The city of Nice seen from the surrounding hillside bathed in sunshine

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The Cotswolds

By Ren Withnell

I don't know what's wrong with me on this trip but the miles seem to be flying by and I'm not getting totally and utterly lost like I usually do. I lead us both through Pulborough with incident then onto Petworth and Petersfield. I admit I have to stop briefly in Petersfield to consult with the map thing on my phone but then we're away again. 

I'm looking for Loomies Moto Cafe and I see it to my left. Unfortunately this lane goes straight ahead and I'm not about to do a questionable reverse then lane swap with Sharon behind me and a few trucks nearby. It's safer to carry on and find a side road to turn around in.

Loomies is Sharon's idea for once, not mine. I have heard of Loomies but that's all. Sharon being the Facebook queen knows all about it from the "Motorcycle Ladies" group. It is exactly as you'd expect a motorcycle cafe to be, this time in a good way rather than the Ace Cafe's not quite so good way. Car park, check, cafe, check, a few bike themed things on the wall, check, a few bikes outside, check, bacon butties and tea or coffee, check. There's nothing special about Loomies but I'm happy to sit here enjoying the sun and drinking hot hot tea.

Loomies cafe, a brick building, a car park and some motorcycles in the sunshine
Loomies. S'allreet is Loomies.

I do get a little disorientated on the way north but you'd be hard pushed to not stumble into the M4 at some point. Once on the M4 I know we can come off at junction 18 and be in the region of The Cotswolds, today's destination.

Why The Cotswolds? Primarily because it's en-route home at about the half way mark. It's a place Sharon and I have seen many pictures of and it always looks very pretty in that stereotypical quaint English country village way. You know the thing, flowers in the garden, cricket on the village green, Miss Marple solving murders and so on. I'm am managing my expectations though, for once.

With time on our side I pull off the main A419 to Cirencester and deliberately get us lost in the small villages, towns and countryside. Strangely the hamlets and villages with their light sandstone buildings and gardens in full bloom are just as you'd see in the promotional shots. Perhaps The Cotswolds is every bit as lovely as we are told it is? We are of course experiencing just a small corner, maybe we've stumbled into the best bits, I don't know. 

A large stone house with a sports car outside
I say, it's all very nice.

What I start to notice after the second and third village is a strange and peculiarly bitter taste in my political mouth. The gardens are manicured and trimmed with millimetre accuracy. Each and every house is immaculate. Driveways are weed free. Just...just a minute. The cars are primarily either Germanic Executive Transportation Systems (GETS) or high end 4 by 4s. Aaaahhh, that what that bitter taste is, it's the taste of excess money. 

2 stone houses in a country setting, manicured and clean
It's all so perfectly perfect and absolutely fabulous darling.

It feels like a TV or film set after a while, almost unreal, too perfect, too idyllic. Where's the house with the crumbling garden wall, the grass just a little too long, the 2005 Ford Fiesta and the rusty gate hinges? Surely not everyone here, who's been here for generations is wallowing in money and happy to spend it in the game of keeping up with the neighbours? Does every house belong to a merchant banker, a stockbroker or a motoring TV celebrity? It feels like it.

Our campsite is quite well manicured too, yet surprisingly affordable at £14 (out of season) for the night. Far Peak Camping's site is quite large, in fact walking around later we discover it's huge. Today there's but a handful of campers spread out across one field so we throw the tent up anywhere we like. 

A large red hot air balloon leave the campsite at Far Peak
We watch as a balloon sets off into the evening skies.

The next morning we decamp and set out to make our way home. Riding along the A429 towards Stow-on-the-Wold the traffic is heavy, in more ways than one. Between the massive articulated lorries and farm machinery only exotic and-or executive vehicles can be observed save for the 2 motorcycles we're riding. Audi Q5s are acceptable, preferably Q7, maybe at least a 5 series BMW but really 7 series is what you need, Porsche Cayenne or Cayman. If you wish to stand out though you'll need your Lamborghini because Maseratis are common as muck. There can be spotted the occasional late model common vehicle, I presume these are the servants travelling in from less fortunate areas and tourists coming to see how the other half live.

Stow is very nice and upmarket, but it's busy! If I had all that money I'd demand the town to myself, I wouldn't want to have to share it with everyone else. Evesham on the other hand is not so upmarket yet is still a perfectly good honest town. We stop at Tesco to grab a triangle butty, a drink and to make use of their facilities. Tesco's is not wild or adventurous but it's darn convenient.

The rest of our trip is on the motorways and we complete our trip without further incident. As I throw my kit around my house with a promise to sort it out later I say to myself "yeah, another good trip." 

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Prologue - Friends And Family 2017 Ren is setting the scene for the trip to that there "daaaan saaaaf" place. He's also wondering what kind of person would ask 2 itinerant motorcyclists over for a couple of nights.
Crawling To Sleaford Ren finds it odd to be riding in sunshine on a Wednesday with Sharon. Frustratingly though the traffic puts paid to any plans of motorcycling pleasure.
Dawdling To David's It's a lazy ride through Lincolnshire and Norfolk today despite the antics of other road users. Cromer turns out to be quintessentially English.
Time With David There's no motorcycling today but fear not there's a guided tour in a classic car instead. They say variety is the spice of life.
Time With Dad The miles fly by as does the chill out time at Ren's father's place.
The Cotswolds As Sharon and Ren return home they stop in The Cotswolds. It's as pretty as the promotional pictures so what's Ren got to gripe about this time?

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-
Presumably after Stow you turned left onto the A424, A44 then down Fish Hill (which can be quite exciting).

If you'd turned right just before the top of Fish Hill you'd have come onto an old Roman Road (Buckler Street) which, with a few modern deviations, takes an arrow-straight route northwards via Honeybourne and is a lovely ride. It terminates at Bidford-on-Avon from where you can pick up the A435 after a short run through Wixford. Hence to the M42 and points north.

I learnt this route in the 1980s when I was designing systems for Austin Rover and working in both Longbridge and Cowley. Before the M40 was built, it was by far the fastest route between the two, in fact some of the faster folk in MG Maestro Turbos and the like used to post their fastest times on notice boards.....

Not me, and I always hoped I wouldn't meet them coming the opposite way.....

BTW sorry I wasn't around to meet you.
30/08/2017 11:05:54 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I've just had a look for Fish Hill. Yes! We did come down that and you'll be thrilled to hear we we stuck behind a couple of frustratingly slow cars. I recall cursing in my helmet that the bends had been ruined. Apparently Fish Hill and several other roads in the UK are *NOT* my own personal race track. Gosh darn it.

Stop apologising! While I do believe the world should sit in and wait on the random off chance that I might call and drop in, I will forgive you.
30/08/2017 04:50:45 UTC

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