Sun slotting in through venetian blinds: I get up and shower. Aching from a day’s humping of gravel bags, digging, planting, easing Arthur into his hole (see previous post), we’re going to spend this last golden day cycling. At the station we can just get the three bikes between standing passengers in a 2-car train: the woman in a wheelchair could squeeze between us to the toilet, if it was working.

It’s a relief to burst out at Polegate, and finally we find the Cuckoo Trail: an 11-mile cycle and walking path that once was the Polegate to Eridge railway line, torn up in 1968. It’s a lovely ride between the big oaks, still with their leaves on. And it’s not strenuous, I’m glad to find! We come to junctions with other paths and roads, gateways that are really unusual: bullet-nosed bollards with a simple cast iron shape on top, or a big serrated steel arch, imaginatively-wrought – it’s a sculpture path as well. It’s a beautiful day, warm too: we eat our Co-op sandwiches sitting on a bank, looking at the gradated layers of landscape stretching back towards Firle Beacon.

We’re aiming for the 4.02 back to Lewes, but we’re a bit tired now and miss it, so have a pint of Old in the pub (also tired). Cycling the 100 yards to the station, we’re separated by the crossing barriers rattling down between us: I wait obediently till I realise that it’s our train. Pedal furiously towards the footbridge, hoist my bike onto my shoulder, and leap up the steps into the crowd coming down. At which point my perfect day becomes, well, less-than. My ankle turns over and I go sprawling across the steps, bike clattering, and the crowd parts around me, avoiding eye-contact. Battered and wincing, I lurch across the bridge dragging the Ridgeback, but it’s too late – our train pulls out. I curse that pub’s dreary embrace. Apart from that, though…

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