Friday 28 September 2018

Alton Towers

Daz bought tickets for Alton Towers, which would probably be quite a waste of money because I don't like scary rides.
However, once we got there it was lovely and I started off with a ride on my own. 

Once it got moving I was quickly regretting my bravado, but fortunately I sat in the middle so that I didn't go up and down as much as at the ends. I screamed and shut my eyes quite a lot, but it didn't last too long and then I could get off. 
I felt quite shaky though so we stopped for a coffee to calm down! 
Afterwards Daz went on the Galactica while I smugly waited outside in the sunshine. 

I got a very good view but they whizzed by so fast so I didn't see him. 
The gardens were beautiful and also very quiet and we wandered around looking at the restored orangerie. 

Final treat of the day was the river rapids and we glided happily down before our raft was dunked on to a moving escalator and we defied the laws of gravity to sail back up to the start. 

Thursday 20 September 2018

Turfing in the rain

Over the summer we have been repairing and renovating one of our old houses.
It was in a terrible state, but it's all sorted now and we hope to have sold it. 
One of the toughest jobs was the garden. 

It took a while, but eventually it turned into this. 

It had to stay like this until today when the turf arrived. It would have been nice if the rain had started when we had finished, but it certainly helped us to speed the job along, although we did get completely soaked. 

It's not quite a bowling green, but it could be a football pitch in a couple of weeks. 

Thursday 13 September 2018

Brussels to Ghent

A very good day today, although it started with a puncture in the rain, by lunchtime the sun was out and the beers were on the table.

The fruit beer was superb and we teamed it with spaghetti and a croque monsieur. 
The route was good and we are back in Dutch speaking Belgium where there are loads of cycle paths and lots of other cyclists. 
Our accommodation tonight is an antique caravan kitted out Hawaiian style in a warehouse with lots of other differently themed caravans. 

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Brussels and the Atomium

We are staying south of Brussels and have found that the area is not at all cycling friendly. We followed an extremely narrow and bumpy pavement cycle path along a busy road, before turning off into the better terrain of forest paths. 
Once in Brussels we passed a huge art deco cathedral 

and then on through crazy traffic to the Atomium. 
This was the high point of the day, and we saw it in the distance above some houses 

before we could find our way to the entrance. 

We hadn't been there long before it started to rain and after sheltering for a while we headed into the centre of town and found the European headquarters. There was lots of people scurrying about looking important and lots of cafés so we stopped for lunch. Daz is trying out a new pose for photos and I think that it is OK. Sort of a cheerful electric shock look. 

The rain started coming down again so we once more braved the traffic for a quick visit to the Grand Place, and then headed back to our hotel. 

Tuesday 11 September 2018

Namur to Waterloo in a headwind.

Darren had booked us in to a room at a huge, rather tired looking Casino right on the waterfront in Namur, although our very nice room looked out over the trees behind.

In the evening we went out in the town for a drink and dinner, and I chose the venue - Charles and the Fries. 
It turned out to be an expensive sort of McDonald's, but the food was tasty and a good fun place. 

Today we set off for Waterloo, home of the battle of 1815 between the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon. 
We expected an easy day as it was only 65 kilometres and we have done much more on this journey. 
Unfortunately, we hadn't factored in the wind blowing strongly from the west. We were heading north west and often we rode straight into a gale, making for really hard pedalling. 
Quite a lot of the time we were riding across it, and it was like riding a sailing boat across the sea. We had to stay upright and tack and jibe with the wind. 
Very occasionally and brilliantly the wind got behind us and we were pushed along, hardly having to pedal. 
Eventually, feeling quite exhausted we arrived at the Lion's Mound at Waterloo. This is the monument to the victory over Napoleon and to commemorate the 13,000 soldiers from all over Europe who died fighting in the battle, not to mention the 35,000 who were injured. 

Close up it is a huge mound of earth and there are over 200 steps to the top. From the top you can see the huge area over which the battle took place, but we stayed at ground level and admired the lion from a distance. 

Monday 10 September 2018

Along the river from Liege

We set off from Liege this morning and crossed the river to pick up the cycle route to Huy. We thought that we were on our way, but the path turned around and after a few kilometres we were almost back to our hotel.
The path had loads of twists and turns through industrial estates and tatty looking housing areas, but it was really good fun. 
We occasionally saw the river and it had numerous power stations and working barges. 

We then left the river for a long hill climb up to Chateau Jehay that was not only closed but also covered in scaffolding and with the moat drained. 

Interesting, but slightly disappointed we free wheeled back down to the river and on our way. 
After Huy the path followed the river all the way to our destination for the night at Namur. The route here was lovely and green and we had a nice but windy run in to this pretty town. 

Sunday 9 September 2018


We had a lovely day getting here, and then a fantastic thrill down an endless hill, but Liege is very disappointing. There are almost no cycle lanes, and the ones that are here either end really suddenly or are really narrow and feel quite dangerous.
We are in a nice area by the main TGV Station and went for a cycle around today. 
The city centre is nice and a great statue of a diver over the river. 

We then found a huge market and would have gone for more of a walk, but my toe is very painful, so we went for a short walk instead. 
Had a quick visit to the Opera House and got a good view of the city from the top of the glass elevator. 

We then had lots of trouble with busy traffic and non existant cycle lanes as we cycled around trying to find an open air sculpture park. 

In the end we had to give up and head back to the hotel, but we have been enjoying some wine in our room and out for a Chinese very soon. 

Saturday 8 September 2018

Beautiful church at Borgloon

Today we set off from Valkenburg, and through Maastricht where we stopped briefly in the main square.

We should have stayed longer as it is a very nice place, and all around us bars and cafés were setting their chairs up in the sunshine. 
However, we were off to see a very unusual church in the Belgian countryside. It took a while but we eventually found it nestling in the landscape just south of Borgloon. 

It is actually a sculpture called 'Reading between the lines' and is a model of the typical local churches that is made of 30 tons of metal. 
In different angles it becomes see through and the effect is amazing . 
From the inside it was even better as we

stood and looked through the metal and could see an almost identical real church in the distance. 
We sat and contemplated the scene while eating peanuts and a sort of wagon wheel biscuit. 
A team of people then appeared and set up a champagne reception in a corner of the field, but unfortunately we had no chance of getting a glass because it was all for a company team building day, and they were still out somewhere in the countryside doing who knows what as we left before they arrived. 

Friday 7 September 2018

Two days in Valkenburg

Two days ago I walked straight into a square legged chair and ended up with my little right toe sticking out at a strange angle. The only good result of this was that I avoided having to clean my bike, but the rest of it is all bad.
Yesterday we did a lovely cycle ride from Eindhoven to Valkenburg that was just under 90 kilometres. Mostly my poorly toe was fine as it was happy in my shoe, but getting on and off the bike was difficult, although I got better as the day went on. 

Today we went for a little walk and when we got back to the hotel a giant Alsatian dog was lying at the bottom of the stairs. I didn't see him and nearly stood on him, and in my panic to get away I put all of my weight on the broken (possibly) toe and pushed backwards as hard as I could. Ouch, ouch. 
We then had a lazy rest of the day, but visited our favourite cafe twice for fantastic cappuccinos. 

Hopefully, normal behaviour will be resumed tomorrow. 

Wednesday 5 September 2018

The Potato Eaters part two

Today we almost had a day off. We stayed near Nuenen and just did a round trip on the Van Gogh Route, although it ended up as over 60 kilometres in total. 
We didn't see anything related to Van Gogh, but the countryside was lovely and the sun even came out. 

Best part of the day came when we found a cafe in a farmyard in the middle of nowhere. There was no other customers and we were surrounded by goats, sheepdogs, chickens and lots of dodgy smells, but we were very happy to end up with two huge glasses of wine. 
Dinner was lots of potatoes in honour of Van Gogh - chips and mayonnaise - fantastic feast. 

Tuesday 4 September 2018

Van Gogh Route

Yesterday we broke all of our speed records and shot from Gouda to Den Bosch. It was about 77 kilometres and we saw the usual lovely countryside and windmills. We also stopped for two ferry rides, numerous cups of coffee and enjoyed a bag of wine gums along the way.

This is a statue of Heironimous Bosch, a famous painter who changed his surname to that of his town. We would have gone to his museum but it was closed on Mondays. 
Today we went from Den Bosch to Eindhoven along the Van Gogh trail. In reality he only lived locally for two years, but that hasn't stopped the tourist industry from taking him to their hearts. 
We went around the museum but it wasn't very exciting, apart from a cow and a very fancy modern bicycle that was painted with Van Gogh's sunflowers. 

Tonight though we went out as it was getting dark to see the Starry Nights section of his trail. It consisted of thousands of stones that lit up and the effect was very nice. Unfortunately, he didn't paint either Starry Nights or Sunflowers while living locally, but a rather dark painting called 'The Potato Eaters'. 

Sunday 2 September 2018

Kinderdjik windmills and Rotterdam

Another lovely day on the road and this time we started the day with a cycle ride to a ferry. It was already in so we got on board and then Daz hopped back off to take a photo.

At that moment the ferry started pulling away and he had to run to get back on. It was only a five minute journey and if he had missed it then he would have had to swim and luckily his bike was already on board. 
On the other side we headed for the windmills and were surprised to find ourselves surrounded by hundreds of other tourists, who must have found a different way to get there as they certainly weren't on our boat. 
There was 19 windmills in less than a couple of miles and they were used to pump water out of the fields as the whole area is below sea level. 

It was all very beautiful and we cycled out beyond the crowds and then followed cycle paths to Rotterdam. 
I wanted to see some amazing houses that defy the laws of gravity. We went inside one of them and the floors are flat, but all of the windows and walls were at crazy angles. However all of the other houses were lived in, so some people must get used to it. 

Final stop of the day was Gouda where we had chips and mayonnaise for tea. 

Saturday 1 September 2018


We had a lovely day today in Delft. It was supposed to be a flying visit on the way to Rotterdam, but it was so beautiful that we stayed for most of the day.

There was a big petanque competition going on in the market square and we sat on some very uncomfortable chairs drinking coffee and watching the action. 

We also found lots of cheese and Delft pottery souvenirs. 

We spent a couple of hours in the the Vermeer museum and then had the most tasty and healthy lunch in a busy cafe. 
Excellent day.