My plan for today, was to ride 21 miles to the visitor centre at Abberton reservoir, meet Jim for a cup of tea and elevenses, put the bike in the back of the car to go home, then meet Mick et al at the Scout fete. Famous last words!
About 9am I pedalled off down London Road and turned left opposite the King William to take the footpath running parallel to the south side of the A120. As I rode up the slope, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a magpie attacking a squirrel at the edge of the field. The squirrel shot out into my path! I ran over it with my front wheel, it spun out and hit my foot, then I ran over it with my back wheel. As I glanced back, I saw it contorting violently into the hedge. Still alive but mortally injured.
I pedalled to the end of the footpath and inspected my ankle. Two scratches. I pedalled on, down to Bulford Mill and up the other side to the new estate in Cressing. This gave me time to analyse the situation. Minor scratches … but by a rodent that was fighting a carrion feeder. Rodent and bird germs! Yuk! And a few years ago, my Dad had a scratch from a blackbird, and ended up with cellulitis. Hmmm. Time to take advice.
I rang 111, where the call centre operator asked lots of questions and I was advised to wash the scratch in soapy water, then go to A&E in the next hour. I rode back to Notley Road where I’d asked Jim to meet me. At the top of the hill, there was a lady gardening, so I asked if she had some soap so I could wash my squirrel scratch. As usual I found the kindness of strangers – she and her husband were kind and helpful – she even produced a new bar of soap for me to wash my ankle in her bathroom.
Jim came to collect me in the car, and we proceeded to Broomfield. The receptionist at A&E appeared to have all my details already on the computer, and we waited for 3 hours to be seen. At this point it occurred to me to email Mick to let him know the reason why I had let him down for the scout fete. The doctor said I had done the right thing to attend A&E, even though the scratches seem insignificant. I had a tetanus shot and a course of antibiotics prescribed.
Once home, I reflected on my bike ride. 3.1miles, average 9mph, 27 minutes pedalling time and 4.5 hours elapsed. It must have been one of my shortest bike rides ever.