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.
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!
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!
We started the day with a lovely breakfast spread, set out by our hosts Andre and Harry in ‘de Eenkats’ cottage.
We then had a day out of the saddles as Brian showed us around the picturesque countryside of North Brabant/Limburg region in the Netherlands where he lives, which is close to the German and Belgian borders.
He took us to a volunteer-run and managed Museum de Locht” Folk Museum” , which was fascinating. It included old farm buildings set out as they would have looked in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The museum also showed how the local speciality, asparagus, was cultivated and harvested…. and how mushrooms, another local speciality, are farmed.
There were also demonstration glasshouses which showed how modern day farmers in the area have been able to utilise modern computational power to control and monitor how much plant nutrient, heat, light and CO2 will be required to maximise crop yields in glasshouses. We saw tomatos that were almost ready to pick in mid April, alongside strawberries grown in waist high troughs which had a few ripe fruits already.
We also managed to visit America! Which is not that far from’Siberia’ and ‘California’.
We also visited an elderly traditional watch repairer who runs his business from his home, because Diana’s watch had broken.
Later on in the day we collected her repaired watch in a little paper bag printed with a line drawing of the watchsmith at work. We thought It caught his likeness and character really nicely.
Following an evening of travellers’ tales with Warmshowers hosts Celine and Maarten and a very restful night we started the day by meeting up with (motor bike) Brian, Eddy’s brother who travelled by train to meet us.
Being in s’ Hertogenbosch we had to try a “Bossen Bol” – a speciality of the area. Sadly it was not gluten free, so Simon had to watch as we ate our giant profiteroles.
Having stoked up the calories we collected our bags from the flat, with Brian’s help, and started to load the tandem.
After we had put the key to the flat into the correct letterbox, Brian found he could not locate the keys to his bike.
After much searching in pockets and visiting places he had visited since he arrived to no avail , he made several calls and eventually discovered that the ‘community police’ can release bikes in this situation. They came along very quickly with a battery powered angle grinder and released his bike which he had locked on to our tandem.
We then made very good progress with Brian, averaging a steady 12 – 14 mph to reach the little village of Swolgen, near where he currently lives.
He had booked us in to a charming self catering forest cottage De Enkats for a couple of nights, run by Harry and Andre.
In the evening he took us to the Swan, a hotel and restaurant not far away, where we had an excellent meal. Apparently a speciality of the place is to let the chef create something specially for you. Having informed the chef we needed something both vegetarian and gluten free, we were not disappointed! Yum!!
After an ‘all you can eat’ breakfast buffet, we set off in the sunshine down lovely cycle paths towards Rotterdam and Dordrecht, our first Warmshowers stop in the Netherlands.
The route included a lift and escalator for cyclists and pedestrians to negotiate the two sides of a stretch of water. When we first arrived at the place, we thought Google maps had let us down, as it appeared to be a dead end, but then we spotted the lift!
It will be good if we continue to find lovely little cafes like this for a knitting and coffee stop!
It was a lovely sunny ride and a hammock in a children’s play area on the way proved irresistable to Diana for a spot of sunbathing….
Diana was excited to pass a nursery full of topiary………
Our lovely hosts in Dordrecht, the Soare family of 6, made us very welcome and shared pictures of a cycling trip as a family they did last summer down the Danube.
Hoek van Holland – Dordrecht 38 miles – headwind all the way!