Finding The Way

One summer, some years ago, staying with my parents in the Lake District, my then girlfriend (now wife) and I dug out a couple of old bikes rusting away in the shed and went for a long ride. I meticulously planned the route and the places we would stop and we set off. A couple of hours later, my brakes failed descending a steep hill. Having narrowly avoided disaster, I then ran over some glass and punctured both wheels. The ride being over, miles from home, I was furious, with my bike, with the road, with myself, with my girlfriend, with the universe. We got off and pushed, walking towards the nearest railway station, me chuntering and mithering the whole time, with a right ‘monk on’ as they say in those parts.

Then all of a sudden, somehow, I managed to let go, dropping like stones into a well all those feelings of disappointment and regret and thoughts of what might have been – a rare spirit of acceptance for me. We trundled along the road, my mood lightening, and pretty soon came to a turning, a forest path signposted to a nearby castle. We took the turning and found ourselves wandering through oriental gardens, through scarlet and orange Japanese maple trees, sweetly scented wild flower meadows and strutting peacocks. The path wound on through shady woods, emerging in bright warm sunlight at the coast. We walked along the shoreline, coming to a village where we sat outside a pub, ate salty chips, drank cold beer and gazed across the Irish Sea. Afterwards, the tide having receded far enough, we were able to push our bikes across the wet sand of the estuary, ending up just a couple of miles from home. It was nothing very much but it felt perfect, the pleasure so much the greater for having been unplanned. It may have been a lesson for life or it may just have been a good bike ride.

My hope for this blog is that its shape might also emerge, over the course of time, step by step, pedal by pedal, one post at a time, perhaps through wrong-turnings, dead-ends, happy accidents and unexpected surprises…

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