Leg 1 under way

Posted in Short trip in Old Blighty, The journey journal, Uncategorized at 5:49 pm by Administrator

First off, please accept my appologies if there are loads of typing errors in this entry as I am slowly learning my way around a french keyboard and it is very hard to change after so many years of being an anglephone. We’re currently in Paris but I’ll start off with our journey setting off in London and the day and a half into dover.

I was stoked to have so many friends brave a sunday morning and the vocal Tamil protesters dressed in their union jack ponchos to come down and fairwell us at parliament square. Also huge hugs go to the 5 that rode out with us. Even though they put up with me taking q wrong turn after 5 minutes on the road and they survived that wonderfully traditional english weather that London had spent all week saving up for us.

We got on the bikes as big ben started striking 10 am and with a bit of drizzle on our backs headed for Elephant and castle and the A2. It got pretty soggy by the time Clemo and Shannon turned back for home and so Jen, Nic and I pushed on by ourselves. The sun did poke through occasionally but the wind was consistently across our noses and the rain meant that we were already breaking out the best of our cold weather gear. The neoprene over booties are a golden idea and recomended to all.

A note to my geol friends. Glaciation sucks when the bedrock is soft chalk. I no longer like ice ages after nearly bursting a pfoofer trying to get all my gear up some of the valley sides on the way to dover. In a day with solidly unfavourqble winds and the mushy legs of someone just starting a journey the added pain of seriously steep hills was entirely unwelcome. Still I managed to ride up everysingle one of the hills, even though I had to use every gear that I had.

We did have a nice pub lunch outside the M25 and ended up free camping in a beautiful little english feild just east of Sittingbourne. The sun had poked its head out long enough to set and we had a carvery dinner at a pub down the road. (how good is England for pubs!!!) The night passed without incident and we set off at 7 the next morn into a stiffening southwesterly and more hills.

We did a breaky stop in Canterbury and had a poke around the cathedral. The cathedral is a pretty cool one and I seem to have gotten over my ABC syndrome (Another Bloody Church). The town of canterbury was also pretty cool and after a few hours we hit the wind and hills and rain again to get to dover.

We chilled in Dover for a bit before getting on the ferry and cruising across la marche. We caused quite a stir by snoozing under the tables but after that we’d hit country 2! Woohoo. Also we knew that we were leaving England because the sun came out as we hit Dover and we sailed into the sunset in France.



The Week in London

Posted in Short trip in Old Blighty, The journey journal at 4:11 pm by Administrator

So tomorrow is the big send off and the beginning of the adventure. Geez its getting exciting. We managed to pack everything into the panniers and it actually fit. Nic has been spending a bit of time making sure that our bikes are set up correctly and that our kit fits well. The few hundred bucks for her to do the course on setting up the bikes was so worth it. My achilles has been giving me so much trouble the last few days but between the setting of the gear and the acupuncture its really improving. Yay for Nic.
This week in London has been really fun. Cruising around london on the bikes and doing loads of sight seeing. I’ve been revisiting some old haunts and trying to be a decent tour guide for Nic. The problem is that I keep forgetting important landmarks are there until we’re halfway through wizzing past them and then I flail wildly trying to get nic to look at them. I’m hoping that we haven’t missed too much important stuff. Catching up with quite a few of the crew that are here in London has been great and last night at the Crabtree pub was awesome to see some many familiar faces so far from home. The ride home from the pub was interesting after a few beverages. We managed to do a small pub crawl of some old london establishments before getting to the meeting. I had to get Nic to try some of the warm flat beers that I grew to like while I was living here and she had to see the Maple leaf pub to get a taste of home.
Its been also a bit weird for me to be back in London and I’ve kinda been looking at it through rose coloured glasses the last week. Only seeing the good stuff that I used to do and avoiding the stuff that drove me away. I still love the achetecture of this amazing, animal of a city and I’ve been trying to stick to the edict of only looking up when I’m tourinig the city. Looking up makes London such an interesting place as you can have several thousand years worth of stories right there in each of the buildings that you pass. It will be cool to get on the road tomorrow though and see if all of this planning was any good and if we’ll be suited to the ride and keeping it going.
Also from this week is the fun story of the Azerbiajani embassy. We had prepared all of our paperwork a few months ago for that visa and had it all sorted for when we got here to London. So after a bit of fun navigation through Kennsington we found the consulate in a basement. We walked in and a well to do diplomat asked if he could help. I said that he could and pulled out all of our paperwork. He took one look and said that it wasn’t any good and he couldn’t help us. I knew that the paper work was good and so questioned a little. It turns out that the paperwork was good until 4 weeks ago when the foreign ministry of AZ made a snap decision to change their whole system. Thanks guys. The diplomat also said that the only way that I’d be able to get a visa was to go to the embassy in my home country. Australia doesn’t have an AZ embassy so he helpfully pointed out that I should be able to get my visa if I went to Jakarta. Woohoo. Holiday to indo. Well actually after I did some deep questioning of the guy and his country’s wonderful system I found out that I could actually get some people in Baku to have the papers forwarded to Istanbul and we could pick up the visa there. Thanks for nothing mister diplomat. Anyway a few emails and another 50 US dollars I have got the paperwork sorted again and now it turns out that we’ll have to spend 2 weeks in Istanbul waiting for visas rather than the one that I’d planned but I can think of loads worse places to spend 2 weeks than Istanbul.
Tonight we are meeting Jenn at Heathrow airport so that she can join us for the first leg of teh journey to Paris. It’ll be great to share the initial part with a good friend and she will be our first guinea pig on how others joining the ride will be able to put up with us. Hopefully we can set her gear up and get her un-jetlagged by the morning as being slightly crazy and having only standard northamerican amounts of holiday time she is cutting the timing of the journey really fine. 1 night in London before leaving and then 1 in Paris at the end. Good luck getting back to work Jenn.
Anyway its time to go for now and go enjoy the last of london before we start living out of our panniers but hopefully I’ll be able to update this regularly.
Hugs to all


The adventures begin

Posted in Short trip in Old Blighty, The journey journal at 4:48 pm by Administrator

Well we arrived at the place that we’re staying in London this afternoon after what can only be described as an epic journey that once again made me really glad that I won’t have to get on a plane for well over a year now. The trip was a 4am start on Friday. then a quick flight to sydney. Pick up the bikes and stuff and criss cross sydney a few times. Then back to the airport for the short 8ish hours to bangkok and then onto heathrow, an hour late. Those of you that have done the trip can understand the pain. Those that haven’t can only come close by placing tight elastic bands around their thighs and sitting in a small cardboard box with a malfunctioning tv and the smell of armpits and farts wafting across your nose occasionally. We finished our journey with a quick set up of the bikes in heathrow airport and then rode the 40 km across to crystal palace. Ok, its not really 40 km but we did ride that far as my knowledge of the london road system has faded a bit in the last few years.
We did make it to a warm welcome and all is good but the flat tyre count is already up to 2 for Nic and 0 for Trent. We maybe should count these 2 as one happened on the plane and I may have inadvertently caused the second one while trying to pump up the tyre. Oops.
Anyway thats enough for now as I’m off to have a nanna nap before heading out to see the night sights of london town again.