Adventures on 2 wheels (day 3)

Did I mention that we did some hills yesterday? Well I was lying. Today we really did some hills. Five of them, in fact, starting off with an outrageous one up to Hartside, and ending up with a tasty little number out of Allenheads towards Rookhope, where thankfully we stopped for the day, and deadened the saddle sores with far too many pints of something that may well have been called ‘Golden Sheep’.

We met cows, sheep and a disturbing amount of roadkill, got sunburnt, managed to still be talking to each other at the end of the ride, and everyone we spoke to, whether cyclists or unsuspecting people where we stopped, were wonderful. It was like being right in the middle of JB Priestley’s ‘An English Journey’, although that may sound a bit pretentious, so let’s just say it was a very good day.

Not, of course, without the odd little challenge, and perhaps the first couple of hours were rather less fun for Mrs Emu than her original plan for the break, which involved Eurostar to Paris, a luxury hotel, and a little light shopping. Problems with her bike squeaking turned quickly to problems with the gears, which turned to problems with the saddle and then to problems with the terrain, finally ending with the immortal words ‘I’m not bloody impressed’. Quite what possessed me to say ‘no-one’s trying to impress you’, I don’t know, but it didn’t seem to help. Half an hour and an energy bar later, she said ‘I’ve been wearing the Horcrux’, which will mean something to you Harry Potter fans. Anyway, order was restored, she returned to being wonderful, and all was right with the world.

Worth pointing out that the start of the day, in our rather retro Hotel, was marked by a cooked breakfast that appeared to have been twice-cooked, especially on the egg front. Someone in Penrith is taking all manner of precautions to cook the living crap out of the food to avoid the current e-coli crisis. But breakfast time was enlivened enormously by a coach breaking down in the town immediately outside the hotel, and when we got back into the lobby, there were 50 slightly bemused looking Japanese tourists, being catered for by equally bemused hotel staff. I don’t know if it was a translation failure, but trays of drinks were being despatched, left, right and centre, with the drink of choice being pints of lager. I’ve only ever seen lager drunk at 0830 in the morning when I used to fly into Edinburgh airport, and the holidaymakers were working to, well, holiday hours, but everybody seemed happy enough, so maybe the rest of the tour went with a bang. We’ll probably never know.

And into our hotel, where our room features framed pictures of small lovable kittens. Another of Mrs E’s ailments has been contact lenses drying out, so I’ve taken the precaution of photographing the pictures so I can show her if it happens again, all being well, she will go a bit dewy-eyed. And if that doesn’t work, I’ve got a couple of snaps of the hill up to Hartside.

One more b’tard hill tomorrow, then 50 odd miles to Tynemouth. Can’t imagine it will be as exciting as today, but who knows?


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