Friday, 29 August 2014

le grand tour

I know that cycling seems to have very little to do with a crafting DIY blog. But I've always seen my dad was a bit of an oblivious fashion icon, ever since he climbed Helvellyn in Aviator shades, a pringle jumper and vintage adidas shorts and pumps...in1997. This was all a happy coincidence, as my dad was simply wearing his own dad's cast offs, making him a vintage legend who wouldn't look out of place on an outward bound themed shoot in Esquire.

Day-glo dad
His bike is also noteworthy in the style stakes. Hand built and made to measure in 1966. yes that's 1966! His Whitcomb frame has just been resprayed and is looking as clean and shiny as it did in our World Cup winning year. The greatest achievement is that it hasn't been stolen all this time. 

Dad and his children have a constant struggle to convince the world they are welsh. We go to the rugby and everything - we supported Wales even in the 80s and 90s when no one given the choice would have. To no avail apparently, people still needed convincing, so we set off to cycle from Bristol to Crickhowell, where my Aunt and Uncle live.  My Aunt Cathie was the previous owner of my own Orbit frame road bike. It's not quite as old as dad's but this seems like a bit of a veteran's day out when it comes to the kit. 

The significance of this pilgrimage to Cathie so she could see the bike had gone to a good home encouraged me to also use the 1970's halfords gloves and the equally advanced in years panniers. 

Dad 's water bottle beats them all however. If anyone knows what year Halfords brought in this logo I'd love to know. 

Our trip took us winding through the hills and valleys, zig zagging back and forth across rivers banked by Wales and England. It is breathtaking countryside all the way, with particular highlights being Tintern, and it's glorious Abbey ruins.

Tintern Abbey on the old Instagram

We stayed the night in Monmouth, a town with endless enticing shops, I was rather gutted I only had a modest pannier so couldn't fit in all the beautiful odds and ends. 

lycra-clad Harriet

I was rather thankful for this lack of baggage later on up the steepest of hills to Grosmont.

the Whitcomb outside the chemists

The orbit trying to blend in with the crowd

Rossiters of Monmouth's food writing section.
 Of course we had to check that Meera's book was in stock!

 The trip took us to Cathie and Peter's in Crickhowell, and then ack to Abergavenney train station where we found a pint and a furry friend.

On return to Bristol I was strictly ordered into the shower because of the pungent odour I now omitted. I was blissfully unaware of this as I stood on the packed train back to Bristol.

On our trip, by some stroke of luck, we managed to encounter an incredibly talented crafting duo going by the name of father's shed

We found them in a Skenfrith village hall Market, touting their incredibly superior wares. What particularly caught my eye was their inventive use of chintzy glass bowls to make beautiful lamp shades for light fittings. Beautifully judged with quirky light bulbs and coloured cord, these guys will make anything you want. Just ask!

The trip was a wonderful opportunity to spend time with my dad, who lives in Twickenham, so I don't get to see him much unless I'm up in town for work.  

As you watch the clock ticking all the way to the weekend, how about dusting off the bike in the garage and seeing the world with a bit less traffic this weekend?

I urge you all to get on a bike and see the world on two wheels, even if  - 2 days on - I sit down on hard seats with trepidation.

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