The weather’s been relentless these last few days: fog, gales, and then yesterday just endless, endless rain. But this morning we woke to a strange light that indicated not only that we had overslept but that the sun was coming up into a cloudless (well, cloudless-ish) sky. For once the BBC Terror centre agreed: Scotland would be mostly sunny, breezy, and with the occasional shower. This was good because I have in the last week or so more or less exhausted the sensible variations on my route to the papershop, which meant that if I wanted to get any new mapping done today, I was going to have to take extreme measures: the suicide* papershop run. The sun was shining, the temperature was mild, what clouds there were were gathering distantly in the west, and I knew I probably wouldn’t get another chance to do it this side of March. What, I thought to myself, could possibly go wrong?
Well, several things, as it turned out. First, I could find that – having gone to the trouble of taking my camera in order to photograph the mad giant topiary bird which sits at the foot of the steepest longest hill, in case none of you believe me – once I had stopped at the foot of the steepest longest hill in order to photograph it, I had neglected to bring its memory card so I couldn’t take any photographs. And secondly, on turning up the steepest, longest hill – from a standing start, remember – I could find I’d turned straight into the head wind, and it’s all very well the BBC weather people referring that as a breeze from inside their nice sheltered weather centre, it didn’t feel that way on the bike. And finally, once I had climbed very very slowly to the top of the steepest longest hill, I could find that the clouds which had been gathering distantly in the west when I set off had switched to gathering directly overhead, in preparation to start raining on me.
But fortunately, despite all this, it was worth the ride. The rain proved to be no more than a few drops – warning shots, if you like, across my bows from the Weather Gods – and the longest steepest hill does eventually give way to my favourite road of all, a winding descent by a river valley through a beech wood that is all the sweeter for the slog it takes to get there. And it was scenic – everything washed and sparkling from the rain, the hillsides running with water, all glittering in the slanting sunlight that had made it through the gathering clouds. But you’ll just have to take my word for that part. And about the topiary bird too, at least until I can persuade myself to face the climb again.
*Originally the masochists’ papershop run, but it got renamed after the other half foolishly accompanied me on it one day last year.