Today has just about been the first time that I can bear to touch a keyboard after what has been widely known as the 'London Heatwave'. Don't even begin to compare our overheated strife to that of others - as far as us British are concerned we're the first to ever experience heat like it, and as such deserve your whole-hearted sympathy. I have spent the last few days stretched out on the floor like a starfish with an ice pack balanced on my stomach and a straw permanently dangling from chilled water. In short, I am not made for the 36 degrees heat we had yesterday.
Luckily, I live extremely close to my place of work. so I don't have to package myself into cramped commuter trains twice a day. If you do, I truly, truly feel your pain. I did it for one winter and the heat of puffer-coat clad business people was too much even then.
No - today, as I sit here typing without the fear of leaving half my skin behind on my leather computer chair, I am writing an ode. Nay, a love letter. A declaration of endearment. About my bike.
I'm not even sure I can rightly call it mine. I feel more a steward, to be honest. One day in May I took the train back to London with the sole mission to bring back this beauty in all her glory. She's an oldie, my bike - a gift to my Nanny back in the 70's and used less and less as her little legs became even littler. I love every bit of it. The wicker basket, even though we're on generation 3 or 4 now from pesky woodworm, the scoop frame perfect for cycling in long skirts, the almost obnoxiously loud bell, the gentle clicking noise she makes when I freewheel downhill, the scuffed, leather seat turned a deep, chocolate brown from carrying many bums on many journies, the rack that perfectly holds a picnic basket, the way the frame forces you into a 'sit-up-and-beg' position.
This bike has a history.
I'm not the best, or most confident cyclist and I won't win any trophies for grace. I wobble when I set off and wait an embarrassing amount of time for a break in traffic because I can picture me wibbling straight into the side of a car. I'm also not 100% trusting of this lovely bicycle. As I said, she's an old lady, and just like a Grandma's knees forget to work, her brakes sometimes forget to work as well. I have a distinct, if somewhat repressed memory of carting a large basket full of clean plastic camping crockery back from the toilet block aged 12, only to lose control and end up being chucked off into a hawthorn bush, which is particularly challenging to get out of when this bike weighs a ton and is stuck on top of you.
So concerned were my parents when I brought her down to London that they ransacked Halfords of bike reflectors and as such, made me the most uncool cyclist on the road. I felt like a paranoid parent bringing her back on the train, knowing she was double locked in the end carriage I was still eying everyone suspiciously as they got on and off, convinced each and every one was a potential bike thief.
Saying that, despite crying from the wind, hair all over the place whilst desperately trying to pull my skirt down with one hand, there's nothing that makes me happier in the morning than speeding to work on my bicycle - I wouldn't change it for the world!
She's bulky and heavy and wibbly but she has a legacy and I'm doing my best to continue it. She's pedalled three generations of my family around so this bow-legged girl who pants up the hill will do her best to keep her spirit alive!
I'm sure you'll see 'Lady' (she has a name!) carting me all over the place this summer as I try to get out on her as much as possible.
How have you seen in summer? I feel it has well and truly kicked in now!