Town mouse on his bicycle

I’m rather pleased with my bicycle. Maroon in colour, it belongs to the classic age of British manufacture, glorying in steel frames, when the correct number of gears was three. It is a Raleigh Riviera, and I bless the shop-keeper who sold it to me, second hand, replacing an altogether less stylish conveyance that was stolen.

This summer, the Riveria and I have been bowling along the Thanet corniche, along the tops of the chalk cliffs, enjoying the seaside sights that take place on the beach without having to join in. (These days, one feels conspicuous without a tattoo.) You won’t need reminding of Turner’s observation that ‘the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe’.

We, who holiday on the extreme south-eastern toe of England, like to believe it has a microclimate. Guidebooks used to say-and perhaps still do that it gets the least rainfall in Britain. Certainly, when I was incautious enough to venture to Bristol last week, on a day when a bomb scare made it necessary to walk across town to collect a hire car, I got so drenched I had to throw away my linen jacket. On my return to Ramsgate, it was back to shorts. Clouds of dust rise from the harvesters in the fields. If only summer didn’t have to end.

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