Boating in Southport

More chain problems that were eventually fixed and a really good day ensued.  The six of them out today would have passed Rufford Old Hall en route to Southport, it is worth a visit, the Hesketh family who lived there until more recent times were benefactors of William Shakespeare, and put a lot of money up for the construction of the original Globe Theatre in London.  A long afternoon on the boating lake, which is quite large, in two boats, allowed a lot of horseplay but casualties were avoided.  Then the fairground, and as Charlie puts it, ‘a great afternoon’.

A Very Wet Good Friday

A very wet day, much enlivened by a meeting in the woods with a Gamekeeper.  So they moved to a different wood !    Boys !  I suppose as boys we all had our moments of ‘bird nesting’, not appreciating the effect our depredations would have on wildlife.  But neither did we understand that the world population was going to keep doubling every few generations at ever increasing speeds.  I must be careful here, I am beginning to sound a bit like Charlie having a rant.

An Out and Home Training Ride

Just a quick whizz up the road to road test his modified bicycle, but he was sufficiently entranced with the sound of bell ringing practice from a nearby church that he stopped to listen.  To go out cycling in the dark in the middle of winter needs more than a bit of commitment, especially when there is no planned destination.  (I was just the same, one just had to get out on the bike no matter what).

Dining by Candlelight

Bit of a wet start today, but as their early start qualified them for two lunches, one before lunchtime and one a bit after, and the rain cleared away in the meantime, then that was OK.  It is interesting to read Charlie’s comments about the Crown Inn at Llandegla (being ‘frequented and immortalised’ by the revered cycling author – pen name ‘Wayfarer’, who happened to live in Merseyside and was thus a frequent visitor).

Many years later, when Charlie had become the very first Chairman of the Rough Stuff Fellowship in 1955, Charlie took the lead in raising monies and getting permissions to enable the RSF to erect a stone memorial in the Berwyn Hills in North Wales to commemorate ‘Wayfarers’ favourite rough stuff crossing, known to all followers in his article titled ‘Over the Top’.  Fame for all, it is marked on Ordnance Survey Maps.

Chorley and back – sort of !

A learning curve here for me.   I have never heard of a 1″ block chain, I presume the pitch i.e. the distance separating each link was of a different standard to more modern chains, because Charlie’s bike was an old banger in every sense of the word.  In fact I would go so far as to say that after punctures, chain trouble was the next worse thing to spoil a good bike ride.  Which no doubt led to all the cycling clubs in the Northwest being invited to an open day at the Renold bicycle chain factory in South Manchester in, I think, 1923.  Charlie does write about it, but we are not there yet !

Whatever, the long walk back from Chorley to Bolton rather spoiled their day.

At last the Truth is out !

Wilmslow has a lot to answer for.  I have previously speculated over the past year that all Charlie’s visits with at least one pal to Wilmslow have been connected with the desire to meet at least one person of the opposite sex.  I was right !  But to be fair, it has not been Charlie whose interests were being compromised – it was his un-named pal.

And from Charlie’s perspective it has become even worse, his pal is now described as being engaged to this lady from Wilmslow.  Charlie does not (at this time in his life) favour female companions because it has taken a heavy toll of his cycling friends, second only to motorbikes, let it be said.  So for now, Charlie sees female friends as a direct threat to his cycling enjoyment.

Dear Reader, you will have to be very patient because Charlie did not tie the nuptial knot for another 13 years and all the courting and palaver before marriage left him insufficient time to keep on writing his journals !  In Charlie’s defence I must say that his marriage to Jo was one made in heaven in that she was a more enthusiastic cyclist than him, if such a thing were to be possible.  Their honeymoon, from choice, not in any way financial, was to have two weeks cycle camping in Scotland.  Hence an 8am ceremony in church and a train from Preston to Glasgow, followed by an overnight camp in the Trossachs.  Who says romance is dead ?

Lymm and a walk in the Park…

Charlie does not seem to have much energy today and a howling wind is not often welcomed by cyclists, one usually ends up having to ride into it at some part of the journey.  But  Charlie does get his walk in the Park.  It is ironic to read that even in 1922 the bridge over the River Mersey and the nearby Manchester Ship Canal were considered to be traffic bottlenecks.

When he writes of one road being ‘badly cut up’ I just think our modern roads with all the potholes are getting back to the way they started.

Never listen to old men riding Ladies Bicycles !

We have all met these barrack room lawyers of course, although they don’t all ride about on Ladies Bikes.  Best not to worry too much about life’s eccentricities !

Today’s run by Charlie reminds me very much of similar days awheel myself in winter.  In particular I once traversed Mastiles Lane, a green road still, linking Malham and Wharfedale.  I was alone and I found the experience of pushing my bike through a foot of virgin snow in the absolute surround sound silence of the Yorkshire Dales hilltops, a very profound experience indeed.  And the views on a clear sunny day were spectacular.  A day I shall never forget.

And all accomplished by Charlie on New Year’s Day 1923, and as I write this Post, 2015 is barely 36 hours old !  Different writing pens and different authors the only other change is that in 2015 there is no snow !