Monday, 30 July 2018

CRAWLEY

Monday 30th July, 2018.

It's our last night in England before we fly out tomorrow, homeward bound.  We're staying in Crawley as it is close to the rental car return location and to Gatwick, our departure point.


This is the fabulous fish pie Mike M. cooked for dinner on Friday night....as I've mentioned before, we have been thoroughly spoiled!

The heavens opened up through Friday night and the rain continued on and off on Saturday, unfortunate timing as the village flower show was held that day.  Mike M. spent much of the day helping out and Mike and I wandered up to the village hall in the early afternoon, helping with the folding of hundreds of raffle tickets in readiness for drawing.


Prezzos in Bridgwater was the venue for our farewell dinner on Saturday night


as on Sunday morning we packed up and departed for Wiltshire where we caught up with young friends Jo and her teenagers


...sadly we missed seeing Simon as he was working but we spent a delightful few hours with the rest of the family before heading off to our accommodation at Amesbury.  It rained on and off for most of the day so instead of walking to the pub late in the evening for a meal, we drove.

This morning, we breakfasted at the Friar Tuck Cafe in Amesbury then drove to nearby Salisbury, parked and wandered into the town and through the magnificent cathedral.



Then we visited the Sarum, site of the original cathedral from the 11th century.


After strolling around the ruins, we made our way to Winchester, stopping for tea and scones


at the Saint George Tea Room, in the 'secret garden' at the back of the shop,


before a brief visit to the Cathedral


We drove through Wiltshire, Hampshire and West Sussex on our way here, passing by beautiful farmlands and pausing at The Bat & Ball



for a rest and refreshments before the final leg of our journey.

We've had a wonderful, relaxing week in Somerset, it was great to catch up with our good friends.....we're now ready to go home.

                                                               But we'll be back!!




Friday, 27 July 2018

SOMERSET

Friday 27th July, 2018.

After we had been admitted into the country at Harwich International Port last Friday, we rode to the nearby railway station for the train ride to Colchester, where we spent the night in an airb&b.

On Saturday morning we walked to the rental car yard, collected our little white van,


returned to the airb&b, loaded the bikes and bags into the van and began the long, hot and tedious drive across country via the M25, the M4 and the M5.

The welcome from Marion and Mike was a warm one and in the cool of the late afternoon we sat in the garden, taking up where we left off 3 years ago.  Marion had prepared a lovely meal which was demolished with great enthusiasm, and we were delighted by a brief visit from Sally, her good friend who, with Marion, visited us down under some years ago.

Mike M. had booked a table at the White Horse Inn in Washford for Sunday lunch and we all chose the roast beef, an excellent choice.  Ice creams at Watchett and a walk along the quay


completed a splendid, enjoyable day out.

Mike and I drove into Bridgwater on Monday to do a little shopping, had a light lunch with Marion there and afterwards went for a drive through the Quantock Hills,


managing to get lost as to us all the narrow lanes look the same, but eventually we found familiar territory in the form of the Plough Inn in Holford, so called in for refreshments.  We returned 'home' to a superb meal cooked by Mike M., which we ate with gusto.  We are truly spoiled.

In the last few days, we have undertaken three rides : on Tuesday we drove to Hilperton in order to ride along the Kennet/Avon Canal


to the Caen Steps,


consisting of sixteen locks leading up to Devizes.


The locks are impressive, however, we didn't think much of the cycle path which was mostly rough and narrow with few exceptions.


Wednesday's ride was along the Bridgwater/Taunton canal, a much smoother path and a very pleasant ride,




although without power as we forgot to take the batteries with us!  Doh!  Because we still had a few aches and pains from the previous day's rough ride, after we'd had a sandwich and coffee lunch at the cafe at Maunsel lock, about two thirds of the way to Taunton, we returned to Bridgwater.




Thursday's ride was a gentle one along country lanes, managing to get lost again but enjoying the peace and quiet of the countryside.  In the late afternoon Mike sat in the garden and cleaned the bikes which were covered in dust and grime from the paths we have ridden.  A little later we strolled down to the Greyhound Inn, known locally as "The Dog", for a simple but delicious meal and a pint or two.
This morning, the Mikes put the bikes to bed in Mike M.'s shed


where they will hibernate until we return next year for another European bike ride, destination yet to be decided.

This is the final odo reading for the entire trip.


Monday, 23 July 2018

DELFT to HOEK van HOLLAND to HARWICH, ENGLAND :25 kms

Friday 20th July, 2018.

We are currently at sea, the North Sea to be exact, en route to Harwich with heavy mist surrounding us, making visibility limited.  This must be the most boring section of the trip but a necessary one in order to get the bikes to England.

Sadly the 'Big Bike Ride' ended this morning when we rode from Delft to Hoek of Holland - a leisurely and pleasant ride through pretty countryside,



with a coffee stop about half way.  When we spied a cafe on the other side of the road, we zoomed across only to find it was closed.  Then we saw another nearby, with a couple of people sitting at one of the several outside tables, walked over and asked if we could get coffee there, looked inside and saw - not a cafe but a senior citizens' centre with a large number of seniors playing indoor bowls!  How embarrassing!!!

A gentleman with very good English appeared....yes, of course we could have coffee,  went inside and returned with two cups of coffee and a tin of biscuits.  He and another gentleman stayed chatting with us while we drank the coffee and at first refused to allow us to pay but we insisted and paid double the 70cents each.

We arrived at Hoek van Holland in plenty of time


and while waiting to check in treated ourselves to a feed of fish & chips - the Dutch do them very well.

So here we are - still a couple of hours away from England and looking forward to catching up tomorrow with our friends in Somerset.





When we boarded earlier, the odometer showed 1,973kms, we couldn't make it to 2,000kms but that was never the goal - our aim was to ride from Budapest to Hoek van Holland and happily, we achieved that goal.  We hadn't considered riding in the UK so haven't done any homework in that regard but having spoken lately to a few people who have ridden there, homework is now on the agenda.


Friday, 20 July 2018

DELFT to AMSTERDAM by Train

Thursday 19th July, 2018.

We decided to have a day out in Amsterdam before we leave The Netherlands so caught a train there this morning, about an hour's journey.

As soon as we were able after our arrival, we made our way to one of the quieter streets and strolled along the canal, then decided to take a boat ride through the city canals.  This was an hour long and a pleasant little cruise with a friendly and jovial guide,





after which we walked through the city some more, stopping for a snack lunch, more walking, then back to the station for the train ride 'home'.


Once back in Delft, we visited the Thursday markets, found canals we hadn't come across before and are now ready for sleep after having thoroughly enjoyed our time in Delft.







DELFT to DEN HAAG to DELFT : 30 kms

Wednesday 18th July, 2018.

Our original booking for Delft was for two nights' stay but we decided to stay for three nights.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to change our booking so we had to change hotels after the first night.  This was no big deal as we didn't have far to go but we couldn't check into the second hotel  until the afternoon so left our bags in their luggage room and rode to Den Haag, the city of peace and justice, and cyclists who rule the world and pedestrians with peripheral vision.






It was extremely busy there, we didn't go into the centre, just rode through the outskirts to the beach at Schivengen (nearly being knocked off the bikes by an enormous owl which flew across our path)


where we sat in the sunshine overlooking the ocean while eating a fish and chip lunch.  We spent a very pleasant couple of hours cycling along the promenade, walking along the pier,


watching bungy jumpers, zip liners, the giant ferris wheel


and hundreds of beach goers enjoying the gorgeous summer's day, before returning to Delft.

As it's still light here until at least 10pm, we had time to stroll around lovely Delft which has so many canals it's easy to get lost.  We first visited here in 1969 when we travelled through Europe on two small motorbikes......a long time ago and memories have faded a little so it's good to be back.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

KINDERDIJK to DELFT : 22 kms

Tuesday, 17th July, 2018.

As if we didn't have enough photos of the windmills, we rode back this morning to take a few more in the morning light.





On seeing a detailed map yesterday of the cycle route to Rotterdam and noting that it was even more built up, with loads more industry and housing than we'd experienced in the last few days, we opted to take the 10.20am, 30 minute, 30 km, €6 each, water bus ride rather than ride the distance.



 The boat was packed so we stood for the journey and arrived in Rotterdam at 10.50am,  calling in to a cafe shortly after for coffee.


Although we've now notched up  more than 1900kms on the bikes since leaving Budapest,


I'm afraid that I am still unnerved when surrounded by Dutch people who were born on bicycles, were raised on Dutch cycling rules and etiquette and know exactly where they're going and how to get there quickly so I was pleased...we were pleased...to leave Rotterdam behind for the relatively open road to Delft.


We bought a sausage roll and a cheese scroll from a bakery along the way


And found a wall to sit on while we ate them before continuing the ride along a quiet road that ran parallel to the motorway which leads to Amsterdam.

Our hotel in Delft is in a typical old Dutch building which in 1591 was the birthplace of Reynier Jansz, the father of the famous Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.  The hotel houses several copies of Vermeer's paintings and in the hallway outside our room, a wall painting of "The Girl with a Pearl Earring".


This is a lovely old town which we explored a little this afternoon and because we will spend three nights here, will explore further tomorrow.



                                                               The view from our window.