What a morning greeting, sunshine streaming through the window! Not just sun, but warm sun! How splendidly, superbly super! We both set off this morning in short sleeves and it was fantastic to feel that sun on skin. We are still heading in the general direction of London and had a campsite in mind as today’s destination, that would put us in a fairly easy riding distance of London for tomorrow.
The ride out of Bishop’s Stortford was a busy one, navigating the early morning traffic and then out onto the dual carriage way. Thankfully we had a cycle path beside the road for most of it, but it was still loud and traffic zipped and whizzed by. I’ll admit, I took to the footpath a couple of times when the cycle path ran out. Steve stays on the road, but me, if there’s any chance to get out of traffic I take it. I’d rather apologise to the occasional pedestrian and dodge them, than dodge trucks and speeding cars. So while Steve powers along the road with a line of traffic behind him, I take to the footpath and avoid the motorised mayhem as much as I can.
We eventually made it out of the frantic traffic and were presented with a lovely off-road path that took us through trees and quiet towns.
I love house sticky-beaking! When we ride through villages and small towns, it’s a wonder I don’t run into the gutter because I’m always gawping at the houses and cottages and looking at their design and wondering about the people who live there. We rode through some fancy schmancy areas today, with houses that were named “Lodge” this and “Lodge” that and had big iron gates off the road and into their sweeping, gravel driveways. It was nice to just pedal along in the sunshine, with trees around us and looking at the different houses. The weather today would have been perfect if that persistent wind would go away. It blew and blew and it’s still blowing and flapping the poor little tent around at the moment. Apart from that though, it was a gorgeous day.
We stopped for elevenses beside the path, took out our little fold up chairs and sat in the sunshine. I then added a top-up layer of the 50+ sunscreen. Hear that? Sunscreen!! The simple act of needing to apply sunscreen, just makes the heart sing! At elevenses we did our usual trick though, of missing a prime elevenses location. We’d been riding through neighbourhoods and along the tree-lined paths and had been scouting for somewhere to stop for elevenses. It was now past eleven and we were feeling peckish, but no suitable spot presented itself. We finally saw a small patch of grass on the corner of the path and decided to stop there. I said, “Will we stop on the grass or keep going along the path a bit further? I don’t know if there’ll be benches on the path or not.”
“Let’s just get out the chairs and stay here,” said Steve.
It was a nice quiet little spot and it was a pleasant elevenses, but…of course when we started riding again, a mere kilometre up the path, we rode into a magnificent park, with shade trees and picnic tables and a lake. The perfect elevenses location. We do this often. We stop somewhere, only to find if we had ridden a few more metres, around a corner, we would have discovered a grand elevenses location. Oh well, our little patch of grass was nice enough, but I think we need to start trying out “what’s around the next corner?” a few more times, to find these improved spots for elevenses!
Elevenses over, it was time to continue pedalling. We came across a hill…a 14% gradient hill! But guess what? We had to go DOWN this one. What a nice change from slogging up these steep ones. Steve did his usual “I’m a frustrated Tour de France yellow jersey wearer flying down the Pyrenees” routine, by just letting rip and zooming down the hill and catching as many G-forces as he could. I did my usual scaredy cat routine of brake…coast…brake…brake…brake…coast…brake. Whatever works I reckon, we both make it to the bottom in the end.
Our route took us into the Lee Valley Country Park which was a fantastic place to ride. The paths went beside lakes, with bird life and lots of signs about otters, but we didn’t spot one unfortunately. The sun still shone, the wind was fierce, but at least it was a warm wind and it was lovely pedalling through the gardens, trees and looking at the different birds.
In one lake I spotted the lady of the house dutifully nesting.
“Where is he? He said he’d be home by now. Doesn’t he realise what a trial it is to sit here for hours, with no decent conversation, just to keep these few eggs warm! The least he could do is get home on time to give me a break! All I want is some time away with the gals, just some time for me, maybe a new style for my crest feathers. They’re so flat at the moment. A day at Saffron Swan’s Salon would be such a pick-me-up. Can I do that though? Noooo, because Howard is never home on time! There’s more to life than egg-time. Where is he!?”
Mr. eventually arrived.
“Where have you been? I’ve been sitting on my tail feathers for ages! It was your shift hours ago!”
“Sorry darl’ I got caught up with the lads. You know what Des is like, he just talks and then buys another round of Algae Ale and well, the time just goes. You know how it is.”
“Oh yes, I know how it is! Well, Mr. get your feathered rear on this nest and give me a break! And…this nest is a sty, I haven’t had time to do anything about it and I’ve had a twig sticking in my tail all day, so you can do something about that too!”
“Aw darl’, come on Shirl, go easy, one thing at a time! Let me just sit eh?”
“Multi-task Howard! Multi-task! Welcome to my world! I’m off to see Muriel. Have a nice sit!”
Oh dear. The soap operas we see on this trip!
As we pedalled on, we climbed a couple of really steep sections in the path and as we came to the top of one hill, a couple of cyclists were coming towards us, having just climbed a hill themselves. The lady looked at me and smiled, “It’s all down hill from here!” she said.
“Oh, goodo!” I laughed, “thank you!” and then I coasted (with frequent braking!) down the winding hill.
After leaving the park, we had some more busy road riding for a while, then a nice respite along a canal. As I was riding along, I saw a canal boat at a lock and as I looked down to the boat I saw a familiar flag. A lady was standing near the lock. “Is that an Australian flag I see there?” I enquired.
“Yes it is,” she replied in that familiar Australian accent.
We got chatting, as I tend to do and it turned out she and her husband were from Perth, they own the boat and spend six months touring the British canals, before returning home to Australia, during the English winter. I told her we’d seen a lot of boats on the canals as we’d been riding and it looked like a fantastic way to travel. She agreed that it was and as we parted company she said, “If you ever get tired of cycling, I can recommend this way to travel!”
“It looks like a magic way to see things!” I said,
“Travel safely,” was her parting comment.
It was nice to have another mid-ride chat!
A few kilometres later, we arrived at our campsite, near Edmonton, after a shorter ride today of 44km. It was nice to have an earlier finish and get out of the wind, so we sat on our pitch under a tree, had lunch and enjoyed the sun before setting up the tent.
Tomorrow should see us arrive in London. I’m psyching myself up for the crowds. I’m preparing myself for the faster pace and the noise and reminding myself that I can’t be in a village all the time! I’m sure we’ll love it. We loved Paris and coped with city life there, so I reckon we’ll be charmed and dazzled by what London has to offer. We plan to stay a week, so we can roam as far and wide as possible and experience as much of that great city as we can. Having said that, I’m a bit worried about another week in one place, which means another week of limited exercise. which means more worry about the fitness and flab factor, from having time off the bike. More worry! It’s what I do best! Even with the worry about increased flab and decreased fitness, I will enjoy every bit of the grand city. Look out London, the country bumpkins are comin’ to town!