I’m back after a cycle tour from Chester to Gloucestershire. I took my Sony Vaio laptop so I could add words to stories overnight. I’m working on Auditory Crescendo, a short sci fi story based on my own digital hearing aid experiences. More later. The cycle ride went very well. The first leg was around 65 miles meandering through Cheshire and Shropshire and then climbing ever upwards into the range of hills south west of Shrewsbury. I had to dismount on the 1 in 7 sections that seemed more like 1 in 2. I had to walk behind my bike with both hands shoving overloaded panniers with the handlebars being steered by will power. At Bridges Youth Hostel. I enjoyed a hot shower and rested so I could cycle right over the summit of Stiperstones to visit my former school friend, Peter Gartell, at his pub, The Sun Inn at Marton. Click here for its website. Peter has awards for his cuisine cooking – a must visit. And I visited it, much to his surprise (we’d not seen each other for 42 years!) and hello to Jane his sister, who was my first love all those years ago), after an energetic ride over those hills. At least my cycle panniers were empty for that ride except for essentials such as tools, towel, food, cycle lamps, maps, first aid kit, notebook, laptop… Yes, all right, I know I carry too much. This was particularly brought home to me at the Youth Hostel because there were two groups of end-to-enders staying overnight too. Young folk cycling from Lands End in Cornwall to John O’Groats in Scotland – approximately 850 miles – carrying all their own gear. My round trip was less than half their journey yet my belongings weighed more than theirs even without the computer! Solution next para.
After leaving Bridges I called in on Peter Tomlinson, who writes the great series of fantasy books, the Petronicus Legacy series. Check them out at the Bewrite Books store here. He took me to the Olive Tree cafe in Ludlow and I easily found a vegan buffet to scoff – thanks Peter – and enjoyed writerly nattering with the man himself. Excellent boost to energy and enthusiasm for climbing the hilly miles onto Leominster and Ledbury.
When I reached Ledbury, I met my daughter and her newly acquired husband, Gareth. They arrived in a car so took off me a big bag full of spare gear I decided I was better off without! We all travelled to Cheltenham and had a great reunion with my sister, Lin and her daughter, Shelley. Then back to Ledbury for lunch with my dad and stepmum, Rosemary. My visiting wasn’t over. Another former school friend is David Hargreaves. I knocked on his door and a strange woman answered. ‘You’re not David,’ I said. He’d moved a mile away but I tracked him down. One of the snags of having Exit, Pursued by a Bee, published as an ebook is that it’s not so easy to give copies to friends – especially signed copies. Oh well maybe DDP will bring it out as a paperback soon.