When we last left our intrepid traveler, I was somewhere in South Central England fulfilling my dream of biking in the English countryside… exploring idyllic villages, crisp spring breezes playfully tousling my hair, and the gently rolling hills putting a healthy pink glow in my cheeks. Well, the villages are, indeed, idyllic… in fact it’s like falling into the pages of a storybook! The bike ride, as you may recall, not so much. Due to some, shall we say... optimistically naive planning on my part, my dreams of carefree days spent mindlessly peddling aside grassy meadows were dashed upon the craggy moors like young Heathcliff’s heart. I nearly busted a lung climbing those hills! But after riding to four separate villages over the course of a week, I finally arrived in Bampton, the last town on my tour, (and, OMG, the filming location for the village scenes in Downton Abbey. YIPPIE!!) I limped into to town pushing my bike, flat tire and all (yeah, you heard me), the final 3 miles (that's three MILES) of my journey. Woo HOO.
But wait, there’s MORE!
Prior to my arrival in town, and adding insult to injury, was my brief encounter with the man I like to call “The Irate Englishman”. Here’s how we met: In an attempt to stay off of a somewhat narrow and very busy road, I rode my bike on a tiny dirt path that ran alongside, where a sidewalk might have been. That’s where I got the flat tire. I got off the bike and began to push. The path soon became impassable; the brush so thick there was, literally, nowhere for me to go but back into the road. That’s when he showed up and went all Scott Farkus on me.
It was a small, two lane road and another car was coming toward me, he was coming up from behind. There wasn’t enough room for all three of us side by side, so The Irate Englishman had to wait (oh, NO!) for the oncoming car to pass. He drove up right behind me and stopped, revving the engine like he was waiting for the checkered flag to drop at Indy. When the other car had passed he hit the gas, peeled out around me (totally freaking me out), and he was gone. Or so I thought. Nope, not so fast. He took time out of his obviously busy day to turn around so he could come back and yell at me. So I’m standing there with my gimpy bike, watching him barrel back at me in his unnecessarily shiny, cherry red pickup truck, and I’m thinking: “Ohhhh (insert adult language)”. He stops, rolls down his window, his hair and face both beet red and, in what I gather was an attempt to “educate” me (and justify his actions), starts yelling: “IT’S LIKE THIS, LOVE… I’M TRYIN’ T’ DRIVE IN THE BLOODY ROAD, YOU’RE BLOCKIN’ THE BLOODY ROAD, AND ONLY ONE OF US IS MEANT T’ BE ‘ERE!!!” “Um, I’m sorry sir, but I’m pretty sure ONE of us wants me in this "bloody road" a hell of a lot less than the other. And, just so you know, even if you start your rant by calling me “Love” it’s still really rude and highly unsettling.” But I didn’t say that. I didn’t say anything. I just stood there staring at him. A wave of relief washed over me as he jammed on the gas, peeled out, and drove away.
But, hey, I’m fine and, in retrospect, it does make a pretty good story!
On a happier note, I've including a couple of pics of my day in Bampton. When I got there* the crew was setting up for filming of Downton Abby! It was FABULOUS!! *And when I say "got there" I, of course, mean the next morning, because when I ARRIVED in Bampton, I went directly to my bed & breakfast, took a ridiculously hot bath, had an amazing dinner, and flopped into bed.
Another happy result worth noting is that the bike ride allowed me to offset so many calories that I ate like a lumberjack AND lost at least 5 lbs in a week! So, yeah... not all bad!!
Here's what I've learned:
1) "The Irate Englishman" was the exception, not the rule. In fact he was, pretty much, the only person I encountered in the Cotswolds that wasn't warm, welcoming, and friendly to a fault! The people there were some of the nicest folks I've had the pleasure of meeting in my travels!
2) The "BBR" (Bad Bike Ride) was entirely my fault. A gentle, carefree, sightseeing tour would have been mine had I let the professionals at Cycle Cotswolds (click HERE for link) handle my planning.... they're amazing!! However, if a really challenging cycling trip is what you have in mind, you can have that, too... and anything in between!
3) I cannot possibly overstate the beauty of the Cotswolds region of England. It's simply breathtaking.
Well that’s all for this week… But next time remind me to tell you about The Swan… and the Frenchman….
QUOTE FOR THE DAY:
"PLEASE BE A TRAVELLER, NOT A TOURIST. TRY NEW THINGS, MEET NEW PEOPLE, AND LOOK BEYOND WHAT'S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. THOSE ARE THE KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING THIS AMAZING WORLD WE LIVE IN."