Hello out there,
It’s about time I update this blog, eh?! After almost 13 days of cycling and 3 days of “rest” (not cycling (so much)) in Lincolnshire at an amazing forest garden/smallholding and spending two days discovering the green sides of London with my Canadian cousin Andrew, I have finally arrived in Dover!
After leaving my dear friends (artists, eco-warriors and -architects, bike mechanics, activists,…) in Montorose/Tangleha’ (14th June), Dundee/Newport and Edinburgh (17th June) and braving the rain, wind, hills and muddy National Cycle Route, I cycled on to unknown places: Berwick-upon-Tweed, where I met a lovely couple who offered me a bed, shower and breakfast (I had intended to work for food at a particular organic farm, but the sun was about to set so I just knocked on a random door next to a sign that read “free range organic eggs” to ask if I could sleep in a shed/barn in exchange for some work in the morning – I was so exhausted from all those hills, that I didn’t have the energy to pitch my tent)… The next day I left my new friends (Sue and George) and went to sing for a guitar string in a music shop (I had offered to clean the toilet/mop the floor or do any other work that needed doing). I also bumped into an old man – Max – who was still really fit (he used to do a lot of mountaineering and sleep under the stars) – we had a really good conversation about free spirits and ancient religions – he gave me a tiger’s eye (a special stone which is supposed to bring “clear thinking and insight” – I could definitely do with a bit of that ;) Back on the cycle route, I was feeling a bit lonely and thought it would be nice to have a travel companion – and tada, my request was heard and I bumped into a Latvian cyclist who was also heading to Newcastle! We only made it to Bamburgh (19th June), where we camped in the dunes and cooked some surprisingly tasty nettle & lentil soup on the fire.
The next morning I went for a swim in the sea and realised that I missed Tangleha’ and the lovely community of people living there… Where do we belong? Why are we born in a certain place? Are we meant to live there? Where is home? Maybe it’s more about the inside… maybe it’s possible to feel at home anywhere in the world…
Half-way to Newcastle my new friend Alex (in the picture above) decided to leave me (I guess I shouldn’t have planned such a long-distance cycle journey with a heavily loaded bike… I am quite slow, especially up the hills :). Since I don’t have any detailed maps I had to stop to ask for the way – I saw a vegan restaurant where I suspected helpful people – and was greeted by a friendly pirate and a generous woman who not only pointed me in the right direction but gave me another (raw vegan) energy bar (yum!) and some carrot juice :) In Newcastle (20th June) I stayed with Yassen, a really nice couchsurfer from Bulgaria who also happened to be into renewables and growing food – he made me reconsider my decision to leave renewables behind in order to get into organic agriculture/permaculture…
On Thursday my plan was to cycle to Thirsk but I only made it to Hetton le Hole (21st June), near Chester le Street – it was a very miserable day of wind and rain. I knocked on a door to ask if I was on the right track and was invited in for dinner… a shower and a bed – again by a retired couple (Norma and David) who had a very interesting background – we had a good conversation about cultural diversity and education… I’ve met such kind and generous people on my way :)
On Friday night I arrived in Thirsk (22nd June), after cycling along the A19 – quite a busy dual carriage way – uaaaah… luckily there was a hard shoulder and I always wear my helmet and high-vis vest. On the way I stopped at a café (just to use the facilities) but somehow my helmet led to a conversation and the two lovely ladies working there (Amanda and… another sweetheart – I’m so bad with names) offered me a bun and some tea (and sent me away with some nutritious energy bars :) I was so exhausted from the wind and rain that I asked at a riding school if I could sleep in a stable. Again I was asked inside for a cup of tea and then slept comfortably (on a concrete floor – I had found a jacket (which looked brand new and happened to be my size!) on the side of the road)) next to a horse and a little ‘tiger’.
The next day I finally made it to Hull, well Beverley (23rd June), a lovely little town with a lot of historic buildings where I stayed with a couple (Paula and John) who had offered me a couch to sleep on. We made some tasty vegan freegan nettle and potato soup and the two showed me around the old town and even treated me to some local organic beer and we had some philosophical conversations about home and the world :) Couchsurfing is such a great way to meet people!
On Sunday I cycled across the Humber Bridge and into Lincolnshire where I showed up on a rather surprised couple’s doorstep in Hagworthingham near Horncastle (24th June) – I really should have announced myself! I asked if I could camp but they kindly offered me a bed. The next day Deano (unfortunately his wife Beverley had to work) showed me around his permaculture project which gave me a whole new perspective – he has created swales in his forest garden (which has various types of bamboo, eucalyptus, willows, fruit and nut trees), experiments with perennial grains and is establishing a sort of glade which will have a thick leaf litter for chickens to forage in (to minimise (protein) imports)). Deano also has 13 bee hives which take up quite a lot of his time. Then I got to get my hands dirty too and help out on the smallholding.
After my day of “rest” I set off with a delicious loaf of home-baked banana bread, some very special honey and some fresh ideas to cycle to my next couchsurfing hosts in Peterborough (26th June) – Christina (from Sweden), her husband Peter and their younger son Edward. Christina made an amazing vegan curry and we all had dinner together with another guest from Sweden.