Romans, Reivers and Castles
Day One: 2/9/19
So... we need every one of you who is reading this blog to make a serious offering to the Weather Gods.
You may be wondering how to do this.....
Initially I thought maybe the Gods would appreciate a minced pie and a glass of sherry until I rememberd that it is only Santa who enjoys such offerings. Forgive me! So, pour yourselves a large glass of wine and offer it up to the Gods with the following verse...(with apologies to Shakespeare!)
"Hubble Bubble , rain and trouble,
Winds blow hard and rivers bubble,
Warm us with some gentle sun
To make our bike ride lots of fun!
Oh Gods of sunshine, thunder, wind and rain,
Bring the sunshine back again.
Bring gentle winds to blow us, soft sunshine to warm us
Till we get safely home again."
Why do we need this? Read on....
We arrived on Sunday for the first night of our Romans, Castles and Reivers ride at The HIlton in Gateshead. Sheer luxury! Our room was gorgeous with huge windows overlooking four of the amazing bridges that cross the River Tyne. I don't think many cyclists are used to this level of luxury. We all normally seek out the least expensive accommodation possible.
Saddle Skedaddle, our tour company are just amazing! We loved them to pieces after our Yorkshire Wolds trip earlier in the year, but even more so since we learned that they have sponsored the World Transplant Games this year. Many of you will be aware that NIck, Bob's son, had his heart transplant almost a year ago. It saved his life. Eleven months on and he is growing fitter and fitter each week. He is a passionate cyclist and is back on his bike with a vengeance. He is fitter now than he has been for many years so our joy at his recovery is huge. When we left to embark on our epic Lands End to John O'Groat's ride at this time last year, we were beset with worry and concern for him, so leaving for this coast to coast trip on Sunday has been the opposite. It feels like a celebration of his courage and strength and for the courage and strength of the consultants who operated on him. It is also a celebration of the amazing forbearance and courage and support of his wife and children. He is planning on entering the British Transplant Games next year.
So, a good journey up to Newcastle, calling to see our friends John and Valerie Camm on the way up. John was the owner of the Oxygen Bicycle Company when we did LEJOG and gave us much support and encouragement. We have become firm friends ever since.
After supper we took a walk along the River Tyne... it was gorgeous, with the bridges and waterfront ablaze with lights.
We enjoyed a glass of wine on the waterfront and headed back to the hotel, where we made the mistake of looking at tomorrows' weather forecast... (and got little sleep after doing so.) It was forecast fine weather in Newcastle. However, we were being picked up early in the morning to be transported with our bikes to Bowness on Solway, the start of our ride. The ride sounded truly wonderful as it described the beautiful views of Scotland that we would have en-route. The forecast for Bowness was horrific! Torrential rain all day with heavy winds in the afternoon. The temperatures were to plummet with the bad weather. Given that the immediate and long-range weather forecasts when we left home were good, we had come well prepared for rain but not for wintery cold (7 degrees overnight).
We awoke this morning with first light and looked out on a bright and breezy Newcastle dawn. We were met early by Steve, our driver. Surely it couldn't be as bad just a few miles away as the forecast described. We really did not fancy getting totally drenched on our first day. It was with heavy hearts that we decided that if the weather was as bad as forecast we would have to abandon the days ride. Steve was happy to drop us off in the village of Gilsland in the North Pennines where we were to spend the night tonight. We drove through pleasant weather until we got to Hexham when the rain started. So Gisland it was to be. The only problem was that we arrived there at 9.00am, far to early to go into the B&B. Steve drove us to see the Roman Fort (Birdoswald) nearby and showed us where we could eat tonight. He dropped us off at a cute little Tea House called 'House of Meg' which was actually open. Thank you Steve, you were great.
The House of Meg was bliss. By the time we had unloaded the bikes with all our gear we were frozen. The tea house was warm and inviting with comfortable sofas and the owner could not have been more friendly and kind. We stayed there all morning drinking freshly ground coffee and had some delicious home made soup for lunch. We met several local people who were all lovely to us.
We are staying at Brooklands Guest House in the village. It is tucked away in a beautiful setting and the owner, Andrea could not be more helpful. Our room is a delight, and slippers and dressing gowns are provided. It is one of the best B&Bs we have stayed in. As I am sitting here typing, it is blowing a gale outside with 40mph gusts, and rain tipping down. We are warm and cosy in our lovely room. So, we feel that our decision not to ride today is vindicated.
So, from a day that could have been a disaster, it has been a pleasant surprise to enjoy something totally different and unexpected.
The bad news is that tomorrows' weather forecast is grim too and we will have no choice but to brave it. We have no Steve tomorrow, so, please, please make those offerings for us.
with fond wishes,
Annette & Bob