Near death experiences and poker games…

Friday morning. Weather forecast: rain, with a little snow later on in the day. I start at 8am on a Friday (so I can do the Friday leaving early thing). I’m back on the motorbike now, after the Christmas snow – which is wonderful, as I really miss it when I have to take the car. It’s so much more fun, and is considerably quicker through the Birmingham traffic.

Anyway, off I potter. It’s chilly, but by no means freezing. As I hop onto the motorway, it starts to rain lightly. There’s a lot of spray, so I take it easy – but visibility isn’t too bad. As I join the M42, my visibility suddenly worsens, my visor steams up, and I can see nothing. Literally nothing. I struggle back into lane one, hoping against hope that nothing drives over me, and more frightened than I have ever been in my life. I slow down as much as I dare – I’ve now got lorries overtaking me, and don’t dare stop on the hard shoulder. It’s too nasty. I open my visor, and stinging pellets of sleet hit me. Then it becomes full on snow.

I stop breathing, because that’s not helping, and wonder, for the first time, if this is it. I really thought I was going to die on that road. The relief when I saw the slip road peel off in front of me was phenomenal. I burst into tears at the lights at the roundabout, potter around the roundabout, and stop in the layby with the bacon butty man.

It was at this point that I got off, looked around, and realised that half an inch of snow had fallen in about ten minutes. Do I go back? On the motorway? Not on your nelly! To be honest, slippery roads and a bit of snow wouldn’t normally faze me, but after that motorway journey I was seriously shaken up. But I decided to carry on – it probably wouldn’t be that bad.

It was pretty bad. No gritting, idiots in cars right up onto my back wheel because I choose to leave a large space so I don’t have to stop. Stopping and starting is the worst, you see. Firstly, because when your foot goes down, you don’t know if it’ll stay down, or shoot off sideways landing yourself on the ground with the bike on top of you. And starting involves a lot of back wheel sliding. Incidentally, the back wheel sliding out sideways six inches can be useful, as the muppet up your backside generally clears off when it sees how tricky biking in the snow is.

I did see a couple of other motorbikes around, which made me feel better. And when I stopped at the side of the road, considering phoning a colleague and asking for a lift, a girl on a motorbike went past me! Well, that made me MTFU, anyway. And off I went again. It was not a fun journey at all, but I didn’t die, and I kept it upright. And my soundtrack through town was The War of the Worlds, which was, quite frankly, ace.

Anyway. As I said: I have never before really thought I was going to die. Strange things go through your mind. I felt really guilty at the thought that Joe was going to get the phone call I always dread when he goes out on his bike. I wondered whether it would hurt. If it would just be eternal darkness, or something else, or nothing at all. Also, it makes you feel sick, which is a little unnecessary, I think. Relief is a wonderful thing, and in true “fucking hippy” style, I’m so grateful to be here. Lucky doesn’t even begin to describe it. Everything seemed brighter and sparklier and more colourful, and it still does.

Poker games and good friends

We made a lamb tagine with dates, and they came. Our mates. To play poker. Muzz and Dawn, Andy Mac, Andy (Easy Now), and Dan. And it was good. And fun. And we laughed and drank and ate gooey cheese.

Mrs Mac sent me a gift: a home-made candle from her new business, Mrs Mac Makes. Which is absolutely gorgeous, and a lovely thing to do. Y’see, they have a dog. SamTheDog. He steals cheese and thinks he’d like to eat small children. He’s aces. But he couldn’t come, because of Noodle and Whiskey, so Mrs Mac stayed home with him, and I felt The Guilt. So the gift was lovely!

Andy Mac brought us a log. It burned until Sunday, and we relit the fire from it. An impressive log, that.

Dawn and Muzz brought us a bag and a half of cat litter. Our friends are odd. Lovely, but odd. And they won. First and second prizes in the longest game of poker in the history of Radford Semele. Ridiculous, but fun.

And we learned that cheese distorts reality around itself. Look:

Poker being distorted by cheese

It was a great night, I love my friends, and I thank them all for coming, bringing gifts, and entertaining us.

Treasure hunting

We went treasure hunting with Charlie, Pepper and Freebie on Sunday. We were moderately successful – we found a Motorway Madness cache near Sherbourne, and one at the Barford Bridge. Twas a good walk, although Joe was suffering somewhat from a rather large hangover. On return to Charlie’s abode, we had a quick look around the area, and formulated what is possibly the best plan of this year so far:

Wellesbourne Airfield next Sunday. We’re going to go for a fry up at the airfield, then walk around Wellesbourne with the dogs, munching home-made flapjack, and picking up the 20 or so caches on a five mile walk. Then back to the airfield for pints of tea. Aces!

And we had a bit of a fail on the way home. Joe and I decided to swing by Chesterton Windmill and pick up the cache hidden up there. It was sunset, so the trip wasn’t completely wasted…

Sunset at the windmill

We couldn’t find the cache. We worked out the clue, but the co-ordinates are given in a strange format, and we couldn’t find it. The additional hint helped, and we think we know where it may be, but it got incredibly cold extremely quickly, and our fingers froze, so home we came, in disgrace.

Any excuse to go up to the windmill though. It’s beautiful up there at the worst of times, let alone at sunset on a perfect, clear winter’s day.


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