Written May, 1996.
This is the start of my adventure into the blogosphere. In my enthusiasm to find an original site and username, not to mention an attractive skin, I now feel too weary to write anything of note. So here is daring to be different. Let the journey begin.