Tier 2 (Day 23): Upper Stoke

My cycling friend asked if I wanted to accompany him on a round of Christmas card deliveries to the various places somewhere in the middle of nowhere, i.e. Norfolk.

We set off just after 09:30h in a period of blinding bright sunlight. The heavy rain of yesterday and the early morning was streaming down all available slopes. There was plenty of stone, grit, mud and debris strewn across the roadways showing that we had missed the worst of the flash flooding, but there was still plenty of muddy runoff to pick our way through.

Luckily we were heading uphill for the first part of the delivery round. Our first stop was in a remote village bounded by woodland. Ditches were full, grass verges saturated. I noticed a sign pointing to a village called Seething three miles hence. The name is something to do with chaff and the business of threshing, but in the bi-polar world of UK politics there are other connotations.

Threatened by a vast storm cloud, we head south aiming to circumnavigate its path. At Upper Stoke we stop at the mobile café where its cheery proprietor has positioned the three wheeled, Italian vehicle to shelter her from the prevailing wind. Apparently business is going well and she is gaining repeat business from dog walkers and other regular visitors to the walks the local farmer has opened up to the public. At the side of an adjacent field teasels have been planted and left to go to seed as a food crop for the birds. Goldfinches, the most prolific of small birds, will love the teasel seeds. Greenfinches too I hope, not that I have seen any since Salthouse in the first lockdown.

Fortified by hot tea we two cyclists drop down the hill, past the fallen giant oak tree and weave along the heavily flooded road back towards the city, whose civic buildings are gleaming in a patch of harsh sunlight up on the hill.

The playing field at Troswe still has goal nets hung from the posts. There is no sign of the pitch. A teenager is trying to persuade a small child to get into a rubber dinghy so they can paddle around. You can sense the excitement of the children as they play clamber on the climbing equipment in the submerged play area. Are they pretending to be pirates, or just going sailing?

It us really painful reviving my cold fingers when I get back. I could not feel my keys in my jacket pocket, even when I could see them. To touch them hurt. I dropped them a couple of times in trying to open the door. Thankfully my winter cycling boots kept my feet warm. My sense of well-being lasts right through the day and evening until lights out. I have actually done naff all, but feel like I have done something worthwhile – an accomplished piece of self-deception.

Later in the day The Great Clown spouts more rubbish about his deal with the EU which is pointed out by the BBC is the first major trade deal in history that has ended up on worse terms for the protagonists than when they started. Well done to the spivs and snake-oil salesmen and women.

But hey! It’s Christmas Eve, so let’s put all that aside and get on with living.

Peace & Love