August 23 – Wednesday

Got going at a decent time – just after 11:00. I intended to just ride over to a health-food store that I’d looked up online and pick up some vitamins, but there was no store anywhere near where it was supposed to be. I then decided to ride down into the city centre and go back to the store I’d gone to a few days ago, so I rode over to the canal, which wasn’t far away, and headed down.

The clouds began clearing a bit, but the wind had picked up. I rode until the canal path ended (right before the river) then had to go on a road for a tiny bit before I found another path thru a park. I followed it past a nice large playing field, then it veered west thru bushes and wildflowers to the river.

There’s a new pedestrian/cycle bridge over to the other side, where there’s an amusing-looking arrangement of sculptures of men (one with a bike!).
I ended up passing a woman with two little girls, as well as two teenagers each with a large dog, three times as I kept stopping to take pictures and they would catch up and walk past me. We all laughed the last time I called out ‘bicycle – again’ as I rode by, and one of the guys joked ‘are you following us’?

I was going to ride north along the river then cross back into the city centre, but saw a sign indicating that the town of Lower Wick was only a short distance away by cycle path, so I thought – what the heck – I’ve come this far, and followed it.

I passed thru part of the town, and saw another sign that the ‘old Powick Bridge’ was very close, so again kept riding. The bridge was at, or near, the site of both the first skirmish and the last major battle of the English civil war that was between 1642 and 1651.
I knew I was very close to Powick (where I’d been last week, but didn’t see the church) so once again thought – I’ve come this far, I might a well keep going. I had looked online a few days ago to find out exactly where the church was, so had no problem finding it. As I approached the closed gate I saw a lady get out of a car and open the gate. I saw a sign that said ‘clergy only’ so asked if I was allowed to go in. She said she didn’t think the church was open but that she saw no reason I couldn’t come onto the grounds.
The church has different parts that were built at different times, going back to the 12th century. There are various graveyards as well – some extremely old and worn, and some much more recent with new flowers. After walking thru the graveyard a bit I was heading back to the side of the church when the path went thru some bushes. Just to be safe I pushed the encroaching branches aside with the back of my gloved hand, but one of them sprang back right after I’d passed a brushed my right leg just on the inside of the knee. A moment later the stinging started – I never knew nettles grew that large, but at least I’d evaded most of them – it could have been a lot worse. Dowsed the leg with water, and continued on around to the front of the church. I tried the door but it was locked – oh well.

Retraced my route back to the river Severn, where I turned north towards the next bridge over to the city centre. The whole way along there were lovely fields to the left and groupings of flowers – a really nice ride. At one point, where there are wide stairs down to the river (and where the swans hang out) there was an emergency vehicle that had an inflatable boat at the back. They didn’t seem to be in that much of a hurry, so maybe they were just going for a practice paddle or something. Had some good views of Worcester Cathedral across the river.
Got across the river on the next bridge, then found the health-food store I’d been to previously. Got the vitamins Dominic had recommended, then tried to get back onto the canal to ride home. Unfortunately the road I chose didn’t have access to the canal, so I just kept riding on the road. I took Colin’s advice from a few days ago and took ownership of my piece of pavement – instead of trying to get as close to the edge as I could I rode a little further away where I felt more comfortable and not one car tried to crowd me or sideswipe me while passing. It wasn’t exactly relaxing, but not as bad as I’d thought it might be.

Got back to the house after almost 3 hours of riding – not bad considering I’d thought it would be more like one hour or less. When I was changing into my non-riding clothes, I saw that my right shin as covered in blood – I have no idea what I hit or whacked it on and it didn’t hurt at all but it sure had bled – that might explain the strange look two little girls had given me at the store, though.

Ate a late lunch, then went next-door to Lyn’s so I could use her computer and print my boarding pass. Her husband Philip was very helpful and did it all for me – all checked in and ready for boarding on Friday!

August 22 – Tuesday

Got going before noon today – once again totally overcast but not too chilly. Decided to explore more of Lyppard Grange since it was so close and if the rain started I wouldn’t have far to ride home.
I rode in on a different trail than yesterday and ended up at the other end of the grasslands, then rode further to a ‘lake’ that was actually more of a small pond.
The information posts said the smaller lake used to be an ornamental pond and the larger might have been part of a protective moat for the original manor house.
I was not impressed with the amount of garbage that was in the water – so many plastic bottles and bags – there are garbage cans all over the place – how can people be so ignorant/lazy/oblivious? What did surprise me was the bicycle in the water! I managed to take a couple of photos that didn’t show the trash, but it wasn’t easy.

I rode out of the nature reserve to the end of that path, then turned around and entered a small green space off to the side. There was a booth set up and a bunch of people so I asked what was going on. It was the local community garden folks and they were doing maintenance and cleanup on the trails. I told them what I’d seen at the ‘lake’ and they said that was their cleanup project for Thursday – so glad to hear that!

Rode thru another neighbourhood – saw a pure-black cat lounging on the sidewalk at the entrance to another path, and it didn’t move until the last moment. When it did I saw that it only had three legs – it was missing the front right one, but even so was a pretty good hopper.

August 21 – Monday

They’re going to do a bunch of repairs on Big Ben in London so it’s being shut down for up to 4 years. It’s a pretty big deal for the Brits, so the BBC showed both the 11:00 bongs live and the final bongs at 12:00 noon. The only time it will ring again until the repairs are done will be a few special occasions, such as Nov 11 and New Year’s Eve. They’ve done repairs before, but not this extensive – I have a picture from September 1984 that has scaffolding around the clock tower but can’t remember if it bonged or not. I would guess it didn’t bong since it would have deafened the workers.

Totally overcast, but clouds weren’t really black so I was hopeful it wouldn’t rain. Left later than usual for my ride and despite the clouds it was warm enough (once I had ridden for a bit) to take my hoodie off. Rode south on paths, then around the edge of Nunnery Wood.

Ended up in an area of cul-de-sacs and dead-ends with no other apparent exit – I’m sure there was one but I couldn’t find it so went back the way I’d come. Took a different turn at one point and saw a sign for Lyppard Grange Grasslands, so got off the bike and walked down the little trail. I arrived at a beautiful field of bushes, grasses and wildflowers.
Apparently there’s much more to the Nature Reserve – this was just the ‘grassland’ part – but I re-mounted the bike and rode on home as I was getting pretty hungry.

The total eclipse of the sun was another big deal today – even bigger than the silencing of Big Ben (at least outside of the UK – ha ha). It wasn’t visible from here, but even if Worcester had been on the path I couldn’t have seen it – no blue sky or sun visible at all today.

I was face-timing Dominic while the eclipse was happening – I was watching it live on tv and when they showed the Oregon pictures Dom was watching the sun at home. It did get slightly darker and he took a pic and emailed it to me. It wasn’t a total eclipse there, but you could definitely tell that the sun was partially covered up. We discussed how freaked out folks must have been by such an occurrence hundreds or thousands of years ago (except the Greeks, of course, who actually understood science). It reminded us of the scene in the movie Apocalypto when the priest is about to cut out the heart of the captured guy and the sun disappears – the gods must be angry!

August 20 – Sunday

Got on my way for my ride just after noon. Headed north on the paths, then northeast when I reached the canal. There are more people today than yesterday – both walkers and cyclists.

Passed several ducks on the grass between the canal and the path – they were all ‘roosting’ and didn’t even move when I approached – at first I almost thought they were rocks. They didn’t even twitch as I passed – obviously not shy of people.

Sky was very cloudy but didn’t seem that threatening – I’d looked up the weather forecast and tomorrow and the next day are supposed to be crappy so I figured today was probably the best day to ride until mid-week.

Made it to Hanbury (where the Droitwich canal meets the Worcester to Birmingham canal) in around an hour, then rather than going west about a mile into the town of Droitwich I continued north/northeast towards Birmingham.

Every once in a while one of the locks has a building – I think they used to have folks that would monitor the canal and help with the locks, but now are houses.

Rode another 1/2 hour to the town of Stoke Prior that looked very pretty. There were quite a few canal boats moored, and houses and pubs right next to the canal. I knew I’d have a fairly long ride back home so turned around there.

At one point I came upon two dogs coming towards me with no people in sight. They both had collars on so I figured they weren’t wild strays – one was a slim mid-sized beize dog, the other a rather chubby jack russell. They completely ignored me, and as I passed them I could hear voices coming from a boat on the canal – I couldn’t see it because the reeds and other bushes on the canal’s edge were too tall. The dogs seemed to be keeping pace with the boat, so I guessed that they belonged to the boaters and were just being given a chance to stretch their legs a bit.
The wind was picking up again so I was glad I’d turned around when I had. I was getting pretty tired by the time I got home, and rain was threatening again – good timing today. ‘Young’ Neil popped by to confirm the timing of giving me a lift to Cheltenham on Friday to catch the train to Bristol.

The rain started in earnest around 7, then slacked off, then started to really pour just before 9 – dirt paths will all be pure mud tomorrow, so I’m very glad I took the ride I did today.

August 19 – Saturday

I had a fairly ambitious ride planned, but changed my mind when – guess what? – black clouds rolled in. I did go for a short ride north up the canal, but turned around at the fourth lock when it started to rain.
For a Saturday there weren’t very many people on the canal path, and because of the rain from the last few days it was fairly muddy in spots.
The end of the first path through the woods that had been closed off ever since I arrived has been re-opened – it was only about 30 yards of repairs right at the north end of that section. There was an alternate route that made that part of the ride somewhat longer so it was nice to be able to go directly through.

The rain didn’t really get going hard – more like a steady drizzle, although the wind was again quite strong, and the dark clouds persisted until much later in the afternoon. I probably could have completed the original ride that I’d planned but by the time the sky cleared a bit it was too late.

I got a chicken pie for dinner – I’ve been eating a lot of fresh pasta and wanted a change. It was ok, but a little too much dough for my taste so I think I’ll stick to pasta, potatoes and bread for my carbs.

Today is the first day of the Vuelta, and it was the Team Time Trial. It didn’t start until around 5:00, but they didn’t show it on tv here until very late – think it was around 9:30 or 10:00. And even then they only showed highlights. Tomorrow they’ll only be showing an hour of the race at 7:00 in the evening – I’ll have to try to avoid reading about it online.

August 18 – Friday

Beautiful sunshine that began the day turned to large black clouds around noon. I ended up being like the buddha in the garden – sitting in a corner in deep contemplation.
OK – so my contemplation involved tv, sudoku puzzles and peanuts washed down with red wine, and my sitting was done on a comfy chair rather than a rock, but so what?

August 17 – Thursday

Rain rain go away….had to wait until afternoon before the rain stopped and I could go for a ride. Went into the city centre via the most direct route, which meant riding on the sidewalk part way down. Most folks, as usual, were happy to let me pass without having to ride on the road, except one fellow did have something to say as I went by him. He didn’t try to impede me however, so I just ignored him and kept going.

Right as I was nearing the centre a car was pulling out of a parking lot and didn’t even look for anyone – if I had been walking she wouldn’t have seen me either. She pulled her car right across the sidewalk but couldn’t get onto the road as traffic was coming. I stopped, of course, and waited for her to either back up so I could pass – although she didn’t even look at me, so that didn’t happen – or pull onto the road. Finally there was a break in the oncoming traffic so she did pull out, but she proceeded at such a sharp angle that she almost ran me over – I actually had to back up to avoid getting hit. I yelled a couple of choice expletives at her (first word started with ‘f’ and second with ‘b’) but I’m sure she didn’t hear me any better than she’d seen me.

I got off and walked the bike for a bit – luckily part of the centre is closed to traffic so was able to ride again after a couple of blocks. I had looked up health product stores before leaving, so tried to find the first one without luck. I found the shopping centre it was supposed to be in, but couldn’t find the actual store so went to the next one on my list – only a couple of blocks away.

Got what I needed – soap, shampoo, toothpaste and oregano oil (in capsules, rather than drops, but better than nothing). Rode around a bit – the old part of the centre is really great with lots of pubs and small shops.
I stopped to consult the ever-handy map and then noticed that I was in front of a tattoo parlour. I considered going in to get my existing tattoo embellished, which is something I’ve wanted to do for some time now, but decided to wait for another time.

Rode to the cathedral – approached it from the back, where they’re doing a bunch of stone-work. I followed a paved path, hoping it would lead around to the front but ended up in a fenced area where all the stone was kept, and where several workers were. I asked if the path continued and was told no, but I could get through a gate which he then opened for me.
Next I rode to the canal, then along the canal-path all the way north, then east, until I left it at the forest path that leads home. I’m getting familiar with the various paths now and have no trouble finding my way even if I take a slightly different route sometimes.

I had to kill a fairly large spider although I did apologize as I whacked it repeatedly with a shoe. It had been in a corner of the stairway and I had left it, reasoning that it was catching flies or other bugs and that was ok. Then as I was watching tv later I saw movement on the floor and there it was – scuttling across right in front of the tv – it gave me no choice!