Archive for July, 2013

16 Jul 2013

Waiting for a Delivery

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Having recently fulfilled one of my all-time ambitions and become the proud owner of a pretty, Wedgwood blue Pashley Poppy – a smaller and sweeter version of its better-known big sister, the Princess – it has quickly become my favourite round-the-village bike, receiving many and varied compliments from the friends and strangers who we meet on our rides.

My shiny, new Pashley Poppy, just out of the box

My shiny, new Pashley Poppy, just out of the box


But, although over-the-moon with its looks, practicality and performance, it lacks one accessory I consider integral to complete the Pashley look – whereas the Princess has one as standard, the Poppy does not arrive with the de rigueur front wicker basket.

But, no worries, Pashley accessories are readily available on the the internet, so I duly order one online and begin, impatiently,  counting the days until it arrives.

Well, if it’s in store on the Wednesday, then looking through my completely full glass, I reckon I might even be in luck on Thursday morning. But, damn, I’ll be out on Thursday until the middle of the afternoon; just like the thing if it arrives on the one morning I’m not at home for the next few days. But, relief, I arrive home around three to find no offending, accusatory “You Were Out” cards behind the letterbox.

Friday: it’s now a couple of days since it should have been dispatched and I’m becoming a little anxious. I wait in all morning, taking an unhealthily prurient interest in the comings and goings of the courier vans up and down the street. It’s hot and I really do need to take advantage of this unseasonal sunshine (it’s July, after all, when, in normal years, it invariably rains) to fit in a bike ride. Two hours on, trying painfully to cool down in a cold shower, I curse my stupidity at waiting in until early afternoon before riding 20 miles in 32 degrees of heat.

Over recent years, while clocking the regular deliveries of a former neighbour, who appeared to make his (fairly lucrative) living buying and selling on eBay, plus using my own experience of never being in when Parcelforce delivered my annual bundles of exam papers, I’ve become frighteningly knowledgable about the patterns of courier deliveries to our street. So, as it’s now Saturday, using the fruits of my research I calculate there’s no chance of a delivery today and head out, in even fiercer heat, for an earlyish morning ride.

Imagine my horror then, when I’m overtaken by a DPD van within a couple of miles of home! The prospect of my poor basket arriving unwelcomed to an empty house and having to be taken back to an inhospitable van – plus the excuse of forgetting my bike pump, as well as the even fiercer heat – convinces me to turn round and head for home after 15 miles.

There is one heart stopping moment when I arrive and peer nervously into the dark abyss behind the front door and see something – a card, flyer, envelope? – lying on the doormat. I approach it with trepidation before relief engulfs my fragile psyche and I crumple the brightly coloured invitation from the Christadelphian God botherers round the corner.

So, Saturday afternoon and at least I can rest easy for the next 30 hours of so, before resuming my lonely vigil on Monday morning. But Monday at 10am has been earmarked for my long-awaited tennis coaching lesson – postponed repeatedly because of marking commitments, Wimbledon viewing and re-arranged from last week in order to recover from the stress of watching the final.

Will my basket by lucky enough to be in transit with one of the couriers who text in advance to advise of their delivery window?

Will any of my neighbours be in?

Can I risk nipping out for some milk?

Will it arrive before 9.45am, or after 11.30am?

Will I ever be able to receive my basket?

Well, in the event, it was no to the first four questions and yes to number five. After rushing back from the tennis, I have time for a rejuvenating flat white, before my old friend, the Parcelforce delivery driver, knocks at the door.

“You see, I always bring you sunshine, ma’m,” he says with a smile as I sign his handheld computer thing.

Waiting in for deliveries, with its inherent frustration, disappointment, exasperation just has to be the 21st century’s ultimate form of control freakery.

The final touch

The final touch


But sometimes, it’s all worth it.

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08 Jul 2013

Barton Re-Signing Day, July 2013

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We have been lucky, weather-wise, with our Sustrans Fridays this year – even during the bitter spring, our monthly workdays avoided the worst of the wind and snow – and the last two,  in June and July, both dawned warm and sunny; perfect conditions for our planned signing of the re-route round Barton.

Pashley Pete

Pashley Pete

After having made a start in June, and now helped by the welcome addition of Mick and  Marg, we convened at the Kingfisher Cafe in Fradley, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the completion of the task.

Preliminaries over – as ever, we looked on and listened in admiration as Bob talked us through his immaculate spreadsheets detailing tasks completed and outstanding – we got down to discussing the important business of the day; finding a free evening to meet up at Jean’s for a midsummer social evening.

One of the great assets of the Lichfield Volunteer Rangers is the range of talents and expertise everyone brings to the table and, as we left the cafe, Pete was on hand to advise Jill how best to look after her new Pashley, while Marg demonstrated how to ride it with her characteristic  style and aplomb.

Marg demonstrates how to ride with style

Marg demonstrates how to ride with style

On the way to Barton we were able to take advantage of one of the benefits of the recent re-route round Alrewas, by stocking up with homemade preserves from the garden shop in Post Office Lane.

Arriving in Barton and, sustained by some refreshingly cool orange juice, Bob quickly got down to work and, putting his years of BT experience to good use, scaled Jean’s indispensable ladder to sort both old and new signs at The Green/Short Lane junction.

Moving round to Church Lane, even the luscious foliage of the churchyard was no match for Mick as he effortlessly sawed through a forest of holly branches to ensure the new signs would be fully visible from all angles.

Never mind about the post, is the sign straight?

Never mind about the post, is the sign straight?


By now it was early afternoon and, with the temperature hovering around 30 degrees, Marg organised the take-away sandwiches and we adjourned to Jill’s garden for some well-deserved recuperation and refreshments.


All hands to the task

All hands to the task

And, as the first Friday in July traditionally heralds the climax of the Wimbledon fortnight, what better way to celebrate a productive and enjoyable day, than with a cool, refreshing glass of Pimm’s?


NB: talking of Wimbledon, all those angst-ridden tea times-with-Murray, hiding behind the sofa as matches hang on a knife edge well into the evening, are now well and truly forgiven after your marvellous performance on Sunday, Andy. Well done from everyone in the group,  you are a true champion.

That empty Pimm's bottle: clear evidence of a successful day

That empty Pimm’s bottle: clear evidence of a successful day

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