Sport · Travel

Week 83: The cold of Stratford-upon-Avon

The week really began on Wednesday, following on from our trip to the continent over the previous weekend. The daytimes were once again spent working at the Cavendish, building towards a meeting with my supervisor on Friday. I was focussing on printing out a series of plots to show the work that I had done over the past few months. Come Friday, we met at his college, and went through what I had done. We agreed that we needed to solidify our understanding of what our results were showing us, but progress seemed good.

The week was also the true beginning of the cricket season. The first practice session for the department-based Cavendish Cricket Club was to be held on Wednesday at the Churchill college nets, but was called off by the prospect of impending rain, but a few people still turned up to bat and bowl a little. They were rescheduled to Thursday, which had a slightly larger attendance, which meant I had a good amount of time to bat in the nets. There was also a Darwin Cricket club training on Wednesday, but that was indoors and hence avoided the heavy rain.

When the weekend rolled around, Jacqueline and I were off to explore some more of the UK. Some months ago, Jacqueline entered herself into a triathlon event in Stratford-upon-Avon, in the English Midlands. However, back in March, she had sprained her ankle, and it was only just now coming to a point where she could exercise it again. Nevertheless, with plenty of ambition, we left Cambridge on an early morning train bound for Birmingham, where we grabbed a little bit of breakfast and a coffee and changed trains and railway stations. The train to Stratford left from Moor Street station, which looked rather tired and dilapidated, and certainly didn’t have the hustle and bustle of the big London termini. By midday we had arrived at the end of the line in Stratford.

Unlike the warm weather that had greeted us on the continent last weekend, this weekend was unseasonably cold. A strong, cold, wind blew through the town, and the temperature was low. There was a bit of rain about too. Our first task was to check in to the triathlon centre, which was based at the Stratford Leisure Centre. Jacqueline picked up her bag full of race information, transponders and race numbers. We now had the rest of the afternoon to ourselves. Normally, Stratford-upon-Avon would be a nice place to explore around outside and long the river Avon, but the bitter cold meant that we wanted to head inside. We made our way inside to a small but quaint tea-room in the centre of time for some hot apple drink alongside some afternoon tea. We spent a rather long time there, filling out all of the puzzles in a newspaper we found.

When exploring the streets that afternoon, we saw signs to the Stratford Railway Museum, so we went to see what it was about. The signs lead to a small cottage, in the main corridor was a selection of historical pictures and tickets of the railway around Stratford. In the main room, a large model railway had been set up depicting the main station in Stratford we had arrived at this morning. None of the trains were moving, but clearly a lot of care and detail had gone into getting the details accurate. After examining the display for several minutes and we were about to leave, a man stood up from the centre of the display and introduced us to the display. He was working on more features, and explained that the diagram was meant to represent Stratford around the middle of the century, and went into great detail about small details of his display. He further explained that he didn’t run his trains in a loop as a model railway, but would instead operate his trains to an authentic timetable from the era. He was also keen to show us his second display upstairs, which was of a different, and since closed, railway station in Stratford.

When we eventually found a polite point to leave, it was time to head for dinner and then our hotel. We found an Indian restaurant close to the railway station, and then took a train two stops up the line to the small village of Wilmcote. We were staying above a pub in the centre of town, it was significantly cheaper than any of the options in Stratford itself.

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The next morning, Jacqueline headed off early to her triathlon. She rode her bike into Stratford early to make the start time. I didn’t have my bike with me, and the trains weren’t operating so early on a Sunday morning, so I had to walk in to town. It was a rather easy hour-long walk downhill along a canal tow-path, through green fields and past countless locks. I arrived at the Stratford Leisure Centre only a few minutes after Jacqueline had headed out on her bike leg, but stayed around to watch her transition to the run leg, which was in a rather muddy field next to the river. When she eventually did finish, we checked her time, and went inside to warm up a little. At the time, she was leading her age category, but this time would be bettered later in the day. Nevertheless, she collected her medal, and we headed out to find another tea shop to warm up in. We stopped by a book store and found a puzzle book to entertain ourselves, and spent several hours filling out the solutions. Finally, the time came to get our train home, which required stopping through Leamington and London, the latter of which we stopped to get some dinner, and finally arrived back into Cambridge late in the evening.

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