Winnie takes it all…

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Some great partnerships were built to last. Marks and Spencer. Morecambe and Wise. Others, like Kylie and Jason or Sonny and Cher, just weren’t meant to survive some cruel twist of fate. Alas, this was the case for Wally and Annabelle. Wally got nicked and Annabelle had no-one to accompany her on her little jaunts around Bath or to BOA or Bristol.

Wally was mourned, of course. He may still appear out of the blue – keep an eye out for his trademark red and yellow stripes beneath a shoddy black overcoat. Yet life goes on and so does the need to hit the road, especially when the sun is out. So, soon after Wally’s disappearance, a new cycling couple was born out of a fruitful snoop and shop at the wonderful Bath Bike Workshop http://www.bath-bike-workshop.org.uk/.

Arnold is a chunky monkey with funky inverted handlebars. A rugged type perfect for the towpath. His new partner is Winnie, perhaps more street wise than Annabelle and more suited to the rigours of a bumpy ride.

Here they are enjoying the sun near Freshford during this week’s pootle.

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At this time of year, the bacon sarnie quest has given way to a more sunny search for ice cream, tea, cake or the perfect G&T. This week’s mid-ride treat was a tiny, if pricey (£1.65!), pot of Marshfield ice cream at the George at Bathampton. The toffee fudge fiasco was A-game.

Annabelle is still around of course, and doubtless she will join Arnold for a jolly or two.

It’s what Wally would’ve wanted.

Where’s Wally? Please help

ImageMy now redundant D-Lock clings forlornly to the foot of a railing outside my flat. This is the sight that no bike owner wants to come across first thing in the morning. Wally, my beloved black knight, has vanished into thin air thanks to the selfishness, greed or desperation of a bicycle thief on Russel Street.

I hold out hope that Bath’s lovely bike community might keep an eye out for Wally – it’s possible that he was just dumped somewhere by an opportunist looking for a ride home in the rain. If his disappearance is more sinister then he’s probably long gone, torn apart or been modified beyond recognition by now.

If anyone spots a rather dishevelled, thin frame bike with a worn back tyre, no mud guards and the remnants of his original yellow and red striped peeping through his amateurish black paint job, please give me a shout me via twitter: @zutalors1 and I will come have a look for myself.

He is black all over (the pic above was taken mid-spray), with no branding or labels, a grey front fork and Shimano brakes. He is so non-descript, unfancy and plain looking it’s a wonder anyone would fancy nicking him. It’s a cliché but he holds great sentimental value.

Thanks for your help – keep ‘em peeled!

No drizzle, just Brizzle

Can you tell we’re heading t’wards the gritty city?

Springtime arrived with a bang in these here parts last weekend. So Annabelle and I shook out the cobwebs and took off for our most demanding jaunt yet.

The riders – a pair of faffers if ever I saw some – had been promising to take on the 17 mile stretch of the Sustrans-created cycle path that links Bath and Bristol for about two months. The first dose of properly warm air was all they needed to convince them to take on the challenge.

The first stretch out of Bath, past Locksbrook, the Dolphin boozer and into the Somerset countryside towards Saltford is nice enough, but the view is often hindered by the foliage that (perhaps necessarily) lines the route. This is a small gripe, of course. With the wind in our wheels on a sunny afternoon, sometimes just rolling along is its own reward.

Along the route are a series of sculptures to keep things interesting when the landscape isn’t and there’s some natural pit-stops to take in. At Warmley there’s an ace little caff-cum-snack bar selling drinks and cakes. Service with a smile appears to be guaranteed, and the happy chap serving looked set to rake it in with the hordes of bikers out enjoying the day.

The yoof and pensioner-friendly snack shack at Warmley. Cake and ice pops are readily available

That by the way was Wally’s start to the outing.

He would leave me with the difficult part of telling the rest of the journey.

It’s harder to write, because it ain’t that pretty, or memorable.  There’s a long disused railway tunnel to travel through, which was cold, dark and dripping (pleasant huh?!), and the only almost complementary things I can say about the journey is that the path itself is smooth and easy for my city tyres to glide along. Another plus point is the route leads you nicely towards Temple Meads station, and the direction of the city centre. We were aiming for the waterfront, so once we left the path it only took a few minutes to be at our destination.

Once we arrived at the waterfront, we came to across some other wheels my owner could lust over. Let’s hope she doesn’t feel like trading me in

Outing round-up
 
Photo opportunities:
Not quite as many as the  picturesque Bath-Bradford On Avon canal path offers.
 
Traffic:
Hectic, but then was like a warm summer’s day – great to see so many other bikes around.  
 
Replenishments: 
There are two pubs in Saltford you could stop off at (The Bird in the Hand and The Jolly Sailor), and the quirky cafe shack at Warmley. Once you get to the Bristol the world’s your lobster (we got chips at The Ostrich and rather good they were too).
 
Smiles:
Plenty, but an outing is almost a sure guarantee.
 
 
I caught my owner eyeing up this beauty

It takes two to tumble

The icy canal is a picture postcard scene of parkyness

It was not the brightest idea, Annabelle and I setting off on a very fresh Saturday afternoon under a pink-gray sky promising white stuff. But the lure of another jolly jaunt by the canal was irresistible.

As usual our riders, scarved, hatted and gloved up, needed a feed once we had kicked on from the Holburne Museum and Sydney Gardens to join our familiar route towards Bradford-on-Avon.

Passing The George Inn, someone had the bright idea of heading off piste to The Bathampton Mill for a starter course in the first of a planned two-part food stop.

Annabelle and I were left shivering outside the sprawling weirside joint as The Queasy Riders, apparently hungover yet again, scoffed inside.

Report of the place:
A perfect place for girls who lunch, with a compellingly sinister Ricky Gervais lookalike ordering everything on the menu two tables away.

And the sampled nosh:
Lamb kofte starter for two: tasty but titchy and overpriced.

Next move: back up to the towpath as the snow began to fall, ever thicker. The ride was pretty and tranquil with just a few walkers braving the flakes and chills, the whiff of burning boat oil adding atmosphere. A frozen canal is a thing of beauty.

At the Avoncliff loop, high drama unfolded ahead. As Annabelle negotiated an icy track on the bridge, she wobbled and fell sideways in slo-mo. I soon followed in comedy fashion with a carbon copy tumble. We came a cropper in tandem!

Annabelle’s rider took a nasty bump to the cheek and lip but was undeterred. Offering thanks to the friendly chap from Troughs Café (we will be back, sir!) who let us clean up, off we headed, rather cagily, on to Bradford.

Annabelle and Wally huddle for warmth outside The Lock Inn

Once the welcome sight of the Lock Inn eventually drifted into view, Annabelle and I huddled together outside as hearty lamb hotpot (one of the pub’s many winter warmers) and a stiff rum and coke reinvigorated the riders.

After such a parky and painful – but still enjoyable – outward trip, the return journey was made in the snug of the train.

For our next day out, we decided to set the Bike-Nav for Bristol. Watch this space…

On the road to BOA

Annabelle’s ramblings:

This time, Wally and I set off on a glorious Sunday afternoon. Having scoffed cake in bed, our riders delayed their penchant for pork and decided to set off from the Holbourne Museum – a fine-looking building, don’t cha think? Making this our starting point, this little tow-path-trip seemed so much easier – getting to The George only took about 15-20 minutes.

This time we chose to seek out another pit-stop, and ploughed on to Avoncliff, which is a stunning little village along the river – here we found The Cross Guns pub. Although our riders can’t give judgement to the food here (they decided to try their luck in Bradford on Avon), they can pass on their praise of their range of pub snacks – a key factor in pit-stop suitability. Refreshed and gaining directions towards their destination, Wally and I made our way to Bradford on Avon.

It’s definitely a recommendable ride, with a nice little ending at The Lock Inn. This pub come cafe, is the cutest of places… there’s a barge which you can sit in, and cosy little huts outside. With hearty breakfasts and stodgy traditional meals on offer this is a tourist and pensioner’s paradise. My rider loves their local pork and apple sausages, so while they tucked into bangers and bubble and squeak on the barge,  Wally and I took in the canal view… nice ducks.

Journey time: 2.5 hours (twas a nice leisurely outing)

Pit stops: I lost count (well we needed pictures)

Food consumed: Lots

Admiring the scenery in what seemed like a bijillionth photo pit-stop

Our adventure starts here…

Wally spots some four legged boat buddies outside The George at Bathampton

Wally reports:

Our much anticipated first big day out together – Annabelle and me – began, as many of our jaunts will, in Bath with a bacon sandwich. We feel it’s our duty to find and report on the finest examples of perfect pork in a roll, and this will be recurring theme (please bear with us).

On this occasion, a crisp January morning with our owners nursing a Sailor Jerry’s hangover obtained from The Raven the night before, we made a flying visit to the sandwich bar at Green Park market.

Bacon sarnie notes:

  • Bread: bap – average. 5/10
  • Bacon: thick but not crispy (a no-no, plenty of fat needed removing). 5/10
  • Butter/Marg: hard to tell. 5/10
  • Service: with a smile. 7/10
  • Overall: 6/10

Perked up by pork, we set off to find the tow path towards Bradford-on-Avon.

Being wet behind the ears to this game, we failed miserably in finding a quick way to the towpath near Sydney Gardens, resorting to a ridiculous game of hop-on, hop-off around Widcombe. So, it took us what seems now like a stupid amount of time to get to our pit-stop (and what ended up being our turnaround point), The George. Our over-excited riders decided to have a little drink outside and admire the scenery.

One rum & coke, and pint of Guinness later, we were on our way back to Bath. Coming down through Sydney Gardens towards the Holbourne Museum it felt like a job well done.

It was also good to pop a debut jolly under my belt, in Annabelle’s company.