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A Pleasant Valley Sunday

OK maybe not as pleasant as the one the Monkees sang about.  It’s grey, damp and raining – rubbish weather really but when you stand at our back bedroom window and look out over the valley you realise the weather is only part of what’s going on .  Farleigh Woods above the valley are now almost leafless,while in the village below there are a huge array of gold, copper and yellow trees.  When the sun is out it looks  quite spectacular (as above), but there’s no sun today and when I see the smoke from the chimneys of the quarrymens’ cottages which line the hillside road up to Monkton Farleigh village, I think of closing the curtains against this awful grey day, the cozy comfort of a  log fire and toasting crumpets for tea.  Ah well, enough of the romantic view of village life!  It is lovely though and even in this, the 21st century,  there is still an essence of the way things were when I grew up as a child in rural Wiltshire.

Now this week – well as far as my latest book is concerned I’m looking at 12,000 words completed on the current work in progress.  And I’m ahead of schedule, given the time I set aside for writing.  This was because on Tuesday I had a particularly good day when everything just flowed onto the screen.  They are rare days so have to make the most of them when they come round!

Main complaint of the week – cyclists on the pavement in town behaving like Bradley Wiggins – am just waiting to be knocked down by one!  What I don’t understand is that they use pavements because they’re concerned about being knocked down by cars then they behave like two-wheeled hooligans.  Seems the poor old pedestrian is very much at the bottom of the food chain here!

And what would life be without a moan about the buses?  Where I wait to catch my connection home we’re inundated with Uni buses.  If you’re a student they arrive probably at 2 minute intervals.  Three companies serve the 2 unis.  Student travel if they buy a season ticket can cost less than £1 a day.  It’s a fabulous service. Ordinary passengers at my stop, however, have the luxury of a bus every 20 minutes.  The uni buses, which includes bendy buses, take up 2/3rds of the stretch of pavement allocated for bus stops.  When I catch the bus home, three normal services have to pick up from one stop because there is no room – crazy and totally wrong but there you are that’s First Bus for you – a totally rubbish company!  Two of the three services are run by a rival company and something tells me that this situation has been created deliberately to make life difficult for them.  But instead what happens is if they can’t get in to the bay to pick up they simply stop in the road and hold all the traffic up – so all First end up doing is creating huge traffic jams and bad tempered motorists!

Friday at work went well but on leaving it was downhill all the way.  My bus from the hospital was 15 minutes late (First again) then when I got to the bus station I realised I had to pick up a repeat prescription from Boots.  The pharmacist checked but couldn’t find anything for me.  By the time he’d phoned the surgery and established they had sent it to Boots in the village instead of Southgate, I’d missed my connection home.  So I waited twenty minutes, got on the 6.40 and tried to relax.  It was Friday night after all, a glass of wine beckoned.  I was starting to chill, I could cope with anything, after all I was within fifteen minutes of home.  What else could happen?   We picked up in the High Street as usual and were just through the bus gate (something which earns the council a lot of money in fines from unsuspecting motorists who don’t realise it’s buses only in the left hand lane once they’ve passed the High Street) when this enormous woman in grey jog bottoms and a coat the size of an aircraft hangar stepped out into the road and stopped the bus.  With her was a small thin boy.  The driver stopped reluctantly and as he took her fare tried to explain to her where she should really have been standing.  The woman was not happy with this a bit of an argument started.  While this was going on the small boy (around 8) came up the bus and sat next to me.  Once his mother had finished telling bus driver what was what she too came up the bus and despite the fact there were other seats (including one opposite me) she decided (with a bum the size of a small country) to squash into our seat.  She literally perched herself on the edge of the seat, feet in the aisle and pushed.  This poor child beside me protested loudly, telling her that there wasn’t enough room but she argued with him (she seemed very good at that) and persisted until she had very effectively got a ledge for her enormous bum to sit on.  I can’t say I was comfortable but I didn’t want to argue either after having seen her in action with the driver.  I feared she would rear up and suffocate both the boy and me if I kicked up so sat quietly, the boy’s head almost in my lap as the bus continued its journey.  Thankfully she only rode two stops before getting up and like a ship in full sail making her way down to the front of the bus.  Her son sort of unfolded himself like a flatpack cardboard box  in a way which told me this just might be something that regularly happens to him.  ‘Sorry’ he mumbled a quick apology and then ran down the bus to join her.  Eventually I reached home, the walk from bus to front door calmed me and once that Friday night glass of wine was in my hand I was in a totally ‘who cares anyway’ mood.