Last week, I described one of my typical early morning jaunts on my bicycle as daylight creeps over the eastern horizon.
Only a week later and the darkness seems to cling on still further into the day, but for all of that the feeling of the onset of autumn has been held in check by the persistent warm, dry conditions that characterised much of September 2014.
It comes as a surprise to many that we shut the gates down at Reedley at the end of September until Christmas tree time, my visits limited to site maintenance, security and a little potting. In reality October and November, beyond sweeping leaves, are quiet months in the garden and as things get cold and dark people’s attention shifts to thoughts of Bonfire Night, half-term and Christmas. It will feel much less surprising when the first cold blast of autumn strikes and we finally say goodbye to summer.
The key therefore, is to get out-and-about as wind, rain and frost dictate and make the best of temperate days as and when they occur. Last Monday and Tuesday were such days.
On the Monday, my elder daughter was up from London so we popped up to Silverdale and Arnside for a walk and a lunch. It was actually very hot, and the shade from the trees in Eaves Wood and below Arnside Knott was a blessing. Sitting outside the pub in Arnside under clear blue skies, enjoying a pub lunch as the tide rushed in, you would be forgiven for thinking it was mid-summer. Mind you it felt like the winter of my discontent as my daughter, now a young London professional, picked all the most expensive items off the menu. After all it seems “Dad pays!”
Tuesday had rain forecast ‘later in the west’, but we might just hang on to dry weather if we headed east(ish). I spent the day driving around much of the route of the Tour de France, including the traverse of Buttertubs Pass. Now some of those hill climbs are killers, but my own dad, who had come along for the ride, explained that he had got over such hills easily in his youth with relative ease and with none of this light weight gear modern cyclists have at their disposal.....mind you he omitted to mention his bike had an engine!
Nevertheless, we had a happy time criticising technique of the numerous cyclists we passed labouring up those harsh inclines, with their carbon fibre frames and super low gearing and hi-energy nutrition drinks. All very easy when viewed from the comfort of a big-engined car.
Mind you it took its toll. We felt a strong need to retreat to the shelter of the little pub in Muker for a vital calorie intake and hydration session.
As my dad tucked into stew and dumplings with a spare bucket of chips for good measure while I feasted on a lettuce leaf, the barman handed me the bill. Old and peculiar dad may be, but he isn’t daft. Guess who paid?