I think I stayed 2 nights in the campsite just outside Tavistock, which turned out to be a beautiful village with an amazing cathedral and aqueduct, along with cycle paths which made it easy to get around. I also did some exploring and found a river close by where I spent the afternoon swimming and relaxing before riding back to camp feeling very relaxed.
I had also started looking for a warmshowers host in Plymouth in preparation for my ride there and found Steff, who warned me that I would need to camp in the house and she was currently moving house, but this didn’t deter me and I’m so glad I went as I had an amazing day with Steff. I had arrived on Saturday afternoon and after un-clipping my bags I went down into Plymouth, had a bit of calamari, rode around and finally headed back up the hill to Steff’s where she cooked a delicious dinner. Steff offered for me to join her on the trip to her new home, close to Tavistock, as I’d offered to help out with whatever she deemed I could help with. So on Sunday morning we drove up to the house – it was a beautiful blue sky day and after a walk with Pip and Percy (the boys) on the moorland, we had an easy drive through the countryside that took us to her house in the woods on the road that has no name…a beautiful property, what used to be a gatehouse for the manor on the neighbouring property, surrounded by forest on all sides, no neighbours in sight, so peaceful, idyllic. A work in progress, sure, but what a place to call home! So while Steff tended to the toilet I set to work weeding out the veggie patch, a pretty simple task but one that I at least knew how to do! After that I made a simple lunch and we ate out in the back garden under the trees while the wind blew…and also in the backyard, 3 beehives! Steff and Will (I didn’t meet Will who was out at sea working at the time) are bee-keepers, and Steff kindly offered to let me help do some bee keeping! We donned the suits, lit the smoker (which went out! Lol) with a mission to capture one of the queens who was unfortunately only producing drones – which isn’t good if you want a hive that produces honey. I was a bit nervous, kind of expecting the bees to start attacking but they were so calm about us rooting about in their hive, lifting out each frame as we looked for the queen bee…finally, Steff spotted her, all black she was and quick as a dart across the comb…but Steff, with nimble fingers, captured here and we popped her in a little cage for safe keeping. It was within a few seconds that the hive’s mood changed, you could sense that the bee’s were becoming agitated, I had a few flying hard against my face screen and the noise from the hive went up in pitch…they knew their queen was gone! So we quickly layered the neighbouring hive with a layer of newspaper and popped the hive on top – this was to allow the bee’s from whom we’d removed their queen, to integrate into another hive with another queen, and so we left them to get to know each other while we had a cuppa tea. Steff also showed me the other hive’s queen bee, who was a bit bigger and had also been marked with a dab of red paint on her back making her easy to spot. Steff – if you’re reading this, I hope the bee’s have become fast friends and have you potting honey in no time!
So after an amazing day we headed back to Plymouth where I cooked a simple dinner of fried onions and potatoes with some salad (I think), packed my bags, had them back on the bike and it was time to say goodbye…thank you so much Steff for having me! It was only my second warmhowers experience and it was brilliant…
So I had a ferry to catch and as I was in a strange city, in the dark, I thought I’d plug it into Google maps navigation and let it take me there, especially as I found the port dead easy on my own the day before, but nothing like the comfort of having Google maps right…wrong! Lol
It started well, down the hill along the main road…then a turn off the main road into the dark parking lot of Plymouth Argyle stadium, weird…then through a dark park…then down a bleeding cobbled road, bouncing down all the way only to rejoin the main road…what the hell was that for? Again, freewheeling down the main road and the signs point out the harbour to the left, but Google maps, says no, turn right…ok…like a blind mouse I follow, back into a dark park, along the old city walls, ok nice…up to a left turn, which turns out to be a massive flight of steps leading up to god knows where! There’s no way I can carry my bike up these stairs…where does Google maps get this routing from I wonder in curse format! So, I turn around and follow the damned signed, all the while Google maps persists in having me do a u-turn to follow its route…madness! I think it has something built into its code that forces an adventurous route, assuming all cyclists are fit lads with carbon mountain bikes that can ride over everything and anything!
But, finally, I ride into port, present passport, lane 20, bosh…I’m staring up at the ferry…this is it.