Sunday, August 7, 2016

A bit beyond Bath...
What to do today in Bristol? I'm tempted to cycle to Bath again, it is such a good ride, but decide instead to take the train as bit further on to Bradford-on-Avon and ride back.

Ticket machine.
"But it was out of order, sir, see?"
I get a free train trip. I would have been quite happy to pay but there was nowhere to buy a ticket at my station and no one at the other end either. The bad thing about this is I feel like I can indulge myself having saved a few quid, and when I find a perfect little cheese shop with a deli counter I go a bit overboard laying in supplies for a picnic by the Avon. But the good thing about cycling days is they need to be fueled.

That's why a cycling holiday in France is the perfect option, folks. You have to do it! Not only do you get see the best of the country, you get to over-indulge on French food and wine.

I have a policy of trying a local cheese so this is a Bath Wyfe and rather nice. But that's jumping ahead.
and red peppers stuffed with feta

My morning coffee has become such a habit that I start to get a headache mid-morning if I havn't had my fix. Just down from the station in Bradford-in-Avon I spot this little place. I'm not exactly aware of it yet because I have not read this article, but I am SOOO cool that I have been deliberately trying to avoid the hipster factor without even knowing it, but for whatever reason, this looks like the perfect place to stop.

The garden courtyard behind
is rather nice too, but let's
sit in the Coffee Room
 He only does filter coffee and he was wearing a yeoman's shirt which I thought was just normal until he pointed out that his dress was in keeping with the period, as are the fittings, made by himself after a lot of research. Coffee parlours like this, with little booths, were all the rage in London in the seventeenth century.
The digital fire is a nice touch!
Roses on the table, table cloth,
this place is a gem
My yeoman is a pensioner and has been serving coffee here for 18 years. He makes a living from it, but only because he has lived in the house above for so long that he is not paying a mortgage. He bakes his own cakes, scones and shortbread and does soups for lunch. And he has a subscription to Wallpaper magazine because he likes to keep his mind open to new ideas.

This man is the only other customer while I'm there. He has dementia and doesn't speak most days now because half way into a sentence he forgets what he was saying. But he's wily enough to regularly escape from his carer to have a coffee out. Check out that suit. Yes, I did ask him could I take his picture. I think he was chuffed.

Maybe co-incidence, but I come across two Australian connections today.

In Bradford there's an old mill that has been made into posh retirement apartments but at one stage it was the headquarters of the Australian Cycling Corps.

"The cyclist battalions were organised like the infantry, and were mainly used as despatch riders. Later, during the periods of semi-open warfare in 1917 and 1918 they operated in a manner similar to cavalry, conducting reconnaissance and patrolling."
In fact this proved to be pretty much impossible on the ground, and I believe they ended up spending a lot of time doing burials.

Then in the afternoon I happen to be riding through a little town called Bathampton where I spot an old church with a lovely graveyard.
It is St Nicholas's and it is where Admiral Arthur Phillips, founder of Sydney, is buried.

Various bits of the church have been gifted by Australian states.
I imagine this is a very nice lurk for the Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downing (Hon.)

Back in Bradford-on-Thames though. It's a lovely town climbing up hills either side of the Avon. Unfortunately a busy road goes through the centre of town.

Lovely grey stone buildings
Waiting to cross the road I get into conversation with an even more dapper old man - this one is wearing a cream blazer, pink shirt and bow tie, and he's struggling a bit walking up the hill.  He's had two electric bikes in the last six years, one was stolen, the first one kept breaking down (a common complaint). "Have you been to the new bike shop up the hill?" he says. "I've been looking, The electric bikes are so much better now. The new batteries add about 30 miles. I'm thinking about shouting myself one." "Do it!" I urge him. I hope he does.

The Town Bridge and Lock Up is hard to miss. Two of the bridge arches are from when it was first built in the 13th century but the lock up is a modern addition from the 17th century. wouldn't it be fascinating to be able to see what traffic will be crossing in another 500 years. Or passing under.

There's also a Saxon Church thought to have built for the nuns in the eleventh century - the nuns who were given the village of Bradford-on Avon by King Ethelred in 1001.

Must be my day for talking to people on the street. Next thing I'm chatting to a man called Alan who insists I have a look at the Buddhist temple in a 17th century building that used to be a hotel. I wonder briefly whether he also has some etchings to show me, but no, inside he introduces me to Chinese monk from Sydney who is too busy chatting to a man with a huge head of rasta dreads to talk to me. I admire the temple appropriately and wander on.

These Tea Rooms would be surely be worthy of a visit, but the sun is shining and what could be nicer that to spend the afternoon cycling along the Kennet and Avon Canal to Bath?

It's school holidays and there are plenty of hire boats pottering along.

Maybe not a hire boat,
this man really looks the part
 At The Widcombe Locks the Sweet Shop is doing well.  Jars of old-fashioned sweets are set out along both sides of a moored narrowboat, with a sign inviting passing boats to tie up alongside. Likewise a boat that offers teas and icecreams - this one has some little tables set up under a tree for the walkers and cyclists.

Plenty of boat owners are making the most of the fine weather to catch up with maintenance and there are lots of power tools and paintbrushes in use.

The water in the canal is disgustingly brown and when I tangle with a rope across the towpath and nearly fall off, it is fear of ending up in the water that somehow keeps me upright. Also, I'm over the idea of living on a narrowboat. Often as I ride by there is this miasma of dank and mouldy air emanating from a moored boat. Plus I travel faster and get to see much more.

Though a boat would be better for taking advantage of those canal-side beer gardens, like this one.
Hmmm, that blur of white?
A bunch of people in the beer garden.

I get into Bath after 6.00, it's a Friday evening, and there are groups of people sitting and  lying around on a carpet of green plastic grass that has been laid down the centre of the main shopping mall.

The bridge has to be wound open with an alan key 

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