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!
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.
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.
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.