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day three

eighth march 1999

stamfordham -> falstone

i awoke the next day after a good sleep. a tentative look at the weather revealed a grey, slightly breezy but dry day. things were looking up. we were fed an excellent breakfast in the pleasant dining room. we packed, paid, and filled water bottles. the landlord helped us with our bikes, and waved us on our way. what a great pub - highly recommended.
the day was milder, drier and less windy, there was even some blue sky trying to reveal itself, and we were in good spirits. the countryside was pleasant, and the stone-housed villages picturesque. it was great to be out of the city. we soon progressed from rolling foothills to much more serious uppy/downy bits, and the scenery became more rugged. big climbs and sharp exhillarting descents were reminiscant of a big dipper ride.

at the top of one impressive hill, we came accross a small church, in the middle of nowhere. actually there was a farm about a quarter of a mile away, so i exaggerate slightly, but it did look lonely. then on to open uplands with little wooded dells, lovely. this was only spoiled by a bit of road that was supposedly public and mettaled, but was a very dirty dirt track. now i was brought up in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mud, but this road was impressive, even for me. this was soon forgotten as we descended into bellingham, a descent of much enjoyment. we stopped in bellingham to proffer our custom at the local cafe. a hot cuppa and some rather yummy cake warmed us, refuelled us, and lubricated our aching joints.

we were soon off on the last leg of today's stage to the village of falstone. the valley we followed was beautiful & wooded. the road undulated pleasantly. shortly after starting the weather decided that defying gravity was too much like hard work and let the rain begin. we promptly donned our waterproofs and completed the last leg in a more subdued state.
we arrived at the blackcock inn to find it locked. but the landlady opened up and admitted us. a grand sight caressed our eyes; the bar area had a super old range, complete with slumbering dog, and a couple of old easy chairs facing the fire - heaven. the selection of fine ales demanded immediate attention, and so we obliged.

we were shown to our room, a twin with en-suite shower (which had been fitted by our host, so he proudly informed us). this turned out to be the second pub in as many days that had recently been taken over by a couple looking to get out of their previous business. this time the motor business. they seened to be enjoying their new careers at any rate.
supper was, as last night, simple but adequate. i don't think they had jamie oliver stashed away in the kitchen, but we were not at a restaurant, we were in a pub. the beer, on the other hand, was fantastic and i was soon in the mood for a few. unfortunately lou wasn't, and ascended to our room at a depressingly sensible time.

i relocated from our table to the bar and soon got talking with peter, the landlord. he suggested i try the blackcock ale, a beer brewed specially for the pub. spot on. he & i moved to the side room, where we were soon playing pool, discovering some classic tracks on the not-quite-new jukebox, and buying rounds. now that's what i call hospitality. i surrendered to sleep shortly after closing time, worse than i should have been for wear, and contemplated my state for the morning.

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