It’s Thursday May 6th 2021, I’m shivering whilst sheltering inside the porch entrance to a church that was first erected in the eleventh century.
It’s now snowing, oh no wait…
It’s hailing, hailstones the size of peas! I’m glad that someone built this church here all those centuries ago… hang on a minute, the suns broken through and I can feel the temperature rise, the ancient woodwork around me is creaking, expanding as the light hits it, then it contracts as the clouds cover the sun.
I’m beginning to wonder what sort of weird dream I’m having when the church door opens… ”are you here to vote?” I’m asked “er no, I’m just sheltering from the snow” I reply. The questioner looks around the graveyard and back at me in a disbelieving manner “no really, it was snowing a minute ago” I point out the hailstones on the path.
The church is being used as a polling station today, another piece of the weirdness jigsaw that the day is providing. Starting at 730 this morning, I stepped out of the door to be greeted by snow, I stepped back inside, the morning coffee meet up will have to wait, soon after the sky is blue and I set off, the canal towpath is saturated but the trail is bone dry, the snow was very localised.
Coffee was taken and the day looked promising, temperatures around the 12c mark, I headed down the trail, notably empty of people, April 12th seemingly a turning point in the outdoor life of the newly adventurous! Out across the moss to pick up a sandwich from Monty’s and then to the bench to enjoy it. I linger for an hour, the warmth of the suns feels good, I’ve almost finished my book when the spell is broken by some berk firing a shotgun somewhere too near for comfort.
Now heading into the lanes I reach the giddy heights of Bucklow Hill and stop to look back over towards Manchester… there’s a huge cloudburst that looks like a nuclear bomb has gone off, to the left is the city, to the right is the Peak District, I’m pleased to be nowhere near that, setting off and I notice that my front tyre is going soft, it’s sunny now so I pick a spot and set to.
Ten minutes later, new tube fitted but with no signs of the cause I set off for Rostherne Church, arriving just in time for the snow, see above for details. After a discussion about the weather, politics and religion with my new pollster friend I am eventually allowed to leave and get on my way, none the wiser but probably stronger in my own convictions of politics and religion….. but as I said, grateful for those eleventh century builders.
I could do with a brew, for some reason I’ve not brought my brewing up gear or my flask so I decide to head towards the Ice Cream Farm at Great Budworth, nice to see that they are open and still serving the pork pies that they are famous for, being a bit quieter than normal meant a good chat with the owner, the usual subjects covered extensively and then I was on my way, except that front tyre had gone soft again!
This time it’s the cold wind that’s the problem, cold numb hands make changing the tube hard work and again no sign of the culprit, that’s the last spare tube used, just an old puncture kit somewhere in the bag, fingers crossed that I don’t have to use that, it’s almost certain that the rubber solution will be perished.
Wind assisted now, all the way to High Leigh where a miracle happens… I’m riding along a straight road with the wind on my back, the wind stops suddenly and then completely changes direction one hundred and eighty degrees into a headwind, that’s a new one on me, and another part of the weird day jigsaw.
So now I’m back at the bench (or GUTM HQ as it’s known) and thinking that I’ll finish my book, settling in for an hour or so and the heavens open, a downpour that could quite easily be described as monsoonesque (is that even a word?) I’m drenched before I get my rain jacket on and the trail has gone from hero dust to runny porridge in its consistency, I head home, cold and wet, but happy to have experienced the day, this morning it would have been an easy choice to stay home but now after a bath and a hot cup of tea I’m warm and cosy and best of all I’m 45 miles better off.
Words and pictures – Steve Makin