End of my trip, nothing much to do but wander around the shops half-heartedly thinking about duty free toys to use up the last of the spending money. MD and MP3 players here and there, but none caught my eye as being just right. The Polar S710 heart rate monitor looks pretty good, but while it supposedly exists, none of the shops have seen one, one of the bike shop staff confessed to me that he doesn’t believe that any have been brought into the UK yet.
Last night I lay in bed reading until around three, so this morning I slept in until nearly eleven — so much for going away and doing anything today!
Rang Jo at noon, having completely forgotten that it was Friday night in Australia and she might be out. She was home and we could have talked for hours, both of us excited that I’ll be coming home soon.
Later in the afternoon I headed into town along the Kennet, deciding to go and see a movie, hopefully a better one than the last time I tried!
Woke to a cool gray day and light showers — the heatwave has broken, but obviously not with the semi-tropical thunderstorms the forecast had us believe.
Late in the morning I scurried into town in the drizzle to pick up a postcard for Tuesday (oops!) and then hopped on the train to Bath. I can’t make sense of the ticket prices, they seem one of the eternal mysteries of this trip.
I thought of packing up some clothes and heading up to Derbyshire to visit relatives, but it all seemed too much effort. Instead I decided to go to Oxford for the day. Caught the train there and spent an afternoon walking around and being a tourist.
Magnificent old buildings and shops. Stopped to recuperate with a beer in a lovely little pub called ‘Old Tom’ with its tiny beer garden overgrown with flower pots, petunias and fuschias.
The end is nigh! Walked in to the bike shop and picked up a bike box to lug home to Liz' house before cleaning and packing Norky bike away in the box. With each experience comes the reminder to add more packing to the parts of the bike that protrude!
Joe and Paddy picked me up at lunch time and we drove off through Henley on Thames(51.5333333,-0.9) to Hambleden for lunch. Its a fantastic little village, but with a heap of money tied up in the genteel stone houses — everything from picturesque cottages to the W.H.Smith manor house. Roast duck and a pint at the pub for lunch, then a walk around some of the lanes, then back to Henley(51.
Today I walked down the river instead of up. Off along the tow-paths to Sonning Lock. The river and banks were packed, boats and swimmers and people and dogs strolling along the paths everywhere. A pause for an ice cream in the tea gardens at Sonning(51.4666667,-0.9), and on downstream to Shiplake.
I called my uncle Joe from the pub, then spent the evening with Joe and Paddy, sitting around in their garden — a great summer evening.
Another hot lazy day, at least I managed to force myself out for some exercise! Around lunch time I decided to walk up the river to the next town, but ended up turning around on its outskirts and heading back.
The river bank was lined with hundreds of people, all there for WOMAD. Lots of hippies and ferals, narrow boats docked four deep on the banks with people walking over each other to get to their boats.
Four pm and I haven’t stepped out the door all day — hot and humid weather, yet again I’m lying on the couch reading my cousin’s novels.
Eight pm and I head out for the evening….
Ten pm and I’m home gain. Three cheap pints while sitting in the evening sun and I decided I’m just not in the mood to go out alone on a Friday night. Instead I sat around the house feeling melancholy and thinking about the nine days until I’m home again.
Again, the morning held only a comfortable couch and an escapist novel. The riding yesterday really wore me out!
I spent the afternoon shopping and emailing and walking about, then came home for a rest before going out for the evening. I’d decided to sample some beers and entertainment, so it was a couple of beers at O’neals, then a walk, then a couple of Guinnesses at the Walkabout. Franchised Irish bars to franchised Aussie ones.
dst. (km) Today 110.0 Trip total 3159.8 Today’s distance estimated.
Oooh, Guinness hangover.
Too little sleep, too little food, and too much Guinness. After a quick breakfast and goodbyes to Andy, I felt terrible for the first hour this morning back on the bike. A few pastries at a bakery seemed to fix things up a touch, from then on it was just a long day of riding, made more than a little frustrating by the maze of roads and villages that make up Surrey.
A hot sunny day, a holiday feel in the air again. Breakfast was yet another episode of the English B&B’s game of advertising a “full English breakfast,” and then seeing how small a portion of each item they can deliver.
I spent the morning walking around the Brighton Pier, then the aquarium. The aquarium was a bit of a disappointment, after reading so much about it I found it full of uncontrolled kids running around hammering on the glass and yelling at each other.
Yet another morning spent reading in Reading(51.4333333,-1.0). I seem to remember spending most of my time at Elizabeth’s house lying around on the couch reading novels. I did remember to check the clocks though, so as not to get caught and miss the train.
About lunchtime I walked into town to the station to find a train to Brighton. I had managed to cram enough clothes and stuff into my shoulder bag, including an empty pannier, to make overnight survival a non-event, and should have no problem carrying it all back tomorrow on the bike.
Lazy me sat around all day reading and watching SciFi TV. I did get out around 1 pm for a walk down the Thames and up along the Kennet canal. (That name still amuses me, depending on your political inclination, Jeff Kennet was a very popular/unpopular politician in Australia. A bit like finding a “maggie thatcher canal” I guess.)
Then foolishly, I decided to walk into town to see a movie, and chose Jurassic Park III.
Vegetated around Reading(51.4333333,-1.0) some more. I started to look in the shops for presents for myself, something to use up any outstanding spending money. The Polar Heart-rate monitors caught my eye, but I’m not sure what the prices are compared to Australia, or even if they are available:
Model GBP price AUD price S210 £130 $349 S410 £150 $399 S510 £170 $449 S610 £180 $499 S710 £200 $549 S810 £?
First success of the day — I found that the Debenhams chain store operate a decent, cheap, internet café , I managed to connect back to Monash, and to read and sort through my 950 incoming emails! Even managed to reply to the important ones and check both bank balances.
Joey’s shopping list: duty free gin Bootes ear plugs Where? Reading(51.4333333,-1.0)
Thoughts on Lille — for the first time in France I seem to have seen lots of beggars and homeless people. Maybe it’s just the first time I’ve been in a big city, maybe I just haven’t noticed. Two-star hotels, kebab shops and sex shops. Maybe I should have tried to move further away from the train station.
A big bustling city, certainly lots of construction around the two stations. French police uniforms suddenly struck me as appearing very functional, Australian and British appearing more symbolic by comparison.
dst. (km) Today 48.11 Trip total ?? Odometer 1169.2 Young Sammie’s first birthday if I remember correctly…
I bummed around all day in the sun, riding out to le Corbienne lighthouse in the south-west. Once there I found a broken spoke, on the cluster side of course. Probably as a result of over-changing and dropping the derailleur into the spokes.
dst. (km) Today 42.03 Trip total ?? Odometer 1119.5 I woke up this morning and couldn’t work out whether the clocks were right or not; I had no idea whether Jersey was in the same time zone as the UK or not!
I left the panniers in the B&B for the day and headed out on the bike.
dst. (km) Today 29.20 Trip total ?? Odometer 1077.1 Six weeks until I see Jo, and I’ve got a broken tooth. Feeling just a little depressed today, the grey English weather isn’t helping. On re-checking the calendar I found that it’s seven weeks, not six.
A lazy day, I rode the 12km or so through Studland and the coastal park to the ferry then paid my 80p to cross to Poole.
dst. (km) Today 89.45 Trip total ?? Odometer 1039.7 Worst part of the day — stopping to grab some fish and chips in Swanage from The Fish Plaice and breaking a tooth on a piece of grit in the second chip I ate. Staff in the shop couldn’t care less, grabbed another chip out of the fryer, poked it with their fingers and declared “nuffin wrong with em”.
dst. (km) Today 145.31 Trip total ?? Odometer 950.2 The hostel last night was far less crowded, our eight-bed room only held me and the two Swedish girls, and neither of them snored. Woke up to yet more drizzle though, a theme that continued through the day.
I dodged the rain; I got caught in the rain.
dst. (km) Today 0.00 Trip total ?? Odometer 804.0 Drizzle in the morning, fine in the afternoon, then pouring with rain in the evening. Not the best day to spend wandering around through the shops, although I did manage to go for a walk up along the beach path quite a way. Visited Torre Abbey, but I didn’t feel like paying the £3 entry fee, so I just walked around the outside and looked in.
I experiment. I play. I write and I take pictures. Some of the site is organised around topics, other parts are organized by date, then there’s always the cross-references between them.
Long ago it started as a learning experiment with a few static HTML pages, then I added a bit of server-side includes and some very ugly PHP. A hand-built journal/blog on top of that PHP, then a few experiments in moving to various static publishing systems. I’ve never wanted a database-based blogging engine, so over the years I’ve tried php, nanoblogger, emacs-muse, silkpage and docbook before settling on emacs org-mode for writing and jekyll for publishing. But the itch remained… I never really liked jekyll and the ruby underneath always seemed so much black magic. So now the latest incarnation is org-mode and hugo.