Tuesday, 31 July 2012

10. Dear Diary

July 6th.

As promised- or threatened - I will give a short day by day account of our continental jaunt. I'll try to keep it brief so as not to bore you too much. I'll also post a few photos but I must warn you that the mistiness that lays across most photos is not a fault in the camera, it will be rain or mist or a combination of the two.

Anyway.... I can thoroughly recommend the Stena Line service from the Harwich to the Hook of Holland. The worse bit is cycling up a steep causeway onto the ferry. One really doesnt want to be seen pushing the bike at the very start of the trip, especially as all the car drivers are lined up behind you. This being the case we all selected a very low gear and pedalled like mad up the ramp- at the same time trying to look cool and unconcerned as if this was no effort at all. A difficult trick to pull off and I think that I can safely report that we failed.

So, after our last night on a comfortable mattress we cycled off the ferry and onto Dutch soil and .... the rain. We found our way in and out of Rotterdam comparitively easily with only our spirits somewhat dampened when we passed a sign that said Nijmegen 230KM- we had thought that we might reach it on the first day- well it didn't look that far on the map.

For some reason it was difficult to find a route beyond Rotterdam and we foolishly [ a phrase that might be oft used] took the advice of someone who directed us to Dordrecht. After getting to the town and obviously taking a wrong turn on a cycle path we ended up in the suburbs. After cycling around aimlesly for some time we came upoon a map of the town. There is one thing about town maps, if they haven't got a 'You are Here' sign on them then they are absolutely no use at all. However, our confusion did have a positive outcome in that a friendly Dutchman carrying his young child on his bike asked us if he could help- the kindness of strangers will be a running thread through this blog.

Fred and Bruce perfecting the lost and confused look. This would come in extremely useful throughout the trip.

He then said that he was going to the railway station, which is where we wanted to go, so we followed him there and so we then knew exactly where we were on the map. After thanking him profusely and waving him goodbye it only took us two minutes to get lost again. However, in our defence I must say that we followed signs that took us around in a complete loop and posted us back to the spot where we started. After about an hour of dead ends and frustration we finally left the town promising never to return again.

Fred exiting the seven circles of hell that was Dordrecht.

Once Dordrecht was safely left behind us we made good progress and almost on the fifty mile mark we passed a sign for a campsite but resolved to push on to the next town, Werkendam,  where there was a marina and so, we reasoned, there was bound to be a campsite- wrong.

Anyway, we got to the town and stopped for a beer- another constant theme throughout the trip- and also had to shelter from a thunderstorm. We asked if there was a campsite nearby and only got directionjs back to the campsite that we had passed. Then some people on the next table remembered there was a forest campsite about 12 miles on and so we decided to go for this rather than turn back and go the way we had already come.

After a fair amount of cycling we arrived at the campsite at Lingerbos and settled down for our first night of camping after travelling over 66 miles- not a bad first day at all.

Fred and his tent. I swear it had a cellar because I still can't see how he managed to get himself and all his gear into such a small space.

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