Finding Etta!

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The strange thing about cycling is that it’s impossible to feel any form of depression whilst your thighs are burning, your lungs are screaming, cars and of course other proper cyclists are zipping past, as you force 20lbs of metal and rubber up a hill. Your mind is rather, occupied, shall we say.

Equally, tootling gently around the sunny London somewhat quieter streets and the pretty parks with the breeze in your face and the warmth on your back, seeing the world close up, a feeling of complete unadulterated happiness, of living in the moment totally encapsulates you.

My first trip out was to the sorting office to pick up a couple of parcels. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. According to google maps, a mere 6 minute cycle ride.

I returned home 38 minutes later, and no, there had not been a queue at the sorting office.

I saw two gorgeous old Renault 4’s (along with the Citroen 2CV my favourite ‘pottering along a French country lane’ cars) a beautiful steel grey and white whippet which I knew would have delighted the Colonel, I met a very grumpy old woman whom I had thought I was helping across the road (clearly not) and I discovered that it’s quite hilly in southwest London. I found that I’m good at indicating left, but not right (a rather wobbly affair ensued) and the problem with having a bicycle is that there are no hazard lights, so when all else fails or you’re going to do something highly illegal, you can’t just push the button and everyone knows to avoid you. Simply stopping in the middle of the road on a bike could have serious consequences for the shiny new bike and the considerably older and not so shiny me. I did it once on a mini roundabout (it was going awfully well, but then I had to do the indicating right thing, wobbled rather a lot, so stopped in the centre of the mound of the roundabout). Probably best not to repeat that one. Of course the one advantage that I have, is that when I go on my big adventure in France in August, the mini roundabouts there you go anti-clockwise so I’ll be indicating left, so no wobbling! Hurray … a doddle! (It is anti-clockwise in France isn’t it? Hang on, which way will I be indicating? …. ) And frankly, drive too close to this cyclist at your peril … and possibly mine.

I love looking at the houses, the gardens, the people, the dogs, seeing, really seeing everything. Noticing the detail. The glorious feeling of freedom.

Do you remember the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid film and the beautifully shot, idyllic scene on the bicycle with Paul Newman as Butch, and Katharine Ross as Etta, with the music of Raindrops are Falling on my Head? Well, when I’m cycling that’s how I feel. I am Etta! (Albeit not there in the looks department and I don’t have Paul Newman sitting behind me but you get idea). It’s a time of complete happiness and of being at peace with the world.

So I shall venture out again today and find my inner Etta, that simple purity of enjoying a moment in time, for loving something for what it is, happiness and peace …. unless of course there’s a roundabout to navigate.

Katie xx

What gives you that feeling? Anything else worth trying? All suggestions very welcome (apart from anything smutty or involving a vat of chocolate, or a combination of the two). X

23 thoughts on “Finding Etta!”

  1. You make me miss cycling in London. It is way more relaxing than cycling in Kent. Give me a lovely dedicated cycle path and traffic lights and a speed limit any day. If you get into this cycling thing, I would really recommend the London-to-Brighton ride.

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  2. I just love to read your blogs. I can just picture what you are saying in my mind. How I wish I could ride a bike. I am out of shape, I have a broken toe and now a broken wrist. What gives me that feeling of joy? I have just written about that very thing in a blog titled 101 Things That Make Me Happy. Check it out on willowbentleysmama.wordpress.com

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  3. You’ve reminded me how much I love cycling. I haven’t even owned a bicycle for a decade now, and clearly need to remedy that.
    Awhile back in grade school, I made a list of things that gave me that happy, lifting feeling you described. I’ll have to look it up if I can. I believe it included running in gently falling snow and creating something beautiful for another person.

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    1. Aww that’s lovely … you see you have a far nicer character than I do! Creating something beautiful for someone is gorgeous … how kind you are. Every day I’ve been going out cycling and I’m getting more confident each time and what I hadn’t realised is that in London parking is a nightmare so it’s far, far quicker to take the bike. There are masses of places to tie it up against too so that it’s safe. I like the idea of running in snow … ❤️

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  4. I imagine Betty, sulking and fuming in the shed, despises Etta with all her black, twisted heart. The ‘French Foray, as it shall be known henceforth, sounds like ‘the book idea’ I have mentioned to you before. Given your cycling prowess it may have to be published posthumously but ,hey, what a way to go.

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    1. Ha!! I shall doing a Gloria Gaynor impersonation and singing ‘I Will Survive” even when I am lost with a puncture and have most likely fallen off …. I shall promise to try not to cry and be a great girl’s blouse and I also promise to bore you rigid with tales of croissants and the wind in my hair, so much so that you will either give up marathon running and take up cycling, or ‘unfollow’ me … I do hope it’s not the latter …

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    1. You want me to share my croissants?? Hmmm …. Perhaps, providing you took over bicycle repairs, map reading and were in charge of all right-hand indicating. Actually, for the indicating I’d even share a pain au chocolat.

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    1. Indeed. You may have a point! I’m having another practice session tomorrow and will work on right hand turns and indicating … maybe I should just go round and round Hyde Park Corner (?) or the magic roundabout in Swindon (it’s six mini roundabouts in one … I took my driving test on that) or maybe I could find a quiet little cul-de-sac and go round and round in circles. Hmmm, stabilisers might need to be my Plan B …

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  5. Bicycling (as I prefer to refer to it because cycling sounds too Lycra and serious for me) is one of my favourite things to do. I have bicycled in several cities including London, Paris, Rome and Berlin. That I lived to tell the tale was a matter of luck, not judgement 😂 PS …. the 2CV is on our list for the future along with the Maigret car and the tiny lorry van all made by Citroen and all lusted after far too frequently by me! X

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  6. Bike riding in France is high on my happy list. I forget the stresses of life when I head off on 2 wheels. And I forget to signal. But then the French drivers don’t either!

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  7. Loved that film and that classic bike scene. Two guys and a bike and a wild life…heaven. mind you mine makes up for two and I do have a bike and the wild countryside to hide away in..so I have my dream life.

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