Around the World on a Bicycle

In 1884, the 29 year old Thomas Stevens set out from San Fransisco on the 'modern mechanical invention' of the Penny Farthing to circumnavigate the globe on his 'big wheel'. His book - "Around the World on a Bicycle" - was published in 1888 and his writings are presented here in blog form. Read more in the archive.

Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire

A pleasant ride along a splendid road, shaded for miles with rows of spreading elms, brings me to the charming old village of Dunchurch, where everything seems moss-grown and venerable with age. A squatty, castle-like church-tower, that has stood the brunt of many centuries, frowns down upon a cluster of picturesque, thatched cottages of primitive architecture, and ivy-clad from top to bottom; while, to make the picture complete, there remain even the old wooden stocks, through the holes of which the feet of boozy unfortunates were wont to be unceremoniously thrust in the good old times of rude simplicity; in fact, the only really unprimitive building about the place appears to be a newly erected Methodist chapel. It couldn't be - no, of course it couldn't be possible, that there is any connecting link between the American peculiarity of elevating the feet on the window-sill or the drum of the heating-stove and this old-time custom of elevating the feet of those of our ancestors possessed of boozy, hilarious proclivities!

At Weedon Barracks I make a short halt to watch the soldiers go through the bayonet exercises, and suffer myself to be persuaded into quaffing a mug of delicious, creamy stout at the canteen with a genial old sergeant, a bronzed veteran who has seen active service in several of the tough expeditions that England seems ever prone to undertake in various uncivilized quarters of the world; after which I wheel away over old Roman military roads, through Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire, reaching Fenny Stratford just in time to find shelter against the machinations of the "weather-clerk", who, having withheld rain nearly all the afternoon, begins dispensing it again in the gloaming.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Tuesday 05th May 1885 (19:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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