My aim is to travel from the UK to Brisbane for one of my best friends' wedding. Plane travel is so environmentally damaging so I am looking for another way. I also think that by travelling over land and sea I will be able to understand our world better as I will connect with the people and landscapes and not just look at the departure board in the airport. Any tips gratefully received!! Departure date 1st September.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Visiting Friends and Family

Day 9 - Canterbury - London - How it happened who knows?
After a restless but lush nights sleep in a bed - wow - we start to plan the day that never gets planned and it is bizarre, stressful, painful and exhilerating. Stubbornly and skintly I decide we must persevere without a map. Lots of lovely locals help us out and we have to cut out some of the National Cycle Network (NCN) routes as they are just too windy and scenic and we just want to cover some miles. Leaving Adam in Gillingham I am tired and feel a bit defeated but somehow I pick myself up and cycle another 50 miles to central London. 12 hours on the bike in total, I just kept heading west, asking directions and plodding up and down hills on fairly busy roads. I finally arrived in a crusty heap, delirious with the achievement but couldn't even sit down on the floor in the brightly lit hall of Euston train station I was in so much pain. The fabulous Dav came and rescued me and put me to bed, where I stayed for most of the rest of the next day.
Day 10 - Sleeping with Alan Partridge
My first day off, what bliss. Thanks to Dav and Kelly who looked after me in my weary state. I did nothing much all day but sleep and watch Alan Partridge DVDs.
Day 11 - The Grand Union Canal
Back on the bike and out of London on the Grand Union Canal. It was a bit confusing as although it is mainly an NCN route it started with a 'no cycling sign'. A bumpy but easy ride along past lots of canal boats as the sky got greyer and darker and eventually rained on me. After getting lost around Uxbridge and doing 6 extra miles for no reason, I was starting to get stressed and depressed but finally found the A40 and the road to my Mum and Dad's. Arriving to a warm welcome, a roast dinner and apple crumble made it all worthwhile. Many people have asked me if I am tired doing all this cycling. Although I am it is a nice feeling and as I only have to worry about cycling, eating and sleeping each day it is quite a pleasant, straightforward and simple existence really.
Day 12 - High Wycombe to Farnham
A sunny start and a lazy morning catching up with family and friends and then a lovely and easy ride on the roads to Bracknell. From here it got a bit hilly and the roads a bit busier but in all an easy day, mainly on roads but not too busy. Stopping in a cycle shop near Fleet I found out about Heinz Stucke who has been cycling round the world now for over 40 years. I read his booklet and it really is an amazing tale, he is trying to cycle in every country in the world, so my attempt at 3 countries seems a bit lame! I soon found myself in Farnham drinking real ale (the joy of being in the UK, I am surprised at how much tea I am drinking too!) and catching up with my lovely friend Charlotte, who was to be my host for the night.
Day 13 - Farnham to Coombe Bisset - another mammoth cycle
After lots of fondue and catching up I managed to steal Charlotte for the day to cycle with me. We set off and slowly wandered along some small roads, through some lovely countryside towards Winchester. Arriving here at 4pm I then discovered my aim for the night was about 35 miles away and so set off along the A30 (which I hear is not too hilly - but this is a complete lie!) but somehow make it to the campsite just before it shut in time for a cold shower and bed, nice to be out in the countryside and peace and quiet again.
Day 14 - A very short ride
Yesterday's effort was worth it so I could have a a very easy Sunday ride today. Only a few miles down the road and past the lovely Stratford Tony (strange name for a town) I meet the lovely Kate 'Baggy' Bagshaw and Matt on their bikes, who then guide me safely to Compton Abbas, south of Shaftesbury and up one of the steepest hills of the trip so far. A pub lunch and chilling out was much needed as we enjoyed the local cuisine and cider of Dorset in a proper local pub.
Day 15 - Another rest trying to fix my knees
I have developed very painful knees, possibly as the bike is a bit small or because I am just pummelling them hard. Anyway it is a bit late but I try to stock up on oily fish and buy some Flax seed oil in a attempt to make them better. I also have a very crusty lip due to the wind and sun and start to feel like a wild explorer! More lounging around in the sunshine helps bring me back to a world of normality and not just cycling, eating and sleeping.
Day 16 - Compton Abbas - Bradford on Avon
After another day's rest I was raring to go. Baggy helpfully routed me around the 'very steep hill' and I had a fairly easy cycle, with very little map reading, which was handy as the wind picked up and was desparately trying to push me backwads and sidewards. My knees were still aching but I continued my quest for oily fish to the lovely little town of Bradford on Avon and finally found some Fish 4 Good which is lovely and sustainably caught tinned fish and ate it with some wild garlic from the comfort of my little tent home.
Day 17 - Bradford on Avon to Bristol - Lots of cycle paths
I didn't have far to go today and so had a lazy start. I pootled along the lovely Kennet and Avon Canal to Bath in the sun smiling at all who went by. I think everyone thought I was a nutter and I stopped saying hello after about 50 people had not replied! It was nice to see people living in their canal boats and lots of solar panels and wind turbines getting them powered up too. There was still a strong headwind but it was fairly easy along flat cycle paths and only 25 miles all day. So the afternoon was spent hanging out with Lewis drinking lovely local ale and catching up. Later it was ultimate frisbee with Dave and Louise and more catching up to be done from the last 9 months.
Day 18 - Hanging out in Bristol with a Straw Bale house
Another days rest and I get to check out some friends building a beautiful strawbale house with the help of Barbara Jones (strawbale guru) who I go to the talk of later on that evening. Reminds me how wonderful straw is as a building material, how cheap and warm and eco. After a drink in the famous Star and Garter I try to sleep but cannot and finally drag myself up for the next day cycle. Thanks to Louise who put me up and started me off on the right path and it was off to cross the Severn bridge and into WALES!!!!!