Cabin Fever

Darkest Belgium I-1It sounds a little odd, I suppose, to tell someone that you woke up at four o’clock in the morning, crawled out of bed and trundled downstairs to the sounds of wind and rain outside, look out the windows into the cold and dark and feel a sense of wistfulness and regret that both you and your bicycle are still out of commission and therefore can’t go for a ride. But that’s what it was like this morning. It has been a week now since I went for my little sprawl on the pavement and cabin fever has well and truly set in.

When I came downstairs, opened the side door to the kitchen and stood listening to the sizzling sounds of the rain on the concrete I found myself thinking of the pleasures of a long bike ride in the rain; that wonderful self-contained feeling of being cocooned in your waterproofs and spinning along under your own steam, a host in yourself.  I would love to have gone out this morning, but since I couldn’t I did the next best thing – I put the kettle on, brewed up a pot of my favourite Ethiopian coffee, turn on the laptop and settle in to do a bit of writing.

I like to write. I like writing nearly as much as I like riding my bike. Both are contemplative exercises, and both are creative – a nice stretch of the imagination. I suppose I should qualify this love of writing by saying that I like writing what I like to write – not to a brief or to try to match someone else’s expectations, although of course I do this to earn my living, but simply to play with words, and thoughts and narrative structure, tell a story.

In this regard my pleasure writing is not a whole lot different than the pleasure rides I take on my bicycle. Both are nice bits of escapism. In my case this morning, it was a jaunt back in time to the 1920s, and to a steamy and wholly fictitious East African backwater, where the opening scenes to a comic novel I am writing unfold. It is a story that has been growing on me over the past few years, and with which I have amused myself on many a long bike ride, and over drinks on many an even longer international flight. I like my characters. I like their antics. I love being them vicariously, although I don’t think I would dare hang around such people if I knew them in real life.  All in all I enjoyed my three-hour excursion this morning, and as I do when I wheel my bicycle back into the shed after a really good ride, felt a twinge of loss that it couldn’t have been longer.

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8 Comments

  1. Graham Thompson February 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    Oh Roff, you sound quite sad. I have this image of a puppy looking through the door wanting to go and run in the park lol.

    Writing is an amazing tool though isn’t it. Unlike most interests that require travel, investment and physical ability, the minimum for a writer is paper, pencil and a free mind.

    I first found you blog while looking for inspiration to get me back in the saddle and do a bit more than the short commute to work. Since finding your blog I have been inspired to get my camera out again and take my fledgling steps at writing my own blog. Soon, the weather will be right and I will be able to combine the trinity of bike, camera and blog. I will never get to this standard but you have awoken my urge to exercise my body and my mind and do something creative.

    I hope you will soon be fit and on the road again, not only for your self but for my selfish pleasure of reading your blog.

    • Roff Smith February 14, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

      I am delighted to hear that you are finding my blog worthwhile, and especially that it has fired you up to get back into photography. I’m not really sad, just frustrated and sore, but I must say I really ave enjoyed m writing times this week. Who knows? I might finally get that novel written! .

  2. Carl Pettman February 18, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    Well, I’m in the same boat as you now! I fell off a ladder earlier today. My leg got caught between a rung and the uppy downy thing, I went and sat down with an ice pack on my hurty leg, I do not exaggerate when I tell you my shin came up like a tennis ball, then whilst lying down on the sofa, I moved the ice pack a bit, then i fainted! I came too in a blanket of cold sweat, and could not move! My wife came home from work shorlty after, she thought I had a fracture so she carted me off to A&E. After some tests and an X-ray, I got bandaged up and sent home, leg not broken but muscle badly damaged, so leg up and rest until its better! No cycling for me either!

    GAH!

    • Roff Smith February 19, 2013 at 7:21 am #

      Wow.

      I am sorry to hear this

      That’s a really nasty sounding accident. Reading about it made me wince. Shins hurt – even a tap on a shin hurts. What you describe would be kaleidoscopic pain.

      I am glad to hear it wasn’t broken.

      Any prognosis about how long you’ll be laid up? Will it affect your work?

      • Carl Pettman February 19, 2013 at 8:02 am #

        Good morning Roff, my leg is much better today, thought still very sore. I manged to hobble into the shower, and make a cup of mint tea this morning! I’ve been told to rest it on pillows until its better and go to the docs tomorrow to get the dressing checked.

        I haven’t got any work until the weekend, I hope I’ll be able to drive and get about by then, otherwise I’ll have to find someone else to stand in for me. How are you with a pack of cards and a silk hanky?

        How are your aches and pains, are you mended yet? It’s blumen frustrating now the weather is getting better and the daylight hours are getting longer, not to be able to get on the bike!

        • Roff Smith February 19, 2013 at 8:08 am #

          Hi Carl – I am glad to hear your leg is better, but what a blow. And yes, it is especially galling these past few days with the nice clear mornings we’ve been having.

          Alas, I am no magician – always envied the skill though. Very cool. But, as you say, difficult to find a stand-in when you need one.

          I hope the leg continues to improve.

          My shoulder is still not right. Tendons take a while to heal. I am off to the Caribbean for work this Friday so I will be off the bike for a while yet.

          • Graham Thompson February 19, 2013 at 8:25 am #

            Sorry to hear about your accident Carl, tempted to ask if it had anything to do with the cake you ate without sharing but I will not ;-) By the sounds of it, it could have been a lot worse to here is to a speedy recovery.

            Roff, how can you turn up these cold frost mornings to go to the Caribbean? Not jealous, not jealous at all :-) Safe trip and keep us updated.

  3. Carl Pettman February 19, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Off to the Caribbean eh? You poor thing, I don’t know how you get through your days having to go to all these interesting and romantic sounding places!

    Graham, thanks for your best wishes, it could indeed have been a lot worse!

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