Category Archives: UK

The Journey home from Taranto

Well – having spent a few days in Taranto we finally headed for home in the UK.

Our tandem conveniently dismantles and can be packed into two bags which can bre considered as luggage for rail journeys. We loaded our tandem (in bags) plus panniers and assorted other bags which were attached to our tandem  onto the direct train to Milan from Taranto. We travelled all the way up the Eastern coast of Italy to reach Milan in time to catch the night train to Munich.

From Munich we travelled by train to Cologne to meet up with Brian Jones, Diana’s brother-in-law who lives in the Netherlands. At Cologne we timed our rendevous so precisely that when we emerged from Cologne station Brian had just parked his mini (!) in the drop off car park outside the station.

After about 15 minutes’ jigsaw puzzling we all fitted in plus our tandem and luggage and travelled  to the Netherlands. 13912338_10210103763215775_6241334538256762620_n

A couple of days later we followed motorways in the mini (loaded to capacity) through Belgium to reach Calais to catch the ferry to Dover.

Reaching Chester in late afternoon we unpacked the car and set everything out to marvel how much we had fitted in! 13920721_10210103772416005_3380521615732523205_n

After 4 1/2 months travelling we were home again and reflecting on what a fantastic experience we both had.

We intend to update various parts of this website to show the equipment we used and also some usefu information to anyone who may be reading our blog who may be considering something similar, with tandem or solo bike. Hopefully the Christmas holiday will give us the time!

Thank you for following us and reading our blogs – we hope you enjoyed the journey as much as we have done!

Three Ferries and the North Sea


Well……. it should have been three ferries!

We set out in the rain and a headwind from Beccles after a lovely 2 day  stay with Nicky and Graham and headed for the first of two foot ferries to reach Harwich.

On the way we passed an amazing shop front in Halesworth carved out of solid wood.



Arriving in good time at the Felixstowe Ferry in the pouring rain we hailed our ferry by waving a big bat at the opposite shore.

Simon hailing the ferry
Simon hailing the ferry

The ferry duly arrived to pick us up plus tandem and luggage and once on the Felixstowe side we rang the Felixstowe/Harwich foot ferry to check all was well.IMG_20160409_143859

12 items of luggage to keep track of!

It wasn’t!………..

Mechanical breakdown meant that the ferry wasn’t operating till the following day…….. ho hum!

We had a choice of a further 35 miles down the estuary and then back up to Harwich….. or the train. Train it was because we had already cycled 53 mikes from Beccles! So we dismantled our tandem to catch a train to Ipswich…… then to Manningtree …. then to Harwich International. Our journey that by foot ferry would have taken 1/2 hour took us around 3 hours by train – at least we didn’t have to pedal!

We had a bit of an audience as we re-assembled our tandem in the passenger terminal before we boarded what should have been our third ferry of the day. After eating our dinner out of our travelling pots we settled down for a good night’s sleep in our cabin.

Nerds Corner…

Barsham  to Harwich ….54miles cycling …  around 40 miles by train. 415mtr climb.

Norfolk to Suffolk

The knave of St. Mary's Church, Shelton
The knave of St. Mary’s Church, Shelton


Neil and Ann were great hosts for us through  Warmshowers   and provided us with a very welcome meal on our arrival.

Neil is an intrepid bike tourer, and following his early retirement he cycled from the Northernmost point of Alaska to the Southernmost point of Argentina – some 16,000 miles! Puts our 2,500 miles to Istanbul into some insignificance!

He and Anne got married in Shelton’s St. Mary’s Church just 1 mile away and we went to see it for ourselves. A very pretty country church with an interesting connection to Anne Boleyn.  Apparently Princess Elizabeth (Later Queen Elizabeth 1) was sheltered in the church tower to keep her safe from those who wished her harm.

Gargoyle at St. Mary's Shelton
Gargoyle at St. Mary’s Shelton








Today was a short ride into Suffolk to meet up with our good friends Nicky and Graham who live in Barsham near Beccles. We were pleased to see their daughter Tamsin who we had not seen for some time before she set off in her van to Oxford to play with her band Solana .

Staying here two nights before we pedal through “bootiful” Suffolk countryside to rendevous with two foot ferries to reach Harwich and our ferry to the Netherlands.

Our good friends Nicky and Graham with their daughter Tamsin before she heads off to Oxford


Ely to Hardwick

A rotating woodstove
Linda & Jackie’s amazing Scandinavian rotating woodstove.


We stayed with Linda Foord, Diana’s cousin in Little Downham, some 3 miles from Ely. Unfortunately her partner Jackie was working nights when we stayed so we didn’t get to meet up with her again, but we were able to enjoy their recently rebuilt home with an amazing central feature in the living room/kitchen area – a woodburner that you could rotate so the glass fire door could be seen from any direction!

After a very hospitable stay with Linda, we set off in the rain with a very strong wind against us; but thankfully that didn’t last long as we turned eastwards with the wind at our back.

Dark fenland soilWe continued our journey on very straight fens roads, many of which were undulating due to subsidence. The soil then started to change from a dark, dark peaty brown to a much lighter looking soil as we moved away from the fens.

And we started to find a few small hills!Lighter coloured soil






We found this very useful sign as we again found ourselves on some quite rough tracks – but they led us to some very lovely quiet roads.





For lunch we were able to make use of a very convenient verandah attached to a community centre under shelter in a small village in the middle of Thetford forest.

Shortly after we rode across a small bridge where we were able to play poohsticks – Simon won!

We were very grateful to reach our Warmshowers hosts Alan and Ann in a tiny Norfolk village called Hardwick – our 52 mile ride turned out to be 59, our longest day so far.

Stamford to Ely

Guildhall, Peterborough
The Guildhall, Cathedral Square, Peterborough


Having been soaked the previous evening, we set off in bright sunshine towards Ely – gloves still wet clipped to the luggage to dry. We passed through Peterbrough and more pretty villages.

Riding out of Peterbrough
Riding out of Peterbrough

The ride was mostly flat as we rode into the fens. For quite a distance we cruised at 25 mph, with the wind behind us!

As we got into the fens, the roads became very straight and also showed plenty of signs of subsidence due to the underlying unstable peaty soil – we saw cars and vans bouncing along the undulations like a rollercoaster ride but on our tandem it was fine. However when  turning at right angles as the roads here tend to do it gave us a strong side wind buffeting us a bit. We were glad for the most part the wind was from behind us.

We went through Whittlesea, home of the Whittlesea Strawbear Festival, a Morris and Molly dancing Festival in January.

We also found a road that turned into a track – with a gate! Once again we had to remove all the bags to get the tandem round the gate.

Note to self…. always check out the detail that Googlemaps comes up with to show “a cycle route”!

We arrived at my (Diana) cousin’s house in Little Downham to a warm welcome and good food.

Trent Lock to the “finest stone town in England”


Setting out from our riverside stop on the Trent we passed through quiet country lanes in four counties (Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Rutland and Lincolnshire) to reach our next overnight stop in Stamford.

We pedalled through a small village called Quorn in Leicestershire which we discovered had lent it’s name for the eponymously branded food for some reason.

Two monkeys cafePassing through Loughborough we had a refuelling stop mid-morning at a nice cafe named the Two Monkeys Cafe (what we thought was rather an appropriate name for tandemists!)

Rutland signLots of quiet and attractive countryside quiet lanes took us into Rutland, the smallest county in England where we cycled along the shore of  Rutland Water a nature reserve and one of the largest artificial lakes in Europe. Finished in 1976 it is the largest reservoir by surface area in England (surpassed in capacity by Kielder Water in Northumberland). Managed by Anglian Water it holds water to supply the population in one of the driest parts of the UK.

Rutland Water
Rutland Water

Ironically from the reservoir it started to rain, 1/2 hour of which was torrential. So we arrived in Stamford like drowned rats – perhaps I should find some wiper-blade gadget for my spectacles! Described by Sir Walter Scott as the “finest stone town in England” we could quite see what he meant.

We were welcomed by Johanna and Neville our Airbnb hosts for the night, living in a lovely old (stone!) town house near the town centre. We were lucky to have fine sunny weather to explore this beautiful town the next day.

A stone cottage built in 1699 that caught our eye
A stone cottage in Stamford built in 1699 that caught our eye

A night on a canal boat on the Trent

Our mooring for the night on Luke’s narrowboat. Just before our departure for Stamford


Thanks to Warmshowers and Luke we were able to stay on his narrow boat which he is in the process of fitting out. Currently moored on the River Trent near Long Eaton it provided an interesting and welcome stay for the night.

Nearby was the Trent Lock Inn which provided a good meal for us hungry tandemists.

The Trent Lock Inn
The Trent Lock Inn

We had a lovely ride into and out of Derby, mostly by traffic free routes. We have passed by Derby many times in the car to visit friends over in Suffolk – but passing through the slow way you get a really different impression of the city which proved it was surprisingly attractive! Continue reading A night on a canal boat on the Trent

Lunch in Leek


Set out from Mobberly in the rain, arrived in Leek for lunch with blue sky ahead.IMG_7421








There were no leeks on the menu, so we settled for having a leak!

The Market Square in Leek
The Market Square in Leek

Leek is a lovely market town that it would be pleasant to return to and spend more time looking round.

An important industry years ago was spinning and weaving silk. There was also a big button manufacturing industry.

An interesting building in Leek
An interesting building that we passed on the way out of Leek – originally the HQ of the Leek & Moorlands Cooperative Society

William Morris lived there in the 1870’s and was an influence on the person who designed the building in the picture.

Leek is renowned for there being a double sunset at the summer solstice, due to the local topography.

After Leek we were negotiating steep and long hills into Derbyshire – often pushing on the way up but whizzing on the way down. Scenery was lovely.

Nerds Corner

Mobberley to Ashbourne: 38 miles . 767 mtrs total climb

Journey so far: 73 miles

First Day on the road!



We had a great send off from home with friends and family seeing us set off.  However not 1/2 mile from home had to replace a mashed up chainlink! How embarassing!

Fixing a mashed up chain link!
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Clerical Error Dancers giving us an impromptu send off from Delamrre Station.

We had an escort of friends as far as Delamere Station in the Delamere Forest where we were greeted by a number of Clerical Error Morris Dancers with whom Diana has been dancing for a number of years. Before we set off for Mobberley in East Cheshire they just had to give an impromptu performance – and of course Diana had to join in!

We’re now in Mobberley with Simon’s brother & sister in law and preparing ourselves for a few Derbyshire hills tomorrow to reach Ashbourne…

Nerds Corner

Chester to Mobberley : 35 miles. 171mtrs total climb


Almost Off!

2016-03-31 20.05.46Packing some clothes, our sleeping bags & mats and a tent (and a cooker and fuel)  into our pannier bags and seeing what we can leave out!!!

Diana has a plan to make  a package of summer clothes and have it posted out to where we get to when the weather heats up!

A few of our friends will be cycling with us to Delamere before we head for our first night on the road in East Cheshire!