The countryside was at peace. The sun blazed down from a vast ocean of blueness. A tranquil calm embraced our world. Meadowsweet, celandine and foxglove enticed a flurry of enchanting wings. Giant trees bowed down, majestic oaks stood proud and horse chestnuts displayed their array of waxen candles. The motionless air was as thick as syrup. Over a multitude of millennia, nature had slowly evolved to create this moment of perfection. But it was not to last.
Almost beyond ear-reach, faintest mumblings of sound broke our complacency. Joan and I were on bicycles, enjoying the meandering lanes of North Shropshire, hoping to find accommodation before nightfall. It wasn’t many minutes before the intruder to our bliss broke its anonymity. A threatening storm was furtively creeping up from behind, almost as if to catch us unawares. We pressed on with renewed urgency, but the increasing frequency of thunderclaps made it clear that we might eventually have to be content with second place. However, we were by now fuelled with adrenaline and pedalling as if our lives depended on it, we reached our place of refuge, a small country dwelling, with the menacing storm hard on our heels.
With moments to spare, we were safely in the arms of the cottage before our determined pursuer released torrents of rain and hail followed by massive eruptions of thunder and lightning that shook our haven to its foundations. A welcoming but nervous old lady soon began preparing our meals, while her trembling dog cowered beneath a rickety old oak cupboard. The furious tempest continued unabated, but suddenly, one ear-splitting crescendo of decibels finally brought the hostilities to a close.
Our hunger cared for, we paid the bill, bade farewell and wheeled our cycles outside. Usually a thunderstorm leaves a legacy of pure, crystal clear and invigorating freshness. But it didn’t on this occasion as the acrid smell of burning rubber now permeated the air. That final tumultuous thunderbolt had claimed its unsuspecting victim. A motorcar that had been parked outside the cottage, was now a blackened, gutted and smoke-filled shell. Its owner stood nearby, visibly shaken, his ashen face a mixture of relief and disbelief. The driver’s side front wheel had taken a direct hit, its tyre now a smouldering carcass of oozing rubber. Several globules of molten metal, with colours of the rainbow, hung from the wheel shaft. After cautiously checking that they had cooled, I snapped one off and put it safely away to keep for posterity.
And we then continued on our way.
David Steele, Lyme Racing Club