(written by Dave)
First the good news, no bike issues today. The new wheel is holding up great and we had a trouble-free day – nice. We didn’t quite make it back to the semi-official route that we are following in the Cicerone book. We planned to but spotted a road that seemed more direct so we cut off and went to the city of Taunton. We had some fears about the road and traffic entering Taunton but it worked out mostly ok.
We had showers overnight – Nancy reported that they came in at 4:30. And it was trying to rain almost until we left camp at 8:30. The tent went in the bag wet but on mornings like that, you really have no choice. The rest of the day was quite pleasant, mostly blue skies, with a few clouds. It was cold and there was a definite autumn feel to the air.
Purely by chance, I ended up today with a number of “crazy sign” pictures. There is a contest in the travel section of the London Times on Sunday where they publish viewer photos of weird signs from all over the world. Often the pictures are of some far off third-world country where English is not the native language. I will admit to snapping a few of these myself along the way but it seems a bit unfair to mock these in the Sunday paper. If English folks were to write signs in Swahili, I’m sure that they would be quite humorous to a native Swahili speaker.
Well today, the English speakers themselves did a pretty good job at writing signs that make you laugh. Either that or I was in one of those moods where quirky things make me laugh. Either way, I hope you enjoy the photos.
Being off route we didn’t know where we would end up sleeping. We called in at the Taunton information centre and they helped us find a lovely little campsite in Greenham. We had two choices for the route here from Taunton, one that followed country lanes via a signed bike path and one that followed the busy A38. We tried to follow the bike path but got routed into a parking lot at one intersection, then lost the path completely at a new Tesco. We gave up and took the A38. We really do appreciate the effort it takes a town to build proper, well signed bike paths that are useful for transportation. Unfortunately in Taunton, it appears that they are about 75% done. All the gaps are places are easy to get around if you live here and know the route. For us folks that are just passing through, it can be a little crazy. A38 was busy but once again English drivers proved to be fairly polite. No one passes too close and we’ve probably only heard a couple of horns in a month’s worth of riding.
Tomorrow we head to Exeter and on to Moretonhampstead. There are some big climbs up to Moretonhampstead and beyond up through the Dartmoor National Park. We are taking two stages to traverse Dartmoor, which should make the hills a little easier.
The rain has just started again, despite the weather predictions of calm sunny skies for the next couple of days. Perhaps they just don’t count raindrops that fall at night…. Off to button up the tent and hope that it will dry off before morning.