What a great day! We slept in later than we have in weeks (10am), packed up our things, and then had a leisurely morning enjoying breakfast and chatting with Pete and Reinette. As we were packing the last of our belongings Reinette made us sandwiches for the road! She also spent the evening yesterday going through her big touring guide to England and had kindly written us a huge list (with personalized notes) of all the places we should visit when we get to Cornwall. We were incredibly thankful to receive such a richly detailed list of places and notes.
The first mile out of Chesterfield found us both feeling very sluggish. I thought for a moment we'd eaten too many scones on our rest day! ;) After a bit we felt like ourselves again and everything became much easier. We cycled at a good clip and I felt as though my legs were on autopilot. I am getting so much stronger! I smoothly navigated through Nottingham (thinking about Robin Hood the whole time), fearlessly weaving through traffic, and easily shifting my downtube friction shifters along the way. We pedaled almost thirty miles like it was nothing! I felt as though I could have easily gone at least another twenty or so without being the least bit winded. I'm sure the terrain becoming significantly less hilly has something to do with it, but either way, I felt very masterful and accomplished today.
We arrived full of energy at a very large and mostly empty campsite, with the entire afternoon and evening free to do whatever we wanted to. While Tyler set up camp I prepared apples and crust for an apple pie.
We're getting really good at divvying up tasks—he's good at quickly and efficiently setting up camp, while I stay out of his way and make dinner! After baking the apple pie (which I decorated sort-of like a bicycle wheel but not really) in our little oven, we washed dishes and took about an hour and a half to do stretches and practice Arnis. Stretching felt really good—though we're getting a lot stronger, we need to do stretches more often or we will lose our flexibility!
Every day I am feeling happier and happier about our trip. During our first month the sheer amount of new new things to deal with was sometimes overwhelming. At times just the biking alone felt like it was more than I could handle. I remember thinking while we were planning that we would have tons of free time on our trip, and yet every day seemed completely full. Without fail I would collapse in a tired heap and fall instantly asleep at the end of each day. I was pretty worried that our supposedly adventurous and enjoyable new life would wind up being hectic and exhausting instead.
Tyler was very sweet and accommodating, offering to do basically everything at camp if I felt I needed him to. Both of us being generous, compromising, and communicative with each other helped make what could have been an upsetting first few weeks very manageable, and despite being hard, very enjoyable. We knew we had a lot to learn on our trip, and every day gets better and better as we grow accustomed to our new life. Something has changed recently though—we've definitely gotten the hang of this!
… and now, we have all evening to relax. Tyler is reading Brian Green's "The Elegant Universe" and I'm about to pick up my nice new copy of "Lord of the Rings". Pete and Reinette's daughter, Jade, brought home the whole boxed set for me(!) from her job at Oxfam, a charity shop like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. How kind! If the kids are online tonight, we'll Skype with them, and then fall asleep in our tent to the sound of the birds. This new life is turning out to be pretty great!