(written by Dave)
We enjoyed our night in the Premier Hotel, we liked it so much, we are in another one tonight in Chester. They are budget hotels but pretty nice. To be true budget, you have to book in advance on the web. We aren’t doing so well at that as we don’t trust the weather enough to know we can make the full distance. We are saving a few pounds booking from the carpark on our iPhone. If you just walk up, you get a higher rate than if you go back out to your car, or bike, and book on your smart phone. I hate when hotels do that. The staff sits there and does nothing while you book the lower rate. When you get back to the desk, the staff has the booking and you’re all set. But really, the staff had to be paid the entire time so why they can’t just book you in at the lower rate is beyond me. Of course this is not fault of the staff and in fact, they take it pretty well. They know their company is being silly but go along as politely and professionally as they can. As I said, the rooms are nice, a good place to dry wet feet when the “wet feet, we don’t have to camp” rule has been invoked.
Actually we didn’t get overly wet today. We left in sun and then had a brief but hard shower where we ducked under a bus stop awning. We put on all of our waterproofs and soldiered on. It stopped a little while later but we waited to remove our waterproof pants. It was cool enough that we didn’t overheat. Our rain coats lasted even longer, probably a couple hours without rain before we felt warm enough to remove them. We never managed to get our booties off. Our shoes and socks were not 100% dry overnight and with the morning’s shower we had wet feet all day. Thus, the “wet feet” rule invocation – that and there is very little camping around this populated area.
The route today involved lots of suburban riding, thus the “wheely bin” part of the title. It must have been garbage pick-up day in every suburb between Manchester and Liverpool, nearly every house had their wheely bin on the curbside today. The JOGLE/LEJOG routes have to get through the middle of the country somehow and Manchester and Liverpool lie in the path. If you ride the gap between them, you can avoid the bigger city areas but you never really leave suburban riding. So today, we had lots of wheely bins and a fair amount of traffic. The traffic was never bad, and always pretty polite, so we felt safe even with very few bike paths.
We stopped at a Tesco after about 12k to pick up supplies; one thing nice about suburbia is that you get big stores with side selections. The next stop was at about 30k where we had morning tea. We found a new chain, Waterfields, that sells an egg and bacon roll that they call a barm. I think barm is a traditional name but we’d not heard it before. We are on the lookout now for more egg and bacon barms.
The terrain was pretty flat today. No hills meant that we didn’t really get views of Liverpool or Manchester. They may well be nice cities but we have no idea. We had read that Chester was interesting but we really didn’t know why until we arrived. Our hotel is near old town. In old town we found an amazing collection of 3, 4 and 500 year old Tudor buildings. It was a regular street with all the normal shops in the first floor of these buildings. So you got a mix of regular town folks going about their business and groups of camera toting tourists. There was even a clock tower that was erected for the Queen’s diamond jubilee – and by Queen, I mean Queen Victoria. I can’t imagine that many more of the kings or queens made it to 60 years of rule like Victoria and the current Elisabeth.
Nancy is now busy planning the route ahead for a few days. We’ve really been winging it the last few days. We don’t normally like to do this but the questionable weather made us not sure how far we could make it and there was no camping to speak of in the Liverpool/Manchester city vortexes. That meant we could only show up in towns and search for a room. I am hoping that on Friday we will be close enough to the Tour of Britain route as stage 6 passes through the England/Wale border, near our route. And speaking of Wales, tomorrow I think we’ll cross the Wales/England border. We have decided to count England/Wales and Scotland as separate countries in the official LWOP country list. Members of the UN reading this post need not remind us that they only recognize the UK because the UN doesn’t have jurisdiction over LWOP.