It's been a slightly hectic, but, fun couple of weeks. As well as job-hunting and pondering car ownership, I've also acquired a little gizmo (technical term) that I can plug into my tablet to read SD cards. So now, after relying on ghastly phone camera shots since my computer went cactus, I can finally resort back to ghastly DSLR shots. Which is my way of warning you that I may have been a little snap happy this post. Err, is it possible to show too many tulips?
I leapt out of bed before sunrise, well, OK, staggered out, grumbling (leapt just made me sound more energetic). I threw an affronted beagle out into the backyard before the first rays of sun hit the top of the fence and, noticing the the look of outrage, tossed a liver brownie out after her. My approach to disharmony in the home has always been, 'feed it until it smiles' which has proved incredibly successful with a beagle, but, may explain why I'm single again (only simple-minded gluttons need apply).
Glancing at 'Wind in the Willows' the day before, when I should have been dusting the bookcase, Mole's wanderlust proved infectious. I wanted some SPRING! I had a vague recollection that years ago I had been to Araleun in September and there had been tulips. I knew it was only 10-15km from Kelmscott Station and the only other thing I remembered about the trip was that it was 'UP'. I can now clarify that it is 'UP' and windy!! That hour of the morning in Spring, the Easterlies roar down through the hills across the coastal plain. I hunkered at a local truck stop for a hot coffee as my goosebumps had goosebumps. (Note to self - just because it's Spring do not automatically assume that at 6.30am it is going to be warm enough for a short-sleeved T shirt). After a brief chat with a truckie, who had laughed aloud when he heard I was cycling East into the hills, I watched with just a little satisfaction as his truck door blew shut making him drop his sausage roll. When I'm facing hills and wind and I'm freezing I can be a little spiteful.
After a less than auspicious start the day improved beyond recognition. The sun shone with a friendly warmth that only post-Winter cyclists (in T shirts) can truly appreciate, the wind dropped and the scenic advantages of 'UP' became quickly apparent. I arrived before the gardens were actually open, but, a lovely lady told me to pay on my way out and let me park my bicycle in a locked shed. Araleun is like a high class, mature courtesan. Wonderful bone structure, with just enough age and decay to promise hidden wonders. It's not manicured within an inch of it's life and even in my middle-age, I couldn't escape a childish need to explore it's wilder paths. But, the real delights were the tulips. Overflowing their beds, tucked in out-of-the-way terraces, spilling around patios; tulips were everywhere.
Just as the perambulators and zimmerframes began to clog the entrance to the gardens, I sauntered off to collect the Surly having had the place to myself for several hours. I was toasty warm, satiated with colour, snoozy with sun and filled up to my tippy toes with the joy of baby ducklings and flower buds. As I whizzed back down through the hills towards the train station, I realized, it's official, Spring has finally sprung!