After several months apart taking cowardly refuge in the warmth of the car, Warhorse and I (that's us two in my profile photo) are back together again.
Warhorse, clad in silver after being expensively repaired - a year is a long time for anybody to stand with a bare chest - came roaring out of Foleys and we quickly reacquainted ourselves with the joy that is Stoke traffic in a blur. 'Never stop!' Our mantra, except of course when it is safer to do so.
I nod again at all the bikers, caring not a bit if they ignore a scooter, because in my heart I know I am a biker with biker's blood, an armoured jacket and the words of my CBT trainer who said it would be a 'tragedy' for me to go back to the scooter after learning to ride a geared bike when I retook my CBT. A tragedy it may be, but I whisper under by breath that Warhorse, with her powerful forward thrust, is a greater bike than the Honda 125 and why use all that energy trying to remember where the back brake went, how to engage the clutch and what gear can I possibly be in? I hardly dare write it in a public place but it is so - Warhorse and I are very happy together.
We take up no more space on the road than we need, we - did I say it before? - skip past the endless traffic jams of Stoke while keeping beady eyes out for aggressive road users. ('What do we know about cars?' Said the trainer during the CBT. 'BAD....' we baahed in unison. 'That's right', he said, and we turned to another grim video set in the hospital) Being Spring, this is the time when all the youngsters are awarded scooters as part of their Asbos and so the little tykes are causing trouble everywhere, giving the rest of us a Bad Name. But we don't mind, we sail gracefully on, doing our death looks over our shoulders and at the cars all around. We hope for another summer of warm air (though accept there will be some soaking days and we praise our thick sturdy wheels) and for not joining the ranks of 'statistically, you will probably have an accident'.
* * * *
I had thought to take a camera with me to take a typically boring photomontage of the White Llama commute, but abandoned the idea after accepting that the train was moving too fast most of the time and that people look at you funny if you start snapping away out of the windows. Presumably you are plotting something terrorist or something.
And then, what happens? A virtually empty train and we stop at a lovely view.
Swollen river babbling away below the train, badger birds* flitting in the trees, wide expanses of green field spotted with white swans relaxing in the morning sun. In the background, barely visible amongst the old trees, rustic manor houses.
* These stripy birds are my favourite and are actually called long-tailed tits, but you can't say that in England without raising a snigger or bringing more unsavoury visitors to your site than since the last time you wrote about Mischa Barton. They are distinctive for the way they constantly move, flying with a bobbing motion and chattering all the time quietly and lower than most birds. They hang out in gangs and if you can sit and watch them quite closely you can see that they are very colourful. The tedious White Llama photo montage on the right has a couple of photos of them, but, as you would expect, they fail to do them justice.