What you are reading here is the 6th full blog post that I have put up. Many thanks to world press, which is a total pain it has erased all the work I have done on 3 posts prior to this. So JW will be in UK a little longer…..like 2 weeks longer. While cycling about, I happened to meet a WordPress Comp-engineer. I quickly bludgeoned him senseless with my tire pump, left him laying on the side of the road in a pile of computer shortcuts……that’ll teach him. When I was called before the magistrate to answer for my crime, I explained who he worked for and that I was a blogger. The judge awarded me a 2 week holiday in Wales all expenses paid, told me that beating should have happened years ago…..he was a blogger as well. All joking aside, this will be the last time I blog using this dang WordPress platform. Dad, just be patient my daughter would say.
So, where the heck were we because I have to run thru my memory bank, all the way back to leaving the Isle of Man by Ferry to Liverpool. I was told, that unless I had tried Queenies, Manx Kippers and Donaldson`s Ice cream, I was not really on the IoM. That leaves me, a man with a severe fish phobia, needing to try fish, ICE CREAM I can handle. Queenies and baby scallops, served on a piece of sourdough toast, then a white wine sauce is poured over them, along with a lite waist slimming salad of course its fish don’t forget. And since Mom was not there to remind me, the lady at the next table reminded me that “there just full of Omega 3.s as well, aren’t they delish”. OMG, would somebody please figure out how to make Angus Beef be chalked full of Omega 3’s. Enough already.
Ice cream, is chalk full of everything supposedly bad for you and goes down so easy. That’s what I love about BAD FOR YOU FOOD. Here is the taste for you folks at home. You can eat a chocolate bar wrapper and all, and it will go down with great enjoyment. Try that with a package of fish buddy, and see If I ain’t right. But back to the food blog, the Donaldsons Ice Cream was just okay, I had a small 2 kilo tub, they had family size but that would be just to much. Next morning is Ferry morning. So, following Mom’s directives I am at the Terminal 17 hours ahead of departure……..its 21 hours if your flying. GOSH she just knows so many things about travel……just amazes all of us. Sure taught all of us how to sleep in airports.
Lamenting that I had not had Kippers yet, the man I was talking to says, My God man, ya have 3 hours till the Ferry comes in. Ride right down there at that window painted blue, best kippers on the Isle he says. I done just that, rode right down, walked thru the hanging chain door and asked for Kippers. Sorry me mate the fella says fut we don’t have any BAPS, not to worry says I, I don’t drink beer anyways. He eyeballs me in that weird “fishmonger” manner, you know with one eyebrow higher than their hairline….its uncanny. Baps he says are just a soft dinner roll, that’s how they would be served on a Sunday brunch. No matter I says, I am trying them with or without. OKAY, so he just nuked them very lightly, flips and peels the silver skin off, reflips and serves them to me – 3 herring fillets that once smoked become Kippers. Now tell me there ain’ta GOD, that’s no miracle of cosmic collision folks that’s FISH as the Master intended. Evolving right before our eyes. They were fantastic, really liked them, and they would be better with a Bare Bottle Brew for sure. I bought 8 extra packs, 3 per pack and sent them to Nevada and Levi, and to Pine and Whitney to try out. They will be good for about 18 days packed like that. Never heard if the box made it.???
Ferry ride was nondescript, lasted 3 hours on calm seas. Off loaded in Liverpool around 6pm, and just went to cycling east bound. This is where my life on this trip began to change, and from this point on, its affect becomes more and more pronounced. But more on that later. There is z fellow, Nigel Armitage, a very popular fellow on YouTube and Vimeo. He is a master stitcher, and his uploads are very informative and brilliant to watch on the platforms mentioned, plus you can sign up for a membership which gives you access to much more of Nigels informative student package. I spent the full day with Nigel and his lovely wife Emma, we dined at a local pub and they made sure that this Yank had a well aged British steak in his belly before he left in the morning. Thanks Nigel for your easy friendship.
The ride out of Burton, was a cross between riding small roads and some of the many miles of antiquated canals that weave thru England. Which brings me to a point about canals. Primarily hand dug of course from approx 1740 – 1800. The canals are typically 25 feet wide by approx 5 feet in depth, they are hand dug then the vertical walls have been rock lined, and the bank edges have all been stoned to stave off edge erosion and eventual destruction of the canal bank. My research shows some 5000 miles of canal had been dug historically, and today about 3000 miles of canal remain in daily use. Every canal has a “TUGWAY”, which is where the heavy horse teams would be walking as they pulled the boats along. Of course over time these canal boats have transformed from simple vessels for hauling raw product, to very ornate oats that are full fledged homes today with every modern convenience…..heck I seen some that had pencils and erasers on board. I can’t tell you how many Locks there are, but indeed there are a bunch. Each lock handles just one boat at a time, and passing thru a lock takes15-20 minutes. The runways today are cycle and walk paths.
My intention was to head over into Wales and cycle some of that area. I even sent and email ahead to. Fellow whom I have only met thru Instagram, Black Mountain Leather Supply, I warned him I would do my best to stop and visit if at all possible. My intentions were good, but the on the ground reality was very different. It was a combination of several thi gs really. An absolute over abundance of traffic on even the smallest of roads was a primary issue. But tired legs, or maybe too old legs were also an issue. I simply could not climb these steeper hills with enough speed to feel safe doing so.
The road to Ludlow, was my personal road to Emmaus. Rock walls lined both sides of the road for many miles, ivy, and other greenery clung to the rock walls and a silhouette of the shape of the average car was carved forever into this verdant green covering. The black top is ruff edged, no lines, and where it ends, quite literally its about 12” distance to the rock wall itself. I seldom if ever counted the 12 count between cars that were just on my lane, and it was every type of vehicle, from heavy trailer type lorries to young kids with Dads car for the first time. One particular climb was extremely tight, and when I finally could pull off on a farm lane entrance, I had ivy leaves captured within the folds of my jacket sleeve, and abundant discharge within my pants. I was officially done. Someday, my children will have children, and I want to see them on that day. Zt this rate I will the picture on the mantle that is always turned backwards for some reason. Here’s our Dad, the HOOD ORNAMENT, they will say to there kids.
I sacrificed and rode back I to Ludlow convinced that I had had it with this trip. Had a flat white tea, and thought long and hard about this whole process and what quitting would mean to my own psyche. It just seemed ominous to me too up and quit. It’s not like I owe it to anyone to either ride or quit, we don’t do this for applause and accolades, it’s really a much more personal thing than that. Several hours later, reading maps, thinking issues thru, I conclude. Several people had already warned me of just how much h traffic I would encounter when headed south, plus you pretty much have to avoid any road that starts with A, even many B roads are to congested. Stay with farmlands was my decision.
And with that, I cleaned my pants, and started my way more or less east on nothing but farm lanes which are given names and not a number designation. If the lane had a number given it, I would totally avoid it. For the next few days, I would ride 30 to maybe 45 miles in distance, only to arrive at the conclusion that as it regarded a linear distance it was barely 20 miles in some cases. Also a huge problem, as you wear yourself out and only getting 20 miles closer to the final goal of making it around the UK. It forced another great debate within my soul. That of achieving the sort of distances it demands in order that you get around in a reasonable amount of time, al with consideration for your personal safety as well. More on all this later, many have prayed for my wellbeing g and for wisdom to be shared thru the people I meet, and Gods gentle hand guiding me. Thanks to the saints who have prayed for me, they have not been wasted.