On Your Marks, Get Set, Slow.

We had a smooth ferry crossing and a pleasant, but unremarkable couple of days in France. The highlight was trying some bambaloni, a kind of Tunisian beignet. The lowlight was that my sleeping mat has a slow puncture, so by the morning I’m essentially sleeping on just the floor. We can’t find the hole, and the mat is over 10 years old, so I’ve ordered one to be picked up at a camping store in Belgium. Negotiating that conversation in Flemish is going to be fun.  

Our last night in France we stayed at a really friendly campsite, where the owner saw us off with coffee and cake. We were surprised by a bit of a savage climb out of town, but reassured that the local club riders were also huffing and puffing in their low gears. The next hill was thankfully in the shade on a day that got to 24 degrees, and we’d stashed some pastries to eat at halfway as a secret weapon. We both got badly sunburnt, but we wouldn’t be Brits abroad without becoming bright red at some point. We arrived completely exhausted at camp, but the hosts were incredibly welcoming and they had the best shower block and largest beer menu we’ve seen at a campsite. There were also some goats. We had a couple of strong beers and couldn’t be arsed to cook that night, so ate at the cafe on site because they served bitterballen, one of about 950 foods that I cannot resist. It rained heavily most of the night and almost all of the next day. Camping in the rain in a muddy field is godawful, which meant more beer to set us right again.

Today has been a bit mixed. Some beautiful flat countryside, some poignant stops at WW1 cemeteries, a hail storm and a quiche.

We’ll continue making our way sloooooowly through Belgium and trying all the beers we can.

Some cabbages and Richard

Do you REALLY need to take that? (Yes.)

Less than a week before departure, and the eve of Eurovision.

Even though this is without any doubt what we want to do, it’s about now that all the worries have started to kick in. What if we have too much stuff? What if we don’t have enough stuff? What if I get rabies? Will I lose touch with my friends? Should we have learned how to fix our bikes? I won’t wear jeans again for ages, how do I feel about that? And on and on.

We’ve been getting some good rides in this past week, but even though we’re feeling much more buoyant about our capabilities, there’s a slight concern about getting up the ferry ramp at Dover. We’re now doing some equipment shakedowns. We knew the tent had a slight hole in it, but we now can’t find it to patch it up (slightly worrying,) panniers are good to go, the stove seems to work and we have everything we need. Richard has discovered that I’m taking a pocket shower (non negotiable) because if we wild camp I still need to wash my hair. I also may have accidently thrown out most of his socks.

Ferry tickets are booked with DFDS, which sounds like we’re travelling by sofa. By our next update we will probably be on our way, starting with a beer tour in Belgium. What could go wrong mixing beer with cycling?

Home sweet home

Have Bikes, Will Travel

It’s two weeks until we plan to leave. The business is sold, most furniture is sold, the house will be let soon, the rum collection is safe and sound (thanks guys.) It feels weird to be packing up, binning, selling or giving away an entire life, reducing everything to stuff to sleep in, stuff to wear and stuff to cook with. The mattress has gone to the tip, so now we’re sleeping on the floor. That feels great and liberating when camping in a tent, but in a house it just feels like squatting.

Away from all the naval gazing, my arse hurts. We got our bikes back from a wheel build and service about 4 weeks later than we hoped, so we haven’t done any cycling for ages. After about a week of doing some short rides, it all seems like such a bad idea. We’re just going to have to get fit and used to our saddles again when we leave. We’ll have 3 months to get ourselves out of the EU once we start so we can take it easy, but honestly at this point we might as well walk round the world.