When packing a bag for a trip to Paris it’s difficult to decide what to take. This year the task has been made a little simpler with a clear colour range of red, white, blue and yellow. I’ve taken the theme one extra step with a homage to Bradley. Thanks to Primark and some Asda transfer paper Michael, Aileen, Michael (M) and I shall be wearing a very exclusive little number. There are literally 4 of these bespoke shirts in the whole world and they’ll all be on the Champs Élysées tomorrow – with luck they’ll be enough to attract the attention the man himself.
After the dreary summer we’ve had in the UK, being in Paris feel positively tropical. Being able to go out without a coat (let along waterproof trousers and an umbrella) is just wonderful. On our way to dinner this evening we walked along the Seine on the opposite bank people were enjoying the Paris Plague – the temporary beach erected each summer. The sun was glistening on the water and it just felt a world away from our record-breaking wet summer. Hopefully it will hold on for tomorrow so that the sun shines on Mr Wiggins glorious achievements (and us as we wait to cheer him on).
The poles in question are the tent poles. They wouldn’t fit in the case, so are wrapped in a Wyken Parish Church cloth bag sticking out of my shoulder bag. They did raise an eyebrow at security – but a short explanation of their importance in our patriotic excursion and they were through the x-ray machine with no more questions asked. We’re now in the airport Starbuck’s waiting for the flight to board. Despite remembering the poles and gaffa tape I’ve realised I’ve forgotten the string and cable-ties. I wonder if they’ll sell any in Claire’s Accesories, WH Smith’s or the Duty Free shop?
The race in question is not whether Bradley Wiggins will win the yellow jersey, (it seems that only a catastrophe can shatter that dream now), but rather whether me and Mike can get to the airport to catch our flight. Despite me being up at 6am packed and ready to go, we still managed to miss the intended airport bus from Asda Bedminster. Thankfully, I always build in slippage time into my journey planning so we should be ok and, with a fair wind, in Paris for lunch. The only other uncertainty is whether our tent poles, (the impromptu flag pole for our union flag) will get past the airport security. If they don’t, there will be a mad dash around Paris later to find a suitable alternative – is there a Taunton Leisure in Paris?
Alas, we’re home and it’s back to work tomorrow. At least we’ve had a fab time and lots of happy memories. I didn’t really buy any souvenirs, but I think I have come home with a few extra pounds thanks to all those ice creams, Dutch apple cakes and French pastries – the diet starts now. If I waver, I’ll have to watch this video to remind myself of my pledge
What with the mechanical incidents and unplanned train journeys, we haven’t cycled as far as we thought we would on this holiday. We’re about 300 miles short of what we’d expected, but nevertheless we’ve still managed over 600 mile in the saddle over two weeks – quite a leisurely holiday for us really! Here are the final numbers:
Bristol – Potters Bar (121 miles)
Potters Bar – Harwich (74 miles)
Harwich – Hook van Holland (ferry)
Hook van Holland – Rotterdam (18 miles)
Rotterdam – Venlo (train)
Venlo – Maastricht (45 miles)
Maastricht – Liege (return) (37 miles)
Maastricht – Seraing (return) (47 miles)
Maastrict – Tournai (111 miles)
Tournai – Ghent (38 miles)
Ghent – Brugge (26 miles)
Brugge – Rotterdam (90 miles)
Rotterdam – Hook van Holland (18 miles)
Hook van Holland – Harwich (ferry)
Harwich – London (train)
London – Bristol (train)
Total 625 miles
Despite being addicted to social media it’s clear that my grasp of these new technologies does not extend to knowing how to set the ‘public’ option (as opposed to private) on our You Tube videos. Sorry if you were unable to watch any of these (if indeed you wanted to), this omnibus video blog post is for those who do!
We may be back in blighty with all the wet and cold that comes with it, but Froome and Wiggins know how to bring some sunshine into our day. What a fantastic ride from team Sky and a well deserved stage win and king of the mountains jersey for Chris Frome and the yellow jersey for Bradley Wiggins – interestingly it’s fifty years and a day since Tommy Simpson was the first Brit to win the maillot jaune – what a way to mark the anniversary!
I know I keep going on about Warm Showers (the touring cycling hosting group) but it is fab and the hosts we’ve stayed with have helped make our holiday really special. This post is a special blog post to thank everyone who has welcomed us on out travels over the past week.
To Lisa, Stuart, Gwen and Sadie who looked after us on our first and our final night (tonight). Wendy, Tim and Hannah in Venlo who fed us fantastic vegan meals and taught us how to use the Dutch cycle network numbers. Melanie in Tournai even gave up her bed to accommodate us and roamed the streets to find us when we went to the wrong address in a next street. Johan in Brugge took us on an impromptu tour of the film sets from ‘In Brugge’ and gave us helpful directions about the route along the canal to the Netherlands. Finally Emmy and Robert greeted us with an unexpected BBQ beside the lake near their apartment with their friends. To all our Warm Showers friends, we thank you and hope we can repay your kindness if you visit Bristol one day.