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Leominister and Hay-on-Wye, 25 August 2012

October 14, 2012

 

Leominister and Hay-on-Wye, 25 August 2012

Me go Leominster eat dog’s heart

Little in the Way of Sunshine

Like Jennifer in Rye
and Phil in Hay-on-Wye
who requested “My Oh My”

Nove on the Sly

We’re growing increasingly accustomed to the idiosyncratic ways of Britain’s B&B owners, but nothing has prepared us for Sylvia, proprietress of the Falcon in Bromyard.  Actually, that’s not true at all – a series of terrifying hotel reviews posted online has prepared us for Sylvia – in fact, imbued in us a degree of excited anticipation.

According to TripAdviser legend, Sylvia:

1)    Once, ignoring pleas from the groom, acted out a rape scene at a wedding reception

2)    Is the “RUDEST PERSON EVER”

3)    Makes “allegations of a personal nature” [unspecified] against guests who complain

As it is, we’re treated to a decent performance – by no means disappointing, but she’s not quite at the peak of mid-season form either. We encounter her the morning after a nightmarish ride from Worcester (birthplace of David Davies, who reminisces that all this used to be fields while we’re cycling around, lost, in the town centre) to Bromyard in biblical rain.  I’m staying at my Mum’s, just round the corner, while David and Nick, in the spirit of adventure, have opted to spend the night at the Falcon. 

Meeting there for breakfast, we’re initially served by Sylvia’s husband, John, who bears the weary look of a man who gave up any hope of self-determination in 1978. Sylvia bustles in and immediately takes him to task for his failure to ask us if we want tea, before taking our orders, at which point Nick makes his fatal mistake:

SYLVIA:  And for you?

DAVID:  Full English, but [summoning up courage] without eggs or black pudding please

NICK: That’s all right, David – I’ll have your eggs and black pudding

SYLVIA: [Stopping to fix Nick with a steely gaze, as if he’s suggested something improper]  We do not do it like that here.

The morning’s ride passes without major incident, and by early afternoon, having paid 10p each to cross the world’s most reasonably priced toll bridge, we’re in Hay-on-Wye.  Or possibly we’ve drowned and gone to Guardian Reader Heaven.  In any case, there are an inordinate number of tea shops and bookshops, and signs urging us to forsake the Kindle.  While David seeks out rare volumes of poetry and Nick browses books about diving, I fall asleep on a chaise longue, ‘One Hundred Lists About Arsenal’ on my chest.

Despite Hay being Wales’ ponciest town, it takes us a while to find somewhere to eat, but we eventually find the Old Black Lion, where we’re served by a waitress who resembles a voluptuous version of TV’s Jenny Éclair, and takes a shine to David.  When he informs her that we’re about to cycle 60 miles, she flutters her eyelashes and asks him: “Oh, you like punishment, do you?  I bet you’ve read that Fifty Shades of Grey, haven’t you?”.  We decide to take a cross-country short-cut back to the B and B and, as is customary, get very lost, prompting David to speculate that he should have stayed at the pub and tried his chances.

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