Monday, 3 July 2017

Norfolk/Suffolk, beaches/bikes

E and I take our bikes on the train, after work. Cycle to my parents through darkened streets, there for the weekend. 

The weather is grumbling, changeable, warm air, but scudding clouds, passages of sunshine, and no more than the threat of rain. We barbecue in the garden, two nights in a row. A herbivore's barbecue, golden corn and scarlet peppers, asparagus from the garden, and the first of the courgettes. On Saturday, plump, home grown artichokes, eaten the French way, boiled, leaves dipped in lemon juice and melted butter. 

The garden, full to bursting with roses, clematis.  A green-purple haze of lavender, artichokes, lupins in one of the vegetable patches. At the top of the garden, the raspberry and tayberry canes, dripping with red fruit. So many we can't eat them all. I layer them in mascarpone and scatter them with rose petals to make a Nigel Slater recipe from Tender II, steep them in Kilner jars with gin. 

We drive to the coast, the Suffolk coast, Walberswick, where we have been going since childhood. Families line the sea wall and estuary bridges with nets and lines of string, packets of bacon, each bucket beside them full of a seething mass of crabs, as we used to pass the time, years ago. Lunch in a pub garden, ominous skies above, local cider, and chips, salt and vinegar drenched. Finding a hollow in the dunes, settling there with books and blankets. The courageous among us braving the 'refreshing' (!) waters during a break in the clouds, jumping the waves, warming up after with a thermos of tea. Taste of salt on our skin for the rest of the afternoon. Dad, hidden behind the grasses, flying a kite. Sea holly, grey-blue-green and star like. Afterwards, a wander through the village, past the community noticeboard and tiny postbox, hollyhock filled front gardens, gooseberry and elderflower ice cream in hand, eaten from a tub with a plastic spoon.

Sunday. A 25 mile bike ride, along with hundreds of others. Bright yellow number cards, tied to handlebars. A mix of serious looking, Lycra clad participants (some cycling 50 miles, or 100), and those there for the fun of it, like us. Cycling down country lanes between bramble entwined hedgerows, crossing the odd A road. Enjoying the breeze, and even, oddly, the rare burst uphill (in a very flat East Anglia), legs burning, but feeling stronger and more capable than I had done this time last year, when I completed it on a rickety bike, before cycling to work and around London on a regular basis became the norm. The calm at the side of the field whilst one member of the group fixed a puncture, and I photographed poppies. 

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