The Odiham Experience


Trevor and Sarah have been my friends for the last five years. At least. Their friendship predates the scribblings of this blog, but if I think hard enough, I can still remember things that happened prior to the internet. When I was at the University of Bath, they were the first people who experienced the ‘not a runner’ Chris, and witnessed as I became enslaved to my bicycle.

At some point in 2008, I decided that I wanted to ride my Mountain Bike more than student life allowed, and I signed up for the Mountain Bike club trip to Cwn Carn in South Wales.  I rode around with the group for a lap, and then tagged along for a fast lap with the guys who looked like they knew what they were doing. This was the first time I got to have a proper stare at Trevor’s arse, as we rode full throttle around the 10 mile loop. Trevor then asked whether I would race the British Uni championships being held at Cwn Carn a couple of weeks later, which I did. I think I owe him a lot for how things turned out.

Sarah studied biology with me at Bath. We were companions in nervously approaching the noticeboard in the 4 south building to see what our final grades would be after four years of study, and whether our destiny really did lie in science. That moment of stress was then followed up by a month of riding bikes in the British sunshine around Bath, without any other care in the world. I remember driving back to Devon with Levi in Sarah’s little car, the surfboard wedged so tightly that Levi couldn’t sit up straight in the passenger seat.

Since I departed for the US, my time with Trevor and Sarah has extended to a couple hours on either side of my time at Heathrow airport. Their hospitality has given me a comfortable place to crash after a transatlantic flight. Last Christmas was the first time I actually got to do more than have a cup of tea with them, as they showed Christa and I around the pleasant lanes of Hampshire by bicycle. I was pleased, then, that Trevor told me he was making their situation permanent and having a party to celebrate doing so. I was even happier when I realised that I could come back to join the festivities.

IMG_20140726_150147Odiham is an enigma to me. Devon born and bred, it was firmly beaten into me that nice countryside doesn’t exist that close to London. My many journeys up the M3 on the way to Heathrow reinforced this notion too. So when I pulled off the M3 at Christmas, and rode with Trevor and Sarah through pretty villages, I was a little surprised with what I found. It meant I was a lot more excited to come back for the wedding, too. The wedding day was hot. So hot that I waited until the last possible minute to put on my glad rags.


The Church filled quickly as it approached 2pm, and I recognised more people than I expected. An eclectic mix of cyclists who either preceded or followed my tenure at Bath Uni Cycling Club. The families divided into each side of the church, and the friends filled in behind. Bike riders stewed in their formal attire – some concerned that they may perspire enough to disappear inside their suits never to be seen again. The ceremony was short and sweet. Literally. Before long the confetti drifted through the stiff summer air and Mr and Mrs Allen were off through the countryside aboard Luke’s 1920’s Bentley.


We drove in convoy to Sarah and Trevor’s house on the outskirts of Odiham. They had extended their garden into the farmers field next door and erected a huge marquee. Suddenly the wedding made sense to me. Trevor had said they were having a ‘tent in the garden’ for the reception, underselling the event in typical engineer fashion. The atmosphere and vibe of a garden party was exactly right for the party. People didn’t need direction to settle into drinking some champagne, socialising and generally basking in the high afternoon sun.


The sun finally relented in the late evening in time for the lights to dim and the music to turn on. The excellent family speeches shed new light of both Trevor and Sarah for me, and cemented something I’ve known since I first saw them together – their ease of companionship is everything I ever want from life. It’s truly heartwarming.

The evening turned to night, which turned to the slow departure of weary guests. I realised, towards the end of the night that there’s a small window in life where weddings are enjoyable. I don’t know when it happened, but I’m going to embrace it while it lasts!