Friday, 11 October 2013

Day 14 - Exeter to Bodmin The Innis Inn

The Backpackers in Exeter was functional, I arrived tired but the people their were the usual mix that you find in these places, Italians, Chezechs etc..
There were a few spanish and a guy from Birmingham who had moved down to exeter and was staying here until he could move into his new home.  He explained in the morning he was going back home to see his wife as she wouldn't be following him for another month or so as there were still things tremaining to do.  I then found out he lived literally 5 minutes from my house... as I said a small world and an even smaller island.

The Backpackers Essex was smaller than other backpackers and the desk guy lead me to store my bike in the lounge telling me not to worry about the no bike signs lol. I stowed my gear as neatly as possible and nipped out to exeter for some supplies.  I wasn't particularly enthralled with exeter I am sure it has some nice features but with my shortened time here I wasn't going to get to see much of it.  My dorm was for women and men, there was a spanish guy in a nearby bunk and about 10 minutes after I got into bed a young girl joined him... I was too tired to hear a thing and all I remember is the alarm going off at 6:am

For breakfast I bolted down some pasta and a boiled egg with some hurriedlcoffee.  I then went through the ritual of force feeding myself a litre of water, the room had been hot and I felt dehydrated, I tried to be as quiet as possible dragging most of my kit out into the corridor to assemble it rather than wake people up again.  Before leaving I had a brief conversation with a guy who explained he had been to see some "internet technology expose's" etc..  He told me of his life travelling and meditation studies mainly in India for meditation studies and weeks in the jungle.  I had met several people similar to him seemingly leading a nomadic life travelling the world, I couldn't resist asking him how he supported himself and he explained he was a "web developer" he was a one man band and he made small websites for clients in different countries and lived off his earnings for looking after and developing them using pre built tools such as Joomla etc..  All he needed was his phone a good laptop and software and internet was fairly accessible in most places albeit at sometimes painstaking speeds.

I left backpackers and headed backout into Exeter, the traffic leaving wasn't bad it's a pleasant city and I am sure it had more to offer than I had time to see.  However I had a target for the day "the Innis Inn" past Bodmin.

The majority of the day would be spent on the A30, now I had already had some experience of riding A roads, but this was going to be about 59 miles on the very busy A30.   It took about 45 minutes to get out of exeter and onto the long stretch of A road.

As most mornings I started out feeling fairly sluggish and peddled to a very easy cadence allowing myself to warm up and any stiffness to disapear, it had been raining when I left Essex but the day was now clear although a biting wind hit me so I started off with my shell top and waterproof jacket, after 20 minutes of cycling my pace had picked up and I was red hot so I removed my waterproof and carried on.

I stopped in a layby cafe, purely because it had a huge British flag flying, I think it was called the owl, it had the cheapest coffee of the trip so far 90p bargain it may have been awful coffee but the wind was cold and it was warm so it was perfectly wonderfull as far as I was concerned, I normally take my coffee black with sweetners but had long since given up on asking for it as the people serving had become pre programmed to deliver white with two sugars.  The owner was chatty but depressive.... wishing only to impart his views on the state of the economy, immigration etc..  This was enough to drive me out of the relative shelter of the small marque that he had erected and back out into the cold wind.

I pushed on wanting to eat up the miles, I had been told this area was the worst because it was constant climbing of hills and then down and then up again,  I didn't feel like that about the place, yes there were up and downs but the gradients on the A roads were not bad, for speed it was a great way to travel, I was eating up the miles faster than normal considering my bike type and that I had been on the road for 14 days so tired..  The only thing slowing me down was the sections where I had to pick my way through stones that were sure to give me a puncture and making sure I was not about to get clipped by a passing truck or car.

I only had one near incident that day on the A road passing an on ramp, an idiot in an underpowered light blue fiat tried to overtake a car to beat it onto the carriageway I presume planning to use the white chevroned area where I had halted waiting for it to be safe to pass, he didn't have enough power to overtake them and was only drawing level with the other car, I realised quickly his attention was not on the hatched area and although I had seen him he just hadn't registered me and was now heading for me, I unclipped myself from the bike and jumped off, glancing behind I swung my bike round off the ground in an arc stepping sideways, no mean feat considering the weight.  By now he had seen me and I looked straight at him I think his face was more full of panic than my own as he passed by missing my by millimeters as he thundered across the cheveroned safety area he had no chance to check what was already on the road and only by luck did he lurch out into a clear area this could have been a very serious accident for him and any other poor soul traveling along.  A timely reminder of how vulnerable I was and at the mercy of idiots who shouldn't be allowed behind the wheel of a car. I gave him the apropriate hand signal he would not have seen it I carried on but my wariness had returned, feeling at any moment a driver would be looking at his phone texting or falling asleep and wiping me out...

I passed some wild horses before Bodmin they were very curious but skittish, I took some photos of them near a stone that was stood up in the middle of nowhere?? some monument to guide travellers over the hills? Despite my vain attempts they would not be coaxed any closer to me even with the offer of an apple, which I gave and tossed over to them.

The rest of the journey was mixed with some B and A roads until I pulled into bodmin and came past St Petrocks Church which was a marvelous looking church, ith had a  ruin by the side of it that reminded me of a minature tintern abbey, I made my way round the side intending to photograph it when a young lad appeared, I seemed to have surprised him he was a pleasan lad called Liam kindly took some photos of me inside the ruin, I took a few of more of the exterior and headed on with about 9 miles left to go to the innis inn.

I rode through bodmin and was quickly swallowed up by some B roads it was getting towards twighlight so I stopped switched on my rear light early and put on my head torch which was fairly powerfull and allowed me to use it as a more effective front light.  I was headed down one of these B roads when I met my first welsh dragon a huge farm machine with blades like teeth at the front came thundering towards me, thankfully I was taking it easy and not full pelt as there was absolutely no room to get by in fact I wondered how this machine managed to navigate these narrow pathways.  The machine halted and for a second we stared each other out who was going to move, obviously I blinked first, turned round and rode back to a passing point, there wasn't an inch either side of this to get past and those blades would have made a mess of me and my bike.. how many cyclists did this dragon have stuck between it's teeth

He gave me a smile and thumbs up, like I had a choice lol, I pushed on along the B roads and minutes later went straight into another machine, I groaned another ride back up a hill??? Fortunately he blinked first, I have to admire his skill he backed up a few hundred yards to the bottom of a T junction, when I passed he had a huge trailer on the back making his driving skill even more impressive.

It was almost dark so I put on my headlight on and pushed on through the remaining deserted country roads to arrive at the Innis Inn as the last of the daylight had disapeared leaving the place in the dark.  As I entered the grounds of the Innis Inn a smart silver Porshe pulled off over the yellow stone chipped driveway, I stopped for a second before I entered, I was probably looking the worst for wear and I expected to walk into a group of rich locals/landed gentry.....  How wrong could I be, so I wheeled my bike into the foyer and was greeted by load celtic music, behind two large wooden doors this was going to be fun there was obviously some sort of band playing.  Whilst I was removing my handlebar bag with my phone and wallet in, the music stopped suddenly and changed into Chumbawumba "tub thumping" a load pop hit from about 10 yrs ago.. and my perception began to change.  One thing I should mention is that as when you cycle all day long when you stop your body recovers faster than your mind and I always feel like it takes a good 30 minutes before my brain appears to be working properly as if all that blood pumping round is delivering far too much oxygen for sensible thoughts or words.

I walked in and the locals greeted me like a long lost friend, when guy walked up and said "are you the guy I passed on the A30 at lunch time??" I replied yes.. he said, "I told my missus your mental" he called her over to confirm. The locals had said it was rare to get someone through doing a JOGLE and thought it was a great adventure, one of the other ladies asked me what I was doing, when I explained she insisted on buying me a pint, "bitter shandy in hand" I sat down and waited for the landlord to sort my room out.   The innis in is quite a large building with a lot of grounds and places for camping and static caravans set at the outskirts of a small village down some wooded country lanes.  Because it was effectively out of season, the landlord had closed the bunkroom to be converted back to normal B&B so he gave me  a double room and breakfast for £25.00 a real bargain and as I was to find out later the entertainment was for free.

The landlord showed me too my room and I got a shower and came downstairs to update my blog, I walked straight into a bar competition.  Let me explain this is not normal practice at the Inn but the Landlords wife is from El Salvador and it is kind of a running joke that she will get out her "Crocodile" belt to the backside of anyone who misbehaves.  On this particular night it was more or less the end of the season and the locals had being having their fair share of drink and everyone else's share to be honest.  Obviously someone had made a minor transgression and the threat was made that their backside would get some attention from the infamous "crocodile".. The crocdile was a long and rough crocodile belt with various studs and a metal buckle.  In that state of drunkeness it was more of a challenge that a threat and quickly the offending man dropped his trousers baring his behind and recieving some summary and loud whacks from "crocodile" at the hands of the landlady while her husband looked on bemused.   There were a few shouts of derision as aparently he had recieved a mild treatment "the welts were visible!!!" and various stories flew around of others who had taken it more like a man..  The local recieving the whacks threw down the challenge that if they could take it then step right up!  This started a steady cascade of men dropping their trousers in order to recieve attention from "the crocodile" and the hands of the landlady from El Salvadore, this continued on with some men going up for a second go, they seemed to be enjoying the punishment a little too much...

Eventually the landladys attention turned to me despite my efforts to look busy with my laptop, I managed to politely refuse to join in with the comment, "no thankyou but my backside is already sore enough", something that was actually fairly close to the truth.  Once finished with the men, the women who were equally drunk began to get up and bare their behinds meanwhile my evening meal of a bacon burger chips and salad had arrived so I ate whilst watching the evenings entertainment.
I had a bacon burger and chips and then chilled for the rest of the evening.   The lady who had bought me a pint invited me to sit with her and another local woman (whose behind is on the pictures below, fortunately she was sober as she was driving.  Chantelle who had bought me a drink, pointed out her partner to me who she explained had far to much to drink, he was sat at the far end of the bar and had recieved a double helping of the punishment being dished out.

She told me a story of a recent cycle ride of only 5 or so miles which she explained had nearly killed her from the exertion, she had been in motorcycle accident years before and was just now recovering.  The night wore on and we were joined by the cook a diminutive and tight lipped south african guy who had been trying to get back to south africa but was finding it difficult because of records (his parents had brought him over many years ago.  He explained his difficulties were due to the end of apartheid and the fact that the embassies were now staffed with "thick people" who hadn't got a clue what they were doing.

Seeing the amount of alcohol the landlady and landlord were imbibing got me worried about my breakfast for the morning, I enquired of the landlord and he simply said it's not down to me it's the missus turn tomorrow morning.. she was by now completely gone and there was no way she would be getting up early enough to start my breakfast so i faced the next day of starting out with nothing but a mug of pasta made in my room.  The cook however came to my rescue and said that the landlady wouldn't even surface by 10 so he would cook up a breakfast before he left and put it on sandwiches in a container outside my door.  I must stress this would not be normal for the Innis Inn, they weren't expecting guests that night and had taken me in as a kindness so I had no complaints, after all a sandwich breakfast is better than no breakfast.

I left the party to it and made my way to bed smilling and laughing to myself as to how I end up in these situations.. if I had not been there I would not have believed it, I had given my email address to Chantelle as she had promised to send some nice local pictures.. As I got upstairs my phone pinged and it was a picture of another girls bare behind.. the party was still in swing and the crocodile still in action aparently.

Fun and games at the Innis Inn

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