by Steven Fisher
I cycled past the last Tudor style house on my right and entered the Leicestershire countryside. Fields of lush green grass appeared on both sides of the busy road, with bright yellow
rapeseed, sporadic in its placement, in the distance. Amongst the fields the hedgerows stood in lines like opposing armies, appearing ready to march forward to do battle. They continued to divide the fields as they have for hundreds of years. The beautiful countryside, its landscape timeless, seemed rooted to an ancient past. The early evening sun began its gradual descent. It felt warm on my face as I travelled west towards the village of Houghton-on-the-Hill.
The A47 was a busy road, with two lanes in each direction. It ploughed from county to county, bearing a steady stream of vehicles, all driving faster than the posted speed limit. As the
juggernauts passed me, their tailwinds whipped around my wheels causing my steering to waver. I felt vulnerable and insecure sharing the road with such daunting drivers, but there were only two routes to get to Houghton and this was the the only practical route to take on a bike.
I approached the turn-off for the village and a sign on my left welcomed me to Houghton-on-the-Hill. I turned into Main Street, the narrow grey road winding through the original part of the village, between the little cottages and a War Memorial which stood on its own green. The cottage roofs were thatched and their white walls made of stone. They stood some detached and some adjoined to their neighbours with only a narrow pavement separating them from the grey bumpy road.
I passed the seventeenth century Dog and Gun pub and followed the curved road to the right. I neared the end of Main Street, passing the old village church which stood on a raised green above the level of the road. A path led from the pavement to the wrought iron gates and continued its course through the graveyard, reaching the church's entrance. The building was in remarkable condition for its age; it dated back to the Sixteenth Century. I remember being told about the passageways leading from the church under the road to the farmhouse opposite, and that these passageways once held religious services by oppressed Catholics during Henry the VIII's regime.
I turned onto St. Catharine's Way, meandered the first bend and stopped in front of the home of my piano teacher. I closed the heavy wooden gates behind me and leaned my bike against the tall bricked wall that surrounded the house. I strolled across the stones in the courtyard towards the beautiful house and rang the doorbell.
Hello Rupert, come in. Mrs Dalloway said, opening the door. I see you're on your bike again.
Yes, I couldn't get a lift today. I entered the porch and was taken through the hallway towards the living room. The interior of the house looked as distinguished as the exterior with
the wallpaper consisting of a delicate stripe, tasteful and classic, and complimenting the architecture. I passed the bottom of the wooden staircase that lead up to an open balcony.
That road is extremely dangerous, and very fast, she said. I do hope you were careful.
Yes I was, Mrs Dalloway.