How cold my TOES- tiddly-pom

Leaving Hadrian’s Wall, Birdoswald

After months of dreaming and sort of planning for our trip to China, we found ourselves on Hadrian’s Wall, surrounded by friends and family and an awful lot of good will and encouragement. If good wishes and big hugs could get us to China we would be there by now and it was an amazing send off. Thank you to all those who took the trouble to come and see us off. It meant a lot to us.

Twelve cyclists started off with us and slowly peeled off and went back home. We carried on to Newcastle where we stayed the night with our son Thomas and his family and the following day saw tearful farewells from the quayside where we got the ferry over to the Netherlands.
Everyone seemed to have a good time on the boat except us as we just wanted to sleep but there was a lot of drunken singing and arguments in the corridors that made sleep impossible! They didn’t have to cycle to China!!

So we got off the boat in Ijmuiden bleary eyed and exhausted and made our wobbly way towards Amsterdam. Pete described the ride through the city as exciting but I found it terrifying with the constant risk of colliding with a texting cyclists, mobility scooters and whizzing mopeds. It was a case of having to be on full alert the whole time. But, the weather was lovely, cold and bright and when we went into the Rijks Museum gardens the atmosphere was happy and bright with skating and bubble makers and people clambering over the I AMSTERDAM sign.
Since then we have had days of bright sunshine and freezing temperatures, and have cycled through beautiful, flat wintry landscapes.


We have so far managed to avoid camping but the time is drawing near when we will have to, so we are trying to convince ourselves that we will be toasty warm in our sleeping bags and the only problem will be putting the tent up without wearing gloves.

We are now somewhere near Arnhem and should cross the border over into Germany within the next couple of days.China still seems like a distant dream!

Magical moments.

We left our home in Hallbankgate in a blizzard but by the time we reached the Roman Wall it was quiet and our tyres were crunching on the already frozen snow. As we headed towards Birdoswald the moon started to rise and was a huge golden globe. Just imagining that it had recently been shining over China it was saying to us “this is the way to go, and it’s not so far”. Ha ha ha.

Our first wayside tea stop by a quiet road looking out over flat, frozen fields but with the sun feeling just slightly warm. The first time we have used our new stove and it produced hot, steaming tea in 8 minutes, from getting off the bikes.

Visiting the Kroller Moller museum and overdosing on Van Gogh for a few warm and happy hours. Putting your nose a few inches from his signature on the paintings sent a tingle down the spine. I love his fat bottomed ladies but my favourite is the Potatoe Eaters.


Yesterday, when the sunshine shone brilliantly on the snow but still being able to cycle safely on the cleared cycle path.

Things we have learnt

  • Dutch people kiss three times on the cheek. Highly dangerous in a cycle helmet.
  • If there is an accident between a car and a cyclist in the Netherlands it is deemed to be always the fault of the car driver .
  • Cars give way to bikes at all junctions. This takes a bit of getting used to.
  • When you think your toes can’t get any colder and frostbite is about to set in, blood starts to return and despite the initial agony , becomes a very nice feeling.

Two limericks:

From Les.

Our old pal Pete said to me
We’ll bike ride the world just you see!
Chris leapt to the saddle,
They started to pedal
And now they’re in China for tea.

From Tom.

For our cycling adventurist friends,
The means are important not ends.
Pray their scrapes will be minor
As they pedal to China
Only their blogging on wifi depends.


  1. Pat says:

    So great to read the first update of your adventure on two wheels…
    You are amazing free spirits …
    Take care… and ‘keep it garn’
    Safe travels.
    Pat and Eddie

  2. Anne Lloyd says:

    do keep up these fun, informative blogs when you can – though appreciate not easy during an evening in a frozen tent!
    when you get a moment, tell me about your new stove!
    All the best, keep travelling East

  3. David Nightingale says:

    Dear Chris and Pete,
    It was lovely to be part of your big send off from Hadrian’s Wall last Saturday. Thanks for inviting me.
    I wish you well as you pedal towards Germany …. it looks chilly, but you will get a warm welcome there I’m sure.
    ……all this to avoid Donald Trumps inauguration later today!

    Best wishes
    David Nightingale
    (sent with a great deal admiration and a touch of jealousy!)

  4. jon says:

    So far so good ! Felt quite emotional saying farewell to you guys – but nothing on what you felt im sure. But you left alot of people feeling inspired im sure.
    For us its Cats birthday weekend and we are heading to Newscastle on the train tomorrow for the day and then off on Monday for a spa day darling with swimming and massages. But i would rather be cycling !!!!! In -5 !!!
    We all love you both very much – Naomi and asher got very worried as you cycled away. It was difficult trying to explain where China was !
    Huge love to you both and stay warm
    The Mays

  5. Charlotte says:

    I didn’t realise you’d already left ! Such an exciting thing to do, I will be following your blog keenly, and wish you safe travels xx

  6. Lauren says:

    Ooh, it looks lovely! We’re all jealous here (apart from the cycling!) Sounds like you’re making great progress and tea in 8 mins aint bad!

  7. Pat says:

    Yes we are interested in the new stove too?

    1. Peter Lloyd says:

      Hi Pat
      The stove is a optimus polaris multifuel. It’s great, fast and easy to use but the food does tend to catch. ?thick pans. Also it’s a bit noisy.

    2. Peter Lloyd says:

      I meant to say -thin pans…

  8. Heidi says:

    This is inspiring me. I have this niggle inside me to do an adventure on my bike. I will follow your ride with interest, and hopefully find the focus to start and plan my own. Happy cycling.

  9. Eileen Norman says:

    Denis and I enjoyed the Keller Muller gallery a couple of years ago. Thrilling to be allowed close enough to peer at brush strokes! Thinking of you every day. Love, Eileen x x

  10. Eric says:

    Great to read your blog.
    As you go to Germany
    Please say hello to a Henrike.
    She is a brilliant student that worked here last year.
    She is small with a big round face and wares a red wooly hat.

    1. Hi Eric
      We have been saying hello to all the people with big round faces and red wooly hats just in case it is Henrike
      Chris x

  11. Renee says:

    Chris and Pete – I’m glad to hear you are off to such a good start. Hot tea in 8 minutes on a cold, crisp winter day with the sun on your back sounds a slice of magic to me. I look forward to reading more your of your posts. I loved Les’ poems and the two Limericks. If I get my creative juices flowing, maybe I can come up with one. Warm thoughts, Renee

    p.s. Chris, if you enjoy fat bottomed women, invite me round to tea more often (ha ha).

  12. Fiona McElhinney says:

    Great to hear your news, am so impressed by even the thought of camping! You’re both made of tough stuff! Hope you haven’t got too used to the Dutch attitude to cyclists as I don’t suppose it’s as good anywhere else! All the best, and look forward to reading episode two! Fiona xx

  13. liz says:

    well done! Was lucky to find your email under Spam! What kind of stove is it? we had similar noisy sail from Amsterdam. Keep on Truckin!xx

    1. Peter Lloyd says:

      It’s a optimus polaris multifuel. It’s great but if anybody out there has any idea how to heat up a tin of goulash without it burning on the bottom I’d like to know how. I’ve tried lots of stirring angel putting the heat right down but still get a black ring of burnt goulash. The pans are thin stainless steel but who wants to carry a heavy pan?

  14. Tom Whewell says:

    Hi Chris/Pete

    Great first blog. Thinking of you in the cold weather. At least the wind was negligible in The Netherlands. Amazing they kept the cycle paths clear. Great pics. But concerned Chris that you found Amsterdam a nightmare to cycle in. Probably the most cycle friendly capital in the world! A victim of its own success. At least your route seems to avoid of the major cities so hopefully you’ll be ok. Extremely impressed how lightly loaded you look esp for a winter cycle. Hope the camping is ok. Thinking of you as I cycle to work in a balmy 5 degrees!! Keep going. LOR!!

  15. Julienne says:

    Can’t wait to follow the route you take. Will be thinking of you.
    Take care, keep warm, Love Julie xxx

  16. Jennie Cross says:

    Chris and Pete great to read your updates! The children in the Early Years class at Warwick Bridge Primary School were excited today to hear about your cycling journey to China. We have mapped your route on an atlas and look forward to reading more about your adventures. Good Luck from all at Warwick Bridge Primary School.

    1. Thanks so much jennie and we are thrilled that the children are interested in our journey . If there is anything specific you would like us to send them, do let us know. Perhaps when we get out of Europe and further east we can send photos of children and maybe their school so that your pupils can compare and contrast!

  17. David Liddle says:

    Look forward to following your progress via your blogs, keep up the great work from a fellow cyclist…

  18. Tom Whewell says:

    Chris. I know it’s a bit ahead but are you heading into Slovakia? Just had a look on Google Earth and there is now a bridge over the Danube from Sturovo to Estogom in Hungary. Good way into Hungary but not sure of your exact route. Estogom has the 5th largest church in the world and us well worth a peek at.

    1. Thanks tom. I think we make a brief foray into Slovakia and then into Hungary so will take note. We are following the danube cycle path so I guess it will take us the best way.

  19. Howard says:

    I’ve been meaning to get around to drawing your attention to that pioneer of adventure cycling, Dervla Murphy, the now octogenarian, who embarked on her ‘Dunkirk to Delhi’ trip on the same date as yourselves, 14 January (1963)….and into the worst winter that Europe had had in a long while!!

    Some little abstracts from the resulting book ‘FULL TILT’:
    ‘Rozinante’ (Roz for short) was an ‘admirable Armstrong Cadet man’s bicycle….the only preparation needed was the removal of the three speed derailleur gear as reckoned to be too sensitive to survive Asian roads. Only two rear panniers with 28 lbs of kit. Of a change of clothes she had only
    1 woollen vest
    1 pr ankle length woollen underpants
    1 Viyella shirt

    Also of note 1.25 automatic pistol + 4 rounds of ammunition!!
    It’s a while since I read the book but I think she used 2 bullets to scare off a wolf (Romania or Turkey??)!!

    Hope all going well and look forward to further news!

    1. Thanks Howard. I read full tilt before we left and gained a lot of inspiration from it. What a woman, she makes me feel like a bowl of jelly but I draw the line at carrying a gun!!

  20. Eric Horn says:

    Reading your blog in bite size bits as it’s too painful.
    Elephants, warm showers, snowy Christmas cards, frozen fingers.
    When are you going to say something about local cheese ?
    What about Boris Johnston sausages !
    Take care. Eric.

    1. Peter Lloyd says:

      Hi Eric. Just eating cheese in Hungary and I’ve tasted better rubber. Nowhere is the cheese as good as from slackhouse farm.weve never met a boris Johnson sausage.

  21. Anthony Farrell says:

    Love your very entertaining blogs, do keep them coming. Not much local news except I would expect the name of our new Bishop to be published soon, that should fill your days!

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