Saturday, 1 November 2003


I write this on the first day of really miserable weather – cold, grey and drizzly – that I can remember for months and months.  How long will it take, I wonder, to get back into the habit of complaining that our weather is always awful?
Through the summer I have taken advantage of the opportunity to play tennis over at the Barnsley Tennis Club over at Wilthorpe.  As Brits we complain about our tennis players almost as much as we do about the climate, but tennis is a great game to play (and not as humbling as golf).
On a par with the tennis is the cycle ride home.  It’s a stiff climb up to the hospital and a bit of a slog around Pogmoor Road and then up Broadway.  But as soon as you move from Keresforth Hall Road to Genn Lane it’s like a dream.  Apart from being pleasantly downhill nearly all the way, the views to the south and west are magnificent especially when the sun is just setting away over the Pennines.  You can briefly pick out the wind turbines that are above Ingbirchworth and the now nationally famous Wentworth Castle sits proudly above the misty valley which is striped with long dusky shadows.
On such a late summer evening as you race along on a bike you can feel the heat radiating out from the wall and the black tarmac of the road – heat that has been stored up throughout the long sunny day.  But then you pass Ouslethwaite and descending more steeply you approach the sharp bend at the bottom of Cromwell Mount.  Here the wall seems to step back slightly and a broad depression runs from somewhere near Highstone Farm all the way down to the reservoir.  The effect is a distinct drop in the temperature of the air, together with a chilled cabbagey smell from whatever was grown in the field above the road.  The sudden transition is a wonderful sensation and one I think you only get when riding a bike at evening.  Though it does remind me of when I used to get home from school in Cambridge and stopping only to put on shorts and pick up a towel, run over the river footbridge and along to the outdoor pool on Jesus’ Green – diving into the cold water without a second thought.
What would life be without contrast?  We may not welcome all the changes that come our way.  Often we would prefer to stay with the long stored up cosiness of familiarity.  But life is movement and change – to resist change is to be its victim but to be immersed in it and attempt to shape the future is to live with hope.

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