Sunday 31 July 2022


the smell of memory

As I rode to meet Matt this morning I passed by a newly harvested field. The smell of fresh hay wafted over me. It took me back to my early teens. My brother and I owned a pony one summer. We spent most weekends at our uncle's livery yard where is was stabled. We slept in the hayloft. I say hayloft; it was actually a lorry body on some bricks. My aunt, uncle and cousin slept in a caravan. After mucking out we'd ride around the small field or along the local lanes. Sometimes there was trip in a horse drawn cart, very occasionally driven my us. The rest of the time was spent exploring the surrounding woods. I think I was about eleven, my brother eighteen months younger. We often travelled there by ourselves on bicycles. A distance of just over ten miles each way. We always rode on the road and it never felt unsafe, mum and dad weren't overly concerned. I think we had been riding to friends houses for while by then.

We were free for the weekend. 

This was over forty years ago, so no phones, I don't even think there was one at the yard. Today's children don't know what that feels like, most wouldn't be interested, some would but don't have the opportunity. 

It's such a shame roads are so congested and made dangerous by uncaring drivers that our early experiences are not available today. It's why I am so passionate about the need to provide infrastructure that would encourage more outdoors activity. There are so many benefits I don't know why it's vigorously fought against.

I know adults who would adopt alternatives to car trips if they had the confidence to ride some of them. Their children could be set free in the way I had been.