The last few days have been a mixture of sightseeing and big mileages. A much needed day off in Durham to rest our weary legs prompted a return to childhood for Jerry. Durham Cathedral are building a replica in Lego and for a pound you can add your own brick. Jerry bought piece of a stain glass window and added it to the construction with great delight.
The next day we were off again on our bikes. We have both had a long held desire to cross the Tees in Middlesbrough by the Transporter Bridge of Auf Wiedersehen Pet and Billy Elliot fame. Thus we were prepared to go out of our way to get there. Good job too, as this involved a lot of town and industrial road cycling with lots of cars and big wagons, none of which we enjoy very much. The bridge is 104 years old and takes cars, bikes and people across the Tees on a suspended roadway that travels too and fro on cables hanging from a cast iron framework high above.
I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and the chat to the two bridge operators who talked very enthusiastically about the bridge, its history and their work.
One of my childhood heroes was Captain James Cook, and there is a museum on the site of the cottage where he was born, now in a park on the southern side of Middlesbrough. We stopped off to dodge another rain shower and to find out more about his life. The museum has a stone gate post in which a young J Cook carved his name. I touched the carved letters and felt a connection across the centuries to this great explorer who circumnavigated the world two and a half times.
The next couple of days cycling have been long and hard. Up over the North York Moors, around the Howardian Hills, down across the Vale of York, over the Humber, up the River Trent and across Lincolnshire to Woodhall Spa, where my nephew lives during the week. Each day, I have a mixture of highs and lows. The highs are often prompted by unexpected delights along the way. Such as yesterday, arriving at the Red Arrows home base just in time to see them take off and put on a 20 minute display practice right overhead. Stunning.
My lows have included a forced diversion of 3 miles to take us around 200m of tree felling, it raining just as we stop for lunch, and trying to find our way out of towns and cities. Oh, and replacing my rear outer tube (the old one having developed a peculiar S curve) only to get an immediate puncture. Aargh……
The last time I cycled this way was with my two elder sisters nearly 40 years ago. Then we were cycling in the opposite direction from London to the Lakes. Back then, there were small shops in many of the villages to buy provisions; no yellow fields of oil seed rape; small tractors; we wore factor 15 SUNTAN lotion, and cycle paths were unheard of.