May 12, 2011 Thursday
Today was our last day in the Wiltshire area and Maiko and I wanted to take in as much of it as we could.
By 7:30 am we were walking around Salisbury. We saw a lot of school children in different uniforms heading to their respective schools.
We had seen a restaurant yesterday that was selling the traditional English breakfast for £5.99. When we got there, however, the restaurant was still closed.
We wandered about and found that the King’s Head Inn was offering the same traditional breakfast for £4.18. We decided this was a much better deal. Besides, it was 8am and we were starving.
The Traditional English Breakfast platter consisted of sausages, English bacon (here in the US we call it ham), hash browns, egg, sweet beans, grilled tomatoes and grilled mushroom.
It was a heavy breakfast, to say the least. And I finished every single scrap of it. I knew I’d be needing the energy for the 20 mile bike ride ahead of us.
By the time we finished breakfast, it was 9am. We headed for The Compleat Artist so Maiko could buy the watercolor paint her mom requested.
We headed back to Qudos to grab our bags and bikes and then started our journey.
I was very nervous as we biked up Castle Street. I had only ever ridden a bike maybe about 5x in my whole life—and three of those times, I was on a bike with training wheels.
The longest bike ride I ever had stretched about 5 miles—and that had been on concrete roads, complete with stop signs and stoplights. Back then, I had been scared out of my mind and trying to focus on not overbalancing and getting run over by the cars that zoomed past me. I’m okay once I get on the bike—my biggest problem was stopping. My legs would somehow manage to get tangled up in the bike chains and I’d flounder around, trying not to fall over.
Yesterday, I had conquered my fear of heights. I found out later on that Warwick Castle’s tower (which I had chickened out of ) had only been 147 ft high. Salisbury Cathedral’s tour took us 225 ft up. If I managed that, I could manage biking on narrow country roads. I was ready to conquer my fear of getting run over while biking and to fully enjoy my first real bike ride.
Up Castle Road we went until Castle Road became Stratford Road. We passed by South Wilts Grammar School—an all girl’s school which I had chosen as my character Taylor’s school.
We stopped and took pictures & videos of the school buildings and the surrounding area. Seeing the location in person would help me describe my settings and write my scenes much better.
Maiko advised me to tuck my trouser cuffs into my socks so that they wouldn’t be caught in the bike chains as I pedaled. (I’m calling them trousers and not pants, because apparently in the UK, pants are what we in the US call underwear).
Maiko’s advice definitely helped. I found it easier to pedal.
It was 10 miles to Amesbury. Maiko could have done the 10 miles in 20 minutes, but because I was with her, the bike ride lasted 3 hours.
And it wasn’t because I biked really slow. It was because we would stop at every interesting sight we saw.
After stopping to take pictures of South Wilts, we passed by a farm with two horses grazing. We don’t often see horses in LA, so we just had to stop and admire them.
Further on Stratford Road, we saw a nice thatched roof cottage. (After passing the fifth thatched roof house, we realized it would take us forever to get to Amesbury if we stopped to take pictures of every single one).
An hour into our bike ride, we passed from Salisbury into the town of Stratford Sub-Castle. We saw an old church and decided to stop for more pictures.
The Church of Saint Lawrence lay beside a green pasture. Sheep were grazing there and we watched them for awhile, before heading back onto Stratford Road.
5 Seconds after we had started biking again, the overcast sky decided my bike ride wasn’t challenging enough, and decided to splatter us with big fat pellets of rain.
Maiko and I biked on in the sudden shower. I was wearing glasses and had to wipe away water every time so I could see where I was going. If the rain kept on, we would be drenched to our bones. I was so afraid that we wouldn’t get to Amesbury at all.
Thankfully, the rain stopped after a few minutes, and Maiko and I were free to continue our bike ride.
We followed the signs to Amesbury and soon Stratford Road became Woodford Road.
Though I wasn’t used to biking, I was thoroughly enjoying the sights. Everywhere I looked were green pastures and rolling hills. The sun had finally come out in full force and was adding to the beauty of the scenery.
We soon came to some crossroads and Maiko decided to consult the map the bike shop owner had given her. While she figured out our next path, I stopped to catch my breath and enjoy the view.
Seconds later, Maiko got our bearings straight and we continued up Woodford Road. A few minutes into our ride, we saw a sparkling lake in the distance.
As we rode closer, we realized that the lake wasn’t a lake at all. It was a vast field of beautiful purple flowers.
A like of purple flowers
We simply had to stop and take pictures.
We continued on Woodford Road, passing more green pastures and a field of gold.
Maiko took pictures of me huffing and puffing on my bike behind her.
Half an hour later, we reached Lower Woodford, and passed the Wheatsheaf Inn.
A mailman was delivering some mail and he waved and posed for a picture.
We moved on and soon arrived in Middle Woodford.
There we found another beautiful church and posed for pictures in front of it.
Maiko is an avid cyclist and she was happy that I was sharing her love of biking. She made sure to take lots of pictures of me on my bike—
Or walking my bike. Whenever we would reach a particularly hilly spot, I would hop off my bike and walk it up the hill.
Middle Woodford soon gave way to Upper Woodford. We passed a couple of ladies riding on their horses.
Since I was a slower cyclist than Maiko, I gave Maiko my big camera (which I had to take in and out of the bag for pictures). I went on ahead while she stopped to take interesting pictures, and she would catch up with me a few minutes later.
It was already 11am and we still had a long way to go before we reached Amesbury. Maiko and I biked onwards, traveling on the same road we had traveled the day Pat Shelley took us on the Stonehenge Tour.
We passed by Sting’s house gate, and Maiko took a picture of his house—or at least the tip of it.
The road from Upper Woodsford to Wilsford and Normanton often dipped up and down. Tree canopies shaded some parts of the road and made us feel like we were biking through a forest.
I wanted to reach Amesbury by lunch time, so I biked on ahead while Maiko took pictures of whatever caught her fancy.
We reached West Amesbury and pushed on.
At around noon, we finally reached Amesbury.
Next – Amesbury
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