North of stoke

Posted by on 21, Aug 2023 in 2023 - Cathedrals, Europe, Tilly the Tandem, UK, Western Europe

North of stoke
Happy days….
Another trap
Minton tiles
Ripped tyre

Leaving the hotel after a night not spent on the loo and having had 18 hours of sleep was very welcome. We even ate out for breakfast as the previous evening I couldn’t really face going to anywhere selling food to get breakfast in for the next morning.

I drink decaf tea and I always like two teabags in a pot. This is hardly ever an issue but occasionally some bright accountant decides that that’s actually 2 pots so wants to charge you a extra few quid for a 5p tea bag. I now ask to check this before ordering and our waiter who was somewhere between sullen and grumpy said it was an extra charge.

No worries I said, I’ll pop my own tea bag in. You can’t do that sir he said, I’ll have to charge you for 2 pots! God knows how they would ever know but honestly, it’s 5p for goodness sake….

The breakfast was good and served by a waitress who was so thin we almost wanted to make her sit down and join us to eat something.

Full of tea (2 bags) and croissants we headed back into the gorgeous July weather (peeing down) and back to the canal, where it was beginning to get hard to tell where the boats should sail and where we should cycle for all the puddles and water logged path.

But we sailed on encountering numerous stupid cycle traps along the way and shortly after watching the canal boats backed up at a tunnel waiting for it to open after a breakdown, met one of the River Trust officials.  He was an ex policeman (another one who had to tell us) and agreed the cycle barriers were stupid and in his section they were being removed. He did warn us that the next section had more though and he was right. But some members of the Cyslists Republican Army had demolished the adjacent fences so these didn’t cause us any issue.

This at least did take our mind off the weather (still raining) until we reached Crewe where it became biblical. We pulled in at Crew train station and sat it out under the station canopy chatting to a guard on his tea break.

One noticeable thing about this summers rain, and we’re now experts on this, is it seems to be much much heavier at times and also be more showery rather than constant gentle rain. Its like being in Asia without the warm weather….

As if to emphasise this the sun then came out and we rolled up at our Airbnb in brilliant sunshine about 30 seconds before the owner arrived in his car to let us into the garage to store Tilly. Great timing.

A fab overnight stop was followed by some decent weather at last. Do bear in mind that we have considerably reduced this summers definition of decent,  so it was cool, lots of cloud and occasional bursts of sun. But a very nice change.

Our next stop was Chester which was a fab day of cycling followed by a personal guard for Tilly from the cathedral staff whilst we went in and had a look around.

It’s another beautiful cathedral and for some reason was heaving… The busiest we have been in.

We had a great chat with Tilly’s guards and then had a good night’s rest before heading past Tillys old home of Ellesmere and onto the wirral to catch the Ferry… ‘cross the Mersey, la la la la la laaa. We were quite shocked at how lovely this ride was. It was a bit Surrey like if you could ignore the occasional ‘F*** the Tories’ grafitti on the cycle path. My kind of Surrey!

The ferry weaves all over the river before docking and is more like a mini tour, which is great if the wind hasn’t picked up and you’re freezing (August now) and having to hold on to Tilly on deck, but it was interesting,  at least the bits we heard on the tannoy above the sound of the wind.

We haven’t been to Liverpool for wellober 20 years and thought it is now a fab city, one of our new favourites, and on our list to come back to. The dock area and city museum well worth a visit.

We were also extremely fortunate to time our visit with the unveiling of the Minton Tiles in St Georges Hall for the first time since Covid.

The tiles are only open occasionally for a few weeks to limited visitors. Normally they are covered up to protect them and you can for these few weeks, buy tickets to walk around the balcony to view them, or the posh tickets to actually walk on them and have a glass of bubbles thrown in. So that’s a no  brainer then and we throughly enjoyed our walk and viewing these amazing tiles with our glass of bubbles.

And then it was back to our favourite pastime.. The northerners embrace cycle traps much more than the south, or perhaps their  councils are starved of more resources to remove them. Anyway, they really upped the obstacle factor on our ride to Manchester, first with a flight of stairs going up about 30m which we had to turn around at and cycle back 1500m to a car park to avoid, only to find that the cycle trap there was impassable for us to get out.  Back to Liverpool? We eventually pushed Tilly through the grass field to get to the car park and freedom before rejoing the Manchester  canal toward the city.

This led us to the Trans Pennine Way, which had more cycle barriers than we could count most of which we had to remove all our panniers or dismantle Tilly to get through.

These seriously slow you down and we arrived in Manchester 90 minutes later than planned and the Catehdral was closed, it was now peeing down again and we were not happy bunnies.

We were seriously wondering why we bother trying to cycle in the UK. Perhaps one day it will be a good place to cycle but for now, if you have a tandem, a trike or some other non standard bike it’s a pain in the handlebars to cycle here and I wouldnt recommend it to anyone when you can cycle in Europe and never see a cycle barrier let along have to carry a tool kit to take your bike to bits when it gets wedged in the latest trap….Rant over!

So we returned the next morning to Manchester Cathedral get our stamp and have a look around before heading to meet up with some of our family for a few days off.

We’d allowed plenty of time to get there but not enough to get a ripped tyre 10 km form our Airbnb.  I changed both our tyres in January and they are normally good for 7000km according to the advice from Schwalbe, the manufacturers.  I change them every 7000km religiously, but as these tyres had only done 1500km when we set off I decided not to bring a spare tyre. BIG mistake!

We were outside a garden centre, with no tyre and about 90 minutes to get 10km before the gin supply for the next few days was being delivered and Ben & Co were held up in traffic miles away.

We tried phoning taxis, but they weren’t interested in coming out to the sticks to pick us up so Linda went in and spoke to the staff at the garden centre asking if they could suggest a taxi firm.  They so kindly offered to keep Tilly in their warehouse so we could get a smaller taxi and they would deliver her on Monday in their van free of charge. Wonderful people, so we got a taxi and arrived with 3 minutes to spare for the arrival of our shopping delivery at our home for the next few nights.

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