Thursday, September 1, 2011

Camping, Rain and the Blues

We left Newquay on Monday morning on a train. We had tickets to get to Leicester, but were advised that if the bicycle storage area was full in one train we would have to wait for another train with space. At Par, the train to Birmingham did not have bicycle space. The kind stationmaster, Dave, told us that we should take the following train to Plymouth and there was a train originating there for Birmingham. We could be the first to load our bikes on that train. Well it all transpired as Dave had advised us. It was also fortuitous that we had bought open tickets for Leicester because this meant we could use any trains or route combination to get there. They were more expensive tickets, but were just what we needed traveling with the bikes. At Birmingham we had to change platforms twice to get on a train with space for the bikes, but the station was well signed and there were very large elevators to take to the different platforms. We got into Leicester at
5:00 and checked into a hotel due to the fatigue of a long day starting at 6:30 and four changes of trains.

Tuesday morning we rode to Anne and Steadroy Henry's house in Wigston, just south of Leicester. As soon as we unloaded the bikes we went into their large garden and were shown their bountiful vegetable patch. On Wednesday we went on a grand tour of the area, visiting the local botanical garden and the old city center. The Roman baths in Leicester are the 2nd largest site of preserved Roman baths in England.

Leicester was a major shoe and hosiery factory town during the 19th century. It has been known as a magnet for Indian immigrants since the early 1900's. It is a city filled with many different immigrant groups and is very multicultural. Steadroy immigrated from Barbuda, in the Caribbean, to join a Barbudan community in Leicester in 1961. On Thursday we packed up their van for the weekend Blues festival. We headed north to Colne and camped at the local rugby club grounds. Here is our campsite that we set up knowing that it was going to rain. However, the picture was taken during one of the brief periods of sunshine during four days of rain!

Music festivals in northern England are held indoors, so the rain jackets were pulled out each time we changed venues. There were two large stages in the municipal hall and the community center. The remaining venues were small stages in the local pubs.

In addition, there was even a stage in a tent at the rugby club.

We saw some great acts on the main stage in the municipal hall, including Mavis Staples and Mud Morganfield, oldest son of Muddy Waters. We had some interesting moments in the campsite observing our fellow campers in various states of inebriation including one poor fellow who had lost his tent and was demanding loudly in the middle of the night to have it back. "I'm in a spot of trouble now" he said a little less loudly. It was a great weekend even though we were bailing water out of our covered dining area at one point in time. Back at Anne and Steadroy's house we boxed up the bikes and packed all the gear in readiness for our flight home. Today we said a fond farewell to Anne and Steadroy and traveled by hired van to a hotel near Heathrow Airport. Anne and Steadroy are a wonderful couple, great hosts, and special friends. We have tentative plans to meet them again in Barbuda this winter. Our hotel is near a tube station so we can ride the train to and from London and we have four days to explore.

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