Thursday, 3 July 2014

nearly there now

Thursday 26th June

We had breakfast together and sorted the bikes out and packed the van by about 9.30am.  Graham handed his key in early as our room was clear.  When I went to pay, the hotel owner thought we had left without paying.  We have to check he didn’t take the money out twice for our room.  Caroline booked that one and left her details.

As we had a bike this morning, Gra started with Dani, Andy and Graham.  They were going to be on cycle paths or by the river a lot of the journey.  It was quite complicated for Dani so Caroline and I decided not to travel with them.  We went to get our salads from Morrison’s, more drinks and cereal bars. 

We made our way to Platt Bridge and waited at McDonalds for them to catch up.  It was just a place we could focus on and find easily.  We didn’t waist our time.  We updated the blog and both caught up with our emails.  We knew the cyclists were not far away.

When they arrived at McDonalds we had drinks, Andy and Graham had burgers, Dani had her salad, me, Caroline and Graham said we would have our salads later.  We also had some doughnuts.  They seem to go down well.

While talking about the morning it was noted that Gra wobbled a bit by the edge of  the river.  Made them all chuckle.  It would have made their day if he had fallen in. 

Anyway Gra and I changed bike for van for the afternoon.  I was a bit nervous as I hadn’t been on my bike for a few days and definitely not on big roads.  We went thought Platt Bridge,  on to Golbourne, then right through the centre of Warrington. The journeny was  nothing like they had said the morning had been.  I think the day was about 38 miles and Gra and I did half and half.

We are over half way now.  Who would have though.  It’s going by so quickly.  Graham has only got two days left.  I’m not quite sure whether he will be happy to leave or sad.  He has worked really hard.  We’ll miss him when he’s gone (especially me and Gra).

None of us felt like eating much for tea as we had our lovely salads late.  Gra and I were in bed by about 8 O Clock.  Caroline and Dani watched a film.  I’m not quite such what Andy and Graham did.

Friday 27th June

Today breakfast was about 7.30am.  It was a buffet breakfast but we had plenty to choose from.  We left before 9 0 clock.  Caroline and I were in the van.  It was drizzling when we left.  We were hoping it wouldn’t get too bad.  Caroline and I knew we would not be able to follow them this morning.  We had stayed the night in between Dutton and Weaverham.  They were heading on the A49 towards Tarporley but then going on cycle tracks. As we couldn’t follow them we decided to go straight to Tarporley and waiting for them there. 

Tarporley was a beautiful little town.  I went to the public loo and it was better than the last two hotels we had stayed in.  We waited for the others to get to us.  They decided that they would not stay and have coffee, as it was too early and I wasn’t important enough, being only the van driver.  I was a bit disappointed as no time is too early for a coffee.  Never mind upwards and onwards. (I didn’t really mind).

After we left them, Dani’s sat nav took them on a road which went into a very small track, which seemed to be getting smaller and smaller, with long grass on either side until they were on a very muddy track.  Dani said she had definitely not checked that one out.  As they were wet though, the grass seed stuck to their clothes.

We then all headed for Whitchurch.  When going into the town, we saw a big Sainsbury’s and thought that would be a good place to meet up.  It’s very difficult when you are coming in and out of phone signal, to see where they are, so it’s good to have somewhere for them to head for.  By the time they reached us it was raining really hard.  They were drenched.  It is the first rain we have had so we can’t grumble.  As long as we are all prepared for all weathers, we are fine. 

We were able to have lunch, dry off a bit, loo break and get any supplies we needed.  Great.  We stayed about one hour, then it was my turn to go on the bike.  We set off in the rain but it stopped soon after.  We were on cycle paths again this afternoon, which was lovely.  The views were not spectacular but good cycling.

We came off the cycle track at Wem, on the B5476 and there were Caroline and Gra in a layby with van.  It’s always nice to see the van.  (And Caroline and Gra of coarse).  We have a little brake, something to drink and doughnuts.  Lovely.

We left them with about 10 miles to go.  We went through Wem, under a railway bridge, and then thunder.  We could see the rain coming.  It rained really hard.  We were following the B5476.  With the rain and traffic we were all just putting our heads down and thinking of arriving at the hotel.  The rain was really stinging our faces.  Dani said we were going at about 18 miles an hour. 

By the time we reached Shrewsbury the rain had stopped but we were really wet through.  Not too bad for me but it was the second time today for the others.  We have been so lucky with the weather.  It’s the first day we have had rain while we have been cycling.

The roads were getting busy by this time.  I was very proud of myself, I went round a big roundabout on the bike, through an estate with loads of traffic, then arrived at the hotel about 4pm.  Dani, Andy and Graham seamed used to the traffic but I am certainly not.

We booked into the hotel, which was really nice.  We all got cleaned up.  As we went to the restaurant in the hotel to eat, the heavens opened again with thunder and lightning.  We had a really nice meal though.  It was a really lovely evening with lots of laughing. 

Gra and I are back in our room at 9 0 Clock, getting into bed.  I’m not sure what the weather is going to be like tomorrow.  It doesn’t matter though, we are prepared for anything.  By this time next week we will be home and dry.

Saturday 27th June

After a really good night’s sleep we had a lay in this morning.  We had breakfast at 8.30am as we only have about 28 miles to go to Ludlow.  It was a really nice hotel in Shrewsbury. 

By the time we were all ready it was about 10am.  Caroline’s leg is slowly getting better. Less swollen and doesn’t hurt as much, but still not enough for her to cycle.  She is really upset about it and it’s no good for us to keep saying it doesn’t matter. She is still doing a good job with Gra and me in the van but Caroline wanted to be cycling.

Today Gra is cycling and I am in the van with Caroline.  Again we are unable to follow along with the cyclist on the tiny roads they are going on.  We have worked out that we should meet up at Wall Under Heywood as there is a pub there and we could get a drink.  We arrived at 11 0 clock and the others arrived at 12 0 Clock but the pub didn’t open. 

Gra and I swapped then and he went ahead to find somewhere we could get a drink.  We hadn’t gone long when he flagged us down at a place called Westhope College.  We had a drink and a piece of homemade cake.  It was such a lovely place. 

Before long though we were on our way again.  It didn’t seem long before we arrived at Ludlow.  We did make a wrong turn in Ludlow and cycled all the way through to the other end of town and all the way back.  That meant two quite steep hills one coming in and one coming out.  Not to worry though, we are all a lot fitter now than when we started.

We arrived at the hotel about 2am but couldn’t get in immediately as the rooms were not quite ready.  Dani had a problem with her gears on the way to Ludlow but there was a cycle shop nearby so Dani and Andy cycled there to get it fixed.  Bike fixed, rooms ready, we had time to spend in Ludlow. 

Graham took us in relays into Ludlow as it was about a 25 min walk.  We all loved Ludlow.  Kevin’s friend Rich owns a bar/restaurant in Ludlow, called Marches.  Lovely food, lovely people and right near the castle.  We had a really enjoyable evening.  It was Grahams last evening and I’m still not sure whether he was happy or sad.  He will be missed.

At this stage I must apologise to Graham, as of all things I have spelt his name wrong all the way through this blog.  It would have made it so much easier if I had remembered Graham’s name is spelt Graeme and Gra’s name is Graham.   Everybody would have known exactly who I was talking about.  I did say I would alter it but Graham said no, it would only make life difficult. 

Anyway Gra, Dani and I decided to leave the other three in town and make our way back to the hotel.  Another big day tomorrow.  That sounded easy, if we could have found which little alley took us to the van.  I think we could have nearly walked back by the time we found it.


Sunday 28th June

We were in the Travelodge last night and the restaurant for breakfast, next door, didn’t open  until 9 0 clock, so we decided to pack all the van, and make do with what we were carrying in the van. We have cups, plates, bowls, cutlery, some cereal’s and fruit, tea and coffee. 

After breakfast we said our goodbyes to Graeme and got on our way.  I don’t think he is leaving Ludlow till about 11am.  It was about 9am when we left.  Graham was on the bike.  We had about 58 miles today.

We arranged to meet in a small village called  ?.  When we arrived, there was nowhere for us to stop and meet up.  We parked just out of the village and waited for them to get to us.   

We then had a mission to find somewhere to have coffee.  We saw a place which was perfect for us.  It was a really nice picnic place with a coffee shop, not very busy.  We had coffee and tea cakes.  When we came out it had got very busy and now Dani wanted the loo before we left.  A whole coach load of girl guides had just arrived.  The queue was enormous.  Rather than queue she used the disabled one with Caroline.

Anyway we managed to get on our way again soon after.  They were on main roads today and it’s not so good for parking places.  We did find a great hotel called the Pilgrim Hotel, to have lunch.  Graham then went and had a little sleep in the van, otherwise he would have fallen off his chair.

After that, Graham still on the bike, they had about 20 miles to go.  It’s much more difficult without Graeme.  When he was there, we went in twos.  Dani and Andy are about the same standard.  We just bring up the rear.  Had Graeme had a lighter bike I don’t think he would have been at the back with us.  I think Graeme thought we would be travelling at Caroline’s speed, but with her not cycling, the pace is a lot quicker.  I have to say, without the electrics I wouldn’t be doing any cycling.  Graham is being very good and not using the electrics, to save it for me.  Although some of the hills are a bit daunting.

Caroline and I actually lost the others around Symonds Yat.  We had no idea where  they were, or what’s worse, where we were.  We had to set the Glympse up with Andy.  We found them eventually and then stopped on a little patch of grass and made a cup of tea. 

Off we went again with only about 10 miles to go.  Graham seemed to want to do the whole journey today, so I kindly let him do it.  We arrived in Chepstow about 6pm.  We unloaded the van and parked in a local car park.  After showers tidying ourselves up, we went to look for somewhere for tea.  The B & B owner said there was a pub down by the river, so we walked there.  It was beautiful, but no food on a Sunday evening.  We went to about six other pubs or wine bars, no food on Sunday evening.  In the end we had to go to Weatherspoons.  None of us wanted to after the fiasco in Ayr, but we were hungry and Caroline’s foot was hurting.

Anyway, we had a nice evening.  While there I went to the bar to order our food and drinks.  As I was paying, I said to the boy at the bar “I’m sorry I dropped one”.  He smirked and I felt a bit embarrassed as he did know that I was talking about a penny in my purse.  Then somebody came to the bar and said to him “I don’t want to worry you, but your bin outside is on fire”.  Well he rushed off. When I was relaying this to the others, Andy said “That was probably code to get him away from the smell”.  It might not seem funny now, but we found it hilarious.

We then went back to the B and B and to bed.


Monday 29th June

This morning we had breakfast at about 7.30am.  It was very nice, full cooked of course.  We are still finding it difficult to say no.

This morning everyone, including Caroline is very excited about cycling over the old seven bridge.  Graham was cycling so Caroline and I drove over the bridge to the services on the other side.  We then got Caroline’s trike off the van, got her togged up in her cycling gear and she was off.  I walked down some steps to the cycle track.  Caroline soon overtook me and was off to meet the others half way.  I thought it might be windy on the bridge, but it was beautiful.  We had a photo call on the bridge, when I reached them, out of breath.  Took some more of them leaving, then I walked back.  Caroline was really pleased, I was exhausted.  It was one of the things her and Dani had talked about when planning the trip.  It did make her realise that her ankle is not better yet and she would be silly to attempt to cycle any more. yet.

Dani, Andy and Graham had already left us, as today Natashia was meeting us.  She is the lady who started LEAF, the charity who we are supporting. 

Caroline and I got the bike into the van again and went to meet her at the ? pub in .  She was already at the pub when we arrived.  I had not met her before.  She was lovely and really wanted to know all about the journey we have been on.  Dani, Andy and Graham arrived about an hour later.  We all had a really nice time with Natashia and I hope it gave her a taste of the fun this journey been.  By the time Natashia left we realised it was lunch time and had we thought about it we would have asked her to have lunch with us.

We set off about 1.30pm.  I was cycling now.  Graham and Caroline in the van.  We went on some fabulous cycle tracks today.  By the way we had a little rain today.  We were on the Strawberry Line cycle track.  It went for miles.  At one stage we saw a sign that said “Tunnel, put your lights on”.  Dani and I thought, we can see the tunnel and we can see the other end of the tunnel.  We didn’t have lights with us.  I followed Dani into the tunnel and you couldn’t see anything.  There were cats eyes in the tunnel and if it hadn’t been for these, we wouldn’t have found our way out.  Dani stopped at one stage and I nearly bumped into her.  It was really funny and very cold.

We came off the cycle tracks and on to the A38.  It was a very busy road and after the cycle tracks, we just put our head down and just cycled.  Andy stopped at one stage and he usually catches us up quite quickly.  We had cycled quite a way when my phone started ringing.  I thought it would be Graham and Caroline wanting to know where we were. As I was on a busy road I just ignored it until I was off the main road.  We realised then that Andy was not with us.  When I looked at my phone it was Andy ringing us.  For a second I was really worried, until Andy said on the phone “where are you”.  We had gone quite a way ahead not realising and Andy didn’t see where we were.  He thought we might have turned off the road somewhere.  He really wasn’t far behind, just out of sight. 

Next we came to a little village called Mark on the Somerset Levels.  There was Graham and Caroline.  It was really hot by then so we had a well-deserved ice cream. We had about half hour stop.  Then Graham took over the cycling.

Caroline and I followed them for a while, then decided we had to go to the Boat and Anchor pub at Huntworth, just outside Bridgewater, where we are staying tonight.  Our friends Konrad and Lesli were coming to meet us and have dinner with us.  We had a drink in the garden as it was still lovely weather when the others arrived.  When we had had showers and got changed we had dinner in the pub.  Again we had a really lovely evening. 

Then to bed.


Tuesday 1st July

This morning we were up at 7am.  Breakfast at 8am.  Today we had 53 miles to go to just outside Crediton, a place called Coleford.   We left the hotel about 9.30am. 

It was a really sunny morning, Graham on the bike, so Caroline and I were in the van.  We could not follow them as there were cycle tracks again.  We had to buy lunch today so went into Bridgwater to Morrison’s.   We had arranged to meet them in Uffculme.  As we didn’t know which direction they were going to come from, we waited for the Glympse to catch up.  There was a layby we stopped in and made a cup of coffee.  It seemed hard for the three of them this morning.

They left us then to meet up again to have lunch.  (Our salads).  While waiting there a man on one of these disabled scooters came to talk to us.  He was very nice and gave us some local information, like loos and things.  Then he went on and on and on.  Within half an hour he had told us his life storey, about how he became disabled.  All about his visits to the hospital.  Really just telling us how many thing he had wrong with him and how he coped.  Caroline was sitting  on a stool near him but he hadn’t notice she was disabled and she didn’t want him to know.  She text Andy, who by now, along with Graham and Dani had wandered off,  “How can I move away without him realising that I am disabled”.  Andy text back  “Just do a commando roll, get up and walk away”.   I’m so glad I didn’t know what they were laughing at, also glad that Caroline couldn’t leave me too. 

Anyway, by the time he left us, it was time to move on.  Graham was happy to stay on the bike, as I was still tender from yesterday.  We then said we would make our way to Bickleigh and meet up there.  I love Bickleigh and was happy to go there.  They arrived about 2.30pm.  We had a cream tea, or toasted tea cakes.  It was a nice break and they only had about 10 miles to go.

Caroline and I then went to find the New Inn at Coleford, where we are staying the night.  Andy’s mum, sister and niece, Sue, Lucy and Erin were meeting us tonight, having tea with us and staying the night.  The New Inn was lovely, really nice rooms.  We all unloaded again, got showered and dressed and met in the restaurant to eat.  We had a lovely evening again, with lovely food.  By about 8pm Erin was ready for her bed.  The owner gave Lucy some DVD’s for Erin to watch.  By then we were all getting tired, so made our way to the rooms.  Andy, Caroline, Dani and Lucy went back out to have a drink in the garden.  At the moment they are making quite a lot of noise outside our window. 

Only two more hotels to go before the end.  I can’t believe nearly three weeks have gone by.

2nd July 2014

I have to say, the New Inn we stayed in last night was lovely.  Beautiful old building, lots of space, lovely comfortable beds and good shower.  The food was lovely too.

This morning we had breakfast with Sue, Lucy and Erin at 8am.  The sun was shining again, everything was rosy.

I was cycling today, as Graham cycled all day yesterday.  It was very hilly and we had a really big hill to get out of the village.  I did manage to cycle all the way to the top, with the help of the electrics but it was still a massive hill.  Every time we reached the top of a hill, we had a lovely quick decent and then another hill, and another hill, and another.  I was managing very well and keeping up with Dani and Andy.  We met up with Graham and Caroline in Okehampton.  They had takeaway coffees for us at the Waitrose supermarket.  We were able to go to the toilet and get cash for the kitty.  And of course our doughnuts.

Just before we met them I stopped next to Dani.  I was still sitting in my bike but unfortunately my feet don’t reach the ground, luckily Dani caught me.  Later I did exactly the same, but this time nobody was close enough.  I didn’t fall down and managed to cock my leg over the saddle and slide off.  (I didn’t know my leg still lifted that high).  It did make Dani and Andy laugh.

After we left Okehampton Dani’s sat nav took us down a little lane to get off the main road.  There was a tractor cutting the edges, we couldn’t get by so we followed him along the road.  It took a few minutes but we didn’t mind.  It was a welcome break.  As soon as we could we left the tractor, the sat nav took us down a little gravel track.  It did seem strange as it was not the usual sort track we go on.   We thought about the miles we would save by taking this track and decided to do it.  As Dani and Andy’s bikes are road bikes it was very difficult for them on a track like this.  They slide all over the place.  Also we had to go slowly and it’s difficult to steer when you are going slowly.  The path split at one stage and we ended up in someone’s garden.  We then had to retrace our steps and go over a little bridge across a steam.  It was funny and a wonder none of us fell in.  We had another bridge after that.  We eventually came to the end of the track and on to the road for a short while.  We then found a new cycle track.  For a short while it was lovely. Up on a ridge with no hedges either side so we could see for miles.  It was lovely.  Then we came back to the road.  By now the electrics were running out on my bike and I knew the hills we were doing would not be done by me without the electrics. 

We were by now at Lydford Gorge.  We flew down one side and I just couldn’t get up the other.  On these high hills it’s really difficult to push a heavy bike up the hill.

With that Dani and Andy decided we would call Graham and Caroline to have our lunch in Lydford Gorge car park.  We had a lovely lunch time of salads, crisps and tea.  Then we put my bike in the van and travelled with Caroline and Graham.  It had been a very hard but really nice morning.

Andy and Dani had about 20 miles to go.  As we were just leaving the car park we had a phone call from Andy and Dani to say Andy’s tyre had burst and they were at the top of a steep hill.  When we got to the them they had already taken the tyre off the bike. We had a new tyre and inner tube in the van and quickly fitted it and they were on their way again.  

We caught up with them once after that, at Bretnor Church on the hill.  Once they left us we lost them down the tiny lanes.  When they said they only had 5 miles to go we decided to go to Elnor Guest House in Liskeard where we are staying and wait for them there.

It looks quite nice. The only trouble for me and Graham is the toilet is down the hall and the shower in the cupboard next door.  The toilet I can cope with but the cupboard with the shower I’m not quite sure of.  It doesn’t look big enough for me to get dressed in there and I won’t want to be walking along the landing in a towel.   

Anyway when the others arrived they said yesterday and today were the hardest days they had done.  So many hills and so hot.  It had been really difficult for them.

None of us felt much like doing anything this evening.  After we were cleaned up we walked up the main street.  There seemed to be something going on in Liskeard and all the town was out.  We were told it’s Carnival week and tonight they had the parade with dancers. 

We went in the local pub that had been recommended to us, for tea but had a drink and was not too impressed.  We then went next door to had fish and chips.  It was lovely and warm and we sat on a wall, watched the parade and ate our fish and chips.

By then we had all cheered up a bit but as we were tired went back to the B & B and went to bed.

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