It started well. Black tea and cold milk with breakfast. Checked out and headed North. Stopping for petrol and making use of the jet wash. A few stared with a puzzled look. Fairy liquid and a tooth brush to scrub the oily back tyre before giving it a hose off. I left them to wonder.
North-west to Ponfferada. Light rain they said … Nothing about the thick fog and strong swirling winds. I like surprises, however corners where you didn’t expect are less welcome. Then West on the N120 to Ourense. The light rain turned out to be not so light rain. I pulled over and went full on waterproofs. Better late than never. The water proof over mitts. Awful. Plastic bags basically. Lobsteresk. My gloves underneath were wet but the mitts kept the wind off and the pain my fingers more bearable. My over jacket was great. My proper jacket is over 16 years I old I calculated, no wonder it’s not as waterproof as it was!
In parts the road was great; A few tunnels through mountains linked via bridges. However, the wet surface did not inspire confidence. Ourense could not come quick enough. Just the best part of 3 hours in the saddle. A few times the back stepped out on the white paint. Bum twitching.
The last few miles before Ourense are gorgeous. River side views. I ride on hoping to find an eatery with parking outside in the centre. Unloading the bike would be too much hassle. I settle for a brew in a cafe. Didn’t bother with the over mitts as I was fuelling up again at the earliest convenience and the rain had subsided.
Fuel topped up and mitts stayed packed. The N525 was the best alternative to motorways. 5 mins in and the heavens opened. The next 2 hours little changed. Drenched.
Nick Cave sang (talked in rythmn) about the brilliant ‘Red Right Hand’, I have a few lyrics lined up for the ‘Wet Right Foot’. Although my diy in helmet music was riders on the storm (the doors) and lone wolf by eels, on repeat.
The sun did come out for 5 mins as I arrived at Santiago De Compostela however. Although it didn’t dry the roads enough to stop me having a few more ‘moments’. Again on white painted parts.
What a place! The architecture is unbelievable. The vibe is very peaceful and welcoming. Lots of couples and families, and even a few border collies. I miss home.
It just goes on and on. The tiny streets, a maze surrounding truly beautiful buildings. Unlikely any of today’s buildings will stand the test of time like these.
In the afternoon lull I head back to my room and make a proper cuppa (tea bags from home and stolen uht milk sachets from the hotel in Pompey). Aching and tense I run a hot bath. This is what happy hour should refer to!
More practical matters – Drying my gloves involved a combination of air-conditioning and the ceiling fan. They should be sound by the morning.
The bonus being I found a restaurant with an actual vegetarian section on the menu, and in English. It is where I started scribing this, surrounded by tables of 20 something’s on date night.
During my wonderings prior, trying to find gifts that are small enough to carry home (no joy yet, sorry family) I have a moment of overwhelming desire to change. It has been ‘brewing’ for some time if I am honest.
Don’t worry this is not a LGBTQ announcement. I am 47 tomorrow, (26th – shared with the hell raising Man in Black, Mr Johnny Cash). I have a dodgy hip, high blood pressure and I drink too much.
Booze is a regular reward for the stress that I mostly create in my head. I justify drinking too much some weekends and feel terrible mentally for a day or two after. I have however learnt to ignore the majority of what the voice in my head says. It’s mostly nonsense anyway. Still annoying having to ignore it.
I often do the maths in my head. “If I drink one more I will still be able to drive tomorrow” etc. If riding as apposed to driving my sums are much more sensible, and won’t touch shorts. Hard to guage the units. Today for instance, 2 pints, Finito. No desire for more; A very rare occurrence.
Would life be much better if I just didn’t drink? Drink on special occasions. Never drink in the house?
It kind of defines me. My wife will always drive if we go out. It is almost expected I will have too much. I am no alcoholic however, not by a stretch. But it is never black or white.
I am never (very rarely) hung over at work. Only having a few or more on school nights, but more often than not I have my quota. My weekly units in the last 2 years or so has easily broken government guidelines every week by often by multiples (bar dry January attempts) sometimes in one night. Gradually getting worse. Creeping up. Booze is (was?) a priority. A pull. A vice. It’s an addiction, no doubt.
Beside the act itself one of the hardest things would be explaining why I no longer drink. Especially to the union flag waving anti-snowflake types who assume if you don’t drink that you must be “gay or summat?!” (Clearly alcohol consumption and sexuality are strongly linked in their minds. Maybe that’s why they drink so much, to fight off any homosexual tendencies?). To be honest I couldn’t give two shits what most people think of me. 99.9% of the time they’re wrong anyway and their thoughts are their own business.
Same with being a veggie (the truth is when eating meat, which I loved the taste of, my head had a major paranoid meltdown, hallucinating almost. Every meal I saw flesh not food – fully aware I was eating another animal; then the side thoughts – what gives us the right to eat them. Why pigs but not dogs etc.). I couldn’t do it. It was torturous eating a bloody steak. However some people think I am a massive tree hugger or its an attention seeking ego thing. Who cares. My opinions on many Brits (generalising) is not complimentary; they don’t care about my thoughts either.
The actual reason for abstinence are too long winded (for both cases). I will create a story (doctors orders, medication driven, in training for the Olympics etc.) to make it easier for all concerned. Without naming names, I spoke with someone last year who had heard about vegetarians but never actually met one. He was in his late 50s.
Anyhow, Braga tomorrow via Vigo maybe. Hope to stay dry!