Cycling Full Circle
Cycling Full Circle 

2012

New Year’s Day 2012

 

So, then, the start of another year. And time to take down Christmas decorations; not necessarily a half-hour job! (This is not my house, but a local one that raises money for charity each Christmas). It is me in the Norwegian national costume, made by my mother, and worn by me each Christmas Eve.

A new year is always an exciting time: of psychological opportunities for new beginnings, new ventures; of reviewing your current situation and possibly re-shaping your future; of taking risks and going out of your comfort zone; or even continuing with what you are doing, if that is right for the time being.

Talking of new beginnings, from a Christian point of view there are two particularly significant days in the year that are apt and poignant times to die: Christmas Day, when Jesus came to bring us back to God; and Easter Day, resurrection into new life with God. My stepmother died on Christmas Day. As well as accepting the inevitable sadness that follows such an event, it is more important to emphasise the glorious sense of joy that should accompany the notion of passing on to a better place. It also means that future associations of the event with Christmas can be positive, happy ones.
 

Just before Christmas, I had the pleasure of hosting a warm showers cyclist, Kate, riding from Cardiff to her parents' home in Oxford for Christmas. Good for you, Kate.

 

She has cycled part of the Danube between Budapest and the Black Sea and kindly sent me the cycling route book, after I expressed my interest in cycling the length of the river, as part of a trip from Cyprus to England via Turkey - at some point in the future. :-)

A fellow round-the-world-cyclist, Ken Roberts, is heading back home after three years on the road. Great, Ken, well done.
 
As for new year resolutions, well then, let's see: finish the book - soon; de-clutter my house - soon after; get out of my comfort zone - in due course.
What are yours?

In the meantime, I wish you all a fantastic 2012, full of exciting activities and events, at whatever level you want them to be; plus plenty of blessings and joyful moments throughout.

 

*      *      *      *      *

29 February

 

Well, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of a journal entry on this particular day, could I? Especially as it means I’m able to squeeze in this month’s update by the skin of my teeth.

A couple of things that might interest you:

• for those who live locally and have not yet been to one of my trip talks (and would like to), there is a further opportunity next Wednesday, 7 March, 7.30pm, at Patchway Library. The evening coincides with International Women’s Day.

• and for those who might be wondering when this endless book will be available, I am working towards a book launch around the anniversaries of the start and finish of my trips, ie. the first week in May. Here’s hoping – if only to be able to resume some level of physical activity; a year of one’s life is quite enough for such a full-time sedentary pursuit.

Another round-the-world cyclist, Ken Roberts, returned to his home in Somerset a couple of weeks ago, 20,000 miles after setting off in September 2009. Good for him.

The news from Syria is extremely distressing, especially all that is happening in Homs. I stayed there just one night on my trip, but many memories are associated with it. A young Christian family I met in a restaurant in the evening, who invited me to their home, talked of the discrimination they received because of their faith, presented me with a homemade Christmas star decoration (which I hung up in my hotel room on Christmas Day). The café with the Christmas tree, the owner helping me in my search for accommodation. The whole side of a building lit up with Christmas lights, of which I took a photo and used it for my website Christmas card. I hope and pray the country will sort itself out soon.

I have recently bought walking boots, in part preparation for my walk to Santiago in the summer.

What are your plans this year?

*      *      *      *      *

May

It is done! :-)

 

My deafening silence can now be broken, having FINALLY finished preparing my book to be print ready. After long weeks of editing, re-editing, re-working, proof reading and amending back and forth with Trish, my editor/publisher, Cycling Full Circle is currently winging its way to the printing press, to come back to me in solid, tactile form by the end of the month. Hurray!

 

It has been an eye-opening exercise, leaving me with a great deal  of regard for writers, their editors and the daunting task in hand. It has also confirmed to me that I shall be a confirmed maiden author; glad I've done it - but never again. Although that's not to say I am not happy with the end result.

 

Launch of the book will be at a local event on Diamond Jubilee Monday, 4 June. My home village of Almondsbury is holding a Jubilee fair from 1 pm on that afternoon and it seemed a fitting opportunity to include my book launch and a signing at the same time. You will be very welcome to come along then, but I assume there will be many other local Jubilee celebrations that you might want to attend.

In which case, how about this as an alternative? I shall be book signing in Waterstones, The Mall, Cribbs Causeway from 10 am - 5 pm the following Saturday, 9 June. Please feel free to come along - don't be put off by the queue :-) 

 

In the meantime, you are quite welcome to pre-order. 

 

NB The book will NOT be available to buy from Amazon (I'm afraid they take too much of a percentage to make it financially viable). However, I shall be producing e-books, a version for Kobo and others, and a version for Kindle.

 

I have been working more or less full time on this book for the last thirteen months. I desperately need some exercise. Therefore, two days after the Waterstones' book signing, I should be setting off to walk to Santiago. 

 

So, Bon Camino x

*         *        *         *         *

 

1 June

 

Wow! It's amazing seeing the end result. I'd recommend it to anyone: write a book and see it in print! It's a wonderful feeling.

 

When the soft cover version arrived a week ago, my first reaction was to be totally dazed - I was actually holding my book in my hands. It seems the culmination of so much that has gone on in the 6 1/2 years since I picked up the book that sent me on my trip.

The hard cover book arrived just a couple of days ago - and looks fantastic. :-)

 

What's more, both soft and hard covers are going like hot cakes. Yo! So get your orders in. ;-)

 

The official book launch is on Monday 4 June at the local Jubilee fair in my village; book signing the following Saturday 9 June at Waterstones [whose advertising blurb is totally over the top - and completely ego-boosting :-)] at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway, Bristol; and - it's already on display in the window of a local independent bookshop in the lovely nearby town of Thornbury. The proprietor of Thornbury Bookshop, Keith Bradford, is great: readily taking books by local authors.

 

Last weekend, I  made my way down to Somerset to listen to fellow world cyclist, Ken Roberts, give the inaugural talk of his trip that took him Across Continents. It was really interesting to hear about the places he went that I didn't; and great fun when he talked about the same places I also went (such as Deadman Lake campground in Alaska). Prior to the evening, we had only communicated by email; so, it was good to meet face-to-face.

 

On Monday 11 June, I set off on a mini adventure to Santiago de Compostella; walking to Plymouth, then ferry to Santander in northern Spain to pick up the Northern Coast route. It's my reward for 14 months of sitting in front of a computer.

 

Before that, though, of course, are the wonderful Jubilee celebrations. Have a brilliant weekend.  :-)

 

*       *       *       *       *

 

7 June

 

Didn't the weekend's Jubilee celebrations have a wonderful atmosphere to them? To see our community coming together to street party, attend a village concert in the church, hold open gardens serving Pimms, cream teas, live jazz music, put on a Tux and Tiara Ball, hold a combined church service, organise a Jubilee Village Fair, was utterly memorable and enjoyable. At least, that's how Almondsbury celebrated the Queen's 60 years.

 

 

 

My book signing at the Jubilee Fair was great fun. There were even queues at times. Interest from loads of cyclists and even from people I didn't know. :-)

 

 

*       *       *       *       *

 

17 June

 

Well, that was short-lived!

Last Monday, I set off on my much-anticipated walk to Santiago, heavily-ladened with backpack, comfortably ensconced in walking boots and confidently striding out in the tippling rain with my walking poles .

 

My daughter had come by on her way to work, having made the sacrificial effort of getting up half an hour earlier to do so; my son cooked a delicious omelette breakfast when I arrived at his home, sopping wet from traipsing through sodden fields. On the outskirts of Bristol, I was invited home for a warming tea and dry-out in Henbury, Bristol, by a passing keen walker, after escaping from a set of sealed fields, my boots swimming in water. In Park Street, Bristol, I judiciously bought waterproof gaiters (a memorably forgotten item on my pre-walk shopping list!) and came away from the cathedral with a dubious stamp for my pilgrim credential - 'Bristol Cathedral (Shop)' - I don't think they have many pilgrims passing through.


 

Hence the reasons why it took me 7 hours to reach the city centre, by which time (3pm), I sensibly caught a bus to Congresbury and joined the pretty Strawberry Line cycle route towards Axbridge. Three miles short of my destination, I decided 15 miles was enough for the first day (especially with no prior walking training and the first time I'd tried out the fully-packed backpack) and resorted to my contingency plan. I phoned the friend from the book club who had arranged my first night's accommodation with his sister and family. Hugh was already on his way down to join us for supper and duly picked me up from the designated bus shelter in Sandford. We arrived to a wonderful welcome by Jo, Ian and their children, swiftly followed by supper.

 

 

And so began my walk.


The ensuing couple of days were equally memorable; mostly by the lovely people I encountered and met on the way. Jo, gave me a lift the following morning to the edge of the Peat Moors to walk along the rhines,

then along Cycle Route 3 to enter Glastonbury (11 miles).

 

 

She even brought my walking poles there to me later in the afternoon, as I had managed to leave them behind in the morning! I wandered around the beautiful grounds of the abbey ruins, meeting people in period costume and a professional storyteller.

 

At St John the Baptist Church in the centre, after explaining I was in search of pilgrim accommodation for the night, I was generously offered a bed in the home of one of the church welcomers. :-)  Thanks so much, Liz.

During these first 3 days, my hips and ankles were complaining bitterly at being subjected to the unaccustomed onslaught of weight and distance; it was hard work to keep going. The thought, 'what on earth am I doing?' sprang fairly frequently to mind. However, tripping along such routes as The Samaritan's Way gave me the reason why.

Three miles short of the day's destination, I flagged down a white van who confirmed that I was going in the wrong direction for Bridgwater and offered to give me a lift the remainder of the way. Yes, please, lovely man. My third night was spent with friends I had only met via email. Jill is deafened, but has learnt sign language; husband, Graham, is hearing. Jill makes unusual and fun jewellery with a sign language theme; of which I am now the proud owner of a pair of hands earrings.

When  Jill and I parted company the following morning, after she had given me a lift to just south of Bridgwater, I felt fine. But shortly into my day's walk, I developed an acute pain in my right heel (the remainder of my body, unlike the previous days, was no longer complaining). The pain progressively worsened until I could hardly bear weight on my foot. Coming to a halt in the village of Broomfield, the kindly church warden, Bess, gave me a lift to the medical clinic in Bishops Lydeard, where I was told to go to Taunton hospital.

After hobbling half a mile up the road to catch a bus to town, then a second to the hospital, I came away with a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis and a pair of crutches. In response to my query of whether a day's rest would be enough, the unequivocal retort was that it can take up to a year to heal fully.

 

One half of the couple I was staying with that night happened to work in Taunton and so came and picked me up. I had met Jon and Helen a couple of weeks earlier when attending Ken Roberts's inaugural talk on his cycling trip round the world.

 

The following day, Friday, it so happened that Jon had planned to go to Glastonbury, which is where I was able to meet up with my daughter and boyfriend to bring me home.

As I found on my cycling trip, so also here: something always seems to turn up and everything tends to work out well.

 

So, there you have it: my attempt at walking to Santiago.

 

However. It was great prep for next time, when I shall do things a little differently (less baggage and a little bit of walking prior to setting off - always my intention for this time!).

In the meantime, not only is my book selling well, but I am also receiving positively encouraging comments from those reading it.

 

Life is good.

*       *       *       *       *

 

28 August

 

Ooops. Rather a gap since my last journal entry, shortly after return home from my aborted walking trip. It was thought I had plantar fasciitis, which could take up to a year to heal properly. But, in the end, it must have been something lesser because I was completely healed after 3 weeks. But too late to resume my trip.

 

It turned out to be a positive, as, having left only 2 weeks after publication of my book, it wasn't exactly the best time and so I have since had the opportunity to process orders and market it to some degree. As a result, as well as available to buy in my local church, village shop, Thornbury bookshop and the Cribbs Causeway branch of Waterstones (who have  replenished their shelves with extra books, having sold out of the initial stock), it can also be bought from Thornbury Baptist, Carmel Christian Bookshop and Bath Abbey Shop.

 

Online orders have begun to increase, and from people I don't know; so that's always encouraging.

 

 

The Bristol Evening Post did an article on me a couple of weeks ago and I was asked by Wanderlust travel magazine to contribute to a feature article on cycling trips for beginners in their October issue. I've sent a copy of my book to Dervla Murphy, in response to her saying that she would be happy 'to give it a shot' at reviewing it.

As for talks, I have made myself available to give them between October to March (enabling me to go off and do other things during the other 6 months). I'm glad to say that they include a few public engagements in libraries in South Gloucestershire:

  • 28 September 7pm Yate Library
  • 30 October 8pm Emersons Green Library
  • 22 November 7pm Bradley Stoke Library
  • 20 March 2013 7.30pm Thornbury Library

Over the past few weeks, I have had the pleasure of a couple of Warm Showers guests: Jill, a sprightly 74-year old New Zealander, cycling in UK and Ireland for 3 months, and Adrien, a 30-year old French guy cycling for 10 days from Portsmouth to Bristol to London, taking in the Olympics along the way, back to Portsmouth and home. Jill, in particular, was having quite a tough time coping with the incessant rain throughout this early part of her trip. Hopefully, it has improved. She kindly bought my book; even more so, recommended me to Wanderlust magazine and Dervla Murphy (hence the resultant activities already mentioned).

 

 

I also made a flying visit to Munich, meeting up with Krista, one of my fellow passengers from the Pacific crossing on the freighter ship. On an open-top sightseeing tour of the city we stopped off at the magnificent Nymphenburg Palace.

In the meantime, I am in Cyprus for 5 weeks, spending time with my father. There is no rain here whatsoever; but it is incredibly hot and humid, reminiscent of my 6-weeks' convalescence 4 years ago during my trip. It means I am obliged to dip into the pool several times a day, and periodically even forced to take a trip along the beautiful Akamas coast to swim in the clear, blue Mediterranean Sea (and be towed out of the soft sand by a bunch of helpful Cypriots). It's a hard life.

In the meantime, I am in Cyprus for 5 weeks, spending time with my father. There is no rain here whatsoever; but it is incredibly hot and humid, reminiscent of my 6-weeks' convalescence 4 years ago during my trip. It means I am obliged to dip into the pool several times a day, and periodically even forced to take a trip along the beautiful Akamas coast to swim in the clear, blue Mediterranean Sea (and be towed out of the soft sand by a bunch of helpful Cypriots). It's a hard life.

*       *       *       *       *

 

26 October

 

So, back now from sizzling Cyprus to home sweet home - and the familiar drab, damp days of our English climate. (But doesn't it make you appreciate the sun when it does put its hat on.) :-)

 

My father is now ensconced in a local home, but is always keen to get out for, ostensibly, a breath of fresh air . . .

. . . .  although, generally, there seems to be some sort of ulterior motive . . .

 

At the end of October, I resumed giving talks about my trip (which I do between October and March; leaving me free of commitments to do other things between April and September). Besides invitations from organisations, I am also giving some public presentations in local libraries:

  • 30 October 8pm Emersons Green Library
  • 22 November 7pm Bradley Stoke Library
  • 20 March 2013 7.30pm Thornbury Library

as well as at a Christian bookshop in Salisbury:

organised by an enthusiastic friend who is very keen to promote my book. What an angel. :-)

Recently, I found myself at Wembley  . . .

not as a football fan, though, but along with 40,000 God fans for the National Day of Prayer . . .

. . . with music                                                . . . worship . . .

. . .  and prayer for healing throughout the land . .

 

As any fan knows, when those with a common purpose come together, the atmosphere is electrifying and uplifting, especially when you all sing together at the top of your voice and join as one in a Mexican wave surging round and round the whole stadium. In tandem with the event was a worldwide call to all Christians to be part of an ongoing, daily, noonday praying of The Lord's Prayer, wherever you are at the time. And it works for me: having set a reminder on my ipod, I invariably say this prayer every day at (or near) noon - helping me to re-focus my day.

But I still don't yet know where my life will take me next. It's just one long, drawn-out surprise! I'm sure God is having a little smile to himself, knowing how much I want to take off the blindfold, yet continuing to let him nudge me gently forward. But isn't that what walking by faith sometimes involves? Is it exciting? Calming? Or just downright scary? To be honest, I oscillate between all - and more - of these emotions! But, as I realised on my trip, something always turns up, eventually - and as long as I have an open mind and a testing spirit to whatever does come my way.
 

Whilst out cycling the other day, along Cycling Route 4, I ended up on the Severn estuary . . .

 

 

 

 

 

. . . and spotted these guys . . .

 

 

 

. . . spending an arduous day watching short-eared owls.

 

 

Sales of Cycling Full Circle are going pretty well and it's a boost to have the book available now at my talks. I am even wondering what to do about further copies, as my original stock is getting pretty low. Trouble is, as every self-publishing author knows, the upfront cost to have them in stock is fairly prohibitive. It may be that the compromise is that I can take pleasure in having produced a first run of a reasonably good-looking, quality product  (well, I think it is :-) ), but that, subsequently, I shall have to accept something less so, by publishing on demand (as far as I understand, it is still not freely available to include colour pages - correct me if I'm wrong).

It is also time now to set about producing e-book versions. I didn't want to do that too soon, in case I was left with a stock of redundant hard copies. It's all a matter of timing. But before I can do any of the above, I need to amend the typos I keep spotting when reading to my father. :-(

In the meantime, you might care to check out the likes of WHSmith or other well-stocked newsagents, specifically their magazine Travel section; there to flick through the pages of Wanderlust - until you come to page 111. :-) (Clue below.)

 

*       *       *       *       *

 

7 December

 

 

We are now in the season of Advent, the coming of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus. And for some reason the words of a long-forgotten Christmas nursery rhyme came to mind:

 

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat,

So let's put a penny in the old man's hat.

If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do;

If you haven't got a ha'penny,

Then God bless you.

 

The simplicity of the words made me stop and think. And I had a few moments of really appreciating what I have in life, before then bringing to mind people I had met on my trip, particularly those in Egypt, Israel and Syria, who would now be living in such different circumstances from when I was there four years ago. And although what I might 'put in the old man's hat' is no more than a 'ha'penny', I can also pray for them to receive blessings in the midst of their difficult situations.

 

At the end of November I celebrated my birthday, for which I receved a whole array of gorgeous cards (some even with a bicycle theme), including a beautiful handmade one from daughter. Amongst presents were a TomTom (I finally succmbed to including it on my wishlist; life's too short to keep getting so lost!) and a food processor and liquidiser (to be able to easily prepare a continuous supply of healthy smoothies and warming winter soups). Also, a book entitled: '50 Places to Bike Before You Die'.

 

In my book, at the very beginning, I attempt to describe the morning scene after camping in friends' garden on the first night of my trip. Recently, I stayed with them again (this time indoors), awaking to the same scene. I decided a photo of it might be more expressive than my description:

 

 

*       *       *       *       *

 

31 December

 

Christmas has now come and gone ....

 

.... another year flown past.

 

And what a brilliant year it's been for so many people, not least the Queen in her Diamond Jubilee Year, as well as the various sports events that have demonstrated such success.

 

And I have to say that I am rather pleased with my own mini success with my book. Sales have been so good that I am preparing to do a reprint by the end of January. Readers' responses continue to be unanimously positive, which is a huge encouragement for this first-time amateur author.

 

Currently, I am spending New Year on the west coast of Scotland, in a caravan with my elder brother and a friend and her baby. Although the weather has been incredibly wet, there have been timely breaks between the downpours to enjoy some wonderful walking....

... visits to Tobermory ....


encounters with local wildlife .....

and with local locals ...

 

It remains only for me to wish you a Very Happy New Year

and joyful blessings for 2013.
 

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