Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Day 9 - Warrington -> Quatford

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

If pictures of punctures being repaired really turn you on, then you're in for a real treat today. 3 punctures in total but - hold onto your hats, chaps - NO RAIN!! To be absolutely precise, no rain whilst cycling. Obviously there was plenty in the night and during breakfast and even during supper but NO RAIN whilst they were on the road. Hoorah!

The boys made good progress in the morning and we met at Whitchurch for lunch. (Layby this time, not a supermarket to be seen.) T got back on bike - 1st puncture - back tyre again, obviously.

They then made good progress to Bridgnorth when puncture number the 2 struck G (I think the expression of T's face just about sums up the general feeling):

(Doesn't the site of men in tight lycra peering at bicycles give you such a thrill?)

Finally, about 5 miles down the road, G's tyre went again - you can see that T's really had enough now:

This was G's tyre:

At this point we called it at day - 7pm and about 10 miles short of our proposed night at Bewdley but, amazingly, only 2 miles from a fantastic camp site with the best showers of the trip so far - and no fiddling around with 20p coins! We had, miraculously, found ourselves at The Stanmore Hall Touring Park and it was wonderful and doubly wonderful this morning when they waived their fee as the boys are cycling for H4H. People in this part of the world are very generous. Which reminds me of an incident yesterday when FB was handed a £10 note by someone in a car as he was cycling along. He actually had time to give them our card with this site on it - thank you guys - these random acts of kindness really do give everyone a fantastic boost and it's for such a good cause.

At some point, they had crossed into Shropshire:

and at some other point T had seen this sign, which amused him no end:

and turned out to be remarkably apt for what happened next. For, I regret to say, chaps, yesterday we had a toiletage issue. For those of you who know us well this will come as no surprise. At some point the Hopson family was destined to have a toiletage issue and yesterday was the day.

I was having a bad day yesterday. The tiredness and the busy roads are beginning to take their toll. Being the back-up driver isn't all it's cracked up to be (unless you have a fetish for supermarkets and, specifically, their car parks, in which case you'll be in heaven) and driving a 20' beast around country lanes can get exhausting. I am tempted here to have a rant about sat navs but will keep it short and just say that they have a mind of their own. If you want an A road they'll always send you down a B one and if you want that really dodgy B road they'll desperately try and send you down the big A one.

All had gone fairly smoothly until Telford where FB had plotted a route through Coalport to the A442. What we hadn't realised is that there's a 6'6" bridge on that route and I'm 9'9". Just before I hit the bridge I hurtled into some poor person's drive and proceeded to complete a pretty impressive 25 point turn. Didn't ruin their lawn or knock down any of their pretty posts and didn't dare look up to see if they were watching me either. I then allowed the sat nav to take me god knows where and ended up right back where I'd started. I might have cried a little at this point. Finally made it to the A442 and set the sat nav for the campsite. It took me on a (very pretty and hilly with lots of narrow bridges) 25 mile route down a multitude of B roads, instead of the A road I'd hoped for, so I came across the camp site turn from the "wrong" way with such a steep turn that I couldn't get the van round. 25 point turn, reversing into a main road didn't appeal so I had to keep going. Shot into a Residential Nursing Home drive as I noticed they had a little roundabouty thing which I could circumnavigate. Wrong. 2 cars were parked on the far side of the roundabouty thing. Reversed back round the roundabouty thing and sat there, exhausted, studying my map. Why, oh why, oh why does someone always want to come into the exact place you're sitting when you want to look at the map? Drove out. Parked up. Turned the emergency flashers on and cried quite a lot. That's when FB phoned to say G had had his third puncture and could I come and get them please? How do you go and get someone when you don't know where you or they are? Answer in less than 2,000 words please.

So, what has this got to do with toilets I hear you ask? Well to understand this you really need to understand the workings of a camper toilet. Inside the van the toilet looks like any normal toilet (it even has a very sweet little lid which can be raised by the men - for some reason it never is raised but it can be, if required [maybe it's just my men - ladies, discuss]) and then underneath you have the charmingly named "cassette" which shall hereonafter be referred to as "the cess pit". The "cess pit" is removed from outside the van and there's a little flap which allows the effluent to go from the nice little toilet at the top to the revolting "cess pit" underneath. In our van I am responsible for the nice little toilet at the top and FB is responsible for the revolting "cess pit" for which he has a very fetching pair of Marigolds. So, (and the squeamish amongst you might like to scan over this bit), G had assisted his father in emptying the toilet in the morning (it was his punishment for being the last to use it and, therefore, fill it up) and he (and I, if I'm brutally honest) hadn't put the "cess pit" back in properly. Later, when T did his "business" (and we're not referring to No 1's here) he couldn't open the little flap and didn't realise the problem until after he'd done his business (of course). He kept saying he was having problems but we kept saying, just push it down with the loo brush, T, and then we realised there was a major problem; by which time T had somehow managed to force his "business" on top of the "cess pit". I will spare you the details but, not only was I getting lost yesterday and avoiding low bridges and cursing the sat nav, I was doing the whole thing with the fairly strong smell of raw sewage wafting all around me. It was then that I was struck with the thought - "I'm driving around in a mobile septic tank".

Mileage for the day - 78
Total mileage - 652

Tomorrow - first stop Halfords for more bike parts. After that - who knows.


  1. We're loving the blog in the Baylis household, it is essential daily reading! We are following your progress avidly and hope to be there to greet you at the end. Keep pedalling, its a really worthy cause.

  2. I happened upon your blog while surfing from Ravelry.What a great trip and for such a good cause. The toilet issues I find hillarious - why has the UK 'caravan' industry not moved on? (We caravaned for many years in the 70's/80s)
    We are presently back in UK for 6 weeks with our family. In October 2008 we bought an American A class motor home and have been out in the States and Canada most of the time since then. (http//elainethehill.wordpress.com for the story!)
    Our toilet looks much the same as yours would but no cassette, we have a pipe which connects with a tight fitting to a sewer outlet at the campground or dump station, one pull of a lever in the motor home releases the unwanted debris with no hassle. This is not a modern feature in the US many old motor homes and trailers work this way so why has it not been adopted over here I wonder?
    OK - now I am off to look for your knitting, BTW I will be visiting with friends in Newlyn in a few weeks I might just pop in the store to say Hi! and bring you a donation - Happy Travels...