Leaving my little cottage did not go how I expected. I was up early and super organised, everything ready to go onto the bike, my last granola waiting for me to eat. I had forgotten when the ‘check-out’ time would be but guessed 10 at the earliest, probably later. At ten to ten the owner drove up in her car expressing slight surprise I was still there. She said she could come back later if I am not ready. I said I would take about half an hour but she remembered her cleaner is booked for ten past ten so sat in her car outside the door while I attended to my final needs, wolfed down my cereal and packed up the bike. At ten past with her cleaner also waiting, I finally said goodbye. I got a rather brief goodbye. I’ll make no further comment – about the pedal bin with the broken lid, about the smelly compost bucket with no lid at all, about the tinny cutlery, about the shower that was impossible to get at the right temperature….
It threatened rain as I headed north from dorchester but eventually the sun came out. First stop on my route was a quick hello to the giant at Cerne Abbas, who I thought had been there for 1000 years but is probably 17th century, or a student prank as one of our hostel visitors back in 1974 thought it was. (this picture isn’t one of mine). How ever long he has been like that, he has enviable staying power.
The route went extremely smoothly with little traffic, good weather and generally nice twisty roads. The clever GPS knows in advance where there are road closures so sent me off on what felt like a hugely complicated detour through the narrowest of twisty roads and smallest of cute villages.
I made it to Bath and rode round in circles for 10 minutes before pointing myself up the steep hill toward the hotel somewhere to the north of the city centre. My GPS said I was arriving ‘on the left’ but I saw nothing – the beautiful Bath stone buildings all look the same and I carried on up, seemingly for ages looking for somewhere to turn left. Just when I was feeling exasperated that I had gone so far, the Lansdown Grove was right in front of me and I rode straight in and parked next to the front door. It was so good to get the professional welcome that I felt was missing in my cottage.
Bath in the summer is beautiful, it is packed with groups of tourists and the locals are rather posh but walking around aimlessly, listening to buskers was a delight. True to my 1970s nostalgia I visited Royal Crescent where I had stayed at the end of the mythic motorcycle trip that I retraced. I had no idea what number it was. The crescent is beautiful and it must cost a fortune to buy one of the flats now. Even in 1974, one building seemed to be divided into at least two flats and probably three.
Now I am back in my room, not working on my book but catching up with this account of this short trip.