Tuesday, September 12

Day Two - Pewsey to home.

First of all an apology for the poor quality photos. I was using an old smartphone (which I only take because it's got OS Memory Maps on it) so that's my excuse.....although it was a dull day. My camera, bought from Jessop's just before they went into administration 4 or 5 years ago, has packed up. So much for modern technology. My dad's old Kodak Brownie must have gone on for decades.

The Weatherman, aka Husband, informed me early the next morning that the forecast was a bit better - rain in the morning and then brightening up. I don't mind getting wet if I know I will dry off later, so I stuck to my original plan of going home today.

Breakfast wasn't until 8 so I had a walk beforehand, exploring the very quiet lanes, where nobody was up and about, and the furniture business up the road was still closed. Breakfast was delicious! First stewed blackcurrants and yogurt, and home made apple juice, then fried egg, sausage, mushrooms, bacon, and fried potatoes, and toast (home made bread) with a choice of home made preserves, along with a pot of tea. My only tiny criticism would be that once again I had a cup rather than a mug - I'm not a cup person even if it is now very fashionable in the afternoon tea circles. Oh and I was brought a newspaper as well!

As I was leaving later, my host said -

"I should have asked you if you'd like me to make you a packed lunch - would you like one?"

I accepted gratefully, as it meant I didn't need to stop and buy food. A jolly good packed lunch it was too, with beef and salad rolls, clementine, snack bar (she apologised again for the lack of cake), carton of apple juice, and a Cadbury's Flake, which, as old Pop Larkin of  The Darling Buds of May would say, was "Jus' perfick!" as I love a bit of chocolate with my cup of coffee.

I left at 9.40, a later start than I'd normally do but it didn't matter as I only had about 35 miles to go (day one wasn't too far either, a mere 38). I wasn't travelling with simply the aim of getting home - I was travelling with the aim of enjoying this day as much as the day before. Perhaps that's an advantage of not having too far to go. It seems a nice idea to me when cycling to set yourself the sort of distance where it doesn't matter if some problem crops up  - you have factored in extra time and therefore delay need not cause too much worry. This wasn't the case back in May on a previous trip; I had planned to travel about 50 miles, which would have been fine but due to having to find a different route late in the day, because of a busy road that was impossible to cross, I arrived at my destination at 7.50 in the evening, later than intended by nearly two hours. This meant that I couldn't take the evening slowly and get to bed in the early and relaxed fashion that I like to.

Anyway, today I pootled off into Pewsey and then got onto NCN Route 4, which I had ridden yesterday for a few miles. I went over, and alongside, the Kennet and Avon canal, stopping to look at the barges, and the railway. I didn't mind being on the same roads for a while (although I wouldn't have wanted to go all the way home on exactly the same roads) as somehow when you've going the opposite way you see things you didn't notice before.

One thing I saw was this house down in a valley, and wondered why it had these tall chimneys.

It did start to rain and I did get cold and wet, and so I was very much looking forward to having a cup of nice hot coffee at my planned stop, about 12 miles into the journey, which was at the 200 year old Crofton Beam Engines, built to supply water to the Kennet and Avon canal. We had been there donkeys years ago with our children, Husband having been there as a child. (Have you noticed how people take their children to see things they visited as a child?) I had carefully done my homework, or so I thought, as to their opening times, so you can imagine my disappointment when I arrived and saw this sign, bearing in mind that it was Wednesday -

But I checked the leaflet! How dare it be closed!

Oh dear...... A cold and damp me cycled on near the canal and the railway to Great Bedwyn, where I thought I might get a cup of coffee. A shop had a sign outside advertising some sort of coffee, but it was rather an old and uninspiring sign and I thought maybe the coffee would be just as old and uninspiring, so after eating my lunch there on a bench opposite, I decided to cycle on and get coffee at my planned tea stop instead! Do my cycle rides revolve round tea and coffee, I hear you ask? Well no, well yes maybe! But I think you'll find a lot of cyclists know where all the good coffee and tea stops are! Incidentally, I am looking forward to the next Coffeeneuring Challenge coming up very soon (and it doesn't have to be coffee!). I took part last year and earned my badge -

Onwards then to Little Bedwyn, alongside the canal. I stopped there for a call of nature. I parked my bike in a layby and crossed the road (but not too far from the bike) and found some suitable cover amongst trees. Calls of nature while cycling seem to me to be a very interesting and scientific topic of conversation, so let's explore it. Can anybody tell me - why do I need to go so often when out cycling??? Obviously I drink more than if I were just sitting about at home doing nothing but sew, and the occasional bit of housework, because I get thirstier, ......but I do go disproportionately more frequently than when I am doing merely that. You'd think that one would sweat this off to a greater extent than I do. Even on hot days I go frequently. My personal theory is that it's to do with the exercise, i.e. that it gets everything moving more and that that includes one's waterworks. Thankfully I can happily squat down anywhere and don't need to be on the lookout for loos. Poor Brenda of Cycling in the Sixth Decade suffered with cystitis on a recent trip.......

Ok, let's get back on to the subject of coffee. The planned tea stop which turned into the coffee stop was at Cobbs Farm Shop on the other side of the A4, west of Hungerford. I had two or three miles on this road but although the traffic goes past fast (try saying that quickly) I knew the road was wide and generally not too busy so wasn't worried about travelling on it. I parked and locked my bike outside the shop -  I should say here that my bike has a fixed lock (Axa) on the back wheel, and I also use my padlock. On the fixed lock the key stays in it while in the unlocked (riding) position, so I don't like to have any other keys dangling from it, and therfore keep my padlock keys separate. So after locking it I put both lots of keys in my rucksack. I then went off to enjoy my coffee - Americano again, £2.25, again not the best, but not bad. This time I had remembered to ask if I could have it in a mug but they didn't have any. There was seating inside and outside. 

When I got back to my bike, I unlocked the padlock, and then slowly the feelings of panic rose within me........... I couldn't find the other lock's key. 

"You plonker!!!!!!!!!" I said to myself.

I said this because I have got two keys for this lock, one of which it would be sensible to put on the padlock key ring, but I hadn't.

I spent several minutes going through the rucksack again, before I thought -

"Could I have dropped it?"

And there it was on the ground. Phew!! I did not want to make a call of shame to Husband saying "I can't unlock my bike!" 

In Hungerford, at a small roundabout, a lorry overtook me and I was thinking -

"His back end is going to swing round horribly close......." which it did.  

He should have waited. 

I cycled on now through the Berkshire villages of Poughley - (as in "cough" or "bough" or "rough"? I ought to know but I don't. In my head it's as in "cough" but I could be wrong) East Garston, Eastbury and Lambourn, stopping for another call of nature on the way. On my next trip I shall count my CONs! Lambourn is full of jockeys, being in the Valley of the Racehorse. It also has a cafe, which I have been meaning to try for ages. This could have been my tea stop, had it not shut at 4 pm. I didn't get there in time, but shall make it my aim to get there one day and try it out as the website says it's a popular stop for walkers and cyclists. Maybe even the odd bandy legged jockey goes in there too. I'm not being jockeyist, they really do have bandy legs!

By now I was beginning to feel slightly tired and a fraction saddle sore (I hadn't worn padded undershorts on this trip) so when I arrived at Seven Barrows, about 3 or 4 miles from home, I had a break. My arms were also aching slightly, as I had meant to alter the position of the handlebars before leaving home - I knew it wasn't quite right, but it was one of those things that got forgotten. I could have done it while on the trip, but was nervous about doing it without Husband there. Before I'd ever heard the word "torque" I just tightened things up as much as I could, and that was it, but now you get torque measurements on things that have to be tightened up and I get worried that I will either tighten them up too much or not enough. It's a bit like zips - yes it is, really! People who have never been told that zips are hard to put in just get on and sew them in and don't worry about it (me) but those who have heard -

"Ooh zips, very tricky!"

get scared and think they can't do it. A bit like with torque.

In the case of the handlebars I had visions of them dropping forward after adjustment and me falling head first over them...... 

Despite this little nature reserve, with the barrows in it, being so close to home, I had never visited it (or walked up the track that you can see) but now I wandered around it looking for the wild flowers and butterflies which another notice tells you are there, and refuelled for the last bit of the ride. Sometimes when I get off my bike for some reason, I don't get back on the bike immediately, but walk with it, because frankly I just like to walk now and then and not sit on a saddle and pedal. I love walking - you see even more when you walk than you do when you're cycling. I think walking is the ultimate in travel!

I also, for the last time before reaching home, had another CON. 

Seven Barrows

And then it was home, to Husband, beans on toast and a nice cup of tea.

I love the term "earworm". I had one the next day, when I was thinking about not having "stayed another day". East 17's  "Stay another Day" is actually still worming its way around my ear.


PS On a totally different topic, I have just changed from Feedburner to Specificfeeds. I hope it's working properly and that everyone who normally gets an email notification of a new post is doing so!

PPS Anyone who read my last post soon after I published it may have noticed a list of my notes at the end. If so, you're lucky, you got a bit extra that you weren't meant to get. Eldest Son pointed it out to me and I deleted them. Good job there was nothing too embarrassing there!