I am afraid that the following post is somewhat tardy, the reason will become clear as you read. Having fallen out of my usual routine of these things, alas life and travel by other means got in the way of sitting down to write, and I am now on the eve of the next Talula Tour to Cardiff having to do my overdue homework!
I had become aware that ‘The Weeping Window‘, part of the huge poppy display that had been undertaken at the Tower of London was on display at Hereford Cathedral and suggested to Mr V that we should investigate a route by way of Talula touring, so that we could view it. We had seen ‘The Wave’ last year and found it poignant in it’s then position of the jetty at Shoeburyness, but this was a chance to see another part of the spectacular installation as we had been unable to do so when it was at the Tower of London. The installation at Hereford was only in place until 29 April which was just after my birthday. Birthday treat was therefore decided!
We have just about explored all the day-trip routes in our immediate locality, and those further afield, which can utilize stopovers with family, so the prospect of new horizons filled us with glee. This is not to say that we do not continue to find joy in the familiar paths, but there is a whiff of adventure when the road is yet untravelled.
Mr V set about pouring over OS maps and referring to Sustrans and ViewRanger to familiarize himself; as ‘Captain’ of Talula he has responsibility for such things. The wonders of modern technology also enable the use of google earth to virtually ride the lanes so that any landmarks can be observed so that we may anticipate junctions and not dither over which way to go. The only issue appeared to be a gap in the Sustrans route which was annotated as a dashed line by ViewRanger. This was checked against google earth and it seemed to be a traversable B-road, so the route was set, dates were decided and a comfy B&B was booked.
The morning dawned a little grey, and the forecast was for rain later in the day, but we hoped to have made it to our destination before it set in. We initially rode on one of our familiar routes, the ‘Newent Loop’ and stopped for coffee on the green near Clencher’s Mill Lane. We did not stop for long, feeling the need to press on , wanting to reach our lodgings before the weather closed in. We diverged from our familiar byway at Ledbury; it was at this point though that the rain decided to arrive earlier than forecast. Mr V takes exception when the forecast is not as promised, bemoaning the inability of the Met Office to predict correctly, despite vast resources at its disposal. We togged up though, and pushed on through, and though we had to ride through some heavy showers, there were enough brighter skies in between to ensure that it was not just a heads down, miserable trudge. We wended our way towards Much Marcle, through a patchwork of verdant and gloriously yellow agricultural land.
We began to ascend and were able to take in the vista of the vale below and then joined the ‘dashed’ route 46 that is marked on ViewRanger. It was not long before we realised why the route had not earned a solid line. Though not steep, it continued to be a relentless incline that went on, and on, and on. Our spirits were not aided by the persistent rain that accompanied our ever upward labour. As with all things, this too did thankfully pass. Our weary legs perceived the levelling out of the terrain and soon followed the relief of the free-wheel, still welcome despite the wind and rain lashing our faces.
The descent took us into Hereford and we navigated our way to our lodgings just as the rain ceased and the sun shone. Our host had already been made aware that we were cycling and had confirmed that there was safe storage for Talula, once stowed we were welcomed to our charming room where we proceeded to mainline tea and biscuits. Once we had been fortified and freshened up, we sallied forth on foot to the cathedral quarter of the historic city.
As it was late in the day, the cathedral precinct was relatively quiet and we were able to get up close and take our time to view the Weeping Window. It really is a remarkable artwork, all the more poignant when you consider that this is just a fraction of the original installation and that each poppy represents a life lost.
We then spent some time inside the cathedral itself to admire the spectacular windows, before retiring to a local hostelry for supper and as it was my birthday, a little snifter. We then wended our way back to our B&B where it was my intention to write this blog … however what with the exertions of the day, the wine and cosy bed I am afraid that I drifted off to the land of nod.
The next day (my actual birthday) dawned bright and sunny – it never dares rain on my birthday! We had a sumptuous breakfast before bidding farewell to our host and setting off. The journey home could not have been more different, the sun warmed our backs and the long inclines of the previous day meant that we could lean back, free-wheel and soak in the magnificent countryside. All too soon we were back on our familiar byways and nearing home and the adventure was drawing to a close. On the upside though, cake and bubbly awaited; chin chin! 🥂