We didn't make it to Hadrian's Wall. It was a day of slow riding, talking with folks - both Yanks and Brits, and HILLS. Peter, our caravan friend imparted more information about our route - the rising and falling of the landscape, and pointed us in the, literally, right direction out of the campground.
[As I write - 9 p.m - a bit earlier than "normal," I am in a campground. The sheep are baaaaing and the cows are mooing. In the distance are sounds of large caliber guns firing ammo. Earlier in the afternoon, small jet fighters raced up and down this valley. on training missions. Unnerving to say the least.]
Five miles out of town we crossed the Scotland/England border, headed toward Wooler. Each of us posed for tourist pictures in front of the border sign, holding our cycling maps, pointing out our position. Another cycle tourer, Peter from Leeds, rode up. His car was parked in Wooler and he had been biking for 3 days. We began chatting and took his picture for him. He was headed back to his car, so we rode together. Interesting fellow! He had cycled many parts of the world - including Turkey. Peter's bike had gray-beard status. Peter himself was in his 40's, unmarried, with a daughter who was a hairdresser in Leeds, and Peter looked as if he had enjoyed a few too many pastries with his tea. His legs were strong - not enough so as to keep up with Tracy and Earl's pace, but he could out pedal me. I was carrying quite a bit of gear; he was not. He identified the brilliant yellow fields as rapeseed, a new cash crop for England (Canola Oil). Further on we stopped and admired a field of small blue bell-like flowers (flax).
A border collie worked a herd of sheep in nearby field. I stopped to watch. Amazing!! The dog ran back and forth barking and nipping, working very hard at keeping those sheep in line while his master rode in a jeep whistling commands. Occasionally the dog sat just staring at the sheep, proudly surveying his work, keeping recalcitrant sheep herded.
We dismounted our bikes to gaze at greyhounds off in a distant run. Dog racing was popular. As we pedaled by another farm house, foxhounds ran out barking. Fortunately there was a fence between them and me. Truly a dog day.
In Wooler, we all, including Peter, stopped for tea. I changed some $s to £s at Barclay's, where their rate and commission were better than at the Royal Bank of Scotland. While I changed money, Peter entered an old narrow used bookstore and came out with a small book of a history of England, which he presented to me. It was a touching memento.
Earl broke a brake cable in Wooler and Peter generously gave him the spare he was carrying. In 3 hours we had covered 15 miles, met a new friend, had tea, repaired a bike, and were again on the road. Our slowest leg on the whole trip, but made up for in other pleasurable and intangible ways. A three hour period which was good for the soul. At noon, we were on our way.
Tourists interest me. While getting ready to ride we began talking to a couple from Chicago - he had a White Sox sweatshirt on, she dripped gold chains. This couple was disgustingly the epitomy of Ugly American(s).
[As I write, I am watching a beautiful sunset...golden clouds splashed on a blue canvas - a living Gainsborough painting.]
Today the hills were short and steep. I spent time pushing my bike. When I pedal with difficulty at 3 mph, it is easier to push the bike at 2 mph. The scenery changed perceptibly at the border; England was "softer " - rolling hills covered with sheep and greenery. During the clear weather times there were fantastic views and beautiful scenery. This area was horse country; we passed a number of jumping arenas and practice rings.
Rothbury was not supposed to be our night's destination. It was 3:15 p.m., drizzling, and a nasty climb into town. We set up camp at the caravan park - up a steep hill, again I walked. After my tent was pitched and gear stowed, the rain quit. Camping was £2/each and 20p for the shower. I was getting quite proficient at removing shower heads so that I could get a better water flow. Many camping facilities had grungy plugged shower heads with minimal water flow. I discovered, quite by accident, that many were easily removed, thus providing an adequate stream for rinsing. Water shortage did not seem to be a problem here, so I didn't feel guilty.
At last Tracy got his stove functional! It took some practice to light it without flaming the world around him. I pigged out for dinner with two small lamb chops, 1/2 lb. potato salad, two small tomatoes, rice pudding (in a yogurt-sized container), hot chocolate, and tea. Plus some cheese that I ate at 4 p.m. I was going to have to cut down on the size of my evening meals!
We had been told that "by mid-week, the weather will be hot...80's and higher." We'd heard that before! So far it hadn't materialized.