:-) Happy New Year! :-)
I wish you all
a sparkly, exciting, surprising, illuminating, creative
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Well, I hadn't quite expected to have contracted my journal to a 6-monthly update, but that's how it seems to have worked out, for the first half of this year at any rate.
I'm delighted that my book continues to sell, especially as I've not been actively promoting it except at talks. I've recently had another reprint run, so have plenty in stock. :-) I've just replenished supplies in Waterstones at Cribbs Causeway (in Bristol, for those outside of UK), who continue to be great at promoting it, by placing it face out on the bookshelf and, for the last few weeks, displayed on a table with other travel books. :-) As for e-book sales: Kindle definitely have the absolute, total, sweeping monopoly, at least in my experience, with probably only about 5% sales being non-Kindle, such as Kobo (which is what I have).
The pic of me (above) used by the NWR reminds me of the cycling companion I was with at the time, Nicole, with whom I travelled partway across the bottom of the States. Since we met and travelled together, she now leads trips for Adventure Cycling and organises women's cycling trips in the USA, through TWT (Two Wheel Travelers).
I am more than halfway through my training year to become a Licensed Lay Minister (one reason for lack of journal updates) and am just now starting a month's placement at a different parish as part of it. Recently, I've been let loose in my own church to preach for the first time at the All Age service. It was a pretty scary experience, I have to say, but we all survived. :-)
Besides speaking about my cycling trip, I have also given talks on my trip to Uganda last October. Resulting from this trip, the Bristol West Deanery group of the Bristol-Uganda link will be welcoming a group of Ugandans visiting here in September. It'll be an opportunity for us to share our hospitality with them, just as we received such generous welcomes from the many communities we visited.
This month, two years ago, I set off from home to walk to Santiago dy Compostela. I lasted 4 days before an incredibly painful foot forced me to abandon it - or, that is to say, postpone it. Well, I've thought that I should try and continue it; so in July, I plan to pick up from where I left off and head towards Plymouth. The main lesson I have learned from that first leg is to drastically lighten my pack load; no wonder my foot rebelled!
On that note, then, Buen Camino
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So much for resuming my walk to Santiago. A couple of weeks before due to set off I did some very short walks (and I mean short - 4 miles, 2 miles) and my foot complained. And that was without any baggage. As there was no point in starting with a painful foot, I decided instead to cycle the route. I took the train from Bristol Parkway to Taunton, from where I started off following Cycle route 3. I bivvy-camped at a campsite in Greenham; the first time I've done this, except for once in my back garden 2 years ago and a second time in the Vicarage garden, possibly last year, on a church camping sleepover.
I made a small tarp cover using my cycling cape and 4 guy ropes, using fixing points on a tree, a post and 2 on my bike. I'm very glad I did this, as, at 4.50am, after much thunder and lightning, it began to rain. 'This should be interesting', I thought, as I lay under my little cape tarp. However, it wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated. The rain stayed off my face and, when, an hour later, it really began to pour down torrentially, I put up my little umbrella for added protection; and so lay there until it had definitely stopped.
When I finally got up, my neighbouring tenters invited me for coffee and a chat before packing up and carrying on my way. The forecast for the afternoon was more heavy rain, which prompted me to wimp out of the second night camping, in favour of a guest house in Tiverton, where the friendly owners allowed my bike inside for safety and provided me with a clothes horse to dry all my damp camping gear and clothes.
The next day, I met a cycling couple, David and Anne (who later ordered a copy of my book). David knew who I was, possibly from an article in CTC magazine last year!
David was on an electric bike, having had a heart attack 5 months previously. But a couple of days later, I heard he had been given the all clear by the consultant and was able to mothball the electric bike for his regular one.
The following night, I stopped at a fishing site, with half a thought to camp there, but decided it was just too basic and so carried on a long way further, up and down the Devon hills - they're very steep, aren't they! - to a rather more substantial campsite, Springfield Holiday Park. It's a beautifully maintained place (highly recommended - and not just for its underfloor heating in the washrooms) and I received such a warm welcome from Judy, as well as a discount - 'well, I can't possibly charge you a pitch fee when you have come on a bike and only have a bivvy bag!'.
I had thought to wildcamp at least one night, but chickened out in the end; there was nowhere I felt comfortable enough to pitch camp on my own.
So, for my last night, I reluctantly came off the lovely cycle route, descended steeply to a campsite and paid a ridiculously high fee for the privilege of basic facilities. But there were some friendly people on site, including a chap who offered me a mug of tea the following morning, accompanied by toast, which, once presented to me, left me sitting comfortably in a chair on his pitch, whilst he went off with his little dog for their morning walk.
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Our wonderful summer. :-)
Warmshowers guests, Ben and Carmen, stop over for a night on their way to Wales and possibly Ireland. Later on in the year, they plan to resume their trip through Europe.
My brothers, nephew and I had a few days in Scotland, which included various activities such as kayaking, sailing over to Tobermory, walking the hilly moors and sitting up on the Lookout, overlooking the Sound of Mull; all activities our father had enjoyed during the 25 years or so we have been coming up here.
This all culminated in a rather a moving little ceremony to scatter our father's ashes on the water, followed by a bbq, again a regular event, albeit in the pouring rain (but at least there were no midges) and fixing a small brass name plaque onto the Lookout seat.
We thought he would have approved of the whole thing. :-)
An adjunct to my cycling trip is a continuing friendship with one of my fellow passengers from the Pacific Ocean freighter ship. Krista was on a slow trip back to the States, having just retired; her starting point being Japan, where she'd been working for many years. She came through Asia, Turkey and London, where we met up for a couple of days, before she went on to Canada, then USA.
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The Tour of Britain came through the sleepy hamlet of Iron Acton, which seemed the ideal place to view it without having to compete with jostling crowds. After a very pleasant cycle along a short, but picturesque stretch of Route 410, I arrived at a small triangle of grass on a bend and comfortably ensconced myself strategically amidst a few other easygoing enthusiasts.
During the hour and a half or so before the cyclists came by, there were many false moments of 'are they near?', 'are they here?', 'is this them?'; before, finally, the split-second moment came for a one-chance picture with my slooooow digital camera. We thought the bend might have slowed them down a tad - but, no chance. I managed to miss the first 2 or 3 cyclists (probably Bradley W amongst them), both with my camera and by direct vision. Even so, the atmosphere was great, and it was just brilliant that the route made it so easy to have a taste of the event.