|Ashby de la Zouch|
|Jade Tearooms - Newtown Linford|
'Have you been far' she enquired.
'No' said Gary - 'But we're going far'
There was a pause and a vague look of incomprehension.
The coffee was welcome and Gary proclaimed that the cakes on display were the best he'd ever seen. We sat amongst what could have been the tea break for a Boden catalogue shoot on a blissful bright blue morning. It was a perfect stop.
And then we were off again. A bit more stop-start with the GPS and we were heading towards Leicester - in fact we very nearly passed my place of work. The traffic was quieter at this time of day but still busy enough to make us think twice before any change of direction. We cut through the traffic like London couriers as we made our way out of the city and in the vague direction of Cambridgeshire.
Before this trip someone said 'It'll be easy - it's flat all the way after Leicester' - They lied - it isn't - in fact immediately after Leicester we laboured up a number of hills, some of them dragged on-and-on... it was hot now, the midday sun was strong, streams of salty sweat stung our eyes. We were on roads that offered nothing in the way of hospitality. No pubs, no roadside cafes not even the ubiquitous mobile burger van - nothing but tarmac and grass verges. We carried on, upwards, by now we had begun consulting a map - both Gary and I had torn out pages from old map books - his was slightly larger scale than mine and offered more detail - but went over more pages. We concurred that a good plan would be to turn off and head to a town, we needed some food and a rest.
|The Crown - Uppingham|
Off we went, back out into the sun, soon to feel the recent intake of fluids seep from our pores. We still had a long way to go, and it still wasn't particularly flat. We made steady progress through endless green fields, the great fire and brimstone, steam and grind of the industrial upheaval of the 19th century never made it here. As we laboured slowly up yet another hill I spotted a sign at the roadside - 'Gelato' - It took less than a nano-second to decide on a stop.
|At the Olive Grove|
We checked into The Willow B&B - fantastic choice by Gaz - more like a hotel, spotlessly clean, fully functional, modern and a friendly welcome from the owner Kate. A quick shower, some clean, dry clothes and we were off to the pub for supper - all of 20 yards away!
The Cock had some great hoppy beers and we worked our way through a couple before moving into the dining room - this is more restaurant than pub - but still retains a pubby atmosphere. The food is gastropub, sophisticated, modern and maybe a little minimal - but tasty enough after 104 miles. We finished with another pint and then bed. Long way to go again tomorrow.