Tattoos, Flying Lunches & Hugs – Week 19 : 2021

So I’m sat on a bench in Skirpenbeck, a small village just outside Stamford Bridge. I’ve been cycling in the Wolds when I stop to eat an energy bar and have a gel. As I cycle through the village toward the the bench I pass an old bloke walking his Jack Russell. He’s five foot nothing wearing a tweed sports jacket, a flat hat and has a small silver moustache. If I’d bothered to wonder how he’s spent his life it’d have been on the railways, in a factory or maybe on a farm.

Anyway he ambles up to me to comment on how chilly it is whilst his dog looks up to me awaiting a scratch on his head. He tells me that he used to ride a bike but the talent resides with his 45 year old son who was a Yorkshire champion. Impressed I ask if living out amongst the hills had helped him. “Oh no, we lived in Hull at the time, I’ve just moved here.” So engaged he regaled me with his moves and said that he’s lived for over 20 years in Turkey. Now this isn’t obvious! So I asked “if she was pretty?” “Oh no, the wife was English!” It transpires he’d made a few quid on a house sale and went travelling and obviously didn’t get past the Turkish coast. “So how did you make a living?” “I was a tattooist.” He was warming to recounting all this life story and was about to probably regale me with some derring do in Marmaris. However, in my lycra I was getting cold and had a large forecasted rain downpour to beat and made my apologies. I now wonder what else I missed in his life story.

The daughters came to York to celebrate their mother’s birthday and we went for Sunday lunch on the river. As we approached the restaurant it was cold but sunny. On sitting down we found ourselves under cover in something that British Cycling could use as a wind tunnel. In minutes the sun had gone, the nithering wind picked up and the rain started to lash down. Folk took cover literally as they worried about wearing their roast beef and trimmings and their table mats and coverings took flight. We sat tight clutching our drinks praying for our lunch to arrive shortly so we could bolt it down and return to some brick shelter. Welcome to spring.

Other adventures involve taking the Morgan to a garage down south in June to have much of the front suspension replaced. The ride is very harsh; thesaying goes that if you drive over a coin in a Morgan you can tell whether it’s heads or tails. I’m hoping this upgrade will make the car less bone jarring. When I first owned cars in the 1970s it was accepted that cars wore out and if you kept a car over 40,000 miles it was likely to be ultimately an expensive decision. Nowadays cars will happily continue over 100,000 if serviced and cared for. Sadly the design of the Morgan is such that there is a very short life for a number of components beneath the car.

Other activities include riding the iconic bike ride of Lands End to John O’Groats. This is planned and booked for the end of June until early July. Unusually I’ll be completing this with long time buddy, Peter. I’m looking forward to a cycle tour but I would want to warn you this two week ride will herald biblical rain and a downturn in temperatures. I shall write in greater detail nearer the departure date.

Lastly, I must be amongst a large number of men who are appalled at the opportunity to hug people as the pandemic recedes. I shall not be changing my arms length approach to affection. I would however like to add that I have been known to moderate this rule as regards the Favourite Youngest Daughter where we share a brisk and business-like handshake on meeting. (I kid you not.)

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