Errandonnee 6: Cops, cats and fish & chips

Date: 24th March 2017, outbound 8:00pm and return 11:30pm (both dark)

Bicycle: 1982 BSA Prima 10-speed a.k.a. ‘Major Tom’

Category: Social call

One thing learned/observed: My fiancée’s cat is becoming a little more sociable

Miles: 6.17

E17MTD: 26.85

So if it’s Friday that must mean a 65 mile drive back to Stafford followed by a 3 mile ride round to my fiancée’s house for dinner. If Errandonnee is about celebrating active transportation I should note then that this is a ride I do literally every Friday without fail.

My fiancée and I live on the extreme east and west ends of Stafford, so it’s a cross-town hop that involves crossing over the West Coast Mainline railway, a river and the town centre, before climbing a sizeable hill at the top of which she happens to live. My route has evolved a bit over the last year, And now involved cutting through Victoria Park, through Castletown and over a railway bridge to Castlefields, then back to the main road. It’s a bit of a detour but it avoids a very awkward railway bridge and road junction that used to hold me up a lot. And I get to ride through a nice park!

As I rode through the park (which is close to the train station) tonight I was aware of a bit of a commotion, with police cars about the place but nothing too Hollywood. I thought about stopping to ask what was happening, but decided I’d better leave them to it. I don’t know if it was related but apparently someone was hit by a train today, so maybe that had something to do with it. As I passed under a bridge by the river a police officer was busy talking on his radio but went out of his way to give room for me to pass, which was nice of him.

Under the terms of Errandonnee I’m required to evidence my ride, but I’ll warn you now today’s photos aren’t the best. Here’s my bike parked up at the back of my fiancée’s house:

Here, at the bottom in the murk somewhere, is Freddy the cat:

And here is Oscar the cat having his chin stroked by me:

Now I should explain, my fiancée technically only has one cat, Oscar, who’s about 4 years old. I always think he’s a bit like a prince of some big old place like Austro-Hungary, in that he has this very aloof, majestic way about him, and he’s also quite spoilt. Freddie is a cat that my fiancée has somehow ‘acquired’, and we don’t know much about him. Or her. We just don’t know! All we do know is he lives in their shed permanently now, and he gets fed by my fiancée, and he and Oscar seem to be reconciled to each other’s company. He also has one slightly malformed back leg, and quite the saddest face you’ve ever seen…

Stafford was a bit of a mess traffic-wise earlier, as the motorway’s been closed for bridge repairs further north and all the traffic’s been trying to come through Stafford. My fiancée decided against going to Sainsbury’s to buy the usual pizzas, and suggested we have fish & chips instead. I don’t like fish myself, so I had my heart set on some Spam fritters. Sadly the chip shop we drove to (billed by my fiancée as “the best in Stafford”) didn’t have them. “Frankly,” I said with a chuckle, “if a man can’t get Spam fritters from a British fish and chip shop, that means the terrorists have already won…” I had a steak & kidney pie instead, which is almost as good. It ain’t the best in Stafford though – Prospect Road chip shop, at my end of town, still holds that crown.

We had our fish & chips and watched Gogglebox, a lovely little program where you see some ordinary people’s reactions to some of the highlights of the week’s TV. It’s a nice relaxing Friday evening show, and we always watch it. Oscar was about and he’s slowly turning from a taciturn, introverted cat into a bit of a softie. His chin was very comprehensively scratched by me. My fiancée’s parents are a lovely couple, quite the nicest people one could ever hope to meet.

My ride back was pretty uneventful, down the hill with a bit of a headwind, back through the now thankfully police-free park, past the revellers out on the town and home. You know, just another run-of-the-mill Friday.


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