Monday, 25 August 2008
Yesterday, I cycled across Ashdown Forest and stayed at Blackboys YHA. I'm told that the name comes from the charcoal made in the local forests. The youth hostel was friendly and well equipped - mostly families staying on the August Bank Holiday so it was easy for me to book a single room. I normally end up sharing in a dorm, so getting my own key is a bit of a novelty.
It's one of the new franchised YHA hostels also now called "The Glade", and the warden has managed to make it very relaxed. It's a timber building stuck right in the middle of a wood miles from the main road and it's very peaceful. If you don't fancy self catering (or if you haven't got enough sausages for a barbeque) then its only a short walk to the nearest pub for a bite to eat with a lovely pint of Harvey's Best.
Cycling there from Lewisham was a bit of a battle. A headwind and a hangover didn't do much to lift my spirits, but once I got into Kent, the weather improved and a big lunch sorted out my hangover. After a huge mug of coffee in the garden of the house at pooh corner I was feeling normal again and ready to hit the Downs for some fabulous views and really great cycling.
Cycling back today made the round trip a total of 140km with the Weald and the Downs offering plenty of hills. With brighter weather and a good tailwind I managed to get back home with a well deserved takeaway roast chicken in my pannier for lunch.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
We sat in the tent all night drinking beer and listening to the thunder and the torrential rain on the tent.
The next day the sun came out and we listened to the wheat cracking in the field.
Its a bit quieter in Lewisham - no wheat fields.
Friday, 27 June 2008
When we arrived in Kirk Yetholm on Sunday it was two years and over 20 days of walking since we started the Pennine Way at Edale in 2006
We stayed in Youth Hostels and B&Bs along the way and saw some of the most spectacular scenery that the country has to offer. Particular highlights for me were High Cup, Cauldron Snout, Kinder Scout, Kielder Forest - and the hundreds of skylarks hovering and singing even on the wettest and windiest of days.
But the best part of all the Pennine Way is the people who walk and work along the way. Day walkers, end-to-enders, farmers, shepherds, landladies, landlords, hostel wardens, builders, pub locals, visitors and tourists.
I'd love to walk it again - perhaps going end to end in one go next time, but maybe getting someone else to organise the travel and accommodation and possibly to carry my bag for me too.
Maybe next time
Saturday, 31 May 2008
I was lucky with the weather. Mostly warm and sunny, but a bit chilly at night - especially in the tent. I'm glad I packed my longjohns and a woolly hat in amongst my 20 kilograms of luggage.
When I wasn't in the tent, I stayed in youth hostels like this one at Chatham. Youth hostels these days are really comfortable places to stay - no curfews or chores, plenty of decent grub and warm comfy beds.
Beer in Medway could do with improvement. Shepherd Neame brewery is just a few kilometers away in Faversham, but they seem to opt for bland lagers and cloudy pints of (normally clear) London Pride
Because I didn't plan the exact route before I left, I often ended up on signposted cycle paths through fields and woodlands -including the Forest Way, Worth Way, Crab & Winkle Way, Pilgrims Way and the Cuckoo Trail
I hadn't realised just how much easy cycling there was - much of it thanks to Dr Beeching
One of the great things that I found about cycling on a longer tour was seeing things from a completely different perspective. Normally, I use the bike to commute through South London - rushing around, avoiding cars and motorbikes, competing for space on the roads. Outside the M25, daytime cycling on quiet country lanes and cycle paths gave me lots of time and space to think and reflect.
It might have been different if the weather had been miserable, but as it was I would recommend touring to any keen cyclist. I'm already dreaming of the next tour
Sunday, 2 March 2008
The International Brigade - A small memorial sculpture by Ian Walters in the shadow of the 'london eye' dedicated to those who made their way to Spain fight against Franco in the civil war
"IN HONOUR OF OVER 2100 MEN AND WOMEN VOLUNTEERS WHO LEFT THESE SHORES TO FIGHT SIDE BY SIDE WITH THE SPANISH PEOPLE IN THEIR HEROIC STRUGGLE AGAINST FASCISM 1936—1939 MANY WERE WOUNDED AND MAIMED 526 WERE KILLED THEIR EXAMPLE INSPIRED THE WORLD"
Saturday, 1 March 2008
Sunday, 24 February 2008
Dungeness is a fabulous, bleak place even on the sunniest of days. It's all shingle beach and power station. and this strange construction.
I'm back to work tomorrow - long weekends are too short.
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
This bearded lady stall just appeared on the heath this evening. There was nothing else around other than a few empty coffee cups. I couldn't find the bearded lady anywhere.
Wednesday, 13 February 2008
"Plans for the new railway development and sensitive restoration of the Grade II listed Victorian carriage ramp at Deptford Railway Station will begin with the interim use of the empty site as home to a highly decorative & superbly glammed up graffiti art 57 seater railway carriage. The 35 tonne South East train carriage will be making its way from Essex on Thursday evening as it edges slowly towards Deptford at a painstaking 2 miles per hour down the A11 and into Deptford High Street. It aims to reach its final destination around 9pm. Challenges will include clearing Deptford rail bridge with a tricky 2 inch gap to spare as it gingerly makes its way to its new home beside the railway station.
"The carriage will act as a central point cafe & funky bistro which will act as a headquarters around which a weekend market will take place (to be launched in mid April). Locals and visitors will be invited to come shop, eat and check out the artistic carriage and information point as they discover exciting plans ahead for this heart of Deptford. A revitalised area which will be creative, inspiring and great place to work, live and play. Interim plans will include the market which compliments Deptford's existing traditional market with additional arts, crafts, fashion and food as well as plans for through the year film, music and festival events... "
Sunday, 20 January 2008
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
Sunday, 7 October 2007
Saturday, 6 October 2007
Barcelona is fascinating!
There is everything from the sublime cathedrals to the ridiculous scams that people fall for on the Rambla.
Then back to London and within days I'm bunged up and sneezing. Yeuch