The Greater San Fransisco Area

Continuing my quest to travel the world.

It has been my quest to cycle around the world for a very long time, although I have ticked off 16 countries to date, I still haven't achieved the ultimate goal of cycling the world. I cannot wait any longer for the conditions to be perfect, age is catching up with me, so it is now or never.

picture drawn by Jim my Step - Father on our trip across Australia

picture drawn by Jim my Step - Father on our trip across Australia
After our trip to Vietnam in 2012.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Yeah Holidays.

The 'silly season' is over thank goodness. It's so silly it's truly laughable. Oops I was about to launch myself in to the idiocy of it all, oops I just put my foot in it again without even trying. Change the subject quickly.

 We are going on summer holiday. With a bit of luck it will actually be summery. The weather hasn't been doing what it's supposed to do, it is raining as I speak, and cold enough to be wearing my winter sheepskin slippers. [Although I've just thrown them off due to a hot flush, the joys of being middle aged].

I've been preparing the garden for leaving it for 2 weeks. With Niels help joining hoses together, I've layed down some irrigation and connected it to a timer. I was feeling pretty smug that I would have vegetables to come home to, when in the evening twilight we saw a huge Hare jump into the garden. Now I'm paranoid that our garden will be some bunnies belated Christmas dinner. Why can't it be happy in the huge cabbage market garden 500 meters down the road?

Artificial rain from my soad hoses.

I asked Niel if he'd make me a frame for the garden to grow my tomatoes and cucumber up. So on Christmas and Boxing day when I was at work, he made me this wonderful frame. Isn't he a good boy.

Frame made from bamboo from the garden.

Actually talking of holidays, I asked my boss if he would confirm that I could have the time off to join Niel in Morocco and S.E. Asia. I showed him the dates on Niel's global route, and my boss - Jim confirmed that - yes I could go. Jim understands me, and appreciates that this is what I live for, he's a very good man. So I can now allow myself to get excited. 

Next time you hear from me, I'll be somewhere in the beautiful south island on my beloved Vespa, encouraging Niel as he whips himself into shape doing 200 kms a day on his bike. For once I'll beat him to the top of the hills.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

After the flood.

It's been a week since the biggest flood in Nelson in 40 years. And it is heartening to know the the house came through it without any problems, unlike other parts of the district.

The debris on the Vines would have been head height. This is 50 meters from our letter box, which was lapped by the edge.

They really knew where to build houses in the 'olden days', most of the damaged houses where 'new' houses. In Nelson city 100 houses have been deemed destroyed of too dangerous to live in. I did a little tour of a 1km radius from our house to have a look at the local damage.

I'm standing on the debris mark, and there is mud on the footbridge Niel is standing on. The water would have been about 3meters deep.

A slip that completely covered the road.

Needless to say Woo the chicken decided this was a good time to disappear. I searched for two days for here nest without finding  it. Eventually she turned up for some food and drink and a dust bath. We stealthily followed her and found her nest. Her most cunning and hard to find yet. As I have said before I'm sure she does it to test how clever we are, in finding it.

Even at full zoom on the camera it is hard to see the chicken, playing hide and seek.

Well with the main highway through Nelson closed to traffic for the next few weeks, it's been a challenge to get into town to spend money,[ not that we do much of that] but a resourceful cyclist with an extremely useful bob trailer can get through. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Climate Change?

We've just been hit by a weather bomb. Torrential rain that is predicted to carry on for at least another 27 hours before it begins to ease off. I hope we won't be under water by then. Is it climate change? you can't help but question it. Has our normally tepid climate gone tropical with monsoon rain?  5 floods in a year is unheard of before. I shouldn't have bothered spraying those roses for Mildew!!

Those roses are on a raised bed 1/2 a meter above the ground.

I wonder if we will actually get a summer. It is not looking very positive. I'll tell you what though, it looks like we won't get a drought this year - that's a good thing. And it costs us less in electricity pumping water out of the ground as there is no need to irrigate. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Our garage is above ground, so luckily the vespas and Combi are fine - so far.

I've been rerouting the trip, to include me joining Niel in SE Asia and Morocco. I've also been reversing the rest  of his trip to make the most of the seasons now that he is starting from home instead of London. So I have had plenty to occupy myself. I have also ordered next years firewood. Luckily it won't come today as the road has been officially closed by the powers that be.

A closed road but the trucks still get through - for now.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Christmas Presents

The 'Global Bike Race' is no more. It's fallen over as we suspected it would back in the middle of our winter. At least 3 riders have pulled out and are going around the world on their own. The remaining riders have banded together and are trying to reorganise an event from the ashes. So far they are doing a good job of it. The dilemma is that : Niel is the only overseas rider all the others are from the UK. Does he spend the the extra thousands of dollars to get to the start /finish in London, or go it alone around the world starting from home in New Zealand, and save many thousands of dollars.

Here's the crux of it. Is his loyalty to the riders race, greater than saving many thousands of dollars that would enable me to have an overseas adventure too? Well it's a 'no brainer' really. I think of this as my Christmas present.

Where do I most want to go in the world? Morocco, but as a couple, not as a lone woman in a Muslim country. Morocco looks to be such a contrast. Dry interior, warm Mediterranean coastline, fascinating old towns and markets. Orchards and oasis', and a vibrant culture. I have only ever heard positive comments about the country. And of course just across the straits is Gibraltar. I've visited there  very briefly once and was entranced with the place, I would love to see it again.

South East Asia, particularly Vietnam, has been drawing me in for years. The only reason we haven't been before now, is that the best time to visit, is in the middle of our summer, which is not a good time to leave the garden. I can't just up and leave the garden, when it would need to be watered constantly. Not to mention the stupidity of leaving our own lovely summer when you wait all year for it.

So if I could met up with Niel as he cycles the world, Morocco would be in April - their spring, when all the orchards are in flower and the interior isn't so hot - brilliant. And then S.E. Asia / Vietnam in August. Not the best for missing the rainy season, but hopefully not in the middle of the monsoons. Christmas present sorted.

Christmas. It's such a busy time, even if you don't celebrate it. things need to be done before businesses close for the summer break, In our case, Niel needs the dentist and vaccinations. I need to get my summer annuals planted in the window boxes and flower beds, not to mention hundreds of daffodil bulbs. I just can't believe how many there are that came out of a 2 meter edging strip of a flower bed. There were so many I didn't bother keeping the small ones - I just threw them on the lawn and ran over them with the lawn mower.

After 2 weeks of gale force winds while Niel was away, we've now had 2 weeks of heavy rain - in biblical amounts. The farmers are loving it, but it's so hard to get anything done outside. My summer annuals have been waiting so long to get planted that they are starting to get root bound in their little seedling pots. And why oh why does it always rain on a day off? When the sun does decide to come out, even the cat and chicken have been sunbathing to soak it up. Luckily the sun stayed out long enough to get a bike ride in. My feet played up a lot, but I still managed 100 kms.

We are now looking forward to our jaunt around the south island in a couple of weeks time. I will put my bicycle on the Vespa and zoom on ahead get my bike off and ride back to meet Niel, so that I get some training in without hindering his training. It will be officially the middle of summer so hopefully it will be fine, fine, fine. In the meantime, when it does rain, as it is forecast to do heavily for at least the next 5 days, I've got the trip to reroute, to cut out England and add in Vietnam. 

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Newspaper again.

Niel returned from his 1,600 km ride in 10 days to a reporter and photographer on the side of the road waiting for him. Actually I organised it and surprised him with it as I met him riding home from Picton. It is only 2 months until he leaves for England and he needs as much publicity as possible. That is my role as wife, promoter, trip planner, breadwinner and all round dogs body, doing everything to free him up to ride that bike as much as possible.

He's out at the moment trying to bring his total up to 2,000 kms in 2 weeks. I've started swimming again. God it was noisy at the pool there must have been 2 whole schools there all shouting above each other to be heard and of course it echoes in those hollow buildings. I'm a pretty slow swimmer but I'd like to do the Nelson woman's triathlon in April. I was once told by a top athlete - "your never enter an event you haven't trained for". So there I am training.

Monday, 28 November 2011

3 things.

I don't make a good sick person. For me, it's a double edged sword. I cannot rest, do nothing, and wait to get better, that just makes me anxious about:
1] Not getting any exercise, I can almost feel the weight piling on and my fitness ebbing away.
2]  Not getting any chores done, when there's always so much to do.
3] And when you are married to someone like Niel who is super fit and never gets sick, it's intolerable when I do.
Being sick makes me very stressed and stress does not help you to get better.

I haven't been a 'happy chappy' this week. It started off with a migraine headache and hay fever last weekend, which I had to go to work with, as no one could cover me having a sick day. That left my resistance low and I got 'the flu' - fever, nausea, aching joints - the works. On top of that my knee that keeps on swelling up for some unknown reason, swelled up again and I ended up with a tennis ball sized lump on my knee and could barely walk.

I'm a firm believer in mild exercise when you're sick. Surely getting your blood moving and lungs working has got to be good for you. They don't recommend exercise to people with depression for nothing - those endorphins make you feel good. I have to get things done to relieve my stress levels - less anxiety means getting better.

So there I was, while my knee was still very swollen, in between bouts of fever and nausea, planting veges in the garden. When my knee got a little bit better, I was out on my  bike for short rides around the block, basically pushing with my good leg, and letting the other follow. This continued till my swelling had all but gone and I was able to push with both legs.

I finally got to see a doctor. Yes I had the flu. The most interesting thing, [and yes i suppose you could say a good thing] is I've finally found out what is wrong with my knee and troublesome feet, which still give me pain.

Enough of sickness. I'm over it mentally, if not physically. I've been burning the candle at each end of the day catching up on things. I have a spare hour before work so I was out cycling down to the beach and back. i was out with a torch in the evening watering the garden after a week of gale force winds.

The truly remarkable thing this week is Niel. His global bike race fellow competitors should be afraid - very afraid. He is a machine. What he can achieve on his bike never ceases to amaze me. Not only has he ridden 1,500 kms in 11 days with only a 1/2 day off, but he manages to finish the 160 km race [ over 33 demanding hills remember] on a hybrid mountain bike in just over 5 hours. We are talking bicycles here, not motorbikes!!

Niel riding along the Volcanic Plateau just south of Lake

You may have wondered why I called this blog entry as '3 things'. Things always happen in 3's. So how do you end a crappy week of injury and sickness? You fall off your bike of course.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Fast Food.

I thought it would be a dull week, with nothing too much to report. But it only started off that way, it ended so busy I made myself sick. I keep of thinking of the saying :' It never rains, but it pours'.

Niel and I were talking early in the week about where I want to go, and what I want to do, when his Global race is over, and it's my turn for some adventure. Well aside from what I'd like to do, I realised I'd have no money to go anywhere. My reduced hours to spend more time in the garden, was all very well and good,but there would be not even coins left over for a holiday anywhere. So I asked my boss for my old hours again, and apart from saying "I told you so", he graciously gave me them back. He really is the best boss around. However the shop was understaffed this week and I've gone from reduced hours to 6 days in a row without a day off. Needless to say the garden is very neglected - right when I can't leave it, being spring / early summer.

Actually it decided all of a sudden to be summer. Just like that. We've suddenly gone from using a hot water bottle at night, to sitting around in the evening in shorts and a t-shirt. In a perverse way, I know why it's happened, Niel left to cycle to Lake Taupo this morning and after his drenching a few weeks ago, he put waterproof covers on his pannier bags, and that bought the sun out and the summer on with a vengeance.

It's been hot all week, but a gale force wind has kept the temp down until now. This gale force wind with the hot sun, has dried up the ground and there is a lot of dust in the air. This dust gave me chronic hay fever, combined with worrying about the garden and getting quite exhausted working so much I ended up with a migraine headache as well - not a good combination - I think I was a bit grumpy at work.

Anyway enough gloomy stuff- some really great things happened this week. Getting my old hours at work was only one of them, the other was -  that we have  some more friends that want to sponsor Niel. Markus and Kerstin [and family] are from Germany. They are a truly lovely couple that I met about 20 years ago cycle touring the west coast of the south island of New Zealand. They have been friends ever since, and we always try to met  up every time we go to Europe. They now have 2 great kids. Their English language skills are good, but limited, our German language skills are non existent, so they have the tough job trying to translate and understand our letters, emails, and conversations. Top points to them for this effort. I don't know if they realise how grateful we are for them not giving up on us. Markus informed us this week that he and Kerstin would like to sponsor Niel. Thank you so much, you two are awesome. It's people like you that reassure me that there are some good people in the world. Even in a global recession, these two lovely people have reached out to help. Fantastic.

The new position of the raised bed.

On the home front, the raised bed has been relocated and ready to replant. We've been doing a bit of road side harvesting. There is a very big loquat tree [not sure if that is how it's spelt - I can't find it in the dictionary] just down the road - covered in ripe fruit. I didn't know what a loquat was until a few years ago, working as a parks and reserves gardener. My work colleague was obsessed with them, and was trying to grow one from a cutting. I introduced Niel to them, he also had never heard of them before. For those of you who don't know about them. They are a tree of about 5 meters by 5 meters when mature, they have big leaves a bit like a Rhododendron - possibly tropical - I'm not sure. The fruit is yellow, the size of a plum, and it  tastes like a peach or nectarine.

I thought the bantam / chicken was going to give us eggs under the dining room table. Talk about 'fast food'!! She likes to go to sleep there after eating the cats biscuits. Her bottom was going up and down and pushing in and out, and I was sure there would be eggs before you could say 'chicken noodle soup', but no, she managed to do it outside - 18 eggs this time. the silly thing laid them on a sloping bank this time and they kept rolling down in to my waiting hands.

Just before Niel left to cycle to Taupo, I got him to start the lawn mower. I can't start it to save myself, every time I try, I end up spraining something. Anyway no sooner had he left down the road and out of sight, when one of the wheels  falls off the mower. Half and acre is a lot of grass to mow with 3 wheels around beds and shrubs. Move 2 meter, push the wheel back on, move 2 meters, push the wheel back on. Talk about making a job unnecessarily difficult. I got there in the end, and there's another little job for Niel when he gets home.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Proud of myself.

I'm feeling pretty proud of myself this week. Did I sweat off some excess kilo's to fit into a summer bikini? Don't I wish. Did I find Niel a sponsor? No, not yet, but maybe that will happen indirectly.

Wait for it.... I managed to get Niel free entry into the 'Round Lake Taupo' - New Zealand's most popular cycle race event. That largest cycle event in the southern hemisphere. It is limited to 10,000 people. Is that awesome or what!?!

Hopefully they will advertise Niels epic global challenge, and hopefully someone will see the opportunity for sponsorship, but if not, whatever way you look at it - it's great exposure and promotion.

10,000 cyclists waiting to start.

Niel wanted to ride the 600 kms up to 'the Taupo' [ in the middle of the north island], at the end of November, alter his bike for racing, do the 160 km race over 33 demanding hills around the lake, adapt his bike back to touring again and ride the 600 kms back home. Excellent training, but pricey. the price of the event, as you can imagine, is a hefty $100 just to enter.

I wrote to the organisers and told them what Niel was doing, saying that as we had no main sponsor, that we were trying to fund this ourselves, and would it be possible to waive the entry fee. They get to hear all about his global challenge. I didn't expect anything positive, so imagine my surprise when we got an email with : "I am pleased to inform you..". Someone donated an entry to someone worthy and Niel got it.  10,000 people get to hear his story. That sort of publicity is worth it's weight in gold.

For those that have never done 'the Taupo' - it's an awesome event. They cater for everyone. Elite road cyclists are given a head start, so that they don't get caught up in the masses. All the solo riders [around the lake once and not as a team], are the biggest group and broken down into sub groups of expected finish times. Everyone has a transponder, so your time is taken as you cross the start line, and then cross the finish line, so the up to 1 hour it takes to shuffle  to the start line once it's begun isn't counted as cycling time.

Loading some of the teams bikes on trucks.

There are teams of up to 4 people and they, and their bikes, are transported to selected places around the lake. And they even have a race for children. They also cater for long distance cyclists with 2 times around the lake [ Niel did this last year], 3 times around, and 5 times around. These are qualifying events for races like the Paris - Brest - Paris, and the race across America [ RAAM]. There is a huge carnival like atmosphere at the finish and prize giving with prizes like cars and trips to Europe. So you can see it's a big deal getting a free entry. I'd love to do it too, but I have to be totally selfless in the next year.

Six months ago my carbon fibre road bike needed  new bottom bracket bearings, and they were not a priority to get repaired. This week I finally got my road bike back. I felt like I was fighting with it the whole way on our 105 km ride this week. The handlebars are so twitchy that I fought the steering, the gearing was so high, [even with a triple chain ring] that I had to ride off the saddle more than I'm comfortable doing, just to get 'on top of the gear'. I'm sure I'll get used to it again.

Me on my road bike.

Niel is trying to use up old tyres and tubes to save money. He was using some old tyres of mine and kept getting punctures. I told him they were past it, and now he finally agrees. I couldn't believe he was still persisting with a tube that had 12 patches on it. There's being thrifty and there's being silly - I think he's being silly - 12 patches!!

Fixing yet another puncture in a bus stop.

Can you count the 12 patches?

Monday, 7 November 2011

Planning intensifies.

The planning and Niel's training has intensified. There is only 3 months until Niel leaves for London. To the normal person doing a daily routine 3 months is a long time, to us it's no time at all.

Most of the equipment has been bought or ordered. There is still a few things to get - GPS for example. And things needed here to keep the home fires burning - literally - we need a load of firewood for next winter.

His kilometres within the correct amount of days, have been perfected [with some days off to retain  his sanity], to equal Vin Cox's current record. [Assuming nothing goes wrong.] All maps bought, and some large scale maps photocopied, joined together and marked with a highlighter pen.

Niel is starting to look at Airfares. They very wildly. To book and pay in advance is almost twice the price of booking and paying as you go. You'd think it would be the other way around. So we are trying to work out the best plan of action ,to streamline things for Niel as he's cycling to his limit every day. Unfortunately for us, he has to go around the world twice, as he has to get to London for the start and home from London afterwards. So his airfares are twice the price as everyone else's from Europe. That's one of the reason's I can't afford to be at the finish to watch him complete his global challenge.

He might be disadvantaged financially, but on the plus side, he's the only competitor who can go home for a day off half way around.

Bob the cat and I seeing Niel off  on his long ride.

He left on a 435 km 2 day training ride this week. It was lovely weather when he left. 20 kms later it rained for the rest of the day. Coming home it not only rained [heavily], but it hailed and snowed on the hills [which is where he was]. He never gave up, so completely wet through, with his gear weighing a tonne, he made it home. His mobile phone got so wet, that 4 days later it's only just starting to show signs that it might work again.

On the home front, he's helped me shift the raised bed in the garden from a shady spot where the plants struggled to grow, to a sunnier spot closer to the house. It's been a big job, transplanting lots of plants and bulbs, not to mention actually getting the frame work moved. So I'm thrilled that it's finally nearing completion. I think I'm going to have a sore back tonight!

The framework of the raised bed.

A huge pile of dirt to shift.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Generous Friends

The 'two gay girls' tent.
Karyn and Jane are arguably the nicest people on the planet. With planning for Niels 'Global Bike Race' speeding up, our two friends have generously gifted us some money to buy a tent. With us on such a tight budget and Niel leaving work to concentrate on training and fixing up the house, the gift of money was kindness beyond measure. Not only that, we can legitimately call them our first sponsors.

Karyn has cycle raced for many years and has done long distance events with Niel. They would be called Audax events in Europe, so she knows what Niel is capable of. Her and Jane's sponsorship shows they believe in him and his chances. Do you know how good that feels? Unbelievably good.

Niel said they could name the tent. So now it is called 'Two Gay Girls'. So that Niel can claim that he's the only competitor to sleep with 2 gay girls!!

Every competitor is given a global bike race logo in a different colour, so as they travel across the globe you can follow their colour. Niel's colour is brown. so if you want to follow him search or join the open 'Global Bike Race' site and follow his progress as the brown cyclist.

Look out for the brown cyclist.

I've been busy perfecting his route and correct amount of kilometres, so that we have dates we can give our travel agent for the bits he needs to fly. I couldn't believe it when he said : " It doesn't matter how far the distance is each day, it's not the cycling that bothers me, it's the loneliness". I couldn't believe it, because if he had to do 250 kms one day, he reckons it's no problem.  And he's such a self sufficient loner anyway, so if anyone could cope with the loneliness - he'd be the perfect candidate.

Oh to have that strength. And it makes me feel pretty special that he'd miss me that much ............
unless it's the house, sofa and chocolate he'll be missing.............. no, no I'm sure it's me. I'll miss him too terribly -  6 months is a long time to be apart, but it's a good opportunity to start my book.

I'm not sure when I'll get my next overseas cycling trip. Niel won't be able to face another trip for a while once he gets home from his global adventure. Maybe he could manage a few weeks in Vietnam at an Adi pace, surely that's not too much to ask? I'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, as part of his training,we will be Vespa/ biking  together around the South Island of NZ in January, each carrying our own gear, He can do 200 kms a day -testing out his gear, and I can zoom alongside on 'Fart  - Bottom' the Vespa. I may strap my bike on and ride back to met him from our destination - that way I get some exercise as well. It will be lovely to have that time together before he leaves for London.

The garden is just a cacophony of colour at the moment, everything is in flower [even the weeds]. There are petals everywhere. You'd think autumn is a busy time for sweeping paths of leaves, but spring means petals galore.It's a beautiful time of year for cycle touring.

Flowers everywhere.

Petals everywhere.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


It's been a week of revelations. I've finally talked Niel into doing the global bike race, by promising to stay at home the whole time to be the go to person at home for him and keep the home fires burning. I can do my global tripping any time, Niel only gets one chance at this. If he doesn't have to worry about anything other than getting himself around the world in record time, then it makes things a lot easier for him. We still don't have any sponsorship and probably won't get any, so it is going to cost us a lot of money, no extra pennies for me to join him anywhere.

I was transplanting my strawberries this week. We started off with a dozen plants 19 years ago when we moved here, we now have 100 plants!! I wish we had heaps of fruit off them, but the birds get most of them. I'll need to buy some more bird netting.

Revelation number 3. I finally found Chicken Woo our bantam hen's nest. Can you see her?

No? you could never be employed as a chicken nest finder. How about now?

I have finally got to her nest in time and her eggs hadn't gone off - look how many she can lay in a couple of days.

Now that we've taken her eggs away, she is trying to come inside through the cat door, honestly she is such a character.

I've got 4 months to learn the intricacies of Niel's water pump and tank system, honestly when we went to the US last year we left it in the hands of our Neighbour who is a hydrologist  and rural septic tank specialist, and we came home to a bill for a new pump, when it was pretty new when we left. I'll get my revenge when I teach him some tips on how to cook for himself. You can't live on steak or Mc Donald's every night.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Life after Rugby

I've finally reduced my hours of work, so that I can put more time into the garden. You know in a weird sort of way, going to work is actually my weekend. As I'm forced into inactivity. My days off are so physical and I never rest until I'm too exhausted to move. I've wanted this for a long time.
Actually here in New Zealand, the nation is transfixed by the rugby world cup final. Momentous things are happening in the world, but it pales in significance with the 'big game' on.

All Black Isreal Dagg in full flight.

Libya is free of Qaddafi - that is stupendous news. I wish the people of Libya a violence free and happy future.

The little Chinese 3 year old that got repeatedly run over and lay dieing and bleeding on the road while a dozen people walked passed her, has died. What does that tell you about society today. Why are people so uncaring? 

Then there's the Rena cargo ship off Tauranga - leaking oil into the environment. There was a clip on TV about a women complaining that she couldn't go out onto the beach to go swimming as she always does. What about the wildlife? Dying horrible deaths clogged in thick oil?

What do we hear about the governments response? The Prime Minister says things take time, and he more concerned about getting the ships owners to pay for it. The leader of the Opposition actually rolls his sleeves up and gets cleaning - kudos to him. The Greens moan and complain, but have they actually done anything to help? Not that I've seen

It's the General Election next month. All the politicians are completely out of touch with ordinary people. Well actually so are the petty local councillors. They need to get on bicycles. Then they just might see: Firstly how the ordinary person gets around. Cars are too expensive to use. Secondly how horrendous the traffic is, and how dangerous drivers are to cyclists [ and Vespa riders]. And thirdly that NZ is green but NOT clean.

Everyone has there own ideas on politics and politicians, and I'm not going to try to persuade anyone. In my opinion: National are very self righteous ans have worsened NZ's debt. Labour have some good ideas, but have no charisma. Green's have great ideals, but do not life by their convictions. Promoting having children in an over populated world, and driving 4 wheel drives - usually with a Greenpeace sticker on the bumper. The minor parties for one reason or another, are hard to take seriously. As you can see, I don't know who to vote for. I'm certainly going to vote, you've got no right to complain if you don't.

Personally I can't wait to extend my vege patch again to plant some more seed potatoes. And I must find the chicken, she has disappeared which can only mean one thing she has built a nest and is sitting on some eggs. Her nest's are notoriously hard to find, two have been in the middle of Pampas grasses, and one has been in the roots of a Macrocarpa hedge and one has been inside the ivy of an ivy covered bank. I think she does it on purpose.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Retail Therapy

I've just put on my new saddle. No, don't get me wrong, I'm not some mechanical superwomen, but I do TRY to do things myself. I got on it and,my God, I thought i was sitting on a brick! Yes, it's a female anatomical one with a lovely hole in it, and compared to Niel's saddles it looks like a comfy armchair. My old one was ripped and torn, but at least I did feel like my favourite corner of the sofa. Now I look at this lovely saddle and inwardly groan at the hundreds of kilometres it's going to take to break it in. I'm glad I got it now and not weeks before we leave.

New Saddle

Am I the only female in the world who hates spending money?? I take great pride in the fact that I have T shirts older than one of my work mates. I make things last and last, however they've got to die some time and unfortunately this year seems to a year of things needing replacing. New carpet and curtains in our flat, the vacumm cleaner blew up, the fridge / freezer was no longer fixable. Our tent is completely worn out. How do you wear out a tent? the tabs the pegs go through are tearing away from the main tent - yes they had been professionally repaired. The sleeve the tent poles slide through have been torn, sewn together, retorn, resewed, and it's all disintergrating. It's no longer waterproof, and the zip keeps catching - very irritating when you want to get in or out in a hurry - yes it is worn out. I'm sure we can find a use for it somehow.

Niel's gloves have lasted and lasted past there due by date.
So unfortunately we've had to spend some money. I have another work mate who loves shopping. It's her sport and hobby. She even loves window shopping. Niel and I went window shopping for a new fridge / freezer - it took weeks. After 2 shops - I had had enough. Then we had to compare notes and have another look, two shops is my maximum before I feel like I'm going stark raving crazy. I'd rather spend less and work less. Am I alone in this attitude?

We've also had to buy new pannier bags for the bikes. It's no longer affordable to take a bike and trailer on the airlines, as I've mentioned before - only 1 peice of luggage now. A bike bag stuffed with panniers works, a bike and trailer doesn't.

Niel was hilarious this week. Two girls leaned out of a car and yelled "nice bum" at him. God, you'd think he was 30 not 50, the way he was preening [...just kidding Niel]. My boss say's he can always recognise me when I'm cycling, by my bum, and I don't think he is being complimentary.

Is Niel's bum that great??

Is my bum that bad??

We were out on our weekly long ride [108 kms this week], and I have to admit all the orchards were in full bloom and very beautiful, when I got a puncture. I had a brand new puncture repair kit - still unopened. You know as you get older - things appear smaller? Well this repair kit had a tiny tube of glue and only 4 patches. 4 patches!! I'm sure they used to have a bigger tube of glue and heaps of patches. Well I used one to fix it, I didn't wait long enough to let the glue dry and the patch lifted. Patched it again, and the spare tube had a hole in it, I fixed that and I'm left with one patch. New repair kit and 1 patch left. Does that seem like value for money to you? It doesn't to me.

Apple Orchards in full bloom

I suppose that's one of the reasons I hate buying things. Some people buy things because the 'retail therapy' gives them a lift. Buying things just seems to dissappoint me, so I prefer not to do it, until I absolutely have to.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Good life

I haven't written for a few weeks, I was in a quandary about my blog.

Our goal keeps changing and i felt like a fool explaining why all the time, Am I just a total embarrassment, or am i deluding myself that anyone even cares.

I'm still Vespa Chick, I always will be, and I'm still going around the world, just not all in one go.

Actually it's been a week of changes.We've decided we want to live self sufficiently. That's been our dream for a long time, but our 'fly in the ointment' that always kept us in paid employment, is our Passion for cycling holidays and these cost money.

Why now? Several reasons.
1) We've got 14 years till we qualify for the Pension, unless the politicians renege on their election promise and put the retirement age up. We've got the physical strength and enthusiasm to do  it.
2) The Economy is a mess. If things get worse, we'll have the house and enough food to feed ourselves. i really enjoy living within my means on a strict budget - I find it a challenge and to succeed at it - gives me a glow of achievement.
3) We don't want for things other people can't live without, we have already proved we can live without a car.
4) Why not?

We must get our Bantam hen a coup - she thinks she lives inside, she is even jealous of our chicken soft toy!!

What about Niel's race around the world? Well It's looking very likely that it won't go ahead, nothing has been organised. We will do our own ride around the world, but over several years. It is a lot more fun together, and we would like to see the best a country has to offer, rather than rushing through in record time only seeing the main road,

I don't have many followers, so I don't know if I'll be disappointing anyone if I stop writing this blog, but on the other hand it is essentially a diary, so if no one is interested then does it really matter. If anyone wants to keep reading this, I'd love some feedback.

I can promise you one thing, that we will be cycle touring South East Asia early next year, In 4 months we will be in Singapore ready to head North to Vietnam, so there will be plenty still to write about, and more funny stories to tell. Perhaps my wonderful Step-Father could paint some more funny pictures to go along with my ramblings. Like this delightful one of us cycling Ireland a few years ago.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Strong Legs

Here's a subject that most female cyclists can relate to. It's rather annoying, but really quite hilarious. Come on girls own up. When you're out cycling and you overtake a male cyclist of any age, they can't stand it. They have to overtake you back again. Men and Boys hate to have any female overtake them, and they'll 'turn themselves inside out' in effort to pass you. The really hilarious thing is when, without even trying, you overtake them again. Have you noticed that they suddenly have another direction or a corner to turn in to, Niel has also noticed it when we are out riding together. Don't get me wrong - I'm not some Tour de France athlete, just a reasonably strong rider who's been riding for a long time, and developed quite strong legs.

Actually that reminds me of a quick story. Last year, when we were cycle touring the US, we were climbing a large Pass in Colorado of 12,000 feet. I finally made it to the top and a women got out of her car and said: " I don't know how your legs do it." I replied: " My legs are the only thing that feel good, everything else hurts." It was true - from burnt,split lips, Asthma, RSI in my wrists, down to my problem feet, But my legs felt as strong as an Ox.

It's these 'strong legs' that have made my feet worse. The Doctor say's my cycling muscles are so powerful that they are putting a strain on the less powerful ones, and are pulling things out of balance. Apparently I can push my feet down so hard that I've lost the ability to pull my feet back up. That powerful push has formed the compression problems on the ball of my feet. On the few occasions when my feet feel good, I feel like I could take on the world.

Sometimes I feel like one of those cartoon characters like in the 'Asterix' books with abnormally large muscles from doing something to excess.

These are NOT my legs!

I only wish my strong legs equalled great performance. Unfortunately they just seem to cause me problems. However I do get a kick out of overtaking males and seeing their reaction.