I woke up to the sound of the rain with a really stiff, painful neck this morning. I'm not sure what I did to it, but I could hardly move my head! I did neck stretches (while yelping) as we waited out one batch of rain. When it stopped, we quickly packed up, managing to get everything safe in a panniers and ourselves in our raincoats before it started pouring again.
In our efforts to get everything put away quickly this morning we missed out on a proper breakfast (never a good thing) but we decided we'd rather our things be dry. We opted to eat our lunch sandwiches for breakfast if need be. Shortly down the road I voted for stopping to wait out the pouring rain at a tea room or someplace where I could drink something warm and dry my clothes a bit.
Five miles into our day we saw a sign that said "Cream Teas 3/4 mile" so we took a detour and followed the sign all the way to a fancy garden tea room. We weren't allowed inside, and so had to sit, disappointed and cold, under a chilly awning on damp plastic chairs. We thought about turning back but we had biked a mile out of our way in the rain so decided to stay.
It wasn't quite the break I was hoping for, but at least we were out of the rain for the moment. My tray of scones, cream, and jam arrived, along with a pot of hot tea. YAY! We had just about finished when the rain stopped and the sun peeked out just a little bit. Maybe we'd escape the rain afterall!
We started off again, and immediately the rain started coming down again at full force. The rest of the day proceeded as follows:
RAIN RAIN RAIN (HILL HILL HILL) RAIN RAIN -BRIEF SUN- (HILL HILL) RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN -BRIEFER SUN- RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN.
Either it was pouring down rain, or, somehow, all the clouds would disappear and the sun would shine for a precious few minutes. The sky would be so clear and sunny that it seemed impossible for there to be any more menacing clouds or soaking rain. And then, suddenly, right when I would get too hot and take my rain coat off, huge fronts would roll in and the heavens would start vomiting yet again.
Compared to some days we've had, this really wasn't so bad. We've been through much wetter and much hillier. I'm not sure why my spirits were so low (maybe my neck) but I just didn't feel like I was the "type" of person who could do a trip like this. I definitely didn't feel very "hardcore", and often wondered why we weren't doing what "normal" people do like staying INSIDE when it rains or taking the car on vacation.
My nagging negative thoughts were quickly dispelled upon seeing Rowena and Richard Gaskell again. Our brief time together was the highlight of our day! They were driving back to Oxford after photographing a wedding in Cornwall, and were going to meet us on their way home! Tyler's replacement solar panel had arrived at the Gaskell's house the day after we left, so they came miles out of their way just to deliver it to us.
We were waiting to meet them under the (dry) overhang of a garage. When they pulled up, hopped out of the car, and gave us huge hugs it was by far the best part of the day. It felt like home! Thanks guys, I needed that! It was so good to be in their company, if only for a little while, and our spirits were lifted as we chatted excitedly about the wedding they had come from and the miles we'd cycled since we had seen them last.
After we parted, Tyler and I biked onward a bit more cheerfully towards our campsite. We were going to camp in Porlock at a campsite Rowena had found for us where they allow campfires! On the way there we decided it was too wet to find any good firewood, and if they had any for sale in a shop, the shop would probably be closed by the time we arrived. We decided to call it quits about five miles early when we saw a sign for a different campground nearby. We followed the sign for a bit when Tyler saw a good free-camping spot.We hauled our bikes off the road and were going to set up in the fairly isolated corner of a huge field. It was a good spot, but I was a little nervous, so Tyler lovingly found us a much more hidden space over the fence and in the woods. He hauled everything over the fence, through paths of nettles to our campsite in the woods. No one could possibly find us here! I started making stir fried beef & broccoli while he finished putting camp together. Safe and sound once again, we talked about the day and opened the bottle of wine that Arthur so kindly gave us yesterday. Everything seems so much better in our tent, out of the rain, dry and warm for one more night. Please, please let it be sunny tomorrow, or grant me the grace to embrace the rain!