Hello Again!

7/6/18. Well, it has been rather a long time hasn’t it?

Looking back at the blog, it seems we left things hanging somewhat last August with us expecting to have to resort to calling in the bailiffs to evict our tenants. In fact we did call them in but, luckily for them, the tenants moved a few days before a team of beefy men turned up on the doorstep and so we were able to get into our own house in the middle of September – almost 5 months after the end of the tenancy.

Thankfully our worst fears of the state of the house were not realised and there was surprisingly little damage, especially considering the obviously low ethical standards of the individuals.

We settled back in to living in one place easily and, as autumn and winter progressed with the typical British weather, even Stephen’s enthusiasm for cycling diminished. (Christine’s had evaporated into the distance at the first sight of the cold and rain!)

In December the arrival of Reuben Miles Smith meant that we became grandparents for the first (and, hopefully, not the last) time. We couldn’t be happier! We have been to visit him (and his parents, of course) in Bahrain twice. Here is just one of the many photos we have.

And here’s another because he’s just soooooo adorable!

While twiddling the pedals over the previous two and a half years on the road, we had been contemplating what to do when we returned and had pretty much decided that the time had has come for a move. With the kids all gone, the house was far too big for the two of us, much though we loved it, and so we put it onto the market in mid November.

But where to move to? Having small but well dispersed families meant that we had a pretty much “blank sheet of paper” – which was exciting but slightly overwhelming as the range of possible locations was wide. Once we received an acceptable offer for the house we embarked on a road trip through the southern Midlands from Cheltenham to Rutland seeing many lovely places in a part of the country that neither of us really know.

In the end we found a house just to the west of Worcester and the purchase is proceeding at the moment. In the meantime we have completed the sale and so are homeless again.

And guess what that means!

Yep. We’re off on our bikes. We have been staying with Christine’s parents in Taunton since the house sale (apart from a quick blast of grandson sitting in Bahrain) but will be heading off in the next day or two (we are still “flexible” in planning our trips!) along the South Coast of England (to fill in two gaps of our Round the British Coast jaunt which has been on hold for a few years) and then heading towards Lake Constance where we have a family holiday planned for early July.  It is the intention to add a few posts while we go, so do check back here (assuming you enjoy reading these ramblings!).

Some Thoughts After Two Weeks on the Road

  • Gosh! The worries of the last few weeks seem to have just evaporated. Concerns now centre around “Where are we going to sleep tonight?” And “What are we going to eat?”
  • Plus, over the last few days, “Is it going to rain tomorrow?”
  • Living in a tent (most of the time) is going OK.
  • But getting up to go to the loo in the middle of the night when it is p!$$ing down with rain is not much fun!
  • It takes a surprising amount of time to set up camp each night and take it down and stow everything away in the morning!
  • Riding with fully loaded bikes slows you down much more than we had anticipated!
  • Averaging 80km per day with these loads is looking to be ambitious. But hey, what’s the hurry?
  • We’re in the 21st century and WiFi is wonderful! Who would have imagined, a few years ago, that you could lay in a tent in a field in France updating a blog?
  • Some of the equipment available these days is brilliant! Thermorest mattresses are really comfortable (but not very wide), our tent is so easy to erect and light to carry,  drybags are wonderful, our micro backpacks are SO useful,…as is Christine’s micro handbag!
  • The bikes are going well. Thanks Roberts Cycles!
  • We’ve chosen a brilliant route (so far) – barely a hill encountered. Canal towpaths, converted old railway tracks, and quiet roads in river valleys make for great cycling.
  • France is very big compared to England!
  • There is a department called Allier. Who knew? Not Christine and she used to live in France!
  • France is beautiful in the spring – but especially when the sun shines.
  • BUT French loos can leave something to be desired! No paper, no toilet seat, “barbaric” holes in the ground – yuk! But there is probably worse to come outside Europe! But then, they wouldn’t consider themselves one of the most civilised countries in the world!
  • We’re still “together” despite Stephen leaving the tent door unzipped and letting an 8 legged critter in! (But that was a close run thing!). And Christine’s ‘slow’, some might even say ‘tortoise speed’ cycling!