Wednesday, 18 August 2010

summer trip #7. Hampshire

This is more or less how the long planned Jane Austen cycling trip through Hampshire took place.

SUNDAY 15th August. Chamaco drives me to Winchester after a nice weekend visit to out friends The Bernies in Emsworth were our planes to sail around in their trimaran were ruined by the absence of wind, a coming storm and a motor that never worked. We visit Winchester Cathedral where Jane Austen rests in peace. Or perhaps not so much as everybody walk over her grave.

MONDAY 16th August.
6.30 am. Wake up in the camping site near Winchester. Ablutions. Load Cecily.
7.40 am. On the road. Having difficulties to find the beginning of the cycling trail.
8.40 am. Time in which the heavy traffic of Hampshirian snails cross cycling paths. I try to dodge as many as I can but I smash a few. Bad karma.
9.25 am. A herd of bully cows block a gate. There's no other way to cross. Farmer superhero appears in his super-tractor and shoos them away. Asks me if I've never seen a cow in my life.
10.07 am. A nettle burns my leg but I don't stop to find the antidote. The leg burns for the rest of that day.
10.45 am. Reached a very cute village called Cheriton. Warm welcome from the local ducklings. I discovered that I got lost without knowing, cycling through a shortcut and I'm almost at my first destination! Saving around 1.30 hrs.
11.03 Arrived at the very elegant Georgian village of Alresford. I had planned to find a campsite here, but it's early so I just had a quick snack and take off following the route 23.
2.10 Arrived at Alton. Not so nice or picturesque. Actually quite a dump. I am starting to get anxious about accommodation, there are no camping sites in miles.

2.40 Short cycle to Chawton. Went into Jane Austen's House Museum. The village and the house came out of a postcard, pure cuteness. I see her bed, gowns, writing table, some letters and other belongings but I can't enjoy the exhibition, it's getting late and I don't know where to stay.

Ended up in a B&B. I'm worried about bedbugs. I got a headache. It's going to rain tomorrow. I cycled too much I think.

6.30. Wake up in a better mood. Stuff my face with a full English breakfast, load Cecily and take off.
7.40. Again it takes me around 40 mins to find the cycling path. It starts through a dense forest. It's dark, deserted, muddy. Difficult to cycle. I see a deer and a couple of hares and that cheers me up. I end up pushing Cecily for an hour through the woods.
9 or so am. Cycle for almost 3 hrs non-stop. Just sometimes to pick up blackberries.
11 or so am. Reached Basingstoke. I try to cross it quickly but get lost in the town center. A nice cycling couple helped me to find the best way to get to The Vyne as it is out of the cycling route.
12.57 pm. Arrived at the magnificent house but go straight to the Restaurant. Had a nice hot meal and cream tea eating one scone too many. Spent an hour in the house where Jane came to flirt and dance with the guys.
4.20 pm Cycle back to Basingstoke and take the train to London before the rush hour.

I want to do this more often. Now I know how far I can go and how fast and I understand a bit more of this cycling paths. There is a lot of guessing involved and good luck too.

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