High Jinks

Hoo-bloody-ray! A bike ride. A short, easy, tentative and cautious ride on a still weak ankle and bruised foot, but a ride. The first for 10 days – and a pleasure. It was grey, windy, it rained for half the way around and I’m to be found grimacing if I try and move my foot sideways (for instance, to release a cleat), but it wasn’t cold and it wasn’t hammering it down. And it is so, so nice to be outside again.

The pleasures of being out are many, and among them it is always a real treat to watch Red Kites. Today there were four, flying low, jinking and jostling for position against each other and against a gusty wind as they all tried to drop down to a recently killed pheasant on the road near Henley. Their agility in flight, their physical control and skill, is something you can only admire.

Whether they are intelligent is another question: while they were engaged in their high jinks overhead, a Magpie was getting on with it – darting out from the verge between the traffic whenever it could and grabbing mouthfuls of the same road-kill.

The route took in Bolney Lane, Lower Shiplake, and someone’s put up a new bench there. It looks home-made, privately done. It’s no masterpiece of seat design, but looking at it and the hand-written message on its back rest made me realise how bland so much public furniture is. The same seats, the same type-face for the message on the back … Functional isn’t the sole purpose of design.

A bench with inscription - have a rest

I suspect the writing on the back is sincere