My five-day bike trip, from Cheltenham to Ampleforth, began today in glorious Spring sunshine. After mass in Prestbury, I tackled the steepest hill I am likely to encounter, Cleeve Hill, and then freewheeled down into Winchcombe, where I was given coffee by friends in their garden.
On to St Michael's, Buckland, as recommended by Simon Jenkins - a shrine of woodwork. Then lunch in Broadway, where I photographed this amazing wysteria, and on to Mickleton. St Lawrence's there is encircled with trees in blossom, and fields with frollicking lambs. Halford was a surprise: a village I'd been through many times on the Fosse Way, but beyond that containing an ancient bridge across the Stour and a host of pretty stone and brick houses. And a beautiful mediaeval Gabriel typanum over the North doorway of St Mary's church.
Traffic was mainly other bikers, motor bikes, sports cars and the vintage brigade: no lorries of course. Geese, pigs, horses I saw, but not one cow.
The best part almost was having cups of tea with two 90-year-old friends of my parents, who I dropped in on en passant - and finding asparagus for sale just before I arrived here at Little Kineton, with no present for my welcoming hosts.