30 July, 2007

Weekend Getaway

We had a great weekend away, camping in a village called Willingham just sixteen miles by bike from home. We'd camped here before, seven years ago, when the campsite (Roseberry Tourist Park) was far less well developed than it is these days. Back then, we really did camp in a pear orchard but now the few remaining pear trees are more ornamental.

On Friday, we packed up all our camping gear and loaded up the Galaxies for the first time in almost two years. We left home at 3.30pm and after a little shopping in Cambridge (gas cannisters & bike light) rode via Coton, Madingley, Dry Drayton, Oakington, Longstanton and Willingham (where we shopped for food in the Co-Op) to the campsite 1.5 miles out on the Earith Road. We enjoyed pleasantly warm sun and a gentle breeze all the way and arrived at around 6.30pm having covered 18.79 miles in 1:54:51.

We were treated to a friendly welcome. The tent pitch cost £10.00 per night plus £2.00 extra to leave after noon on the last day. We found a spot and pitched the bug and our stand-alone porch then checked out the immaculate toilet and washing facilities. Dinner was Bachelor's beef flavoured rice to which Lisa added fried minced beef and a chopped up omelette. As the evening was getting cloudy and cooler, we retreated to the bug and played 21 overs of dice cricket, leaving Lisa on 123 for 3, while listening to some music on the radio. And so to sleep. During the night, we spent a while admiring the stars in the cloudless and very dark sky.

On Saturday, we woke to warm sunshine at 8.30am and I journaled for a while, while Lisa snoozed. We breakfasted on fried eggs and bread & butter with tea & coffee and listened to some of the morning's play in the test match (England v. India, second test at Trent Bridge, day two).

Then we got out on our bikes and rode a circular route around some of the local villages. From Willingham we rode to Rampton along a very badly surfaced road. We were intrigued by a thatched house at Rampton with thatch fox on the roof ridge. From Rampton to Longstanton along a near unrideable byway, now split in two by work on the execrable guided busway. We broke for a picnic lunch at Longstanton opposite All Saints' church.

We enjoyed much better roads from here on. From Longstanton to Swavesey and on to Over where we stopped for a while to watch a game of cricket being played on the village green. From Over we rode back to Willingham. After a little shopping in the Co-Op we returned to campsite. The day's trip totalled 15.88 miles, covered in 1:46:41 of riding.

After some downtime with newspaper and popcorn we started on dinner. Tonight's meal was spaghetti (actually Amoy "straight to wok'' thread noodles) with a home-cooked meat sauce we brought with us. Dinner over by 7.30pm we settled down in the bug with tonight's Prom concert on the radio. Finished the evening with some more dice cricket, leaving Lisa on 329 for 7 after 50 overs. And so to bed, with heavy rain falling throughout the night.

The rain cleared up early on Sunday morning and we breakfasted on egg fried rice and scrambled egg under clear skies. We made peanut butter sandwiches for the ride home then began packing up. Sooner than we expected, both Lisa and I had our bikes loaded and ready to go. Stopping at the office on the way out to book a pitch for our next long weekend (in August), we set off for home at 11am. We retraced our route out from Roseberry Tourist Park, via Willingham, Longstanton, Oakington, Dry Drayton, Madingley and Coton back to Cambridge. Back by 2pm (including a shopping stop on Mill Road). Covered 16.67 miles in 1:40:36.

Out total for the trip was 51.34 miles, ridden in 5:22:18.

23 July, 2007

Perfect Day Out

Yesterday we made our second trip to Lord's to see a Test Match, just a couple of months after our first visit. We made great efforts to be at the ground for the start of play this time, in spite of the trains being up the creek as usual on a Sunday. What trains there were out of Cambridge were packed with cyclists and their mounts because yesterday was also the date of the annual London-Cambridge cycle ride, something Lisa and I aim to do one of these years. We'd made up our sandwiches and boxes of salad the night before and were able to make a prompt start which, combined with knowing what we were doing, gave us a much less stressful journey.

We arrived with plenty of time to pass through the thorough but very friendly and polite security checks and do a bit of shopping in the Lord's Shop before settling into our seats well before play was due to start. England resumed their second innings on 77-2, 174 ahead, and we got to see the rest of the innings (including a big knock of 134 from Pietersen) which ended on 282 all out. Coming into bat after tea, chasing a score of 379 to win, we saw India get to 137-3 by the close. The cheer when Monty Panesar again claimed the wicket of Tendulkar was almost as loud as that for Pietersen's century!

Throughout the day, the weather was good, the atmosphere great and the cricket competitive. Just the perfect way to spend a summer's day. Lisa often likens going to the cricket as being like going to the beach for the day, in the sense that it's a full day relaxing in the open air with no intrusions from one's everyday routine. We hope to do more of this next year!

Enthusing with a colleague, from Dehli, at work today about how much we'd enjoyed the day I was delighted to learn that he'd been there too: ensconced among the Indian supporters directly across the ground from us. Of course we were each hoping for a different conclusion on today's final day but honour was shared as the match ended in a draw; yes, it's true, cricket really is a game where you can play for five days and still not get a result!

09 July, 2007

Le Tour comes to town

Whew! That was the tour that was! For the first time ever, this weekend, the UK hosted the start ("Grand Depart") of the Tour de France with team presentations on Friday and a 7.9km prologue in the streets of central London on Saturday followed by a 203km road stage from London down to Canterbury on Sunday. It's estimated that over a million spectators turned out in London for the start but there was no fairy tale home victory as neither Bradley Wiggins nor David Millar (both much touted prospects beforehand) made it onto the podium.

Sunday's stage was especially interesting to me as the day's race route passed right through the centre of my hometown of Rochester and even within less than a kilometre from the house in Strood where I was born and lived all my childhood. I was glued to the TV throughout the two stages and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the race running through such familiar surroundings and the massive turn out in Kent was great to see. Millar went on a long solo breakaway on stage one which was fun to watch but a crash near the finish meant that again the fancied Brit. (this time, Mark Cavendish) wasn't in contention for the stage win in Canterbury.

Of course I'll be following the race over the next three weeks, as I always do, but this was an extra special few days and I hope the huge (and overwhelmingly positive) media coverage will inspire lots of folks to take an interest in the sport and, more importantly, get out on bikes themselves.