Saturday, July 19, 2014

Day 58--From Shakespeare to Oxford

Last night, there was a tremendous thunderstorm! I was awakened at 2:00 due to lightening and thunder in the distance. I remembered I hadn't covered my saddle (even though it is a watershed leather, I still cover it at night). I got out of my tent to do that. I also brought my washed bike shorts inside as they were almost dry. I watched the storm for a short while, but then crawled back into my tent. The next thing I knew, it was really booming, and it had begun to rain (good thing I covered the saddle and brought the shorts in). The thunder was so loud, I finally put my earplugs in. Also, there was an alarm going off the entire night. Yay for earplugs!

The storm had passed by morning, and the wind dried my tent. I was a little slow getting going, and didn't leave the park until 9:00. I was talking to Jessica, a gal who was with her husband and two boys from Sweden. Jessica had spent 6 months in the US, so spoke very good English. They had already done their tour of Stratford and gave me their map. 

I cycled in to Stratford-upon-Avon. First I went back to Anne Hathaway's Cottage. I'd passed it the night before, but was too hell-bent on getting to the campground. 
I did a "German" drive-by (inside joke for Christian)

Then I went on into Stratford city center. I rode over to Holy Trinity Church where William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway (and the rest of the family) are buried. It cost 2£ to actually go to the graves inside the church. I paid it. 
Holy Trinity
Inside the church.
Anne is to his left.

After paying homage to the dead Bill, I went to find his birthplace. 
The white papers hanging on the fence are some project where kids have written letters.

Just one shop away from Bill's birthplace was...
I had my mid-morning snack (and they had free wifi!).

By then it was 11:00, and I knew I had some miles to do to get to Oxford. I had already scoped out where I could pick up Route 5, and rode back to it. It followed the Stratford-upon-Avon Greenway Trail for several miles. It was nice except for two things. One, it had those stupid gates where I have to squeeze Betsy into the round part, and two, the trail was a bit muddy from the storm. But, it was okay.

Once back on the road, I rode through a couple of small villages. I came into Shipton-on-Stour. It was about 1:00, so I stopped and had some lunch at a picnic table near a carpark. I had seen the route signs, and after eating I got back on the route. Only, I wasn't. There must have been a different sign for 5 because the signs I started seeing were for NCR 48. I could tell by the map that was the wrong route. So, I figured the road I was on must be the route. It went to Banbury, and the route went to Banbury. I continued on the road. Then, I got to thinking it probably wasn't the route. There were no signs, and too much traffic. I was doing fine though, and I wasn't going to go back.

After a few miles, I saw where 5 crossed the road I was on. Aha! I found it! But...which way? They really need to put some kind of direction on these signs. I hmmmed and hawed, and finally decided what had to be the right way. Oxford was south, so the way I went was south. I was cruising along, came down a super steep hill (thinking I was glad I didn't have to come up that one), following the signs. Then I came to a turn. The sign in the direction I was headed said Stratford. CRAP! CRAP! CRAP! I was so mad I burst into tears (too many miles yesterday, too little sleep last night, and too much heat conspired to make for a very short-fused Colleen!), and cursed loudly the bleeping route! Ironically, earlier, I had been looking at the map and thought I could shorten the route by going to Hook Norton, then Chipping Norton. It was a more direct looking route. But, I had decided to stick to going to Banbury. Well, after my meltdown, I looked on the Garmin Map. I absolutely refused to go back! I saw where, coincidently, I could continue on the road I was on (not making the turn to the route, of course), and go through Hook Norton! So, I continued. At an intersection, I saw a couple of cyclists. I asked them which way was the best was to go to Oxford. They said to continue on the road to Hook Norton, go right at the pub (where I stopped for more water), and just before Chipping Norton, at the big roundabout, follow the sign straight to Oxford. It was the A44, but I didn't care. From the roundabout, it was just 19 more miles to Oxford. It was also more downhill than up! 

When I went through Woodstock, I hooked back up with the route (however, I told myself I wasn't following Route 5, it just happened to be going the same way as I was!). I stopped at Chris' house in Yarnton before continuing on into Oxford, and to the Caravan Park. Chris is going to meet me tomorrow morning at the park so he can show me Oxford.

When I got to the park (about a mile south from the center of Oxford), the sign said "Full". I went in to the office anyway. The gal told me they were full, but I said I was on a bike, and have a very small tent. She said she could book me in, but the receipt would have to say tomorrow. I didn't care. Then she had to take a phone call. Her husband came in and took over. He said, yes, they were full, but they have a policy of not turning away cyclists or those on foot. YES!!! 

I have my spot of grass for the next two nights! Oh, and there is an Australian couple also cycling. David and Joanne do a bike tour every summer. They are a bit older than me, and do less miles each day (at this point, I wouldn't mind that at all). They gave me some great tips about London, even a place to camp (Crystal Palace)! I also got the cycling maps I had Chris order for me for London. They are also staying two nights, but they will take the train to London from here. I may see them again as I think they are spending a few days in London. I may take the train partway myself. They said cycling into London is not so much fun, but once in London, it's great.

Total miles today: 61

Not so many photos today, but here's a parting shot.
Baa baa black sheep have you any wool?

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