NO ROOM AT THE INN
When we drew back the curtains this morning, the sun was shining. This immediately put us in good spirits, along with the knowledge that today’s cycle was just 65 miles (yes, really 65 this time!) and the ascent was less than 25% of what we climbed yesterday.
We wanted to be away reasonably early this morning and had asked if we could have cereals earlier than the standard start time of 8am. When we met up at 7.30am they were waiting for us. Particular thanks go to Peter (Toll House Inn, Lancaster) who’s the night porter there . He was really helpful and provided us with tea and toast too. A shame he’s not in more of a customer facing role as his whole approach to customers is fantastic.
We should have really sorted out the bikes last night, but we couldn’t face it after the long day, so next activity was to get Rubes and Roberto prepared for the day.
A little later than planned, we left the Toll House Inn and pedalled off into the undulating farmland of Lancashire.
Everything was going so well that we had a stop at a Costa on the side of the A6, north of Preston.
We managed to navigate around Preston without too much difficulty, but there was a reasonable amount of hopping on and off the bikes as we resorted to using pedestrian crossings on some of the huge road junctions. In addition we also adopted the hybrid position which is very useful for urban cycling – your right foot is clipped into the pedal and your left foot either hops or scoots to propel you along.
Our lunchtime rendezvous with Jackie was by a marina in the village of Rufford. She’d had a busy morning – in addition to shopping for our provisions she’d paid a visit to Mr Bubbles (no, not a champagne bat, but a carwash) and seen a sign for ‘walk-in’ massages, so had availed herself of a 30 min massage.
As we tucked into the feast, which included a Hoisin Duck wrap, I felt a nip on my ankle. This chap was obviously not best impressed that we were eating his cousin and pecked me.
Once again we probably dallied rather longer than we should have done, but finally made a move to our next stop – Liverpool. It was a frustrating journey. To avoid cycling on a busy dual carriageway we pedalled on cycle paths. In some places they were fine, but generally they had the a high level of detritus including, leaves, brambles, flattened lager tins, fast food containers and broken glass. At the sign of smashed glass we got off our bikes and carried Rubes and Roberto to safety. In addition there were aerial challenges of overhanging branches. Many of the kerbs at junctions were not dropped, so this again meant stopping to hop up and down the kerb. This resulted in very slow progress.
We finally reached the Mersey and the empty, dilapidated old dock area. The road surface was dreadful, but there were few cars and it was a relief to be able to cover the 3 miles to the Liver building in a short time, after the frustration of the earlier part of the afternoon.
The area around the ferry terminal was buzzing and in the sunlight it felt good to be there. We had the obligatory photo with John, Paul, George and Ringo. As we’d just missed the ferry there was an hour’s wait before the next one so we decided to have a coffee in the cafe. Jackie’s builders’ tea and Patrick’s americano were placed in the counter by the barista. I picked up the tea and a pot of milk to deliver to Jackie. When I returned Patrick’s americano had vanished. Someone had nicked his coffee!
Whilst we were on the ferry we got a call from Jackie, asking us to send her the hotel booking confirmation – the hotel could not find a record of it and there was no room at the inn. Our hearts sank. It had all been going so well! Our thought was to cycle to the hotel in Chster and come what may, we were staying there, even if that meant sleeping in the lounge. However, expert negotiator Jackie worked hard and got a standard room for us and a cupboard for herself. It was hardly a room with a view. Some others who hadn’t yet checked in were going to be staying elsewhere tonight.
A good day, relatively fine weather, but the physical effort and lack of sleep are taking their toll and we are feeling extremely weary. However, we’re also feeling elated that we’ve got this far and we believe we can do this. Onto Wales tomorrow accompanied by our usual weather -rain.
PATRICK’S TRIVIA – CHESTER
Chester is the birthplace of James Bond – Daniel Craig was born here in 1968