Friday, June 22

Midsummer madness

A few weeks ago I went back to living the single life, after almost ten years with The Curse. The fact that we couldn't make our relationship work in the end is a source of great sadness to me, as he is a lovely man and we had some very good times together. He was a great support to me at times when I needed it, but ultimately our differences were too great and we didn't have a thread strong enough to hold us together in the long term. In fact I suspect we only made it this far because personal upheavals and traumas in our respective families made it impossible to contemplate going through those times alone.

It's going to be a strange adjustment for us both; so far we have been able to stay on good terms and I hope this continues. I'd like to think we can still offer each other support to get things sorted out amicably, for as long as we need it. Luckily we both have very good networks of friends too, which should help with the transition.

As for the next phase, well I'm back to the single life and happy to be reacquainting myself with its many benefits. I know that this is purely novelty and in due course I'll be coming up against its drawbacks, but I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. It's funny how these things manifest themselves - yesterday I bought a new duvet cover that is quite feminine in its colour and design; my female colleague's immediate reaction was 'oh I would never be allowed to buy that, it's too girly' and I realised that I would never have contemplated it either, but now I could do it without thinking!

However probably the first significant thing I did to mark the return to 'do-what-you-like' living was to get up at 1.40am (on a weekday!) to join the midsummer madness cycle ride to mark the summer solstice. Hence I found myself leaving Greenwich at 2am with a group of almost 30 other cyclists (including one on a Penny Farthing) and we rode to London Bridge where we met up with another 20 or so (two more on Penny Farthings!). I was surprised at how many people were around the streets of London at that time - builders working on offices in the city, young revellers waiting hopefully at bus stops, taxi drivers hanging around outside the big hotels.

The photo above shows the scene outside Bar Italia in Soho at 3am, where we stopped for coffee and to pick up more riders. Cyclists mingled with the people who were tipping out of nearby clubs a little the worse for wear. It was quite amusing as the group rode through Soho to imagine the thoughts prompted in those waking with sore heads the next morning. "Oh crap I must have really overdone it on the drink last night, I imagined I saw three Penny Farthings sailing along Oxford Street.." etc!

We rode to the top of Primrose Hill and waited for the sun to rise. The mosquitoes enjoyed our company, I have evidence to prove it, with bites having been administered through two layers of clothing!

The thrill of the sun rise was stimulating, but in the company of 50 or so other people, rather diminished in its impact.  For me the highlight of the day was the ride home - I headed off soon after the sun made its appearance at 4.43am and pottered home along the Regents Canal, which was more or less deserted.

The water was beautifully still, the only company was water birds and one or two late night/early morning cyclists and walkers. For most of the journey it was just me, my bike, and the reflections on the water. The sun was taking the edge off the chill, and the scents of overhanging honeysuckle and jasmine tantalised me as I rode by.

It seemed a very auspicious way to start the next phase of life.