Finally our bike tour begins – 22 Oct – 28

Thursday 22nd Oct Marlborough to Twyford UK

70.5 km completed

52kmph max speed

17kmph average

Today our world cycling tour began.  The alarm was set (first time in about 2 months) and we were up by 0705hrs.  The bike was packed in no time and Gav kindly cooked us a leaving breakfast of bacon, sausage, egg and toast.


Lovely!  By 0830hrs Daz was chomping at the bit to be off, so we set off with Gav recording the historic moment for posterity! (Or just for something to laugh at later!!)  It looked like rain, and we started with jackets on, but soon discarded them as the weather improved.

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 The going was pretty good with just a couple of hills where we needed to get off and push.

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 It’s when we need to push that we realise how heavy the bike is, no wonder our speed bleeds away so radically on the ascents.  In St Mary Bourne we stopped for our half way break, lemon drizzle cake and coffee and a natter with the old ladies in the post office.  So far so good – on schedule 34km in just over 2 hours.  In Longparish we stopped to admire the river and whilst we left the bike unattended, the bike stand snapped – Disaster!  

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For the last hour or so we’ve been spitting distance from our home.  We could be home in no time.  Makes me want to cry.  But of course even if I turn tail, we’d still have to evict our tenants and refurbish it.  Daz says in a couple of weeks our tent will evoke the same feelings as our home in Andover!  Yeah right – who’s he kidding!!! From Barton Stacy to Winchester the distance started to tell.  

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It’s only 8.5miles but it was tough riding and the hills, although not steep, were tough going.  Finally we made it to Winchester and sought some sustenance.  Unfortunately at this point we lost a catch from Daz’s helmet so as well as trying to buy a bike stand (failed), we also needed a new helmet. Whilst waiting for Daz in the bike shop I was accosted by several men, fortunately even the drunk one was more interested in the bike than me and I spent the time answering there questions, I can see this is going to be a recurring activity!

Having failed to find a bike stand we left Winchester and headed to Twyford, and our B&B.  

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Yes I know we should be camping but I need to break myself in gradually!  We’re both pretty shattered.  It’s been tough for Day 1 but we’re proud of our achievement.  We think it should just get easier!  After a nap and some admin (blog and warmshower emails) we’re off to the Phoenix for the fish and chip special and Jane joins us.  A lovely evening!

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Friday 23rd October.  Twyford to Portsmouth ferry

42 km completed

47 kmph max speed

15 kmph average

Total: 111.5km

This morning we’re both still tired.  Daz feels like he’s been cycling all night.  Breakfast is delivered to our room at 0730hrs and after a leisurely breakfast we pack and are on the road by 0850hrs.  We take it steady, hoping our aching legs will find their rhythm.  We stop at Bishop Waltham to admire the palace ruins

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 and then again at Wickham for a coffee.  So far the cycling has been pleasant as we cycle through the countryside but from Wickham onwards it’s less sedate as we enter the city and the traffic builds. We stop on the cyclepath that runs along thewaters edge to watch a guy doing jumps on a pulley operated wakeboard, cool stuff!  

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We go into Portsmouth city centre in search of lunch and a bike shop.  It’s disappointing on both counts I’m afraid.  By 1330hrs we’re at the ferry terminal waiting to board!

One thing we noticed is that generally the people of Winchester were friendly, whereas the people in the environs of Portsmouth have shouted insults and jokes at us from the pavement and passing vans! Well done Winchester… an altogether friendlier place!

Having sat in the ferry terminal for over an hour, we were called forward.  It was bizarre to go along the ferry lanes and up to the passport/ ticket kiosks on our bike.  

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We were called forward in front of loads of cars, with the motorcycles, and then they stopped us (not the motorcycles) right on the ferry threshold and made us wait while everybody else loaded.  

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We stood there for over an hour, getting colder and colder.  Finally they let us on but then they didn’t know what to do with ‘our big bike’.  They wanted us to get it into a small storage room but finally agreed to lash it to the wall!

We took our bags and went up the escalators and walked further and further to our room near the front.  Our cabin has no windows, but we aren’t complaining, at least it’s not a tent yet!!  Bed calls and we snooze for a while before exploring the ship.  There’s a dog walking area and we take time to stroke some pooches that are sharing the crossing with us.  Pizza for dinner then bed again, it’s been an easy day.

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Saturday 24 October. On the ferry and Santander.

Completed 8.9km

Max speed 35kmph

Average 13kmph

Total 120.4km

We awake and trundle off to breakfast, a nice continental with extra lashings of hot tea.  

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Whilst sat there we chat with an older couple who are off to their static caravan in the south of Spain for 6 months to winter out,  they have their dog and can’t wait to kick back in the warmth, lucky them!!

We catch up on our warmshowers and couchsurfing emails for accommodation on route but still no reply from hosts in Santander, so it looks like camping is on the cards, but unfortunately the WiFi is sketchy and we have trouble getting any details… me thinks Daz should have sorted this out already!!

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 We’re told we’re docking at 1630hrs and we go down to the bottom level with all the artics and wait and wait and wait.  There’s a problem with one of the ramps and finally everyone is recalled to the public area whilst the ferry is moved.  An hour has goes by and we’re still waiting.

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They move the ferry and use the ramps at the rear.  We’re on the bottom floor, at the rear behind all the artics.  The lorry drivers are told to return to their trucks and we go down too, turn our bike around and stand by the ramps waiting for permission to leave.  And we’re off, we’re the first off – hurrah!  

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The trucks start reversing out and we can see the other passengers from the other levels still watching from the viewing window.  Customs is a quick view of passports and laugh at our bike then we are onto the streets…  our mantra today is ‘cycle on the right!!’

We cycle through Santander and loads of people call out to us or wave or hoot their horns – they look friendly so fingers crossed they like the bike.  We have to cycle up a huge hill to Virgen del Mar, a campsite, which is by the sea. We think we’re the only ones on site. It’s €16 for the night and we’ve set up in no time including the Helinox chairs.  So Daz was right to bring all the camping gear – it gives us more flexibility with accommodation.

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We go to the nearest, well only, restaurant sat looking out over the beach… we can just see the waves crashing in the dusk and it looks really nice.  

P1030492 P1030493 P1030495Unfortunately they don’t speak any English and our Spanish is zero. So first there is the misunderstanding about the kitchen being open, it’s 10 to 8 and we think it is closed but they finally get it across that it opens at 8. Then we need to order drinks, and ‘blackcurrent and soda water’ doesn’t translate well, so we end up with ‘mineral con gas’ and a slice of lime.  We order the food which is easy, point at the menu, but then when he asks us which desert we want (no menu this time) it all gets too hard so he very kindly brings us two samples to try… now we are full but feel we need to order some, so we order one to share… yummy.

Back at the campsite we’re no longer alone.  There’s a landrover we saw getting on the ferry and a couple of motorhomes.  We go to brush our teeth and on our way back meet Jayne from the landrover.  OMG they’ve already done 6 years, 136000 miles and 6 continents.  She’s pretty full on and has barely drawn breath – even Daz, ‘the talker’ has met his match.

Sunday 25 October. Santander campsite to Laredo but actually (Colindres) via Sontana.

Completed 49 km

Max speed 51.7 kmph

Average 12.3kmph

Total km 169.4km

We survived our first night under canvas which I can only describe as ‘clammy’.  But we’ve both had a reasonable night despite the boy racer with his souped up exhaust who keeps racing up and down the coast road.  Unfortunately, the bad news, it’s raining.  Now rain definitely wasn’t in the plan.  Bugger!! Fortunately we’re pitched right next to a large laundry room so I ferry the kit in and Daz packs it.  

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This is a full pack, we’ve used everything; chairs, sleeping bags and sleeping mats and still we’re ready in about an hour.  We’re about to leave but the landrover crew want a photo and we exchange details.  

Then we’re off.  We’re heading back into Santander to get the ferry across to Somo.

The weather is pretty foul and as soon as we find a cafe (it’s more like a bar) we stop for brekkie, ham and cheese tortilla and lots of cafe con leche, and realise we’re an hour ahead of ourselves – the clocks went back last night.

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From here we head back into the centre of Santander, where the roads are closed for a running event, and find the kiosk for the foot ferry.

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 We’re disappointed that it has no ramp and we quickly have to strip all the bags off and carry the bike on board and park it on the stairs.  

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On the other side we put all the bags back on and set off infront of a crowd of interested onlookers.  The skies are clearing and the morning’s riding is good except for a massive hill.  Even in the smallest cog we still need to get off and push.  So far the drivers seem kind and everyone seems happy to see us on our tandem.

At our lunch stop there’s the language struggle again but Daz ends up with a tasty pasta dish, and me, egg,chips and chorizo sausage. Happy days.

From here we head to Sontana.  Daz is expecting castles, fortifications and all manner of wondrous things but there really isn’t much to see on the end of the ‘historic waterfront’ signposts.  

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We have a little mooch around and Daz is hoping for another ferry crossing.  Daz be careful what you wish for! We find the ferry and again no ramp or gangplank and again we have to carry the bike aboard.  

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We have to be careful that we’re not lifting it by the steering handles or luggage rack, which are an easy grab but unlikely to take the strain.  Away we go and it’s not a smooth crossing.  And even worse, they’re going for a beach landing.  There are no paths or hardstanding, just sea and sand.

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Finally we have a gangplank lowered to the beach but the pitch is really steep and it’s narrower than our bike.  I’m completely useless.  Daz takes the bags to the beach and comes back for the bike.  I’m convinced we won’t be able to hold the bike and it’ll fall into the sea.  Fortunately the ferry man is far more capable and between him and Daz the bike is carried onto the beach. Thank you Mr ferryman.  Now there’s just soft sand to contend with.  Great fun.  

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Finally we get onto a beach walkway that wanders off through the dunes and make our way inland.  We find ourselves in a large carpark where all the kitesurfers are congregating and steaming up and down the beach front.  It must be a good spot because there are loads of kitesurfers; so many we can’t believe they manage to cross each other safely.

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From here we have 3 campsites to checkout.  We cycle to each only to discover that they are all closed.  Someone suggests the Apollo campsite, which wasn’t on our list but after cycling a few miles we fail to find it.  So we head for a hostal we saw en route. We’re now in Colindres, which at least seems open compared to Laredo, which seemed ‘closed for the winter’.  The room is very comfortable and there’s a lovely hot shower.  

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It’s a picnic dinner and more admin.  Emails to warm showers and couchsurfing and checking out camping sites we might use.  Bad news – most of the sites are shut for winter.


Monday 26th October – Colindres to Bilbao

Completed 61 km

Max speed 52.9 kmph

Average 11.2 kmph

Total  230.4 km


Well if yesterday was a doddle (with the exception of the beach landing and the Brit offensive into Laredo), then today has been a fxxking nightmare.  And trust me I have good reason to swear.

So because we’d arranged to stay with a warmshower host in Bilbao and they weren’t due home until 8pm, I declared a late start.  What a mistake that was!  So we got up at 9am, had a relaxed breakfast sending more warmshower requests and doing bits and bobs and didn’t pack up and get on the road until 1130hrs.   Then we were faced with one massive hill after another and even pushing was seriously tough going. By 1330hrs, our lunch stop, we’d only done about 15km and we were shattered.

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Fortunately the going did get easier but then we had a head wind and the early hills had taken their toll, so we seemed to be making poor progress.  We heroically struggled on and then heard a pinging noise from the rear.  Brilliant, a snapped spoke in the rear wheel!!  So with one snapped spoke, all the others were loose, the wheel wasn’t running true so my back brake was jamming on. So truly shit.  We struggled on for a couple of kms and then stopped in the next village.   Fortunately the guy we asked sent us to a tool shop and whilst they couldn’t help, he told us where to find a bike shop, gave us the details and checked it would be open late.  Daz released my brake, so whilst I couldn’t panic brake at least the rear wheel could spin freely.  5km down the road and we found our bike shop.  What heroes they were.  Life savers.  In no time at all the guys had the wheel off and it was in the wheel jig and he was putting in a new spoke (fortunately Daz carries a dozen spares).  The chap in the shop (Ciclos Hierro in Trapagaran) was a professional mechanic for the Tour de France in the 70’s and early 80’s.  He had the wheel fixed and running true in about in 20 minutes,  something that would’ve taken Daz hours, especially without a jig.  I was so relieved.  I was desperately worried that we’d ruin our wheel cycling on it once the spoke had snapped and the added wobble certainly didn’t improve the downhills.

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 Fantastic job – thanks guys, especially considering how little language we shared.  And when we left the shop,  suddenly there were a whole load of men watching and clapping us as we cycled off.  So lovely.

From the bike shop it’s only a couple of kms to the Vizcaya Bridge, a transporter bridge that links the towns of Portugalete and Las Arenas in the Biscay province of Spain, crossing the mouth of the Nervion River, carrying cars, bikes and people.  

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And from the river only 3km more to our hosts. Our hosts are Rozio and Lander and 3 year old Haize.

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They live on the 3rd floor and plan (a) is to carry the bike to that floor.  No way am I doing that and we lock it up in the front courtyard.  Personally after the day we’ve had, good luck to anyone who steals it, however it does mean Daz is up all night listening for thieves!! And what lovely hosts; hot shower, tasty dinner and suggestions for which route to take. They are both Basque speakers even though Rozio is originally from Uruguay where she says it is beautiful and flat!! They don’t own a TV and only allow Haize some cartoons on their phones occasionally,  what a refreshing change.  We had a lovely evening but soon had to take to our bed.

Tuesday 27th October – Bilbao to Mundaka

Completed 50.68 km

Max speed 50.5  kmph

Average 10.2

Total  281.08 km

Lander is off to work and I can hear them pottering around but fall back asleep and we get up at 8ish and we’re out the door by 9am with a very excited Haize waving us off.  He’s so sweet.   I’ve slept well but Daz has spent all night dreaming that our bike has been dismantled screw by screw.   He puts it back together but next time he checks on it, it’s in pieces again!  It’s been raining most of the night and we think the rain isn’t due to stop until 10ish.  We head for a cafe and breakfast and we’ll see if the weather improves.  We end up sitting in the cafe until 1045hrs watching the torrential rain, which was supposed to stop at 10.  We also watch the window cleaner who leans his wooden ladder against the huge shop windows and then leans away, balancing, when he wants to wash under the ladder.

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We cycled from Bilbao to Gorliz where a man stopped to give us a map and then parked up so he could direct us to a cafe, because we needed shelter from the rain, which had just started to fall heavily.  

After coffee and a couple of Bocatas (typical Spanish small bitings)  the rain has stopped and we cycled on to Armintza where we stopped to look at the harbour and the sea beyond the harbour walls.  When we got back to the bike it was surrounded by a group of men.  Even though we don’t speak any Spanish and they don’t really speak any English, they still want to chat to us.  The one guy who does speak a bit of English walks away in disgust when we tell him our plan to cycle the coast road, he thinks we are mad!  It’s going to be tough then.  And it is. We cycle on to Bakio and then on to Bermio.  We walk and push the bike a good proportion of the route.  The up hills seem relentless and certainly when we look down into Bakio we get an idea of the height we’ve gained. From the very top, which finished with a 1.5km 10% hill we could see down to the sea and the Gaztelugatxeko San Juan, a church on a rocky promontory, beautiful.  

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Once we have descended with full brakes on into Bermio it’s a short, fairly level, leg into Mundaka and our hostel for the night.  The receptionist seems to think the place is full and puts us in a dorm with 10 bunk beds.

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 I’m not happy but after bleating a bit to Daz, accept the situation.  But whilst I’m showering, Daz is on the prowl and discovers loads of empty rooms, including a 2-man room with ensuite.  Well done Dazza – my hero.  We move in in no time – result.  

We take a walk around Mundaka and enjoy the full moon shining down over the bay, which is in full surge. The village is very quaint, with lots of small cobbled streets and small bars and restaurants. Beautiful.

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Wednesday 28th October – Mundaka to Deba


Completed 58.23 km

Max speed 63.2 kmph

Average 12.2

Total  339.31 km


We’ve both slept well but my legs are achy and tired. Daz, on the other hand, is full of beans.  We cycle to a cafe where we can watch the surfers and have the usual tortilla (with egg, potato, ham and cheese), coffee and orange juice.  This must be a surfing Mecca;  there are around 50 surfers lying on their boards waiting for the perfect wave.  Clearly the perfect wave never happens because most of them just stay lying in the water.  When one does go we can’t believe he doesn’t plough into the crowds of people lying in the water.  But there’s some impressive surfing going on for the few that seem happy to surf any wave.

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Finally we get started, well it’s only 0935hrs, but it’s not good.  I was expecting to follow the river inland and to have flat cycling but I can’t see the river and there’s plenty of hills instead and I’m finding Daz’s gear choices extremely tough going. After some bickering we finally settle down (it’s not Daz’s fault it’s hilly and it’s no worse than stuff we’ve already done)  and grind ourway up the estuary to Gernika where we pull over at a bike shop looking for the ever elusive replacement to our bike stand… nearly but not quite yet!!

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A long break coffee (i’m still feeling weak and I’m trying to delay the inevitable. Daz lets me get away with it, but it’s only delaying the pain) and then we’re off, up along the other side of the estuary we have just come down!! And then the climb of all climbs (so far this  week, but I’m sure there’ll be more!)  out over the huge hills towards Leikitio, where we are going to stop for lunch.  We have to stop and push,  up, up and up before finally we can get back on and carry on cycling still further up but not so steep.  The road winds through and around the forested hills.  It’s 19 degrees in the shade and hotter out in the sun.

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Finally we reach the top, sort of, and the road then gently undulates for another 10 km or so before we can really enjoy the down hill back to the coast, and this time I must be feeling brave as I let Daz hurtle down the road, terror barely held back whilst Daz is grinning and turning around saying this must be the fastest we have been so far… “eyes front Broadhurst!!” think I’ve just wet myself in terror!

We arrive at our lunch spot of the day, Leikiteo and it’s another lovely little harbour town.  There are huge mullet swimming about in the marina, and lots of cafe bars along the front.  We park the bike which again draws lots of people’s attention, including lots of kids!  We pick a bar and sit outside in the sun and Daz goes in to get food and drink.  He comes out with lots of tapas which are all scrummy and some cokes to replenish our sugar levels.  We enjoy the sun and the respite from the cycling for a while then we have a coffee to wake us up before we head out.

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 Whilst I visit the loos Daz gets chatting to a French couple who were admiring the bike and then we are off.  As we leave the harbour a bunch of schoolgirls start clapping us then another bunch of boys start cheering and clapping and running beside us… we really do feel the love here so much more than in the UK,  where the only reaction we had from kids was effing and blinding!  Although I am tired the afternoon’s last leg along the coastline and is not too hilly and it’s nice and shady.  I keep myself occupied, as I have been doing all week, by announcing the magic number – the magic number, and there are several each day, are key points en route.  I know how far we’re going and there are milestones, well kilometre stones, but they seem to be numbered illogically.   


For example we started in Mundaka and the first milestone was 10km and our lunch stop (35km) away, had the lucky number 45 – that’s the milestone I was expecting.  These stones, in a perverse way, are my way of forgetting how far we need to go.  Normally I pick a middle one as an achievement or where I think we will stop for lunch or refreshments.   This afternoon I am slightly annoyed and express my shock to Daz when after one particular village the numbers change completely from the 57 I was expecting to 8! Way to spoil my count Spain!  As we turn a corner to descend again into another coastal village we are surprised to see the French couple from earlier cheering us on and clapping. Thanks guys.

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We have about 3km to go when Daz spots another cyclist coming towards us up the hill, this is not anything unusual as we have been passed lots of roadies in both directions and they all give a friendly wave, but then Daz says “it’s another tourer!” As we come past each other on the hill we wave and grin, then decide to stop, and as cars drive past  we introduce ourselves.  Rayan is a Tunisian and has cycled from Paris to the Atlantic coast and is now going all the way around Spain, Portugal, then along the Mediterranean coasts of Spain, France and Italy before crossing the Mediterranean to his home in Tunisia.  His bike is super loaded with kit and there’s even a sombrero on the back. He has an infectious grin and after more pleasantries, swapping of blogs and information about the road ahead we part to go our separate ways.  Safe travels Rayan.

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We drop down the road a little ways more  and finally arrive at our stop for the night, Deba, another small village on the coast and a night in a pension for us. 

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Well that’s our first week of cycling over, Spain has been lovely, both the country and the people,  it’s been fun but hard, and the weather has been mostly kind.  In a couple of days we should hit France and spend a few days relaxing in Biarritz before continuing.  Catch you all again soon.


Time in the UK draws to a close -8th Oct – 21st Oct

Thursday 8th October

Today we travel up to Kings’ Cross and have a look around the station at St Pancras, which is such a fabulous building.

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Then we make our way to Finsbury Park and follow a disused railway to Highgate.

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In Highgate we walk through Highgate village which is incredibly quaint and then down to Highgate Cemetry only to discover that we can’t go in the west side, whilst buried on the east side are Douglas Adams , Karl Marx and many others.

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From the cemetery we walk through to  Hampstead Heath.  In the Heath there are 3 swimming pools: one for men, one for women and one mixed.  There’s actually a guy swimming in the men’s pool – it’s literally like swimming in a dirty duck pond.  Bizarrely he walks around the pier then enters the water then swims around the pier (about 20 strokes) then climbs out, walk across pier again, then swims around pier again.  Very bizarre.  Kate tells us later that it’s some form of male posturing – must work because Daz spends 20minutes taking photos!!!

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In the heath we walk up Parliament Hill for a view over the city.

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From here we head back into town stop off in Carnaby Street and then head to Leicester Square to meet Kate.  We go out for a fabulous Mexican dinner then take Kate to Madison’s at New change – it’s a roof top bar with views over London and across into St Paul’s.

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Amazing views.  But the bouncers won’t let us in the bar – their disgust for our crocs is palpable.  From here we head to Brixton to show Kate the place we ate a couple of nights ago.  A great last day and even better Kate doesn’t have to go into work tomorrow.


Friday 9th October

Today we’re leaving London.  It’s been absolutely great staying with Kate and getting a chance to enjoy London, where we always have so much fun.  Thanks Kate.  So today we’re off to Winchester for my pre op appointment – nothing exciting to report although I have to have another blood test to check how my anaemia is – I’ve been on iron tablets for about 3 weeks and mostly I’m much better than the asthmatic geriatric I used to sound like.  Update on post op behaviour – 48hours to recover from general anaesthetic  and a week off work and no lifting or driving.  So I’ve possibly lost the sweepstake of a leaving date of 20th October.  From Winchester we head to Lee on Solent to see Jane.  She’s busy working at the sailing club so we just make ourselves at home.

Saturday 10th October

First stop today is at Pauline’s (Jane’s mum).  She’s selling her house and moving to a flat in Lee on Solent and she’s having a coffee morning to say goodbye to all her neighbours.  She’s moving on Monday 19th October so it’s not long now.  She’s lived in this house for 51 years, brought up Jane and Karen here and spent many happy times with Terry, who sadly died last year.   So she’ll be leaving the house with so many memories but she’s moving to a lovely flat which will be easier for her to manage.  From here we head to Durley to take Jane on a geocaching country walk.


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Sunday 11th October

We go off to see Jane and Ange’s allotment and once we’ve picked some veg and dug up some potatotoes we head to the 10th Hole at Southsea, Portsmouth to play 9 holes.

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It’s absolutely ages since I’ve played golf and we discover Jane had a misspent youth – well youth of her boys where they often played pitch and put.  We all have a good game.

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After we have a spot of lunch; the range of cakes on display is stunning but unfortunately our coffee and walnut cake is a little disappointing.  On the way home we stop off to admire the views from Portsdown Hill.

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It’s great spending time with Jane and catching up on her news.  Since we last saw her she’s been to Boston to see Peter and Sarah marry and then she spent 3 days in New York with Pauline, Ange and Duncan  and by all accounts, the Pope, who was in every tourist location that they wanted to visit.  But they had a great time and the pictures of the wedding are absolutely fantastic.  Peter and Sarah make a lovely couple.

Monday 12th October

We cycle to the allotment and dig up all the potatoes and tidy up several other beds.

P1030282 P1030284 P1030286 P1030290 P1030289 P1030291 P1030292Then we head into Lee for haircuts.  In the late afternoon we walk to the Osborne View and enjoy gazing over the Solent as the sun sets.  Beautiful.

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Tuesday 13th October

Today we head back to Marlborough.  Jane gets us up at 0630hrs – it’s a very long time since we’ve been up this early.  She drops us off at Southampton Parkway.


We catch the train to Reading and then it all goes ‘tits up’.  There’s problems with the Bedwyn trains (engineering works on the line between Reading and Newbury) has caused train cancellations.  There are some coaches laid on but not enough to deal with the problem.  Eventually we get a delayed train and when we arrive in Bedwyn we’ve missed the bus by 10mins.  The next bus is over an hour away and Daz insists on hitching and 5 minutes before the bus is due he gets us a lift.  Hurrah!!!

Wednesday 14th October

Big day today.  We pack all our kit and load up our bike.  This takes a while and Daz only planned a semi laden bike trip but this really is one of our few chances to get some practice in.

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We’re just going to cycle to Bedwyn – this is where we plan to get the train when we set off.  It’s only 8 miles so should be fairly straightforward.  It’s not.  We start out and the bike is so heavy and we’re weaving all over the road.  We turn out of the lane onto the A4 – quite a considerable uphill and already we’re nearly at a standstill and cars are haring past us.  I’m pretty terrified because we keep weaving across the road.  We stop and start walking and get to the top of the hill.  Are we ready for this?  Perhaps not but we’ve got to give this a go.  From the top of the hill we start cycling again and gradually we get back into the swing of things.  After all we have cycled with this much weight before but we were so much fitter than we are now.  I think Daz is shocked by how hard he finds it.  We make it to Bedwyn and it’s only taken 45 minutes not the hour we estimated.  We stop off at the post office for a snack and drink and chat to another cyclist.  Then we head off to see the windmill but we can’t find it and give up and head back into the village.  Now we head for home and actually we are already so much better.  Unfortunately we take a wrong turn and find ourselves in Burbage .  From here we end up on the A346 back into Marlborough and it’s a horrendously busy road through Savernake wood with a killer of a hill.  It’s pretty nerve wracking with all the traffic but we make it home safely and we’ve improved hugely in this one trip – and we pretty much know what we’re taking.  An awesome result – 34km done.

Saturday 17th October

Yesterday I had my operation.

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We drove to Hampshire Royal County Hospital, Winchester for 12am.  Was shown to by bed in the ward and waited to speak to my consultant and my anaesthetist.  I was number 2 on the operation list and lady number one went off around 1340.  Around 3pm they took me away for my anaesthetic and I felt a bit anxious as they prepared me but then there was nothing until I came round and they took me back to the ward.  Daz was waiting and we sat and read and I had tea and toast – fantastic when I hadn’t eaten since 0730hrs and I’d only had one cup of tea!!  I had the usual observations taken etc and then we left at 1820.  I felt fine.  No pain and just a feeling of huge relief.  We headed back to Marlborough for dinner.  Lovely.


Tuesday 20th October

After a really quiet weekend we went for a lovely walk yesterday from Greater Bedwyn to Wilton Windmill and then back along the Avon and Kennet canal.

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We watched a canal barge struggling with one of the locks where the seal between the gates was so poor it didn’t seem they’d ever be able to get into the lock.

Today we did another test ride.  30km to Avebury Rings and back.  It took 2 hours cycling time and it was so much better than last week.  30km is about half the distance we plan to do daily until we get bike fit again.  But after today’s ride we’re feeling much more confident that the world cycling adventure is doable – so fingers crossed.

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We have been incredibly strict on our packing and we’ve had to throw out even more – most of the stuff we carried around Scandinavia and Iceland for 8 months.   More stuff for the tip!

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And tomorrow we’re putting more into our storage locker.

In the evening we visited Roxy and Mark in Middle Wallop, 2 old friends from Hereford.  We went out for a lovely Thai meal in The Greyhound at Broughton but we were so stuffed.  It was lovely to meet them and hear their news.


Wednesday 21st October

So this is our last day before the big trip.  And our plan – to put more stuff into storage, post our last UK blog and take Vikki and Gav out for a thank you meal.

Our storage locker is now pretty full!

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Tomorrow the world cycling tour begins.  We’re cycling to Winchester and then Friday we need to get to Portsmouth to catch the Santander ferry at 1730hrs.  So how do we feel – I think terrified probably covers it for me but I’m sure once we get going the nerves will settle and perhaps I will become the touring cyclist Daz pretends we already are.  It feels as if it’s been a long time coming – we’ve been back in the UK since 1st September so for everyone who’s been kind enough to put a roof over our heads (Larry and Debbie, Carl and Trish, Jac and Trax and Kate)  for this extended period – thank you so much.  We’re incredibly lucky to have so many friends and family that helped us out over this period and we really couldn’t have done it without you.  And especially to Gav and Vik who not only gave us a place to stay but also a car to use.   And to all my operation well wishers – thank you so much for your kind thoughts.  I feel great – the relief is enormous and the symptoms are no longer in existence (well not at the moment anyway).


Still in Blighty – 23rd Sept to 7 Oct

Wednesday 23rd September

Monday and Tuesday were pretty quiet.  The weather has been wet and cold and as a result we haven’t done much.  Today we take the tandem out for our first proper ride in over 9 months.

P1020878 P1020877 P1020878 P1020880 P1020879 P1020881 P1020882 P1020883We cycle to Osborne St George along the disused railway and then back to Marlborough along the road.  It’s just over 9 miles in total and whilst we didn’t really enjoy the muddy bridleway, we were fine on the road.

Thursday 24th September

Today we’re off to see Everest at the cinema.  It’s a brilliant film and it’s followed by a visit to the Defence Academy, Shrivenham to see Brett.

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It’s great to see him.  He’s been working really hard since his commissioning at the beginning of 2015 but he’s still loving it.  Unfortunately he’s off to Canada on Medicine Man on Sunday for 8 weeks so we don’t think we’ll see him again.  What a shame, but a lovely evening none the less

Friday 25th September

Today I have my seventh lesson with Jean, my French tutor on Skype, not including my one trial lesson.  Each lesson is about 30minutes.  Well they’re supposed to be 30mins but Jean often overruns.  In addition to the lessons, I’m doing a couple (if not more) hours of French homework most days.  Hopefully if I can become competent in French, I’ll find learning Spanish easier.

Saturday and Sunday

This weekend Vikki’s parents come to stay.  Paul and Julie from the Isle of Wight where they have a beef farm.   On Saturday afternoon  the boys all go off to football (Swindon v Colchester)

P1020895 P1020896 P1020899 P1020898 P1020901 P1020902whilst the girls  go to 100 Chai Street for a late lunch and then up the church tower where we can look over the local area.  It’s fabulous and our guide, a little old chap in a boater is extremely knowledgeable.  But it’s been a challenge.  Neither Vikki or I like the narrow, claustrophobic tower steps whilst Julie, who doesn’t like heights, is extremely uncomfortable at the top of the tower.

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After the tower trip go to the Marlborough for a passionfruit cocktail and the boys meet us.  We return home for a lovely dinner of homemade beefburgers and then there’s the Rugby.  This evening – England v Wales – a tense atmosphere with Gav, Daz and Paul supporting England and me the only Wales supporter.  But England manage to throw away their lead and lose the match.  What a shocker – almost half of the Welsh team were stretchered off in the last 20 minutes but still we just manage to win.  Result!!!

Sunday 27th September

Today we show Paul and Julie our bike and Paul has a go with Daz, which is tremendous.  He’s a really good sport.

P1020909 P1020911  Later we go off to East Kennet to do some geocaches. It’s a nice little walk with about 7 caches and there are many walkers about because we’re near Long Barrow but the caches are a little disappointing – mainly just Tupperware boxes.   Then it’s home for a lovely roast dinner – thanks Vik and Gav.

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Monday 28th September.

Depressed!  My operation date has come through.  I saw the specialist on 17 Sept and she said it was urgent and would be done on the NHS in the next couple of weeks.  So I was expecting the date to be 2nd October instead it’s 16th October.  I’m so annoyed.  I wish she’d managed my expectations better.  I’m so annoyed and I remember her saying if I was going private she could have done it the following week.  So I ring her private secretary to find out cost and date of going private.  It’s £3000 and 21st October.  So that’s that then.  We take the tandem out.  We cycle to East Kennet.  As we’re leaving Marlborough we notice a bit of a wobble and then realise we’ve got a puncture in the rear tyre.

P1020927 P1020929 P1020928 P1020930 P1020931  We try pumping it but the air leaves as quickly as we put it in.  So we have to fix it. Daz gets the rear wheel off and this is when we discover that our tyre levers are too flexible and not rigid enough to lever the tyre off.  Then we discover our spare tube has the wrong valve fitting so that’s no good either.  So instead we fix the puncture.  To be fair it’s been a godsend – an ideal time to find out these things.  It’s fixed relatively quickly and we carry on our bike ride.  Mileage today approximately 14.5 miles.


Tuesday 29th September.

Today we say goodbye to Paul and Julie and they’ve recommended a couple of places that I’d like to visit if we have a chance.  One is the hangman’s gibbet at Coombe Gibbet and the other is the area behind Fawley Power station.   Then we’re off on our bike again.  Today I want to show Daz Avebury Ring which isn’t much further than East Kennet.  Today we do 19miles (30.5km).

P1020938 P1020951 P1020941 P1020940 P1020942 P1020944 P1020945 P1020946 P1020948 P1020947  New problem today – Daz notices a bulge in the front tyre where there’s a cut in the tyre wall.  I’m relieved that this didn’t blow out on a fast downhill but since the erratic steering of the bike yesterday when we had a rear puncture, I’ve started imagining a rear puncture at high speed.  Not conducive to  happy cycling!!!  So shopping list now includes one new tyre,  correct inner tubes and decent tyre levers.  Perhaps this extended UK stay is proving to be a godsend.

Wednesday 30th September

Today we’re off to Andover to get some more drugs to tide me over before my operation and to pick up our flag.  Then we’re off to Amesbury to do a walk with Deborah and John.  It’s a 6 mile circuit and it’s a lovely walk and we’re blessed with lovely weather, views and there seems to be a lot of air activity out of Boscombe Down, which is MOD tri service experimental aircraft testing centre.  We also see Sting’s house.  Fabulous.

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After the walk we’re off to Tidworth.  Jac and Tracy have invited us to dinner and we get a chance to catch up with them.   They absolutely love their new house (and who can blame them – it’s fabulous) and whilst Jac is have a great time at work – the work she and little Paul have implemented is making huge steps in saving millions of pounds for the MOD and they’ve had commendations.  As far as her bosses are concerned Jac walks on water – a fantastic development considering some of the shit she’s had to put up with over the last couple of years.  Meanwhile Tracy is looking after Marion and childsitting for Scarlett and also busy finishing courses in child minding and child physchcology.    They both seem really content in their new home which is great.

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Thursday 1st October

Today we’re off to Coombe Gibbet where there are, in addition to the hangman’s Gibbet,  amazing views over Wiltshire.  After Coombe Gibbet we visit Hungerford.  We have been before, but only in the evening, and it’s a busy, quaint town and we sit by the canal eating our fish and chips.

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P1030004 P1030003 P1030005 P1030006Today we also register with ‘trusted housesitters’.  Jane told us about this site but we didn’t intend to join as a year’s registration fee is nearly £90.  But we decide to go for it and then look at jobs in France.  We email 4 jobs in France and within a couple of hours 3 out of the 4 have answered and want us to work for them.  We can’t believe the response.  So we have a couple of house/pet sits arranged for December in the south of France.  Incredible.  We’re very excited.

Friday 2nd October

Today we meet Katie in Marlborough for a ‘catch-up’.  It’s so sad – she’s broken up with Marius and sold their house in Amesbury.  At the moment she’s living with her mum but she’s already agreed a purchase of a new house on the same estate in Amesbury and that should be ready at the end of November.  She’s also changed jobs but it seems that Army HQ is undergoing another restructuring and all the headquarter elements that were originally moved from Netheravon, Upavon, Pewsey etc to be under one roof in Andover are now steadily being disaggregated again.  All very strange – so I struggle to recognise her original position let alone the new one – she did a swap with Peter Williams but it seems to have backfired somewhat.    But it’s great to see her and hopefully we’ll see her again before we leave.

Saturday 3rd October

Today we’re off to London to see Kate.  Gav is at work again but Vikki has taken Saturday off and very kindly drives us to the train station.  We get to London, Streatham Hill around 1400hrs.  We take Kate out for some geocaching around Clapham Common and then we stop for a couple of pints.  Then it’s home to watch the England v Australia match.  Disappointing – England lose convincingly and since Wales beat Fiji it looks as if it’s Australia and Wales that will go through.

Sunday 4th October

Daz and I walk through Brockwell park and do some geocaching whilst Kate goes to the gym.  There are so many people out in the park, walking their dogs, cycling, just enjoying the sunshine – there is even a load of horses, Ebony Riding Club, out riding with local kids.

P1030007 P1030008 P1030009 P1030010 P1030011 P1030012 P1030013 P1030014 P1030015 P1030016 P1030017 P1030019 P1030020 P1030023 P1030024 P1030025 P1030026The caches are good and it’s a draw – 3 finds each.  Then we meet Kate for breakfast at a very nice cafe on Streatham High Street, Boyce Roco.  In the evening we all go to the cinema to watch Martian.  We go to the Odeon on Streatham High Street.  Brett refuses to go to this cinema because it’s too provincial but we decide to go and whilst the screen is pretty good there isn’t much leg room for poor Daz.  Good movie though!

Monday / Tuesday/Wednesday

We had a walk planned for Monday but the weather isn’t that good so we go into town and walk from Victoria to Westminster Abbey and along Whitehall, looking at Downing Street and Horse Guard Parade and then to Trafalgar square to Piccadilly.

P1030028 P1030030 P1030031 P1030032 P1030037 P1030034 P1030036We go to Fortnum and Mason’s for tea and cake and then wander through Burlington Mall which is so exclusive it has its own ‘minders’ dressed in black and gold.

P1030039 P1030038 P1030041 P1030044 P1030047 P1030046 P1030048 P1030049 P1030051 P1030050 P1030054 P1030053 P1030055 P1030056 P1030058 P1030057 P1030059 P1030061 P1030062 P1030063 P1030065 P1030064 P1030066 P1030068 P1030067We end up in Soho where I insist Daz has a back massage because he seems to be suffering from a bad neck and back.  His mood is much improved after his massage – I wonder why????? After a leisurely stroll we meet Kate by London Bridge for an Escape Room experience.

P1030071It’s more disjointed than the Salisbury experience and it’s really too difficult.  Most of the work is done by Daz and Kate.  Afterwards we go to a tapas restaurant in Borough Market where the waiter is extremely charming with the cutest Spanish accent ever, Kate and I spend the evening looking at him dreamily!!  Tuesday Daz and I stroll round Leadenhall Market,  go up the 311 steps of the Monument and walk around the museum at the Bank of England and the banking area.

P1030069 P1030070 P1030074 P1030073 P1030075 P1030077 P1030076 P1030079 P1030078 P1030081 P1030082 P1030086 P1030087 P1030090 P1030091 P1030097 P1030098 P1030100 P1030099 P1030101We then enjoy a drink in Borough Market before coming home.  Wednesday, due to more foul weather we decide to take it easy.  Our only plan is to buy a new phone for Daz.  His blackberry which we use for geocaching and mapping and lots of other things seems to only hold its charge for a couple of hours.  We did buy a new battery for it in Edinburgh but if anything it’s got worse.  Sometimes even on charge all night, it’ll still be dead in the morning.   So it’s a new Xperia X5.  It’s the newest model.  Very exciting and very expensive.  But definitely worth it.