Ingram valley

I know this is my cycling blog but as it’s the middle of winter and I’m going for lots of walks i thought i would share some walks with you .
Today I set off to Ingram valley in Northumberland.
The weather was cold , very windy , and occasional showers. The first part of the day was spent walking to Linhope spout , a waterfall which due to the fact we’ve had lots of rain lately was in full flow.

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The walk was only 3 miles round trip so I then headed to one of my favourite parts of the valley , Brough Law where I walked up to the old fort settlement , the wind was really strong , there was no one around , I found a sheltered place amongst the ruins , had a cup of coffee and took the following pics , after 1 hr sitting sheltered watching the changing weather , the amazing views , I headed back down .
Another great day out walking in beautiful Northumberland .
Tomorrow I’m planning on doing a coastal walk .

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Merry Christmas

Not so much Geordieonabike, but a Geordie goes for a hike !

Lately I’ve done lots of hiking and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The day after Xmas ( Boxing Day in the UK) I headed off early to the cheviot hills in Northumberland and spent the day walking up Simonside and along the forest trails with my springer spaniel Mitch . It was a fantastic day , because of my early start we walked for 3.5 hrs without seeing another person only the beautiful scenery and changing weather conditions .
Thought I would share these photos with you.
Merry Christmas to everyone .
Alex X

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Evaluation – Final Blog

2,128 miles (3,425 km) Thats the distance ive cycled from 30th May-18th July on my cycling trip around the Netherlands and Germany.
I’ve met some amazing people , who I will never forget, had kindness bestowed on me on a number of occasions, events have taken me to wonderful places where I did not plan on going.
I’ve cried tears, tears of laughter, tears of pain and heartache, tears of satisfaction. Never in my lifetime did I expect that a cycle trip would leave me feeling as emotionally drained as I’ve been these past few days.

It all started on May 30th when I boarded the ferry from North shields near Newcastle upon Tyne to Ijmuiden.I took it nice and steady for the first few days , averaging 40 -65 km per day. The weather was good, I crossed the amazing Afsluitdijk (sea Road) which goes 30 km across from Den Oever to near Harlingen.
It was at Harlingen that I met Tony and Toos two Dutch cyclists who were camped near to me. We started talking and little did I realise then the amazing part they would play in this adventure.
About a week later I was a guest at Tonys In Vorden and such a wonderful person she is, one of my road angels.
Not long after I was a guest of Astrid a caring person who showed me around Utrecht and tried to help me find sleeping accommodation on two other occasions.
Then In Rotterdam, I spent an evening with Robert and Emmy two cyclists of great experience and the very different recumbent bikes that they ride.
Robert and Emmy really made me feel welcome,allowing me to try their bikes, as we cycled around the lake in Rotterdam, Robert also displaying his amazing talent for playing the didgeridoo.
The following evening I was a guest in Den Haag of Friedel and Andrew who have cycled around the world and now have a wonderful baby son who I have no doubt will be an adventurer like his parents! (don’t forget “Moon river” Friedel)
Off I set towards Arnhem and the fantastic small campsite on the outskirts of the city which was one of the best sites I stayed at on my entire trip , Frank the owners son is a great looking lad and if he came to Newcastle would have the ladies falling over themselves to meet him ( They are waiting Frank !)
Then I met Anton and Jenny.


These wonderful two people who I cycled with for 5/6 days saying goodbye on three separate occasions but like a magnet I was drawn back to them later in the day. They were special people for me, and a joy to spend time with.
Soon after we teamed up with Henk and Lotty who made me laugh on several occasions, I really enjoyed our end of the day beer and snacks.
With a touch of sadness, but excitement I left the R1 cycle route along with Anton ,Jenny, Henk and Lotty and again on my own headed up the river Saale.
How could I leave out Wolfgang and Silke who adopted me for the night when the campsite was closed and I was struggling to find somewhere to stay, They allowed a total stranger into their home , fed me, gave me a room , beer, and the warmth of their kindness will stay with me forever.

The highlight of the trip for me and the most emotional day was the day I reached the very source of the river Saale high in the wooded hills above the small town of Zell in Germany .

I spent half an hour alone in the forest with a small spring trickling out of a hole in the ground which then begins its journey for hundreds of miles downstream, the feeling was truly amazing. Only the day previous I had some personal news which really upset me,so with a sense of satisfaction, a sense of great achievement , a sense of sadness along with a multitude of other emotions I sat and had myself a few tears, alone in the forest.

From the river Saale it was onto the river Main for another 8 days of adventure. the two events which will stay with me are the night I wild camped on the riverbank, woke early, packed up, then spent 30 mins sheltering under a tree while the mother of all storms was going on all around me. Lightning, thunder, torrential rain, one flash of lightning directly above me and hitting a tree very close, causing me to dive to the ground and say “f Me” with fright.
The other event which will always be with me is the crazy and wonderful people of the campsite at Zellingen.
Ralph , Nico , two great German motorcyclists I met, Frank and the Sauna he built, the wonderful Nina, Footsy, and all of the great folk of the site who allowed me to spend three days with them , including a Birthday party, BBQ, which went on till 5am ! and the day at the swimming pool. The rest allowed me to recharge my body, mind and spirit and cycle on.

From the river Main where it flows into the Rhine I cycled on Following the Rhine to Dusseldorf and the day I put my biggest effort in to cycle 207 Km (128 miles)including part of it in the middle of the night! to towards Venlo on the Dutch German Border. Then another amazing event happened , I had not blogged for a few days and my phone went with an email from Tony to see if I was ok, I explained where I was and minutes later I had an email from Toos the charming friend of Tony who only lived a few Kms away in the town of Horst. I was offered a bed for two nights , shown fantastic hospitality and genuine friendship from a very caring special lady.
Onwards I went towards Amsterdam in some shocking weather and spent my last night in a warm dry Stay Ok Hostel before heading to the ferry and the overnight crossing back home.

To me its pretty obvious that this trip has been made special by the warmth, kindness, and fantastic personalities of the people I have been Lucky enough to meet while on this crazy wonderful adventure.People who I will keep in contact with, people whom I shall never forget, people who restore your faith in a world full seeemigly, of bad news, but scratch below the surface and you will find the true diamonds of this world.

Regarding equipment everything worked fantastic, I would make some changes but not many. I’ve experienced some brilliant sunshine, some nice weather and some shocking weather but it all added to this crazy adventure. I’ve had hedgehogs in my tent, being surrounded by rats, nearly had three bad accidents , had an old lady try to push me off my bike because I rang my bell to tell her I was approaching, and she took offence at this and tried to push me off!!
I’ve had two months of my life experiencing every emotion possible and have made it to the end.
Today Ive had “George” out for a spin upto Rothbury in Northumberland, a trip of 80 km and it felt great to spin the pedals again, get my legs working in the glorious sunshine. It did feel strange riding the bike without it being fully loaded and looking like a Christmas tree with everything hanging off it.!, also I am determined to stay fit, and improve my lifestyle.

Finally, I want to thank a very special person for setting me free to follow this dream. A person I shall love for the rest of my life, a person who I have nothing but respect for, and wish her every happiness, because she truly deserves it.

I’ve now come to the end of this blog and my future life and plans? I know how I would like it to turn out, but if it does !!
Thank You and Goodbye.

Alex Morrison.

Home

After 3,425 km (2,128 Miles) I’m back at my parents house in Cramlington.

Ive felt great all week ,but now I’m back all of a sudden I feel drained. I got back to my parents house at 11am ,and it was SO GOOD to see them and my dog Mitch.

ImageThis afternoon, I have downloaded all 787 photos from my iPhone to my laptop, and tonight I’m going through them with my elderly dad who has not had the chance to see any of my trip blog. I have very mixed emotions about being back at my parents and it will take a few days no doubt to get to grips again with the reality of everyday life.

I  will do an evaluation blog, by The weekend, I plan to start work again next week, but for now I need some adjustment time.

There are a lot of Thank You’s to be said, some special memories to recollect, and share, then thats my blogging over. I have a life to rebuild.!

Easy day!!

After saying yesterday that I would have an easy day, how wrong I was.
My plan started well. After spending the night camping next to a young family from Durham , I had a nice breakfast of crossiants x2 with jam and made two big mugs of coffee. I left at 11.am my latest start for a nice ride to Amsterdam.
The weather was cloudy but warm, that soon changed. The heavens opened and it’s rained very hard all day , that along with a strong headwind was not what I wanted .
I got to Amsterdam and decided that it was not fun to look around in the torrential rain so took one picture then left.

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I was going to camp north of Amsterdam but got lost in the rain , saw a sign for Haarlem which I knew was near Ijmuiden for the ferry tomorrow so headed for it.
After stopping under a bridge to strip down to my pants and put some dry clothes on

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I cycled on in the torrential rain

There was NO WAY I was camping tonight that I was certian of. Then on one of the direction notice boards I saw a Stay ok hostel marked in Haarlem so as a member of the youth hostel I used my card to get my own room for €23 .
All day I’ve cycled in this .

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When I was checking in their were puddles on the floor around me from all the rain dripping off me !
I’m now showered , dry, warm and on my 4th coffee .
It certainly was not the day I planned but like most of this adventure it’s worked out just fine.
Ferry tomorrow .
I’ve made the decision to honour commitments I have made back home as my first priority , then Its one of two directions my life will go in . I’m not sure which one yet , Time will tell.

Crazy

After staying with the wonderful Toos and her fantastic kindness in Horst I set off accompanied by Toos for 28 km , 5 km in the wrong direction because we were talking and I missed the sign!
Thank you Toos for your friendship.
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Not long after setting off I was in America !
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The weather was not good , strong headwind along with frequent showers and when they arrived they were very heavy.
I cycled best part of the day as the ferry is now booked and I have to be in Amsterdam on Tue morn.
I camped at Kasteren, but the tent site was waterlogged so not very nice!
In the morning I quickly packed up and for the first time put the tent away soaking wet.
All day I’ve followed the LF7b (north) towards Utrecht , but passing some wonderful scenery. As today is Sunday everywhere is closed , but I stopped for a wonderful lunch at Hei -en Boeicop 20120715-200349.jpg
All day as I’ve cycled I’ve been starting to reflect on the last 8 weeks . From leaving home to date , I have had some amazing times, some crazy events have unfolded which you could never of planned , met some fantastic people along the way ,seen some amazing sights , had some very high points ,and some very low moments as well . I want to do an evaluation blog of the trip once I’m back home staying with my parents until I decide my future.
Having being through Utrecht twice I decided to bypass the city centre and follow the signs to the west for the outskirts of the city, this proved a good move as it was very quiet and easy to follow . I’ve passed some spectacular houses on the river side at Breukelen so very pretty , so very expensive !

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I had a feeling the choice of two campsites in the area would be expensive and so it proved. I’ve reluctantly paid €16 for a bit of grass and a hot shower, whereas most of the other sites I’ve stayed on have been anything from € 5 for one of the best at Armhem to the average of € 10 . The site is very very nice at Mijnden on the lake shore but it caters more for caravans , passing boats and motor homes than cyclists! It even has a supermarket not a little shop!.
I’m only 40 km from Amsterdam so an easy morning is planned with fresh croissants and jam , fresh coffee then a steady ride to a campsite near Amsterdam for my last night before the ferry on Tuesday at 5pm from Ijmuiden back to Newcastle on Wed morn!!
It’s nearly over !

Links,Rechts,Geradeaus.

(Left,Right,Straight Ahead).

My last blog finished with me wild camping on the banks of the river Main at Great Wallstadt, so that is where I will begin this long blog!.
After a good nights sleep on the riverbank, I set off following the river towards Hanau.

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I then passed Offenbach closely followed by Frankfurt.
You can tell the German economy is strong from the amount of new building work going on and this very impressive new 125m tall building under construction.

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I originally thought I would arrive in Frankfurt at 3pm ,but as the trip has progressed so has the my strength in my legs so Frankfurt was reached at 11.30 am. I had made a request to a Warmshower host but sadly they were working and unable to offer any accommodation. Now when your cycling alone and your bike is your only mode of transport you take extra care of it, and I decided against heading into the city centre to start looking for alternative accommodation with a safe place to leave “George”.
As time was on my side, I decided to press and leave the city behind me.

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Later in the afternoon I came to the junction where the river Main Flows into the Rhine and the with another great sense of achievement I took a picture of the sign which shows Bamburg as 389km adding to that another 160 to Bad Berneck from where my journey down the River Main began making a total of 549 km.

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So another tick in the box for one of my planned routes .
My campsite for the night was at Mainz
Another very good site for €8 all in. On the site I met some nice people including Adam from Jersery who was himself taking time out to cycle Europe but covering a lot more countries than me.
I Also met Peter from Denmark who was pitched next to me and having a 3 week tour , having previously completed the entire North Sea coast route.

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After a few beers I went just outside the camp gates sat on a bench with my last bottle of beer for the night and took this very nice sunset .

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At this point my original plan was to head towards Metz in France then down to Montpellier , but as ive always stated from the outset, when I felt the time was right to start heading home then I would, and watching the sunset over Mainz the decision was made to head up the Rhine as far as Dusseldorf then cut across towards the south of Holland then back through Holland to Amsterdam for the ferry to Newcastle.
The Rhine was not part of my plan but it made sense to me to follow it for a few hundred Km’s. Still I had not booked the ferry for the return, so decided to press on to see how long it would take me to reach Dusseldorf.
My daily target was approx 100km , and even though i was heading into a headwind i felt amazingly strong. To me the key factor is that im taking time to stop for a good lunch at a cafe or pub/ restaurant along with eating snacks on a more regular basis, basically every hour- two hours. I was going along a good speed of approx 20 -22 km ‘s so Bonn and Koln were reached very quickly. Being honest in my opinion the Rhine is not as nice to cycle as the Main or my favourite so far the River Saale. Its nice but maybe I was spoilt on the previous two rivers!

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After 7 weeks cycling so far ive been very lucky and never once felt in danger, and my personal choice not wear my helmet , its being strapped to the bike since arriving in Holland, was nearly a bad move 3 times in one day. I know today is Friday the 13th, but my bad day was Thursday the 12th.
the weather has been very nice for a good five days , but then the rainstorms have appeared again, and event no1 happened near Bonn as I was approaching a couple who had stopped under bridge to shelter from the rain. The lady decided to set of trying to take her jacket off at the same time as cycling and swerved straight across my path forcing me swerve quickly, go onto the road and if a car or something bigger was approaching !!!
She apologised for it but it was a close call.
No2 happend at Koln when a pedestrian, who I had rang my bell for, to warm them I was behind decided to cut across my path , I locked up my brakes and hit her but not at the speed I was travelling a few seconds ago. She knew it was her fault and in good English said “she was sorry and was I alright”!
No3 came soon after and was potentially the worse of all. While going towards the very busy outskirts of Koln down a one way street I was “doored”.
Thats where someone without looking opens the car door ,without looking in the mirror to see if anyone was approaching from behind, I was and as Ive read about the nasty consequences of being “doored” I had left just enough space to at the very last second swerve,sharply left and miss the door but causing the car behind me lock up and also swerve to miss me and her now fully open car door! if the traffic had being coming from the other direction I have no doubt I would not be typing this now!
I gave her a lot of verbal abuse, which Im not proud of but it was in the heat of the moment and after two previous close calls in a few hours I had had enough. She did not understand my choice words but I am pretty certain she got the message!
Now to clear it up, I was not going to fast even though I was pressing on but if I had not being concentrating at the time then all three incidents could have been a lot worse.
The River Mossel also joins the Rhine and one day that is a route i would like to cycle as ive heard some very good reports about it.

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My distances the last few days have been 112km ,134km 143 km, and not once at the end of the day have I felt tired only stopping for campsites, and the sun starting to set.
Once I reached Dusseldorf at approximately 7 pm , and now having the “Im ready for home feeling”. I stopped to use my iPhone to go online and book my ticket from Amsterdam to Newcastle for next Tue- 17th July. Again the iPhone has proved fantastic, allowing me to take some great pictures, do my blog, emails and use the sat nav (google maps) when needed.
So with ferry booked and a nice warm temprature of 20′ I made the decison to see how close to Holland I could get before dark. Setting the maps for the shortest route from Dusseldorf to Venlo in Holland I cycled on and stopped for a very nice Takeaway pizza and 1.5 litre bottle of coke at 8.30 pm. Quickly consumed and feeling great on I went and then my phone went to say an email had arrived. It was from Tony the lovely lady I met and stayed with in Vorden. she has been following the blog and as I had not blogged for 4 days she sent me an email to see if I was ok. I told her I was heading up the Rhine and now towards Venlo. A few minutes later I had a second email from Toos , Tony’s Best friend who She cycles with and we met up all those weeks ago in Harlingen . Amazingly she said she only lives 20km from Venlo on the German- Dutch Border and I was welcome to stay with her if I wished.
I had just enough battery power left to send her a quick email reply to say I would see her in the morning as the time was now approaching midnight.
Having made the decision to cycle on in the dark, using my fantastic Petzl headtorch to light the way I arrived at the town of Horst at 12.30 and headed to the town centre as it was now raining very hard. I made the decision to stay in a bus shelter till the early hours of the morning and sat and watched the world go by slowly in the night!
At 5 am a guy came out of his house across the street and asked if I was ok, I explained I was going to a friends at 8.30am but was not exactly sure of where it was. He vanished appearing quickly after with a detailed street map showing me exactly where Toos’ house was! this at 5am !!! again the kindness of strangers amazes me.
So at 8.30 am and after cycling a total distance the previous night of 207 km (129 miles)

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I arrived at Toos’ house. Feeling pretty good for having approx 1 hrs sleep!
During the night I added additional layers of clothes to keep me warm and dry from the unrelenting rain, thank goodness for the glass wrap around bus shelter! then called at a local garage at 6 am once open to consume two cups of coffee, and then the bakers for warm croissants before meeting Toos.
we’ve had a second breakfast, Ive had a very nice warm shower, 3 hrs sleep and now while Toos does her job in the Tourist information office Im telling you about my last few days of craziness!
Im staying here until tomorrow morning then starting the ride towards Amsterdam, looking for somewhere to say two nights then the ferry from Ijmuiden back to Newcastle arriving on Wed 18th July.
You will have to put up with a few more blogs as I feel I still have more to add to this crazy adventure , then its decide my future time!.
Thanks for your patience reading this blog . I know its long but so has this adventure, now having covered 3112 km so far ! Just under 2000 miles.

Zoom

After my 3 days rest at The fantastic Zellingen I set off at 8.45am with the intention of covering about 100km.
The river Main twists and turns in huge sweeping curves like when you shake a child’s skipping rope. There are lots of potential shortcuts but I chose to stick to the river route per my original plan. “George” my bike had a quick service at the weekend and fresh oil applied,his 3rd of the trip .
I felt really good today , the weather has been kind , cloudy but warm 23′ soon I was at Lohr then Markt-Heidenfeld passing some very pretty places .

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I stopped for a few minutes to watch a German Shepherd dog working the sheep and a great job he was doing .

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Lunch was taken at the very pretty Wertheim , a Great banana split , along with two cups of coffee .

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On the river you see many of the barges plying their trade , carrying all kinds of cargo. Today I passed this barge and if it had any more cargo it would be officially classed as a submarine!!

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The water was only cm’s from lapping over the sides!
Soon after I passed Miltenberg and still feeling great rode on . I’m now at Gross Wallstadt , camping on the riverside for free . The has been some kind of festival and there are a few groups of people still camping so I asked if it was ok for the night , they said “yes” so here I stay until the morning then head to Frankfurt . I’ve put in a warmshower request but as yet heard nothing so time will tell . If not I have other options open to me as there a several campsites along the river.
Today I’ve cycled 146km ( approx 85-90 miles , feel fantastic . It’s another very nice evening and now I’m going to make myself something to eat.
Toos. (goodbye)

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BBQ

Again I have been amazed at the kindness of people and the friendship they have shown.
Last night along with Nico and Ralph I was invited to a Barbecue . The person holding the party was Nina, along with her partner Footsie,and her very pretty 7 yr old daughter, and Nina’s mother.
We ate very well and the food fantastic.

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I took along 6 beers , my Iphone with all my music on, which ended up playing a lot of Bob Marley and we drank just about every kind of Schnapps that there is.! My favourite and probably the funniest name was “feckin” We got through two bottles of that alone!
I also showed my skill ! at playing the watering can!

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The party went on till 5am then I walked backed to my tent to this very nice view .

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My plan was to stay 2 days but as I’ve only had about 4 hours sleep and was very tired ,even though i was amazed at the fact i did not have a hang over at all, I was going to cycle on.
Hearing the rain on the tent was not a good start but I started to pack up ready for leaving. Then i got invited to breakfast so by the time that was over, it was 11.30am and the sun was starting to come out. I thought to myself “Have another day, Its a great place, great people, then start again in the morning”. A very wise decision.

I wish to thank NIna , and all her family, friends for a fantastic night. – Prost.

Ralph, who is a miner and Nico were setting off and they have been great guys to camp next too and talk with. Ralph spoke good English and helped me learn more German!

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I was going to just chill out this afternoon but got invited to the outdoor swimming baths next to the site with Nina, Footise, and Leah. After their kindness last night I paid for us to get into the pool, €9 which was a bargin for this .

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The water was cool but by no way cold and it was great to be able to get some decent swimming time in. At 5.00 pm I had burger and chips, and we left at 5.45 pm. Im now really tired, the site is almost deserted as most of the people are weekenders , but Nina, Footsie and her daughter are still here for the moment, setting off soon to head back home.
My plan now is to enjoy the evening sunshine, have a single beer, relax and get an early night ready for a start at 7.30 in the morning.

Thank you everybody at Campingplatz Zelling am Main.

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Rest Day.

After my decision yesterday to carry on for another few weeks, today ive taken as a rest day.
There was a party at the campsite for one of the regulars last night so I ended up having a few beers, food, improving my German, along with a very good time.
The combined effect of good company, beer, and being tired enabled me to sleep very well and i never heard one of the goods trains rattling along on the far bank of the river.
This morning I felt great, and made the instant decision to have a rest day.
I was offered a beer at 9.30am but politely declined at 11:00 am I accepted;).
One of the site regulars, Frank has himself made a sauna which took him 100 hrs to make from scratch.

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So guess who is going to have a sauna and been invited to a barbecue tonight.

ME 🙂

The sun is very warm today with a tempreture of 25′ so as I’ve been cycling down the river Main for 4 days now I thought it only fair that I took the chance to swim in it.

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Also why not show you how much weight the little fat buddha has lost 😉

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So today has been a very wise decision to take the rest day, and incase you were wondering how i do the blog here it is. Today is a luxury day , Im sitting at a small table , sharing a few cold beers, in the sunshine, talking to Frank.

PROST (CHEERS)

Not giving up yet!

As you know , this morning i was very close to saying “thats it” .
Last night i chose to wild camp on the bank of the River Main as yet I’ve only wild camped once. For those of you who do not know what wild camping is it where you find a secluded spot normally away from prying eyes and camp for free.
Just outside the town of Wipfeld I found the ideal spot. It was about 1km away from the town on a bend in the river and 100 metres from a bridge. it had good cover and i went about 40 metres away rom the cycle path behind some woodland.
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I saw nobody at all slept very well but set my alarm for 5.45am to give me time to pack up before people started to wake . It was then the sky darkened quickly, the usual rumble of thunder in the distance, then a cool wind , then the lightening. Im learning fast the sequence of events. I had seconds earlier packed the tent and loaded my panniers then it began. It was raining harder than I’ve seen in a long time bouncing off the river and the wind was making sweeping patterns on the river.20120706-195755.jpg
The thunder was loud but one particular bit of lightening directly above my head made me say “F*ck Me” it was really close and as i was standing under a tree for some shelter! it was not pleasant at all.
I stood like a drowned rat for 20 mins while it just kept on going .
When you in a situation like that you ask yourself the question “what the hell am I doing.” “This is not fun anymore”.
And so my decision was made to give up and head back home.
The rain was so bad that when i was taking a few pictures to show on the blog , water got into my iPhone and misted up the camera lens for a half the day.20120706-200508.jpg
I passed some beautiful vines which cover the surrounding hills as this is a serious wine region, but as the camera was misted up there was no point in taking the pictures, also like me the battery was nearly flat.
I passed the town of Sommerach which on Saturdayis hosting a wine festival. The small main street was closed off and hundreds of tables with benches lined the street , along with temporary bars , bursting with beer barrels. The tables were sopping wet and it looked like the party was over not going to begin!
I passed the town of Kitzingen, and the sun was starting to appear again, another pattern of events, crap mornings followed by bright sunshine as the day goes on with warm temperatures. I was on my second change of clothes for the day and at last the camera lens cleared up but the battery was flat. Lunch was called for!
In the town of Ochsenfurt I stopped at a restaurant on the street , and had fresh fish with potatao wedges, carrots, brocolli, and mixed veg. It was delightful to eat fish for the first time in ages. I asked the lady if she would charge my phone while i ate and this was no problem.
A couple of weeks ago i went through the town of warendorf, where they have painted horses along the streets, well in Ochsenfurt, they have painted bulls! I was sat directly at the table behind the bull.
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I kept going till i came to Wurzburg another very nice place and at last the sun was high and bright in the sky. it makes all the difference.20120706-211136.jpg20120706-211224.jpg
I was still at this point undecided on my plans when `i went around a blind corner and two young boys about 12! came flying around on my side, the first one swerved and missed me the second was not so lucky, hitting the side of my panniers and finding out why tarmac is harder than human skin!. He went a good 6 metres on his side and hands. I slammed on my brakes stopped to see if he was ok after calling him few choice “Geordie swear words”. He picked himself up dusted off his pride along with some gravel and buggerd off, bet next time he stays on his own side!

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After serious consideration, Ive decided to carry on for another 2-3 weeks, and home by end of July.
A special person i know taught me to be more determined and focused in my life so thats what I’m now doing.
I feel physically great,apart from still having a sore left shin, but the pain killers are keeping that at bay.
everyday I see some fantastic sights, meet some great people. If I can get passed this bad spell of weather then its all good and I planned a certain route so im sticking to it. I know people have said , fly south, or change my plans but I’m not I want to follow the route I planned all those months ago.
I want to take this chance to thank everybody for the encouraging emails, texts , and the particular emails from my family. Also my mate George, who at a very low point took the time to call me and we ended up having a good laugh on the phone for 20 mins. thats true friendship. cheers mate.
So on we go . Tonight Im camped at Zellingen, another day in which ive cycled 100 km + thats now 5 days off the trot, but its not hard work as the River Main is pretty flat compared to my last two previous routesThe site is very nice at €9 euro all in and again all the facilities that you need. Im pitched next to two German motor cyclist, Ralph and Nico touring their own country, they are riding nice bikes,

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The campsite is right on the river side and one of the drawbacks is that on the other side of the river is the railway line and so far about 30 goods trains have gone past each about 50 carriages long! The very nice ferry cruises for the wealthy sail passed and i tried to take a picture of one but they are so long i could not fit it all in the picture!

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There is a Birthday party on for one of the camp regulars and the party is in full swing, they have asked me to join them so i’m off for a few beers, maybe a rest day tomorrow!!

Worst storm yet

I wild camped on the banks of river main last night . Great place slept great. Up at 5.45am quickly packed up as I could see what was going to happen .
The worst lightening , thunder rain storm of the trip so far. Just got packed the wind picked up then it began . Rumbling thunder close by then lightening and right above me. When your sheltering under a tree and it right above you it’s not fun the lightening got so bad one flash above me made me say those immortal words
F#ck Me”.

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Now at 7.50 am I’m again soaking wet . Changing my clothes , I’ve good waterproofs but they can only take so much .
Im seriously considering today if I should call it a day . Save the rest of my money and head back . The forecast for the rest of the weekend is the same !!
I will decide some stage today .

Update

This blog is long so be warned.

Let me start by saying the reason for no blogs the last few was due to personal reasons and leave it at that.
One thing i can say is that at the age of 47 i’m as fit now as i was when i was 25 . I’ve lost a lot of weight (fat) and developed some cracking good leg muscles again,and now I have a flat stomach.
Im getting stronger all the time and into a very good routine . I even know where everything is in my panniers and have a half empty one for when i buy fresh food. Its only taken me 5 weeks to get to this stage but hey- ho.
Where have i been and wheat have i been upto?
One problem I have developed while on this trip is trying to remember what day it is without checking my iPhone, every day is a cycling day or rest day. its that simple!
The 2nd of July!! started by going through a small village and a crowd of people were waiting on the street. Soon the reason for the crowd was coming down the street ,it was a vintage car rally .
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Ive lots more pics but also got lots more to add to this update so will post them at some time in the future.
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soon after it started to rain, oh what a suprise, I cycled for a couple of hours then took a lunch break in this shelter to at least have some rest bite from it.
I either having brilliant sunshine with very high 27-35 temperature or torrential rain. But whatever the weather you see some amazing sights along the way. 20120704-190332.jpg20120704-190410.jpg20120704-190432.jpg
Ive climbed some serious hills hence the now solid leg muscles20120704-190600.jpg20120704-190645.jpg
and that is the look of sheer agony, but satisfaction at completing a 12% climb for 2.5km without stopping and grinding away in the lowest gear.
I can certianly recommend the campsite at Joditz its very nice , clean and good value.
From Joditz my travels took me to Hof and the Fernwehpark where they have a collection of signs from all over the world.
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Hof took me to Munchberg then Sparneck where i stopped to take a picture of this 70 yr old mans garden who makes everything himself20120704-191616.jpg
I arrived a Zell the town near the source of the river Saale at 5pm but wanted to ride the extra 2 km into the forest to see the very source. Its a hell of a climb be warned. and the sign post to the source is pointing up the hill once in the forest , look out for a small track to the right or you will miss it.
I found it and took several pictures some i published yesterday but here are some more.20120704-191931.jpg20120704-192024.jpg20120704-192056.jpg
I was totally alone in the forest and as ive said my emotions from the last few days from personal stuff got to me and I shed a few tears. I sat at the source for about half an hour just reflecting on my life this trip and the future!
Deciding that I deserved a treat i booked myself into a very nice hotel (there are only two in the main st) showered then had a well deserved meal and beer with chips for the first time in 5 weeks ! 20120704-192740.jpg
This morning i had a wonderful breakfast paid my bill a total of €49 including my room , breakfast, meal from last night and 3 beers.
I set off at 9.45 in glorious sunshine and a temperature of 30 ‘.
I headed to Bad Bernbeck to pick up the river Wiesser Main Then Kulmbach following the very good signs .

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Ive cycled 105 km today from Zell passing through Kulmbach, Bergkunstadt, Lichten -fels Bad Staffelstein and now camped at the very nice site at Unterbrunn

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So thats me back uptodate with the blog .
Im physically very strong now , got some very nice cycling ahead of me and heading down the river Main towards Frankfurt on Main.
Alex .

River Saale – Source

Look where I’ve made it too.
The very source of the River Saale.

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I’m totally alone in the forest , and man enough to admit , Ive had a few tears.
The last few days, for various reasons, some personal have been an emotional roller coaster in my life.
I’m bloody proud of myself.
Xxx
Alex .

Time Out

“It’s not rain , it’s cooling water ”
That’s what I’ve been telling myself every time I spend hours cycling in the rain .
Well yesterday I cycled 102 km mostly in the rain . I climbed some very big mountain passes as well , one stretch was 11 km constant climbing , which gave me great satisfaction and a sense of achievement.

I’m enjoying the trip, meeting some fantastic people, seeing brilliant things and sharing it with you, but I’ve made the decision to have some time out from blogging and just have some
“ME TIME”.
I need time alone now .
Alex .

Wonderful people.

After the kindness of Wolfgang and Silke I awoke this morning in a nice bed to the sound of a thunderstorm outside, apperently it has been really bad back in the North of England and it was here at 7am. Ive made a video of the storm and will upload when free wifi is available. It was torrential rain for an hour solid, along with lots of lightening.
At 8 am i went down stairs to see the breakfast table set and Silke although she had just worked a nightshift had called at the bakery for fresh buns and chocolate croissants .
She even made me two buns with ham and cheese for a packed lunch along with the remaining croissants.

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grandma lives with them and she was very wary of an strange English man in their home , but was kind enough to have her photo taken.
I had to take another photo of Wolfgang and Silke as they have been the perfect host and Silke has learned me my new Favourite word… “Dingalish”
Danke Wolgang and Silke . Es var schon dich kennen zu lernen 🙂

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Wolfgang rode with me till we arrived at Schellsitz and we stopped for a beer at 11am !. Wolgang knew the man who owns the very nice hotel/ pension house and he asked for some mushrooms for us. but these are not your run of the mill mushroooms oh no he growns them himself in a cave which runs behind the hotel for about 50 metres with a network of tunnels.

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rows upon rows of these fantastic tasting mushrooms. When we had finished he showed us the tunnels and there was a skeleton in a dark corner>; The owner said ” Thats the last guy who ate my mushrooms ” , I laughed my head off to the sound of it echoing around the tunnels . Another total surprise, and im very quickly learning that this trip surprises me every day in some strange way or other!
At Naumberg Wolgang left me , I thanked him again for his wonderful kindness, and on I rode.
At Tultewitz i decided to take the official detour route, very quickly thinking this is a maistake, as it was a near vertical climb up some shocking paths and certianly not suitable for a fully loaded touring bike with 30 kg of gear.

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Trouble is if you want to see the best views you have to make the climbs and i was rewarded with this .

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Hoping the decent would be better was a fool hardy moment as I was greeted with this

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At the town of Dornberg I saw what i thought was a wedding , and asked if i could take a photo , the girl in the white dress spoke fantastic english and explained to me that she was the person chosen to represent her village for the year and today was the festival of the roses and the celebration of the bridge which was 120 years old! ( I hope I”ve remembered that correct!) . All of her family were in traditional dress and looked fantastic. I was very gratful they allowed me to take pictures . They asked where i was from and I explained my trip and they will be looking on the blog tomorrow so thank you kind people, and thanks for the photo of Lisa ! in her tradditional dress.

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At the far side of the bridge was a party to celebrate the day , and I left them to enjoy it as it looked like the whole town had turned out to celebrate . It is such a nice thing to see, and yet again another great surprise.
The weather today has gone form thunderstorms to very hot 30′ sunshine and I’ve decided to camp at the fantastic site at Postendorf which is only €8 all in.
Tent is up, they have a private lake for swimming and all the facilities you need. A very good site.
My only concern is the last 3 days Ive had a pain which has been progressively getting worse in my left shin bone . and now I am struggling to walk on it without limping and pain.! I don’t know why , maybe stress of all the climbs or just old age catching up!
It does not bother me when I am cycling so I guess the answer is more cycling less walking.!!

Kindness

What a strange day I’ve had today .
After cycling for 5 days with , Anton , Jenny , Lotty and Henk we said our goodbyes and being honest I was sad to leave them as they have been wonderful people to be with .

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I became very good friends with Anton and Jenny and gave Anton my baseball cap so he will remember me. We had a beer to celebrate and remember our great times together .

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I left at 9.30am my latest start to date and headed off down the river Saale . The pathway is good and the signs very good

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Soon after I came to the very pretty town of Plotzkau

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My plan for the day was to cycle to Halle but the sun was shining bright again and the temperature climbed to 30′ I arrived at Halle in 3.5 hrs so made the decision to keep going till I reached the campsite marked on the guidebook at Weissenfel , making a total of 110 km for the day . 110 km in the sunshine is a lot easier than 110 km in the rain and wind !!
I crossed over on the ferry at Brachwitz

20120629-233300.jpg passed Neustadt , sudstadt , Mersberg , Leuna, basically following the river upstream as I’m doing the route in reverse order . I was passing by an old lady who at the time was about 20 metres in front if me i thought “Alex ring your bell” to let her know I’m approaching from behind. No sooner than blink she had turned around and tried to push me off my bike !!! . I swerved at the last minute , she missed me , I threw her a filthy look and thought that’s what you get for trying to be polite !
I got to Weissenfels feeling good not tired at all then thought “ok it’s 1 km to the campsite , tent up , shower , cook some food and relax “. Then it went very wrong !
The camp site was a collection of huts with a few caravans and the gates were locked . I actually cycled passed the entrance thinking that can’t be it !
About 200 metres ahead I saw a man cycling towards me so I asked in my best German where the camp site was? He spoke little English but enough for me to understand that the crap looking locked gates was it !! A guy came to the locked gates and straight away I knew I was not going to get in. (So be warned if your cycling the river Saale route on page 19 )Come with me he said in German . I was confused as to where we were going but soon realised that I was going to be a guest at his home .
We cycled for about 10 minutes to the town of Markwerben . Where he has a wonderful home . We walked through the gates and he explained to his wife how he had found me looking lost and with with nowhere to stay . In 5 mins was shown to my room, 10 mins later in the shower , then fed and drinking beer in the garden .

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My wonderful kind hosts are Wolfgang and his wife Silke , I am truly amazed at the kindness of people, they have just basically adopted for the night !
Silke had to leave at 9 pm as she works night shift , and Wolfgang and I have had a few beers in the garden

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I have been learning Wolfgang English and he in turn has helped my German . Silke speaks good English as she has had lessons and I love the way she combines German and English words to quote her make”Dingalish ” a combination of the two 🙂
I really can’t believe how lucky I have been and have said to them many times tonight thank you so much .
So the day started saying goodbye to friends, and ended it making new ones !
The strange world of cycle touring !! 🙂

Adopted

I’ve cycled 120 km today and when I got to the camp site it was closed . Just then a man came past on his bike and saw me looking lost . He said come with me and now I’m staying the night with him and his lovely wife . They have fed me and now I’m drinking beer in the garden with them .
Blog tomorrow
Fantastic people Wolfgang and Silka .

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Rest day

After the long ride yesterday, ive taken today as a rest day .

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The sun has come out and as i type its now 27′ Ive been into Bernburg for a look around and its a nice place, nothing spectacular , but nice

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I ve had a good breakfast, shower and spent the afternoon just lying on my mattress outside the tent, enjoying the sun and relaxing, drank a 1.5 litre bottle of coke, and 1 litre of fresh orange juice.
Ive taken the chance to update the stats page, the Bike page and the Gear page with honest opinions of what i think how my things have performed so far .
Not much else to say today , as Im having a day to myself.

One month

It’s now one month since I left on this trip.
I’ve had one bad day out of 30 so all in all I think I’ve done pretty good considering some of the weather I’ve had to contented with. At the end of the last five days I’ve cycled with Anton , Jenny, Henk and Lotty we’ve had a celebration beer to our achievements for the day , well last night we had a bit of a party and these are the empties
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No seriously about an hour after set off we passed this barn in the middle of nowhere and this is the sight that greeted us. Why they are stored there I don’t know but by the look of them they had been there a very long time .
The route took us from Thale to Ballenstedt then Falkenstien , Hoym and then to the Concordia See, (yes that is how it is spelt) which is a huge lake. When we got to the entrance to the lake there was a guard who told us we could not enter and needed to change our route .
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Apparently there has been a lot of land slides in the area and a house fell into the lake where upon the three occupants were drowned . Henk speaks very good German and the guard gave us a good alternative route around the side of the lake .20120627-224406.jpg
Henk and Lotty along with Anton and Jenny are amazing people . I’ve got 10 years on the next youngest and Henk is 66 . Let me tell you now he is a great guy . He plays very good tennis and regularly beats his son who is in his 30s , he swims regular , skates , did Judo, and can hold his own with any tour cyclist I’ve ever met , he used to cycle 45 km every day to work and back ! And his best speed on a bike is 72 km per hour! 20120627-224955.jpg
The signs again today have been mixed, You get a few Km’s of great signs then nothing at the point you really need them 20120627-225159.jpg
Between the three males in the group we have kept to the correct route and by using a combination of the map and the compass on my iPhone we’ve done very well . 20120627-225407.jpg
As a decorator I found the side of this house very interesting as it been air brushed and a good job they’ve made if it . We stopped for lunch high in a very quite part of the countryside and I climbed one of the hundreds of watch towers you see dotted about the place to take a picture of the group

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I decided to have a bit of a play around with some of my picture apps on the phone and edited this .

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As we approached Lobnitz in the wooded area I took a snapshot of Anton cycling behind me

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As I’ve decided not to go to Berlin, on this trip , but will visit it in the future, meaning , I don’t have to double back on myself to pick up the river Saale and instead have a rest day then follow the river to its source , I was grateful to Jenny for taking my picture beside the sign which marks another milestone for me .

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At Nienburg we turned South and were soon greeted with a big problem as the route was blocked by the building of a new bridge and we had to cross over 5-10cm deep of wet concrete for approx 30 metres to get to the other side of the path !!

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When you’ve spent the day cycling 98km this is the last thing you need . Having no option and to the amusement of the workmen we pushed our bikes through the wet concrete to the other side . My shoes and bike were covered in concrete until we arrived at the campsite at Bernburg which is on the river and owned by the rowing club. The food stops at 8 pm so we ate straight away then I’ve pitched my tent , and washed all the crap off my bike before it dries in the river and my shoes !! Good job I’ve brought two pair with me .
We are all having a rest day tomorrow then go our separate ways on Friday as we’re all going in different directions . It’s been brilliant fun cycling with the others for the last five days, but soon it’s time to press on once again on my own .
One month in I’m having a great time taking everything into consideration , I was pretty fit before I left I’m now very fit , approximately 5 kg lighter ( 1 stone) even though I’m eating really well , I have a good daily routine going and self discipline when needed. This trip has given me a lot of time to reflect on my life , past and present and I’ve some really big decisions ahead of me for my future!

Feeling Good.

After yesterday when I was not at my best , I’ve had a good nights sleep and woke happy with my decision to cycle for another 4 weeks , then head home .
We all started together and Lotty and Henk soon went a different route to the map. We three decided to stick to the map after yesterday’s diversions !
We’ve climbed for most of the day and the views are spectacular but the tracks are not . 20120626-201315.jpg

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Anton and Jenny have been learning me Dutch today as we’ve cycled and we’ve had some great laughs at my expense trying to repeat some of the words . We stopped for a small rest at an old roman fort and I saw a patch of grass with poppies , one of my favourite wild flowers

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We stopped for lunch at a small Chinese cafe ! But it was delicious and only €7

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Before lunch I ate another one of these , as I need to keep my strength up !!

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They need to learn to give you a bigger breadbun 😉
It was mainly off road cycling today with some very long steep climbs but we all did very well and only missed one turn . We are now in the old East Germany and you can see a massive difference in the route , roads , and tracks

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Don’t for one moment think its an easy route because let me tell you now it’s not . You need a good strong bike , mine has performed fantastic so far and strong legs for the hills . But the climbs reward you with brilliant views .

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We passed an old mine works in one of the many forests

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Henk and Lotty were ahead of us and kindly left a huge arrow and their names at of the many junctions where you could go wrong

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Yet again all five of us have met up and we are camping at a very good sight at Thale . We’ve had our usual celebration beer

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I’ve been shopping at Lidl , bought some eggs, mushrooms , yellow pepper , cake , chocolate paste , jam , coffee , 4 beers .
It’s omelette for my tea and now for a good hot shower and a cold beer .
The weather today has gradually got better as the day has gone on and it’s now a very pleasant evening.
I’m feeling a lot better , thanks for all the kind emails and messages of support , I really appreciate them .
Feeling good tonight.
Love to my family and loved ones Xxx

Highs and lows

I am not just talking about the hills either.
I was undecided all day today if I was going to blog or not, but I promised a honest blog so here it is.
I spent yesterday at Bad Gandersheim having a rest day , in the morning it was dry, but cloudy so i went into town for a look around20120625-190122.jpg20120625-190142.jpg
The market was on so I had a good look around bought some lunch and then cycled back to the site20120625-190244.jpg
By now it was raining hard so sitting in my tent after an hours sleep I heard the voice of Jenny shouting ” Hello Alex” . It was music to my ears as I unzipped the tent to see Anton and Jenny , but not just them, Frank and Lottie who I met a few days ago were also with them. As it was raining really hard , and i’m trying not to swear! We alll went for a meal at the camp restaurant , which was expensive for my budget but i thought stuff it, I need a few beers and a good meal.
Yesterday i had planned my next seven days, and the plan was for today to cycle to Thale some 106 km away. Anton and Jenny were setting off later and frank and Lottie left before me. Now this is where it all falls apart!
When you leave town following the R1 signs and the map there is a tiny junction which I missed , my first mistake in 5 days, and before i knew it I was at Gehrenrode some 7 km north of where i wanted to be. I then headed for Helmscerode then Gremsheim , Mechtshausen, eventuallly picking up the route again at Bornhausen. You can see from the map the mistake i made
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Once i found the correct route , again i followed the wrong arrows , and i will come to it later but i was not the only one who got lost. so ended up in the Staattsforst seesen , basically a fecking great big forest with shit tracks and vertical hills !! along with lots of rain!
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So after a 565metre vertical climb and down the other side i came out near to Langelsheim20120625-191921.jpg .
I was wet again! tired , and pretty peeved off, putting it politely ! This was the worst four hours of the trip so far, I stopped for a rest , composed myself ate a packet of mixed fruit , drank a litre of juice, and thought for the first time , thats it ive had enough, THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN and today its anything but!
After my rest and getting back on the right route i saw two cyclist ahead of me. and who was it ……
Anton and Jenny, They are my lucky charms. they too had missed the turn but gone in another direction, so again i was cycling with them , and happy for that as great people they are. The rain has been constant for most of the day but then the sun comes out and its so warm you have to stop to take off your waterproofs , then it rains again so its back on with them! We arrived at Goslar in a downpour and i took these pics of the town square so you better appreciate them,
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After the rain eased off we set off towards Gottingerode, and not soon out of Goslar, who should we see ahead but , Frank and Lottie.
, who like me missed the turn sign and ended up on the same route as me, so if your cycling the R1 following the guide book beware of the turn at Bad Ganderheim !

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So it was back to the five of us and we cycled up and up the hills

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This was my view looking back down to Goslar , in the brief time the sky cleared it was worth the climb

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We’ve arrived at the site, pitched our tents and had a beer to celebrate a bloody long wet hard day

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Im now going to make pasta for my meal with a tin of ravioli as well as i am starving, tired, peeved off with the weather .
Im enjoying myself, but miss certain people in my life.
Ive made the decision that I am going to give it another 4 weeks then head back home from wherever that is! . Today has been a tough day for a few reasons, some personal. Tomorrow I head towards Thale my original destination for today then Nienburg from where im going to skip going to Berlin , and head down the river Saale which is part 3 of my trip , 420 km, towards the river Main,600 km, then to Metz in France. Again honestly ,Im also spending more than i wanted to but you cant live on the road for free! and you have to eat a lot more than you normally would to maintain your energy levels.
Ive now covered over 1000 miles (1609 km)

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Its a great trip , I’ve had a bad day, Im tired today , wet, peeved off. think its time for my other beer now!
My original plan was for 5 month I am going to call it a day after two months , then head home.
I will keep the blog going as I want to share the experience with you, and if your planning on cycling in Holland, Germany , France, then maybe just maybe this blog has helped a bit or entertained you in the process.
its now Beer o clock. 😉

Germany

It’s beautiful from what I’ve seen so far .
Last night I went for a pizza with Anton and Jenny , such really nice people who I was sad to leave this morning as I’ve had two great days cycling with them .

They are having a rest day in Hoxter but I’ve decided to press on. The hills are getting higher all the time and it’s good leg work hauling 30 kg of gear up them.
At Holzinnden I took this pic through the arch

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Then seen this fantastic glass house and this is the entrance

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20120623-163958.jpgsoon after I stopped for lunch of salami and cheese sandwich with apple cake and coffee. The scenery is fantastic it’s worth the climbs to see views like this where no cars are allowed !

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I’ve now arrived in Einbeck and these guys are allowed to “graffiti this bus

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Don’t think you would see this in England ! It’s art .
As I was cycling down the street on the seat in the town square was Dietmar who I met a few days ago
We’ve gone for a few German beers and hopefully I will make it to Bad Gandersheim another 28 km !!

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The last picture is of Anton , where we went for a meal in town .
I’m now at the camp site at Campingplatz betriebsgesellschaft
At Bad Gandersheim and it’s very very nice and at € 9.43 all in its good value . Tomorrow if the weather is good I may stay and have a rest day as but some big mileage in of late and most of it uphill 86 km today max speed 46 km ave 16 km and my total distance so far is 1573 km in another 37 km I will have cycled 1000 miles so far !!
Not bad for a 47yr old balding little fat lad from Newcastle 😉

Great People

Arriving at Munster , I found the camp site no problem at all and at the site I met a lovely Dutch couple called Anton and Jenny Who are going the same way as me ,so in the morning we all set off together. They cycle at about the same speed as me and speak very good English , which was a bonus.
We arrived at the town of Warendorf famous for it Horses and such a pretty town it is.

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We stopped for lunch in the market square then carried on Greffen. I spotted this giant toadstool at the side of the road It was so big I took my shoe off to give an idea of size . It was about 18 cm wide

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We camped at Stukenbrock- Senne a nice site and had a meal in the local bistro

20120622-183511.jpgYesterday was a total of 92km
Today we cycled 80 km to Hoxter and the hills have started in earnest . All that cycling in Northumberland and County Durham has certainly helped me with the hills in Germany.

Another fantastic day and going into town now for a bite to eat.

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Anton recommended these dry fruits to me from Aldi and now I am addicted to them, go and buy some.

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A great few days the weather is fantastic now so all is good .

Mad cows & and Englishman

I left my campsite ! which was probably the worst one so far at Geschem at 9 am and headed off toTowards Schloss varlar . As I approached a crossroads there were two Dutch girls looking at the map board on the wall , they asked me if I knew which way was the R1 route as they thought they were lost. I told them which way it was and they said they were also heading off to Berlin but they were covering 120 Km per day as they already had accomodation booked for every night.
I said goodbye and off they shot down the road. not long after as i was approaching the town I was greeted by about 10 cows stampeding down the narrow lane towards me. and I could see the farmer running like hell after them. Now I had to quickly decided were they meant to heading this way or were they making a bolt for freedom!
I guessed they were trying to do the latter and decided to be a cowboy on my trusty steed “George”
Moving to the middle of the track with my arms stretched out wide I thought ” Alex what the hell are you doing! ” there are 10 cows weighing approximately half a ton! each charging at you at about 15 mph and your pretending to be John Wayne on a bike!
Well by some miracle the cows took one look at me and shit themselves literally All over the road. I have this effect sometimes !! They came to a stop just in front of me and then crapped all over the road again . The farmer was soon behind them but the cows decided to turn tail and charge back towards the farmer!
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The farmer ran towards the side if the fence and with his sweating brow and hands on his hips watched as they charged off back towards the farm . It was funny until I rode through the shit they left on the road !
About 15 k later I met a German guy called Ditmar Who is also going back to Berlin where he lives , he took the train from Berlin to Arnhem and is cycling back . He was a nice guy who I tried best to chat to in German as he spoke even less English ( 1-0 England )

We cycled together for about 30k and Ditmar using his sat nav with only the precision a German could , links , rechts , Geradeaus ( left right , straight ahead 🙂 ) and still he took the wrong turn 2-0 England ) at approximately 1 o clock Ditmar pointed to his water bottle and I took that as he needed to stop I the next town to top it up as he was sweating in the now 23′ sun . He soon waved goodbye as I carried on 3-0 England , what a result 🙂
I got to Munster at 3 pm and a had a quick look around but wanted to get to the site as its outside the city . It’s a great posh site campingplatz Munster but the wifi is expensive so I’m using part of my data allowance for the blog .
I’ve eaten today , 3 ham sandwiches plus an orange for lunch , then in Munster . Pizza slice + sausage roll Then I bought chicken breast to eat with My rice , with two very nice chocolate triangle cakes .
Sorry not many pictures tonight but the signal is poor and upload is failing.
I’ve been to the camp bar , had two pints of larger and returned to my tent to the sound of rustling inside!
Last night it was rabbits all over tonight it’s the attack of the hedgehogs . The bugger was inside my tent trying to eat his way into the packet of rice I forgot to put away !
We have moved him with the help of the really nice Dutch couple in their 50s who are cycling to Berlin as well.
Bloody hell what is it with me and animals !!

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Farewell Holland

I left Vodern at 9.15 am after two very nice days with Tony. We went for a very nice traditional Dutch meal at a local bistro and I paid as Tony has being fantastic to me .

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Tony had her Grandson to look after today

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Today I’ve followed my Radweg R1 route book and it’s been spot on , as I’ve been wearing my glasses today I’ve not missed a single sign or turn in 77k , strange that !! Mmmmmmm
I passed these guys re thatching a roof

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At exactly 12.00 I crossed into Germany

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The route is easy to follow as below the sign is the R1 direction and I stopped for lunch just over the border at the Flamingo lake . Lunch was 3 ham sandwiches on brown bread followed by 8 digestives made into Choc spread sandwiches and an apple . I’m trying to eat a lot more 😉 as I’ve lost a stone in 3 weeks !!

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Yesterday in Vorden I bought a really good mirror which is slightly convexed and gives a great rock solid rear view . I’ve found it useful already on some of the narrow lanes where you can hear the car from behind but a quick glance tells you if they are leaving plenty room as they pass , very reassuring .

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Today I’ve done 77k and feel great. I’m camping at a caravan park which caters for tents on a small pitch site , it’s nothing special but clean and 6 euro so can’t really complain, although the guy who checked me in had metal teeth, well the ones he had !!
I’m at Gescher which is slightly off route but was a 10 k shortcut so was an easy option for the day .
It’s all good, Holland has been fantastic despite some bad weather and now it’s Germany.

Reflection Time

Its nearly 3 weeks since I started this trip, and as today Im staying with the wonderful host Tony in Vorden until Tuesday morning I have time to reflect on the last 3 weeks.Looking back through my pictures, It seems a long time ago since I boarded the ferry from North Shields to Ijmuiden. Holland is a fantastic country to cycle The network of paths with the marker posts, is great and easy to follow unless like me you often miss one, and cycle 5 km past the turn to the next one , but even then its not a problem as all you do is look at the sign boards at the junctions and follow another path. Ive already covered the advantages and disadvantages of the benefits of sat nav and i still believe that its an argument no one can truly win. Some of my best times have been as a result of following the wrong path or just heading off in a different direction, but on the flip side if I had used my sat nav or brought a better one , when my excellent phone battery died on me in the middle of arnhem I could have done with a good sat nav!
For the first time , Ive used the excellent Warmshower network and if you are not a member I would strongly suggest joining as I have met some amazing people even though so far ive only used it 3 times. The great Astrid, the lovely couple of Robert and Emmy, and family of Andrew and Friedel Grant , the very experienced round the world cyclists. Again these have been highlights, but without doubt the most special person I’ve met so far is Tony from Vorden, I met her and her dear friend Toos in Harlingen while I was camping , and they arrived at the site, she invited me to stay as her guest , which I did last week and now on my return towards Berlin I’m staying two nights, due to a storm forecast for today which has arrived! Last night we had grilled fresh fish in the garden with amazing fresh salad, and a bottle of wine and tonight Im returning the favour as we are going to a local restaraunt for a Monday Special meal deal. An amazing lady who Ive been blessed to meet.

Now when i left home I stood on the scales and weighed in at 12 stone 8lb (81kg) and 3 weeks later Im now 11 stone 9 (76kg) so a loss of nearly as stone (5kg) in 3 weeks. Im eating well but burning off the calories and some extra weight i was carrying so Im not far off my ideal height/ body weight now.

The weather has been a truly mixed bag, Sunshine , thunder , lightning , lots of rain and wind. One day its sunny the next its raining for 8 hrs solid. Soon I will get a weeks worth of continued sunshine !!

This morning we went for a walk with the dog into the forest and low and behold the sky darkend very quick, and the lightning and thunder came along with another torrential downpour of rain. Tony’s phone rang then 5 mins later her really nice next door neighbour was picking us up in the car and bringing us back, thats the kind of nice people ive met:)

I will post some videos very soon when i have a better wifi connection.
Am I having fun- Yes its a fantastic experience, Ive bought some very good gear and the Items I am most happy with are my Triangia cookset, with the gas conversion, an amazing piece of kit, my Vango 200 + expedition tent, which has proved itself in the torrential downpours , my bike which was by no means the most expensive but with the additions Ive made is enough , has been fantastic so far. not a thing has gone wrong , I love the suspension forks which I can adjust to suit the terrain, giving me a smooth ride over the Sometimes bumpy forest tracks , but when i lock the forks out , it provides a firm yet comfortable ride, thanks to the excellent Brooks Saddle which is breaking in better everyday now. I rode over 8 hrs in one day in it last week and not a moment of “sore arse syndrome”
My Ortlieb Panniers – Fantastic, everything is dry and they too have been put to the test.
I brought way to many clothes, now sent some back, Ive bought to much food and now eating my way through it instead of carrying it! The people Ive met have also gave me some excellent tips which I’m taking on board as well .

Cost wise- The most I have paid for a camp site is €12 and the least and the best site was €5.50 !! Im spending slightly more than I budgeted for, but You need to enjoy the experience while you can.
Hopefully the weather will turn for the better soon but thats beyond my control.
I miss the people who mean the most in my life, but try to keep in contact every few days.
So far so good.

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The nest in Tonys Garden

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Keep an eye out for these as they are good places to stay

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This is a child’s playhouse we saw while out this morning before the storm came.

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Arnhem

The morning following my 185km (115 miles) ride to Arnhem, gave me time to evaluate things .

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The picture is of the bridge in Utrectht which was the point on which i decided to ride on to Arnhem. The rain was bad in the morning , stopped about 11.50 the started again about 3 pm and did not stop. This was my view as I rode over the bridge into Anhem at 11 pm

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I decided that my body needed a rest and use the day to see Arnhem, as I had heard good reports about it. It is a really nice place with a sense of tradition to it, Narrow streets in the shopping centre and big spaces as well. My first stop was in the square for some lunch and a panini which was nice, with coffee . Then as I was wondering down a street I came across this

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It was not so much looking at it that amused me it was the fact that it was playing Barry Manilows “could it be magic, and i thought yes if it stops bloody raining!

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I sat by this water feature in the market square taking this picture as if i had not seen enough water for a few weeks
. In the market a stall had fresh made salami and he was kind enough to give me a few to try , they were all delicious and i was tempted to buy one but Im working my way through the food in my panniers first or it will just be dead weight .

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I did buy a great variaty of mushrooms for 3 euro and made a really nice risotto for my evening meal and realised with shock that i had no biscuits left for my chocolate spread so had an apple instead. Now for someone who does not eat a lot of fresh fruit Ive eaten apples , oranges, and all kind of healthy things lately including drinking Mint tea. My body must wondering whats going on.
Today the sun is trying to break through the clouds but its dry and warm with a temperature of about 19′ . I packed the tent up and was on the road at 10am feeling good after a days rest. Last night I wrote down all the sign markers i needed for today as well as ringing them on the map, low and behold i’ve made it to Vorden without a single wrong turn in 45 km 🙂
On the way i passed this great sculpture which was pointing the way to my next marker

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It really is a great place to cycle ,especially when the suns out and as I came through a forest placed the camera on the Gorrilla grip tripod and set the timer for this picture

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At Hollands Smallest city Bronkhorst I paid 1 euro to cross the river on the ferry which was closed this time last week, due to strong winds when i wanted to cross from the other direction causing me a 29 km headwind detour

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Waiting at the other side to cross were two German guys on Harley Bikes and I know my cousin Deb will appreciate this picture I asked to take

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Im now at Vorden staying with Tony the very kind lady I met 2 weeks ago now, and stayed with for one night last week. As heavy rain is forecast for tomorrow, she has suggested I stay till tue morning an invitation I have gratefully accepted. So with fresh fish for my evening meal and a glass of rose wine beside me , I am feeling good, refreshed and ready for the journey on towards Berlin on Tuesday morning.

Happy Farther’s day Dad X

Midnight camping

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After 3/3 fantastic warmshower experiences the last with Andrew and Friedel Grant, whom I’ve wanted to meet for a long time , as they run the very helpful Travellingtwo.com website and are experienced round the world cyclists , it was time to start the long ride towards Berlin.
I did not realise at the start of the day just how long a ride day one would end up!
Now lets get this part , out of the way straight off , my sense is direction is a bit like a chicken when you startle it and it cant decide which way to go so ends up going in several different directions before it decides on the correct route ! Some of my best experiences so far have been result of going in the wrong direction , but as I don’t really have a exact direction just a general plan is there actually a right direction to go in ! I have a sat nav with me with European maps but it’s my car sat nav and does ok but not what I really want , I was going to buy a dedicated cycle sat nav but as I have a great phone , it to me just seemed extra cost.
Sometimes it great fun getting lost , yesterday was not one of them .
Setting off at 9am , in the pouring rain I headed straight to the local post office to send back a box stuffed full of clothes I do not need . 8.60 euro later and a few kilo lighter I soon got lost . It took me best part of an hour to find my way out of den Haag , then head off towards Utrecht. My plan! Was to follow the Lf4 but that fell apart like a 1970s British Leyland Austin Princess car.
At about 2pm I stumbled across a mcD and decided to have a meal . Across the road was a house with a huge variety of moulded animals

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The plan then was to head towards Utrecht and use a small camp site that Astrid had pointed out to me , as she was away for the weekend but had offered to help me find a warmshower host in Utrecht to guest with , sadly the email did not arrive till it was way to late.
Then I made the instant decision to cycle the supposedly remaining 66 km to Arnhem so making a total of about 140km for the day . Following the river was my general plan , but after 5 km i realised i was following the wrong river after missing the turn (it gets worse 😉 but it was like going round in circles , until this very kind gent put me on the right route , it was by now raining again and it got worse as the day / night went on . My intention was to get to the great little site at 45 on the Lf4 at about 9pm leaving enough time to get the tent up and shower .
9 pm came and went and still I cycled on in the rain at this Point not feeling to bad at all .
10 came and went then it was time to put my lights on . At about 11 I arrived in Arnhem pretty tired but thinking its only 2 km to the camp site , silly bugger!
By this time my phone was nearly dead ( bit like me) and these kind security guards gave me good directions to the Zoo where I knew the site was only mins away . At the cross roads with the sign pointing to the zoo on my right I turned left , on the road I thought was. Right , oh no ! 15 mins later and in the pitch dark of the forest tracks I fell off after not seeing a tree root , even with my great lights but this was pitch dark , you could not see 15 m in front of you . I was on the point of saying ” right Alex , shelter under a tree , get a couple of hrs sleep and find The camp site in the morning , then by some bizarre piece of fate I nearly crashed into a Knokpoont with the 45 number on it! Let me tell you now, 45 is my new favourite number. 🙂
At 12.08 am I was pitching the tent using my superb petzal head torch , I threw the gear into the tent, peeled off my soaking waterproofs , shoes , gloves , crawled into the sleeping bag and knew nothing more till 7.30 this morning.
I have always said this blog will be honest , and I’ve been very honest in this post , bad planning , crappy weather , too much distance , all combined to make the day the longest and worst one yet by a long way . (185km)
Lessons learnt , I’m today in Arnhem , had a very nice lunch of chicken panini and bought some great variety of mushrooms to make a rice risotto with for tea.
I’m feeling surprisingly good today and quite proud of myself for battling on in the very poor weather , and achieving a big distance for the day , although not intentionally
😉
Correct plans ( well by now you should know me) are now made for the next 4 days and if I’m lucky will be in Germany on Tuesday evening , if they start speaking French to me I know I’ve missed yet another Knokpoont 😉

Wet madness

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If you look at my distance for yesterday you will see why I did not blog !!
I left the fantastic hosts of a Andrew and Friedel at 9 am in the pouring rain with a plan to cylce to somewhere near Utrecht , 66 km .
The very kind Astrid who I stayed with a few days ago offered to try to find me a host as she had plans , but I had connection problems and missed her email . Once I got to near Utrecht I made the stupid decision to ride onto Arnhem still in the rain to the fantastic little site I wrote about last week . So I ended up riding 185 km (114 miles) It should have been a total of about 140 km but as usual , Alex took the scenic route in the rain ! I Got totally lost in the pitch dark forest with no signal and eventually found it and pitched the tent at 12.08 am !!
Stupid wet bugger , lesson learnt !
I will do a proper blog later or tomorrow when I’ve a chance to charge up the phone and myself ! Staying here tonight to look around Arnhem today .
I’m fine , just had a bad day yesterday.

Rotterdam

What a great surprise Rotterdam was.
It was nothing like I expected , but then I’m constantly surprised in good way with this trip. After my first time as a guest of a Warmshower host , I met the wonderful couple of Robert and Emmy, who were my hosts for my second experience , now the standard was set high by Astrid , and they came up to the same level, I’ve being very fortunate to have met such nice people .
They also are experienced cyclists like Astrid, but they travel with recumbent bikes. They made a very nice pasta and veg meal , then as Holland were playing in the Euro football against Germany, the normally crowded streets of Rotterdam were deserted as Everyman and his wife , kids and dogs were watching the football. They live in a really nice part of town and beside the lake so we went for a bike ride around the lake where I was allowed to try a recumbent bike.

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The experience was bizarre , it was like learning to ride all over again,Robert for the first 50 metres hanging on to the back like a parent does with their child ! But I quickly got to grips with it and Robert made a video of me laughing my head off like a kid at Christmas. They said i did very well and i was a quick learner, so thats a first 😉 I will upload the videos soon!
They could not believe how quiet it was as we cycled around the lake and stopped at the far side so I could take a few pictures.

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I suggested to stop for a beer as my way of saying thank you for their hospitality , and just before the bar Robert picked up this cardboard tube and as he has a didgeridoo at home , gave us a tune , it was hilarious.

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We returned to their home after one beer , and off to my matress it was .
The morning brought clear blue sky’s and a warm temprature, and I was ready to leave at 8 am. Emmy said her goodbyes as she had to leave for work and Robert gave me a hand to load “George” .Again I said “thank you” and we went our separate ways . Thanks so much Robert and Emmy , such really nice people .
I was not due to my next hosts till 5pm today so had a slow ride towards Den Haag , where on the way I recieved a email from Friedel and Andrew my hosts for tonight suggesting a visit to the town of Schipluiden, and what a great tip off that was . Such a pretty place and I found a fantastic , bakery- cafe right on the canal . Lunch was taken , sitting outside the cafe -bakery.

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I could not resist taking two pictures looking in either direction

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Then off towards Den Hagg we went and riding along beside a canal I saw this beautiful garden.

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I’m now sitting in the park not far from my hosts house enjoying the glorious sunshine before I meet them in an hour.
I’ve never seen a tv for 15 days now and don’t miss it at all ( not that I watch it much anyway) but gather Holland lost judging by this .

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So that’s it for today and Tomorrow I point “George ” towards Berlin, but with my crap sense of direction who knows where may end up!! 🙂

Two weeks today

I am writing this early today as I’ve stopped at McDonalds for a coffee , and burger, so taking advantage of the free Wifi .
After my fantastic host Astrid , in Utrecht had offered me her sofa bed for the night, , and took me on a tour of the town yesterday afternoon which I’ve already uploaded the pictures of yesterday. On our way back to her flat we passed by the red light district. Now in Utrecht this consists of approx 30 barges all moored in one area , each barge had 4 full length windows where the “ladies” display their goods for sale !!! Now before anyone asks , we did not stop or did I take any photos as being honest it was a wired thing to see , and when your cycling you have to keep looking ahead or crash into the guys driving by very slowly to choose their lady!! .

After a good nights sleep, for breakfast we had toast and Choc spread for me and a sweet coconut slice for Astrid .
We headed off in the morning rush hour with bikes comming from all directions and one guy getting a bit aggressive trying to get past , but Astrid put him in his place.
Last night she had shown me the website http://www.fietsersbond.nl/fietsrouteplanner. Which had English translation as well , where we plotted my route to Rotterdam .
Once on my route we said our goodbyes and again I thanked her for her kindness and hospitality , a really nice experienced cycle traveller .
Now it’s two weeks today since I left home on this trip and after a decent start I struggled for a few days with all the organising that goes with this adventure , but the last 4 days the penny has dropped , I’ve learned some really good tips off other people and applied some common sense to my day, and as some people will tell you common sense has never being a strong point of mine !! 😉
From Utrecht I headed to Montfoort using my fantastic Fietsatlas with the knooppunten (waypoint markers) then to the very pretty town of Oudewater where I bought two fresh crossiants and had a Choc spread break

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The market was on so I had a look to see what was on offer

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It really is a very pretty place and people make the effort to make it look nice .

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From Oudewater I headed to Gouda , another region famous for its cheese and a very imposing town square .

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I’ve learnt I need to eat more often, so passing a chip shop I got myself a tray of chips and very nice they were too .
Holland has some beautiful wildlife and I’ve tried to take a decent picture of one of the many Herons, but as soon as I get close they bugger off , so far the score is Herons 13 – Alex 1

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While passing one of the thousand dykes I saw this family of Grebes , if my memory for my twitching days is right !!

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At Moordrecht I paid my 80 cents to get the ferry across the river to put me on the right side of the river IJssel

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Ahead of me I could see this boat with its sails up, so peddling like a daft bugger, with way to much weight on the bike ! I caught it up and took this picture which I hope is worth it !

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So with a second coffee now coming up , and meeting my host Robert and his family in a couple of hours . That’s me up-to date.
Tomorrow it’s Den Hague to meet with Friedel and Andrew Grant , my hosts for the evening and the founders of travelling two cycle website , where I was lucky enough to win a solar charger , and I’m really looking forward to meeting them as I have gained a massive amount of information , and help from their website .
Then my journey towards Berlin begins.
Two weeks in and at last it’s coming together , and I’m really enjoying myself and this beautiful country.

P.S . Hi to my loved ones 🙂 😉 Xxx

Thunder storms and Utrecht

When I got to the camp site at 4.30 pm the sky was getting darker by the minute and I coud tell a storm was on its way. I Litterally just got the tent pitched and the heavens opened. Very heavy rain , thunder and Lightening just above my head which lasted for an hour and a half. I made my meal inside the tent .

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The sky slowly cleared and the rain eased off but did not stop till 10 pm. In the morning the sky was nearly clear and bright . My tent was bone dry inside , so has certainly proved itself. I made an omelette, had bannana , and fresh coffee . I also found this in my tent from somewhere !

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The direct route to Urtrecht was 33 km I decided to go the scenic route and ended up covering a total of 56 Km for the day.
Im staying as a guest of a member of the Warmshowers organisation which is where people offer a spare bedroom or sofa bed , or just the chance to meet fellow cylists for the night. My Host is Astrid Koberberg, who has just returned from a 20 day tour of the USA. She has also cycled in Argentina, chile bolivia, Uruguay , Scotland, Morocco, Spain, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark , Thailand and Laos !!
I am staying on the sofa bed in her living room and in return have made her my favourite Mushroom Risotto. She has been kind enough to show me around Utrectht on our bikes ,where we met one of her male work collegues. Here are the pictures of Utrecht and a lovely place it is too.

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We went to some of the open Gardens they have in the town which in The UK we would call courtyard gardens but these are open to the public.

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There was a statue of a well know local man with this plague below it which says” The Further I go , the longer is the way back ” which I thought was very good.

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Also I wanted to add these two pictures of beautiful houses , the large house is in Leusdon , and the house beside the canal I passed in the small village of Den Treek, I just thought the small rowing boat moored on the canal with the trees looked lovely .

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And finally Here is a picture of a underground tunnel beside one of the canals in Utrecht. which I could not resist taking.

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Tomorrow morning at 8.15 am its off Rotterdam to have a look around before meeting in the evening , with another warmshower host called Robert Carlier another well travelled cyclist, and his family.
Thank You Astrid for your Kindness, and hospitality.

Hoge Veluwe

After good rest day , at the fantastic little campsite outside Arnhem I headed off to the National Park of De Hoge Veluwe. once i got there i paid my entrance fee of 8.20 then the girl informed me that the museum was closed on Mondays all day. Now i expected maybe half day but all day was disappointing, she said the park will not have many people in today and she was right. In 3 hrs I saw 9 people , the park covers an area of 5000 hectares of woodlands , grasslands and sand drifts It really was a good day to visit as i rode around in the silence expect for the sound of wild birds . The place is truly spectacular .
I am going to let the pictures I took do the rest of the blog for me today except to say the weather got really warm again this afternoon.
At 4.20pm I could see the sky darkening very quickly and as their was a campsite close by I headed straight for it, at Appel, Its 9.50euro for the night but looks nice . I got the tent pitched , My gear inside and as I type its Pissing down and thundering and lightning, right above me!! What a hell of a storm Im in.!!
here’s the pictures before I get struck by lightning in my tent.! OH F*uck!!

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Sun Day

It’s Sunday and the sun has come out .
It’s 21′ with light cloud cover but really nice and warm 🙂
The site I stumbled upon on the cycle route Lf4 at junction 45 just outside Arnhem is fantastic . It’s a riding stable on the outskirts of the forest and so peaceful , so small and so very nice. The facilities are brilliant , shower, toilet sinks , washing station and spin dryer . they only have a small area for tents which is surrounded by a small hedge and tree cover ,of approximately 30×30 metres. but so nice. i’m the only camper and their are about 4 caravans
I was planning on staying one night ,but for the price of 5.50 euro per night i decided to stay another day and to have a rest day, along with planning my route until the 14th June where I will be in Den Hagg to meet and stay with Friedel and Andrew Grant of travelling two cycling website, so Im really looking forward to it.
Ive done my washing the few things I had ,and got the mattress out along with my inflatable pillow, put on the itunes, suncream, chilled out. and had a good hours sleep .20120610-165558.jpg
As the site is on the edge of the forest there is no short supply of wood and i know some people who would love a woodpile like this. 😉20120610-165724.jpg
I decided to try some arty farty pictures so here we go

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As you walk along the bark path to the tent area they have this, which I have never seen before and is in Dutch but I guess its a weather stone and the rock changes height with the weather!

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Now I know I have several Dutch followers who shall tell me very soon, what it is and what it say’s so I will pass it on.
Ive made a few guest requests from the organisations I have joined and await replies as I type, but if they don’t come through its more camping and in a country so beautiful its not hard work.

Thank You everyone for all the kind comments Ive received after I asked if the blog was coming through ok and looking alright. I Will try my best to keep it looking good and entertaining, plus it gives me something to do at the end of the day! Also I phoned my family and loved ones. 🙂
Ive been on the road now for 11 days cycling 10 in total and as I’ve had a rest day I’ve had time to update my STATS page with some details.
Also Ive opened the bar on my donate page on “Start Here ” where you can donate a few Pounds/Euro to buy me a pint or a jar of chocolate spread:) if no one donates by Friday I’m going on strike and not blogging till Someone does 😉

George has had his chained oiled as a reward for being such a good bike and carrying me and approx 25 -30kg of gear and food, The 5 kg fluctuation is dependent on my chocolate spread consumption(only Kidding !!) Its now 5.20 pm and time for my tea of pasta, sausages and desert of …………..
Go on have a guess……………..
yes , plain digestives smothered in !!!
😉
Tomorrow, on we go to the National park of DE HOGE VELUWE.

HAPPY SUN DAY EVERYONE.

The power of sleep

Its an amazing thing the power of sleep.
Yesterday after starting at 4.29am and battling a head wind for most part of the day . I arrived at my hosts for the night ,Tony.
As I said in yesterdays post she is an amazing lady who’s family think she is a little crazy, well I will say this now, if she is crazy give me a world full of crazy people!
She went to the trouble of preparing a tradditional Dutch dinner, which I truly appreciated and the good company in the evening, but at 9.30 pm I could keep my eyes open no longer and said goodnight.
I awoke at 7am in a soft comfortable bed for the first time in 9 days, what a joy! Dont get me, wrong I love my tent and the Outwell sleeping mat but a wonderful meal, good nights sleep, followed by a hearty breakfast can do wonders for you.
Feeling so much better, and grateful Tony offered to take me to the correct route marker for my ride, while Burt and his Daughter said their goodbyes and set off to the forest to walk the dogs.

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Once we set off at about 9.45 we passed one of Vordens windmills and Tony said “come on, I will show you it”. So within minutes she had worked her magic and told the the guy who owns the mill that I was cycling around Europe and he gave us both a guided tour of the mill,with the sails going round as well.

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He even went to the trouble of showing us how the flour is lifted up from the lower floors.

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I thanked him for his time and trouble and on we went. Now Tony has a KOGA bike for touring and an excellent bike it is , but My bike “George” is doing a great job as well, never complaining!
Tony rides her tradditional dutch bike around town and the dog goes along side her on the lead.

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But when he gets tired he gets a free ride in the pannier on the back.

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Then we stopped at the water mill on the outskirts of Vorden and yet again ” crazy Lady Tony” 😉 worked her magic and the attendent set the water wheel running for us to see

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Then Tony said before I leave you we shall stop for a coffee and apple cake at the local farm, which was delicious and I paid for as it was the least I could do.

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Sadly it was time for Tony to head back to Vorden and I said my goodbyes to her, and thanked her for being such a wonderful host. If anyone is looking for a host in Vorden On the LF4 Then Tony is the person to stay with.

So on I went till I came to Hollands Smallest City Bronkhorst. It really is a lovely place, and these Bikers came passed me several times in half an hour, they were more lost than me!!

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The ferry crossing was closed due to the 25-30 mph strong winds which I had rode against all morning, so I had no choice but to head back towards Bronkhorst, and along the 14 km Dyke to the next road bridge in a strong headwind!. I had noticed a group of people doing some filming in the town, and on my way passed they stopped me and said they were making a film for tourists for the area and would I mind doing a small interview for them. Now being camera shy !!! I said “OK” so off I rode 50Metres back, then towards the camera as instructed then said who I was, what I was doing, and how nice Holland is. They thanked me for my time and are sending me the link once the film is finished so if I get it I will post it for you to have a chuckle at.

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Once I had made my 14 km detour which turned into a 20 km detour !! I arrived at Dieren and seen this really pretty decorated bike.

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At 6pm on the far side of Arnhem , Which has Hills!! I passed a farm campsite not marked on the route but its only 6 Euro for the night with all facilities and a cracking view

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As you can see in the picture, the tent is up I have my own private plot, and the Triangia is doing a fantastic job of making my evening meal of Pork chops and rice. Im writing this blog using my iPhone 4S and my Apple Wireless keypad, I have not seen a computer screen since I left home , so I hope this is coming through to you ok? It looks ok to me but some feedback would be appreciated. The wind has dropped ,its 7.45 pm and all is Good in “Alex Land”.
Its amazing the power of sleep!

Thank you Tony 🙂

Friendship

After approx 3 hours sleep in the shelter in Germany I set off at 4:29 am
The sun was just starting to rise in the distance.

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Now I was shattered In a short period of time due to lack of sleep over last few nights but pressed on till 9am when I stopped for crossiants and smothered them in strawberry jam . I had a few energy satchets and topped up my drinks bottles.
No matter which direction I turned the strong wind seemed to be blowing in my face and with big open spaces today it was the last thing I really needed. The fun factor was gone this was determination time to push on too Vordon where I was staying with Tony one of the lovely ladies I met a few days ago . About 5 km from her house I came to a crossroads and stopped to look at the map. Then this 10 cm ball came past me from another direction . I turned to see a group of ladies and men walking down the quite country lane . Now doing what I thought was the gentlemanly thing I picked up the ball and rolled it back to them to the shock on their faces, as I had just ruined the ladies score in another Dutch game I did not understand !!

I arrived at her house at 2:30pm absolutely shattered, but her smiling face and warm welcome soon fuelled
Me with energy and the cold beer was appreciated as well 😉 She offered me a spare bedroom which I great fully accepted . And a warm shower soon followed which I was ready for after two tough days !!
We spent time in the garden chatting while I used the washing machine to wash my clothes then lunch was bread and fresh herrings , followed a few hours later by an evening meal with her friend and his daughter.We ate asparagus soup , then meatballs , potatoes , and veg , with chocolate desert to follow . It’s amazing the kindness of people you meet on the road . Tony is a member of vrieden op de fiest and I can’t speak highly enough of her as a host . I bought a bottle of wine which we had with our meal , a small token of my appreciation.
I helped with the wasing up but as tony is tall and her kitchen work tops are specially made higher for her . I had too use a stool to reach the sink !! So a good nights sleep ahead , ready to be refreshed and back in the saddle tomorrow morning

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Germany, the sticky out bit !!

It rained again last night !
After getting a good soaking all day pitched the tent in the rain , showered the the sun came out . Great I thought . Then at 2.45am it started to rain heavy again . The force of the rain was like marbles bouncing on a drum inside the tent, this continued till 5.30am so not a great deal of sleep! But the tent is great and no moisture whatsoever inside.
Morning brought sunshine and the temperature climbed to 19′ . Packed up and was on the road at 9.45 as took some time to finish drying my clothes out . Not long into the days ride I came across one of the Netherlands answers to stone henge

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I have figured out that most of Europes potatoes must be grown in holland as they are grown everywhere , miles upon miles of them

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I stopped In Emmen for lunch from a street cafe , then cracked on making the most of the weather . In mid afternoon I crossed into Germany as the LF14a goes straight across the sticky out bit of Germany , sorry but don’t know how else to describe it!

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I’ve made good progress and finished the day just outside of Lage Germany where I’m going to spend the night .Then it’s only a few km back into the Netherlands in the morning where I push onto Vorden to stay with Tony and Toos the two Dutch lady cyclists I met .
Distance today was 98.77km , nearly cracked 100km but guess what !!!

It’s raining again 😦

Wet!

I awoke this morning at 6am to the sounds of the Toads croaking 30 yds away . Noisy things they are must be mating season!
The sky looked ominous so I quickly packed the tent up while it was still dry. Just got it in the bag and the heavens opened, I made it to the shelter of the gazebo where I put the rest of my things away and made a coffee, breakfast was a banana , and digestives smothered in choc spread.
The lovey German family of cyclists who arrived and pitched opposite me were eating their breakfast in the shelter too . Dad was pulling a trailer with the two youngest kids in 3, 4 and the son, daughter, mother were all on their bikes loaded with panniers, in my dodgy German and their not bad English we chatted for about 20 mins.

There was nothing for it But to set off in the rain towards Groningen , and once I got there it was still chucking it down so made the instant decision no point hanging around so I pushed on with the plan to cover as far as possible before 6pm .
Lunch was taken in a bus shelter , as I had made a ham and salad sandwich and ate some more Chocolate spread straight out of the jar , scooped fingers full !!
It never let up all day and by the time it came to camp it was worse than ever !
I’m at Drouwen a total of 90.5 km for the day so a bloody good achievement in the unrelenting rain . I was absolutely soaked even wearing waterproofs but there is only so much rain anything can take , all my gear is bone dry in the fantastic Ortlieb panniers . Tent up in the rain, then straight to have a hot shower . By the time I came out of the shower the rain had stopped , bloody typical ! The sky is now clear and the evening sun is out , let’s hope for a dry day tomorrow ! My stuff is in the tumble dryer , and I was going to eat in the camp bar but it’s shut ! So it’s pasta , with a stir in sauce and good chunks of the salami I’ve bought . Followed by a hot coffee , with you guessed it , digestives smothered in chocolate spread for desert 🙂
Going to check if the bar is open soon as I’m ready for a well deserved pint . Today has been a tough long day but tomorrow is another day ,and on we go 😉

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Wrong turn-Right turn

At last the sun has come out .
I was up early , packed and on the road for 8am . At 8.30 I phoned my sister to wish her happy Birthday.
The clouds were clearing by the minute and the bike feels good . I headed up to the coast to pick up the LF10a to Pieterburen in the province of

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I was making good time as I knew I had a good distance to cover today which ended up a total of 75km for the day.
Once I got to Lauwersoog I had the choice of a few alternative paths and the one I wanted to go on I missed and ended up on the forest trail .

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I was making a short video with the camera mounted in the front of the bike chatting away commentating , came round a corner and was greeted with a tank coming from the other direction !
I nearly peed myself laughing and will upload it tomorrow . I then figured out its the military practice ground as well !
Following the trail I came to a river crossing and there was another tank so took a few pics

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The Dutch Army guys were good enough to take a couple of pics for me too . So my wrong turn proved to be a right turn after all . Another good reason for not using a sat nav all day , or I would have missed the fun .
So after 4hrs 28 mins of cycling time I arrived at

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I’m on a small site and the only camper but its clean , got everything I need and only 5 euro .
Happy Birthday Sis X

Rats and rain

I know, I said I was not going to post a blog today but after last night I want to get it out of my system.

When I got here I pitched my tent on the lakeside that runs round the site. There were three other tents there already so I thought that’s fine . Mistake no1 , all set up , then I got lost in Leeuwarden , upon returning I headed to the barn for want of better word to charge my phone and catch up with friends. , it was all going good till I returned to the tent . I walked along the narrow broken shell path to the clearing where the tent was pitched and there he was !
A feckin huge rat just 6 inches from my tent door , now let’s cut straight to the chase, I HATE RATS.
I’ve removed dead ones from traps in the past no problem but this bugga would laugh in the face of the traps we’ve previously put down , he would struggle to get his head in never mind his body ! So blind panic set in, swearing like a trooper , grabbing everything as quick as I could I made the instant decision that I was moving to the middle of the field and sod the nice view.” Roland” jogged off into the nearby undergrowth but didn’t vanish oh no he was brewing for a fight . I could see him waiting for his chance. On my second sprint back to grab the tent and the rest of my stuff “Roland” was still shuffling round on the edge of the undergrowth as if to prove his masculinity , by then I was on the phone for comfort ( yes I was freaking out) the only sympathy I got was laughter at the other end of the phone , this helped no end !!!
Sprint no3 was well underway back along the shell path and then I really lost the plot , “Roland’s” feckin cousin was on the path in front of me and he was the same size ! And to top it all “Alfonso ” the daddy of them all was on the table of the other lads tents helping himself to their food they’d left out.
Dancing along the path like a ballerina on speed I made it back to the safety of the middle of the site.
“dutch Farmer Bob “who runs the site gave me 3 free eggs to calm me down and tootled off to check out the mafia!

One hot chocolate , half a jar of chocolate spread on digestive biscuits later and all was calm in Morrison land.

I woke this morning at 7am on my rest day to the sound of light rain on the tent , by the time I had a tinkle it was lashing it down! 8.5 hrs later it’s stopped ! The rain not my tinkle !! 😉
Not to be put off I headed into town and soon found a mini supermart and bought enough food for 5 days , now I like Choc spread but I love this stuff

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I’m on my second jar in four days!!
Here’s my breakfast this morning courtesy of ” farmer bob ”

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And here is the little lady that supplied it drinking from my Ortlieb folding bowl

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And finally , I’ve found out that most Dutch shops are shut on a Monday as well so Leeuwarden was very quite, bit like a ghost town , and this boarded up shop front.

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Tomorrow it’s off to Pieterburen for the start of my fist long route on Wednesday morning .

Lost in Leeuwarden

Last night started on my own in the campsite bar which ended up gate crashing a surprise birthday party and meeting 3 new cycling companions .
I thought the respectable thing to do was leave them to party on their own so headed back to the tent. It was then I realised that I was not alone . Tony and Toos two 60ish ladies had arrived earlier . They are both Dutch nationals and friends . They quickly introduced themselves in very good english and we struck up a conversation. They are cycling the perimeter of the Netherlands and finishing on 9th June . Tony is a member of Frieden op de fiest, friends of the cyclist, and as I pass her town twice she has offered to let me pitch my tent in her garden for free if I want .

The other person in the picture is Duck n dive Pavel as I’ve named him for good reasons!
He is a German ,24 and unemployed spending two weeks cycling around The North of Netherlands . He arrived at 8.35 precisely 5 mins after reception closed, and rode straight passed the barrier to the tent site . He has a twelve euro tent , no matress , no means of cooking and a bag of food . Now he offered me some cheese which he bought for 50cents per portion , I declined as I’m not a cheese person, but made him a cuppa as I was making one for me . He thanked me and we had a little chat in my crap German and his not so good English . (he won on penalties 😉
In the morning we all sat round for breakfast , me with tea , again sharing it with duck n dive , Tony and Toos eating their food . Pavel asked if they would like some cheese, they said yes , quick as a flash duck n dive said “that’ll be 3 euro” , a instant 2 euro profit! . They were too polite too say they thought he was offering it for free and I said nothing as it had nowt to do with me , but admired his entrepreneur spirit.
Tony and Toos were off to the Ferry to cycle the islands for the day , duck n dive packed up his stuff and asked me how much he had to pay at reception for the nights camping “11euro “I said including the shower he had this morning. He raised his eyebrows packed his bike ,gave me a sticker for the bike , shook my hand , winked, then rode straight passed the reception window and out of the gate !!
Now you know why I nicknamed him duck n dive Pavel.
From the camp gates I rode the short distance to Harligen and the very nice harbour.
Now it’s not cars that queue , it’s the Sunday morning sailors out for a days jolly on the water.

They waited till the lock keeper opened the gates at 9.45 then a polite orderly precession out of the harbour gates.

My ride to Leeuwarden was only 20 km so I took the scenic route of 35 km and found the site after 5 mins . I’ve got a cracking pitch on the lake side and staying two days.
Once sorted I rode the 10 mins into town to get some shopping but dum ass forgot it was Sunday again! So everywhere was shut and the only place not was McDonalds so a quarter pounder meal it was with a coffee to wash it down with . Now the streets were closed off as a 5km fun run was on so I quickly became well and truly lost! I’d left the address of the site in the tent along with my map. Now here’s where I surprised myself , out came the iPhone googled the campsite , copied and pasted the address to the map app and set it for directions, smart arse Morrison 🙂
Good job too as I was going in the wrong direction ( dumb ass Morrison) Within 15 mins I was back at site and the kettle was on . I’ve got my sat nav as well, but honestly I don’t want to use it If its possible , it’s much more fun stopping someone and asking .
Tomorrow is a rest day my first , and I’m ready for it now. Going back to Leeuwarden to have a good nose around so you too can have a day off . No blog tomorrow, promise 😉

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Day 3

Firstly I don’t intend to post everyday but as I’ve had a good start and got time today I thought I would update today’s progress.
Set of from st martensvoltberg at 8.45 and using my Fietsatlas kept to the very quite back lanes. First obstacle was a bridge closed, a few kms diversion to the next crossing point . Headed towards Den Oever and the massive and very impressive Afsluitdijk. I was warned its a bugga in a head wind and luckily my wind dance kind of paid off as I had a slight side tailwind. Seeing is believing where this man made structure is concerned, you can’t help but smile at the sheer size of it and the realisation that you cycling 30km straight over the sea. I stopped after 7km at the viewing platform to take a few pics in each direction

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Again the cycle path is totally separate from the cars and I had to laugh when a guy about 70 dressed in Lycra came whizzing from the opposite direction on roller blades , he was going a fair old pace!
At the end of the dike I stopped for a chocolate bar break and you realise how hungry you actually get. A few mins later I was in Zurich ! I had to look twice at the sign , but there it was . At the village green I stopped to watch these guys

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Now no doubt someone will put me right but from what I could tell one guy stands at one end and throws a small wooden ball underarm 50yds to his teammate at the other end who is wearing a leather glove , he smacks it with his glove which must hurt 20 Yds to another team mate who tries to catch the ball , if he does then points are awarded! They were kind enough to give me a free coffee while watching.
The last 8 km was into a headwind and a bit of a bugga to Harlingen where I had not booked anywhere for tonight , next 2 days are sorted though but quickly found campsite DeZeehoeve. 11euro sheltered pitch and shower.
Tent up in 6 mins , getting quick now , and as I was a wee bit minging straight to the shower, I took advantage of the hot water and free electric to charge the phone and wash my last 3 days clothes through with my mini travel wash (thanks mam)

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Day 2

I was not going to post till sun but have had such a good day thought I would, share it. Set off from Castricum at 8.30 in light drizzle which soon went. Headed up to Alkmar and was very lucky to hit it on the cheese market day
It was great watching the guys running round carrying sledges weighted down with all the cheese. They really make the effort and even had an old guy punting on the river . Spent about an hr having a look around then headed to Bergen which was a really nice little place where i found a great deli shop and bought 4 links of sausages for tea. There are some spectacular houses in Bergen, huge, small , but all really well looked after.
Now as someone has asked me before i left what’s it like cycling in holland from off the ferry all I can say is it’s a joy. Just follow the signs and the other cyclists everyone heads off in the same direction . Once your going from A-B again it’s like cycling by numbers. I bought an ANWB Fietsatlas before I left and it’s brilliant. But even then you cant go far wrong. The signage is great .

From Bergen I headed to the North sea town of Petten upon the way I had my first experience of a Dutch hill they’ve even built an artificial ski slope there to celebrate !
From Petten it was a pancake flat ride along the coast for 7 km to st Martensvoltberg where I easily found my site and another cracking pick it is , camping t’ ruige Veld . Got a lush sheltered pitch the sun is out and I’ve just now at 3 pm consumed pasta , my sausages and garlic,Tom sauce . I was ready for it and made myself a coffee.
Now a few things , one I can’t for the life of me find my waterproof trousers and I’m sure I’ve packed them so lets hope it’s stays dry, and the double stand on my bike which I bought from halfords has snapped , so it’s a useless single stand now so that’s going in the bin. Also I’ve packed far too much clothes , top tip travel light ! Everyone told me and they were right . I’m eating my way through my food so that’s getting lighter by the hour and I’m probably going to send some clothes back soon. It’s not the weight of them it’s just to bloody many.
Tomorrow it’s over the massive sea dyke from Den Oever to Harlingen approx 18 miles long.
Very early days but Cycling in the Netherlands is brilliant .

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Day One

Ferry was a very smooth crossing , thank Goodness after my last experience of ferries !
Weather was overcast but dry this morning and found the ferry crossing after 2 km which put me straight into the right cycle route. First impressions very flat excellent cycle tracks can see why people rate holland.
Followed LF1 to Castricum , it not the traffic you have to look out for its the wild cattle ! 20120531-162208.jpg
Then close to my camp site I rode past this 20120531-162401.jpg
Fields full of flowers , absolutely beautiful. Once I got to the campsite just got tent up before it threw it down for half hr, but then it’s got slightly brighter so I’ve rode into town and stumbled upon the most fantastic cafe and chocolate shop so had a coffee , toastie, and Choc bomb 🙂 so far so good . So heading back to camp now and will update at weekend when free wi fi !

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On your marks

Its Monday 9.50pm as I start to type this post. I’m sitting in the kitchen having a beer and chilling out. Its my Sons 19th Birthday today , so another milestone in my life.

 The panniers are all packed and weighed up, rear panniers both exactly 6.3kg each, dry bag 5kg, front panniers exactly 5 kg each, bar bag 3 kg.a total of 30.6 kg., 4 stone 7, or 66 lb take your pick it’s the same either way.

Some of that is food provisions for the first week which will get lighter, and I probably am being over-cautious with what I’m taking!

I’m ready, the bike is ready,It’s now very much a reality.

I would like to thank everyone who has been a massive support in helping me get to this point. Family , friends , people whom I have yet to meet, but will one day, and you the readers. A special thanks to one particular person who means the most in my life.

So with that now done , it’s the vets tomorrow with the dog to see where we go with him , something I’m really not looking forward too, and then take the rest of the day as it comes!

Ferry on Wednesday afternoon.

Last few days

The last few days have been a mixture of emotions.
All my preparation is done, all my bags just about packed. last minute items now bought, bike serviced and a superb job they have done too.

Friday was a day which started bad, got worse then finished great. Firstly my sisters Audi estate car was hit side on and is now an insurance right off. The car did its job and she has whiplash,and bruising but otherwise fine.
Then we noticed a small lump which was on my dogs throat has suddenly got bigger to the size of a golf ball, so straight away to the vets and the news is not good. He believes it is a tumour . Ive brought him home for a few days and back on Tue morn to make a decision .This on the day before I leave.!!
My Sons 19th Birthday is on Mon so I took him out for a meal on Friday evening . After the events of the morning this was a welcome relief to be able to spend quality time with Lewis. We had a great night, great food and throughly enjoyed ourselves.
On Saturday I set off in the glorious sunshine we are having of late to cycle 53 km to meet up with a friend for the weekend. No long after setting off I found a large flexi arrow lying in the road and not one to miss out on a good photo opportunity I quickly named him “Alfie” the arrow and he is coming with me around Europe to highlight some major sites. His first job was at the angel of the North Statue near Gateshead.

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In the picture you can also see I tried out my Solar charger  in a proper situation on the bike. My iPhone was 55 % charged and when I plugged it in the charge went to 67 % so only a 12 % charge in 3 hrs of sunshine. It does state min 4 hrs of sunshine to charge the AA’s  but I already know it charges the booster back up batteries I have for the phone no problem, along with my other gadgets. First impressions , pretty good but time will tell.

So after a great Saturday and Sunday daytime I set off to cycle the 53km back home, again in sunshine and really enjoyed the ride back. Few things to do tomorrow and then its back to the vets with Mitch on Tue morn, Ferry on Wednesday.
Life is full of ups and downs !!