A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

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Half Way Home

Ride Date 13 May 2022

By Ren Withnell

Friday the 13th. Urgh.

Being the queen of the internet search Madam Parker has us booked into a hotel. While you know my attitude towards spending money I'll not deny the notion of a comfy bed and proper sheets is "appealing". On the internet the hotel looks lovely, but then they all do, the proof is in the pudding. With the sun in the sky and a dry forecast I'm hoping today will be a good day to travel. I program the hotel into the phone's sat-nav ensuring to choose "avoid motorways" then mount it to the bars. It's just gone 1000 by the time we're all aboard and ready to roll. 

Onwards through the New Forest once again, past the horses and gorses and trees and bees. Through Lyndhurst, out of said Forest and back into rural England. As Romsey and the edge of Winchester come and go I notice time is still on our side and when I spy what looks like a cafe I'm sure to pull in.

Winchester Auto Barn And Drivers Club is an odd place. Without additional information I can only surmise this is some kind of motoring club that has sufficient funds to keep a clubhouse out in the sticks. We are deep among rolling arable farmland with vast skies, there's a repair garage with some old cars for sale and a thatched building, presumably the barn in question. Alas there's no cafe inside but fear not, outside is a vintage Citroen van with the side open serving tea and snacks aplenty. 

We dine and rest, sitting on a bench and making conversation with another motorcyclist. He's en-route from that there London village to some place in Devon, seeking a weekend's adventure. We exchange a few tall tales of derring-do and woeful journeys before we part ways. His modern Triumph emits a wonderful tone as it accelerates away on the A30 towards Salisbury.

I have some terrible news dear reader. I find I am once again at risk of enjoying myself. This countryside may not wow or bring a tear to the eye yet its calm and peaceful undulations mixed with open spaces and pretty villages is a tonic for the soul. We are flowing, fast enough to feel a tinge of excitement, slow enough to see and not fear other road users unduly. 

By 1345 I reckon we're around two-thirds of the way there and my tummy is contemplating dinner. It is purely by chance that we find ourselves in the village of Faringdon when a parking sign appears with "WC" on it. As we park up 2 other riders park in the motorcycle bays with us. We exchange pleasantries as they enquire about our luggage and journey.

Sharon and I take a short walk. Faringdon is another fine little market town, although rather compact. We wander until we spot Mae's Cafe. Within we find the 2 riders once again and say hello. This seems an opportune moment to have our main meal of the day rather than seeking out sustenance later or having to spend a fortune at the hotel. Mae's Cafe is of the old school greasy spoon variety which means affordable and tasty grub all around. As we dine we exchange more tales of derring-do and woeful journeys with our fellow two wheeling friends.

Faringdon village has houses of all shapes and sizes lining the road
You can't say all the buildings look the same in Faringdon.
A 2 storey building with an open section on the lower floor supported by pillars
You see this kind of building in the centre of many market villages.

The Broom Hall Inn is just outside of Bidford-On-Avon and takes a couple of attempts to find, even with sat-nav nagging me for going the wrong way... again. It has the air of a true country pub that has been modernised to keep with the times. The outside looks ancient as do the wooden floors within yet the bar is modern. The rooms are fresh and clean yet a creaky floorboard hints at centuries of footfall. We book in then endure several trips up and down the stairs with luggage. 

A large timber framed building set in a modern car park with gardens
Our residence for the night.
The bedroom is quite small with visible roof beams but otherwise crisp and modern
Both old and new, and a real bed!

We settle in with a brew from the kettle and a short nap on the bed. We aren't hungry but we are aware that, in spite of our large dinner, we'll be wanting something to eat this evening even if it is just a snack. It would also be a shame not to look around Bidford-On-Avon so we put on our shoes and head out.

It's a small and pleasant village, even so there's actually a fair number of houses both old and new and even a small industrial estate. There's a couple of small local shops if we want snacks and a few pubs offering meals. The thing is we're seeking something in-between - a portion of chips to share, that kind of meal. There is a chippy but it's closed at present, a curry is too much for a snack as is a Chinese. Hmmm. There's a strange and dark takeaway called Aanandos. 

Within we are treated curtly. I get the feeling these people don't want to be here tonight and random tourists coming in to order just a portion of chips is frankly annoying them. We are abruptly informed they are very busy but we can order then come back in 10 minutes. Well, we're here now, we order and return. Luckily the chips are perfectly fine, we share them sat on a bench near the bridge.

Bidford-On-Avon - the clue I suspect is in the name. The ford in Bidford will refer to the distant past when the bridge wasn't here but the river Avon would have been shallow enough to cross - aka ford. Today the main feature is the bridge. A cursory look on Wiki informs me the bridge is at least 450 years old so it's fair to say it was well made. We end up taking the long way back, out through more of the homely English countryside hereabouts. 

The old stone bridge crosses the river with several short spans
The stout old bridge across the Avon.
Seen from the bridge beautiful trees and houses are reflected in the water
A gorgeous scene from the bridge.

Today has been another good day. The distance we've covered was just right, far enough to feel like we're making progress, not so far as to become weary. The weather has been comfortably warm for riding, not too hot, not too cold. We've had plenty of time to stop and rest often. This is the right way to travel, if only I could tell that younger me to stop trying so hard, to stop trying to do too much.  

With the notion of a cooked breakfast in my mind and the sumptuous comfort of a real bed sleep comes swiftly this evening. 

Share your own tales - click here.

Prologue - It's Not Up North Happenstance and circumstance is the driving force behind this trip's direction. Ren explains it all.
Down To Akeley It's the first day of the southern adventure and already Ren is reclining in sumptuous luxury. So, err... what's changed?
A Look Around F1 Country Ren offers an all too lengthy explanation of his uncouth approach to museums before taking in some quintessentially English countryside.
Stones and More Comfort It's time to depart the rally and head even further daaan saaaf. There's plenty of time for tea and to explore some ancient standing stones. What will the next 3 nights' accommodation be like?
Stonehenge On The Cheap, Salisbury On The Hoof It's time to take in Britain's most famous monolithic structure - Stonehenge. Salisbury is also going to endure a good dose of looking at as well.
A Walk In Dinton There's a simple and lazy day ahead of The Dynamic Muppets today with not much planned. This eventually leads Ren to his new career as a Surrealist Artist Extraordinaire. Soon he will be famous and rich?
Off To The New Forest It's time to move on once again and head even further daaan saaaf. The New Forest might be quite lovely but given the foul weather Sharon and Ren won't be finding out today - in fact they are struggling to see the road ahead.
Exploring The New Forest With better weather and a tank full of fuel it's time to look around the New Forest. There's a risk of trees and horses and tractors.
Half Way Home Oh no! Disaster! The weather is just right, the trip goes well and even the accommodation is lovely. Surely there must be something Ren can find to moan about? It's all going terribly wrong.
Homeward Bound And Thoughts There's not much to report on the final leg of the journey - in a good way. Ren shares his thoughts on this adventure in that there daaan saaaf.

Reader's Comments

Bogger said :-
Bikes and travels. More like bikes and lounging about in Idyllic country retreats. Harrumphh.

10/07/2022 20:01:43 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Aaawwww wassup Bogger? I seem to recall you only read this blog as my misery makes your life seem so much better. As such I most humbly apologise for going to nice places and being blessed with nice weather. I shall endeavour to have a winter trip later this year or early next year. I'll do my best to get as wet and as cold as possible. I'm sure I can find a truly awful campsite in a suitably dull and uninteresting place.
11/07/2022 10:39:00 UTC
nab301 said :-
Ren , lovely photo from the bridge.
11/07/2022 21:17:37 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I'm afraid I can't take credit for those wonderful images nab301. That came from the artistic eye of Madam Parker herself. She does have rather a talent for such things whereas a heathen such as I can merely "take snaps".
11/07/2022 21:29:41 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
A nice little place Bidford and on Icknield / Ryknield / Buckle Street which passes the bottom of our new (well not so new now) garden in Redditch and forms part of one of the routes I submitted to this very website some years ago. The sturdy bridge isn't in fact that sturdy and was half demolished a few years ago by an errant lorry. The repairs took well over a year to complete - probably longer than the bridge took to build in the first place.

Nice pics.
12/07/2022 12:02:42 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Bogger, when you're right, you're right.
They've gone proper soft. That's what happens when you go south. Southern Softies.
I'm actually quite envious that Ed seems to be living the perfect life, if not also a little annoyed at that prospect. The sun follows him everywhere he goes, the birds sing (well, cough in Manchester) and he's lucky in love.
I don't need to visit this site to be reminded folks are having a great time, I come here for pure misery, mine and yours.
Get a grip man, let's have some tales of waking in a wet tent with a frog on your head, of having endless punctures and petrol being £500 a gallon.
Happiness? It's overrated!
12/07/2022 12:50:51 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
It is a lovely area Ian and I think you're quite lucky to live in thereabouts.

Upt' - I fear I may lose you and your "deep and meaningful insights" if I continue on this road of pleasure and fun. This is causing me a dilemma. On the one hand I can clearly see my readership has come to relish in my most miserable of travels, the more miserable the better. As I strive to keep my readers engaged I see I must continue into an eternal spiral of despair and disastrous journeys. On the other hand I've actually quite enjoyed my recent adventures, even though this goes against my better judgment and my persona. Oh what am I to do?!

Might I suggest you skip the next couple of short trips that are yet to be written up too? There'll be far too much merriment and mirth for you and Bogger.
12/07/2022 21:23:39 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
13/07/2022 09:04:55 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
"It is a lovely area Ian and I think you're quite lucky to live in thereabouts. "

I agree entirely. As an aside, what's happened to the favourite routes page? I can get at it by doing a search but all the detail immediately disappears. Some licensing issue with google maps?
13/07/2022 10:13:29 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I'm looking into the maps thing Ian... It's been a while I've spelt since then.
13/07/2022 16:41:21 UTC

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