Monday, 23 July 2007

Sunday 22nd July 2007 - Day 5: Ruurlo-Gronau, Germany (62km)

A day of sunshine and thunderstorms. Set off in record time, with one eye on the huge clouds, and the other on the goats that were crowded around looking for snacks. Managed to cycle the first 25km, before deciding the rain was imminent, and that we were going to have to...O no...stop for a coffee and a cake! The rain duly performed, with a bit of thunder and lightening thrown in, before the sun came out again making everything steam.

John's butt (if anyone is still interested :-)) is still in a state of agony, and he spend much of his time standing in his pedals above his seat, grimmacing. Just as well today is an easy cycle. No hills, a following wind, and a short-ish stretch. Windmills were a feature of today's cycle and we passed a couple of beauties. Delicious smell of rain drenched vegetation all around too.

We were rather excited when crossing over the border into Germany (a couple of signs in the road) as neither of us had ever cycled across a border before (if you don't count the cycle off the ferry into Holland that is). Now in Gronau, and are busy sampling the coffee and cake here too. We can't find a campsite, and everything is closed because it is Sunday, so we'll stay in a guest house tonight. That doesn't open until 6pm, so here I am in the Internet shop typing away (and cursing the 'y' 'z' thing!!! Aaaarrgghh). Better go and rescue John and the bikes I guess. Please feel free to leave ('polite' :-)) messages.

Crossing the border into Germany

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Saturday 21st July 2007 - Day 4: Elst-Ruurlo (102km)

 A great day, Sunshine throughout. We decided to bid the LF4 a fond farewell, as it is a somewhat tortuous route and we are already a few days behind our very rough schedule. As a result we just stuck to the cycle paths beside more major roads. Holland just has the best cycle paths! Even on main-ish roads, the cycling is pleasant. After a slow start that involved drying out the tent as much as possible, and sliding our feet back in to saturated cycling shoes, we set off with a sense of purpose. We did 33km before morning coffee.

The route was actually rather undulating today, and we even got a decent down a hill marked 7%! Legs felt the strain a little bit, and the luggage weighed a bit more.

Tis' the season of fertility and small things, and we have seen a lot of lambs, kids, foals, cygnets, ducklings, etc. Also saw a lot of stately homes which are very classical, with a twist of 'Dutch' style (very angular). The gardens are all extremely formal, but extremely well-kept, with ponds full of lillies, and regal swans.

One thing that we did realise today while cycling along, as you do, is that it is almost impossible to tell the difference between a bike shop and an ordinary shop as there are always so many bikes outside of all the shops.
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Friday 20th July 2007 - Day 3: Woerden to Elst (79 km)

Castle Haar

 Just a short note after a very wet day. We started early with John firing on all cylinders, but stalling because of a sore butt, and the world of pain he faced!! Started to rain just as we finished packing up, then showered until 2pm, and then hacked it down.

Did have a coffee at a great spot looking at a rather splendid castle (Castle Haar) where there was a jousting tournament. Tempting. Wend our way through more avenues of magnificent beeches and poplars, farmland and little villages, still following the LF4. Played with an adorable skewbald mare and foal.

John flagged seriously at about 65km, and we missed the campsite. Fortunately, a side trip to the main road paid dividends and we located a campsite sign, a campsite, and a cold beer!!
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Holland to Germany!!!

A photo of a cup of coffee.Image via Wikipedia

I'm going to give a quick overview of our progress so far, this time from an Internet cafe in Gronau in Germany (and yes, the 'z' and the 'y' are still interchanged, but at least the keyboard works this time!!) I wanted to post some pictures, but there is no USB port so that is going to be impossible - sorry...we've been taking a lot, and will try to upload soon. (Had a chance to add pictures later :-)

Thursday 19h July 2007 - Day 2: The Hague to Woerden (65km)

Today things started to go right. In spite of a late start we got away and headed in the correct direction (for a change :-)) following the LF4 route. John had a headache which we later put down to caffeine withdrawal as we had not had a cup of coffee or tea for a day. The cycling was intially deliciously cool through deciduous forests, which gradually gave way to farm land. Saw a lot of horses and ponies of all shapes and sizes. The smell of the countryside here is a heady mix of wild flowers, grass, and rich soil.

One of the highlights is that there are so many other people cycling here of all ages, on a range of bikes from top of the range road bikes to old bone shakers.

The houses along the route were very distinctive, with squared off roofs, often thatched in funky stles, and meticulous gardens stuffed with flowers. After about two or three hours we passed on in to 'canal' land. The landscape is criss-crossed with channels, and each house has its own bridge to access it.

Lunch was beside one of the long roads, lined with huge mature beeches. Our entertainment was a flock of birds wheeling and circling above, and a constant stream of friendly cyclists.

After John started to flag (he calls me the Duracell Bunny for some reason!), we started to look for a campsite. A cup of coffee went some way toward alleviating John's headache and cheering him up. Even better we found an outdoor shop that sold white gas...tea-yay!!

Met a 73 year old Dutch guy in the last few kms who still cycles the world. He looked great, and was an inspiration.
John writes his diary at the end of the day

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Thursday, 19 July 2007

In Den Haag in Holland

Just off the ferry

I'm typing this at our first campsite in Holland but the keypad does not work properly and the 'y' and 'z' are interchanged! Our first day has been a bit of a disaster with one of John's new Ortleib panniers breaking and finding out that the new MSR stove does not burn meths, but only white gas or kerosene. So it's sandwiches for dinner. And a rather grumpy John.

Ferry ride was uneventful, even though it was a day late. More disasters that culminated with us spending a day in Beverley instead of Holland.

Weather has been perfect though, and we have cycled in some very pretty, if flat countryside. Better get back to the sandwiches :-)

Will type more when have a proper keyboard that works....
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Monday, 16 July 2007

Still in Wolverhampton ...

... waiting for Hazel to sign off so we can get on the road!

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Sitting in an Internet cafe in Wolverhampton!!

Tonight we are getting on the overnight ferry to Rotterdam! Just have to get as far as Hull which means we have the laborious task of finishing our packing, and getting the bikes in the back of the car. Ah well. Soon we will be underway. Just hope we won't need the snorkel and fins in the rain-sodden landscape :-)

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