Cruising back to base…. 48 miles
As I stirred this morning, after an unusually cold night for August, I poked my nose out of the tent to take a good look at the campsite I had landed in the night before. It had been after sunset when I arrived, and I had pitched my tent in the failing light. I looked around…..there were a handful of caravans, only a couple apparently occupied (one by the site guardian), my bike tied to the fence, and my empty supper plate lying in the grass…..
I started to strike camp when I heard a voice in the distance: “D’yuh wanna cup o’ tea or coffee?”. It was the site guardian, and he obviously thought I was a case that needed pity……I mean, who in their right minds would sleep in what is no more than a flimsy bivvy with poles?
As I finished packing my tent, I heard another voice in the distance: “Are you going far?”. I looked up and saw a couple coming towards me, occupants of what looked like an American trailer caravan (you know the sort….big and pretentious) towed by a conspicuously un-British pick-up truck that needed a dual lane carriageway all to itself.
They had lived in Florida for 20 years, had now had enough of the unrelenting heat and the expensive medical care, but had lost a lot of money trying to sell their 13 houses because of the economic downturn. But for the crisis, they could have been millionaires……they said.
“Can we get you a cup of tea and some biscuits?” they asked. I listened to their story of woe trying to unhook themselves for the American way of life, but I really wanted to tell them they should unhook themselves from the American lifestyle by selling their trailer and truck. But I tactfully let that opportunity slip.
Having covered half of today’s journey yesterday, I felt relaxed, cruised my way through tiny Northamptonshire villages until I felt the need for breakfast. I stopped in Kingscliffe to ask a scruffy-looking farmer, climbing into an equally scruffy-looking truck, if there was a café in the village. “I could murder a bacon sandwich”, I said. “You need to go back the way you’ve come and go along the A47 where there’s a great trucker’s stop……or maybe you don’t like A roads?”. “That’s right”, I said with a wink “I don’t want to meet people like you driving trucks like this…..”. I somehow knew I could get away with being cheeky because he laughed and told me he said lots of similar things about cyclists.
So I resigned myself to going the extra 8 miles to Oundle for my breakfast bap, and lingered in the familiar environment of a café well known to our Sunday club riders. As I got closer to home, I felt prompted to re-visit a local site that rose to prominence during the 1980s and the CND movement.
This Peace Garden is all that is left of a Peace Chapel, which had been erected twice and dismantled twice by the MOD, which reminds us not to take our current peace for granted.
Well the next expedition will be with my dear wife, astride the tandem, doing the Coast-to-Coast route called the Way of the Roses, which starts in Morecambe in the west and finishes in Bridlington in the east. Crossing the Pennines, we are guaranteed some hills……some big hills! The only thing I will ask of the weather-gods will be: let the current north westerlies continue blowing………and hard………..please!