Wednesday, November 27

Reviews of Torm long sleeved jersey, Rab Kinetic Plus jacket, and Equetec Dressage Briefs

These are three pieces of clothing that I am really glad I bought! Most of my clothes come from charity shops, but occasionally I splash out on something which I want mainly for cycling. I say mainly because in the case of these three only the Torm jersey is specifically for cycling and even that I would be happy to be seen in away from the bike.

So, here we go -

Torm TL8 full zip jersey

I came across these when I was looking at the Cycling UK heritage wool range of jerseys, which are made by Torm. They are made from Merino Sportwool, which is a blend of merino wool and a synthetic fibre. I have got other merino wool garments which have all got moth holes in - I'm hoping that the addition of synthetic fibre might prevent this happening. Hopefully the little blighters will not be so attracted to it. I bought it in the week before my ride home from Derbyshire, panicking slightly that I had no other layer like this (it's both mid and outer) to give me some warmth in the chillier weather. It proved invaluable - it's warm but lightweight, the sleeves are plenty long enough for my long arms, and the three back pockets were really useful. I bought the small size, equivalent to a size 12 although I'm really a size 10, hoping that this would mean I'd have room to wear something underneath, and it's perfect.

I think my only criticism of it is that the zipped pockets are waterproof lined, which I think is a bit unnecessary for a jersey which isn't really intended for wearing as an outer layer in the rain. On one occasion when I had overdressed and got too warm these waterproof linings in the zipped pockets actually got wet with sweat...!

Rab Kinetic Plus jacket

Rab describes this as a "waterproof, lightweight, breathable stretch softshell".

Earlier in the year when my very outdoorsie cycling/running/swimming Elder Son and Daughter-in-Law came to visit, Daughter-in-Law had with her one of these jackets, and Elder Son has one as well. I tried it on and thought it was just what I needed as a lightweight outer layer for perhaps three seasons of the year. They both said that it is the jacket that they wear most, for all activities.

I already had a softshell that I bought from Aldi a while ago, but it is considerably heavier than this Rab one, which folds up into its own stuff sack and weighs a mere 270g (I've weighed mine, and that figure is correct) as opposed to the Aldi one which weighs 350g and takes up a lot more space in my panniers.

Again, it has proved invaluable, both on that trip and ever since. In fact so far this autumn it has been the jacket I have worn on almost every ride; even in pretty cold weather it has given me enough warmth, with appropriate layers underneath. I bought mine from Cotswold Outdoor, where I can get 15% discount as a member of Cycling UK, although I see that they no longer have the lovely sulphur yellow colour I chose. I could have got it cheaper if I'd settled for a colour that wasn't really me, but........I love this colour and it makes me feel cheerful whenever I put it on! Regarding size, my DIL's was a 10 and did fit me, but I decided to order a 10 and a 12 to see which size was best. I settled on the 12, under which I can get more layers, and it is perfect. It doesn't look or feel too big. And once again, the sleeves are plenty long enough for me.

Equetec Dressage Briefs

I can't remember how I came across these but I was probably searching for some padded knickers that were mainly cotton. So many of them are synthetic, and although my other pair are not, being merino wool, they too have suffered from the moth, and also were a lot more expensive. I don't wear padded knickers on all bike rides - it depends how far I'm going and which bike I'm riding. My Trek has a dip in the front of the saddle and I can ride probably 40 miles on that with no padding and without any discomfort, although I don't usually do that sort of distance on it since getting my Koga.

The Koga, however, has a Brooks B67 saddle on it, which has no front dip, and although I can also go a decent distance on it without padded underwear, on longer journeys, or when riding on consecutive days, I like to have some padding. What I particularly about these briefs is that you can choose whether to have the padding just at the front (the Primo version) or at the back as well (the Plus version). I chose the Primo version as that was where I wanted the padding, although if I were riding on consecutive days I would probably alternate between all round padding and front only padding.

One problem is one which, as a seamstress, I could foresee when I got them, and that is that the side seam is beginning to come undone. The seam is not as well sewn as it should have been. I'm going to email the company, with photos, to see what they say. I bought them in February this year.

If you want to read an excellent and very in depth article on female saddle soreness, I would highly recommend this one here on Cycling UK's website. It's wateringly eye-opening!!

And also, on the sock front - I have recently had a couple of enforced trips to Oxford, which doesn't happen very often. Normally I have no desire to go window shopping as it just makes me want stuff I can't afford, or don't need. However, not having been for literally years, on one of these trips I did quite enjoy doing precisely this, and in Uniqlo I discovered these lovely men's socks - there are 99 colours online!!! Guess which colours I picked, thinking of the colour of my Rab jacket..... And although in theory they'd be too big, they fit perfectly, particularly after a wash, whereas I usually find women's standard size 4-7 socks shrink to too small.

I have been doing lots of ordinary cycling too, and in fact tomorrow I am riding with our local CUK group on our usual mid-week ride, and leading it for the first time! I hope we all survive....

Tuesday, October 1

Cycling from Derbyshire to home in Oxfordshire, Part 2

Day 3, at my B and B south of Leamington Spa, started at 5.50 am; although breakfast wasn't until 7.45 I like to have plenty of time to get everything ready for another day. I was hoping I'd really enjoy today's cooked breakfast, as there were only 24 miles to cover so I knew I could relax more, but in fact despite its being beautifully cooked, once again I would have preferred to have been eating it about 2 hours into the ride. I've learned my lesson - next time I will try and negotiate a discount for not having breakfast, and will take my own.

I really took it nice and easy today, being determined to enjoy it after yesterday's events. In fact I was positively lazy and stopped after less than 6 miles for coffee in the very interesting village of Kineton, still in the county of Warwickshire. I'd travelled from Derbyshire to Leicestershire on my first day, and then into Staffordshire and Warwickshire on the second. I actually rather liked the fact that as I travelled along, I often didn't know which county I was in. I wandered around Kineton, half looking for somewhere to have coffee, and was just about to give up and cycle on when I spotted this -

It was a florist's - Flower Thyme - with a little cafe round the back. My coffee came in a lovely pottery mug and with a free biscuit, which I didn't eat, preferring my Kit-Kat, but it will go in the jar of free biscuits at home, along with the jar of free sugar sachets! I sat out the front in the sun, so that I could watch the world go by and also keep an eye on my bike.

Incidentally, the previous evening I had washed one of two pairs of padded knickers, but despite hanging them up at the window overnight they were still very damp. I remembered what my mum used to do to dry wet socks when we went on holiday; she would dangle them out of the car window as we drove along! A bike was even better for drying wet clothing - when I stopped later on to change behind a hedge into cut off trousers (it was getting hot) I rigged up my washing on one of the panniers, and found good use for the safety pins that I'd brought - I knew they'd come in handy!

Airing my (clean) laundry in public.

On my return home Husband was appalled that I'd cycled along displaying my underwear in this fashion. But it worked!

I had guessed that today would be more hilly than the previous two days, and I was right. This area is, after all, the Cotswolds, "a range of rolling hills" according to Wikipedia.  I started quite well but got off near the top of one hill and a man with an e-bike standing in the lay-by there said -

"Didn't your battery help you up the hill?"

He thought my bike, too, was electric. We chatted for a few minutes and he told me that he was 76, lived locally and did an 11 mile circuit every day, which I thought was pretty good, even if his bike  was electrically assisted. He mentioned the hill up to Whichford, and said -

"You'll be pushing up there!"

I said that sometimes I prefer not to know what's coming in the way of hills..... I cycled on to Upper Brailes, which I learnt later is on the side of Brailes Hill, the second highest point in Warwickshire. There I spotted a little bakery and stopped to buy a filled bap (baps, butties, rolls, confusing isn't it? Especially as in some places baps are plimsolls....) then to Lower Brailes, lower down the hill (obviously....) and then, although I'd intended to eat the bap much later, I couldn't resist sitting in the sun on a bench at Sutton-under-Brailes to eat it. I must have been hungrier than I thought, as I enjoyed every mouthful.

The weather by now was sunny and warm, and today was definitely a day for stopping wherever I fancied, so when I saw a sign for the Cotswold Distillery (with cafe) I popped in. A very posh place. I noticed a sign just inside the door where there was a cask of whiskey and a sign that said something like "Fill a bottle for £84.95"!!!! Hmmmmm, well, Husband does like a wee dram sometimes but that was not quite within the budget I'd set myself for this trip! On I went up those rolling hills towards Whichford, and although I got off near the top of one, I was feeling very smug (dangerous...) about doing so well after what Mr E-bike man had said, who incidentally I had seen a second time, and waved to, as he returned on his circuit.

At the top of the hill there was another sign, this time for Whichford Pottery - also with cafe. I knew I'd heard of this somewhere, and later concluded that I must have found it online when I was looking up the prices of large terracotta pots, the reason for which (which, Whichford....) was that I had fished one out of a skip and wanted to know how much it was worth before I attempted to flog it!

Look at all these pots! -

The place was actually a lot more than just a pottery, and had beautiful courtyard gardens, a workshop which you were, amazingly, free to wander round, and a cafe called The Straw Kitchen, very rustic, quite hippyish -

Once again I resisted the cafe, preferring to spend the time wandering round the courtyard gardens, although I did spend some money in their lovely octagonal shaped shop. One thing that attracted me was the coloured spools of Nutscene twine, and I bought one for a present for the sister who had organized the weekend. I hope she appreciates having a ball of string for a present.  I had no idea that Nutscene produced their famous garden twine in so many colours. That was another thing that I rescued out of the same skip the pot came from - various half-used spools of Nutscene green twine. I actually have a bit of a thing about string! String and notebooks.

I also trespassed, quite by accident, in a part of the garden that was private; I had gone through a door which happened to be open, and assumed that that part of the garden must also be public. I did wonder if I was mistaken though, when I saw chainsaws on view, in this most amazing building -

The painted walls were incredible. I'd love to know the history and significance of this building. I wish now that I had taken more photos, but somehow I got the feeling I shouldn't be there - and I was right! A gardener appeared, and when I asked if this was all public, he said no, but without seeming very bothered that I was there! He had left the door that I had come through open when he had gone to get a ladder. I made to leave but by then was a bit lost, so he directed me back to the door I'd come through, on the front of which it said "Private Garden"!

My smug self then had several more hills to contend with...... one was horribly busy and I missed my  right hand turn near the bottom of it , so to avoid going back down and having a sharp left turn to negotiate, I carried on and took another one on the right. My last hill was up into Chipping Norton; I slogged up it, then, seeing traffic lights for road works, I decided to be kind to the drivers and get off the road. As I crossed over to the pavement, the driver behind me shouted something. No, not something abusive, but -

"Well done!!"

And he gave me a big smile and a thumbs up! Whoever you were, kind sir, you made my day!!!

It was a long time since I'd been to Chipping Norton, which is built on the side of a hill, as a grandmother at Whichford Pottery had reminded me, telling me how the car door slammed on her granddaughter as she got out of the car, parked on the slope, on a recent trip there. It's also the home of the Chipping Norton Set, i.e. a load of rich posh people amongst whom is David Cameron. When I told someone I had booked an Airbnb place there they wondered if perhaps it might be Call me Dave's home, but no, it wasn't. I doubt if he's down on his luck enough to need to let out a room. Another member of this set is Jeremy Clarkson, and judging by the enormous volume of motorised traffic going through the town, there must be quite a lot of other petrolheads in the area.

My room was in fact a very tastefully furnished one in a modest house on the Burford Road; it was very noisy but it did quieten down eventually, though long after my bedtime! -

Notice the "things to be charged" section on the chair

I had a bathroom which was right up my street, given my liking for plain and sensible baths and basins. Have you noticed how that word "basin" is disappearing? Once upon a time the thing you had in your bathroom to wash in was a basin, and the thing you had in your kitchen to wash up in was a sink. Now it seems the thing you have in your bathroom is also a sink. Fancy mixer taps are also a pet hate of mine (sorry, Younger Daughter.....). Half the time you have to work out how to use them; up, down, turn one way, turn the other. Why not just go for the good old fashioned one hot, one cold, like these? Simplzzzzz!

There was a separate shower too.
When I had arrived in Chippy, as I believe it is known to locals, I had had a burning desire for pizza and a glass of red wine. In the end I thought wine might keep me awake, and as I'd no way of heating up pizza and wasn't prepared to go back into town later and visit a pizza take away, I made do with buying muesli, milk and natural yogurt, a bowl of which I enjoyed before I indulged in a bath. In fact it really wasn't much of an indulgence, as on the rare occasion I have a bath I can never seem to get out of the habit of only having about 4 or 5 inches of water in it! It doesn't help that in our own house the bath takes ages to even partially fill, but I think this habit stems from my upbringing; at home we had a large hot water tank with a "sink" switch and a "bath" switch. In other words if you only wanted a sinkful of hot water, such as for washing up, you put the sink switch on. If you wanted a bathful of hot water, you put the bath switch on. (How this system worked, I don't know.) However my economical mother always put the sink switch on, even for a bath...... so I grew up totally unfamiliar with the idea of having a long hot deep soak.

Today's 24 miles seemed like a lot more, but that was indeed all I'd done. At 7.20 I got into bed - so early! - and read/wrote until 7.45, when although I was very tired, sleep was difficult until the traffic died down much later.

At 5.40 am it started up again! So I got up and started the preparations for another day on the road. Another bowl of muesli and yogurt, but again no tea, as unfortunately the tea bags provided made a ghastly brew. I will defnitely take my own next time and have added it to the spreadsheet! The weather forecast was good again, so this time I went for the cut off trousers straight away, to avoid having to change behind a hedge again later on. The night before, realizing how much traffic there would be on the first couple of miles of my ride, I had planned a different route for this section. At 7.30 when I set off, even these minor roads were quite busy, and clearly used as cut throughs by commuters. I soon passed through the village of Chadlington, where I rejoined the route on my Garmin, and where there was a very tempting cafe, but I decided to wait for my coffee until I'd done a few more miles. This was another day for pootling and I was really enjoying the ride. As I travelled on through Cornbury Park I thought to myself - oh, so this is where Cornbury Festival is held, but no, I was wrong, it's further north east at Great Tew.  You could tell that the Cornbury Estate was wealthy as the signs were plentiful and expensive looking, not like the battered ones on the sold-off estate where we live!! Then I went round the edge of Wychwood Forest towards Leafield.

Incidentally, yesterday, although I wasn't aware of crossing the county border into my home county of Oxfordshire, I felt sure I must have done, because the state of the roads got a lot worse. Before that, in the other counties, they were in a much better state of repair. It surprises me that in such a wealthy county the roads are so bad.

I encountered another problem with my route at Little Minster, where part of it had very recently been made one way, but I was now nearly on home territory and so, with the aid of the map, finding an alternative route was easy. And this is the great thing about cycling - you find you can't go a certain way but then the alternative route leads you to somewhere you wouldn't have otherwise found, in this case an amazing cafe in the nearby village of Brize Norton. I had asked a couple if there was a cafe nearby, and they pointed me to a sign for one about 100 yards down the road. Humble Bumble Cafe had a notice up saying "Cyclists and walkers welcome" - always a good sign! It didn't look all that impressive from the outside, being an old sports and social pavilion, and I did think maybe it might be the sort of place that sold filtre coffee which had been kept warm for hours...... but I was in for a surprise! Inside it was wonderfully cosy and welcoming, and there was plenty of outside seating which I took advantage of on this sunny day.  I ordered a bacon butty, coffee, and banana cake, and it was brought to me outside, where I had the company of this lovely dog, who I think must belong to the owner of the cafe -

He looked as if he had a bit of Golden Retriever in him, and certainly had the gently and friendly temperament of one. He sat by me all the time, looking longingly at my bacon butty, and I would have given him some bacon but didn't think I should. He'd soon end up fat if every customer fed him tit-bits.....

After that feast, I continued on down the road past the RAF base, and saw a few plane spotters at one of the crash gates, so called, I believe, because emergency vehicles need to be able to exit them in the event of a crash away from the main site. I wondered if something might be due to land or take off; I have to admit it is quite thrilling to hear and see these planes overhead and I decided to stop. I was amazed to see these men, Dutch judging by their number plates, up ladders (folding ones which they bring in the boots of their cars) with their huge telephoto lenses poked under the razor wire. I was surprised that this was allowed, and in some countries it isn't, so I was told, but apparently the razor wire and boarding behind the fence wasn't there until more recently, making it easier then for the public to see in -

Outside one of the crash gates at RAF Brize Norton

I waited there for over an hour, chatting to one of the spotters, and learnt that a big old German plane that was apparently quite rare was currently over the Atlantic but was due back in, as it was lunch time and the crew usually wanted to get back for lunch! I got quite an education talking to him; when I asked how he knew all this stuff, such as when planes were due in, and what sort they were, he told me that there is a military plane tracking app which gives you the information. I had seen Youngest Son looking up into the sky, seeing a passenger plane and then identifying it with an app on his phone, but didn't realize you could do this with military aircraft. I really hoped to see this one that was due in, and get a photo to impress both Younger and Elder Son (the latter studied aerospace engineering) but unfortunately, despite the long wait, it didn't appear. It was still mid-Atlantic when I left. Either something interesting was going on over there or the German crew weren't that hungry!

Later I couldn't resist calling in at one of my favourite charity shops in the village of Bampton, which is the ficitious Downton of Downton Abbey fame, of which I've never watched a single episode. In the shop it was "fill a bag for £5" so I did, and here is said bag on the back of my bike -

I wondered if I'd get up a local hill (Buckland Road hill if anyone local is reading this) with this extra load, but I'm pleased to say I did. And then it was a mere twelve uneventful miles to home. I find that sometimes the home straights can be the worst; I'm usually tired and there's a certain two mile stretch that I often dread, but today all was fine - it was a good end to a perfect day's cycling of 35.25 miles.

In the last few months I have been experimenting with different tyre pressures  and was a bit worried that Husband's recommendation of pumping them up a bit harder for the trip would prove a mistake. Another slight cause of anxiety was shoes - the day before leaving home, I rode it to Younger Son's for him to put in his van, wore a different pair, and found my feet seemed to be slipping on the pedals. Was it the bike/pedals and not, in fact, the shoes? Panic, panic!!  On the Sunday night in Derbyshire I also had to decide what shoes to keep with me and which to give Husband to take home - and one, or two, pairs? I chose to keep just my Keen sandals, as I could wear them with or without socks. But in the end all went well, and I was really pleased at how comfortable the bike was. And no saddle soreness, even though on the day my washing was drying I had had to go without padding......

The trip in total was 152.25 miles. Now, where can I go next..........?

Friday, September 27

Cycling from Derbyshire to home in Oxfordshire, Part 1

At the end of last year one of my sisters organised a weekend family get together in Derbyshire for this month. I immediately thought - "Oh wouldn't it be lovely to cycle there!"  However, I never got round to organising anything, and come September, I was feeling disappointed that I hadn't had a proper cycling trip this year. However, the weather forecast for the days following the weekend was very good and I knew this was my chance. Younger Son would be travelling up in his van which would easily accommodate my bike....

So three days before we were due to drive up - to Carsington Water not far from Ashbourne -  I got busy. I had thought of using to plan a route, but in the end accepted Husband's offer to plan a quiet route for me. He did what I myself would do if I had to plan a long route by myself, and drew a straight line from home to the destination, and then took me round the quietest roads nearest to it. He loaded it onto my Garmin, which for anyone who isn't familiar with Garmins meant I just had to follow an arrow on the screen in front of me and it would show me every turn I had to make. This makes it much easier than having to keep looking at a map. We went through details, such as when I'd have to go off route to the  accommodation I'd booked for each of the three nights. The journey would be about 150 miles in total and I decided to do it over 4 days. If I did it in 3 that would have meant 50 miles a day and I'd just be cycling from A to B each day and not really have time to enjoy the journey. The first day would be 40 miles, the second 50, the third 24 and the fourth 35. This would be the first time I'd cycled as many as four days in a row. I hoped my rear end would be OK.

I packed my panniers using a spreadsheet which I created the first time I did an overnight trip, though this time, as it was later in the year, I had to add some slightly warmer clothing. I had bought three new items since then, which proved to be extremely useful. They were a Torm long sleeved cycling jersey a Rab Kinetic Plus jacket, and some Equetec Dressage Briefs. I will do a separate blog post on those items in the near future.

On Day 1, the Monday, I set off at 8.20 from Carsington (my alarm clock hadn't worked or it would have been earlier). I had about 40 miles to do and Husband (who had gone home the previous day) had said it wouldn't be hilly, so I took it easy. The weather was cool and rather damp, but actually good for cycling. At this time of year there is plenty to forage; I soon found a well-laden damson tree and ate several. I could easily have foraged some strawberries here too, as there was a very convenient gap in the hedge to these polytunnels -

On this road there was literally a side of strawberries!

but I think that would definitely be stealing and not foraging!

I don't use a smartphone, except Husband's old one for OS Memory-Map, but I'm sure if I did it would have told me of places to stop for coffee. Instead I use the good old fashioned method of asking a real person. I had in fact stopped to ask a man if I could get through a closed road; he said the signs had only been put up that morning and he had seen another cyclist go past and not come back, so he guessed I could. We chatted a bit more, about his daughter who cycled, had done End to End and like me, enjoyed cycling on her own. I said -

"Yes - you can go wherever you want and stop for food whenever you want."

He then told me about a cafe not far away, called, simply, The Shed. I cycled off and found it, but just as I was thinking  "Ah, this is my sort of place!" - literally a shed painted in a very colourful fashion - I found it wasn't open that day. Gutted! However at Rolleston on Dove another real person, this time a friendly postie, told me that the pub across the road served coffee. I would never normally go in a pub on my own, but when I am out cycling I seem to gain a confidence that I don't usually have, and in I went, though it helped that it wasn't yet busy with lunch time drinkers.

My route then took  me around the west side of Burton upon Trent, where at one point another cyclist saw me taking a photo, came over and we had a good old natter. He was a member of British Cycling, having got disenchanted, I believe, with the CTC when it became Cycling UK. Then it was south and south-east to the youth hostel here near Swadlincote in the National Forest. I'd done a very easy 40 miles. Maybe it really was all downhill from north to south! My private room was only £29 with an en-suite. It was clean and did the job but was not as cosy as the older youth hostels.  I booked breakfast but then changed my mind as they didn't start serving it until 7.30 am; I knew that by the time I'd eaten and conducted my usual after-breakfast routine - not just unmentionables, but re-packing the panniers and getting the bike out of the shed etc. etc. - it would be later than I wanted. I found it rather an inconvenient arrangement that I had to ask for the bike shed key, lock away my bike and then return the key, meaning that if I wanted to return to my bike, I'd have to ask for the key again. There were also no staff in the hostel overnight, so I definitely couldn't get to it once they'd gone home for the night.

I always find it very hard to eat in the evenings on a trip like this. All I can think about is having a shower, speaking to Husband on the phone (he needs assurance that I'm ok....) making sure I'm familiar with the next day's route, making some notes about the day's ride, and getting to bed. After about 4 o'clock I struggle to eat a proper meal; I'd tried to eat a dried packet meal (mashed potato and chicken....) but couldn't manage much of it. Apologies to Elder Son-in-Law who had given it to me a few of these dried meals. In the night my stomach was rumbling and I got up and ate an apple and two cheese biscuits, which stopped the rumbles until morning, when I attempted to eat another  packet of something fruity and custardy, but without much success. And next time I stay at a youth hostel I will take tea bags - I sorely missed my morning cup of tea!

I set off at 7.45, and first stop was to buy a pint of milk at a local shop; Husband thinks milk is a good thing to keep you going so I took his advice and bought some. I quite enjoy milk nowadays, but as a little girl I loathed the stuff, and missed chunks of playtime at primary school because I was stuck in the classroom, trying to force down the free milk we all had back then in the 1960s.

Today being 50 miles, I didn't hang around. I was navigating this first part without the Garmin but it was fairly easy. After about 14 miles I spotted a sign for a farm shop and cafe - just what I need, I thought! I cycled on with renewed enthusiasm looking out for further signs, and was mystified when there weren't any. Eventually, after asking a couple where it was, they directed me - back the way I'd come. How on earth had I missed it? This added on another 3 miles, and I wasn't sure whether it was wise to back track like this, but I really needed a proper breakfast, so I did. It was worth it; I had a fry up, and both tea and coffee, and that set me up for many more miles.

At this point things went just a little wrong.......... I attempted to rejoin the original route on my Garmin, and thought -

"Uh oh, it's not there............."

And not only that, but it seemed that Husband had neglected to work out the route for Days 3 and 4 as well. Fortunately we had taken the belt and braces approach and had written a list of places I would go through, and I also had the map on the smartphone to check, with the aid of GPS, where I was and where I was going. So I then cycled another 15 miles in this way, constantly checking road signs and the map. I crossed a busy dual carriageway fairly quickly; we had looked on google earth and knew that there was a safe crossing. At some point then I texted Husband to say what had happened, and shortly after, when I was on the very edge of Coventry, he rang me and said -

"The route is on your Garmin!! Why didn't you ring me?!"

"Well there would have been nothing you could do and you'd only have worried...."

He couldn't for the life of him understand how I had made the mistake of thinking it wasn't there in the "Courses", and said -

"But we went through it all!! I told you where you'd go off route and where you'd get back on it!" etc. etc.

Yes, we had gone through it all, but that had been several days before, and in the intervening interval I had completely forgotten that he had done the whole 4 days' route as one. I'm sure a psychologist would be able to explain why this had happened! In fact just recently I read an interesting article in the paper on memory, and apparently the phenomenon of going into a room only to forget what you've gone in there for is very common, and is known as an "event boundary"; the act of going through a door makes the brain believe that a new scene has begun and that there is no need for memories from the old scene. I think this applied to me, as I had gone through a lot of doorways since having that conversation with Husband!

Anyway, at last I re-connected to the route and made up for lost time. Coming into Kenilworth, I was amazed to come over the hill and see the spectacular ruins of the castle looming up ahead of me. Soon after that I reached Warwick, and from the outskirts I rode all the way through the town on a cycle path, apart from one small section where I did as other locals were doing and rode on the pavement. NCN Route 1 took me through to Leamington Spa, where there had been the possibility of a cup of tea with one of Elder Son's cycling friends; that didn't come off in the end, and it was a good job it didn't, as time was ticking on and despite having the course to follow turn by turn, it was pretty tricky following it as precisely as I needed to through housing estates in Leamington Spa, and I kept having to retrace my steps.

Today's only photo - cyclepath alongside the Grand Union Canal at Leamington Spa

But I did it, and took the road out of the town south to a village called Bishop's Tachbrook. I was getting quite tired by then, and when I saw what looked like a possibly long and certainly steep, busy hill, I was a bit worried about going up it, but once I'd told myself to just get on with it it turned out to be short and I was soon at the top. Another few miles, and another very steep hill, and there at 6.45 pm was my B and B, near Lighthorne, which was small but very clean and comfortable. And I was delighted to find there were some decent tea bags!! A tiring 52.56 miles.

Next episode - home, via Chipping Norton.