We all need a mini-break from time to time so when Friend X suggested we get away from this crazy world we call life, I jumped at the chance. We slung a toothbrush and a couple of pairs of pants into a bag and headed off to deepest, darkest West Sussex – Cocking to be precise. En route to our weekend idyll, we passed by Cowdray Castle where there were bikes for hire. ‘Let’s go on a bicycle adventure’ I gleefully suggested to Friend X, who, it had to be said, was ill-prepared for anything rustic and was wearing furry snowboots and a Prada poncho. Ooh, it was a mucky ride, taking us alongside gurgling streams and through woods festooned with carpets of leaves and oceans of black, treacley mud which kept flicking into our face and hair. We also got gobfulls of the local insect life as we thundered, legs and mouths akimbo, down the narrow country lanes. 20 minutes into our ride at a crossroads, we suddenly came upon a cluster of be-wellingtoned men casually leaning against their 4x4s gazing expectantly at the field opposite. Friend X had swallowed a bluebottle and was choking to death so we had to stop and while I was doing the Heimlich manoeuvre, I took the opportunity to ask a man with a big nose what he was doing there. Turns out they’d come to watch the hunt. Somehow, very quickly, the conversation turned to gay sex. Our Nigel Havers look-alike was both a complete homophobe; ‘well, it’s not bloody natural is it?’ and a misogynist; ‘no, I’m not married – done it twice but it takes too long to break them in and too much dosh to get rid of them’. We sympathised in a patronising manner and cycled off again only to get completely bloody lost. By now, Friend X was complaining of shooting pains in her buttocks so I suggested we ignore all KEEP OUT, PRIVATE signs and cut across country. This involved much throwing of bikes over hedges and hiding behind trees lest we get shouted at by men in tweed. We even ran into Nigel Havers again; ‘hello you two old bags’ he gaily called out as we wizzed by him walking up a huge gravel drive to a house that Friend X said had featured in Atonement. His casual insult put me in mind of the time me and a friend ran naked around a croquet lawn at a wedding, only to find out later we’d been spied by two estate workers who referred to us as ‘screechy and scrawny’. Anyway, eventually, as the fag end of day was stubbing itself out, we arrived dirty and a bit puffed back at the cycle shop. The next day, we decided to go on a ramble to Fittingworth Wood. Here, we ran into the local ramblers, a septogenarian group of mostly men who circled us like thirsty vampires. They were very keen to get us onboard as members (a snip at only £4 a year, although that didn’t include rambling holidays, one wrinkly old man with no front teeth was keen to point out). Did we want to join them on their 10 miler? Friend X didn’t think her buttocks were up to it so we politely declined then proceeded to get lost yet again. As we were trying to work out how to get out of the wood, we ran into a nob on a horse who, I fear, thought he was in an episode of Robin Hood. ‘Hop on Maid Marion’, he cheerily cried, flicking his switch at me. Rural folk are not my milieu, I officially now concur.