Thursday, 29 March 2018

Two Men on the Bummel

Geoff's superb Thorn bicycle. Red, shiny and fits all adventure camping touring bicyclists up to 4 foot 7 inches tall

Does my tent look big on this? My grown up bike. A black, shiny, customised Surly Disc Trucker courtesy of  Jack at Alf Jones (Gresford) Cycles

(If you go no further with reading this blog do click on Jack's link above for the most brilliantist two things he ever, ever has done in his life)

“I have it!” exclaimed Harris; “a bicycle tour!”

George looked doubtful. “There’s a lot of uphill about a bicycle tour,” said he, “and the wind is against you.”

“So there is downhill, and the wind behind you,” said Harris.

“I’ve never noticed it,” said George.

“You won’t think of anything better than a bicycle tour,” persisted Harris.

I was inclined to agree with him.

“And I’ll tell you where,” continued he; “through the Black Forest.”

“Why, that’s all uphill,” said George.

“Not all,” retorted Harris; “say two-thirds.”

From Three Men on the Bummel,1914, by Jerome K Jerome
(Did you know that the ‘K’ in Jerome K Jerome stands for Klapka? I thought you didn’t.)

On The Road Again (Click linky thing for sound effects)

“I really think you should walk before you try to run,” said Geoff, “the Black Forest for your first ever bicycle camping adventure tour sounds rather ambitious. Perhaps the Delamere Forest would be more feasible.”

“Well in actual fact I wasn’t planning on walking or running, I shall be on my shiny new black bicycle,” I shot back with my normal laser like wit, "but if that’s all you can manage then it will have to do."

The following day Geoff arrived at Fellbound Hall clutching a bottle of Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet Grand Cru 2014. “Slosh a bit of that into a couple of glasses and please get the food served pronto my good man,” he said.

I took the bottle and studied the label.

“Sadly, Geoff, it isn’t chilled enough. I’ll stick it in the cellar so that it’s ready for another day.”

I served up.  Some scrag end of animal, Bisto Gravy Granules, tinned carrots and mushy peas (Best Before End 2014), washed down by a bottle of Tesco’s most excellent value range called ‘Spanish Crispy White, 2017’. I think Geoff appreciated the effort I'd gone to in undoing the screw top. This was followed by Sainsbury’s Apple Crumble, remove outer packaging and plastic film then microwave for 1 minute in a 850 watt model.

The following morning I stood on the drive way and watched Geoff get his shiny red bicycle out of the car. “Is there a small boy coming with us then?” I asked. “Come on Geoff, stop messing about. Where is your bicycle?”

But Geoff was indeed going to ride on a child’s bicycle with all his adventure camping equipment.

The stocks at Tilston, Cheshire

We set off and bicycled along country lanes. The Welsh potholes disappeared when we crossed into Cheshire. Those footballers’ wives racing around in their Range Rovers wouldn’t put up with all that bumpiness.  The villages were all delightful, comprising picturesque cottages and manorial halls. You could smell the money. We only stopped twice. The first time was, theoretically, to admire the stocks in the village of Tilston, but really it was to give Geoff’s legs a break from all the mad whirring round and round trying to keep up with me on my shiny black bicycle which has grown up wheels. The second stop was for coffee and cake in Tattenhall.

My Hilly Berg Rogan Josh
Geoff in his Terra Nova Southern Comfort 2

We arrived at the campsite. Geoff had his Terra Nova Southern Comfort 2 up in no time and started to brew up, all the while shouting helpful 'tips' such as "you should have got a Terra Nova" as I put up the Hilly Berg Rogan Josh. I put it down to jealousy. Hideous, rampant jealousy. So unbecoming.

Geoff ready to do it again

Then the following day we did it all again. Except we didn’t, as we went back a different route. At one point we swapped shiny bicycles but not for long. I felt like a clown at the circus, all squished up riding one of those tiny child’s tricycles, knees up by my chin, whilst Geoff couldn’t reach the pedals on mine. Oh. But there was cake again. This time in Malpas, surrounded by the real housewives of Cheshire having their lunch before their hard afternoon reading Country Living magazine or whatever they do before their husbands get back from the training ground.

I'm not telling you what Geoff had just done whilst still straddling his red shiny bicycle

All-in-all we had a lovely time. We did thirty miles each day. That may not sound much but the furthest I have ever cycled in my life is forty and I was sixteen at the time, and I now have a senior railcard. And our shiny bicycles were fully laden.  Indeed, until a few weeks ago I probably normally didn’t cycle more than a total of thirty miles in a year, let alone in a day.  My knees only ached a little and my backside not at all. Geoff has an ok bicycle really (it’s a Thorn) and it is very shiny, which is what matters most in the world of us adventurous touring camping bicyclists.

Incidentally, if you want to read a made up version of this trip, Geoff's blog post can be found by clicking this link. You can learn a lot from Geoff's blog posts. Whether that's good or bad I'll leave it to you to decide.


  1. You'll be hearing from my barrister in due course. Tsk...

    1. I'm sure we can arrive at an out-of-court settlement.