Balmy in Biggleswade

The sun fought to burn through the pinky-purple haze when Brown Bike and I set off at 7am this morning. We avoid travelling before 9am because we are not keen on commuters. They know these country lanes forwards and backwards (but mostly not sideways). They know the exact speed they can take each corner, and the gaps in the hedgerows they can peer through on the lookout for other traffic. Bikes are rare at this hour, so motorists don't watch out for them. I know this because I used to be such a motorised commuter.

We had a reason for the early start: Aldi's "special buy" of biking bling. Mostly clothing: compression underwear, winter shirts and jackets, armwarmers, overshoes, lights to strap on my limbs, whatever.

Aldi in Biggleswade is much like Lidl in St Neots but larger, with more stock and fewer customers. True, the shop is a short walk from the High Street and Market Square, but a larger problem may be the map on their website. This uses www.yellowmap.de to show a map of the town with a big "X" in the centre. So that's where we went — to a residential street. Some friendly locals pointed us towards the shop, and their directions became increasingly accurate the closer we got, in a series of decreasing circles.

(Back at home, I looked again at the map: Aldi is marked in the correct place but their symbol is less obvious than the big "X" so I missed it.)

arg5

From our spiral route, I thought we would be too late for the bike stuff. Arrive ten minutes after opening time at Lidl in St Neots, and I have to fight the scrum. Aldi is more civilised: I was the second customer in the store, and the first wasn't a cyclist. So I rummaged around alone and spent more than I wanted to but less than I feared.

Lidl has supplied me with blue clothing so I bought a red jacket, which turned out to be almost exactly the same colour as my Altura Arc panniers. I think I have a matching pair of red socks. But don't worry; there is no danger of me or BB becoming satorially elegant. BB is still sporting two bottle holders: his own black one, and a white one he nicked from Ruby Bike for the Yorkshire tour.

arg28

Last time I was in Biggleswade was behind the wheel of an MG Midget, which dates the visit to before 1989 (when SWMBO got the Midget as part of the divorce settlement). Since then, the town centre has been tarted up. The market square has a smart paviour surface, and the roads around it have 20 mph limits. There are pavement build-outs and tables at crossings (i.e. the road surface is raised to the pavement level: cars have to go up and down, and pedestrians don't). It isn't all perfect: one apparent crossing now has a metal fence barrier at each kerb, preventing pedestrians from crossing and creating a cyclist cheese-grater. Perhaps cars didn't slow enough and there were accidents, so the highwaymen took the obvious step of preventing peds from getting in the way. Further on, one side of the road was blocked by a police car, two slightly crunched cars and two recovery vehicles.

If the market square has any bike stands, I couldn't find them. It does have plenty of park benches, and BB greedily hogged one all to himself.

arg12

We dawdled on the way home, and the traffic was light, so we took more piccies.

arg27

We arrived home well before lunchtime, deliberately to avoid the heat of the day. Sloes in the hedgerows and long shadows tell us the time of year, but the clear blue sky, lack of wind and my unaccustomed sweat speak a different story. It's 1pm and my outside thermometer already reads 30.7°C. It's a weird world.

7 comments on “Balmy in Biggleswade”

  1. Chris wrote:

    A late blooming career as a clothes model surely beckons, Alan. I noticed in my Dad's Aldi catalogue that there were two pairs of cycling shoes available. Could I ask if you were readying to model them, too, or do you usually ride around on those spiky pedals in your stocking feet? 😮

  2. Patrick wrote:

    A mere 26 degrees in the north west of England today but most enjoyable. We are starting our summer cycling holiday tomorrow.

    The UK has apparently recorded its warmest 29th of September since 1895. In the warmest place in the UK, that is. I'm wondering what it means. There are 365 days to choose from. 1895 is 116 years ago. 116 goes into 365 more than three times so it seems likely at least one day of any year will be the warmest for 116 years. A better than 300% chance. Can that be right? I'll need to think about this...

    I'd been hoping to find some black Merino wool T-shirts in the Aldi sale. No luck this time. I like the action photo Alan. Perhaps Brown Bike is like a horse that naturally goes faster after it's turned for home.

  3. Mary wrote:

    LOL Im a tad jealous of your local air temperatures folks....

    I understand it was 29 degrees in London, and even in the far north where Patrick lives it rose to a heady 26 degrees.

    In Ramsey on the IOM it got to the late teens.... In Douglas just a mear hours cycle ride from Ramsey... it got to a maximum of 14.5 and we were shrouded in a thick sea mist all bloomin day long.... :(

    Seeing Alan looking all cosy and dry with Brown Bike bolting along looked like something going on in another world. Ive heard of the bargains that Aldi and Lidi do... Are these shops run by the same organisation? Ive never been in one before.

  4. Alan wrote:

    My thermometer hit 34.4 deg C yesterday — crazy. Hot summer days are rarely this warm, let alone late September. I don't know what our official temperature was.

    Ah, yes, the socks. I took the photo at home, on my driveway surrounded by hedge clippings, after kicking off the (Lidl's) shoes and writing the blog. I planned on cropping the photo to show just the jacket and pannier, but decided the piccie worked well, in a slobbish way.

  5. Mick F wrote:

    Love the "shadow" photographs! Aldi are only in Plymouth here – 20odd miles away.

    Balmy and warm in the SW, but foggy and cool in the morning. I was out in West Cornwall yesterday with fiercely strong SE winds. Kept me cool!

    Lots to say, so I'll pop over to start my own story!

    TTFN,
    Mick.

  6. Alan wrote:

    Mary: According to Wiki, Lidl and Aldi are both German, but competitors. The supermarkets are low overhead, low cost affairs. The quality may not be the highest in the world, but for those of us who struggle to justify £800 for a Brooks cycling jacket, £16 for my red jacket, £15 for a 30% merino shirt, etc, are bargains. Neither have branches on the IoM.

Leave a comment

Add a Smiley Smiley »