Our cyclo tour of the UK had already taken us a long way. We had started in London, cycled north to York, then spent a few weeks in Scotland. From Edinburgh we caught a train to Oxford from where loaded up the bikes again and rode to Bath.
While it is my intent to write later about all these sections of the trip, for now, I want to focus on Bath, as we came across something in this place which I had never seen or heard before (or since)!
Our arrival in Bath late the previous afternoon had been a miserable one! We had come in on the canal towpath, in the pouring rain. We were soaked through, the towpath was a slushy quagmire and our bikes and pannier bags were wet and depressingly muddy. And to crown it all, anyone who has stayed in Bath Youth Hostel (where we were headed) will know that it is situated on the top of a very long, steep hill 😦 I was very relieved to arrive, take the gear off the bikes and to get into some dry clothes (particularly dry shoes)!
We stuffed our shoes with newspaper, and then laid out bags, equipment and clothes on every spare space in our small room in an attempt to get them dry again! Despite being limited to four pannier bags, we seemed to have an amazing quantity of stuff 🙂
By morning, we had managed to get just about everything dry again (Hooray! – but we have to own that we were getting rather good at this process by this stage of our trip!). We also wiped down the bikes so that they were not so depressingly dirty! We were not returning to the hostel, so we had to pack and take the bikes and all our gear with us as we went to do a bit of sightseeing.
We were hoping that the soggy weather would let up for long enough to cycle around the city without having to deal with more damp!
But luckily the weather had cleared a bit and we were able to stay dry most of the day.
We particularly wanted to see the Roman Baths and headed to the Abbey Church Yard from where one enters this remarkable site.
It was necessary to be cautious about where we secured the bikes (some rather nice parking spots are not approved for bikes and this is rigorously policed!). But we found a great spot where a local guard was also able to keep an eye on our loaded bikes which was an added bonus.
Our visit to the actual Roman Baths will remain the topic for another post for the moment. What I want to focus on here is what we experienced when we returned to the Abbey Church Yard almost at midday.
Two fellows were seated in the middle of the square cradling what was obviously a musical instrument, but one that I had never seen before. All around them, the crowds jostled and generated a background noise, as crowds do. But once they started to play, passers-by became quiet and attentive. The music was haunting and magical. The musicians weaved their magic for the length of the tune, then as soon as they stopped the crowd became noisy and animated again, as if nothing had stopped them!
Another tune started and passers-by again stopped to listen! I thought the music was so lovely and luckily for me, I was able to purchase a CD with many of the tunes they were playing. At this stage I found out that Daniel and Danny were playing a “Hang”!
The Hang Playing Hedge Monkeys had been playing together and making this mystical drumming music for about 4 years – and they were very, very good.
What a stroke of luck for us that the rainy weather had moved on and their show could go on – on the only day that we were in Bath!
The morning in Bath had been fantastic, but these two musicians made our visit truly memorable. I now have their music to remember them by and it still has the power to take me back to that day.
To find out more about Daniel and Danny’s music – check out their website: Hang Playing Hedge Monkeys. Here you will hear for yourself what these intriguing instruments sound like. And you can find out more about the musical instrument – the Hang.
The band Queen sang that song – the “Show must go on”. Do you have a memory or story that echoes this theme?
If so, why not head over to AutumnInBruges and add your interpretation to the others posted there.
(Follow this link for details on the overall UK tour route).