Archive for January, 2010

39 degrees in Newcastle at the moment!

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Too hot to type!

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A day of beaches

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

We left Sydney after 12 glorious days off, thanks to Dave and Claire who spoilt us rotten! First stop Manly, to see the place that many had recommended and our first chance to try out the BOB Trailer. My bike now seems quite light and speedy, whilst Chris now resembles a 16th Century packhorse, laden-down with bags

Manly beach was lovely and we watched and heard childen shrieking as the big waves came washing over the sides of the ocean pool. We resisted the temptation to go for a swim (sand, salt, wait till later etc) and had our sandwiches instead. From Manly we headed up to Palm Beach, via several hills and Newport Beach where we stopped to cool down, it was a hot day and any bit of shade was welcome.

We managed to arrive in Palm Beach just before the ferry was due, which was luck on our part as we hadn’t timed it that way. First time we’ve been on a small ferry with the bikes and now the trailers, but how hard can it be? Got to the end of the pier to discover that there were steps down to the ramp to board, hmmn. Let all other passengers board first and then were hassled and told to hurry up, despite it being obvious that we had two heavy bikes. We got on ok though and perhaps after they’d helped with the trailer they realised how heavy it was. The same guy came around to take fares, I pointed him towards Chris, round the corner as he had our wallet. We got off the Ferry at Wagstaffe and Chris said ‘ Did you pay?’  ’No, I told him to go to you’ I replied. So somehow and for some unknown reason we got a free ride!


From here we cycled to Putty Beach, where we hoped to camp for the night. We headed to the beach for a swim. It wasn’t so much a swim as a wrestle, with the waves, but it was certainly refreshing and washed away the day’s sweat and dirt. We had fun playing in the waves and both ended up sprawled on the beach each time the surf won.

Next morning we got on the road at 8am, not as early as we’d hoped, but it was a little cooler initially. We cycled to Terrigal trying to find the road to The Entrance. We arrrived at the lovely Terrigal beach, had a little rest and followed the road out and up a huge hill. It didn’t seem quite right and after 20 mins we reach the same placed we’d been an hour ago! After some help from Google maps we figured it out, but it was now really hot so we opted to sit/lie in the shade and wait for the midday heat to pass. It had been a morning of navigating and not really getting very far, but we both saw the funny side and relaxed.

The road flattened out and we enjoyed a pleasant ride up to Budgewoi passed some big sea lakes, with lots of Pelicans and black swans and stopped to camp for the night right by the lake. It was still really hot and I thought to myself, how many times at home in England have I sat there and wished to be somewhere hot and sunny, just like now?  Well here you are, so enjoy. The sunset that evening was beautiful…


 It had been a good day and I was pleased that our pace was better matched – the trailer seems to be making a difference. We enjoyed some fresh pork chops cooked on the BBQ and realised how hungry we were and how satisfying it is to eat after a good days cycling.

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Cycle tourers are a bit like hobbits…

Monday, January 18th, 2010

…when it comes to food anyway. We are ready to eat most of the time and I am often reminded of the part in Lord of the Rings when Pippin enquires about this very subject…

Pippin: But what about breakfast?

Aragorn: You’ve already had it.

Pippin: We’ve had one, yes. But what about second breakfast?

Merry: Don’t think he knows about second breakfast, Pip.

Pippin: What about elevensies? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn’t he?

So what do we eat on the road? Well anyone who knows Chris probably knows that he has the appetite of a horse and hollow legs that allow him to eat his own food and finish off anyone elses. They probably also know that I love cooking and food. So the thought of living off dried noodles for 15 months was not very appealing to either of us. ..

Breakfast – I have porridge with sugar, not salt. I’ve never been a big breakfast person, so I don’t have a very big appetite for food first thing. However I know that there is no way I will be able to cycle without it and porridge is magic, it gives you so much energy as it slowly releases. Also oats are quite cheap to buy.

Chris was eating cereal bars, but has now moved to having bread or toast (we have a little toasting grill thing) with peanut butter and chocolate spread (although not on the same slice).

Lunch - Cheese and salami sandwiches were the order of the day pretty much without fail. However the cheese is struggling in the heat, so we have discovered tinned tuna that is pre-mixed with sweetcorn and mayo. Very nice and keeps well. We also have fruit, biscuits, fruit cake and rice crackers – depending on what’s available. We recently bought a thermos flask so that we could carry tea with us, to have at lunchtime.

Dinner – as you can imagine pasta and rice feature quite heavily on our evening menu, however I am a huge mash potato fan too, despite it taking longer to cook, it is comfort food in itself. So some of our meals include:

Sausage and mash, with onion and oxo gravy, sometime with apple, leek or carrot, often with brocolli on the side. This is my idea of heaven.

Penne Pasta with chicken breast, onion, leek, garlic and tomato sauce, with cheese on top. We also do another verison of this with tuna instead of chicken.

Chicken, leeks, carrot and onion with rice and a chicken stock cube (like a risotto but without the white wine, cream and parmesan!).

Pork with carrots, peppers, cabbage, leeks, onion, brocolli (or a combination of some those veg) stir fried with a honey and soy sauce. Served with rice or noodles. Yum!

Cornbeef Hash with baked beans, very good although challenging to cook and serve hot  – by the time you’ve mashed and mixed the corn beef in, it has cooled down alot, re-heating results in it sticking to the pan. But still good even luke warm, especially if you’re ravenous.

Chris’s special pasta with salami, paprika,tomatoes and whatever veg we have. Cheese on top.

Sweet and sour pork with rice, sauce in a jar is bought, whatever veges we have get thrown in.

Beef stew – takes a while to cook – beef, onions, carrots, leeks, potatoes, oxo cube.

Spaghetti bolognese.

Chicken flavoured noodles with tinned prawns and veg.

We also carry packet soup and noodles as emergency food. During the day we have dried apricots, mini mars bars, bananas or choc chip cookies in our bar bags that we can eat when our sugar levels drop. Fruit cake is also great as a snack to keep you going. We carry tea bags, powdered milk and sugar too, plus little camera film pots of salt, pepper, herbs etc.

stovesWe have 2 pressure stoves with us, both run off petrol (or any fuel), one is quiet but very hot – so great for boiling water for a brew, but it’s easy to burn things with this one; the other is noisy but has an adjustable flame setting allowing you to simmer and we generally cook more with this one.  We have two stainless pans and one lid for cooking with, and a small titanium kettle which is very lightweight and handy. Australia has lots of free BBQs in parks and public spaces, so you can cook other things too… steak if you’re feeling luxurious!

utensilsWe have a folding kitchen utensils ‘bag’ which we made to hold eveything, this includes a wooden spoon, a pen knife, a potato peeler, sporks, metal spoon, fork and knife set, swiss army knife, washing up liquid and a lighter – everything has it’s own place to slot into. The joy of this is that you can see when something is missing and therefore avoid leaving a potato peeler behind on the side of a hill whilst cooking in the dark! The whole thing then folds up and fits neatly into a pannier.

platescupsWe have plates that have collapsable sides doubling up as bowls, and the back can be used as a chopping board. We have cups based on the same design.

These are great space savers, durable and easy to clean.

We carry a folding, washing up bowl which is a great investment and one item that we can definitely recommend.  We also have a couple of scourers and have cut up a trek hand towel, to make a tea towel ( and two face cloths).washingupbowl

Water is one of our main priorities of course, for cooking, drinking and cleaning. We have three 4 litre water bladders and one 10 ltr bladder, plus chlorine tablets, iodine tablets and a ceramic water pump which allows us to filter the water and ensure that it is safe to drink.

kitchenkitIt probably all sounds like a lot of stuff to carry, but when you are on the road for 15 months, you need to eat properly and for us, this trip is not about suffering, we want to enjoy our meals as much as our cycling!

So don’t worry mum, we’re not about to starve on this trip!

tomIf you are planning a trip and don’t want to eat the same thing for days on end, have a look at The Hungry Cyclist – Tom Kevill Davies for some recipes ideas and all things to do with eating whilst on the road…

“I love riding my bicycle and I love to eat. It really is that simple. As a journalist, author and photographer I enjoy writing about and photography almost as much as eating and cycling, which basically means, I bicycle to wherever I can find good, well prepared, locally produced, fresh and traditional food before eating it and writing about it. ”

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Say hello to BOB

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

We have taken the plunge and bought a $700 Ibex BOB trailer.


It goes on the back of Chris’s bike and will allow him to take more of the weight. That should slow him down a bit, he he! 


On a serious note, this should make a big difference and help us cycle together at a more similar pace. Will let you know how we get on!

Thanks too to Woolys Wheels in Sydney for their help.

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Travelling with Children

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

As many of you know I love kids and have always enjoyed spending time with children. Chris also has a lovely way with children and has years of experience working with them both on and off the water. However when it comes to cycling and long term travelling, the idea of doing what we are doing with children seems challenging and quite daunting.

Recently however we have been delighted to discover and meet several families who are having the most amazing time together. They have made us think differently about travelling with children, both in terms of the value it brings to a family but also how enjoyable it can be spending so much time with your own children.

In Moruya, we met a lovely family with children Axel and Alma. The family live in Cambodia, but with Italian and Norwegian parents, speak Italian, Norwegian and English. They are fantastic children, very self-assured and confident, whilst being polite and interesting to talk to. Axel was so inqusitive about our trip and rather than asking the regular questions that most adults and children ask (where are you going, how many miles do you do etc) he asked all manner of curious questions and seemed genuinely interested in knowing about the bikes, where we sleep at night, what we like about it, what we eat. It was great and very refreshing!

The very next day we met an Israeli family, who again we’re very inspiring. They were on the road for a year having travelled through Asia and were heading to New Zealand, with 3 children, the youngest being 3 years old. The children were charming and very patience whilst their parents used the internet for a couple of hours. Sitting in Macdonalds using the lovely free wifi, it was quite a contrast to many of the other children there. They even said how much they had seen the children grow and learn to share and live together in a relatively confined space. Plus the joy as a dad of getting to spend so much time with your 3 year old son.

Since then we have come across 2 families who are cycle touring wih their children…. the Vogel family – Mum, Dad and eleven-year-old twin boys are bicycling from Alaska to Argentina and we are following them on twitter

Then to our delight a family closer to home, who come from the Lake District Kirstie and Stuart cycled with their two toddlers…

Our first big adventure as a family began in November 2004, when we took off on a 10 month, global adventure visiting New Zealand, Western Samoa, the USA and Canada. Two adults, two toddlers, two bikes, two trailers riding across two islands and two thousand miles.

I am now reading a book about travelling with children and it seems that anyone who has done it can only speak of the benefits, along with lots of practical tips on how to make it fun and enjoyable for all. It seems that one major concern for most people would be ‘what about school, you can’t just take them out for a year’ but it seems that you can and should – the life experience and richness of the people and places they meet and see, is an education in itself.

One thing i have wondered about is how older children ( 10-13) re-integrate back into school when they stop travelling? From a social point of view they have been off having adventures and probably growing up quite a lot along the way, perhaps with some responsibility, unlike many of their peers. How easy is it to fit back in? Or maybe you don’t? Do they find school restrictive or dull compared to life on the road?

As a child I spent nearly three years living in South Africa and on our return to England aged 9, I remember sitting on the carpet in the classroom on my first day and other children bombarding me with questions… did you used to live in a mud hut? Did you ride lions and tigers and elephants? Didn’t you have any food, is that why you’re so skinny? How come you’re not black? I’m not sure what they were expecting having been told a girl from Africa was starting school, but it certainly took a little while to settle in!

However children are very versatile and seem to be capable of taking things in their stride. I’d be interested to hear from parents about this though, and any thoughts on travelling with children.

Aside from that, I hope that anyone out there who is thinking about travelling with their family is encouraged by this post and the families mentioned. I certainly am!

The other book I am reading is 4 hour work week by Tim Ferriss who talks about mini-retirements and living your dreams now rather than hanging out for your retirement before you start living your life. Highly recommend it – the book and living your dream!

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  – Mark Twain

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