6 January 2008
It is a mere four months before I set off on my trip. And there is still soooo much to do beforehand. Am I bovvered? You bet I am! Reflected in the fact that I am not sleeping well at the moment. Help! Oh well, Maafi mushkala (Arabic for 'never mind').
Therefore, let me not lose sight of why I am doing this. Yes, I am terrifyingly daunted at all there is still to do, but I am also incredibly excited about my imminent departure. The trip is going to be fantastic; in so many ways: physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually. So, which of these allies will be my closest companion?
I am gently exercising again after an op a couple of months ago; I need to build up to some kind of fitness level to make my trip, from the outset, not too much of a slog. I know from my pre-trips the difference between being reasonably fit (Scotland 06) and pretty unfit (Brittany 07) as to how it affects my enjoyment. So, a good incentive to make sure of a reasonable start; cos I'm really not nice to know when I'm grumpy. Just as well I'm travelling on my own, I say.
21 January 2008
It is 2 weeks since my last journal entry; which is probably what I envisage will be the pattern of my journal updates once I set off. Oh, golly, what to include in these missives? I should like to be descriptive and salient, but not rambling and boring; it's quite a fine balance, you know. So, here goes.
I have been trying to concentrate on the practicals, rather than the endless listicals! Anybody can make lists; the important thing is to turn them into something resembling action.
I commented to someone recently that my current activities were the tortoise of the story and that my up and coming departure date was the hare; but that I couldn't currently envisage the tortoise crossing the finishing line ahead of the hare.
I have been SO encouraged and delighted at the comments about this website and about my trip. Some people have even said they can't wait for me to leave! Apparently, though, in the nicest possible sense. :-) Suffice to say , therefore, that I have continued to surf the net for lots of lovely information, to update this site (eg. My Background); to find out a bit more about visas and country situations; almost to decide on what camping stove to take with me; what sleeping bag to buy (do you know there are women-specific ones these days?); and which style of sandals to order (colour is very important: my co-ordinating wardrobe is pink and blue; I have yet to buy a pink helmet and cycling gloves).
At the end of this week I am going away with my church on a parish weekend to Lee Abbey in Devon (at least, I think that's where it is).
Part of my cycle trip is centred around the spiritual; I almost set up a separate page devoted to this aspect of my adventure, but I thought this was maybe a little pretentious and it would be better if I saw how things panned out. It seems the perfect opportunity, therefore, to set the wheels in motion as to how this might develop for me and to use this opportunity to set time aside with God, so that I might grasp an inkling of what he might have in store for me. Am I naive, or what?!
Anyway, enough for now, cos I am in danger of becoming boring. What's that old showbiz adage: always leave them wanting more?
2 February 2008
A week ago saw me on our parish weekend away to Lee Abbey, north Devon (beyond Lynton and Valley of the Rocks); a beautifully restful and contemplative part of the country. One thing we did over the weekend was to watch a few modern film clips to illustrate points, thereby emulating Jesus' use of contemporary, familiar events when telling parables. Walking in the grounds of Lee Abbey were, in themselves, a spiritual uplift, aided and abetted by the clear skies and the sun, a warm welcome in the cold winter wind. On the first night, I met and made a lovely contact in Kathmandu, for when I pass through there in about March next year.
My latest book acquisition came through the post a couple of days ago: Why don't you fly? by Christopher J.A.Smith. Apart from the account of the cycle trip itself, which should give me useful information, I like his writing style, creatively descriptive and observant. His website looks good too; there are no pictures in his book and so he has the bright idea of directing the reader to the website for the pictorial record of his trip.
Well, now, the end of this week sees me collecting my new bike! Oh, what excitement awaits! A Thorn Raven Tour. And I shall transplant my Brooks saddle and bar-ends to the new bike. I have decided to have a wicker basket on the front handlebars in which to carry a small backpack and use the handle of the basket to attach a map holder. I hope this is the right choice; it's just that my bar bag feels bulky and certainly has an uncomfortable strap and so it's not great when being carried.
I have been looking at mobile phones; quite an array, isn't there? Some advice given, though, has narrowed it down considerably: that the screen should not be permanently exposed, cos then it's too prone to damage. Any proven suggestions, then for a robust, reliable, tri-band, long battery-life, simple phone would be welcome.
Thanks for all the prayer support I am, and shall be, receiving throughout my trip. Many people have expressed concern for my safety, for which I am deeply touched. Just to say, I do not consider myself a brave person; I am no pioneer; I am going on this trip encouraged by the experiences of those who have gone before. I know it is something I have to do; and I know God is coming with me.
So then, God bless us, one and all.
6 February 2008
The countdown has begun: 3 months today/12 weeks yesterday until The Off.
The impact of the realisation that I shall not be seeing family, friends, colleagues for 2 years is beginning to dawn on me. Especially my children; my son is quite happy about me going; my daughter is quite the opposite. I understand from where she is coming and, if she were embarking on such a trip, I'd be worrying too. I need somehow to reassure her that I am doing the right thing.
I have been persuaded to have 'a bit of a do' before departing. So, lunchtime on Saturday 26 April I have a local hall booked for anyone interested in seeing a map, my bike and me, as well as there being a bit of a shindig. All welcome. :-)
11 February 2008
I am the proud owner of a brand new bike! :-)
So, as well as my Ortlieb rear panniers (50th birthday present from my elder brother), I now also possess matching front panniers. I've never had front ones before; they seem fine. In fact, I'd say steering seemed more stable with them. I have ordered a basket for the front handlebars, in which to put a daypack for easily accessible stuff. It will also be more comfortable than a handlebar bag to carry around when not on the bike.
I love the Rohloff gears: smooth, easy action, uni-lateral grip-shift; and able to change gears whilst stationary! So, no more stopping in the wrong gear (at junctions, halfway up a hill!) and having to struggle out of the starting blocks as though going through thick mud, or having to walk up the rest of the hill! I was even able to go up a hill with gears to spare, whereas before I was struggling in the lowest gear. And this at my current level 1 fitness!
Very important: my bike is blue; thus matching my panniers. A truly co-ordinated look. Crucial, eh, ladies?!
25 February 2008
Doesn't time pass swiftly? Already two weeks since my last entry.
I have been out on my bike just a few times. I'd like to be cycling more, but there is such a great deal to do! I have bought a few more things on my list: sleeping bag, stove and cooking pan set. I have sent away for my bumper passport, at its bumper price (I still had 6 years on the current one, but it would not have had enough pages for all my stamps). I am still awaiting arrival of a pair of sandals on order from a shop since 4 January! At the behest of my daughter I am investigating the practicalities of GPS, cos I'm particularly good at taking wrong turnings (the French police were extraordinarily patient with me last summer when I was trying to convince them I couldn't possibly be on the hard shoulder of a motorway!). I'm also checking out sunglasses.
10 March 2008
Eight weeks! Pause, please, whilst I have a quick panic attack. ....... Ooh, that's better.
I now have added to my equipment pile: stove, down sleeping bag, sandals (at last, and just 2 months after first ordering!). I have loads of things still to buy; and becoming slightly concerned that I shall not have enough room for them all. :-(
I have also ordered a solar-powered mobile charger; and am negotiating a handlebar-mounted wind turbine charger - I really fancy the idea of that. And a friend is possibly negotiating some satnav (cos I am very good at becoming lost). And, hey, if there is the technology, I'm not proud; but I do enjoy looking at maps, too, even if I might not know precisely where I am in relation to anywhere on it. :-)
8 April 2008
I woke up this morning, and what came to mind?
The thought that, in 4 weeks,
I'd start to unwind
From all the busyness my plans have entailed.
The first time for ages
This notion's prevailed:
I feel so excited to know, when I probe,
I'm going off cycling full circle
(Oooh, yes, isn't it cringe-worthy. I'll try not to include too many of those over the next couple of years.)
I have to pinch myself to think that it is really only 4 weeks to D day. And I have only just now allowed myself to become excited at the prospect of my trip. Up 'til now, I have become a bit bogged down by the thought of all the 'things to do': work, the house, finances. But, also, I hate saying goodbyes and that is going to be tough, especially to my beloved family.
Anyway, this is my new bike. :-) As you can see, the all important, co-ordinated look.
15 April 2008
3 weeks and counting. And the farewells have begun, including a wonderful bbq lunch at the weekend, complete with the gift of a T shirt, printed with the donor signatures and a request on the back: 'If lost, please return to Almondsbury'. I have also been given some notebooks and pens for all my jottings.
I had a puncture recently, which slightly shocked me; cos they are new tyres, kevlar-lined, which is, I thought, meant to make them pretty puncture-resilient. Haha, I had taken my solar charger with me and was trying to charge my phone. For some reason, this didn't work; I couldn't find the puncture; and, in the end, I had to accept the offer of the use of a stranger's mobile to call my son to bring my car to pick my bike and me up and take us home! I then mended the puncture at leisure. See, there's good in everything, cos I have now learnt how to take off the back wheel properly. :-)
BTW, the reason why the charger wasn't working properly was because I had not taken off the protective film from the solar panels. Ooops.
20 April 2008
I finished work on 16 April and was given a lovely send-off, as well as being presented with a first-aid kit, loads of blister pads, a dose of Savlon, mini, fast-drying towels and a voucher. I, in turn, presented them with a long list of things to keep them busy whilst I am away. ;-)
My own to do list is as long as your arm; and things are only slowly being ticked off. Trouble is, even with the strongest will in the world, it seems nigh impossible to keep to any strict discipline. After all, what is most important at the moment: plans or people? How can I say 'no' to a whole day with my son, looking for kitchen tiles, when a) we need to get them anyway, and b) I'm possibly not going to be seeing either of my children for 2 years, and so every moment with them is precious.
I ordered a roll-up solar panel today: to augment my other solar charger, but also because it comes complete with 'car cigarette-lighter' connection; this so that I can plug in my travel charger for my camera battery.
The handlebar wind turbine charger I have tried ordering, is not yet in stock. Whether it will come in before I leave, is debatable. Shame. Maybe I can have it forwarded to an address in France for me to pick up as I pass through. It would be fun to be able to try it.
I've just included a mention on this site of my second charity, Deaf Studies Trust, to which I should like to offer my support and encouragement. I've mentioned why on the Charity page.
22 April 2008
Two weeks; Fourteen days. Which of the two sounds as though there is still enough time to do everything in time for the off? I feel a bit like a headless chicken, really not knowing which way to turn or what to do next. I am also in danger of talking myself into not being able to do it all. So, change of attitude is in order. :-)
I've been going out at 7 each morning to do a (very) small cycling circuit, which includes a long hill for the last part. This is all I have time for, but the daily regularity even of this exercise will give me a better start than if I had done nothing. And the sun is shining; always helpful.