This morning we left our lovely, magic campsite in the field behind the pub in Wilcot and set off to ride further into the Cotswolds. It was such a nice place to stay and while we left under grey skies and a bit of drizzle, by mid morning the sun was out and our magic campsite was replaced by an absolutely magic ride!
It started with a decision. We were heading towards the town of Marlborough, where we could pick up an off-road cycle route and about 3km into the ride we hit an intersection. Turn left and we would have to ride about 7km to Marlborough on a busy A road and plough up a big hill. Turn right and we could get there on a quiet road but it was a distance of 19km. Hmmm, do we stick to our lovely quiet roads or take the short cut? We decided to just go for it! We turned left, power pedalled and the hill soon loomed before us…gear down…push those pedals…elbows in for the truck going past…oooh mind the bus taking the corner…go…go…!! We made it to the top of the hill, which although pretty long, wasn’t too bad and then we had a free wheel down into Marlborough. Short cut successfully cut! Marlborough was a nice town, certainly not a village and a bigger town but with nice wide streets and lined with lots of small, independent and local shops and cafes. It had a nice feel to it.
We found the cycle route and there began the real magic! It doesn’t get much better…riding along tracks and trails and paths through a forest and under avenues of trees, a deer bounded into the trees beside the path, the sun shone, we passed walkers and bike riders and horse riders, the sun shone, the birds twittered, the sun shone, we passed a shetland pony in a paddock beside the path who gave us an enthusiastic neigh as we passed, did I mention the sun shone! The THIRD day in a row of sunshine!!! We are beside ourselves! “It’s just so lovely,” I kept calling out to Steve, “it’s just magic!”
We stopped for elevenses on a bench beside the path, sitting in the sunshine and looking out at the fields. Perfect!
We rode on and the path continued through the trees, through parks and eventually brought us out in Swindon. Being a busy city, we tried to side-step around Swindon as much as we could, but we still had to navigate the busy streets and the multiple lanes and the zipping cars. It was a far cry from the quiet path we had just been on. Into the throng we go…oooh, there’s a roundabout…indicate…balance…turning…pedal…oh, we need to be in that lane over there!…merge…indicate…merge again…round the corner…up hill….quick arm out to indicate and change gears at the same time…balance…how did Steve get four cars ahead of me?…traffic light…Steve up ahead going through traffic light…power pedal…red light!…stop, first in line at the traffic light with a line of traffic behind me…watch the light…be ready to go…red…red…red…GREEN!!…GO!!!…power pedal…look over shoulder…can I merge over to where Steve is up ahead…cars behind me…pedal…pedal…go…go…GO…!!! Made it out of the traffic! Made it onto a bike lane! Phew! City streets are no fun!
We stopped for a quick bite of lunch in Taw Hill, sitting on a bench surrounded by houses, but it was a nice quiet spot. We did our research looking for places to stay and found a few but they didn’t all accept tents, so we really only had one option. Off we went for the final 13km to the campsite. We finally had some quieter country roads again and then we arrived at our campsite.
Oh…my! This campsite is the sort of place we usually avoid if we can help it, but we had no option, so here we are. It is as far removed from our lovely little quiet field as we could possibly get! It’s a “holiday park” with swimming pools, mini golf, a bowling alley, poker machines, an amusement arcade and an “entertainment team” of Claire, Elly, Ben and Deano and according to the poster, Elly can’t wait to show us the new party dances for 2015! Tonight the “entertainment team” is putting on a Jackson Five tribute show! It’s big and crowded and noisy and I can see the magic flying away on a cloud of fading fairy dust! We commented when we stayed in our hotel in Bath, that we were the youngest people there because everyone around us at breakfast was our senior by at least thirty years and we felt at home! It was quiet and peaceful and we loved it. Here we are surrounded by our own generation, lots of families but most people around our age and we feel like the two turkeys in a room full of peacocks! We don’t feel “with it” at all! What does that say about us!? It’s actually so far removed from our natural habitat that it’s really quite funny. It’s like something from that 80’s British comedy Hi-de-Hi, with all the in-house entertainment and members of the “team” making sure everyone is either dancing or playing games or somehow being forcefully entertained! It’s so “not us” that we can’t help smiling!
So the day started with magic and ended with…a little less magic! It was a fantastic ride and having the sun again was brilliant. Tomorrow we’ll keep going on into the Cotswolds and hopefully pass through some more nice little villages. Ooh, I have to stop blogging now, Bingo is about to start, so I’m off and Steve is off to try his hand at Salsa classes. Hi-de-Hi!