Acting on a tip from Per, we rode to Forsvik, a pretty little town on the Göta Canal. It was almost deserted, with an air of end-of-season melancholy, and we moved on to his other recommendation, Hjo.
This was a bigger place, with a harbour and waterfront cafés. We stopped for lunch at what looked like a forbiddingly expensive restaurant, but turned out to be a fixed-price canteen where the cost of your lunch included a drink, salad, coffee and biscuits. We were there for a while.
We entered the Tiveden National Park, where narrow, well-made roads curved and climbed through wooded countryside. Near the start we were alarmed to be flagged down by an army motorcyclist with a khaki BMW and a ferocious moustache, but he just wanted to tell us to take it slowly because there might be cows in the road. We did.
On an exposed stretch of road with railway tracks off to the right, the threat of rain became a reality. We ignored a closure sign only to come upon a ten-metre unmade section of soft sand, which Howard rode over then helped me push my bike across because I am a coward. At least this gave me the opportunity to stop and put my waterproof overtrousers on, and afterwards I could enjoy deliberately riding through puddles.
Then we were back on urban roads and heading towards Lagan, our stop for the night. Once we'd found the correct building after accidentally wandering into a block of flats, and I'd forced Howard to expel a large spider from our room, we were pretty comfortable.
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