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, 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.