Author: sallymckenzieblog

October 16 – Monday

Got up to a very hazy sky with a red sun and lots of wind. I got on the bike around 11:00 – Colin left at the same time to take the campervan back up to Birmingham again so they can locate and fix the fuse problem that is still an issue.
Rode, as has become my habit, north on the canal, although this time I left it a bit north of Tibberton. Crossed over on the bridge and went down the small road marked Oddingley Church. I opened the gate and walked the bike around – the church is pretty small and I didn’t try to get in.

Rode back on the Droitwich/Tibberton road and re-entered the canal path just after crossing Weak Bridge (ha ha – still have to laugh at that). When I got home the doggies were waiting – I’d promised them I’d take them for a walk when I got back and they have good memories.

Walked to the orchard and let them have a little run around. They’re pretty good about coming to me when it’s time to re-leash them. We walked home by a slightly different route – once again getting almost trapped in a maze of small dead-end streets in a housing area.

Managed to make it out of the maze, got home and did yoga before having left-over pasta for lunch.

On the news we found out why the sky was red – it was the edge of the hurricane picking up dust from the Sahara as well as smoke from terrible fires burning right now in Portugal and Spain.

October 15 – Sunday

Went out in the mini around 10:00 – first stop was southwest to young Neil’s place across the river, near the U of Worcester St. John’s campus. Next we drove thru the fairly posh neighbourhood of Hallow then north to eventually arrive at Bromsgrove. Colin went in to a store and bought some different curtains for the salon – he had returned the other ones to the store he bought them from last week.

When we got home we walked up to the pub for Sunday lunch – we both had the roast beef and it was pretty good.

Went for another drive in the afternoon so Colin could get himself a jacket near Malvern, then continued right into the town of Malvern and up the Malvern Hills. It was a very beautiful area with sweeping views of the countryside, although there an overhanging haze today.
On the other side of the hills we stopped in the town of Ledbury, just inside the county of Herefordshire. The town has many very old buildings (some from the 15th and 16th centuries that still have the original facades) – lots of white wattle-and-daub with black beams. One building is up on ‘stilts’ and is where the market used to be held – built in 1617.

Drove through Tewksbury and Upton-upon-Severn on the way home.

October 14 – Saturday

Today is sister Susan’s wedding day to her long-time love Ross. I hope they have a wonderful day of celebration and a lifetime of happiness. I wish I could be there to celebrate with them, but must settle for sending them my love and best wishes from Worcester.

I had a couple of fairly quiet days – went with Colin to return some of the flooring things that weren’t needed – took doggies for nice long walks.

It looked fairly clear out this morning and wasn’t cold, so I went for a ride around 11:00 – north along the canal towards Dunhampstead again. Just before Tibberton I came across a fisherman, and as I rounded the bend I saw a bunch more.
I stopped and talked with him for a bit – there’s a fishing derby going on and it’s supposed to be for juniors, but only one younger fellow showed up. They fish until around 2:00 when a bell will ring and then they’ll all weigh what they’ve caught and the person with the heaviest catch wins. The fish are kept alive in net baskets in the water so get put back in the canal when the derby ends. He had his bait in small containers beside him – two kinds of maggots and some regular earth worms, and some bread.
He told me that the orange maggots were from blow-flies and the pink ones were from regular flies (they dye them pink). They hang dead chickens up in a barn or shed and the flies lay their eggs, then when the eggs hatch into maggots the maggots fall onto the floor and they collect them for fish bait.

I rode to Dunhampstead where I left the canal and crossed over on the road to the north side. The sky had become more and more overcast and the wind had picked up , but I rode further than the last time, continuing on until almost Hadzor, then circled west/south back to the canal. I took a smaller side road that crossed the canal north of Tibberton and headed south along it again.

When I got back to the fishers I stopped and talked a bit with the youngest one – he was so nice and polite. There were supposed to be several other young ones there but no one else had showed up. They come every week and next week is the last but I told him I won’t be here as I’m leaving on Friday to head back to Italy to catch my plane home – he thought it was quite impressive that I’ve come all the way from Canada and have been travelling for almost six months now.
I stopped at the Lyppard Grange pub for a pint – it was the most crowded I’ve ever seen it. There was a football match on – Liverpool vs Manchester United – fairly serious around here.

Went home and then took doggies for a walk up to the orchard. After leaving the orchard we took a footpath that turned out to be the ‘scenic’ way home going past a community garden. Shortly after the garden we turned right and ended up in a residential maze, but kept going in the right general direction, eventually ending up back on a path that I recognized.

Had a nice dinner of pasta and watched a Liam Neeson movie I hadn’t seen before – quiet evening.

October 11 – Wednesday

Got up before 8:00 and had a nice hot shower, although I had to spray the bottom of the shower first to get rid of some of the dead mosquitoes and other bugs. There were a lot of live mosquitoes also, but I seem to have made it through without any bites.

We ended up having a free stay – we still couldn’t find the owners anywhere and had to leave without paying. Since the gas line in the campervan still isn’t flowing we stopped for a cup of tea in Frome before meeting Joan and Derek for a walkabout of the town. Colin and Joan were born and raised in Frome and we had a wonderful couple of hours touring their old neighbourhood and the surrounding area.

At first it was raining, but then it cleared up a bit and got warmer. It was just like me showing Dominic around back home – everywhere we looked either Colin or Joan would say ‘that’s where so-and-so used to live’, or ‘that’s where we used to…’ or ‘that building was the butcher shop’, etc. The city has, of course, grown considerably since they were brought up there – it’s now over 40,000 and was only around 14,000 back when they lived there.

The town has rejuvenated the original shopping street, which is on a very steep hill. There are no cars allowed on most of it, and the shops are all spruced up and prosperous looking, not all old, empty, or run-down like in many places. Another old street that is really neat has a small stream running down one side – you need to watch your step!
There was a small market happening, and I sampled an array of cheeses, ending up buying two – a lovely mild sheep cheese and a local Stilton. I could have gotten 6 or 7 that were equally as tasty, but settled for additional samples instead.
We went to a coffee shop and sat outside as we had the doggies with us. I had my second cup of coffee in 4 or 5 years, and was it ever good. We said goodbye to Joan and Derek – I really enjoyed meeting them. They are warm and friendly and both easy to talk with – I’m very glad Colin took me with him to visit them.
We drove towards home, passing the White Horse again – we stopped at a pull-out so I could get a photo this time. We then stopped at his friend Mick’s place in Melksham for a quick visit with him and his wife Sandra. It was so nice hearing Colin and Mick reminisce about their cycling past, and Mick showed me photos that he’d taken at a past Tour de France that were very interesting. It all looked basically the same – hoards of people, folks in crazy costumes, racers giving all they had to get up a mountain. The only main difference was that back then most of them didn’t wear helmets (crazy!!).
Got back on the road again and headed home – it was looking stormy out, but as we went north it got a little less overcast. The traffic was pretty slow for awhile – it looks like they’re going to twin the highway in one area, and it really needs it.
We stopped for take-out fish and chips at the Bull Inn, and arrived home around 7:00. It was a lovely two day trip, and I’m so very glad to have met some of Colin’s friends and family – they we

October 10 – Tuesday

Got up at 7:00 and were on our way south by 8:15 to visit Colin’s sister. Left Worcestershire and passed thru Gloucestershire before coming to Wiltshire. Stopped at the coffee shop Pickleberry in the village of Bratton where a bunch of cyclists Colin knows gather every Tuesday partway thru their ride of the day.

Colin rode with two of them (Roger and Mick) in 1966 and went to school with another (Tom). He visited with them for a bit then they all left to continue their ride.

We headed a little further south, passed the White Horse, and met Colin’s sister Joan and her husband Derek at the Royal Oak tavern for lunch. It was very good – I had the grilled chicken.

After lunch we crossed into Somerset and drove to a nearby campground – we tried to check in but no one was around, although the gate was open. We parked the campervan and Colin phoned the campground’s office and left a message that we were there. After Colin had hooked up the electricity we tried to turn on a light and once again the fuse popped. The repairs done last week hadn’t actually fixed the problem, although at least they had added some new wiring and split off the tv and some other things so they’re not all on the same line.

I ended up doing sudoku puzzles while watching french tv with only my little camping light powered by my charger to see by.

October 9 – Monday

Didn’t do too much yesterday – went to a couple of home stores with Colin to pick up new curtains for the living room. Neil finished the floor – it looks beautiful. He did really nice wood trim around the edges so didn’t have to remove the existing base boards. Had pizza for lunch then Neil left for his cycling trip along Hadrian’s Wall.
This morning Colin took his mini in for few more things to be done and they gave us a lift down to the train station. Caught the 1:24 to Birmingham – it wasn’t the ‘milk run’ so took just 45 minutes. Took a taxi to the campervan place and waited a short while – a light that was supposed to be installed hadn’t arrived so they’ll have to send that to Colin later.

The drive home took a bit – it was afternoon ‘rush’ hour and they’re doing a bunch of road work – there’s a large number of highways that are joined to one another by a ‘spaghetti junction’ and many of them need maintenance work as they’re falling apart in places.

Got home to Worcester just before six – had time for a quick cup of ginger tea, then we went out to meet some of Colin’s friends at a pub (The Huntsman) in Greenstreet. After one drink a few of us went back to Roger’s house for dinner. The other folks that came also were Barry and Allen, along with Allen’s grandaughter Avianna (?).

We had a wonderful meal of roast beef with roasted potatoes and parsnips plus steamed carrots, brussel sprouts and cauliflower. He has a large farm that has been in his family for many years.

Got back home just after 10 – really tired so went to bed fairly early.

October 7 – Saturday

Despite staying up far too late last night I was up fairly early so I’d be ready when Neil arrived to install the new floor. He got here right at 10:00 and after a quick coffee went to work. Since they had to pull the old carpet up I took the dogs out for a walk earlier than usual so the 3 of us could avoid the worst of the dust.
After visiting the orchard we ended up sitting outside on the terrace of the pub and it was fairly cold. Luckily I came prepared with my black blanket for the dogs to curl up in – they don’t have enough fur to keep them warm if there’s any wind, so they were nice and cozy all wrapped up – Benny on the bench beside me and Mo on my lap.
By the time we got back to the house the carpet was gone and the floors were going down. By dinner time almost the entire room was finished, and does it ever look a lot better. Had a lovely meal of lamb chops with roasted potatoes and corn on the cob.

Watched the Tour of Lombardy that had recorded earlier – Nibali won in convincing style.