It's incredible to think we've been here three years and have only today hit upon the wonderful (and, let's face it, remarkably basic) idea to get pedalling and explore a bit of the countryside. Armed with two bikes with a Fingernail each on the back we ploughed through the detritus of the city centre and headed south along the canal before having lunch at a collective farm. Even at my age I never cease to wonder how far away you can seem from your workaday life in such a short time. Nice for the Fingernails to inhale something other than carbon monoxide for a few hours, too. The idea to make this a habit is now too strong to resist; having no car does tend to make one stop thinking about possible excursions, even if my suggestions of taking a train somewhere - anywhere! - and just winging it often fell on resigned ears. The upside is that the bairns zonked out within two minutes of lights out, leaving Mrs. F and I to contemplate what we could possibly do with all this newly-one free time. In true romantic tradition, she took her saddle-soreness of to bed to read and I sat down and checked my e-mails. Now, that's romance in the computer age.
The only disadvantage with having Monday as your only free day is that anything worth seeing - The Museum of Discarded Drawer Handles, Frère Jacques' Antique Modem Emporium and the like - is closed. The locals need to recuperate after slaving all day Saturday and striking on Wednesday, so as one of professional society's oddbods, you're on your own. Even a charming-looking café, situated next to one of the busiest locks on the canal (even on Monday), offered us nothing more refreshing than the knowledge it would be open all the six days of the week we're engaged in our primary occupation, namely slaloming around dog shit and playing chicken with cars doing 70 in a 30 zone.
On a lighter note, the general mood is lightening at Chateau Fingers. I read these last few posts back and didn't recognise myself, to be honest. The ambition and optimism which has led me through life to this point has been alarmingly absent since starting this blog, but can now feel a turning point. I've always had goals in life; they've taken me around the world a few times, I've seen and done things that many people never will, but recently, all I've wanted to do is curl up into a ball and hope the whole darned mess just goes away. I've got a wife, children and job that zillions would kill for, but the internal spark went out for a while, there. Thanks to a couple of rented bicycles and a bit of greenery, I can feel it coming back. Sometimes I think that's how close we all are to the abyss: just a few inches. But a few inches in the other direction can take you where you really want to be.