A Hundred Gourds 4:1 December 2014

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Claire Everett - UK

Maybe Mabel

We’ve been buzzed by cars and found ourselves confronted by a fair number of tractors armed and ready to joust, lances primed for the next hay bale, all under the command of mere slips of boys who, without exception, go by the name Vlad. Then there are the motorhomes -- worse still the caravans, and those who tow them -- who clearly have no real conception of the sheer size of the thing that’s bringing up the rear and call to mind some plump Victorian aunt who’s just discovered the bustle. We’ve encountered flummoxed sheep and errant lambs on steep downhills where there’s barely room for error. Only last week, we scattered a little troop of goats and set them jingling. And what about that impasse (in the shape of three horned cows which I could have sworn were bulls) somewhere between here and there in the misty Yorkshire Dales?

“We’ll just have to keep going, you said. Look confident.”

I never knew it was possible to sidle on two wheels. Then, on the return journey the next day:

“You’ll not believe this. I just thought that tree stump on the hill up ahead was one of those devil cows.”

“It is one of those devil cows.”

“But there isn’t even a fence --”

“Just keep pedalling.”

We’ve ridden headlong into what seemed to be the entire membership of the Mazda Mx-5 Owners Club out on a jaunt in their colourful best. Every last man behind the wheel looked like the progeny of Bertie Wooster and sported a be-scarfed lady with a bug-eating grin.

Then there have been the cyclists. Serious cyclists. Great swarms of them. A pestilence in lycra. Heads down, thighs pumping like a bee’s stinger. They might as well be the peloton. They’re living the dream. A smile costs nothing, but it could result in a smidgen of increased wind-resistance which hasn’t been factored in.

And for all those jolly japesters who’ve hollered, “Oi, mate! She’s not pedalling at the back!”, that Gypsy lad with a twinkle in his eye, who shouted “Made for two!” before giddying-up his pony and clattering out of sight.

Yes, you’d think by now there was very little that could faze us.

of marriage, Mum said:
expect the unexpected . . .
Sunday tandem ride
a basset hound called Mabel
snapping at our heels

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