In the morning we still had no electricity so Hugh not unreasonably took up the owner on her offer to knock on her door if we were still in the dark by morning, at least she could boil some water for us. After much hammering she came to greet Hugh with a slightly confused reception until she realised that while the power was back on in her house she still needed to flick the 'make it work for the guests' switch. Cups of tea were back on. As an aside we had wondered how long the couple who had arrived the day before had been an item - they didn't have the initial loving glow of recently found partners but then nor did they have the easy familiarity of long termers. Further evidence was gathered when he asked to borrow some of our milk for tea, we assumed that he had made two cups and so finished the milk only to discover he hadn't so she was out of luck! Like I say evidence, but we weren't sure which way that pointed. We made good use of the milk to reduce our luggage load by another half kilo as we started, and finished, a packet of Alpen at one sitting. Good for slow burn energy but not awe inspiring taste.
With flat roads and reasonably settled weather we made good progress up the A49. We also provided some slap stick comedy when on a roundabout Duncan decided to clatter into the back of Hugh with the only excuse of 'well he didn't pull away quickly enough'. What are friends for if not to teach you some lessons in life at the risk of their carbon front forks? Still after that Hugh was a bit sharper off the mark and indeed was the most proficient at filtering through traffic, something that became increasingly required as we headed further north. Talking of being further north we felt we had to comment to Duncan how unexpectedly nice it all was. We tried to explain that being from 'down there' we had imagined that 'up here' would be more like a Lowry scene that in London they use to teach youngsters to be careful of straying too far past the Watford gap.
With the character of the north appropriately stained with our metaphorical smog we stopped for a quick pasty at Fiona's cafe. This turned out to be a local journalists dream, with three old gossips in the corner telling anyone who would listen the secret lives of most of the surrounding population. Pit stop over and we were back on the road looking to negotiate the trickier navigation north of the M54. In theory this should be home territory for Duncan but when we followed his directions it turned out that his homing instincts had kicked in and he was leading us astray. Soon rectified we stopped wondering why Wigan was no longer appearing on the signs. The rest of the day blended into a series of short sprints and then faffing at junctions. One incident of note was when we had half an eye out for toilet stop. Duncan called this when we were most of the way around, and indeed exiting, a roundabout. The ensuing swerve and then exit on the entry lane is probably not in the safe cyclists handbook.
As we passed through Wigan Duncan managed to pick up a local biker who was clearly looking for the two wheeled lonely hearts club. Still his advice that we shouldn't rush 'as this hill goes on for two miles' turned out to be the sort of local advice that you wish you had paid attention to. However, once at the top it was largely a case of rolling downhill to home. This turned out to be a very nice bed and breakfast based in some farm buildings. Once installed we wondered out to find some food and picked the Italian restaurant which had hidden it's front door round the back. It turned out that we were not the only people to pick this venue and we were constantly amazed as more people arrived until it was packed out at seven on a Wednesday night! Having played the traditional game of 'whose 18th birthday is it' with a group full of contenders we had a good feed and headed back to sleep.