Yep, I was back in the darn blue raincoat again today! We sat at our table in the small hotel, eating our full English breakfast and looking out the window at the rain coming down. Again! Seriously! Come on now, enough! I was back in the “slicks” and we set off on our loaded bikes, to ride through the centre of Bridgwater. Before we left, Steve asked the man at the hotel about the age of the building and it turns out the building dates from 1376! He said it has its name of The Old Vicarage because it did used to be the vicarage and there’s even a hidden tunnel underneath it, so the clergy could escape during all the strife with the Catholics and persecution during that period. He also said the building was used as a courthouse at one stage and there’s a room that has really high ceilings and that’s the place where people were hung. He said, “I usually only tell guests about that after they’ve had a really good night’s sleep!” So it turned out to be not only a charming, but a really interesting little hotel with a very rich history and stories to tell.
We headed off and as we were walking through the main street where a market was being set up, the rain started pelting. I mean absolutely PELTING! The wind was blowing the rain full on into us, so we headed for an overhang in front of a shop and joined the crowd of locals doing the same thing. We eventually went round the corner and found a cafe to sit it out. The cafe was definitely more “caff” than cafe, which was great because one of the things I’d said to Steve when we arrived in England was that I wanted to go to a fair dinkum “caff” and have a mug of tea. So this morning I got to do that. We sat by the window where we could watch the bikes and I had my mug of stewed tea, while we watched the rain pouring down. While we were there, a bit of drama occurred. The owner’s teenage son had a seizure and his dad was behind the counter on the phone to the ambulance service, describing what was happening, while the poor boy was on the floor behind the counter, seizing. The paramedics arrived and parked the ambulance outside the cafe and then calmly dealt with things, as the boy began to come around. We sat and watched the cars, on the very narrow street, edging their way past the ambulance, which was parked slightly on the road, and part way on the footpath. Then a man came in and, as the paramedics were still dealing with the boy, said that the door of the ambulance was blocking traffic and could they do something about it. I loved what the paramedic said…”I’m really not fussed to be honest. I’m dealing with a poorly child here and I really don’t care about the traffic.” Good answer! I held the door open for the paramedics to wheel the young boy out and then turned to the owner and asked if he’d like us to leave, thinking he may want to close, but he said we were fine and to stay, but we quickly finished our cuppa and set off into the rain which had, thankfully, eased somewhat. The poor boy looked quite dazed, so I hope he’s OK.
We rode out of Bridgwater along a bike lane, but it was beside an A road and the traffic was really busy, so it wasn’t quite the quiet and picturesque ride we’d been used to. We rode into the seaside town of Burnham on Sea and the rain had finally stopped but, unfortunately, had handed things over to the wind! Man-o-man, that wind must have been blowing in from France because it was fierce and was back to pushing and shoving me about. We blew along the promenade and stopped at a fish and chip shop, where Steve partook of a plate of chips, while I ate my imported peanut butter sandwich and we watched the locals and visitors and holiday makers coming and going. It was cold and that wind was phenomenal, but there they were, sitting in the park and having picnics, walking along the sea front and sitting outside cafes in shorts and t-shirts! People back home would not be out doing that in weather like that!
While there was a break in the rain, we decided to ride on to Weston-Super-Mare, another seaside town about 20km away. We started off on busy roads again, then turned onto a quieter route and had some more hedges and farmland around us. It was very, very hard going in the wind. I rode along muttering to myself, “I am useless, there is no one more useless than me.” I just struggle so much in the wind. Steve was way ahead powering along, but the wind just hammers me and it’s like riding through quicksand with a sumo wrestler sitting on my handlebars. It just makes me feel so hopeless and useless that I struggle so much against it, I’m just no match for wind when it’s that strong. I was still enjoying where I was, still enjoying looking at the scenery, but every heavy, hard push on the pedals was just a constant reminder of how hopeless I was.
We were following the National Cycle Network Route 33 and it soon took us off the road and along an unsealed lane that was very potholed and very puddly, so I was bumping along, trying not to fall in the mud or the puddles, while that dastardly wind kept on blowing! In fact, have a look at this metal pole, that’s how strong the wind was!
Only joking obviously! That’s how it felt though! The route then took us through a field and we rode beside some cows that were quietly sitting and chewing. I thought I heard one mutter, “I reckon that’s them y’know. Me mates Barry and Merv, over in France told me about these blokes and I reckon this has to be them because, geez, take a look at them. Are you seeing them Terry, it has to be them don’t y’reckon. There can’t be two lots that look like them. What a fright! Sheila! I say Sheila! Quick, hide the calves, if they see this they’ll be havin’ nightmares and won’t sleep tonight!”
I’m sure I heard that!
We pedalled up the hill and as a man walking down passed me he said, “Once you get to the top, it’s all downhill!” Thanks mate, that’s what we like to hear! We pedalled down and edged our way through the narrow gate and I looked back and saw the very aptly named hill, we had just ridden up.
We stopped at a quiet little tea room so we could decide where we might stay and Steve tucked into a cream tea. He’d wanted to have a cream tea when we were in Devon, just so he could say he’d had a Devonshire tea in Devon, but he missed his chance because we ended up crossing county boundaries before he was able to have one. So he had one today, even though we are now in the county of Somerset.
With the wind howling as it was, we decided we’d need to be back in solid walls again and not force the little tent to stand up against the wind, especially after all the rain softening the ground so the tent pegs may not withstand the soft ground and the major shoving of the wind! We decided on a hotel and rode along the seafront of Weston-Super-Mare to find it. W-S-M is one of those classic English seaside holiday towns, with the tall, old hotels lining the seafront, the long pier, the big Ferris wheel and seemingly hundreds of ice-cream shops! We found the hotel and they were able to accommodate the bikes, so we wheeled them in. As I went through the door, I became a bit stuck, with the panniers caught on the side of the door. I heard a voice behind me say, “Hang on cock!” and a man came up behind the bike and gave it a lift and helped me through the door. Another nice person and some more of that classic British vernacular! Love it!
We went for a short stroll to explore, but in the end, we were a bit over being out in the wind, so we gave up!
It was still a good day. It maybe didn’t have quite the same magic as other days, due to the busy roads and the battles with the weather, but it was still great and it’s the little things like the scenery, the helpful and friendly people and just the experiences that are all new and memorable, they’re the things that matter. No weather can take the gloss off those things. We’ll ride on tomorrow and hopefully keep collecting memorable moments and maybe experience a bit more magic too. Can’t wait!