It’s oddly paradoxical isn’t it, how someone being ridiculously over-friendly, over-solicitous and nice makes you want to
kill avoid them?
No? Just me then. Colin, the irritating chap from the Fast Show sketch who tells terrible jokes and laughs at them himself in a pathetic attempt to be popular is not alive and well in Seaton. But a young bloke very much like him is.
I wasn’t in the best of moods, it must be said. Getting out of Lyme Regis with the bikes involved struggling up a massive 1 in You-Don’t-Want-To-Know hill. Attempting to provide an interesting and varied scenic cycling route, I’d taken us into another village which involved a heartsink downhill and then another lung-busting ascent. The worst part was that pedestrians walking down the hill with dogs kept saying “Not far now” and “nearly at the top” encouragingly but they were lying through their teeth. It was a good half a mile to llevel ground at the llama farm. Admittedly, it was scenic with banks of primroses but quite frankly gimme the cut and thrust of a level main road and some artics grazing my right elbow at 50mph any time.
We rode a short stretch of main road and then into a village where a bridleway was impossible to ride because of horses churning up deep mud. Typical horses. It’s always all about them, isn’t it? Four hooves good, two tyres bad. Those palominos with their come-wither looks care not a jot for cyclists.
The mud gave way to an interesting paved trail through a magnificent tucked-away estate with an impressive old red-bricked manor house. Capt Sensible had a brief Downton Abbey reverie involving the Dowager Duchess and a damp kipper.
The bitter, bone-chilling, temperatures were alleviated somewhat by the views from a deserted lane which ran parallel with the coast. It passed an ancient settlement according to the Ordance Survey map but as usual, it consisted of a lump in the middle of a ploughed field full of stones.
The spectacular downhill into Axmouth didn’t fill me with the usual joy as I only thought about the pain of the “up” later into the easterly wind but the village had two promising looking pubs. There were flocks of wildfowl on the River Axe including shellduck and other not-often-seen birds but it was too cold to stop for long so we headed into Seaton.
All we knew of Seaton was a grim wet holiday that Capt Sensible had with his parents and unreliably continent gran in a caravan where the pool of rainwater outside the caravan door grew so big and so deep they couldn’t escape.
We cycled over the bridge over the Axe and on to the sea front – along a relentless straight stretch bordered on one side by featureless seaside accommodations of various sorts and bordered on the other by a long concrete wall with a concrete path and a bank of medium shingle dropping down to the sea.
There was a one way system which would have meant us turning into town and avoiding the rest of the sea front but hey, I was enjoying it so much (I wasn’t) that I couldn’t bear missing it, so we ignored the no entry and rode down to a roundabout with bikes all over it.
“Looks like the Tour de France has been through” remarked Capt Sensible. But no, it was just a load of old painted bikes with a cheery sign declaring “Pedalabout – Seaton Town Council in partnership with the Axe Valley Wheelers.” The Wheelers provided the old bikes, no doubt. “Seaton encourages cycling for all.”
Oh really? I missed that. The only other reference to cycling that I spotted nearby was a big bike with a line drawn through it in the gap between the walls meaning “No cycling” on the promenade, although we found a cycle trail to Colyton later.
We wanted a break from all the diversions (I lied about the diversions) when we met Colin, in a coffee shop. So it was no surprise really, that as I was frozen, disappointed with the contrast between Lyme and Seaton and hungry, that Colin got right on my nerves with his “No problem at all madam” “My pleasure” “We are here to serve” and multiple “Thank you”s.
Multiple “thank you”s forced me to reply in a multiple way, which as though I was the one being ridiculous. It was a kind of torture being smothered with pleasantries. It felt like being held upside down in a toilet by a very very nice person while he flushed sugar syrup all over my head.
Even if you told him to feck off, I bet he’d come back with “Madam, it would be my absolute pleasure, to feck off with a smile.” He made Kenneth in 30 Rock look positively surly.
Capt Sensible asked me “Do you want to finish that tea?” I was about to answer when Colin chirped up brightly “Oh leave her alone. She’s enjoying it” and gave an annoying little chortle.
I smiled, falsely.
“He’s just very friendly.” said Capt Sensible.
“Harrumph.” (I didn’t actually say it but my sentiment was the same.)
“You might have to stop me from slapping him.”
“It’s because he’s used to dealing with old people…” said Capt Sensible, with a smirk.
I slapped him instead.
Postscript: It didn’t all end in tears. We cycled a bit more along a trail, saw the Seaton Tram, got a bit merry (ok, I did) by a log fire in the Harbourside Inn, Axmouth (it’s by a caravan site not a harbour but The Caravan Site Inn doesn’t have the same romantic ring to it) and stayed as long as humanly possible before venturing back out into the cold. The ride back along the main road was quick (of *course* we walked the appalling hill with an arrow on it – I had taken on board at least a half a dozen extra ribs and a quantity of Stowford Press). Oh and the curvy swooping downhill into Lyme was wonderful.