Thursday, 2 July 2015

Preparing for the Tour...

As I haven't made any cycling related posts for some time I thought that I better put that situation right....

I have been out on the bike at most of the locations we have visited so far......
The first ride in a new location is always a bit of a cautious exploration as I check out the area and the condition of the roads......

When we were in Moreton-on-Lugg I found a nice circuit to ride from the campsite and out to Bodenham where the Scarecrow festival was held and then back to the site by a different route....
The condition of the roads was not too bad but there were one or two potholes that needed avoiding along the route...

I was surprised though by the number of large trucks that were travelling on very narrow country roads that were never intended to carry vehicles of that size...
It was probably those trucks that had caused the potholes in the first place....

Tiffany the Tifosi at Bodenham next to the remains of the Old Cross

Here at Seend the road surfaces are pretty good for cycling and although I have found a few rough patches I have not come across any real potholes....

I have worked out a really nice regular ride that is virtually all on country lanes with just one 100 metre section on an A road and a 5 mile section on a B road.... 
The total distance is only 25 miles which is ideal for a quick morning or evening ride. 
If I fancy doing anything longer it is easy to build extra loops into the route and lengthen it accordingly....

Moving on.....
The other day while we were in a supermarket doing a bit of shopping I noticed this:-
Tour de France official wine from Chile?
Yes it's a bottle of Pinot Noir marked with a Tour de France Official Wine Label, but as you can see the wine comes from Chile... 
I would have thought that France produced enough of it's own fine wine to be promoting that rather than a Chilean red wine....

Not being a wine expert but still enjoying the odd glass or two...and with the TDF just a few days away..... I bought a bottle and I must say that very nice it is too.......
I must get a few more bottles in to help me in the hard task of all the hours I will be spending watching the TDF on the television over the next few weeks......

Monday, 29 June 2015

The Other Direction.....

Following our canal path exploration the other day, on Saturday morning we thought we would explore the canal in the other direction...
The plan was to walk along the canal path as far as Devizes wharf.....not a long walk, only about five miles, but on a hot day and with a cafe stop and a picnic lunch planned as well, five miles was going to suit us just fine......

Heron on board the Puddle Duck
 There are lots of different types of narrow boat on the canal and just as many different characters on board....
We walked past a boat called the Puddle Duck but it wasn't a duck on board but a heron.... 

You can see quite a lot of these birds along the canal.... They can remain very still as they search the water for their next meal......
Hire boats being cleaned in preparation for their next occupants
A little further along the canal we saw some narrow boats owned by a hire company being prepared for the next set of holiday makers..... 
A week or two on a narrow boat seems to be a pretty popular holiday choice for a lot of people although it is something that I have never done....
One of the many locks
 Just as we were approaching one of the locks, we saw a water vole swimming across the canal. As we were watching it a large gull swooped down and tried to grab the vole.... I never thought that a gull would attack a water vole like that....maybe it thought that it was a fish swimming near the surface.... 
Anyway we never saw the vole again although it didn't appear that the gull had caught it......
The main flight of Caen Hill Locks
 One of the main attractions of this section of the canal is the Caen Hill Flight. 
This is a flight of locks that take the canal up the hill on the approach to Devizes.

There are 29 locks in all and 16 in the main flight which I have pictured above....
Apparently it takes between 5 & 6 hours to negotiate the entire flight......
Mighty hard work I call it opening and closing all those locks.........
A narrow boat in one of the locks
 I have to say that negotiating locks is one of the reasons I wouldn't want a narrow boat holiday.......!!
At the top of the main flight of locks there is a cafe and Anne and I took advantage of it with coffee & cake.
It was really interesting sitting there and seeing all the boats slowly making their way up the flight...
Canal side pub..
Just on the outskirts of Devizes there was a canal side pub on the opposite bank and judging by the number of people sat outside it was obviously doing brisk business.....

We carried on until we reached the wharf area where we found a seat near the towpath and had our picnic......

We had really enjoyed the walk...... apart from one thing......Cyclists!!

Yes folks I know..... I am a cyclist...but it is a good idea sometimes to see what impact something we do has on other people.....  

Throughout our walk, every minute or two we would hear a 'ding..ding' which was the bell of a cyclist. 
Because the towpath was very narrow in places we had to stop and stand aside to let the cyclist/s go past. 
The first couple of times we thought nothing about it, but as our walk continued it really did become annoying. 
I counted 56 cyclists in just one hour of our walk. Some of these cyclists were solo others were in twos or threes....

Now don't get me wrong, the tow path is a shared space and it must have been just as annoying for the cyclists having walkers 'in the way' as it was for us having to keep on standing aside.

However one observation that Anne (who is not a cyclist) made, was that very few of the cyclists actually slowed down....they just rang their bells and kept on coming. 
From Anne's point of view she found this to be arrogant...  ding ding...  we are coming by so get out of the way!

It is not often that I would ever ride along a towpath (although I have done a few times on my touring bike) preferring road riding, but it is good sometimes to experience things from a different perspective.....

On the road I'm probably an annoyance to motorists, although I must say that when I am driving I have never found cyclists such a pain as they were for me as a walker the other day........

Friday, 26 June 2015

Exploring our latest location.......

Since we have been here at Seend the weather has been gorgeous....very sunny & very warm.

Yesterday we thought that we would go for a wander along the towpath and start to explore our latest location...

This scene is just 100 metres from our pitch
The Kennet & Avon canal passes along the rear of the campsite....in fact we are only about 100 metres from the water of the canal....

The plan was to walk along the towpath to a pub that we had been told about..... have a drink and lunch....then have another drink and walk back to the site.....
Company for our tow path walk...
 Along the way we were joined by a couple of families of ducks and geese who kept pace with us for a fair way.....
They then noticed some good juicy reeds and so they decided to stop paddling along and have lunch instead.....
Our lunchtime pub stop
 It wasn't long before we arrived at our lunchtime pub stop...about an hour in fact...
The pub was on the opposite bank so we had to cross the canal by way of one of the many bridges....
The view up the canal from our lunchtime table.
We both had a very nice lunch and as we were sat right next to the canal there was lots to see...

It's always interesting watching the narrow boats as they prepare to enter the locks.... the same as caravan owners trying to reverse their trailers onto a pitch..... it provided good lunchtime entertainment for us...
Looking back down the canal in the direction we had walked...
Following lunch and a few drinks we then headed back down the towpath....... 
The main objective was the campsite.....the secondary objective was to do it without falling into the canal..!!
Heading back to our campsite
I am happy to report that we achieved both....
After getting back to Eva the Eriba I sat in my awning seat and promptly fell asleep....

Well....It beats working..!!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Yes.....We've Moved Again......

We have now left Hereford and the Cuckoo's Corner Campsite......

A week before we left the site we had another visitor... Bill Williams..another friend from the Backpackers Club arrived one morning...
He caught me out too.... 
I was having a lazy man's lie in when he arrived... I saw the green Subaru enter the site and park opposite Eva...when I saw him get out and start walking towards our awning mild panic set in and I was out of my bed and dressed faster than I have done since we started our travels.... 
Still, it was good to see him and have a natter and a cuppa.....

Before we left the site, we also got back to the Country Park to search out some more of those carvings.
I took some pictures which I have posted below....

Also we found a 'Reading Seat' on which were carved faces of garden spirits....
Again I have posted the images below....

Buzzard

Two Playful Pine Martens

Wise Old Eagle Owl
A Family of  Badgers

The Reading Seat in the Orchard

Female Garden Spirit Carved On The Reading Seat

Male Garden Spirit Carved On The Reading Seat
Where have we moved to ?
Well due to family matters we need to be in easy striking distance of the West Country for a few months and that is obviously having an effect on our current plans....

What we have decided is that we will fully explore this part of the country first.... allowing us to meet our family commitments and at the same time enjoy everything that the West Country has to offer.... So we are currently at the Camping & Caravanning Club site at Seend which is between Melksham & Devizes...We plan on staying here for a month.

The site itself is situated right next to the Kennet & Avon Canal and is well positioned for walking and cycling.....
I'm looking forward to riding some of the local roads which seem to be ideal for a bit of road riding being reasonably quiet of traffic.....

Hopefully over the next few days I will get some images of this current location to share with you....



Saturday, 20 June 2015

Over the County Border.....

One of the places that we wanted to pay a visit to whilst we were in the area, was Ludlow just over the county border in Shropshire.....

It was only a twenty mile drive and on arrival we made use of the park and ride service... 
A good thing really, because the one thing we didn't like about the town was the volume of traffic that try's to squeeze itself through the ancient narrow streets....

We visited the castle which can use up a good half day to do the visit justice.......
Like always, we also had a good wander around visiting various shops and looking at the wonderful old buildings......

All in all a good place to visit....just a great pity about the traffic... 
I think that more people should take advantage of the park and ride service.
When we arrived the car park was not even half full and the same when we left...
If I had anything to do with it I would ban all traffic from the centre of the old part of the town, except for essential delivery vehicles etc..... but hey......these days the car appears to be king!

Below are just some of the images that I took in and around the old town, including a couple of the Feathers Hotel, which has been described by the New York Times as "the most handsome inn in the world"......



Ludlow Castle
Another View of the Castle
The Feathers Hotel
Another View of the Feathers Hotel
Row of Black and White Buildings
Bored with Black and White? How About Black and Yellow.
Yet another Row of Old Black and White Buildings.
Just After Taking This Image, All Spaces In Front Of The Building Were Filled With Cars
Waiting to get a clear view of each of these buildings without too many cars in front of them turned out to be a bit of a labour of love......
The moment that I had pressed the shutter release on the last image all the spaces in front of the building just suddenly filled up with cars trying to park.......
With most of the other shots it was a matter of waiting for any gaps in the moving traffic.......

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A Scarecrow Festival.....

When we visited the tourist information office the other day we picked up a leaflet declaring that there was to be a Scarecrow Festival at a nearby village.....

I was keen to go along but Anne appeared a bit uncertain about it....
When I asked her why, she told me it was because she was a bit concerned that I might be mistaken for a scarecrow and never get out of the village.....I think that she was joking, but I'm not sure.....

However on Sunday we went along to have a look.....

We hadn't been in the village for long when I got chatting to an old local guy. He told me that he had entered a scarecrow in the festival competition but had taken it down because he didn't think the others were proper traditional scarecrows.... if they had been he would have easily won the competition he reckoned.....

I must admit that he had a point....he said to me " You know what a proper scarecrow looks like don't you...of course you do." 
None of the so called scarecrows we saw looked like a traditional scarecrow but they were all interesting just the same..... A few of them seemed to follow a 'film' theme..........

I have posted images below of a few of those that we saw......


Ghostbusters....

A Burglar With His SWAG...
 This next one was one of Anne's favourites... it shows a farmer with his head down a hole looking for moles while the birds fly free overhead and the moles pop up out of holes all around him.....


The Farmer Trying To Catch Moles...

School Crossing Patrol...

No Idea What This Is...!!!
 This next one was the winner of the competition.... one with a film theme... 
This is Harry Potter with his owl in a cage sat on the bench on platform 9 3/4.....

Harry Potter
Unfortunately it was entered by the next door neighbour of the old gentleman I had been speaking to earlier, so that was a win that didn't go down very well with him.......

I can see a feud going on for weeks between them now....

This next one was my favourite....
Just in case you are unsure, the scarecrow is the one on the right.....
Anne and I are sat on the left.....I think.....or maybe not.....
Could Be Anne and I And A Scarecrow.....Or Maybe Not!!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A Surprise Visit....A Long Journey....A Piece of Cake.

The other day saw Anne and I waiting at the rail station here in Hereford....

The night before I'd had a text from Jason Boynton-Lee (who had paid us a visit when we were at Sixpenny Handley) informing me that he had got a day off work....fancied a day out...and was thinking of coming up to Hereford as he had not been here before......

The Rail Station at Hereford
Now the fact is that Jason works on the railway, so in a way it would be a bit like a 'Busman's Holiday' or in this case a Railman's Holiday....
Not so silly when you take into account the fact that he has free travel passes that need to be used or lost.....

Anyway, we met him off the train and had a good time just wandering around parts of the town taking a few pictures here and there and generally catching up on gossip etc.....

There is a nice statue of Sir Edward Elgar leaning against his bicycle and we both took a picture of that........
Statue of Sir Edward Elgar
Whilst leaning against his bicycle Sir Edward was taking in the view...... What of..?
The View Sir Edward Was Looking At......
 Yes that's right... The Cathedral of course......

Anne went off to look at various shops as women like to do and Jason and I found a nice little independent coffee shop (no tax avoiding multi national chains for us) and indulged in another of our favourite pastimes........

Coffee and cake........ The eating and drinking of.......
Coffee and Cake...Notice I Finished My Cake First!
Anne caught up with us again and had some cake of her own with a pot of tea, so Jason and I had to have another coffee / tea ourselves,
but we were both good and did not indulge in any further cake consumption.........
View Of The Town Centre From Our Cafe......
It was really good to see Jason and nice of him to take the time out to visit us....

Mind you a journey of about four hours in each direction is a long way to go to sample a piece of cake............