Christine is a ‘Tough Girl’

Tough Girl Podcast! Today it is Christine


Download the podcast at your favourite podcast player, such as iTunes at Tough Girl, or use the link below

Rude Words!

23/8/17. And lots of them!

While walking a stretch of the Welsh coast path this morning we received a phone call from our estate agent who spoke with our tenants last night. They informed her that they will NOT be leaving our house on Friday despite the Possession Order from the Court. This means we will have to apply for bailiffs to be appointed to evict them.

What a mess!

Books Read Update

Stephen has updated his list of books read here.

We can both thoroughly recommend two books that cover cycling journeys in this part of the world.

Firstly, Andrew Sykes’ “Spain to Norway on a Bike Called Reggie” in which he details his journey from the southernmost point of Europe, Talifa in Spain, to the northernmost at Nordkapp, which is even nearer the Pole than Kirkenes where we started from. There is a lovely passage about why he wrote his blog/diary which sums up at least one of the reasons why we write this stream of consciousness – it’s the only way of remembering all of the experiences we are having because there are so many that there isn’t room for them all in our brains and some fall out of the other end!

The other is Tim Moore’s “The Cyclist Who Went Out In The Cold” about his journey along the Eurovelo 13 cycle route from Norway to Bulgaria, the first part of which we are following. The main difference is that he started his trip in March when the temperature was in the negative teens. And we think it’s chilly in the middle of June. In addition he used an old shopping bike from the GDR. He is seriously insane! However, the book is absolutely hilarious (as are the other two books of his which we have read).

We would heartedly recommend both of these even for non cyclists (and you never know – they may inspire you to set off like us!)

Trials and Tribulations

15/5/17. Long time no speak! When we last spoke,the news was that we were unable to get into our house because our tenants were refusing to move out. This was because their own house (which is being rebuilt following a fire) is not finished. It was expected to take 6-10 weeks for legal proceedings to force them to return our home to us.

Since then it has become apparent that the situation is worse than that! Amazingly, the estate agents managing the property while we were away failed to keep themselves up to date on new legislation in the lettings market and missed a change back in October 2015. As a result, they failed to use the correct form to give notice to vacate the property when we returned at the end of April. So they have had to reissue the notice last week which gives the tenants a further 2 months before we can start the proceedings to reclaim our home -assuming they do not leave as “requested” on 11 July which seems unlikely given their previous stance and that their house is nowhere near completion. This means we will not be able to get into our home until the end of August at the earliest!

We have been staying with Alaric and Annabelle at their home in Didcot which has been most enjoyable and kind of them. However, it is a small house and 4 adults is a bit of a “squeeze”. Diana and Hywel, the parents of our daughter-in-law Tamsin, have very generously let us use their family holiday home in North Wales for a week (by the way, get yourselves to the Llyn Peninsula if you can – it’s absolutely gorgeous!).

All of this is fine and dandy – but it is also incredibly frustrating as we were so looking forward to spending the summer in our own home. In particular, we were anticipating spending time getting the garden back into fruit and vegetable production and excited at the prospect of welcoming family and friends for Derby Day (a longstanding tradition for the first Saturday in June). This is not now possible.

So the big question is what do we do with ourselves for the next three months?

We’re sure you will have guessed! We’re going off cycling!!

Once Christine has some dental work completed (which involves traipsing down to Surrey from Didcot several times) we are going off to the top of Europe to ride down the Iron Curtain Trail which,as the name implies, follows the border between the East and the West from the Cold War days. It goes down through Finland and into the Baltic republics before heading along the coast of Poland and into Germany. It then heads south along the border between East and West Germany and on to the Black Sea between Bulgaria and Turkey. We won’t have time to go all the way, given the speed at which we cycle, but we’ll see how far we get.

By the way, Christine’s leg has healed well, thankfully, with almost no pain, but she does have a nice scar – in a place that is not very visible!

Welcome Home. Not.

24/4/17. We arrived in Southampton on Saturday and were kicked off the boat early (presumably so they could start the preparations for the next voyage immediately). As a consequence we had a wait for our son Alaric who kindly drove down to pick us up. We stopped off in Chandler’s Ford to have a coffee and a brief catch up with Stephen’s sister Jo before heading to Didcot to stay for a few days with Alaric and Annabelle until the tenants leave our house when the lease ends on Wednesday.

This morning (Monday) we received a call from the estate agents who have been managing the lease for us to say that an email had arrived saying that they (the tenants) would not be leaving as planned and they would be staying until the end of July as their own house (being rebuilt following a fire) is not finished! The barefaced cheek of it!

Towards the end of January they did ask for an extension of the lease either until July or some indeterminate date in May or June (the “story” kept changing). We made it clear that we wanted the house back at the end of April and would not extend beyond. However, it appears they will not take “No” for an answer! So we are intending to take legal action but it seems that it normally takes 6-10 weeks to evict tenants from when notice of proceedings is issued.

Ho hum.

We are calling them all sorts of rude names because we want to be in the house so we can make as much of the vegetable growing season as possible.

She Has Made It!

20/2/17. While we have been taking it easy cruising across the Atlantic, cycling from Florida to Texas and idling our way round Central America, our amazing daughter Eleri has completed her hike of the length of New Zealand – 3,000 km in 4 months! She celebrated by washing her hair for the first time in 10 days and using shampoo for the first time on her walk! No prizes for guessing from where she gets the adventurous genes. Continue reading She Has Made It!


We have mentioned on several occasions that we spend quite a lot of time listening to podcasts. We thought we would share the list of those that one or other of us (and sometimes both) listen to.


  • The History of England. 220+ episodes and counting! Starting with the Anglo Saxons it has reached the early Tudors. Tremendous fun delivered with dry English humour and frequent references to “the rough end of a pineapple”.
  • The History of Rome. 150 episodes by an American professor. References to Alaric the Visigoth of particular interest to us and our oldest!
  • Presidential. An episode devoted to each of the 44 presidents in the run up to the 2016 election. From the Washington Post.
  • The History of Mathematics. From a 2011 BBC radio programme by Marcus de Sautoy. 10 episodes of 15 minutes focussing on great mathematicians.
  • Revolutions. By the author of the History of Rome, so far covering the English Civil War, The American War of Independence and the French Revolution.
  • The History of English. Brilliant podcast about the development of English from its earliest origins.
  • History Extra Podcast. Weekly history podcast.

Current Affairs & Business

  • From Our Own Correspondent. The BBC Radio 4 programme in downloadable form.
  • Wake Up To Money. The BBC Radio 5Live programme in downloadable form.
  • The Economist Radio. 4 or 5 shows each week from the magazine.
  • Money Box. The Radio 4 programme on personal finance.
  • 5Live Consumer Team. BBC programme with Martin Lewis.
  • Lucy Kellaway. Short (4 or 5 minutes) column from the FT columnist who shares our abhorrence of managementspeak gobbledygook!


  • Velocast. Weekly plus daily coverage of major races. Subscription required but worth it if road cycling is your “bag”.
  • This Week In Cycling History. Comes with the Velocast subscription.
  • The Cycling Podcast. Weekly podcast from 3 respected cycling journalists with daily coverage of the 3 grand tours. Free but extra “special shows” available by subscription.
  • Bespoke. Intermittent BBC show with daily coverage during Tour de France.
  • ITV Tour de France. Daily highlights of the TdF.
  • The Spokesmen. Fortnightly round table discussion of a variety of aspects of cycling. Tends to be US-centric and can be overly long.
  • The Rouleur Podcast. Summary of each edition of the magazine Rouleur.
  • Cycling Central. Australian TV channel with focus on riders from Down Under.
  • Cycling News. Occasional shows with daily highlights from TdF.
  • The Bike Show. Occasional shows with an emphasis on touring cycling.


  • The Archers. BBC Radio 4 soap/docu-drama.
  • Dum Tee Dum. Hilarious weekly review/homage to The Archers.

Other Sport

  • Test Match Special. The daily summary of England’s test matches from the BBC with Jonathan Agnew and Geoffrey Boycott.
  • Leicester Tigers. The rugby team from the city of Stephen’s birth.
  • The Tennis Podcast. Daily updates from the major tournaments.


  • Kermode & Mayo’s Film Review. The flagship movie review show from the BBC. (And “hello” to Jason Isaacs.)
  • Gardeners’ Question Time. The BBC Radio 4 programme in downloadable form.
  • In Our Time. The BBC Radio 4 programme in downloadable form.
  • More Or Less. The BBC Radio 4 programme that “gets behind the numbers in the news” in downloadable form.
  • Ramblings. Occasional series about walking by Clare Balding from the BBC.
  • The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry. BBC show answering semi-scientific questions such as “Is a spider’s web the strongest substance in the world?” in downloadable form.
  • The PC Pro Podcast. Fortnightly show discussing computer related news from the PC magazine.
  • 5Live science podcast. Twice weekly look at science
  • Costing the Earth. The BBC radio 4 programme about the environment.
  • From our own correspondent. The BBC radio 4 programme with stories from around the world.
  • Crossing Continents. Another BBC radio 4 programme with stories from around the world.
  • The Food Programme. The BBC radio 4 programme about (surprise, surprise!) food.
  • Sunday. The BBC Radio 4 programme Looking at the world with a religious perspective.
  • Prairie Home Companion. Weekly news from Lake Woebegone, Minnesota with Garrison Keillor.
  • Desert Island Discs. The BBC Radio 4 programme. What would be your choice?
  • Godpod. A monthlyish theology podcast.