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Day 17: Second rest day in London

I slept in this morning then had a messenger call with my daughter Kelly to catch up on news at home. Then down stairs into the breakfast dungeon. The ceiling is really low which makes the place look even more crowded than it actually is. As it was just after 9:30 am it was not as busy as yesterday.

Today’s plan was going to Kings Cross Station to Platform 9 3/4 (where Harry Potter catches the train to Hogwarts) then off to see Shellbe in Teddington where she is nannying.

We walked to Kings Cross station. On the way there were more beggars, one called Tim had a sign saying he is a person and no donation is too small. I can’t help wondering how each person I see begging ended up where they are, what went wrong in their life to bring them to here. I can imagine with the price of rent in London you would need a pretty well paid job to be able to afford somewhere decent to live.

Just before Kings Cross there was a big old Hotel called St Panras, established in 1873 when rail ruled the travel industry. Situated by St Panras international train station and Kings Cross station.

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To  get to Teddington Station we had the choice of trying to catch 2 tubes to Waterloo and then a train, or catch a taxi to Waterloo and then the train. I hadn’t been in a London Black Cab yet so we decided to catch the Cab. I hadn’t taken into account how busy the traffic is. It look about 35 minutes to go 5.5km, we could have walked. There was one light that took 7 traffic light changes before we got through it.

The taxi driver was friendly and was telling us about the cabs. Like NZ they can only stay on the road until a certain age and then need to be replaced. The replacement cabs in London all need to be electric. They will cost £65,000 and with their range will not be able to get through a day without being charged. The driver lives 100 km out of London, so will already have gone through a lot of electricity just getting in. A lot of taxis are rented and driven constantly 24 hours – as soon as one driver finishes the next starts. Having to charge cars is going to take much longer than filling up with diesel. The cabbies view is it’s a great idea in principle but is going to cause huge problems, and he and a number of his cab driver friends will find it is not longer economical. The black London Cabs are made in China.

We got to Waterloo – what a huge station! Numerous boards of train time tables. We found the one for Teddington – Platform 18 going in about 15 minutes. The train was 10 carriages long and I was concerned that only the first few carriages would be going, but I spoke to the driver and he said no the whole train was going. He asked where we were going and when we said Teddington he advised us to get a middle carriage as a number of the platforms are currently too small for the new trains, and if you catch the first or last couple there is no platform to get off onto. I was surprised to note that not all platforms are wheelchair accessible.

Looking out the window we passed row after row of houses looking like a set for Coronation Street. There are also a number of individual gardens with sheds and veges and flowers.

When we got to Teddington Shellbe was waiting for us with Matthew, one of the two boys she nannies. Mathew was delighted to see me again and jumped up and gave me a big hug.

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We walked through Teddington and Matthew told us about the barber where when you get your hair cut you get a lollipop, and then turned and looked speculatively at Brett and said “Brett you should get your hair cut” no ulterior motive I am sure. We stopped at a café and had a panini and Matthew had a chocolate ice-cream.

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When we got to the house Matthew was very keen to get me outside playing swing ball. Then it was Brett’s turn while I chatted to Shellbe.

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The family that Shellbe is nannying for are South African and one set of Grandparents were currently visiting. They arrived back from a walk and while Shellbe went to get the other boy Asher from school we chatted to them. Asher is 6, so being a bit older than Matthew is a bit more reserved but he soon warmed up and wanted to play chess, and went into great detail about two games where he bet his mum.

We decided after about another hour that while Shellbe was bathing and feeding the boys that we would go to one of the last local pubs and have a pint. We went into a pub called Hogwarths. While we were there Shellbe’s friend Polly joined us. Shellbe met Polly in Dunedin, and as well as living together there Shellbe stayed with Polly went she first got to both Sydney and London.

Last weekend they were in Las Vegas celebrating Polly’s 30 Birthday. Although I have hardly meet Polly I have heard a lot about her over the years and vice versus, so we chatted really well. Polly’s family is the opposite of Shellbes, in Polly’s there are 4 boys and girl, versus in Shellbe’s with 4 girls and a boy. At the pub I also got to hug a really cute 4 month old puppy, a Labrador-spoodle.

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We then went to a pub called The Angler to celebrate Shellbe’s 31 and Polly’s 30 birthdays.

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The weather was nice and warm so we sat outside. We got a couple of entrees, Polly doesn’t eat fish but we wanted to try the mussels so we got them and a platter to share. The mussels were ok but tiny by NZ standards. IMG_6464.jpg

I had seen fish pie on a number of menus so decided to give it a go, it was pretty tasty. We had a great time and all to soon it was time once again to say goodbye to Shellbe. Always hard but not as sad as last year as Shellbe is coming back home to live at least for awhile towards the end of the year 😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀.

Shellbe came to the train station to see us off. Polly also lives in London so we were able to catch the train and make the tube change with her. It was after 11pm at night and the tube was packed, hardly any room standing. We got off at King Cross and said goodbye to Polly who had another two stops.

When we got off the train and went across the road, Tim was in the same spot that he was in about 11 hours earlier. We gave him some money and wished him well. We walked back through the streets to the hotel. Like last night it was pretty busy still. Tomorrow we are off again.

 

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Waving goodbye to Shellbe

 

 

 

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Day 16: First rest day in London

The hotel breakfast restaurant is what I imagine a large cruise ship would be like. It was crowded, lines of people jostling their way through the buffet, and trying find a table. We had continental breakfast, not cooked. The past few days a few riders have been complaining “not another full English breakfast” – of course those same riders complained today that they are not getting one. The counter to make tea and coffee was placed by the only exit, and once you had made a hot drink you had to push your way back through the line of people who were trying to get out.

After breakfast we set off to the laundry which was only a couple of minutes from the hotel. This time I remembered to take the iPad with me. Back to the hotel to put away the washing and catch up on a few emails. Spoke to Shellbe to sort out the plan re catching up with her tonight. Then off to look around London to see some things I didn’t get a chance to see last time.

We walked up to 221B Baker Street where the fictional characters Sherlock Holmes and Watson reportedly lived from 1891 to 1910. In 1891 to 1910 the Baker Street numbers did not go up to 221, but the Street has since been extended. The Abby National Building Society originally occupied these premises and for many years employed a full time secretary to reply to letters addressed to Sherlock.

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IMG_5118.jpgThe place was well set out, 3 stories of furniture from the time in keeping with what was described in the books.

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IMG_5100After this we went to the corner pub and had a toasted cheese and carmalised onion sandwich which was delicious and a cold beer. Initially I had got caught out by cask beer which is not cold enough for my NZ taste, so am now taking that into account, not just interesting names when ordering.

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Hudson’s Restaurant at 241 Baker Street

We walked back to the hotel and got back about 4:30 which was only about 30 minutes before we had to leave again to get to West End. We met Michele and Tony at a pub restaurant called The a Beer and Staff, and I had a delicious mushroom, ale and beef pie. The meat was really tender and tasty, but the pastry was a bit tough for my liking, like it had been in the oven for too long. However I remember my daughter Shellbe telling me last year that this is how they like it over here.

We then set off to the Adelphi Theatre and met Shellbe, and went to see the show Kinky Boots. It was fantastic one of the best shows I have seen. At the end the audience got up and gave a standing ovation.

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Then we walked with Shellbe towards the tube, and then went back to the hotel. Lots of people out partying – even though it was Wednesday, it was busy like a Friday.

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Day 15: Cambridge to London

The days riding is going to be split into two – first a 57 km ride to the lunch stop, and then a 57 km (!) convoy into London.

In the morning we rode through some beautiful old towns, with old thatch roofs and some beautiful old pubs with names like The Grey Hound, The Royal Oak, the Crown and Falcon.

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Circa 1600 cottages

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Circa 1400 cottage

There were some more red phone boxes that were book exchanges.

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In one of the small towns, in a window, I saw the present for the person who has everything – “Paper mache copies of their pets”.

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Lunch was in Hertford town. The day had started off reasonably warm but was starting to get cold and looking like it was going to possibly rain. While waiting for other cyclists to arrive after lunch we went for a quick walk around the town. We walked into the yard of the local brewery – McMullen and Sons – and saw a beautiful old 18 century delivery truck.

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The convoy started at 12:30 and we were aiming to be at the hotel around 430 -5pm. We got off to a bad start as Catlin, who was leading, set off in the wrong direction but thankfully quickly realised he was going the wrong way, and with a very red face he turned around.

The weather got warmer and the drops of rain cleared thankfully, as otherwise would have been a wet as well as a long afternoon. We traveled into London along a series of bike paths along the river Lea.

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Me on the convoy into London

The convoy took a long time, as you are going at the speed of the slowest rider but also with occasional crossing of roads etc. One of the riders got a flat so we all had to wait while that got changed.

There were lots of channel boats lining the river, some looked pretty shabby.

For most of the way into town it was pretty much just the group cycling, but the closer to London we got, the busier it was. Some of the cyclists coming from the other direction were going pretty fast and in some cases were over the centre line, there were a couple of very close misses.

Once into a London we were initially on quiet streets. Going past one there was a very smart looking old pub “The prospect of Whitby”. Then all of a sudden we were in the middle of London! Crazy traffic as would be expected in a city with a population of 8.787 million. Getting to the hotel was scary, hundreds of cyclists all trying to go very fast all around us.

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Finally we got to the hotel – The Royal National. It is huge, 4000 rooms, it takes up a city block. By the time we got our bikes away, registered, and up to our rooms it was after 7pm. The rooms were the most basic we have stayed in so far, very small and no sound proofing between the rooms and the corridor. However they are £145 a night, as staying in London is ridiculously expensive. We are also in the center of London where it is the most expensive.

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Our huge ‘monster’ hotel in London the Royal National

Once we had showered and changed, we had had it and didn’t venture any further for dinner, we went to the “Blooms woodfired pizza” place which is part of the hotel. It was pretty good, or we were pretty hungry. Or both.

 

Yay two rest days and I get to see my daughter Shellbe on both.

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“The Greyhound” – took a photo of this for Kelly who has a greyhound as a pet

 

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Day 14: Boston to Cambridge – 117km

117 km to ride today, with not much climbing – expecting about 350 metres up in total.

Today was sunny which I think is a first in the morning on this trip.

We were all having breakfast in a separate dining room from the other guests, and to get tea or coffee you had to wait until the wait person comes to your table. Or at least that is what you were meant to do. Individual behavior is always interesting (at times bloody frustrating).

We were the 4th and 5th people into the restaurant and by the time we left we hadn’t had a hot drink, and some riders were on their second. One of the riders was told by the restaurant staff at least 5 times to go away as she kept going up to ask where her coffee was. Of course bad behaviour is rewarded, and she was on her second cup by the time we left. This one particular rider we have nicknamed Wasp the 2nd, she constantly pushes in to waiting lines for everything (The first “wasp” was on the NZ ride).

The first time I came across her was when I didn’t even know she was another rider, she pushed in front of us when we were about to get on the Hop on Hop off bus in Dublin. Wasp 2’s other trick is on convoys, she takes shortcuts across grass or riding on the pavement, and then darting in front of you, all the while wearing a “Share the road” riding top. I try not to be behind her as she rides in front of cars at roundabouts, weaves across lines with hand signals but no notice. Coming into Edinburgh she was nearly taken out by a bus.

Thankfully I had had a cup of tea in the room before coming down to breakfast, so set off without another. Nice to set off in the sunshine. The roads are flat and we were riding through windy country roads.

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(Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook)

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We had one problem at 20 km when the road we needed to turn into couldn’t be found, but we used the GPS and carried on and picked up the route 3 km down the road. We made really good time and about 5 km before the lunch spot, the lunch truck came past. Knowing we would end up waiting in a paddock while they set up, we stopped for a cup of tea in the town just before.

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Coming into Cambridge I was interested to see a number of the red phone boxes had instead become book exchanges, a novel idea (Editor: pun intended??! hehe). I should have stopped but didn’t when I saw the “vision testing for animals” sign. I amused myself for the next few km with images of animals responding to a vision chart.

We got into Cambridge about 1:30 pm and instead of going to the hotel we carried on straight into town.

We had a ride around looking at the beautiful buildings.

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Cambridge University comprises of 31 different colleges. We went to Kings College and Kings College Chapel. 16 century Kings College Chapel is one of the most extraordinary examples of European gothic architecture. 80 metre long fan vaulted ceiling is one of the worlds largest.

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Me and Tony with our “PhD”

 

There were a number of people punting (long canoe type boats) on the river. From the river you can see a number of the colleges and some lovely gardens.

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Then went to the Eagle Bar and had a cold beer and some pub snacks with Tony and Michele, joined by Shirley and Dan, Becky and Bruce, and Hanns and Catherine from Canada, who have done a number of TDA rides but this is the first I have done with them.

 

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Off for a refreshing Ale at the Eagle Pub

 

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Bruce and Becky (on the left), and Hanns and Catherine at the Eagle Bar

In 1953 the discovery of the double helix twister ladder structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) by Nobel prize winning scientists James Watson and Francis Crick was a milestone in the history of science and gave rise to modern molecular biology – and it was announced in the Eagle Bar. In the attic bar of the Eagle Bar on the ceiling are signatures of World War Two pilots.

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We are staying at a Hotel called Rectory Farm about 5 km out of the centre of Cambridge. Dinner was not at the hotel, it was a 10 minute walk to a restaurant called The Plough. The food was good and reasonably fast, we were fed two course within 90 minutes which is pretty reasonable for a big group. I had bread and dips, and a burger.

 

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Cambridge (Photo Credit: Michele’s Facebook)

 

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Day 13: Grimsby to Boston – 76km

Relaxing ride today only, 76 km and very little climbing. The weather was nice and warm and we had a leisurely breakfast before setting off. I think for a first we were the last riders to leave.

Before we went, we took a photo of a statue of a fisherman and his net which is outside of the hotel, this is memorial to all the fishermen who have died at sea.

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Memorial to Grimsby fishermen lost at sea.

We caught up with a group of riders at about 20 km, and I rode with one of them called Rhonda for awhile. Rhonda is from USA and this is her first TDA ride. Rhonda is a vet, as part of her practice she is the vet at a Zoo.

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Grain mill coming out of Grimsby.

The countryside was very green and pretty. This part of the country is called the Wolds. Wolds refer to a range of hills which consist of open country, overlaying a base of limestone or chalk.

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Lincolnshire Wolds, great riding.

We were on lots of different country roads, most of them were very quiet, however one was as busy as a highway. We discovered all the cars were heading to an open day at Revesby Estate.

Revesby was originally a monastery in 1143. In 1714 it was bought by the first of 4 Joseph Banks. The 4th Joseph Banks, who became a Sir, helped fund Captains Cook’s expeditions around the globe. As well as this he joined one expedition as the ships botanist and bought home hundreds of plants, many he planted around the estate.

As well as this he bought kangaroos to the estate, and the part where he live is still referred to Kangaroo Park. However there are only numerous deer here now.

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Revesby Estate belonged to Joseph Banks. Herd of deer on the grounds.

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Lunch was at 68 km, only 8 km before the end of the ride.

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Arriving in Boston

We got to Boston just after one and the rooms were not yet ready, so we sat outside relaxing in the sun. An elderly gentleman chatted to us with his friendly little dog called Tommy, who was quite happy to sit on my knee. It turned out his son owned the pub and another 14 pubs.

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My new friend Tommy

We were staying at the White Hart Inn, one of the four most popular names for pubs so far on this trip. The others are White Swan, Black Swan and The Fox (and mixture of rabbit or hound).

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White Hart Hotel, Boston

The hotel has an interesting reception desk made out of old suitcases with a top. There are no lifts at the hotel, and the stairs are uneven and the floor is also uneven, but luckily only up 2 flights of stairs. The bikes are sleeping in a second bar area upstairs.

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Hotel White Hart Reception

Reading Stuff this morning it reported there had been a 3.6 earthquake last night centered in Grimsby, but none of the riders felt a thing.

Dinner was at the hotel and speedy. Tomato soup and bread roll, then Salmon (overdone for my taste), with boiled potatoes with a cheese sauce on them, and fresh vegetables to share.

Tomorrow we have 114 km to ride to Cambridge, plus we want to look around Cambridge so have to cycle from where we are staying on the outskirts into Cambridge and back to have a look. Want to get away early as want to have a good look around.

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Very British

 

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Day 12: York to Grimsby

106 km, 420 metres climbed

As we were already on the outskirts of York in the direction we needed to go, there was no convoy to get out of the city.

To start we had a bike path, then out onto the main roads which because it was a Saturday morning it was not so busy.

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Kaye and Shirley Fry on the Humber Bridge.

We made really good time as the terrain was pretty flat and got to the hotel at 1:15 pm and yay the room was ready. After a shower, I managed to have a video call with Tracey and Jasper. Jasper blew lots of really cute kisses.

We then headed out to have a look at the town. Currently Grimsby is voted the place least wanted to live in in England, but in its hey-day it was a very prosperous sea port. In 1950 it was the busiest sea port in England with a fleet of 750 boats. The boats were after cod, the cod were depleted by over-fishing, leading to the “cod wars” between Iceland and England. This was because as with the European Union (EU) there are open borders and all the EU can fish these waters. There were three court cases, each time Iceland won. There is some hope that this can be reversed with Brexit, as England will be able to introduce the 200 mile limit.

The area looks like a high rate of unemployment, with lots of budget shops such as “pound stretcher” which is the NZ equivalent of the $2 shop.

We went into a bar called the Curious Cat because we liked the name, then into a bar called The Bar That Rocks. Then back to the hotel for riders meeting.

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Brett at the Curious Cat

 

We weren’t eating at the hotel, instead we were going to an American Bar just nearby called the Smoke House. It was not fun. we got there at 6 pm and left there after 8:30pm, in which time they managed to serve two courses.

The first course there was no choice – fried cheese balls and fried jalapeños, which were ok. Then for the main, unless you were a vegetarian or vegan, the choice was ribs and brisket with mash or chips! Given the limited choice you wouldn’t have thought it would have taken as long too cook. The ribs were average and the brisket was too tough to eat, even given how hungry I was. A couple of the riders walked out without waiting, which would have been a good plan, and found somewhere else.

We passed the time chatting. Was talking to Bryce and Becky who did the South American ride in 2017, they said the food the great. A different chef made all the difference, plus of course TDA may have taken on board the rider feedback about the inadequacy of the food in 2015.

The other good news was they have abandoned the race component for the ride. I was really pleased to hear about both as the race lead to some unhealthy rivalry building up over the months and some dangerous rider behavior.

We have an easy day tomorrow, 76 k and only 350 metres to climb.

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Cheese details

More details on the amazing cheeses that Hillary provided us:

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Listed in order from bottom of plate furthest from the window:
Ribblesdale smoked goats cheese (comes in a brown waxy skin)
The following are all cows milk cheeses:

Traditional Wensleydale PDO (from the Hawes creamery in Wensleydale) Sweet, milky and crumbly
Belton Red Fox Traditional red Leicester (russet/orange colour, hard cheese, slightly crunchy)
Dale End Unpasterised cheddar (rich, subtle, mature cheddar)
Shepherd’s Purse Harrogate Blue   (similar to a Shropshire Blue –  but they’re not allowed to say that – soft, creamy stilton-like)
Cropwell Bishop Stilton PDO – traditional blue stilton (from the stilton triangle – Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire & Leicestershire)
Peakland Blue Stilton – slightly more mature stilton
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Day 11: Rest day in York

The internet here is very frustrating, to get it to work in the room you need to stand up and hold your phone up at the window, so I don’t think I will be sending many photos from here.

We are catching up with Sandra and Hillary again today at 1pm so are setting off early to spend the morning site seeing. We caught the bus into York and walked through the city. As we got there just before 9 am it was not very busy to start and the streets were quite empty. It was very busy by the time we left the city to catch the bus back at mid day.

We walked through the narrow cobblestone streets looking into a number of shop windows. We walked through a street named The Shambles which was very picturesque.

However reading about this area after in The Lonely Planet, the background of the area was not what I would have expected. Shambles translates to the Saxon word shammel for slaughter. There were 26 slaughter houses in 1862 on this one street.

This street is a narrow cobbled lane from 1500 century, with Tudor buildings is the most picturesque street in Britain and one of the most visited streets in Europe.

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It was very reminiscent of the streets in the Harry Potter movies, so I was not surprised to see a couple of Harry Potter Shops and a novelty/ gift shop called The Shop That Must Not Be Named.

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We also went to the Cathedral called the York Minster which is the largest medieval cathedral in Northern Europe, and one of the worlds most beautiful gothic buildings. We were lucky enough to be there when the organ was being played.

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The moisture from the air is damaging the windows and they are working as fast as they can adding a glaze to preserve them.

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After this we went for a walk on the city walls. The York old city walls follow the line of the original Roman walls. The part we walked gave great views of the York Minster plus we also were high enough up to see into some beautiful backyard gardens with well-thought out flower and vegetable gardens.

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York Minster viewer from Town Wall

 

We got back to the hotel in plenty of time to meet Sandra and Hillary, who picked us up in their car and we went off to their house. They have a renovated terrace cottage. It is long and narrow but they have modernised and maximised the interior space. The kitchen in particular was designed to create the maximum work area. Outside they have a lovely garden area and a couple of hanging bird feeders which were in constant use.

They prepared a feast! There was champagne, red wine, beer, salad, two different types of bruschetta, a baked dish, olives, asparagus, pickled onions, spicy pecan nuts, grapes,  marinated walnuts, cherries and 7 different cheeses.IMG_4919

As well as winning awards for her cheese, Hillary also judges it, so the selection as would be expected was great. There were 3 different blues and they were all delicious. The cheese and the beer matching were all from the surrounding area. Lunch stretched out from 1:30 pm to about 6pm during which time we managed to at least sample some of everything. To finish was a birthday cake for Brett which was a lovely way to finish this amazing meal.

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Brett with step daughter Sandra (right) and her wife Hillary (left)

As well as writing books Sandra is also a coach and mentor and we talked a bit about changing careers etc. Sandra has given me a contact back in Wellington I can follow up with when I get back.

Given the overall alcohol consumption, even spread over 6 hours, we walked to the railway station with Sandra and Hillary, which was just around the corner and caught a taxi back to the hotel. Needless to say we didn’t need any dinner.

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Sightseeing in York

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Day 10: Whitby to York – 83km

83 k 900 meters climbed

I woke feeling a bit stiff from yesterday, and my legs were feeling quite leaden. I was feeling very daunted by the thought of this morning’s climb, especially the 20% climb that goes on for 1.2km.

Once again it’s quite cold, but not as chilly as the day before. We had about 5 km that was not too steep to warm up on, then we were into the 20%. I walked! Brett waited for me at the top, and when I came up to him he was looking worried and said “only one climb left to go, but . . .” and pointed over the road where there was a sign saying 33%. Thankfully at that stage he couldn’t help smirking and I realised he was joking and we turned left.

Brett hasn’t walked yet. I did suggest this morning if he gets cold waiting for me at the top of the steep climbs, he is most welcome to jog down and get my bike.

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Steeeep climbs out of Whitby back up onto the Yorkshire Moors.

The next 15 km had some big descents and some climbs but you could get up most of each one by racing down the hill. There was one more nasty climb, but then pretty much down hill the rest of the way.

We stopped at a pretty little town at a place called Lavenders Tearoom and had a cup of tea, most of the rest of the group also stopped there. Everyone was much more relaxed and happier than yesterday – it’s warmer, the day’s ride is shorter, and the climbing was behind us.

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The traffic through York was pretty busy but we found our way ok, and got to the hotel  -Best Western Pavillion – about 1:30pm. We were fortunate that the room was ready.

After a shower we caught up with Michele and Tony and had a cold beer outside in the garden. The hotel is quite old and has boutique weddings (up to 60) and they were getting organised for two the next day.

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Gin at the Whitby Way pub (Editor: photo actually goes with yesterday’s blog post, oops)

The hotel room is very small, and to get WIFI you have to hold the phone up by the window, and even then it is very slow.

We were having dinner with Brett’s step daughter Sandra and her wife Hillary who live in York. The hotel is about 8 km out of town so we caught a bus into town. We were a bit early so we walked along the river, lots of people out making the most of the sun. There were a number of geese with goslings wandering around or dozing in the sun. I watched one lot tumbling down the steps behind their mum into the water.

We met Sandra and Hillary at the pub called The Maltings which is near where they live, and then went to the Rattle Owl for dinner. Sandra is an author who has won a number of prizes and Hilary is an It engineer /analyst. They both seem very nice. For dinner I had tuna carpaccio, Cod, and lemon meringue pie. The lemon meringue pie was interesting, it had a white chocolate shell with the lemon inside, with a biscuit base and meringue on top. It was delicious.

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At the Rattle Owl – Sandra and Hillary

After dinner the restaurant owner Emily took us downstairs, and showed us the basement where Roman remains, stones, and a skeleton were found when they dug out what had been a closed off basement. It’s quite cool and musty smelling.

Hillary makes cheese, and has won some awards. She mentioned it would be a great place to store cheese. Hillary makes the cheese at home in her kitchen and lives in an old railway house which is long and thin and has no storage. Emily said she would be welcome to store it in the restaurant basement, and the conversation turned to the possibility that Hillary could potentially make cheese for the restaurant.

The restaurant is just around the corner from where they live, so Hillary and Sandra walked us to the taxi stand and we caught a taxi back to the hotel.

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Day 9: Newcastle to Whitby – 118km

118 km, 1495 meters of climbing

It was very chilly today, I was wearing all my warm weather gear – pretty much what I would wear in the middle of winter at home.

As it is a week day and a busy city, first off we have a convoy for about 8km to the outskirts of town. The 65 km to lunch was reasonably easy going, some of the roads were pretty busy but others were nice and quiet. We had about 14 km along an old railway line, and stopped at a cafe at the end for a cup of tea.

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The trail was beautiful and peaceful, but was followed by about 5 km of a main highway with no shoulders and very busy traffic, including large trucks. I thought this would be the worst of the day, how wrong I was.

When we were having lunch two of riders were stressing about the two big climbs, but I didn’t take much notice as the day before it had said the same thing and the climb was not even that steep. So off we went, and the road got steeper and steeper, and it colder and colder. We were back on the Moors but this time the Yorkshire Moors which I am no fonder of than the Scottish ones. It was so chilly even the sheep were sheltering behind stone walls. IMG_4875We had a number of long 17% climbs and descents, the ride seemed endless. I was cold and my legs were feeling leaden. After a number of climbs we turned right and went along the flat for about 5 km and I’m thinking “yay done it!”. But no, down more steep hills and up them again, I ended walking 3 times.

One hill was so steep I had to keep stopping just walking up it. The climbing and descending continued all the way into town. The town is called Whitby and is a popular holiday destination. It has a harbour and is quite quaint.

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Whitby Harbour looking to the Heads on the North Sea.

We are staying at the Angel Hotel which is quite old. There is nowhere to store the bikes so they have to share the bedroom with us, which isn’t that big, but with some furniture rearranging we fitted them in.

 

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Instead of a set menu we have all been given a meal voucher for fish and chips, salad, bread and butter, and mushy peas, all to be charged to room 202 (Gergos). Sounds simple but is wasn’t. You would think if you had 30 plus people having dinner that night with a voucher this may have been mentioned to the staff but no! What a debacle.

It took the girl I gave mine to 15 minutes to work out how to put it through the till, and check that I was allowed to have everything it said on it. Other riders were told they had to pay extra for salad, or pay for the whole meal. One rider spent 10 minutes trying to tell one of the staff she didn’t want the mushy peas whilst she held up a number of people. In the end I snarled at her “For Pete’s sake just get them and leave them on your plate”.

Then we had to wait for the food to arrive, by which time I was pretty hungry as I had been out on the road 9 hours and it was a long time since lunch. The food was ok, and we had a bottle of NZ wine The Ned Sauvignon Blanc with dinner (all the whites were NZ).

After dinner we went for a walk around with Michele and Tony and went into two pubs. The first was called the Whitby Way ( previously was named The Wellington) and the second was called The Station. I had a blood orange gin with fever tonic which was really nice. They serve gin over here (Ireland and Scotland and England) in a big glass like a brandy glass with lots of ice. The fever tonic is a really nice brand. Over here they are allowed dogs in the pub. At the Whitby Way there was an elderly white terrier.

Tomorrow we are going back up the Moors, with all of the day’s climbing in the first 15 km, such a joyful thought to go to sleep with.

 

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Whitby Harbour from the hotel

 

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