As you know we’ve recently moved to the deep South from Northumberland and we were hoping to experience some of the fabulous weather we’d heard about. Sun, warm breezes, blue skies etc but since we arrived, at the end of November last year, it has been raining non-stop. No, I tell a lie, there have been one or two weeks when it’s been snowing.
Yesterday the weather was running true to form, the forecast predicted 80% chance of rain all afternoon. Despite that info and the grey, threatening clouds my husband decided it would be a good afternoon for a bike ride, that we’d be alright and he knew a nice route to a village with a pub, about 6-7 miles round trip max.
I’m not sure why, after all these years, that I believe him but I dutifully got ready and we were on the bikes just as a gentle rain began to fall. Still it was good to be out. The villages around Crawley are beautiful and only marred by the proximity of Gatwick airport. In a 30 minute period 8 planes roared overhead like huge, menacing, mechanical birds. Despite this I was happy cycling along. The rain wasn’t bad and I was sure the 3 miles to the pub must end just around the corner. However this was not so. We’d arrived at Charlwood when my husband stopped to look at the map. He hadn’t remembered coming this way the last time he’d done the cycle ride. We looked at the map. Charlwood was off the map! We didn’t know where we were and the rain began to fall steadily. A motorist told us what route to take but warned us it was hilly. ‘No problem’ said my husband, ‘ my wife loves hills.’ Unhappily my hands were too cold to put around his neck and throttle him, so we got back on the bikes and started up Russ Hill. I don’t know how high this is, suffice to say I hadn’t expected it.
The ride continued up and down hills in torrential rain until we finally (after 16 miles!!) spotted a sign to Rusper which had been our original destination. By then we were completely soaked so decided to leave Rusper for another day and have a gin and tonic in a pub called the Gate just outside Ifield instead.
The pub was warm and welcoming, we got a seat by the fire where we sat and steamed gently in time to the Irish music provided by a small band to celebrate St Patrick’s Day – there’s always a sliver lining.