Sunday, 27 May 2012

Sailsbury to Wales

Arrived in Salisbury after a wet and windy night in the tent.  So pleased with our tent though as we were warm and dry in it!!
The Cathedral is pretty imposing and dominates the skyline. The rest of the city was very interesting and we had a good look around.

After much discussion and procrastination we made the decision to take a train across country towards Bath.  We took the train as far as Bradford upon Avon which was a really pretty little town on the Avon river.
We left the town on the road to Bath.......up .....and up......and up.......... the roads were very steep so it was pushing only, and not much fun.
We later found out that there was a cyclepath right alongside the river.  I think the cycle gods were punishing us for taking the train!!!!!  but Dave was just cranky that we didn't see the cycle path!
We were able to join up with the canal path a little later on and it was really lovely. We saw hundreds of these boats, some up to 60 feet long and only 7 foot wide.  Some were rentals but most appeared that  people live on permanently.

The canal, although being a lovely flat ride, was not without its suprises - at one stage it actually passed OVER a river. (like the Roman aqueducts)  Totally bizarre.....we were actually up quite high and the views were pretty good as well.
The canal took us all the way to Bath.  This place is truly awesome from the moment you arrive.
We could have spent a lot of time exploring all the places here, but of course everything has its price and the prices were pretty decent, so again we satisfied ourselves with all the non admittance fee places.

  This (above ) is just one of the beautiful old buildings, and below is a portion of the Roman Baths from the exterior.

From Bath we continued on, this time making sure we checked first about a cycle path!!  Yes we found one - hooray - Joey enjoyed it as well - looking back to where we had come. Can you see him trying to hide my fat ----  and not succeeding!!

On this path we came across an unusual sculpture. On closer examination it revealed it was a water fountain for cyclists to replenish their supplies, supplied by Sustrans who promote all the cycle paths.  The water once started pours onto the sculptures mouth and you can catch it in your hands or in a it was very cold and clear!!!!!!!!   It's huge by the way which I'm not sure shows on the photo! 
The path we were travelling on was an old railway line which is not the first one we have travelled on. They are so good for cycling and seem to be maintained exceptionally well. The following photo shows it in fun.

Another surprise along these old railway tracks is the tunnells.  Some of them are quite long and really cold.   Did I happen to mention that it seems to have stopped raining since we hit Bradford on Avon!!!
Bristol was a suprise,  a lovely harbour and as usual great old buildings.
 We checked out the Tourist Information bureau as per usual for maps and information on where we were headed and then had our lunch by the water - another regular feature.....
We discovered that Bristol harbour only exists due to the Lock system, which I think was created/ invented (maybe) by Brunell - he seems to have a strong influence in the area for things like this.On the other side as we rode out towards the bridge to Wales..... The river that feeds Bristol harbour was really quite pathetic.  It was probably on a low tide but very hard to imagine that it feeds such a harbour. I guess that Brunell's lock has made this town.
We happily continued along this tributary until we reached the bridges to Wales across the Severn.  The first one is for real vehicles only I guess, so we had to travel a little further North to the Second bridge that has a cycle across that to our Third country on this trip..........Onwards to Wales!!!!!!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Littlehampton to Salisbury

Back on the Road again....Dave improving but the weather isn't!
Battling cold headwinds down through Bognor Regis, where again we saw heaps of BeachHuts.
There are heaps of amusement centres on and around the beach to keep everyone amused when the weather is bad I guess, although most of them were closed due to the cold weather.
We then headed North West to Chichester, travelling through some lovely little villages, although all we saw were people in cars as no one was venturing out except a couple of mad cyclists from Aus!
Looked around Chichester for a couple of hours and found some very unusual shops!
You just needed to walk a bit further!!
We checked out the Cathedral which was pretty impressive.  One problem with some of these places is that due to having all our belongings on the bikes, there are very few places that we can safely leave them so it means that one of us  gets a little look while the other one minds the stuff.
Headed West out of Chichester and camped at Loveders Farm.  They even had a bar which was very nice and one couple in a caravan were quite concerned about us in our tent, so made us tea and coffe!!!!!
Next day travelled South through along the Hayling Billy coastal path - a traffic free path which used to be a rail line. -------"our office (above)"
We then took a ferry to Portsmouth. Spent a while riding along the beachfront bikepath mixing it up with  pedestrians. Checked out the old castle keep and the Tourist information girl watched our bikes so we were able to get a good look together. Also checked out the tunnells under the keep. Just to think how old these things are and we were in the same tunnells they fought seiges in centuries ago!
Leaving Portsmouth after riding round through the docks and Nelsons square - pity it costs so much to see most of these things, so we just have to check them out from a distance!
Another ferry ride to Gosport, through Lee on the Solent, and heading for Southhampton. Stayed just before entering the city.
Next day saw us cut across the top of Southhampton and head to Romsey on another mainly traffic free cycle path.
Romsey was a really lovely little town and the people were friendly.  We stopped a local and asked for directions to the Information Centre and he was actually more helpful than the information centre was once we got there.  I stayed with the bikes in a park while Dave went for food and he came back with a bit more!!  While walking along, the earlier guy called out to him and then said "I have something for you"  He then gave him a stubby of Romsey Beer!!!  Very Nice!
West again towards Salisbury where we saw the Lord of the Manner in his personal Trout stream - really!! there was a sign to say no fishing - private!!!

Onwards towards Salisbury -riding on the road through a lot of lovely little villages with quaint names like Michelmersh, Mottisfont, where the old buildings are just so lovely.
Eventually stopped just short of Salisbury to camp and the camp owner had a very inquisitive boxer
called Denzel!

Tomorrow on to Salisbury and who knows???

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Monday 14th May 2012  Littlehampton East Sussex

We're back on the road and enjoying the English sunshine. - well it was shining yesterday!!
We left  Elham in the rain, and traversed the hills, eventually reaching the Romney Marsh. Looking forward to the flat plains, we were soon cut down by mother nature in the form of massive headwinds!!!!  We even had to peddle downhill in parts!

But there were some interesting interludes - we stopped for lunch at a pub and the publican was telling us that Noel Coward wrote his first successful play in the adjacent building, and the woman who wrote 'The Railway Children' is buried in the graveyard over the road.
The old churches are amazing!  The only thing that we find quite defacing is that so many of these beautiful old churches have now got a clock embedded in their towers.

Out of the Marshes and down to Rye we were  hoping to find a camping ground but no luck so onwards to Brede.  Not far from the site we were pulled up by a guy coming out of a house across the road,  He was a KIWI.  "How's it goin Bro? Had a hard day?"  They had seen us earlier in the day.  He offered us a cup of tea which would have been heaven but we had to reach the campground by 6 so had to decline.

Camping in the wind and rain is becoming the norm, but our tent is great so its all good.
The coast is wonderful with its shingle beaches........(read rocks).......and all the beachside amusement parks and little cafe's.   Still finding it hard to get used to people sitting on the beach (rocks)  fully clothed to take in the sun.

We did consider a property purchase on Saturday in Brighton......A Beach Hut.....only 12 thousand pounds!!!   They are everywhere!  And very small.   Still not entirely sure what most people use them for as most do not seem to have power or anything, and they would be about 2m X2m square. Still thinking whether we could use one!!!
Brighton was really busy as it is having a month of festival, and as we were staying with a 'warm showers' host, we were able to leave our gear safely and really check the place out on foot.

Still travelling West along the coast and punching headwinds, we camped here at Little Hampton last night but Dave has come down with something mysterious, Doctor has prescribed antibiotics, so we have booked into a Hostel for a couple of nights to try and get him right.  

First experience of Youth Hostels is not bad.  No frills but everything you need and pretty cheap.  So here we are, planning the next leg of the trip.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Monday, 8th May 2012   A BRIEF REST BREAK
Elham Kent
Arrived here in Elham last Wednesday thinking that our cousins would have arrived back from Dubai on the previous day, but as usual I had got it wrong and they were not due in until late Wednesday.  So as it was raining and cold, we just parked up the bikes in their backyard, put the bags into their garden shed and headed for the nearest pub.  Which turned out to be just up the hill in the village square.  The Kings Arms has magical properties and has somehow cast a spell on us making us totally  unable to walk past without dropping in for a pint and a half!!!   Pint of beer for Dave and A Half of cider for me!  The barman even has it poured and on the bar by the time we walk through the door!!
Since we have arrived it has been very cold and wet!  So a good time to take a break indoors.  Elizabeth has run us all around the countryside showing us the area and giving us a running commentary on the history, and interesting facts etc etc.  It’s a pity we won’t have her knowledge during the rest of our travels.
Went to the Battle of Britain Memorial in Dover and saw the castle in the distance, then down to the coast and all round the local areas, called in to some shops for some last minute supplies, but the shops are the last places we want to visit! Yesterday we took a bus to Cambridge.  Very strange travelling along these little one lane country roads in a huge double decker bus, bit of a squeeze at times and occasionally hit a bit of overhanging vegetation but all in all pretty good.
The city was amazing, so many incredible old buildings and the Cathedral is really something. We had a look from the outside but at 20quid to go in, we decided to pass.  Have to keep an eye on the pennies!  Instead we ate at a little cafe and spent an hour or so people watching – some really strange sights!!!  It was great!!  Today we had another tour around the countryside, and tomorrow hopefully our mail will arrive from Australia and we will be able to continue on our journey.
We were not very clever the night before we left!  To try and save on weight, we left behind several things, one of them being our 4 plug power board. (that’s what drinking red wine at midnight will cause you to do) Of course it is not something you can just pick up over here so we are now waiting for ours to arrive so that we will be able to charge everything up. We have bought a converter but at the moment have to charge up everything separately which is ok when you are in a house for a few days but not when on the road.
Picture below is of England’s smallest post office (so we were told) the village post office closed, so they have set up a part time post office in the pub.  Open for 3 hours a day.  Lot’s more photos on the photo diary page!!!!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Tuesday May1 2012 Ashford Kent.
Hard to believe that a week has almost gone already........
After arriving last Friday, we had 2 nights at Crawley during which time we re assembled the bikes in our hotel room and then just managed to get them back downstairs in an elevator that was designed to hold 4 people!!  Must say we did get some strange looks!
Even stranger looks when we set off into the pouring rain, fully loaded for the first time and after a quick spin around the car park it was off and at em!!  
Managed to find a cycle/walk way almost all the way from Crawley to Tumbridge Wells, apparently it is an old railway line (part of national cycle route 21) Great not to have to worry about traffic, and we did get to see some rabbits and squirrells, and plenty of people out walking in the rain ( even family groups) couldn't imagine that back home!!
When the cycle path ran out, the road presented some challenging hills and we had to give in and push up the last hill to Tumbridge Wells ( about 4 mile)  by the time we got there I was totally spent. We found the Tourist information but she was closing, luckily for us she felt sorry ( I must have looked really pathetic!!)  and she was a tremendous help - Thanks Jan!!!
Monday was a much better day and we woke to sunshine and blue skies.  After a 'Full English'  (which is breakfast consisting of sausage, bacon, mushrooms, tomato, black pudding, baked beans and let's not forget the egg!)  I'm suprised we could even get out of the dining room let alone cycle!!
Good cycling day, but really hard to follow routes as the roads are not very well marked and meander all over the place so we covered quite a few more than we probably needed to but it wasn't too bad.  On roads today so passed through some lovely little villages with great old houses. In one village where we stopped to eat our left over Pizza (from last nights dinner) a local guy pulled up in his car and said "are you aussies?" he then stayed for a chat while we ate.  Lots of people asking us where we are from and about what we are doing, and lots of people just saying hello, its really nice.

As it stays light here until about 8pm at the moment it is hard for us to follow the time of day and yesterday we just kept riding.  We were hoping to get to a camping park and did not quite realise how far we would have to travel so 36 miles later ( that's just over 60ks) with lots of hills, we pulled into Woodland Camping park near Biddenden, only to find its office closed.
At this stage my heart dropped as I really did not think I could ride another mile and it was just starting to spit with rain!!  A lady getting into her car pointed us to the camp ground warden's caravan, and as we wheeled our bikes over to him he just started shaking his head!
What now??   " No camping - ground is waterlogged!"  Dave said to him " Not even for a little tent?  The missus is knackered and can't go any further!"  I tried to look even more pathetic (well didn't have to try hard for that,) and he relented and said the only hard patch was by the pond, and pointed to it.
We put the tent up as the rain started and as we were getting settled, Tony the warden came over to take our money etc.  He turned out to be a really nice bloke and loved a chat.....
Rained all night but we were snug and warm in the tent.  (very happy with our Hillaberg)
So gradually using all the thing we have bought.  Not happy thoughwith the weight we are carrying so when we get to our relatives place in Elham we will reassess, and if we can find an electronics person, we might be able to get rid of the masses of chargers and cables. They alone weigh heaps.
In Ashford tonight before heading for Elham tomorrow.  Not a big day today (nice) and it was good to stop at a pub for a pint and a pub lunch.   Will try to get some photos sorted for the next blog and also put the on the photo diary.
No More Regrets!