40 days and 40 nights…

The word quarantine or “40 days,” in the Venetian language is pretty relevant at the moment. Isolation as it is now better described, but was first used during the Black Death epidemic in the fourteenth century to stipulate a period that ships were required to be isolated before passengers and crew could go ashore. Noah of course also isolated for the same time so that the world be cleaned. There are many other stories and connotations but for me it was just another day I was lucky enough to be alive and get the chance to go on a bike ride….

All that said. I found it hard to get going this morning….No reason. We don’t need reasons all of the time do we? My mind and body just said no.

My first stop of the day was Activ cycles in Folkestone. The weight on my bike is way over what the old girl is geared up to deal with and any bumps on the road loosen the spokes and in turn can buckle the wheel. That’s what happened last week. She’s definitely being retired after this tour. The guys at the bike shop somehow recognised that I was a northerner and the fix was on the house. Amazing. Thank you guys.

I decided to miss out Dover and Margate. Sorry Margate I’m sure you are beautiful. And the Doors at Dover opened up a whole new bicycle route potentially… can you imagine how much more worry that would create if I headed off to Europe….

I was heading from my builders hotel in Folkestone. I call it the pigeon magnet. Then on to Canterbury before finishing in trendy Whitstable where a friend had a holiday let he was…letting me.

er excuse me, have you seen my parrot?

Anyway. Like every day once we start going it becomes easier and before you know it you’ve forgotten that it was a struggle to get going this morning. Sound familiar?

Slight sense of humour failure… locked gate no way around it, no way through it so I had to go… yes over it

Kent. I don’t know Kent.

I’ve been trying to think of a building material or style or something that says Kent but I can’t yet.

Kent

Dorset thatched. Cornish cream. Yorkshire hills, Lincolnshire fish, Lancashire lockdown, etc but Kent… it will come to me…

Right where was I. Let’s fast forward to Canterbury. I was looking forward to seeing the cathedral but it was covered in scaffolding.

Still stunning and always open
New bricks… I bet these weren’t 50p each from Jewson

I imagined how nice it would look and will look, then went inside.

As all pilgrims do, I took off my bike shoes and took a pew. I had a chat with the big man and lit a candle for us all.

HOPE came to mind and a song by Nick Cave. I know that’s odd but Mr. Cave did write some beautiful lyrics. Anyway enough of my sentimentality.

I love Scotties. This was on the cathedral wall. I toyed with taking it with me as it looked old and out of date… but didn’t
Canterbury
Stunning architecture that wouldn’t get through local planning these days

Canterbury was nice, really nice and I’d love to explore more, as I would with many of the places I have visited. I left Canterbury after I’d visited Pret. I know…. I’m sorry. In London Pret A Manger’s are like the betting shops of the north, they are everywhere but I had to…

Good gate house

Onto Whitstable or should I say (Londons) shoreditch on sea… very trendy here.

Broken boat probably by Tracey Emin, whitstable

Anyway I’m off to view some graffiti before buying a can of ultra trendy craft beer and no doubt some extortionately priced fish and chips.

A reward

I hope you have had a day that’s been equally eventful?

Over and Out

Perhaps the big mans lockdown 1 project outside Canterbury cathedral

Day 39, Hugo, Hythe and… ahh yes hastily made adventures…

God it’s tough out there isn’t it? I was even ‘moved on’ from outside a farm shop today after buying a coffee and trying to drink it outside Rye.

I hope you are all coping? I’m staring to feel a little guilty actually being out and about.

You could go on a bike ride too. No not the nose to tarmac burn. Be a sight-list and see what’s on you’re doorstep. It’s amazing what you’ll see and who you might talk to.

Our friend Hugo and his Dad did a 20 mile ride last weekend for the cause. Hugo you are a legend. Thank you. It’s acts like this and from children no less, that keep me and us all going.

Legends

It was a bit nippy this morning as the frosty fields show us but today really was the beautiful day for me. The sky was blue and when you add that cold snap it felt like a Boxing Day without the fat belly or hangover….

brrrruugh

The climb out of Hastings to ‘Bachelors Bump…’ was a little severe first thing…and the cold sweat reminded me again of Boxing Day! In Pett I met the village chief I think.

Pett

“Where are you off to” she said and “I like you’re bike set up” This lady was about 60 and was just off to put the flag up for the queens wedding anniversary. I’d stopped to look at the poppies in the tree that had caught my eye. We were talking then all of a sudden her concentration shifted. “I wonder where Chris is off too” she said as Chris drove off in his 4×4…. I was told the pros and cons of my whole route to Folkestone along the coast from one cyclist to another. She was 60 plus. Amazing.

Woof

After the downhill from Pett, it was flat all the way through the beautiful and historic towns and villages of Rye, Camber, Lydd and Hythe.

– Keep Out –

Camber Castle
Hythe and its military canal defences
Military canal defence

The history was to be expected around here but it’s the sea defences i want to highlight. I like the sea but you know that already don’t you.

Now I’ve seen a fair bit of Englands coast and there is no doubt that from the defences I’ve seen it’s Sussex and Kent that seem to be getting the bartering. Am I right? Who knows, but it’s certainly the a area where the most investment seems to have gone in. And it’s been done so well so that walkers, bikers and birdwatchers can enjoy.

Defences or sculptures
The continental replacing of shingle as a sea defence
Defences and a handy walking and cycle track leading into Hythe and Folkestone

I did a bit of birdwatching today. Couple of joggers warmed the blood for minute until I heard the firing of a machine gun in the distance….OMG

The vast MOD site near Lydd increased my pedal rate no doubt. I felt really strong today and it was nice to be averaging 15mph over the normal 10mph. We’ll see what tomorrow holds.

Mermaid bay, Folkestone

Canterbury and then Whitstable.

I hope you all have an excellent weekend. Remember to check in on others. If you think someone may be struggling, they probably are. Be a friend. Be a human.

OY You… off that shed please it’s lockdown

Over and out

Not all paths should be followed…

Day 38 – (Heineken) Haste to Hastings…

Brrrrr it’s getting cold. Who’d decide to cycle tour this time of year in England eh…

Hang on…I set out on a bear hunt…It was always going to be a BIG one. Sh!t there have been a few challenges but as the children’s books stays… If I couldn’t get round them, or over them, I’d just have to get through them.

I wish….🤔

The Bikes ok, thanks to Clive and Matt. My legs are ok too. The days are getting shorter very quickly which means I’ve got to start earlier… I’m just short of 1700 miles now, which means I have around 600 miles left. Humm ok let’s do it….

On the sea road again… there must be something round he corner…

Eastbourne to Hastings was a short ride (17m) in preparation for me,cracking on tomorrow.

Raw power
I counted 1066 of these beach huts as I battled the elements to Hastings
Bexhill-On-Sea

The route was flat and right on the seashore. The sea air is always clean and fresh. How do we get by breathing in the London air…But the sea was raw today. The rusty coloured waves crashed in between the hundreds of colourful beach huts. The odd dog walkers were wrapped up, leaning into the wind like the lowery figures I read about in the north west.

Another mad dog barking at Poseidon
I love an OXO cube.
Not a great cycle route

Hastings new town was quite simply depressing. It was raining and the usual city centre folk looked like zombies, lost or sheltering in doorways with cups of tea or sausage rolls due to the fact that there is nowhere to sit down and enjoy a cuppa or lunch with friends or… as I like, just people watch. It must be hard. It is hard for these city dwellers and I can see why it’s these places where the COVID conspiracies are dreamt up. These city centres are dead aren’t they.

Oh not another cruise liner..

…it’s not actually it’s Hastings
I’m amazed she hasn’t been taken down like every other statue around England
London traders / procurement consultants welcome here. Shame it was closed.

Hastings new town looked a lot more promising. The old Victorian seaside village seemingly cut into the rocks with the centuries of fishing life lining the shoreline was clear to see.

The Victorians really were exceptional, carving beauty and out of the rocks
A fishing history
Old Victorian cable cars

I imagine on a beautiful summers day this place would be thriving. Long may that continue.

For me this says it all…

A lone man sheltering under a large but ill decorated Christmas tree, playing no sea shantie today. It was a beautiful, symbolic sound that though

I hope you are all doing well? It’s a tough time it’s it, but I reckon the future will be ok for all of us. What do you think?

We only really have to deal with tomorrow though don’t we.

Over and Out

Day 37 – Hey Spider-Man, where’s my pants….

I can’t thank enough the people that have helped me over the last few days. It’s been a tough time for a number reasons. I’ve let a fair few people down too in my mind. The tiredness recently has hit me so hard. As I have said before with tiredness comes misjudgement, misguided thoughts and maybe actions. We can get belligerent or loose in Hope and start shutting the door again. This is when we need to get back on our bike….

Let’s just ride down the path and see where it goes. Sometimes it’s great riding in the flat, in the Sunshine but sometimes it’s windy or just dammed cold.

The A Team plus spider man

Right where I am…

Well yesterday made it to Eastbourne via Lewis, East Deane and Beachy Head – 41 miles.

I’d been looking forward to this ride with an old school friend. Or had I?

Having been out of the saddle for a few days my head was saying this is going to be hard. The structure in my day, the organisation and processes of getting both me and my bike ready seemed daunting. The weather had turned. It was 10 degrees plus last week and this week the weather was showing sub 5 degree nights. Oh and then there’s the actual ride. Lockdown challenges. You know the simple ones like buying a coffee or sitting in a warm room for a bit. Yes. It’s fair to say I was not looking forward to it….

More decisions…
What..

Adam is a great man and there have been a load more over the last few days…

We set off together through suburbia the onto the country roads. The houses around Lewes are beautiful. The chalk filled South Downs ever present.

Sorry about he lack of posts recently
Beautiful houses around Lewes. I’m on my house…
How many cows and horses can you see? Anyone see a chicken?

We arrived in the beautiful village of East Deane. Another village steeped in history. Sadly no flapjacks available though. I could have done with a flapjack.

East Deane
Are cyclists not welcome here either….

Onto / upto the Seven sisters and beachy head. Stunning

Seven sisters
I got wood
I thought I was crazy
Huge chalk pebbles

Then down to Eastbourne and breathe. 😊Another day done.

Huh… look how far we’ve come
Wind behind and flying

Over and out

Life and Adventure… There needs to be a balance…

Sadly we can’t do both ALL of the time can we? but maybe we can live by the principals… What a joy it must be to have a mind in balance…always ready to dwell on the good and let the negative aspects go…

I’m going to make the most of the 24hours I have off my adventure today and not worry about my poor bike! I hope you have a happy Friday and ‘balanced’ weekend x

Day 36, It was all so beautiful then broken….

If you think you live in a beautiful part of the world….today this seemed like perfection.

Welcome to the New Forest. My legs feel great in the mornings these days, but my head is definitely sleepy first thing. Bit like a working week eh? It’s just normal bed head. I’m sleeping so well at the moment whatever bed/ground/etc presents itself and I’m certainly not moaning.

i am so grateful to be able to do this trip. Many of you say you’d love to be able to do something like this too. It’s hard to schedule it in when life gets in the way isn’t it? But sometimes these opportunities just crop up. If we think too much… it never happens.

Right onward…

Ping….

Another spoke, ahhhh

My bike has been tested no doubt. She’s an old racer not a tourer. It’s like Carl Lewis doing a marathon or Bradley Wiggins doing the shot putt. She’s a good girl and stood up to the challenge well,

but she’s given up now that’s for sure, so a few repairs needed to finish but then it’s good memories, some proper procurement work for me, and then a new bike over time for some new adventures.

20 off miles in and then the 40 miles to my friends mechanic on the train was a bit of a low point. Not that I felt I was cheating. Just felt like things weren’t going quite my way anymore / the cracks were forming…

Maybe I need a proper planned day off?

Maybe I’ll lock up my bike on the coast for 24hours and head to London for a decent rest and some recalibration. That should be enough time for Clive the bike magician to weave his magic. That’s ok isn’t it?

Luckily I had a squashed banana and my last piece of grasmere gingerbread which is 3 weeks old to pep me up. I don’t think gingerbread goes off does it? It seemed to be OK. Luckily Chinese, I bet they bought loads of it. Wish I had

So not much to show or tell of today but I’ll keep going. On my own or not. We have to don’t we?

Over and out

Day 35 – Lulworth, Laura and Littlehampton tomorrow…

Yes, making good progress…

Another nice morning as I headed off, lethargically…across the Purbeck hills. You could almost mistake Purbeck for North Yorkshire with its secluded little hamlets and…just lots of bracken.

Today was a big ride, 54miles but I felt pretty good the first 15 or so miles… until the bank called. Luckily it was routine.

Corfe castle and Swanage were as I remembered them as a child. I found a shell. I still pick up a shell or rock a day remind me of every day. More bloody big boats too. I just take photos of those.

Corfe castle
More cruise liners in the distance
Amazing

Today was another trip down memory Lane as this was where my Grandmother settled in her latter years, after leaving Herefordshire with her overly chatty dachshund ‘sammy’….

I took the chain ferry from Swanage (£1) across to sandbanks. Brownsea island on my left was where the SBS used to train and water depth around / Poole harbour is only about a metre deep. That’s ok if you capsize your canoe isn’t it.

Sandbanks ferry
Through the round window we see… a load of monster cruise liners

On the left I was looking for old Harry’s Rock but couldn’t see it and couldn’t remember what it looked like. Sorry about that.

I raced past the millionaires party houses in sandbanks. It’s all one way nowadays so no short cuts before I headed up into Canford cliffs. For those golfers amongst you the legendary commentator Peter Alliss’s father used to be the professional at Parkstone Golf Club and it’s where Peter learned to swing the club.

Sandbanks

OMG. Every house on my grandmothers old close has now been totally modernised apart from her old bungalow with its little pine wood. Tiny I know but huge when I was little. Nice memories. Hope you like the photos Mum.

Modern toss
More modern toss
My grandmother, Laura’s old bungalow which has not changed a bit despite I’m sure many offers for modern toss…

I was meeting (compliantly of course) a school friend for a quick coffee. God it’s been 30 years since I’d seen James. He looked well and I was sorry to not spend longer with him but as I said last night in my blog. Old friends never wear out. I’ll be back Jimmy.

Jimmy

My second. Yes only second… guide. Well maybe third if you count Polly, was waiting for me in a petrol station in Christchurch so I had to leg it…

Jonty looked the part…and had kindly offered me his shepherds hut. God they are amazing, for the night. Thank you.

We weaved through suburbia and over the cattle grid, and BREATHE….into the the New Forest. Past Ringwood and some old family haunts in Poulner and Hightown (sorry i couldn’t stop but rules are rules), towards fordingbridge which would make it easier for me to attack Southampton as best as I can tomorrow.

Jonty, a decent guide
OY… off the road please
These honkers roam wild too eating acorns. The rings on their noses stop them digging too deep for truffles. They prefer truffles I reckon.

I love chilli thanks H and enjoyed the taittinger and Bollinger… meow

Taittinger the cute but deadly bird watcher….

A lovely day. Old is good isn’t it. Old is safe

Over and out