Hexham to Crosby: Saturday 10 October

img_1542Awoke for cups of tea in the conservatory; dressed and full English breakfasted, Peter sadly being unwell from a flu jab so, replete and recharged at someone else’s expense, we set off again but not before backing the van into a low wall causing minimal damage to a rear cowl, disappointed that this had been our only incident in almost 1500 miles so far.

Refuelling on a busy main road, we reached the M6 at Carlisle and with a picnic-break at Tebay Services, we marvelled at the farm shop, deli and butchers – all of which were the best representations of such we’d witnessed in our entire tour.

Reaching Crosby mid-afternoon as planned, we parked up overlooking the hundred Antony Gormley cast-iron statues standing sentinel in the sands at Burbo Bank. Bikes were unmounted and a reminiscent cycle tour of Crosby ensued, retracing old stomping grounds and weaving our way through the leafy and clearly well-to-do suburbs of Blundellsands. We visited Manor Road and Lum Reek, Freisland and Waterloo Rugby Club arriving there just in time to catch the final minutes of a game – “Come on, Looooo!”) On to St Joseph’s Church, host to our wedding 34 years and one week prior, then Hall Road and Blundellsands rail stations; Crosby Village including Moor Lane and the now-abandoned Old Boys’ Club; the George “Hotel” and, of course, the Crow’s Nest pub.

Returning to the van, we locked up the bikes and Leonie took twenty minutes to walk across the wide, low-tide sands to the water’s edge of the Mersey estuary – as impossibly large ferries and container ships plied to and fro in the immediate distance.

We enjoyed several panicky moments of enforced DIY when the bike padlock refused to unlock, ultimately resulting in the inspired and tool-limited destruction of said padlock; the bikes were re-racked and as the sun began to set, we ourselves set off to our pre-arranged overnight campsite at Campion Tennis Club – a further trip down Memory Lane.

A quick change and then an early-evening walk back towards Crosby Village, past the duck pond and stopping for a “loosener” at the Crow’s Nest which responded to our intrigue by being exactly as we had always remembered it – with bar service through an open door. Onwards then to The Birkey for Leonie’s unofficial school reunion which developed into a well-attended evening of about eight “Old Girls” and a token gesture of two husbands. Food was acquired from neighbouring takeaways; chat ensued until last orders, when – with a brief stopover at Anne-Marie’s house – we then walked briskly back to the van accompanied by Jane H in time for a show-round and nightcaps, thence walking her back to her overnight digs and then ourselves walking back once again to the van – all of which contributed to our tired legs and an alarmingly unprecedented 2am bedtime.

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