Most of Saturday was spent packing an unexpected flurry of early August sales including a gigantic Victorian oil lamp, jugs, figurines, glasses and other hostages to the fortune of Mr Parcelforce.
In the evening we went off to a party in the middle of Thetford Forest (spruced up!) which looked like this before the guests sat down and untidied it:
...also before SOMEBODY set fire to the tablecloth with a candle. We don't get asked out to parties very often.
Then at 6.30am Sunday (fresh as a daisy) I drove across Norfolk and Suffolk to get on the earliest 8 o'clock start line for the Suffolk Coast Bike Ride. I'd been persuaded to participate in this 60 mile charity ride by my fit younger brother but it turned out he discovered a few days before the start that Suffolk is slightly more than walking distance from his front door (yes!) and so decided to give the event a swerve. I was not going to let my wonderful and generous sponsors down so lightly!
The first thing I noticed was how young and fit all the other participants appeared. There were hundreds of MAMIL's (middle aged men in Lycra) attending to their impossibly thin and lightweight racing machines whilst my Raleigh Roadster with its mudguards and carrier looked a bit pedestrian. I was the only OGIMASS (Old Geezer in M&S Shorts) on the grid. We were handed a map and suddenly we were off!
There were several surprises on the day, Firstly I had forgotten what a stunningly beautiful County Suffolk is on a sunny August day. It is no exaggeration to say that I didn't see more than half a dozen cars in the first 20 miles as I peddled along the gently undulating lanes past watercolour scenes of cornfields and Farrow & Balled thatched cottages. MAMIL Peletons smelling of embrocation flashed past me on a regular basis but I didn't care - I was just enjoying one of the best cycle rides of my life. Living in the moment. Without my podcasts.
The second surprise was just how well it was organised by the splendid Bike Events people. 60 miles of faultless signage meant the printed map was superfluous and every right turn and crossing was manned. There were refreshment stops, mobile mechanics and first aid - these people know exactly how to run a bike event. Perhaps that's how they got their name?
I swept past the sign that offered a short-cut route of 30 miles without a second thought and before I knew it an hour and a half had elapsed and I'd covered 20 miles with 40 to go. I kept pedalling until Southwold and our first point of contact with the Coast. It was heaving with holiday makers.
Pressing onwards, the route zig zagged South in and out to the Coast via Walberswick, Dunwich and then through the delightful Minsmere Reserve and on to Snape. Apart from an excess of cars at the coastal resorts, Suffolk must be the most perfect cycling territory anywhere.
The last leg from Snape to the finish was a bit of a struggle as my blistering early pace had come back to cash its cheques, and I finished in just under 6 hours to celebrate with my remaining third Twix and some smoky bacon crisps. After an hour and a half driving home I emerged from the van with leg cramp and discovered I had five more shop items to pack for the Sunday evening courier. However when I found my runner beans had produced their first crop of the season I was euphoric. Perfect day!
Normal Victor Meldrew service will no doubt resume shortly.