So, it’s not coming home, then. That is football isn’t (to those who haven’t followed England’s “brave” lions, and to German readers of The Draft that may have stopped watching the World Cup before it reached the halfway mark).
Tennis, on the other hand, is always home around this time of year, whilst cycling – or more specifically the Yellow Jersey – may well stay here in the UK. Again. It’s still early days (as I write this, they’re about to set out on stage 7, the longest day at 231km).
With so much sport on the TV I have had little time for anything else, including this blog or any training. Childcare has even taken a back seat.
At times like these Netflix can become an indispensable digital grandparent. But yesterday I realised how a cardboard box can be as good as the other “box”. Armed with one each, the children played for two hours. They were bunk beds, treasure chests, cars. Two hours, I tell you. In the world of the weary parent this is a long, long time.
What did I do with those 120 minutes, you ask? I read the paper. Then I became a bit unsettled by the peace and tranquillity, interspersed only by the odd giggle. Anxiety started to creep in, which had me pottering about for a full 45 minutes, wondering when this anomaly would end.
Indeed, I didn’t know I had another 45 minutes to get stuff done. That’s the thing – you never know how long you have. I checked the “to do” list for an easy option to “tick”. There was only one with my name next to it: order new roof bars.
We’ve just switched cars. With four bikes, a dog and lengthening children we needed more space. The change was an excruciating process lasting almost 18 months, whilst I tried to convince my wife of the merits of a 5 series estate. She, however, stuck steadfastly to her policy of “anything but a BMW” (this, despite its bigger boot, excellent fuel economy, “clean” diesel engine and a number of other benefits that were all listed on the spreadsheet I submitted during the consultation period).
We ended up with a Kia. I know. The Bradley Wiggins Effect has seemingly put a premium on Skodas.
Of course, the roof bars from the old car don’t fit. Well, they do – provided you keep to about 33mph. That extends the journey down to my in-laws from seven hours to 14, not including the two we tend to spend at Tebay services on the M6 (our record is closer to three).
I call Halfords. Craig puts my mind at ease. I need new bars and fitting kits, he says, but the box and the bike racks will still work. What’s more, he’ll fit it all for me.
When my wife arrives home I guide her, quickly but artfully, towards the chalkboard and the tick that now shows a task completed.
“I’ve booked it in to be fitted at 9.30 on Saturday morning,” I say. “I’m happy for you to go after parkrun, and I’ll take the kids swimming.”
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed chatting to Craig, but practical people make me nervous. In our family my wife is the roof box fitter. She always has been. She also fits the bikes in their place. She’s good at it, too, far better than I’d be. Good enough even to work for one of the Tour support teams.
“I think you should learn how to do it,” she says. At least I’ll know what to do in my next two hours of free time.