Christine is a ‘Tough Girl’

Tough Girl Podcast! Today it is Christine


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Christine’s thoughts on the past few days

To set out my stall at the beginning, I have always been the “pro-est” of pro-Europeans. I feel it with every fibre of my being. I have never been worried if being in Europe cost a bit of money. We are all in Europe together, we should try our best to get on together, help one another and stand together and the richer nations should be prepared to contribute to the poorer. I have lived and worked in France and Germany. I studied French and German at University, and have also at different times studied Russian, Spanish, Italian and Welsh. I love travelling to Europe and feel very much at home there. We have often said if we were ever to buy a holiday home it would be on the shores of Lake Constance.

I hoped the Remain camp would win, but I wasn’t confident, being very aware that the British people have been lied to about Europe by the media for the past 20 years. Anything bad was reported, good things taken for granted, many, many lies were told. I was afraid that had seeped into people. People often looked at me as if I were odd if the question of Europe came up and I explained I was as Pro-Europe as it is possible to be. At first I just thought about Remain in terms of what I felt, but as the campaign went on I began to think, with my accountant’s brain, more and more about the economic realities we would face. As referendum day approached I became more and more pessimistic about the economic outcome of a Leave win. I think I was more pessimistic than any commentator I read, but then, as my family know, I have a pessimistic turn of mind. I say it comes from a lifetime of supporting Somerset and Torquay United!!

I was completely devastated by the result, right to the core of my being, and that just from an emotional perspective. And now, several days on I still feel the same. I, who was so pessimistic, have grossly underestimated the financial cost. I was sure that any trade deals we may be able to negotiate would be poor, and linked to the cast-iron rule that freedom of movement must be maintained. I neglected to take into account that Europeans might simply stop buying British goods, but a message from an excellent small cycle clothing firm on Friday that they were getting emails from Europe saying they would no longer be buying their goods woke me up. This is going on up and down the country. Thousands and thousands of hard working people will see their firms disappear, and thousands if not millions will lose their jobs. More money for the NHS? There won’t be enough money to maintain it at the current level. The recession of 2008 will be as nothing compared to what we now face, and we will be on our own, with an already very weak set of government finances.

And what about the prospects for our children? Their futures have been wrecked by stupid thoughtlessness. What jobs will they be able to get? No decent ones I fear. How could anyone have believed the lies of Boris and Farage? A couple of days ago I suddenly remembered my surprise a few years ago at learning that in the 1930’s Argentina was the 5th richest country in the world, but financial mismanagement and political ineptitude soon changed that. I fear we are going the same way. The political leadership has shown itself woeful. The Prime minister, who brought all this about by promising a referendum as a sop to potential UKIP voters to ensure his election last year, has sacrificed the future of the country for his short-term political gain, and is now resigning. The opposition, who should be stepping in have decided to behave like little children and stage a coup. The leaders of Brexit are reneging on all their promises or hiding. Boris knows he has won the most Pyrrhic of all Pyrrhic victories, even if most of his followers don’t. In a time of crisis having headless chickens in charge is not going to help. I won’t even go into the total abject failure of successive governments over many years to improve the lot of so many people that they voted leave.

This is before we even think about the fact that the racists in our country now feel that they are in the majority. I feel sick to think of the racist attacks and verbal abuse carried out up and down the country, and reported on by our fellow Europeans. How did we let this happen? How can we put this right?

This is not a time to shrug shoulders and say it was democratic. It was not. Many people only voted Leave because of the lies they were told and foolishly believed. This is not a little blip. It is something is destroying the future of the country. I can only envisage one possible way to mitigate this disaster, and salvage something, such as only a small recession rather than the worst we have ever experienced in Britain and that is to have a second referendum and vote Remain. Only then will I feel able to hold my head up again and not feel deeply, deeply ashamed to be British. Only then might the gloom of my mood lift.

Quick Post From Sunday 24 May

Still having difficulties getting on t’internet in any sustained manner! We reached Regensburg this evening and have brief/expensive access so two blogs that were written in draft have been posted without review and the map updated. Only 150 km left to do in Germany but we’re having a rest day tomorrow while Stephen takes the train back to the previous night’s campsite to pick up the keys he left there! Oops!

A Month on the Road!

Apologies for the sparsity of updates recently. This is due to Stephen’s phone dying (it refuses to accept a charge) and poor WiFi access. This post covers three days (Monday to Wednesday, 18 to 20 May).


Now where were we? Sigmaringen, I think. We had a realtively relaxed start to the day (Monday) with a shopping expedition around a vast supermarket nearby to buy breakfast and lunch before setting off at aboyt 19.30.

The cycling did not get off to a great start as, not far out of town, there was a barrier across the cycle path saying “Closed. Diversion via xxxx” and xxxx didn’t appear on our maps!


We could, however, see a road that was sort of parallel for a while and then there was a track that looked as though it rejoined the cycle path. Unfortunately the road went up and up and up. And as soon as it reaches the top there was the track (a muddy, gravelly one) which went down and down and down.  It was “horrible” to quote Christine! But at least it got us back on track and around the cause if the diversion.


From there, the countryside opened up into a wide plain with only low hills in the distance – such a contrast to the closeness of the cliff faces on the day before. Everywhere was much more pastoral with many hay meadows and lots of fields planted with baby sweetcorn.


The villages and towns were again picture postcard pretty and we took time out to wander around one if the larger ones, Riedlingen, enjoying an ice cream before setting off again.


As we had camped for the previous 9 nights and as it was exactly a month since we set out we decided to treat ourselves to a reasonable hotel and a celebratory meal. We had seen on an information board that there was a place that sounded potentially OK in a village 10 km further on but it turned out that Monday was their “ruhetag” (day off).


Slightly deflated we set off again to hit a hill which had a double arrow on the map signifying it was steep. It was “only” 20%! Even Stephen had to push from halfway up after he took a breather and was unable to get started again! Christine had no qualms about getting off as soon as the hill started!


Amazingly, at the top the kind people of the village had established a shaded area with seats and tables as well as a drinks fountain, soap and paper towels for the benefit of cyclists!


There was a short, not so steep, downhill before another double arrowed uphill (thankfully nowhere near as steep) before a long gentle downhill into Obermarchtal where there was a very comfortable gasthof and excellent restaurant which suited admirably. And at least we didn’t have to face that 20% hill first thing in the morning!


The forecast for Tuesday was not promising with rain expected in the afternoon after a dry start. So we set off trying to cover as much distancry as we could early on. This plan was a little stymied when Stephen had the first puncture of the trip – but that was not bad for a combined total of 3,000 km of cycling.


The rain arrived earlier than expected but fortunately wasn’t too heavy so we pressed on. As we arrived in Ulm, a potential point for taking shelter for the night if the weather was bad, the rain abated and so we continued for another 20km to Leipheim. For the fans of cycle racing we are guessing that this is where Levi (Leipheimer)’s ancestors came from.


We managed to get to the campsite, set up camp and cook and eat a meal before the rain returned in a more serious manner.


Ulm was somewhere we wanted to spend a little time as the guidebook said there was a pretty old town section but it came a little early the previous day and doesn’t have campsite. Fortunately Leipheim has a rail connection to the city so the plan was to use that.


The best laid plans of mice and men……. are disrupted by German traindrivers going on strike!


Plan B was to use the bus which was less frequent and took 45 minutes because it had a roundabout route (compared to 15 minutes on the train).


It was still raining in the morning so it was not a particularly pleasant 2km ride into town to catch the bus. The old town was only OK – there were some pretty and interesting old buildings but it didn’t really inspire us for some reason and we were soon taking shelter in a café enjoying coffee and cake and catching up on some reading.


Emerging we were surprised to find that the rain had stopped and the roads were ready half dry even though it was quite chilly for the time of year (about 10°). A quick look round the cathedral (which apparently has the highest steeple in the world at 166 metres)  was followed by a trawl round phone shops to buy a new phone for Stephen and then it was time to catch the bus “home”.

The Loire Reached!


First sight of the Loire!

Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 April.
We have reached Eurovelo 6, the long distance cycle path that we hope to follow all the way to the Black Sea! It was a long hard day from Chartres to Orleans on Saturday. The pretty river valley was swapped for prairie style fields. Much less picturesque, but it did mean most of the day we cycled to the sounds of skylarks! Highlight of the day was a car slowing down and inviting us in for coffee at the next village. We chatted to the delightful Yves-Marie who spent 9 months last year cycling from Kyrgyzstan home to France! When we left he presented us with a jar of the honey from his and his brother’s honey business. We also felt we were cycling in the footsteps of the Romans, as most of the roads were straight! We were delighted when we finally saw the Loire, but less pleased to discover that of the 2 campsites in Orleans, one only accepted motorhomes, and the other was closed! As Stephen was feeling unwell we splashed out on a cheap hotel!
Decided in light of Stephen feeling under par, Christine’s wish to go to church on Sunday morning and the forecast of very heavy rain in the afternoon, to take a rest day in Orleans. A wise decision. And a chance to catch up on washing, sorting photos etc. back on the bikes tomorrow!