The Cotswold jolly used The Bull Hotel, Fairford as base headquarters for our most recent jolly, and has to be said, even by our unusual standards this ride really was at times a little surreal.
One of many firsts over the course of the weekend was being greeted by paparazzi from the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard somehow word had leaked that the Guvnors’ Assembly were descending upon the Cotswolds and the press wanted to be there to cover it (to be honest we are fairly sure it was all part of Mr And Mrs Cycling Photographers tireless work in organising the weekend). Stragglers rounded up after their impromptu tour, Bloody Marys drunk, after all the GA recognises the need for at least one of their five a-day we set off towards our first rendezvous of the day.
Knowing of the GA’s perchance for a nice but of Tweed we found ourselves being lead into the Cotswold Woollen Weavers an interesting little diversion where the wool is woven on site to produce a range of goods for sale, here the Basket Brigade came into their own descending on the shop like a Visa powered swarm of locusts and one particular lady contemplating petty theft . The Gentlemen of the GA after looking at the looms and not being blessed with the shopping gene retired to the garden to console themselves with tea and cake, we had after all already ridden past two public houses.
Eventually, credit cards in meltdown we were herded up and set off on the next leg of our route. Not long out of Filtkins several riders remarked upon the spectacle, Ladies in their dresses, Gentlemen in their Tweeds riding classic British bikes through some of the most picturesque lanes and villages in the country, the only way to have improved the vista would have required a Spitfire running escort for we adventurers
A few miles out from Filkins we came across a troupe of Morris Dancers to entertain us, when thanked Mr TCP claimed it was pure coincidence – modest as ever. This chance meeting, did lead to a rather interesting situation of the Morris Dances taking pictures of the GA who were in turn taking pictures of the Morris Dances. A chocolate box Escher. By pure coincidence this traditional English scene was happening outside a pub and we found it our honor bound duty to celebrate this serendipitous arrangement with a pint of beer.
Thirst slaked, we set off for Bilbury, a village William Morris described as “the most beautiful village in England” and the numerous Japanese tourists as “very nice”. Our overseas friends were unsure whether to take pictures of the chocolate box cottages or the jolly ladies and fellows on their bicycles, suffice to say cameras went into over drive.
A rather nice spot of lunch was had at the Swan Hotel in the village before heading off back to base camp for a wash and scrub up prior to a rather pleasant evening meal with our friends new and old.
and now Hot off the Press!