Neil – Mother: 6 Apr 1919

Skiddaw Hotel,
Sunday 6-4-19
Dear Mother,
Out on leave! Having a great time if rather an expensive one.
Stayed a couple of days in London to fix up a few things and then came on here to the Lake District with Harry Reynolds.

Out rowing on Derwentwater Thursday afternoon and evening. Friday the three of us (harry, and an N.Z. “scholar”, Udy & I) went for a bike tour to Windermere. I couldn’t ride a bike so we walked the few hundred yards out of the town. I didn’t make much of a success of it at first because the bike was a dud. But I got on better when I changed with Udy who had been a bit of a trick cyclist or something in his early youth, and so was able to manage it for about five miles when it broke down completely. It only had the one brake, the back pedalling, which smashed when the gear smashed on the way down a hill, and it didn’t take Harry and me long to put the bits of Udy back together again and congratulate him on his trick cycling. We dropped in at a farm handy to see if I could hire a horse, but there was nothing doing in that line, however they were able to lend Udy a good bike for the one he had smashed and we went on A1 for another mile when my gear tore out making my bike a “free wheeler” both ways, so that I couldn’t pedal but could only go down hill. There was no hope of getting to Windermere that way so we stopped and had dinner at the “King’s Head Inn”, left our bikes and hired a motor, a ford. We got to Windermere all right in it. we went out on the lake in a light boat. Reynolds and Udy had rowed alright the day before on Derwent because the oars were “pin” oars, but when they tried to work with skulls they couldn’t do it at all. And every time they missed or dug into the water, they nearly upset the boat. They were both strong swimmers and so were inclined to be reckless, but the lake was 1/4 mile deep so I did all the rowing. We gained our first objective, an island about 2 1/2 miles out in good time with the wind with us, but coming back the wind got very choppy against it and it took me about 2 hours or more to do it. And it was so choppy that it was too risky to try to change places in order to let them have a try to give me a rest. I still have three lovely blisters. We left the motor at the Inn and came back on our bikes the last five miles. I’d simply had to let mine go for its life down any hill we came to and then push it along any stretch of level or up hills, because, as I explained, the pedals were no assistance. Of course the greater speed I got up the longer I went along the level or up the next hill so I didn’t overwork my brake. Things went alright as it happened though I gave a motor driver who was on his wrong side a horrible shock once when I turned a corner near the bottom of a hill at about 83 2/3 miles per hour. He said something, but I didn’t quite catch it. I probably wouldn’t be able to repeat it if I had. But I learned absolutely how to ride a bike that day. Like being thrown into the deep water in order to learn how to swim ,- necessity always teachers quickly.

We biked out to Lodore falls today. I rode perfectly except for one little incident coming back. I was a bit heavy for the bike and the saddle came off half way down a little hill. Even then I think I might possibly have worked it to be alright, but there was a girl wheeling a pram about a chain away at

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