Story - 'A Day Out With Rob and Sarah'


I was lucky to spend a delightful few hours in the company of Rob and Sarah, at their neat semi-detached south of Reading. Sarah showed us around. Prior to our arrival I'd imagined a well-preserved, but perhaps impersonal mid-century relic, but was pleasantly surprised to find a very welcoming and comfy haven.

Sarah adores Chanel.

'My nan had no money, but she insisted on wearing the best perfume. She was the epitome of glamour. I didn't really understand when I was very young, but in my late teens, I was shopping in one of the big stores in town, and I passed by the Chanel stand. And suddenly it all made sense. That was it, I was hooked.'

Cradling a perfect cuppa, all three of us squeezed into the diminutive kitchen and I asked how they met.

'I'd seen this beautiful girl,' Rob remembers. 'Stunning. A bunch of us had ridden up to the Ford rally. Back in '93, at the Warwickshire museum.'

'It was '94', Sarah says. 'You got sunburnt.'

'Right, yeah, that's it! Anyway, I walked over and said hello, and we spent the day chatting. It all moved pretty quickly after that, I guess. I proposed 3 months later. We were out for a stroll by the river. Lovely evening, though it had been raining, and I was nervous. I'd accidentally knelt down in a puddle to do the deed. My jeans were soaked!'

Rob is also keen to show off his pride and joy, a fully-restored Triumph cafe racer that he bought as a project.

'I worked on it for about 15 months. Scrounging parts, and leaning on my mates Mick and Barry at the workshop for help. They were great. Actually, we should go and see them.'

So we followed Rob on his bike, along winding country lanes that he clearly couldn't get enough of, while Sarah drove us while I got the shots.

When we pulled up, Rob was grinning from ear to ear. 'Did you see that? Up the road just then? Wow,' he laughs, 'just managed to avoid that bloody hedgehog. My heart's still thumping!'

Mick and Barry are hard at work on another Triumph. 'They specialise in all the old bikes,' Rob explains. 'Mechanical geniuses, the both of them.'

Afterwards, it's on to a nearby cafe and more tea. We chat about the huge cultural shifts over the last few decades, the sad demise of the British motor industry, and the fact that chocolate just doesn't taste the same as it used to.

'It's not about living in the past, Rob muses, while Sarah nods in agreement. 'We've chased profit to the exclusion of everything else. Bloody money. Hah. And then we wonder why it's all gone to the dogs.'

Sarah's riding pillion for the next leg. They're both off to the coast. I say goodbye, and watch them go, the Triumph roaring in protest at the plastic modernity around it.