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Newton Abbot and Totnes, Monday 29 May, 2017

The morning is a bit of a blur. During the night, I had sustained my first injury of the tour by falling out of bed, so over breakfast I’m nursing a sore back and the irritation that it wasn’t caused by anything to do with cycling. Steve is also tiring, having used up extensive reserves of energy cycling up hills without having gathered much speed on the previous descents.

Waiting for them to weigh in

We decide to split this leg of the tour into two, and do Newton Abbot and Totnes as a separate leg altogether. This means getting a train from Morchard Road (not far from Zeal) to Dawlish Warren, then cycling to Newton Abbott and Totnes  – shorter than originally planned but long enough to meet our ten-mile rule. Fortunately the guards on trains prove nothing less than helpful, and we soon get to Dawlish Warren.

Regular readers of this irregular blog may remember that Dawlish is also a destination, and that we’ve visited it before. Well, here we are again, as last time we never made it to Newton Abbot and Totnes. On leaving Dawlish Warren, we’re informed by some bloke that “the tornado’s coming through in a bit”. Laughing this off, but still concerned that we may be in for some very high winds, he quickly explains that the Tornado is a steam engine which is about to arrive on a special excursion. Sure enough, the roads are lined with rail enthusiasts and even BBC TV cameras, but as we’ve got destinations to cover, plus normal trains to catch home from Totnes, we don’t hang around.

Newton Abbott Racecourse is huge, and it’s nice to see that they’ve chipped in to help maintain the cycle path that runs alongside it, which we of course make use of.

After waiting for them to weigh in (but not for long, as there’s no racing on today, so no horses to weigh), we return to the town centre and set off on a final maze of back roads towards Totnes.

Enjoying non-organic food in Totnes

We don’t encounter any Bickering Fairs, but there is a heritage railway centre where we eat some non-organic food before returning to the modern-day station to get us and our bikes back home (thankfully without let or hindrance this time).

Northam, Westward Ho!, Zeal Monachorum, Sunday 28 May, 2017

We start the day with the unpleasant ascent out of town, pausing to take a shot of the sign for Ilfracombe Town FC.

Rock up, you’re from Ilfracombe

An advert for the local “Ilfracombe Rocks” festival comes into view shortly after, but we don’t want to interrupt our pedalling, despite the highly appropriate nature of the sign. We’re happy to be leaving Ilfracombe, whose every single road seems to be a steep uphill struggle, so much so that even the descents at times feel like they’re going up. And that’s coming from me who lives in Sheffield.

It’s mainly downhill to Barnstaple, and Steve makes it in one piece, despite his poorly repaired brakes. We head immediately to The Bike Shed (our second bike shop visit in three days) and meet another extremely helpful chap, who spends 15 minutes fixing Steve’s brakes properly (only briefly passing comment on my unsatisfactory bicycle repair skils) and refuses to charge him anything. We purchase tea and cake in their in-store cafe and make a charitable donation.

After more twists and turns and getting lost we pass through Bideford in order to tick off Northam and nearby Westward Ho!, which although not quite a massive letdown, is suitably underwhelming.

Westward Ho! – A bit disappointing

Tiring of getting lost I happen upon something of great fortune. The National Cycle Route No.3 is a tarmacced path from Bideford to Great Torrington, along a former railway line (there are many of these in the South West, where Dr. Beeching was particularly unsparing with his axe. The route is also part of the Tarka Trail, so named after Henry Williamson’s novel. Although we don’t spot any joyful otters, it’s a beautiful ride and much welcome at this stage of the journey.

Once off the Tarka Trail, save for one short steep hill, it’s a fairly simple 19 miles along a single B-road almost all the way to the highly-anticipated Zeal Monachorum, which we reach by 6pm, very much ready for dinner.

See also Zatopek, Zeus…

Zeal’s a curious little village. Firstly, we’re unable to see any caravans there, static or otherwise, but secondly, and far more importantly, the family-run hotel, pub and restaurant The Waie Inn  has a jukebox which holds a good number of Half Man Half Biscuit songs, including the Referee’s Alphabet, which mentions the village. It’s the first time during the tour that we’ve been able to play a song mentioning somewhere, while sitting in a pub in that very place. Needless to say, after three days cycling, beer was consumed and money was put into the jukebox. You can guess the rest.

Ilfracombe, Saturday 27 May, 2017

We’re up early, thankful that the overnight thunderstorm has passed. Forty-three miles to Ilfracombe isn’t very far, but the terrain is punishing to say the least, and there’s the small matter of the Cup Final to consider (although the FA have kindly pushed the kick-off back to 5:30 for us).

Today’s leg also offers something extra-special. A few years ago, asparagus farmer Stephen Crossman contacted us making a strong case that signs for some of his merchandise inspired some of the lyrics Asparagus Next Left.  Not only that, but he’s offered to meet us at his farm just past the Quantocks  for some cycling and asparagus-sign-related japery.  Needless to say we’re very excited about the possibility of encountering a living character from a Half Man Half Biscuit song for the first time.

Asparagus next left

We meet  Stephen at Court Place Farm.  He’s a most amiable chap, a keen cyclist and Half Man Half Biscuit fan whose agricultural output is not limited to flowering green vegetables. “A man can’t live on asparagus alone”, he dutifully informs us. It’s a proverb we’ll be sure to remember.  We spend a bit of time posing  for pictures with bundles of asparagus and discussing the later career of Adam Ant.

Brimming with excitement, we push  on, prepared for some exceedingly steep hills  and armed with Stephen’s excellent advice on which routes to take. The weather by now has turned. Yesterday’s tailwind has turned into a strong headwind –  it’s cold, it’s misty, and it’s raining. And today, frankly, we’re not liking a bit of drizzle at all.

Porlock Hill

The beautiful toll road up Porlock Hill and the steep lanes inland of Lynton do their best to thwart us, but conditions improve and anyhow, we’re made of sterner stuff. Just as things seem to be looking up, Steve’s rear brake malfunctions and I have a go at fixing it. Badly. This does little to allay his fears of another accident but until we get to Barnstaple there’s little to be done.

After inconveniencing some Germans with motorhomes on the main coastal route through Coombe Martin, we finally arrive in Ilfracombe at 5pm, with half an hour to spare before Arsenal face Chelsea.  Ardent Gooner Steve makes a beeline for the nearest pub, barely remembering to pick up his room key. Being more of an armchair fan (I’m a long-suffering Stockport County supporter), I take my time but still make it before kick-off.  You’ll be aware of what happens next, and the sight of John Terry’s sad little face does much to lift our spirits after a hard day in the saddle.

Bath, Glastonbury, Bridgwater, The Quantocks – Friday 26th May, 2017

I think it was Fred Titmuss who said that to break one collarbone may be regarded as misfortune, but to break two looks like carelessness.   Unfortunately, Steve managed that in 2016, and his second clavicle fracture in 12 months is the main reason it’s been a year since the last leg of the tour.

Nevertheless, we embark upon an epic journey of some 183 miles in four days.  Things get off to a disappointing start as Steve is yet again thwarted by anti-cycling railway officialdom, this time in London, and is prevented from boarding his train to Bristol (where I’m due to meet him for the start), for “not being 15 minutes early”. When he arrives half an hour later than scheduled, having also been forced to buy another ticket for the next train, we’re both furious at his treatment at the hands of GWR.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Steve then  realises he’s  left his Garmin charger at home (which we rely on for route navigation), but a quick stop at the extremely friendly and helpful Bristol Cycle Shack soon solves this, giving us a cable for free. Our  faith in human nature restored, we begin our journey to Bath, along the pleasant Bristol and Bath Railway Path, a route we’d highly recommend, especially the dark tunnels, at the end of which there is light.

Once in Bath we turn back on ourselves slightly and head towards Glastonbury via Wells. Unfortunately we’re only as far as the Mendips when the scale of the task ahead becomes apparent. It’s a long hard drag of an incline up a busy A-road, with the bank holiday weekend getaway gathering pace. Not only that, but the impact of Steve’s most recent crash is starting to tell. The traffic,  and speed of cycling downhill (useful to carry one up the next ascent as far as possible), have become an issue for him psychologically. Frankly, I think he’s got the cycling version of the yips, and it’s going to take more than some overlap grips to solve it. At least we’re blessed with beautiful weather.

In Wells, we begin a regular series of route adjustments to keep on the gentler back roads where possible.  Nice as the little yellow roads on the OS maps are, they present a fiendishly difficult navigational challenge and we soon lose each other until we’re reunited after a couple of phone calls.  Overall, however, it’s a picturesque and leisurely ride as the Mendips give way to flat marshland, punctuated by Glastonbury Tor on a lone hill in the distance.

You call it Glasto

It’s then on through similar terrain towards Bridgwater, before we check out the Quantocks. They’re far from the largest range of hills around, and are best described as a short, sharp shock after a good few hours on the flat.   With the terrain getting tougher and blood sugar levels dropping we make good use of the Lamb Inn in Spaxton.

The Quantocks are certainly a beautiful place to be, especially cycling west  when the evening sun goes down, and it’s a glorious descent into Williton, where we’re mightily relieved that there’s a good curry house open late.

London Clear-up, Sunday 22 May 2016

It’s been another injury-hit season. EustonOn top of the usual back pain, lethargy, work commitments and other ailments that plague men in early middle age, I fractured my collarbone while participating in a rainy sportive in February – proof that proper cycling is an enemy of the biscuit tour.

Still, it’s not like I’ve been captured by Barbary corsairs, so three months after surgery Dawes and I pull the ice axes from our legs and stagger on. Our first tour since last summer is a clear-up of central London (at least until the next album). This is very much one for the purists, comprising four obscure destinations that we overlooked on our two previous jaunts round the capital.

Starting at Paddington, we bowl through Marylebone to Euston Station (which, we’re told, is mentioned in the backwards section of ‘Christian Rock Concert’ – “The body of Shane Fenton is in the laundry chute of the New Ambassadors Hotel near Euston Station” apparently). We belatedly realise that this is our 100th destination.

Marquee ClubIgnorant of the fact that we’ve clocked up our century, we proceed down Gower Street and Shaftesbury Ave into Soho where we struggle with the one-way system, which is neither smooth nor commendable. As we stand on the pavement awkwardly consulting Google Maps on our phones, Dawes wryly remarks that this is the first time he’s sported lycra on Old Compton Street.

We’re looking for the Marquee Club, which doesn’t exist any more, but had various incarnations in the latter half of the past century. We decide that 90 Wardour Street – which of course saw performances from Husker Du, Captain Beefheart, Rush, Meatlof, ELO, Sun Ra, Delamitri and John Coltrane between 1964 and 1988 – is the most appropriate spot, so we take pictures outside what is now the Vapiano Italian restaurant.

Leaving behind the West End, we skirt round Leicester Square and down Charing Cross Road towards Whitehall. Our triumphant ride past Trafalgar Square is greeted by the London Symphony Orchestra blasting out the final strains of Elgar’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance’. We can think of no better way for the nation to voice its collective gratitude for the resumption of everyone’s favourite Half Man Half Biscuit themed cycling tour.

Bagging Whitechapelthe requisite photos at the top of Whitehall, we hit the Embankment and head northeast along the river, making the most of the excellent new cycle superhighway (in your face, angry black cab driver). There’s some speculation that the Whitechapel that gets a mention in ‘Girlfriend’s Finished with Him’ is the one in Liverpool, but the references to costermongers and an Oi! Revival lead us to think otherwise. So we turn inland at Temple, and ride through the City to complete our afternoon’s work.

Heading back down Whitechapel High Street, we ‘photobomb’ (as I believe the modern terminology has it) a family posing for wedding photos. Pausing to wonder why the photographer decided that what the album really needed was a romantic image of the bride and groom standing by a busy cycle lane, we proceed home, speculating that today might represent a revival in the fortunes of the biscuit tour – if only we can stay injury-free….

Today we cycled to:

“The body of Shane Fenton is in the laundry chute of the New Ambassadors Hotel near Euston Station” (Christian Rock Concert)
“Met him at Prestigious Marquee Club” (Whit Week Malarkey)
“As long as my old man’s about / Scripting Whitehall farces” (Sensitive Outsider)
“An Oi! revival down Whitechapel Way” (Girlfriend’s Finished with Him)

Editors’ Recommendations

Nick writes:

Recently, various kind souls have been good enough to show their appreciation for Halfmanhalfbikekit, and I’m going to give them all the social media plugging they deserve. I met a number of keen supporters, particularly at the Indietracks Festival, where among others I bumped into Chorizo Garbanzo of the music website

Shortly after returning to London, I was lucky enough to happen upon a presentation of the book and film Last Shop Standing, by Graham Jones, taking place at the wonderful Turnstyle Records,, which has recently opened just up the road from me. This proved to be the source of much Halfmanhalfbikekit interest, firstly from the warm, welcoming and encouraging Graham, but also from the affable Scott Bradbury from the band Chips for the Poor, whom I would recommend if they’re playing near you. And as if this weren’t enough local biscuit-related stuff, the shop isn’t far from Norbury, where (as recorded in The Ballad of Climie Fisher) Fisher of course rented a flat when he got a job at the BBC Education Department.

I recommend watching Last Shop Standing, not least because Half Man Half Biscuit provide two songs for the soundtrack (Something’s Rotten in the Back of Iceland and Twydale’s Lament). Apart from that it’s a wonderfully eccentric eyeopener on the state of music retail nowadays, in particular the good old fashioned record shop.

Finally, Pip Piper, director of the film Last Shop Standing, whom I’ve yet to meet but would very much like to, has directed another film, Bicycle, which will surely be of interest to our followers:

London Again, Saturday 1 August 2015

Keen followers of Half Man Half Bike Kit will remember that we bagged most of the London destinations last August. Our anniversary tour of the metropolis sees us attempt to add a few of the south-western outliers we were too idle to do then, as well as two new additions from ‘Urge for Offal’.

Amusement at Centre Court

Starting off at what Nick calls “his gaff” (I’m pleased to say he doesn’t really), we head off in pursuit of three icons of British tennis – Centre Court, Henman Hill, and the Lawn Tennis Association. Arriving in leafy SW19, we follow mild-mannered tourists and men dressed like Ian Carmichael in ‘The School for Scoundrels’ towards the All-England Club. Wimbledon being the wonderful institution it is, the officials are very obliging, advising us on the best spots to get the required photographic evidence. One of them is even so kind to take 20 (twenty) pictures of us with our bikes in front of centre Court. In hindsight we should have borrowed some racquets to put up to our faces and pretend we’re Kendo Nagasaki (who incidentally follows us on Twitter) but we’re never organised enough to think of these things in advance. That’s why we’ll never be the main man in the office in the city.

Unfortunately, we’re not allowed in very far so we have to ascend some of the (surprisingly steep) hills in the suburbs around the grounds to try and spot Henman Hill (or Murray Mount as it’s now known). This proves harder than we think, although we convince ourselves that we can see a patch of grass belonging to it in one of the shots we take.

Twickenham Car Park

Lost our Barbours somewhere around here

Our customarily haphazard navigation is even worse today due to mishaps with both GPS and smartphones, and our assumption that we’ll be fine with just an A-Z proves ill-founded as we leave the Home of Tennis behind. Our cross-country route over Putney Heath (which David notes has all the hallmarks of a dogging hotspot) and Wimbledon Common is complicated by a lack of cyclable roads, so we wheel our bikes disconsolately through dog turd strewn heathland before eventually reaching the far more pleasant and bike-friendly Richmond Park.  Heading west on Sawyers Hill we’re overtaken by several proper cyclists, and get lost looking for Richmond Bridge before eventually reaching Twickenham. None of us is a Five Nations Aficionado, so the place doesn’t have the same appeal as Wimbledon, but we’re quite pleased with the shot we get from the car park.

Apollo 1

Coming up next – brand new live at the Apollo

Pausing to look for our lost Barbours and fix a puncture, we head back into town via Barnes, then at Hammersmith remember the eight words that give Nigel the green light to wallow (“Up next, Brand new Live at the Apollo”) of course. We then get slightly lost on London parkland again (Hyde Park this time) and in Bloomsbury, before reaching the day’s final destination. In the hot sun, surrounded by thousands of milling tourists (who’ve presumably come to see artefacts that Britain stole from their countries) the British Museum isn’t a pleasant place to be. We pose for grim-faced pictures and turn our steeds home without even buying a ginger beer from Midge Ure’s concession stand.


Today we cycled to:

British Museum

There were some tired legs on the pitch at this point

Wimbledon and WOMAD, Ryder Cup and V” (King of Hi-Vis)
“The Centre Court amusement at the ballboy’s mishap” (A Country Practice)
“And a storm broke over Henman Hill” (Evening of Swng has been Cancelled)
“I’m going to prove once and for all to the LTA” (San Antonio Foam Party)
“I lost my Barbour /In Twickenham car park” (Split Single with Happy Lounge Label Mates)
“Elitist preservatives decorate the table of a kitchen in Barnes” (Sensitive Outsider)
“Up next, brand new Live At The Apollo” (Stuck up a Hornbeam)
“Hey, he’s got the ginger beer concession outside the British Museum” (The Bane of Constance)

Ely, Chatteris, St Ives, Papworth General, and St Neots, Sunday 14 June, 2015

Photo_14-06-2015_13_36_48[1]“I may as well be in Ely or St Ives” For What is Chatteris

What’s Chatteris if you’re not there?” For What is Chatteris

I left my heart in Papworth General

Sampling Alessi in St Neots” Our Tune

Waking with mild hangovers, and to the scent of still-damp cycle-wear, we set off into the drizzle towards the fens.   The morning’s ride is far more enjoyable than the typical biscuit tour fare. Instead of murderous A-roads or bleak post-industrial landscapes, we bowl along riverside cycle paths and quiet flat roads with lines of poplars on the horizon. We both have the strange sensation that we’re not in England, but one of those civilised continental countries where travel by bicycle is a by and large pleasant experience.

Photo_14-06-2015_12_48_53[1]Our route along the Ouse takes us to the day’s first destination, Ely. Stopping for Double Deckers next to the spectacular cathedral (no gargoyles resembling Bob Todd by the way) we reflect that Chatteris is going to have to perform well to deserve its ‘Envy of the Fens’ status. On the way out of town, we pass next to Oliver Cromwell’s house. He’s not there, but we stop for a quick snog with the puritans standing guard outside.

Expectations are high as Chatteris nears. This is the Big One – the most famous destination immortalised by HMHB, unless you count Trumpton (and that was already immortal anyway). It’s fair to say that we’re a bit disappointed on our arrival: any decent market town with quintessence should have a proper sign bearing a coat of arms and details of a twin in Bavaria, but – nothing.  However, like its town hall band’s CD, Chatteris is a grower. We can’t find a chandler’s but there is indeed at least one good butcher’s and a first class cake shop. The smooth and commendable one-way system is in evidence, and we witness no drive-by shoutings, let alone either of us being knocked on the bonce.


One-way system: smooth and commendable

Confident that we’re in a town with low car crime, and lower gun crime, we leave our bikes in the courtyard of the Golden Lion, whose proprietor points us the way of the Old Bakery Tea Room for lunch. They’ve just been proudly celebrating their 10th anniversary – the bunting’s up, and during our main course, the vicar pops by to congratulate them. As we eat our apple crumble and watch a procession of tractors pass by, we decide that Chatteris is doing fine for quintessence, whether you’re there or not. You can keep your Ely and your St Ives.

Bidding farewell to clean streets and award-winning swings, we push on through St Ives towards Papworth Everard (which sounds like a character in a long and difficult satirical novel) towards the day’s third destination. Instead of the sensible option of cycling through the village, we follow the roadsigns to the hospital that take us onto the motorway-like A-1198, where I’m very nearly flattened by a boy racer with little regard for lane etiquette.

Leaving our heartsPhoto_14-06-2015_16_42_33[1] at Papworth General, we begin the last leg of our weekend tour, pushing on through the well-kept villages of Yelling and Toseland into St Neot’s.   The station is deserted and there’s no information about trains back to London, but what’s a timetable if your journey’s infinite?

Diss, the Wensum and Swaffham, Saturday 13 June 2015


“Godzilla eats Diss” – Let’s Not

“On Reaching the Wensum”

“I wanna fly my biplane low over Swaffham” On Reaching the Wensum

Though our map of destinations bagged is starting to look healthier (not too far off the half-way point now) a cursory glance reveals that we’ve previously neglected the East of England. This weekend we firmly aim to set that straight – our bags are packed and we’re leaving in a minute.

We begin our East Anglian odyssey at Bury St Edmunds (henceforth referred to as Bury Noel Edmunds or BNE) to see the band play at the Apex. It’s the first HMHB gig we’ve been to for over a year and it’s good to spot a few familiar faces, although due to a stop-off for burgers on the way to the venue, we just miss Chris Rand, mastermind behind the legendary HMHB lyrics site.

Photo_13-06-2015_13_44_51[2]In the wake of the death of Christopher Lee, Blackwell et al come on stage to the strains of ‘Sumer is Icumen In’, prompting the more cinema-literate audience members to shout out quotes from ‘The Wicker Man’. Nick chides me for being baffled by all of these, as well as failing to identify Joy Division’s ‘Shadowplay’ during the encore.

Between songs there are musings on the East of England Tank Museum in (“It’s not like there are tank museums in the North, West or the South of England”); the pros and cons of wearing two jumpers at a Dead Kennedys gig; and a frisbee-share arrangement with Duncan Welch from school. We learn that Welch is yet to return the frisbee.

The following morning we leave BNE by the A-141, riding straight into the torrential downpour predicted by Blackwell, who’d seen the weather forecast on Countryfile. It’s no fun – all white vans speeding past, and overshoes filling up with lukewarm rainwater. After we bag Diss, things start looking up, with the rain easing off, and the roads becoming more bucolic – you can barely move for signs promising asparagus next left.

On reaching the Wensum, we bear west towards Photo_13-06-2015_17_55_25[1]the day’s final destination.  We’re disappointed at the lack of a decent sign to provide photographic evidence of our arrival (something along the lines of “Welcome to Swaffham, home to low-flying bi-planes” would have been nice) but decide that the ‘Swaffham Kebab & Pizza House’ will suffice.

Striking our usual winsome poses, we’re taken aback when a disgruntled junior employee with a vaguely threatening manner marches across the road and asks us why we we’re taking photographs of his establishment.  We decide against explaining the Biscuit Tour, or pointing out to him that we’re not in Belarus, North Korea or any other regime with a poor human rights record, but in East Anglia, where freedom of the press is generally respected, and instead mumble something about needing to show we’re in Swaffham. He scuttles away moodily, saying nothing, and we reflect on the possibility that we might just have been mistaken for lycra-clad immigration officers. Sadly this episode of bizarre paranoia means we’re unable to recommend a visit to the Swaffham Kebab & Pizza House. Heaven knows what they’ll do if they ever find out they’re on Google Streetview.

Rye and Camber Sands, 26 April 2015

‘Like Jennifer in Rye’ (Nove on the Sly)The Fall

‘Yeah that was me, down at Camber Sands’ (Lark Descending)

One of the many rewards of devoting your life to cycling to places mentioned in Half Man Half Biscuit songs is that you see a much underexplored side of Britain. A short train ride from our native London, with its Gok Wan acolytes, fair-trade cocaine, jog-proof I-pods and Ken Hom wok sets, is a world of forlorn seaside towns, massive crackling pylons next to caravans (static, naturally), and disused military installations.

Like HMHB, the Fall seem drawn to these kinds of landscapes, and so we kick off our tour of the Sussex-Kent coastline at their gig in Hastings.   Playing under a banner that says ‘DEDICATION NOT MEDICATION – YOU DECIDE!’ (we vote for medication ) Mark E Smith and his terrified minions put in a decent shift , deigning to perform ‘Theme from Sparta FC’ as an encore.

Back at our accommodation (run by a lovely Armenian couple who are relaxed about us leaving our bikes in the way of the fire extinguisher) I dream of being transported to Mars, albeit a Mars where there are a lot of noisy seagulls. Their screeching is eventually replaced by the sounds of the young couple having energetic sex in the room next to mine.

Steve in CamberThe B and B turns out to provide only the first ‘B’ of the traditional B and B offering, so we have breakfast at the Indian restaurant next-door, to the accompaniment of some jaunty 80s hits, which prompts some animated debate about whether Starship had dropped the Jefferson before they recorded ‘We Built This City’. The day’s cycling starts off with some steep climbing out of Hastings into Fairlight, before following the coastline to the day’s two destinations: Rye, and the Pontin’s holiday camp at Camber Sands.

With May 7th a couple of weeks away, many of the citizens of Sussex and Kent have made their political views clear. Based on a detailed analysis of the posters and placards we cycle past, we can confidently predict that the outcome of the 2015 General Election will be:

UKIP – 524 seatsNick and David in Rye

Conservatives – 103 seats

Labour – 23 seats

Others – None

Cycling-wise there’s not much to report, other than the usual slow progress, confusion about routes, missed turnings, and fury with errant GPS devices. Mostly, it’s cold, damp and windy. It’s tempting to say it’s a miserable day, but you may like a bit of drizzle, so we’ll stick to the facts.

We lose one of our number in the Rye area, but reunite in a pub in New Romney, where we’re befriended by a rave era casualty who spends a good half hour shouting “Fuck off you Chelsea Scum!” at the TV, before realising Chelsea aren’t playing yet. Over pints of lime and soda we decide that Deal and Broadstairs can wait for another day – one when it’s not raining and Arsenal aren’t playing Chelsea.   We luck out at the Swan Hotel in Hythe, where we’re just in time for the game and a lukewarm Sunday roast.  Our train home is from Sandling, which is just a couple of miles away, and two letters short of being a dead wading bird, so an apt place to end another tour.