Tuesday 23rd April

Tyres in Cheltenham

FlowersI locate a tyre fitter in Cheltenham. Actually finding the damn place in the unfamiliar town is tricky. One day when every car has a GPS installed, shops will give out their map grid references. Or I'll install MapPoint on my laptop!

StatueThe tyre is replaced by a pair of reasonable lads. I take the break to wander around the town. Pleasant - the smarter and more presentable version of its neighbour Gloucester. At Waterstones I buy some reading material: A Density of Souls and The Common Thread.

I interact with a cross section of people. A ticking off from a prim middle age smartly dressed woman as I walk in front of the municipal offices. "Get off the grass!" she orders.

I do so out of sheer amazement. The grass is well walked and rutted.

I defer to her complaints. How sweet to have only trampled grass to worry about.

Later on a foul smelling tramp demands: "10p for a cuppa, mate?" 

"No! Sod off!" I retort, "A quid is the minimum I'd expect to pay around here."

The drunk walks straight out into the road. A van brakes, stops and misses him - the two following cars behind shunt into the back. It would have been cheaper to give him the 10p: but more fun not to.

I collect my car, and leave Cheltenham in mayhem.

Bishops Cleeve ChurchSt George's Day

The flags are out on all the churches. 

"Hooray for St George!" chuckles Jolly.

River AvonEvesham

Avon. Spot Jolly Molly! Jolly wants to see Evesham. My friends that have been on training courses there have said that it's a dead place and have even made the journey over to visit me in Milton Keynes. That might give you an idea how bad the place is!

Jolly Molly's last visit was in 1930 something - it's changed a bit. I collect some filled baguettes and canned drinks and we sit in a park by the river Avon. She's happy to enjoy the warm weather and the view of the water.

Sign of the times!Belas Knap

I deposit Jolly for her afternoon siesta and drive to nearby Belas Knap, a 3000 year old Neolithic burial mound. I park by the road where there are dire warnings about thieves. Shattered laminate glass is twinkling in the grass verge.

Belas Knap Barrow False EnteranceBarrow entranceA half mile walk up hill and there it is - well what's left after several generations have interfered with it. The state tidied it up in 1931 and has maintained it since then. It's impressive anyway.

I return down hill. After a couple of minutes : "How much further is it?" A student asks coming up the other way.

I look at my GPS and reply: "4 miles-ish". 

"Bugger that!" he replies. Dejected, he starts to turn to follow me down hill.

"It's only a couple of minutes - I'm having you on!"

Excellent! Winding up three strangers in one day. "Cool!" 

Pine tree doing its thingThis must be some side effect of humouring Jolly Molly for a week.

I drive via Snowshill, Broadway and back to Evesham. This gives me time to wander around. I plan suitable stops for a Jolly Molly sojourn later this week.

Today is the first really warm day this year. A sunny 20C.


Collect Jolly Molly and head for the Beckford Arms for fish and chips. Goff's Jouster beer. Very drinkable.

We return to Bishops Cleeve. I start to read my newly purchased books. I find it difficult to concentrate. I cannot immerse myself in adolescent life in New Orleans when JM talks about her adolescent life in and around here. 

She tuts: "Where's my coffee?"

I oblige and retreat to my room.

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