Monday, 19 September 2011

Bristol - The first of many reunions

13th May, 35km, West Huntspil – Puxton
After a phonecall to my mother my plans for the day change some. I now have an easy day towards Bristol and tomorrow I will meet her in the city. I enjoy a slow breakfast and coffee on the banks of the river. I barely find a rhythm on the bike before my first stop at Weston Super Mare. I've never seen the fascination with English seaside towns. As a child I remember begging my parents for money to spend on the (even then) decrepit amusement parks. These days I notice more the decaying facades of shop fronts and the interesting period styling of the houses overlooking the promenade. The “glory days” of such places are gone for now it seems. On this particular Friday it's a fizzing fusion of coach tours and zimmer frames.

As I have no pressing engagements I let the hours waft by. After making a suitable dent in my latest book I decide to head inland. A few supermarkets catch my eye as I leave. After snorting three raspberry trifles, a cornetto, a punnet of raspberries and a gingerbread man I make the decision to leave supermarket bins alone for a while – for no other reason than my gradually declining health.

I spot a sign for one of the National Cycle Network routes. Their paths often have a rural routing and therefore scope for camping areas. I sit in a nature reserve and soak up the evening sun before skulking off to a field to pitch up.

14th May, 48km, Puxton – Bristol – Flafield

Thanks to epic condensation I don't break camp as swiftly as planned. Once the tent is dry, I roll it up, and hit the road. The easy day yesterday ensures my energy levels are topped up. The weather is fine and the riding is easy. I have the added incentive that I'm meeting my mother and her partner Bob in Bristol for the day.

The A38 takes me right into the centre. I'm surprised how quickly the scenery changes from ash trees and meadows to brick and tiles – there's very little sprawl to the south of the city.

After a warm reunion and lots of excitable chatter we get to exploring the city. Still very much in travelling mode my “hobo-radar” picks up on things like well located youth hostels and accessible dustbins. Around the floating harbour many old boats have been converted into cider bars – I think Britsol would be a top night out. Endless music venues elude to a good spectrum of live entertainment.
The Clifton Suspension Bridge

In the evening we part company. I am, of course, offered a lift home. It's harder to refuse than I expect. They then ask if they can take some of the things that I don't need – the guitar mainly. I hand over a hole-riddled tarp that needs throwing out. But I can't bring myself to part with anything else, much to their confusion, and mine too. I conclude it has something to do with finishing what I've started. And taking the easy route at this late stage would only serve to undermine all the moments of stuggle that have come before. I know that if I give them the trailer I would regret it – even if I do tend to refer to it as “the damn trailer”. I may have mentioned this earlier in the blog, but the company that makes the trailer is call B.o.b “Beast Of Burden”. Only once you've used one do you realise just how aptly it's named.

Rain begins to fall as I ride north out of the city – I start to wonder if not taking the lift was the wrong choice. Moments later I hear a toot behind me. By chance we are on the same route out of town. As they pass I realise that riding is the right thing to do. I wave as they disappear into the distance - all the while chuntering to myself at even considering the lazy option. I like to use quotes when I feel myself slipping off course. Not that I found the riding particularly painful but Lance Armstrongs "pain is temporary, quitting lasts forver" came to mind on this occasion.

I admire the seven bridges set against angry skies over South Wales. Over several miles thehousing density drops off and I begin the routine search for a tent sized patch of flat ground. A dirt lane leading to several fields provides all I need for the evening. I make sure my tent is out of the way should I get an early morning visit from a farmer looking to work his land.