Thursday, July 27, 2017

July 5th: Manchester Airport to Market Drayton

Bowen's naturally an early bird, so we ate breakfast in our room and left around 9:20am, after leaving the rest of our luggage in storage at the hotel. Manchester Airport is actually surrounded by fairly rural-feeling suburbs, and with the fairly flat country, it didn't take us long before we found ourselves heading down beautiful single-track roads.
In Knutsford, we found a playground with a Zipline. My promise to Bowen at the start of the trip was that we would always stop at a playground with a Zipline, and I kept my word.
We discovered that English playgrounds, like their European counterparts, usually had Ziplines and other "dangerous" toys that have long disappeared from American playgrounds. As a result, the playgrounds are a treat for Bowen. Not only that, the English school year runs until at least mid-July or early August, so while we were touring Bowen would get spoiled by having Ziplines are other such high-demand play structures all to himself.
At Middlewich, we saw a supermarket and stopped to buy a supermarket lunch. I asked if there was a park nearby, but ended up with such confusing directions that after a while I saw a large piece of sloped green next to the main road and just stopped there for lunch.
Looking at the map after lunch, I saw that we had to ride on the road a bit more and then we'd be back on the route I plotted the night before. It was a busy A road, but the distance was short and soon we were on a much smaller road and eventually a bike path that led into Nantwich, where we had another playground stop, though this time, without a Zipline. Bowen needed to go to the bathroom, and the bike path led neatly to the sports complex, which was happy to let Bowen use the bathroom.
Near Swanbach, however, we were back on a busy road, which would lead us all the way to Market Drayton, where at 49 miles of riding I was determined to stop. My memory of my first tour in Scotland was that the tourist information centers were very helpful, frequently providing us with B&Bs that would be far cheaper than hotels. The one in Market Drayton, however, handed us a B&B list but didn't offer to call them for us. I called the first one on the cell phone, but another pair of cyclists had just filled their room, and they informed us that all the other B&Bs in town were closed, as was the lone hotel that was on the tourist information center's list. They suggested the one out of town, the Four Alls Inn, which was available on booking.com, so I booked it on my smartphone app and then bought ice cream for Bowen before heading out.
That hotel was out of town, but we didn't have much choice, so we headed over to it to discover it was actually a pretty reasonable place, serving dinner in a bar-like setting, and the owner was happy to do laundry for us at a very reasonable price. We took an after dinner walk among corn fields, but there wasn't much else to do, so we turned in early.

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