Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Over land and sea. Well, canal.

Charlton haven't been the only ones spending a week on the road. I have taken in Milton Keynes, Somerset and Wiltshire by motorcycle, car and narrow boat.

It has been a perfect holiday. We've had a much needed time of relaxation from work, whilst Charlton have taken four points away from home to give them some distance from the chasing pack.

It started last Tuesday when i rode up to Milton Keynes for my first away game in ages. I arrived at their stadium around six o'clock and parked the bike, for free, spitting distance from the away ticket kiosk.
With the match ticket purchased, once the window finally opened, i headed to the Red Dot bar at the other side of the ground to meet up with friends. It was a nice little place and very hospitable to travelling supporters. Definitely more suitable for a pre match pint than the bar inside the turnstile on the concourse. The entrance to that, behind screens, looked more like the entrance to a sheep dip!
The padded seats and excellent matchday programme were of quite some standard and two very high points to an MK Dons away day experience.

Charlton took around 1200 fans who sang their hearts out. If we had only taken 120 I'm sure we would have made more noise than the home support. I think the upper tier had nearly as much atmosphere up their end and that is unfinished and closed!

The first half performance from the Addicks was very flat and it was no surprise really to go in a goal behind. The always impressive Dean Lewington won a penalty which Shaun Williams duly slotted away.
In the second period Charlton looked a lot more like their normal selves. Always searching for the equaliser, it eventually came, and to new boy Yann Kermorgant. After only being on the pitch for four minutes, he headed home from a superb ball from Danny Green to give us a point to take home. A point which over ninety minutes was, i thought, deserved.

A great night, good to catch up with Charlton faces old and new, a good sing song and another new ground visited. So i rode home happy even with the knowledge that i had an early start the following morning.

After all of five hours sleep we were on the road again. This time in a packed car heading down to the west country for a few days. Although very tired, i was still buzzing about the game the night before.

We drove to Bath to meet Heidi's parents who were on a narrow boat for a week. We joined them for the last two days of their holiday, literally substituting Heidi's grandparents who started the week, and met them right in the centre of the city under the gaze of Bath Abbey.
From there we headed towards Bradford on Avon and our first of many locks.
Heidi had stumbled and sprained her ankle on arrival. This had not only swollen and badly bruised but also excused her from the hard manual work of lock operation. Under normal circumstances, the locks are effort enough. We of course had picked the hottest week of year, or so it felt, and by the sixth straight lock in a row i was in dire need of cold beer.

Considering i was only on the boat for forty eight hours, beer was certainly not in short supply. If you are ever on that stretch of water, The Brewery Inn in Seend, Melksham, is a pub known by all which serves good beer, fantastic food and a cider called Wacky which looked a little like Irn Bru in colour. Of particular interest in there, other than the steak and ale pie, were the cricket trophies hanging on the wall made out of old outhouse doors.
I've decided canal boat holidays make a good short break (especially when paid for by clubcard vouchers). I'd certainly do it again but i can imagine it's similar to caravaning. Fun in the sun yet as boring as it comes in the pouring rain.

On Friday we made our way to my brothers in Taunton. This was just a shortish drive from Bradford on Avon. As the boat was given back at nine that morning and my brother not getting home from work until five, we had a day to kill.
A final pub lunch by the canal after visiting the town museum rounded our stay off perfectly. We chose Glastonbury as a stop off point mid afternoon.
A wander around the festival town and it's shops ended in disappointment. It's a town that attracts a different kind of person to towns at home and i know I'm going to sound judgemental and i apologise now to anybody I'm going to offend but it didn't look like anyone there had ever done a days work between them.
Even the atmosphere in the town seemed a little odd, maybe even a little dark. It wasn't the place for us. It was a short stay and time to move on.

So we arrived in Taunton and had a very relaxing weekend at my brothers. I got the chance to play with his new shiny gadgets. An iPad 2, my first ever attempt at Gran Turismo 5 on the PS3, and a chance to experience 3D television!
Saturday morning i watched the Merseyside derby wearing special Sony glasses. As clever as it is (and impressive) I don't think i could cope with too much of it and actually preferred watching in good old fashioned two dimensional when we switched back.

To keep Heidi happy we strolled around the very good shopping centre in the town in the afternoon. It wasn't until about half past four that we returned to his house and i looked to see what was occurring at Bramall Lane against promotion rivals Sheffield United.

I think i may well have jumped in the air with sheer delight when i saw the score. Our very own David Fairclough, supersub Kermorgant popped up again to score seconds after coming on. This was followed by a goal, albeit with a little good fortune, from Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Four points on the road against two of the main competition is a fantastic achievement. We sit comfortably at the top of the table with real daylight between us and second place.
Now we have the little distraction of the paint cup and Brentford Wednesday night. I'm sure Yann the man will get a start in a much changed starting eleven. I know Chris Powell isn't overly concerned about the competition but i, like many others, would love a day at Wembley.

We returned home Sunday evening, with our new television set (my brothers old 42" flat screen (yes i know I'm blessed)) and the reality of going back to work. It's harder than normal after such a relaxing time but at least I've got the thought of a trip to The Valley on Saturday to get me through the week.

Come on you reds!

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyable post, Al. You certainly had the weather for a short break.

    Strangely enough, I thought I saw your bike at StadiumMK - thanks to the picture on your site - and your post confirms this.