Saturday, November 13, 2010

England and Wales on the Loose!

England and Wales on the Loose!

I delivered Christine to Heathrow and off she went back home to NZ.
I however had two more months to fill till I headed home.

I returned to see Mr Southgate, my surgeon (my last visit I hope) at Poole Hospital. Such a pleasant chap, even remembered, that I am a cyclist and saxophonist and said: "Good to see you still have the hat". So after getting hospital clearance I partly dismantled the bike put it into the back of the car and headed for Wales.
This is the South Down Way a walking track across the coutryside of Southern England, I went for a stroll, coming across a unicyclist with his large wheeled 2-geared unicycle. I managed to stop him and have a chat, even had a go at riding it, but my body hadn't healed sufficiently to get moving with it.

The hedges and stone fences in the UK, sort of like the regional accents, they change from area to area, amazing really. Not sure how long these super hedges (with the topiary) take to grow but I loved to see the variety and tradition that they add to the countryside.
 Very impressed by the Cotswolds, only problem is, so is everybody else. I did manage to get the bike out and cycle around some of the quieter areas of the Cotswolds that were suggested to me by a local in 't pub.
This is Stratford on Avon, these were visiting Morris dancers. I had arranged to meet some fellow buskers from the Cafe Sax forum, here is Andy and Peter, who arranged all the permits. Even though we had them, we still got shifted on by the authorities for making too much noise.
Before leaving Bard country, I happened to be sitting near these Welsh women who were having some fun and made the mistake of chatting to them, this is the result....
All in good liberties taken or meant!

I motored north via Bristol where there was half marathon event, and saw the fabulous Kenyan Haile Gebrselassie fairly easlily blitz the field. I headed for Wales with no fixed plan, just making each day up as it came. In North East Wales I found the highest Canal bridge in Britain at Pontcysyllte near Wexham
I stood on the bridge and watched a fellow mark out the football pitch and thought "what a grandstand this is for a football game".
It seemed a totally different world on the canal boats, (the one above is 56ft long). They travel very leisurely at walking pace, and no doubt have all the mod cons, and there are even quite a few pubs beside the canals.
One small town in rural Wales had a sheep sale going and it was right next to the town carpark, so I mosied along for a look and listen. It was quite different to a NZ sheep sale, with pens split up into smaller batches and I was very suprised at the prices at 120 pounds each for two tooth ewes and 80-100 for older full mouth ewes.

Hate to think what would happen to all these beautiful old building in the UK, if they had an earthquake on the scale of Christchurch NZ, as some of them already have moved quite a considerable way already.
Chester, a superb very old historic place, I chanced my arm with doing some busking, however playing for 30 minutes in very busy places doesn't necessarily mean any coins come my way, so I packed up and headed for Liverpool, this time parking my car in one of the Park and Rides and catching the Wirral train into the centre.
In a very short time I packed in a lot, walking around Liverpool, just happened to pass the Cavern, famous for the early days in the Beatles careers.
But the highlight for me was visiting the cathedrals in Liverpool.
This is the Protestant Cathedral, just down the road from the later and more impressive Catholic Cathedral.(below)
 I was amazed to see contemporary sculptures and paintings of the Beatles on display inside.
The German Sculptors were just finishing the placement of their exhibition and I only saw the obvious faces/head shape when he moved it around just as I was taking this photo.

I talked to a man who was putting chairs out for a larger service in the huge hall, who turned out to be the verger of the Church, and invited me to the Lady Chapel Service which was to be on very soon.
This is the Lady Chapel, and I did go to the service, which was for me rather unique (chanting and replying to the service reading directly from the Bible).  We finished with the Lords Prayer, which I hadn't recited since childhood way back in Scotland, so with all this inner peace I headed outside down toward the Mersey, singing as I go Ferry Cross the Mersey...etc
Liverpool these days has many new buildings and a huge new Art Gallery/Museum about to open in 2011, with a super modern feel.

After a couple of weeks sleeping in the car going from pub meal to pub meal I headed for Tim, our cyclist friend in York who had agreed to help me sell the used (4 days!) Bob bicycle trailer on eBay.
This was a mobile Post Office which services the villages in the countryside of Yorkshire that don't have a PO, pretty impressive service I thought.
Tim is a brilliant host, we even went out on a little bike tour sampling the Yorkshire countyside and pubs.  Beer in the middle of a ride and being out of condition and still recovering from operations, did not make for easy biking, but hey this was what I came to Britain for, and it was great to get back into the saddle and onto the horse, so to speak.
We also headed a little south and east to The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, taking in a David Nash exhibition. Below is one by Andy Goldsworthy, that took my fancy.
So now I was refreshed and ready for new adventures and headed north to work as a woofer on an organic farm, 25 miles east of Edinburgh in East Lothian.

Here is a little teaser for the next Blog. I know I said this was the last, but I have so much to tell, I want to finish this trip with a proper ending.
So till Blog #11 Stay safe and be creative at every opportunity....your mental health depends upon it.

Cheers and Ciao

No comments: