Ireland and its changing weather

It has been a while again since we wrote the last blog. We are not at all up to date, nevertheless we keep on updating! To memorise our stories for ourselves and for you, the ones that are interested in reading them.

In the last blog post we crossed the unspectacular border between the UK and Ireland. As we entered a new country, wild camping was suddenly something exciting again. While it is legally not allowed in Ireland to wild camp, we were more careful compared to wild & free Scotland – where we pitched up our tent anywhere. Donegal, the most Northern province of Ireland, showed us beautiful coastal landscapes. And as the first night arrived, we found a beautiful camp spot at the beach. As we were not so confident yet, we knocked on the door of the closest house… read the description of the Instagram post below to find out what happened!

Cycling in Ireland was different compared to the UK in many aspects, we found out in the first few days. There were not many supermarkets around, the ones existing were part of gas stations. So, we often found ourselves ‘shopping’ at a gas station. The good thing was, they sold ‘soda bread’ in 99% of the cases. And this bread was much better compared to the ‘toast’ which is sold in the UK.

Another thing we found, was the extreme STEEP hills in Ireland. The UK was easy peasy compared to this. Scotland might have been higher, but the slopes were very reasonable. Ireland was something else. Especially in the province Sligo, we fought ourselves up the mountains every 30 minutes. Because yes, it was up-down-up-down-up-down-up-… all day long! The legs did certainly hurt, and yes; we did complain sometimes. But luckily the first few rainy days were over. And look at the views… (see post below). Worth it!

In the UK with had many conversations every day. This seemed to be different in Ireland. That in combination with the amount inaccessible farm fields made it hard to find a spot to wild camp sometimes. But we learned, once you ask people for help, they often do help you! So, we camped in people their garden / farm fields a few times in the province Sligo. And another day; when we were preparing a coffee on a huge beach, a couple came to us. A tall man and a woman. The man came closer and was obviously Dutch, as he saw Chloé her NL froggi&co number plate, he started talking to us. 1.5 hours later we arrived at their house by bike, a small detour from our initial route, but what a great evening together. They cooked delicious food for us, offered us a bed and as we were both a ‘mixed culture couple’ we had lots to talk about. The next morning, we left with ‘stroopwafels’ and ‘hagelslag’ in our bike bags!

After a few days of sunny weather, a storm arrived in Ireland. It was the beginning of August 2022 and most of Europe was dealing with an extreme heatwave. Except us. Day number 90, the 1st of August, we woke up in our tent close to an old Abbey (see last photos of the post below) at 6 a clock in the morning. The alarm was set early because we knew the weather would be bad. After checking many weather apps, we decided to book a hostel. As Ireland is not densely populated and we did not want to spend too much money, we booked a hostel with good reviews 75 kilometres away.

The day started with lots of wind. But we managed to arrive at ‘Down Patrick’s Head’ before lunch. It was amazing, the cliffs, the rocks, the windy atmosphere, and the moss which looked like little green pillows. After this highlight, the weather got worse and worse. It started raining, we luckily could eat our lunch in a museum we passed. Once we left again, it was still raining, and the wind was stronger. But as we cycled many kilometres in the morning, there were ‘only’ 25 kilometres left. So, stupid as we were, we continued without rain pants. Because as every cyclist knows, uphill and with headwind, rain pants are just too hot! Bad decision, very bad decision, we were completely soaked once we arrived at the hostel (and completely done!!!). Luckily the owner (German women) was very friendly and gave us lots of towels. That evening we sat at the fire while it continued storming outside. At least we made the good decision of booking the hostel that day… next time we will put our rain pants on as well 😉.

The next day the weather was still very bad, but we celebrated our 6th year anniversary. In the afternoon we stopped at a pub to drink a Guinness to celebrate! After, we were unsure about where to sleep in the evening. The forecast showed lots of water, lots of wind… We cycled out of the village, leaving civilisation behind. But at the edge of the village, we suddenly saw a farm. We decided to try and knocked on the door. A friendly young man opened. We explained our travel and our search for a sheltered place for our tent. He directly helped and said, wait there for 10 minutes, I’ll finish my dinner first, but you can sleep in the shed. That evening, we slept in our inner tent under the roof of the farmers shed. And to keep us warm, we got some of his self-brewed alcohol.

In the next blog we will continue with our stories from Ireland…

The last kilometres in the UK – impressed by ‘The Troubles’ history

On 21/07/2022 we took the ferry from Cairnryan (Scotland) to Larne (North-Ireland). The ferry drive only took 2.5 hours. As North-Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, there was no real passport control in both harbours. Since Brexit happened, we expected a border between North-Ireland and Ireland including at least a passport control. However, there was nothing, we just passed a bridge and entered Ireland straight-away. Not even an Irish flag was seen. We were quite disappointed to be honest.

Talking about flags… We cycled 2 full days in North-Ireland and saw more UK flags than in the complete UK itself. Besides, flags of England and the orange protestant flags were everywhere as well. Also the queen was celebrated largely in Northern-Ireland, even much more compared to some UK regions. (The platinum jubilee of the queen was a few weeks before we arrived in North-Ireland, so some decorations were still present). We learned more about ‘The Troubles’ and carefully asked local people some questions about it. Even though the civil war is history now, you could tell it ended not that long ago. The politic discussions about the future of North-Ireland due to the Brexit are probably not helping either.

For the people who are not entirely aware, here the description of Wikipedia of ‘The Troubles’:

The Troubles (Irish: Na Trioblóidí) were an ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland that lasted about 30 years from the late 1960s to 1998. Also known internationally as the Northern Ireland conflict, it is sometimes described as an “irregular war” or “low-level war”. The conflict began in the late 1960s and is usually deemed to have ended with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Although the Troubles mostly took place in Northern Ireland, at times violence spilled over into parts of the Republic of Ireland, England and mainland Europe.

The conflict was primarily political and nationalistic, fuelled by historical events. It also had an ethnic or sectarian dimension but despite use of the terms ‘Protestant’ and ‘Catholic’ to refer to the two sides, it was not a religious conflict. A key issue was the status of Northern Ireland. Unionists and loyalists, who for historical reasons were mostly Ulster Protestants, wanted Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. Irish nationalists and republicans, who were mostly Irish Catholics, wanted Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland.

As we mentioned that the marks of the past war were still alive, we will try to explain how. First of all, it was the atmosphere in specific neighbourhoods; difficult to explain, but easiest is to call it ‘cold’ and silent. There were no colours in the streets, no plants, gardens were only functional (most of the time to park a car. Lastly, we saw several road signs where gun holes were spotted. But as for everything in life, there are two sides of the stories. The first night in Northern-Ireland, we knocked on a farmer’s door. Result: joined a family dinner where we ate a lot of food & slept in a crazy comfortable bed. (That night, the village in the valley (3km away) got flooded due to heavy rainfall). During the family dinner we got to know that half of the family lived in Northern-Ireland, the other half in Ireland. So officially, 1 part of the family was part of the EU, the other half not. We carefully asked for some more information on their opinion on ‘The Troubles’ and the future of Northern-Ireland. It was a very interesting evening, where we especially learned a lot about some parts of the history. In the Instagram post below, this story is partly covered as well.

After crossing North-Ireland, we left the United Kingdom officially. 75 days of cycling through the country and we LOVED IT. For us, this was the best country to start our Europe cycling tour, we will for sure come back! In the summary below, we summarised the things we noticed in the UK in different categories. We are very thankful for all the people we have met. Even if the British are internationally not known for their hospitality (based on stereotypes), they earn the golden medal with regard to this aspect (our negative experiences can be count on 1 hand).

Scotland – a wild camp paradise

At the end of June, we entered Scotland. So excited for this chapter of our cycle-adventure! The first nights in Scotland we were welcomed by many midges. They were everywhere and smaller than we could ever have imagined. The bites were itching, and we noticed that our insect spray did not really work very well. Cooking was a real adventure while the midges enjoyed the heat of the pot. When we cooked water for our thermos bottle, we lifted the lid of the pot to put the hot water in the bottle. However, the steam killed all midges within 2 seconds, which resulted in them falling down in our cooked water. Not so great.

We planned a bigger stop in Glasgow to do some ‘work’ and shopping (among which: midges spray and insect hats 😉). As Glasgow is a big city, there were more than 30 Warmshower hosts. Even if we had been writing many messages in the days before, we entered Glasgow with more than 20 no’s. It was 17h30 when a message from a Warmshower host arrived, we were standing at the supermarket, not yet really sure where to sleep during the night. He texted: ‘you probably have a host already, but if not, our house is open for you’. We were so happy! After a few text messages back-and-forward we figured out the address. With some beers to celebrate, we arrived at our host.

After our stop in Glasgow, we drove through the ‘Loch Lomond & The Trossachs’ Nationalpark. It was so pretty and there were not so many people. The mountains looked so perfectly shaped, not peaky like the alps, but more rounded. The night before we set off to the ‘Outer Hebrides’ islands, we slept at a small campsite with 1 toilet, no shower. Actually, the campsite was closed. But the owner let us, 1 Belgian cyclist and another bike couple sleep there in our tents anyway. We shared some stories with the Belgian girl, who just crossed Ireland. Unfortunately, the 3 dogs of at the campsite were pretty scary, so we did not stay very long outside of our tents.

The Outer Hebrides were a magical place. We cycled over all the islands: Barra, Uist, Harris and Lewis. Known for the bad weather, we of course had strong wind, heavy rain, and storms on the island. But, lucky enough, we also had quite some sunny days! The ferry from the mainland to the island Barra took 4 hours, we arrived in the evening and quickly pitched up the tent on the closest campsite. It was not very organised on the campsite, the owners were not there in the morning after, no reception building. We tried to call while we did not pay yet, but nobody picked up. We ended up leaving and sending a text message. Never got a response. As Barra was the smallest island, it was only a few kilometres to the next ferry leaving to Uist. Travellers as we are, we did not check the timetable up front. So, once we left the campsite, we noticed the last morning ferry was in 40 minutes. We raced to the ferry terminal and arrived just on time. Police who passed us by car on the way mentioned that they did not expect that we would make it; neither did we 😉.

Arrived on the next island Uist, we enjoyed the cycle route. Saw amazing blue ocean views, many seals and nature moving by the speed of the wind. We wildcamped close to the coast, behind a wall of rocks.

The next days on the islands were very windy, very salty, very rainy. But so great! The coldest nights of our tour so far were on the islands. As explained in the Instagram post below already: the days were fine, but our biggest worry were the nights in the tent, as the tent would shake so much!

So, night no.3 on the islands we knocked on a door and asked if we could camp next to their shed to have some shelter against the wind. The people directly said yes! Besides, we got invited for some snacks, which was so much food that we were full before we started our dinner. (We ate it anyway because all vegetables were cut already). Night no.4 we survived on a campsite, hidden behind some huge tents and the dunes. Night no.5 we knocked on a door again and asked for a piece of grass next to their garage. The guy said ‘oh, well we could also offer you a house, we do not have guests at the moment’. We were overwhelmed but said yes of course. After we installed ourselves and directly turned the wash machine on, the women came by and gave us a complete bag of food (!) We cooked a delicious dinner and made some oat-banana-pancakes for breakfast 🥞. After the breakfast, we chatted with the family in their living room. The nan, one of the oldest inhabitants of the islands, told us that we slept in her house for the night. She was very cute and kind. Fun fact: on the background in the living room, Boris Johnson got resigned from his job as prime minister (7th of July).

After the Outer Hebrides we cycled through the Scottish Highlands. The first night on Scotland mainland we slept at a Warmshowers host. They were not home themselves in the afternoon, so they did hide the keys for us so we could enter the house. This might sound crazy for you as a reader, for us it was crazy as well at the beginning, but we are so used to the kindness of the people nowadays. Which does not mean that we take it for granted, it is still very much appreciated! We had a very nice evening together with our hosts (later on we hosted them in France, more about that later!).

We entered the Cairngorms National Park. The first night in the park was a bit a struggle with finding a place to sleep. We cycled to a lake, which seemed perfect in our opinion. And as you are legally allowed to wild camp anywhere in Scotland, we thought it would be no problem. So, we knocked on a door to ask for the only thing we still needed: water. Nobody seemed to be home. Then a car arrived, we forgot the brand (as we don’t care about cars really), but it looked expensive. A family of 3 came out and looked sceptic at us. We, as happy as possible, asked for a little bit of drinking water. The women directly said yes, which seemed to be not appreciated by the man. She went inside with our bottles. We were in front of the (castle-like) house and thus talked a bit to the man. After some small talk we asked if he knew a good place for wild camping around the lake. He said no and mentioned that it is not allowed to wild camp here because this is all his land. We were a bit shocked because of the direct tone. And as the lake was huge, we could not believe it was all his land. Later he said, ‘and anyway, I would not know a spot because this is only my temporary home, we actually live in Singapore’. Okay, he just wanted to point out that he is rich, clear. We took our drinking water and left. A few kilometres after, we pitched up our tent out of his view, directly at the lake. Even though it was very pretty, he ruined our mood a bit.

People often ask us what our favourite memory is, we try to explain them that every day is different and special. But if we need to mention something, our stay at Loch Morlich is one of our most special memories. It was high season, the middle of July, when we arrived at Loch Morlich, a lake in the National Park. There were many tents pitched up already, so we did the same. We camped next to the beach and directly took a swim when we arrived, including washing ourselves. The evening was just perfect, the sunset beautiful. The next morning, we decided to stay another night and enjoy the sunny day 🌞. As there were many campers and watersport people around, we trusted to leave everything on the beach inside the tent and went for a hike. It felt quite exciting while even though we don’t own much, it is very important to us and if something gets stolen, it could cause some real problems. (Especially in Scotland as there are not so many shops…) But, after a great 2-hour hike, we luckily found everything untouched. That evening, we made burgers (yes, we do eat meat once or twice a month) and drank a huge bottle of beer. It felt like vacation.

The last days in the Scottish Highlands were amazing. We had good weather and enjoyed the possibility of camping anywhere we wanted. We drove the ‘Pass of Drumochter’ at 462 metres, cycled through Moorland and enjoyed the hilly landscape for days. As we both like swimming/water a lot, we always looked for a wild camp spot close to a lake (Loch in Scottish). We were pretty successful every evening. Besides the midges, the highlands were full of ticks in the grass. We both got a few tick-bites, so we checked ourselves every evening before jumping in our sleeping bags.

After a few days without a real shower, we texted some Warmshower hosts. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to be available and besides, there were no campsites in the nearby. We thought it would be another evening without a shower until one of the hosts we wrote connected us to their friends. A great surprise, we spend 2 nights at their house and had a great time. Such friendly people again. They even drove with us to the local pub, which was basically a small living room. It was packed, most people were standing. Four people of the village played different instruments together and sang many songs. With some songs, the whole pub was singing with them. We enjoyed it a lot to be part of this local community in the pub. An evening to never forget…

At the end of our tour through Scotland we could sleep two nights at the same hosts in Glasgow again. As it was people of approximately our age, it felt like visiting our friends again. We joined them and a group of their friends for swimming at a nearby lake in the evening. Shared food together, always had interesting talks and lots of laughter. From Glasgow we took a train to Cairnryan – from where we took the ferry to Ireland the day after.

From buying spices in a big city – to swimming in a hidden pool : Welcome in The Lake District

It has been a long time since we wrote a new blog. We do not often find the time to write for the blog as the days are quite busy! Most of the days we have been cycling. We have found our routine which we will describe in the next blog, but summarised: waking up – packing our stuff – breakfast – cycling – lunch – cycling – pitching up tent – dinner – free time. The 2- or 3-hours free time we have in the evening are spend with: taking photos, reading our books, listening to podcasts, calling with family/friends, and writing in our diary.

Luckily that we keep a diary… we would have forgotten so much already. Based on the diary and the posts we previously did on Instagram, we were able to write this blog about the beautiful: Lake District!

After Wales, our next target was the Lake District before entering Scotland. We left Wales with a memorable evening where we slept at a ‘Vicarage’ in Conwy, in other words: the house of a priest. (We got in contact with these people via a family we know, later on in this blog they will be mentioned again!). It was interesting to sleep in such a place and we noticed once again that church is still quite present in the daily life within the UK. (Even though the priest family mentioned that church is becoming less and less popular). In the evening we walked on the old city walls of Conwy. A long time ago we posted the pictures of our night in Conwy already on Instagram, the photos are linked here below.

Leaving Wales was quite special to us, while we were so much looking forward to entering this region. But with the sun shining above us, we drove out of Conwy along the coast. We passed other cyclists a few times, they were bikepacking. When the girl lost her cup on the way, we started a conversation. The couple went on a short weekend trip and invited us for coffee at a cycle hub café (by coincidence). We had some nice talks and due to the cycle hub, we could also pump up our tires to 5 bar. After the coffee we continued our ways, ours was heading to Chester. Chloé had visited this city with her family when she was a teenager and had warm memories. That evening we slept at a Warmshowers host after 79 kilometres. It had been a quite hot day, so we were very happy with the cold beer in the garden upon arrival. Our hosts cooked a delicious dinner and we got very good tips for the Lake District and Scotland. In the morning we did some important shopping in Chester: SPICE SHOPPING. As in this city you still quite strongly see the influence of the colonial period of the UK. Chloé came out of the shop with a bag full of spices for 10 pounds and a big smile on her face (fun fact: 100 days after, we are still using these spices almost daily). 97 kilometres later, including a lunch in Liverpool after crossing the river by ferry, we arrived at a small campsite and quickly fell asleep after a very tasty home-made curry (yes, with the new spices 😉).

From the small campsite we cycled towards Silverdale, a beautiful nature area near the Lake District. We were invited to sleep in the garden of the friends of the family we mentioned earlier. After 82 kilometres we arrived. Pitched up the tent in the garden and got welcomed by a happy dog. At arrival we asked if it would be alright to stay two nights, that was more then fine. The day after we did some computer work (photo editing, route planning), writing in the diary and we washed our clothes. The dog stayed close to us the whole day. To be honest; this was the first dog ever where Chloé was comfortable with. In the evening we had a Barbecue with the family and after we walked to the coast. The loop of invitation did not end here, as this family contacted friends owning a farm in the Lake District. As the journey to the farm was not that long, we took our time to visit Kendal (famous from the mint cake, which we liked a lot!). In Kendal we bought bread at a real bakery, and it was SO GOOD after all the toast-like bread we ate in the UK. (When Oliver went in the bakery to buy the bread; he came back and said that Chloé should have a look too – so I did -> AMAZING!).

We arrived at the farm quite early in the afternoon. It had been a very hot day and we had seen on the map that there was a river close to the farm. Unfortunately, the river was not that deep, but luckily our host (the young farmer) knew a hidden swimming spot. We three got in the old red Landrover and drove through the countryside. Parked in ‘the middle of nowhere’ and started to walk over farm fields, jumped over fences and then… arrived at a river including a small lake. The water was cold and that was exactly what we were looking for. Oliver and the farmer jumped from rocks and trees in the water. Chloé kept swimming around and enjoyed the scenery. Later on, in the afternoon the farmer showed his animals to us and a painter of the region. That was all very funny, but we keep the details to ourselves. After, we enjoyed a very nice dinner and slept in a super comfortable bed.

From the farm we cycled a short distance again, which was very hilly though! We had lunch at one of the lakes near Windermere (very touristic!). As often when we eat lunch, birds and ducks appear as they want to have a bit of our lunch. This time a family of ducks came by, including a few babies. We never feed the animals as some food is not good for them. When we sat in our chairs, enjoying our lunch and the view; one of the baby ducks decided to eat a huge pink chewing gum which floated in the lake. Chloé tried to stop him doing it, but he kept on trying. We literally saw the huge chewing gum ball going down his throat… That will be difficult to digest… and maybe impossible for such a small body… 33 kilometres after our start we were in the middle of the Lake District and arrived on a National Trust campsite. As mentioned previously in the Instagram post below, everyone arriving in a ‘green way’ (by foot, by bicycle or by public transport) received a discount. Great!

The next day we had a ‘break day’ – which does not mean that we sit around – we went for a hike up the mountains! We left very early as it was a Saturday in high-season and the weather forecast did not look promising. The forecast was right; it was hardcore! Very strong wind and a lot of rain! We hiked 10 kilometres including 700 metres up and 700 metres down. The views were fantastic, especially when the sun came through the clouds. And even though the weather was not so good, it did mean that we were almost alone up in the mountains, which we like a lot.

Communication on the road

As most of you know, we are not from the same country and do thus not share the same mother-language. The most received question to us has always been – and still is: ‘in which language do you communicate together?’ In the first years our answer was: English, now our answer is: a mix of English, Dutch and German. Which is bad, we know. Over the years we chose our favourite words in each language and use them mixed up all together. We kind of have developed our own language by now. One of the goals of the bike tour is to get this sorted out. But after being on the road for 2 months, it might be a bigger challenge than we first expected…

Communicating on the road is very difficult when you bike behind each other with a distance of at least 2 metres. Besides, wind, rain, cars etc. do influence what you hear as well. Below we have set out a typical conversation on the bike between us both, we often need to scream in order to understand each other (which is therefore written in capital letters). It is quite funny actually, we often end up laughing. Important detail: Oliver bikes in the front 99% of the time, Chloé follows behind with 2-3 meters distance and froggi is often hiding in one of the bike bags.

(Luckily, we do have some more interesting conversations during the rest of our days when we are not sitting in our bike seats.)

A typical conversation on the bike:

Oliver (NL-EN-DE): ‘Heb je die church gezien? War super schön!’

{Did you see that church? Looked very nice!}

Chloé (NL): ‘Hè wat???‘

{What???}

Oliver (EN): ‘That church looked nice!’

Chloé (DE-EN): ‘ICH VERSTEH GAR NICHTS! WHICH LANGUAGE?‘

{I DON’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING! WHICH LANGUAGE?}

Oliver (EN): ‘…NICE CHURCH!‘

Chloé (EN): ‘Oh I did not see it’

Oliver (EN): ‘HOW COULD YOU MISS THAT?’

Chloé (NL): ‘Ik was aan het dromen’

{I was dreaming}

Oliver (NL): ‘De bomen?’

{Trees?}

Chloé (NL): ‘DROMEN’

{DREAMING}

Oliver (DE): ‘Achsooo… schon wieder…?!’

{Ahhh again?!}

froggi (EN): ‘oh… these two… I’ll buy them a walky-talky for Christmas… 😉’

Towards Wales – a green fairytale

NL: Hallo lieve allemaal, indien jullie onderstaande post graag in het Nederlands willen lezen, probeer deze dan te vertalen via https://www.deepl.com/translator

DE: Hallo zusammen, wenn ihr den folgenden Beitrag auf Deutsch lesen wollt, versucht ihn bitte über https://www.deepl.com/translator zu übersetzen. 

FR: Coucou à tous, si vous souhaitez lire le post ci-dessous en Français, veuillez essayer de le traduire via https://www.deepl.com/translator.  

Our latest blog post has been a while ago, which basically means that we are fully enjoying our freedom. It is difficult to start writing this blog, as so much has happened in the past 1.5 month! So let’s just start where we stopped. After our break in Hertford we continued our way towards the South-West part of England. We passed Cambridge and drove slowly through typical English landscapes for several days. The city of Bath was a nice in-between stop, although cities are quite overwhelming for us after spending most of the time in nature. So as a result, we only spend one afternoon in the city, which was more than enough in our opinion 😉. We did post some photos of this part of our journey on Instagram already, please see the posts below:

From our friend’s place in Taunton we decided to do a small trip with less luggage towards the Jurassic Coast. (Mainly to avoid the crowd in Wales during the Queens Jubilee-weekend). The first two days were beautiful, the coast was very hilly, thus quite challenging as we were still at the beginning of our tour. As we are two different people, we both have a different approach of going up a hill. If it’s steep, Chloé prefers to go a few hundred metres and then take a 30-second break in between. Oliver goes up to the top of the hill and then takes a break until Chloé reached the top (usually 2 minutes after). Even if it was hard sometimes, we very much enjoyed it. In the town Beer (proost!) we got a random piece of grass assigned at the campsite as it was actually booked out. But in our opinion this was the best spot of the whole campsite and we got it for a reduced price, so: win-win for us!

After the campsite in Beer we slept at a Warmshowers host in Topsham wherewith we had a great time. We went to the pub ‘The Bridge’ which is the only pub the Queen of England ever visited. Unfortunately, Oliver got sick here, which made us stay a little longer at our host. But we could not stay much longer as Oliver his insuline need (Diabetis type 1) is much higher when he is sick, and the additional insuline was in our friend’s fridge in Taunton. We were forced to take a train, which felt wrong in many ways, but it was our only solution. Oliver did spend two more days in bed, after we continued our way. As we feared, Chloé got sick two days later – resulting in staying 3 nights at the same fishing campsite, which was not that great. During this sick-campsite-stay, we of course missed our own bed and the local supermarket near our home. But this is also part of travelling for a longer time. When Chloé was better as well, we finally headed towards Wales. Something we will never forget was Chloé her 360 degrees turn (on the ground – not through the air) while breaking in moss on a steep downhill road (never again!). Happy that we survived with only a high heartbeat of the fear… We captured the last hundreds of kilometres in the following post:

Wales was even more beautiful than we expected. So much green, and so many different variants of it! Just incredible. We did a hike in the Brecon Beacons nationalpark and Snowdonia nationalpark. The days after these hikes we continued biking further, where twice we learned that during hiking (especially up mountains), you use different muscles compared to cycling. Resulting in cycling with bad (read: very bad) muscle pain. We captured Wales in some amazing photos, which we posted already:

As this was more of an update blog, combined with previous Instagram posts (for the people who do not have Instagram 😉), we will post a more fun blog describing our communication on the bike (not so easy!) next up. Soon a specific post will also be dedicated to how generous and kind people are. Another idea is to write about our new ‘daily-life’ and the small things in life you appreciate while touring. We will try to post this a little sooner than in 1.5 months, promised!

Please leave a message below if you would like to share something with us,

Greetings, Groetjes, Liebe Grüße, Bisous,

Chloé & Oliver

The start of our EU biketour – two weeks on the road

NL: Hallo lieve allemaal, indien jullie onderstaande post graag in het Nederlands willen lezen, probeer deze dan te vertalen via https://www.deepl.com/translator.  

DE: Hallo zusammen, wenn ihr den folgenden Beitrag auf Deutsch lesen wollt, versucht ihn bitte über https://www.deepl.com/translator zu übersetzen. 

FR: Coucou à tous, si vous souhaitez lire le post ci-dessous en Français, veuillez essayer de le traduire via https://www.deepl.com/translator.   

Hello to all of you who are following our EU cycling tour! Thank you for all your kind messages during the past days; asking how we are, how it is going, how the legs feel, if we had rain already… All very much appreciated! Hereby an answer to all your questions in our first blog. We are trying to upload photos a little bit more regularly on our Instagram page: froggiandco, so please follow us there as well if you are interested! We log our route within Komoot and try to show the overview of what we cycled already on the page route, we will inform you once it’s online.  

We are currently (day 14) in Hertford (UK) for a break after spending the first two weeks on the road. As Oliver lived here for several months during his PhD, we are visiting some old colleagues/friends of him and ‘work’ a little bit on our photos, the website, and our bikes. Within the first two weeks we drove a little more than 400 kilometres within the Netherlands and England. We are very happy with how everything is going and so glad we took the decision and courage to leave on this trip!

In the Netherlands our pace was relatively relaxed, we did approximately 30 kilometres per day. Up until the start of our tour, we did both never bike with so much luggage before, but it bikes easier than we expected. (Fun fact: Oliver’s bike & luggage ≈ 60 kg, Chloé’s bike & luggage ≈ 50 kg). Although the Dutch landscape is rather familiar to us (in summary: flat, grass and cows), we very much enjoyed cycling here the first four days of our tour. Cycling along the Dutch coast and through the dunes was great – for our Dutch friends and family; you should cycle there once, highly recommended! We slept at friends’ places (between lambs and chickens), had our first (very nice) Warmshowers experience (Fun fact: the Warmshowers Community is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists) and stayed at a very small camping (the camping was great – after enjoying an amazing sunset we went to bed; however, we did not sleep until rather late while the neighbour farmer had its ‘party of the year’ resulting in froggi dancing in the tent all night long…).

On Sunday the 8th of May (day 5) we cycled from the camping in Schipluiden to the ferry harbour in Hoek van Holland. After some last food shopping at the local Lidl, we entered the harbour area. Passport control (later we learned that this is not the only effect of the Brexit…) went rather quick and we could enter the ferry relatively early. Parking the bikes and all the luggage in the bike-parking area took some time. The ferry drive went smooth, the weather was perfect for taking photos and we enjoyed the view. We felt like the adventure really starts now, as England would be the first foreign country on the tour. Unfortunately, a cargo ship in the harbour of Harwich (do not pronounce the W!) delayed our arrival. Therefore, we arrived at a small campsite behind a pub in the dark. We quickly ate some potatoes with a dip (not worth sharing the recipe on our food page…) in the tent and then fell asleep (it was our first very cold night – however it did not really bother us).

Cycling in England is something else, although this country also has grass and cows, it is definitely not flat! Besides, cycle paths are existing, but can stop out of nowhere without a sign. You will then suddenly find yourself cycling on the road, it’s a bit like if the infrastructure department see cycle paths as the runway lane for airplanes, although we do not fly away after the first 500 meters of cycling… However, cars are very supportive so far, they take good distance and sometimes they horn to greet us (which often comes as a surprise as we are dreaming away). People in England are extremely friendly so far; providing fresh drink water, spontaneously letting us sleep in the garden, cycling with us and ‘pulling’ us over the hills, let us join a pizza-dinner birthday, getting many questions out of interest, offering tea/food, street workers let us cycle on a closed road, offering to sleep at peoples’ places (we even got offered to stay in someones house in Spain!). Our first Warmshowers hosts in the UK (Deborrah and Steven) cooked for us, we shared cycle touring experiences, had interesting talks and we went to the local pub in the village together – where we met the pub owners and a group of scouts. Besides the nice experiences mentioned above, we currently have already approx. 10 phone numbers of people mentioning we should call them when we are in an emergency in the UK. ‘You need some parents in England as well… but do not call us when you have a flat tire!’.

When people think of England, the first things which pop-up are: fish & chips, rain, green landscapes, scones, tea, double-deck busses etc. We have seen/enjoyed all of this already, although the fish & chips were minus the fish and plus onion rings. About the rain, oh yes, we did experience some rain already, even if it was only 1 day out of the 14 so far, the sky gave us heavy rain on day 8. All our equipment showed to be waterproof – except for Chloé’s rain pants. Besides, next time we should probably not forget to put our rain shoe covers on… Rain does bring new situations, now resulting in us having lunch in the middle of a swimming pool / sports centre hallway (we were dry, joohoo!). The positive result of the rain were the even greener landscapes! You just see the trees and plants being happy afterwards. England is really as green as Chloé’s ‘british green’ bike colour; or as froggi prefers to call it: froggi green.

As this all sounds very nice, we do also want to share one last experience with you which was less great (in the end quite funny though). Oliver and Chloé’s faces became also ‘froggi green’ from the shaking of our whole bodies during the specific 2 hours which we want to highlight. On day 10 we decided to not cycle on a B-road (yellow coloured car road with a speed of usually 30-mph to 40-mph) but cycling over some smaller roads. We put it in Komoot (our navigation app) and started our way. Our first trigger should have been a closed gate near a farm, which we needed to pass according to our route. It was locked, but Oliver tried the usual standard ‘0000’ and it worked. The first part of this path was asphalt, after it became very stony. As we continued, the stones became bigger and bigger. We, the bikes and all the bags, got shaked very well. At the end (luckily) of the stony path Oliver his back tire got flat. While it was quite windy, we unpacked our tools bag and started fixing the bike (making sure nothing would fly away). With the back tire fixed, we continued our way and ended up (no joke) in someone’s garden surrounded with fences/gates and a big sign ‘please be aware of the dogs’. Luckily there were no dogs around, but in the first moment, also no people… As we were standing there, a farm worker came from the field. He could open the gate for us, and we left the private property without much hassle (thank you farmer boy!). These 10 kilometres would have taken 30 minutes on the B-road, but instead took 2.5 hours. This is what we call an adventure! And lesson learned for our next detour.

You will hear from us soon,

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Greetings, Groetjes, Liebe Grüße, Bisous,

Chloé & Oliver