Well, the train journey yesterday went very smoothly... I cycled down to the station with everything I needed, and bought tickets for my son and me from Birmingham to Leamington Spa. Gill came down on the 4pm bus with the boys and got to the station just in time, with only just over a minute to spare... I quickly loaded my bike on and we waved goodbye and the doors closed!
The journey was very easy, and made more enjoyable by meeting a pair of American tourists, one, Colleen, was a keen photographer (and works as a portrait photographer) and I was able to warn her about the spire at Chesterfield which she got some pictures of, from the moving train. The change at Birmingham New Street was easy too, and we arrived in Leamington at 8pm, and were met by Ulrich and his two sons. We cycled back to their place; I gave my lad a lift on the crossbar which he tolerated. When we got back, there was Katarina with their new baby to greet us, and they'd done some tea for us, an interesting German meal of thinly sliced potato baked with a white sauce followed by blueberries and ice cream.
My son was very very pleased to see his friend whom he met in York before the family moved to be nearer Ulrich's workplace, Ryton Organic Gardens just a few miles North of Leamington.
A fairly non-eventful evening... I used Ulrich's tiny and ancient laptop to do my emails on Tiscali Webmail, and Facebook, but the machine wouldn't let me onto my blog.
SO, TUESDAY... Ulrich cycled off to Ryton at 8.30 and I had breakfast and got myself ready to cycle after him. I had contacted my friend Pippa and had arranged to meet her there at 11am, and Ulrich would have his mid-morning break then too, and give us a guided tour!
So I set off at about 10am up the A445 and was soon at Ryton Organic Gardens, and I showed my membership and therefore got in free, and had time to look round The Vegetable Kingdom which is an excellent exhibition with really huge models of vegetables and some good interactive stuff too, lots of good info.
11am came, Pippa arrived and Ulrich met us and introduced us to his colleague Francis, who is a researcher on soil fertility. After a cuppa, a guided tour with Ulrich and Frances, including a look into a couple of polytunnels where there were trials of rock-dust on tomatoes, to see if it increased production or improved taste. I was impressed with the size of the courgette plants too, they were enormous! We saw the trials field, and Francis' dustbin-sized anaerobic digester experiment, and the reedbeds which clean up the toilet water...
But then the two hosts had to get back to work, and after Pippa bought a birthday card for my sons (she never forgets!) she had to get off too. I decided to have lunch at Garden Organic as it was already past 1pm and I imagined that I wouldn't be in Leicester for at least a couple of hours, looking at the distance on the map. So I had a veg lasagne and a baguette.
After lunch which I finished at 2.30, I cycled off up the Fosse Way to Leicester, going through Bretford, over the Oxford Canal and under the West Coast Main Line and then over the M6 motorway. I was impressed by the number and size of mushrooms I saw on the verges. Some were the size of dinner plates, all ordinary field mushrooms, but all mature and therefore full of insect larvae. At the A5 I turned more Eastwards through Claybrooke Magna, Broughton Astley and Countesthorpe, Wigston and Oadby, which is near where I used to live. I cycled along roads I used to walk to school to, and up Knighton Church Road which is where I lived from 1975 to 1984. I visited my old best friend's mum, Yvonne, and another friend's parents, Irene and Don. I called at the house I used to live in, but there was no-one in... a pity as I'd have loved to see the garden. The trees in the front garden my parents planted are doing well, a Rowan and a Ginkgo. Amazingly, the bell-push on the front door still has our family name in the little plastic box under it! My folks left here a long time ago, and I would have thought that the new owners would want their name in this box! I cycled away, through Leicester and a rainstorm, past the first house we lived in there, and via a circuitous route to Scraptoft Lane where we had our second house, and from Scraptoft I went via Beeby, South Croxton, Barsby, Great Dalby and on to Melton Mowbray, arriving at 8pm. I asked a local chap if there was anywhere in Melton where I could get Bed and Breakfast, and he suggested the Noel's Arms.
I had a quick look at the room and it seemed OK to me, so I paid Jackie the Publican and dumped my stuff which I took off my bike and went to find somewhere nice to eat. I was recommended to go to Mamma Mia's and I had a delicious 3 course meal for £20, including the best Tiramasu I've ever had! Nice chats to the staff too.
I had a pint back at the pub, and went upstairs to plan my route for the following day. However I saw the weather forecast and as it was due to rain heavily and be squally and windy, I decided to get the train from Grantham up to York.
So I went to sleep in Noel's Arms, my first and probably only time.... !