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vintage-bicycle

Getting to the airport on crowded coaches, packed trains, with minutes to spare. Long queues at a busy airport. Competing for space. Stressed faces, grimaces. Frantic last-minute duty-free shopping. Experiences of the past….. Phew!

All change

With borders closed in many places, there is nowhere to go, except our own country. Once ignored and side stepped for overseas destinations, it’s now in our lap – new discoveries, locally, regionally, maybe nationally.  Welcome to slow travel.

 

A stroll along country lanes, the birdsong and wild flowers all in close view, noticed, maybe for the first time. But the bicycle is in vogue as cycling becomes the fashionable mode of transport. There is of course the racers, with one goal in sight, the stop-watch but for families, lone travellers or friends, it’s time for a slower pace fresh air and the appreciation of kerb-side sights.

 

Recently I bought my first grown-up bicycle, a lovely shade of turquoise with a wicker basket in front. Think Mary Poppins era, without the flowers. A sit up, back straight experience, an old-fashioned style combined with comfort and ease.

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girl

Bike rides

My bike ride along country roads is like journeying through an artist’s landscape painting, trees entwining to form canopied tunnels, the sun’s rays casting dancing shadows on the ground and hills undulating towards the horizon.

As I ride along twisting lanes and sleepy side roads, I feel totally immersed in this moving canvas, bursting with shapes, flushed with colour. The breeze stroking my face, the rustle in the hedgerows, floral scents and recently cut grass. I gaze with envy at dreamy cottages with thatched roofs so neatly and perfectly groomed.

(An English cottage) ( cottage image)

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house

Sights to make you smile

Roadside tables selling jars of jams and piccalilli, next to potted cuttings of chilli and mint.  Bags of manure. Err, no thanks. Views everchanging. A squirrel scuttles up a tree trunk, a pheasant darts across my path, a swan waltzes across a pond to the delight of fellow cyclists, while I come face to face with airborne creatures. A herd of cows rudely ignore me, too busy munching. I spot lunchtime specials chalked on pub boards – the Ploughman’s lunch and homemade soup very tempting. I smile as I count the endless scenes that could be captured and cropped as quintessentially English postcards.

 

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squirrel

Social pedalling

Cycling is slow and social. Fellow cyclists nod and smile. Horses commandeer the road, clipperty clopperty at slow speed. I overtake slow-moving, mucky tractors but shy away from competing with Harleys and faster sports bikes. This form of travel is a perfect way to explore the countryside. Life in the slow lane, mindful and real. Slowing down is all about enjoying the moment.

 

Jane Wilson is editor of www.thehealthcareholiday.com and www.thewellnesstraveller.co.uk.