September 5, 2011, by Andrew Burden
The VC’s blog: JoGLE Day 10: Sutton Bonington to Bourton-on-the-Water
The second dire day for Scottish football on this trip; a late penalty for the Czech Republic means Scotland miss out yet again on a major tournament.
Last night we ate at The Plough in Normanton and were joined by several spouses (Susan, Duncan and Nick). Although Chris J’s choice of dessert was puzzling (everyone else ordered ‘Chocolate Explosion’, Apple and Rhubarb Crumble and so on, he opted for ‘Spicy Crab Cakes’) it was an excellent way to end a memorable day.
We stayed in comfortable accommodation in Thrumpton Hall at our Sutton Bonington Campus and the Chef came in specially to prepare an excellent breakfast. Then it was back on the road.
Chris R and Alan were out first, then David W, followed by Karen, Kate, Chris J, Neville and Steve. I was a bit behind, sorting a few things out and Andy and Nick waited. We set off in miserable conditions, steady drizzle, poor visibility and wind chill, with the prospect of 88 miles ahead of us. Compared to last Sunday however, it was sub-tropical.
We made rapid progress. Just north of Atherstone, we spotted a vaguely familiar bike by the roadside. As we got closer we could see a yellow shirt in the bushes. It was Alan, answering the call of nature. Further ahead we could see Chris R. They had a 30 minute start and we had caught them up! What was going on? Were we riding on the limit? Were the Flying Squad finally slowing down?
Breakfast beckoned so we did not hang around to find out. We went in to Atherstone to ‘The Old Bakery’ and enjoyed excellent bacon and egg sandwiches.
From Atherstone we weaved through the rolling hills of Warwickshire (which feel more than just rolling on a bike) towards Stratford-Upon-Avon. En route we passed through Meridan. I have never registered the significance of its name and was delighted to find that our journey was taking us through the central point in England. Moreover, we were unaware of the town’s association with cycling, and struck by the fine memorial cyclists who had lost their lives in World War Two. As an unplanned visit it was all the more special.
Much as I like Stratford, we decided not to compete with the Sunday day-trippers and eat before we got there. We turned in to Snitterfield and found the Snitterfield Arms. As we approached, from the opposite direction came Alan. He was lost. We persuaded him to make an exception to his routine and stop for lunch.
The ride through Warwickshire was attractive, hills, woodlands and some lovely villages. Beyond Stratford we got into Cotswold country. I know this part of the world quite well, having lived in Brackley and Evenley for nine years. But it was still a joy to ride through some of England’s most picturesque landscapes, in bright sunny conditions, with impossibly perfect villages like Lower Slaughter.
Our last stop of the day was Chipping Camden, an exquisite Cotswold town, where we chose ‘The Badgers’ Hall’ teashop. One of the waitresses, Jane, found a parking spot for our bikes in the courtyard, among the potted geraniums. When she found out what we were doing, she also produced cushions to rest our backsides and made a generous contribution to our cause.
It is a lovely teashop, in an idyllic setting and it gave us a real lift for the rest of our leg.
The final stretch had some steep, climbs with gorgeous vistas. It was a fine end to a wonderful day’s cycling.
Everyone else arrived in good shape with no major mishaps. No punctures today and only one mechanical failure which required Kate to change bikes. No major embarrassments (unless you count Chris J being overtaken by a penny-farthing as one).
88 more miles on the clock, making a total of 750. An amazing number, almost the official distance from John O’Groats to Lands End!
September 4th 2011