My guilty sabbatical from cycling …

This was drafted in April – but such is the giddy whirl of wheels on tarmac that has become my life … I didn’t get round to posting it!  Bear with me as there are a couple more posts in the pipeline to get us all up to date!

(Sunday April 22 – written on an Easyjet Flight from Bristol to Amsterdam )The last couple of weeks have been a frenzy of flying, friends, family and fun … But not as much cycling as I should have done to stay on course for riding fom London to Paris.

My first deviation from my training plan was my niece #3, Lizzie’s hen ‘do’ – a lovely weekend, organised by niece #2, Zannie who laid on a floral styling delivered by Ella from Byrd & Spry, a stunning spring yomp, a wine-washed lunch at the wonderful Horse Guards Inn in Tillington, a Hunk in Trunks and an evening with The King himself … It’s funny how things turn out, the H-i-T was actually an immigration officer trying to earn a bit extra, so – instead of playing ‘hide the sausage’, he refilled our glasses, tossed us the odd crudité and shone a light on current affairs in the immigration service for us.  Not what you’d expect from a hen ‘do’, but as the hen is far from ordinary, it seemed right somehow!

Lizzie's Hen - Floral Workshop
Ella showing us how its done!
Lizzie's hen
The bride and a little gesture in her hair
Lizzie's hen
Hunk in Trunks being a bit crudite
Lizzie's hen
The King and big sister, Zan
Lizzie's hen
Long live the Kings …

Sadly, the following week began with the funeral of the fantastic Colonel Hodge – father of my oldest (or most enduring) friend and an old-school Gentleman of the first order. Colonel Hodge – or George as he insisted I call him but simply couldn’t bring myself

Dad & Col H
L to R: My wonderful Pa; ‘Farrar the Para’; Col Hodge

to, after all, I’d known him since I was 9 and it seemed wrong to call him George (remember, I said he was old school) – was 91.  When you have spent that many years being warm, kind, considerate and charming, it comes as no surprise that the church was bursting with friends and family from around the world, the army and importantly, his many friends from the village.

Back to work for some long, hard days until the next excitement which was a weekend in Marrakech with a fabulous group of 12 women – friendships for life, forged in The Netherlands, where we met.  Top Bird, Megan, known as Mum, is a collector of people and the glue of our group – she moved back to England a couple of years ago and among her new friends, she gathered the fabulous Villa Warda-owning, Tony the Tiger, who generously invited our gang to stay in his Moroccan Haven.

IMG_4727 IMG_4764 Mingers (1)

‘Mum’ with medicine
Birthday girls!
Mingers in Morocco
Jay – post Hammam

This was therapy of the first order – none of us has ever entertained the notion of a laughter clinic, but that’s what we signed up to.  This Band of Birds has seen some action – amongst our number we are survivors of divorce, bereavement, tricky – but deeply loved – teens, redundancy, illness and the uncertainty of a transient expat life. None of these things defines us as individuals but they draw us together as a group – a supportive, caring, rosé-soaked maven of wise and witty friends – always there for one another. We laughed long, hard and late into the night …

The fun didn’t stop in North Africa!

We scooped up Son #1, from school in the UK, fed him with food equivalent to a 40 litre Gro-bag and sent him off to Toulouse to represent The Netherlands under 18’s at the European Rugby Championships – with old team-mates and friends, Methane and Rozza.  Watched by his father in France, and a remote family following on Twitter and Facebook – I was a beaming mass of pride and joy at this amazing experience and honour!
NL u18s (7)

NL u18s (4)

So, despite a be-wheeled foray into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains with Clare B (an exponent of The Cape Argos marathon cycle – max respect for that!) it is fair to say that I have been a little pedal-shy lately.

All this shirking is making me itch – it’s time to saddle up and plan a long route along the NL coast with its hillocks and wind – I’ll let you know how it goes!

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