August 16 – Wednesday

Got up fairly early but didn’t get going on my ride until around noon. The morning had been quite sunny but, as seems usual here, clouds moved in and the wind picked up as the day progressed.

Headed south, then west to the small town of Powich. The only times there wasn’t a cycle path or sidewalk were, thankfully, very quiet side roads so at least I wasn’t riding in fast traffic. A couple of the paths were next to very busy highways, but being on a path rather than on the road was much easier on my nerves.
Powich seemed like a very nice place but the highway goes right through the middle and traffic doesn’t seem to slow down much. I turned off the main road and followed a small side road west for a mile or so – passed some sheep farms, then turned back as the wind was getting pretty fierce and I didn’t want to get caught in a storm.

By the time I got home I’d been riding for almost 3 hours – much more ambitious than yesterday! Did some more laundry – no problem with the door this time.

Still fascinated and repulsed by the latest Trump-storm – who needs the Y&R when the president of the US can’t keep his mouth shut?

It rained off and on during the evening – sometimes quite a downpour, sometimes just drizzling – so nice to be warm and snug in Colin’s house instead of huddling in my tent.

August 15 – Tuesday

Another lovely morning – blue sky, with a bit of a breeze. Decided to take myself out for lunch, so following a suggestion from Colin headed to The Bull Inn in Fernhill Heath. It’s not very far north of Worcester, although part of the ride was on a very busy road.

The ride started out on a cycle path, then I had to ride on the sidewalk, then when that ended I rode on the grass at the side of the highway, but that also ended about half-way to Fernhill Heath. I tried riding on the road, but it was not pleasant – cars gave me no room at all and I almost got sideswiped more than once. I took a chance and crossed to the other side which actually had a narrow sidewalk that was much safer, even though you’re probably not supposed to ride on it.
Found the inn right away, although it didn’t open for another 10 minutes so took a little tour around the town – it’s a very pretty place. When the inn was open I asked if there was a place to lock the bike up and the bartender said that if I went to the garden at the back I could just take it with me. There was a large grass area with picnic tables, as well as a covered part that I chose to sit under with the bike right next to me.
Sat for a bit and had a pint of a very good local cider that was on tap – watched TMZ-live on the ipad and got caught up on the Drumpster’s most recent ridiculousness (what an ass).

Ordered a ‘mini’ fish and chips for lunch – glad I didn’t ask for the ‘regular’ size as it was huge. The fish was excellent – nice and fresh and not too much batter, and the fries were crispy but not greasy. It came with mushy peas and home-made tartar sauce – all very delicious – some of the best fish & chips I’ve had.

The ride back was uneventful – not a really long ride altogether today, but I’m still a bit sore from my tumble yesterday.

August 14 – Monday

Decided to ride today to Worcester Woods Country Park – another of the places Lyn had recommended to me. I had actually ridden past it a few days ago but hadn’t entered as I was headed elsewhere at the time.
Riding around the forest was very pleasant – totally quiet and relaxing. Found a large field – Newton Green (I think) but went back to the path instead of riding on the grass. At the east end I thought I’d like to see where a small side trail went, so rode thru a muddy spot in a depression and started to slip as I went up the other side. I stopped to get my balance then started riding again but almost immediately hit a tree root at an odd angle and started to go down to the right. I then realized that the pedal had flipped over when I’d stopped and my shoe had clipped in so I couldn’t get my foot down in time and dropped over towards the mud. As I fell my face hit the handle bar hard and my foot was still clipped into the fucking pedal. I ended up on my right side but at least didn’t slide down into the mud. I lay there for a moment wondering if anything was broken – either on myself, the bike, or my camera, then managed to get my shoe out of the clip so I could roll myself over and get back upright. My lower lip was split and already swelling on the right side, and it was then I felt something on my right forearm – I had landed on a stinging nettle and welts were already appearing. At least it was only one plant and only my lower arm and not my legs, face, or neck – I dowsed it with water a couple of times and started riding again.
Rode past a really great looking playground and another large field – lots of kids everywhere. Headed home after stopping at the store for more supplies.

The right side of my lower lip is very swollen and bruised-looking but the skin only broke on the inside and it didn’t bleed very much. The nettle welts went down but the whole area is throbbing off and on, although it’s not that itchy – wish I had some aloe to put on it. I also discovered blood on my right knee, but the wound is fairly minor so I didn’t even notice it when it happened.

The fresh lemon I used as part of my salad dressing at dinner stung my cut lip, and eating was a bit awkward but I was so hungry I didn’t care.

August 13 – Sunday

Rode down to the festival around 11 – noticed for the first time a couple of signs that said ‘do not cycle on the footpath’. I wasn’t sure what to do – the path had started out as foot/cycle then suddenly you’re not supposed to cycle anymore. I tried riding on the road a bit, but it wasn’t that pleasant, so ended up back on the sidewalk. There weren’t many pedestrians so I didn’t feel that bad about breaking the rules.

Found the festival grounds without much problem – the festival itself actually goes on for a couple of weeks with lots of things happening at various places throughout the city, but what is going on right now at the park is only for today.
The first thing I came to right at the entrance was a free bike inspection booth so I naturally headed straight to it. The fellow was very nice and had a look-over of Colin’s bike for me. It didn’t need any chain oil, but one of the brakes was making a slight noise so he made a small adjustment and said everything else looked ok. I then took it right across to a free bike lock-up – they give you and your bike a ticket and won’t let anyone without the proper number leave with a bike – I also, of course, locked it to the metal fence they had setup for that purpose.

Walked around and saw it all – first were the food vendors – several tasty looking choices, then the main music stage. Listened there for a bit, then strolled through the market part – booths of all sorts – animal rescue organizations, clubs, food products, jewelry, handicrafts, hobby stuff – a great assortment of things, with something to interest almost anyone.
Checked out a couple of the exhibits that had been judged – photography, of course, was especially interesting, but there were lots of other things as well. Lyn from next-door has won first place in handicrafts for the last three years but didn’t enter this year – all of the other participants in that category are likely breathing a sigh of relief.

Went back to the food vendors and decided on a perogie with bacon, spinach and cheese – the sign even said ‘not a pasty’ but that’s exactly what it looked like. I took it into what I thought was the ‘eating tent’ but saw that it was actually a beer tent that also, lucky for me, had cider on tap! So I sat and ate my pasty-that-wasn’t-a-pasty and drank a pint of lovely local cider while listening to a local singing group. The group was huge and consisted of dozens and dozens of women and a few men and they were really quite good.
I have to mention that the folks that were pouring the beer and cider did an incredible job – the line-ups looked so long I thought it would take forever but it was only a couple of minutes – really efficient and I think they must have made a mint because the customers never stopped coming.

After eating I headed over to the ‘kitchen tent’ for the wine tasting, which apparently started a few minutes early, although I didn’t miss any of the tastings. The presenter was very knowledgable and managed to give a lot of information about the wines and where they came from and how they are made and taste, mixed with a fair amount of humour. We tasted 3 whites, 1 rose (that doesn’t look right without the accent over the ‘e’, but you know what I mean) and 2 reds – a couple from South Africa, one from Italy, the rest from France (I think).

Next up in the kitchen tent was an excellent chef from a local restaurant that showed us how to make fried duck breast, lentil and vegetable cassoulet and poached pear. He also was very entertaining as he made the dishes, and the end product was delicious.

After that I wandered to the other side of the park where the kid’s area was, as well as the dog agility place. Lots going on, including face-painting, which I thought was cute. I took a picture of a little girl getting her face done – really pretty colours – but the face-painter moved her hand right when I took the pic so it covered most of the face. As I walked away a lady came up to me and asked if I was a professional photographer – I didn’t know why she was asking but of course I answered truthfully and said no. She then asked if she could see the photo I had taken and then I wondered if she thought I was a child-stalker or something and that was her little girl I’d taken the photo of. I showed her the pic and offered to delete it but she said it was ok as the girl’s face couldn’t actually be seen because of the face-painter’s hand. I walked away feeling like I’d just been accused of being a child molester or something and that everyone in the whole area was looking at me with loathing and scorn. Then I felt very guilty – oh my god – I should ask permission of everyone before I dare take a picture! I left almost immediately, feeling like shit after such a wonderful afternoon.

I stopped briefly at the band stage to listen to a couple of songs – decent covers of REM and U2, but felt so lousy all I wanted to do was get home.

Found my way to the canal path and rode home – the sky, like my mood, was now very gray. Had dinner then face-timed Dom – felt a bit better after talking with him and seeing the kitties. Watched the final few events of the World Athletics Championships – have really enjoyed them for the last week and a bit.

August 12 – Saturday

A bit windy out but not too bad for riding. Headed first to one of the places Lyn had told me about – Elbury Park, which is very close to the house and is one of the highest places in Worcester, I believe. The pedestrian path had too many stairs, so rode around until I found a paved road with a gate so no cars can use it.
Didn’t see one other person the whole time – at the top there was a wonderful view of the city and surrounding area in one direction, but trees impeded the view of much of the rest.
I couldn’t find any other trail or path so rode back down the way I’d come up. Found my way over to another wooded area further east and a bit south – again no other people on the paths, so it was nice and quiet. Decided to go home rather than try to find Worcester Woods Country Park (another of Lyn’s suggestions) – I’ll leave that for another day.

Got home after only about an hour’s riding – shorter than usual, but after the 4 hour trip yesterday I figured it was ok to take it a bit easy.

One of many things that’s different here than the other countries I’ve been in is the churches – specifically the bells. They don’t ring the bells constantly like they did in all of the other places – every hour day and night, and even more on Sundays. Now if I wake up in the middle of the night I actually have to look at the clock instead of count the bells to find out the time – ha ha.

August 11 – Friday

Finally – a beautiful blue-sky morning, although when I left for my ride just after 11 the whole sky was overcast again. I rode north to the Worcester-Birmingham canal, then northeast along it towards Droitwich. Right before the Droitwich canal joins the W-B at Hanbury there’s a large number of canal-boats at long-term moorage – there’s a boat-gas station, a store, a bar/restaurant and everything.
Turned left along the Droitwich canal and arrived at the town after about a mile. Left the canal briefly to ride thru the town – what seemed to be the main street was closed to cars as they were doing maintenance work on it. It seemed like a lovely town – not too big, but having all the amenities.
Joined the canal again at the other end of town and followed the signs for the cycle path, but it ended up leaving the canal and being on the side of a busy road, so veered right and found the canal again. Crossed over to the north side and rode west – the path runs along the north side at times and the south at others, so crossed bridges more than once.
Partway along when there was a crossing over to the north side again I could only see stairs down to the path on the other side. There was a fellow with a camera on the bridge right near the stairs so I asked if there was a path down or should I heft the bike down the stairs. He said there was a path behind the bushes at the bottom of the bridge, then told me he was taking photos for a local tourist board and asked it he could go down the path a bit and take my photo as I rode towards him with a big smile. I happily agreed, and told him it was too bad I didn’t have my Canadian flag with me so he could show everyone how far away folks come from to enjoy the beauty of the canals. I forgot to get any info from him so will have to try looking up local tourist boards and see if my picture gets put on their site.
I left the canal right where it joins the River Severn as I didn’t want to go all the way down into the city. Had to stop at a flower-seller on the highway to determine exactly where I was on the map, and get headed in the right direction to get home – I was just northwest of Worcester, and needed to get to the very northeast of the city. Passed thru the village of Claines – a gentleman that was walking told me I was going in the right direction – followed some cycling signs part of the way, but the path was going into the city so I had to consult the map again for a different one.

Took a turn down a dead-end road – no bike path at the end so pulled out the map once again. A guy in the nearest house came out and asked if I was lost – I said ‘only a bit’ as I knew where I was and that there was a path very nearby. We chatted for a couple of minutes – he asked where I was from so I said Vancouver like I usually do as most people over here have never heard of Kelowna. He said really – I’m from Saltspring Island! He had a bit of an accent as he’s been living in England for some time now with his wife so I didn’t recognize right away that he wasn’t British. We talked a bit more about the fires in BC, then he walked with me to show me where the path started – I had turned off about 10 feet too soon.

Managed to find my way on cycling/foot paths winding thru Perdiswell park/golf course and onto the Worcester-Birmingham canal again, which I already knew. Getting home after that was easy although I was getting tired and was very hungry. I had brought some food with me, and even had considered stopping for lunch in Droitwich but didn’t want to take the time. The sky was still very gray and I didn’t want to get soaked in a shower because I’d stopped to eat. A few raindrops did fall from time to time along the ride, but it never really got going.

I’d ridden for almost four hours – maybe the mileage wasn’t that far, but it was a long ride for me. Lynn from next door came over to make sure I knew about the festival on Sunday – she’s won first place at the craft show for the last 3 years but hasn’t entered this year. She also showed me a couple more interesting places on the map that she thought I might want to see.

August 10 – Thursday

No rain so far – actually doesn’t look too bad. Rode southeast along paths I hadn’t been on before – went a little further south than I’d planned so had to go northeast a bit along a fairly busy road.

Eventually found the ‘bridle path’ I’d been looking for – there was a sign on the highway at the entrance to it but at first I couldn’t even see a path it was so narrow and overgrown. Once again the map came in very handy – I knew I was in the right place, so turned where indicated and headed down very slowly and carefully. Thankfully the steep and narrow part didn’t last that far and it opened up onto a nice flat field.
The path was still overgrown, then I found what I assumed were tractor tracks that I followed until it turned into a dirt road, then a paved road. Didn’t pass a single vehicle, but did go by a farm or two, as well as a ‘rectory’ next to the railroad tracks. Kept to the west or north whenever I had a choice – I was now ‘off the map’ so figured since I had started out heading southeast, then northwest would eventually lead home.

Came to the town of Crowle, then shortly after had to get onto another busier road. At the junction there was a sign that might have explained my ‘Weak Bridge’ error of a few days ago. The sign I saw then only said ‘Weak Bridge’, not the ‘at Tibberton’ part or the rest of it.
I did end up returning to a spot that I recognized so got back on the vehicle-free paths and found my way home.

Read both of the free papers that are delivered to the house – there’s another festival in the city this Sunday that sounds interesting. Looked at more maps online to plan where else I might want to ride – I much prefer traffic-free routes, but know it’s not always possible, unfortunately. I’m starting to get used to the traffic coming from the wrong direction, but still look both ways several times before venturing onto any road. And traffic circles (roundabouts as they call them – and there are lots) are especially confusing.