This page gets off to a start that reflects Charlie’s Socialist leanings, but well put I suggest. We know from much of Charlie’s work that he certainly carried a large chip on his shoulder with regard to the class system as he found it in life, mixed with his frequent spells of unemployment, working as a moulder in a foundry. He certainly enjoyed the occasional rant !
But the weather today is just so perfect that he soon settles down to concentrating on his cycling pleasures again, partly because the area around Beeston Castle is his most favourite place to visit. And he knows how to soak up history as well.
Another perfect day awheel and look at the turnout for this clubrun. Twenty three of them, not that they stuck together like glue! Cheshire was a very attractive place to make for from Bolton on a bike, it was all either flat or a bit downhill, apart from all the Lancashire cobblestones (or setts) one had to negotiate in Leigh and Atherton.
Charlie is very descriptive of the countryside today, making it difficult for me to comment on his flawless setting out of the natural beautiful views to be had all around.
In those days, unless your family was quite wealthy, you left school to go to work when you reached fourteen years of age, and despite Charlie’s undoubted fitness as a mile eater on the bike, it is interesting to see how a 14 year old girl, or as Charlie puts it, lady, can ride him almost into the ground on the evening run back to Bolton.
A Saturday afternoon run to keep the old legs moving. Punctures, they seemed bedevilled by punctures all those years ago, I suppose it was the quality of the rubber and the state of the roads. Charlie mentions Hoghton Tower, an old mansion house on a rocky outcrop, owned by the de Hoghton family for years and years, and still is. One of its claims to fame is the fact that William Shakespeare lived and worked there for a period of time to educate, as master, the family children, after he left University.
The other major claim is that the ‘loin’ of beef served on a visit to Hoghton Towers by King James was thought to be so superb that the King knighted the joint there and then.
Starting with a reflective mood, ensconced by a good fire at a café near Bala in the depths of a wintry Wales, Charlie wishes to put the world to rights without travelling another inch that day. But wait, there is a secret agenda is there not ? Should he face the elements for the final 17 mountainous miles that he had planned, or to give up until things outside the café improve, hopefully on the morrow. So he plays a trick on us all, by spinning a coin to decide the matter, when dear reader, I can share with you what really was in his mind that dreadful night.
His intended destination that day had been a certain Bed and Breakfast establishment in Ffestiniog, located at No. 4, Sun Street, owned and run by the Jones family, and who had an outstandingly pretty and vivacious daughter called Jennie. Charlie was captivated by Jennie (and so were the rest of the cyclists who made their way there), and the thought of seeing Jennie again, Jennie that could play the piano, Jennie who had a good singing voice (and incidentally played the organ in the local church), Jennie who was a good sport and played a good hand at whist – and who was a tease all her life, whatever else could a cyclist want in those days without today’s material comforts to distract him. Of course it was Jennie he wanted to see, spinning the coin was just a ploy for us to believe otherwise. That is why he overcame all the challenges that night presented – gladly.
[As you learn more about Charlie in the many stories still to come, for several years our hero was fascinated, nay smitten by Jennie, and in 2011 I decided to make enquiries about her. I traced her relatives, and indeed obtained a photograph of her as a young woman – which is shown. Jennie lived to a ripe old age, without children, she kept the Jones name by marrying a Robert Jones and finally passed away in her nineties at the beginning of this century – Ed].