My nearest post box is at the top of the estate, a distance of nearly 2 miles, all uphill.
I'd been working on the end of month accounts all morning, pausing now and then to gaze wistfully outside at the glorious sunshine. Once I'd finished and was left with a pile of very important paperwork to put in the post I made the decision to cycle to the post box, rather than drive.
I can see now why most of the time I take the car. It is so quick and easy. First I had to find something to carry my post in, on the bike, and then I had to hunt for a water bottle. Then I discovered the front tyre of the bike was looking a little soft and turned the place upside down searching for a pump.
I did, however, spot Lovely Warden and Gardener working by the moat. I wheeled the bike round to them. "I don't suppose, by any chance, you have a bicycle pump to hand?"
Lovely Warden never ceases to amaze me. He waded out of the moat, rummaged in his bag and produced a bicycle pump. Outstanding. Tyre inflated, I was good to go. "Right," I announced. "I am off to the post box."
"The one in town?"
"Um, no. Just at the top of the estate."
I went on to explain how I was not only reducing my carbon footprint, but was determined to be less fat and more fit by the end of the year. "So, if you see me eating something lardy, feel free to slap it away and shout 'no!'"
"So, we have permission to strike you, then?"
"Only if it's something unhealthy," I specified, somewhat concerned at this eager response.
"Have you got a cycle helmet?" asked Gardener.
"No, but I do have big hair," I replied. "I'm sure it must have some protective qualities."
I set off. The slope is gradual, but relentless. My goal is to get a bit further each time I do this before having to get off and walk for a bit. I was about halfway up when I heard a van approaching. It was Lovely Warden and Gardener off to the top to get more equipment from the forestry yard.
"How's it going?"
"It's really hard," I puffed and panted. "If I have a heart attack, will you pick me up on the way back down?"
They assured me they would and went on their way. I went on my way, only rather more slowly. There comes a point when you're cycling uphill, really slowly, in the lowest gear possible, when elderly people overtake you on foot and it gets a bit embarrassing. I paused again in the shade, sitting on a fallen tree trunk and gratefully drinking the water I'd brought. The Gardener's van pulled up alongside me again.
"Almost there then!" he cried, cheerfully.
"Almost," I wheezed.
I waited for the van to depart before resuming my slow crawl to the top of the estate. I weaved my way between the sheep and lambs on the road. They had no need to fear my approach
At last I reached my destination. I stuffed my letters into the post box triumphantly. Yes!
The ride back down made it all worthwhile. The road spun out beneath me, the sheep were woolly white blurs, I rattled over the cattle grids and I remembered to stand up on the pedals as I did so.
By the time I'd put the bike back in the shed Lovely Warden and Gardener were back by the moat again, continuing their good work in fixing the leaking water supply. I wandered over to see how they were doing, my legs still somewhat achey and my face feeling like it must be as red as the post box.
"Did you win," they asked, "or are you still fighting?"
"Still fighting, a bit," I answered, truthfully. "Shall I get us all an ice cream?"
(In case you were wondering, I had a Calippo, which was the healthiest option available, so avoided having it smacked out of my hands with a muddy shovel).