We can now go out, but not ‘out out.’ Lockdown has been eased a little and I’m missing seeing the world outside those gates so much.
The Boss has finished his Lands End to John o’Groats ride on site and I’m wearing the site out walking round, spotting killer wildlife and listening to podcasts. As yet, in almost 8 weeks, the only places I’ve been are food shopping once a fortnight and the chemist. For days we toy with the idea of taking the tandem out. Each time it’s suggested, I decline, the world outside those gates scares me a little. On site, I’m safe, I feel safe.
The weather is cracking the flags, the news is full of people visiting the beach. I bite the bullet, let’s go. I’m going to be sat on the back of my bike, we don’t have a destination, we aren’t going out for a picnic or to sunbathe, it’s just an 8 mile loop on the tandem. We won’t be in close proximity to anyone, all my anxieties pushed aside, let’s ride.
Remember here, that I’ve hardly any clothes with me and I’ve lived in flip flops since January. Tatty trainers, shorts that I only wear when I’ve finished work and not going anywhere and a scruffy black t shirt is my cycling attire for today.
The gates creak open and close behind us. With the lack of padding in my shorts my seat feels hard, it’s only 8 miles, my bum can do 8 miles. We attract a bit of attention as we turn towards Broadway, I forget that it’s not often people see tandems out and about. Our helmets are at home so we turn off and head for the quieter country roads, passing no one, not even a car. It’s so peaceful, the world has carried on growing without us, it feels so calm, as if it’s waiting for us all to return. The breeze is warm and the sun warms my bones as the pedals turn. My little legs are soon back in the swing of it. We are zipping along nicely and our recent weight loss is certainly helping on the hills.
The sound of machinery and the bleating of lambs slows us down. Voices, people, real people out in the world, it really is quite emotional being out and about. Sheep shearing, a group of shearers expertly brandish the clippers as the lambs bleat excitedly wondering what on earth is going on.
My bum is starting to feel it, I ‘utch’ in my seat and adjust my grip on the handle bars. Hedgerows whiz past, a sign post announces we are entering Elmley Castle, there’s a left turning round here somewhere he says, no not that one, maybe the next one. The village is beautiful and deserted. The Main Street is topped with the old Queen’s Head pub and an 11th century church. The street is ablaze with colour, the most beautiful blooms fill the air full of fragrance. It really is wonderful how beautiful the world is, so lovely to have it all to ourselves.
We stop at a bench for a glug of water, the bench sports the biggest hole, never mind, I let The Boss rest his weary legs, whilst scanning google maps on his mobile for our exact whereabouts, muttering about missing his Garmin cycle computer.
I’m mooching in the hedgerows, it’s teeming with weeds, perfect hedgehog food, (remember we call our family tortoise a hedgehog). During lockdown on site I’ve been drying weeds out to try to tempt her with over the winter, as she, as yet is too young to hibernate. I pocket some dandelion leaves and some very impressive sow thistle. Such a shame she’s not with us, this lot would have her taste buds tingling.
Back on the bike and my bum really is starting to feel it. Apparently we are 18 miles into our 8 mile ride, only 2 miles away from being back at site. 18 miles! No wonder my bum is hurting. Then, clink, clink, my seat is wobbling beneath me and about to fall off. As we coast to a stop he suggests I stand on my pedals as the lack of saddle could make my eyes water. A few turns on the saddle bolt and we are back on our way.
As we pull up to the site gates, I struggle to dismount in order to open the gates, once again, I’m walking like my grandma. It feels good to be back but it also feels amazing to have been outside. It feels good to have seen the world. Maybe a parcel of Lycra needs posting across to us from home, John Wayne comes to mind as I make my way towards a hot shower.