We were young gods flying through alleyways!


A Quiet Dutch Canal

If anyone needs any proof  that I am an incurable romantic, they needn’t look any further than my Dutch City Bike, Omafiets, which just means Grandma bike. So naturally I named mine Oma.

Oma is just that, a bike that Grandmother would ride to collect rose cuttings on her way to a tea, or being the romantic that I am, a young lady in a spring frock, riding with a bottle of wine in the basket to meet her lover in war-torn Amsterdam. Either way the bike is a relic from the past. The design is the same found in the old black and white World War Two movies. The bike lasts forever, ends up in Dutch Canals, or parked in front of houses on cobbled streets. The ride is old-fashioned, comfortable and smooth. No one is going to break records with this bike. It is not a speedster or a nimble goat climbing up hills, but Oma plods steadily along, not bothered by cars in the city, or ducks waddling by in a city park. It’s a bike you can ride wearing red high heels or Hunter boots.

I rode Oma on a bike path along the beach.  The beach is not a true beach (an ocean beach with crashing waves) rather it is a man-made beach in the sound; but still, there are seagulls, and eagles and on occasion, otters play in the water.

Bikes are wonderful things. They free you. I learned how to get my balance in life on one.  In Sheerness Kent, at the back of my grandfather’s yard, there was an alleyway, just wide enough that if you were to fall with one arm stretched out, you could tip yourself back up again. There I went from side to side, until I could ride through the alley upright and out onto the streets.

Riding a bike once learnt is never forgotten. Funny how our brains remember things like that and let us down when it comes to remembering where the house keys were put just five minutes ago.

Learning how to ride a bike as an adult is hard.  I think it’s because we know how dangerous it is to fall. Broken arms, bits, skull bashed, are all things we have learned to avoid, but when we are young, we are young gods flying through alleyways on two wheels.

Diana Rigg as Mrs. Emma Peel

Emma Peel, The fabulous Diana Riggs, Image via Wikipedia

When I got my first bike, a rust coloured Raleigh, I rode the bike everywhere, without helmets, gloves and other bits of safety equipment. Oddly, I had a flashlight in the leather saddlebag.  Why?  I have no idea other than I held desperate ambitions to be like Emma Peel, the gorgeous Diana Riggs, in the Avengers.  Perhaps I thought a good mystery was around the corner.  I never rode the bike at night, but never mind, a good flashlight can always be put to good use.  I was heartbroken when I got up one summer morning to find it gone. Not even it’s shadow remained. I remember looking down the street hoping to get a glimpse of the red bike, waiting, but nothing was on the street.

I have another bike, which is roaming around Oxford right now.  It is a Pashley, a Pashley Princess Sovereign  no less, with ding-dong bell, and large wicker basket.  For some odd reason, it fits me better.  I am fickle in my romances, and love it more than Oma. My daughter has the bike for now. She is the image of a beautiful young lady setting out on an adventure, whilst I on the other hand plod about very much like Jessica Fletcher  in “Murder She Wrote.”

The image below a Wiki Image

English: Depiction of Angela Lansbury in her r...

My old Oma sits in the garden shed with a flat tyre, waiting for me to forget about my new love, my Pashley Princess. Oma hopes to get out again, dreaming that I will remember that she was once strong and proud, and I can ride her to Starbucks and check my email.  It’s a perfect balance of the old and new. Oma, like all Oma’s, know that I will return one day, and she will forgive me for the spiders and cobwebs found on her wheels.


About susan sheldon nolen

It’s rare to catch me without coffee, a form of camera, or my beloved wire fox terriers. I love the history, the art, and it’s a massive part of my life, as I either paint, write, or get interrupted by my dogs, reminding me of the real world. I hope you enjoy your time here. It’s such a privilege to have readers.
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11 Responses to We were young gods flying through alleyways!

  1. Marilyn says:

    You are great. Love it.

  2. Thanks Marilyn! Appreciate the kind words!

  3. speccy says:

    Now I want a bike … (and to live in a flat place)

  4. Pseu says:

    Ah, cycling around Oxford, reminds me of my student days. I remember coming off night duty at the old Radcliffe to discover someone had nicked my front wheel and I had to persuade the bus driver to take me home, bike and all, so I could get to bed! But first a new wheel. Mine was a blue Raleigh then. Now I too have two bikes. A lovely post

  5. I was shocked when I read the figures as to how many bikes are stolen in Oxford and Cambridge. Apparently gangs come up from London to pinch bikes and then sell them on. Course I’ve also see loads of bikes, just laying against trees and buildings unlocked! My Raleigh was red and had the softed hand grips! Was yours the same? The grips these days feel harder!

    • Pseu says:

      I don’t specifically remember the grips!
      I do remember that my pride wouldn’t let me get off on any of the hills. Headington, Hill, Divinity Rd, Southfield Rd and Jack Straws Lane.

      I wonder if I could still do them now?! Ha

  6. I read this avidly, honest I did, but my heart stopped at the word Sheerness.

    Sheerness is where I want to end up; I want one of those mad battered coloured huts with telescopes pointing to the sky. I want to live near that strange lighthouse and all the napoleonic bluster and the power station which represents so much to so many.

    I am endlessly envious that your grandfather lived at Sheerness. Derek Jarman lived there: and now I learn you learnt to ride a bike there. Enchanted is too small a word.

  7. I loved the parts where you likened yourself to Emma Peel and Jessica Fletcher, Susan! I can see a pattern emerging… 🙂

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