This was a beautiful ride through the Welsh border counties of Shropshire & Herefordshire.
To get a feel of the atmosphere watch Clare Balding's Britain by Bike episode 'The Welsh Borders'. But be quick - it will not be available after August 2010 - and unfortunately available in the UK only: The Welsh Borders. It covers the Aston-on-Clun Bride's Tree ceremony (at 3 minutes). And I loved the section on the cycling club the Hitchin Nomads (at just before 17 minutes). Pause at 17:53: that image would make a good Christmas Card. And of course I would agree with Renee Stacey's statement: "Once you've made a cycling friend, you've made them for life".
I was on my own though, the whole day, since I was riding this on a Thursday as an audax permanent. The closest I got to making a friend was when I was stopped on the Ironbridge bridge itself. A guy said he was admiring my bike and that he'd like to start riding rides like this. So we talked a little about racing versus long distance bikes.
There was a comedy moment in the unusual Mistletoe tea rooms. Unusual, because the tea rooms were like somebody's sitting room, with tables and chairs but also sofas, bookshelves, trinkets of all sorts, and tea was served in bone china tea sets. Proper loose leaf tea and everything. Had lovely hot scones with Earl Grey tea and bought a card of a woodcarving showing a cyclist in Wiltshire, with a white horse in the hillside.
Anyway ... a very elderly couple were being taken out to tea by a slightly younger couple. The very elderly lady was struggling, I had noticed. And the slightly younger lady had noticed it also. She asked "Are you allright dear?". This was repeated a couple of times, because the very elderly lady was very deaf. Lets ask the very elderly husband: "Is she allright? Her breathing is a bit laboured!" To which the very elderly husband replied without looking up: "Its her trousers". Next thing I knew, they were asking the proprietors for scissors. Eh?
Getting into and out of Ironbridge was quite fun with some fantastic descents! Ironbridge was busy, I regret not stopping - apart from the chat with the guy.
The photos are on the slideshow till the next ride or here: Clicky