Monthly Archives: June 2018

Day 24: Breda to Amsterdam – 109km

109 k basically flat riding. The temperature is not very warm.

For breakfast there was a buffet, with a place people can make their own tea and coffee.

The was lots of wind coming in north west, and we going north west, so it was a long, long day pushing into the wind. It was amazing the difference it made when there were hedges how much shelter it gave. IMG_5320.jpgWe had two very short ferry rides today, both only about 400 meters. The driver of the second ferry was delighted to be given a Pub Ride race plate and pointed it out displayed on his control platform. The race plate goes on the front of our bikes, showing our number and that the rides goes from Dublin to Copenhagen. Even though we are not racing, it identifies us as the TDA riding group.


First ferry crossing


Second ferry crossing

The wind was so relentless that a couple of riders gave it up at 70 km and caught the lunch truck in. Of course coming from Wellington riding in wind is normal for me. Wind in Wellington is referred to as your training friend!


Canal bridge opened for a boat

I was thinking as I was riding along looking at all the house with canals surrounding them, that in NZ this would probably all be required to be fenced, and wondering how they stop the toddlers wandering outside. I guess it becomes second nature not to let them out without supervision, and they no doubt either have high handles or locks on the doors.


Water water everywhere!

Most of the day we were on bike paths, but for a few kms we were on narrow country roads shared with cars and big trucks. Just after lunch a truck was behind me so I pulled over and looked back and realised it was a truck and trailer and very wide, so I went to pull over more but my right foot was still clipped in – over I went. I was very lucky not to end up in the canal. I was ok apart from some bruises and scrapes, and ripped Lycra. A lady driving behind the truck stopped fearing the worst as she had seen the truck and me flying sideways, and thought the truck had hit me, so was relieved to hear I was fine.


On the narrow road, soon before falling off

When we got into Amsterdam it was crazy busy, and we had to go through the city to the  hotel 5 km from city centre. There were so many cyclists and they go so fast.

We are staying at another Apollo hotel “Apollo Centrum” but it’s actually 5 km from the city.

We decided as we have two rest days in Amsterdam not to go into the city, but to have drink and dinner at the hotel up in 17th floor bar. We joined a group of riders that were already there, and other riders came and went during the evening. The process of paying for drinks and food was not very organised as the different riders came and went. We had a hamburger for dinner and a couple of beers and a Pisco Sour, and ended up at the end of the evening with €45 of food and drink that was not ours that we ended up paying for.IMG_5322.jpg

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Day 23: Brussels to Breda

First we had a 7 km convoy, then 96 km of very flat riding in a great bike lane. Getting out of the city was so much easier than getting in.

We went through a lovely town called Leir, with a very pretty clock tower old building and town hall, dating back to 1369.img_5298.jpgJust after that we came to a canal elevator bridge, just as a ship called Mathilde was going through carrying sand. Instead of it separating into two and then lifting up to let boats go through, the elevator bridge just lifts up.IMG_5295.jpgWe were on great bike paths all day, heaps of cyclists – none with helmets, even small children. Just after lunch we went past a forest of trees – possibly where Edward Scissor Hands came to (1990 American romantic dark fantasy film). img_5306.jpgHowever we then saw a truck go past with two huge trees with the roots enclosed in wrapping, so possibly they are growing these trees to sell.

We were mostly on tree lined country roads, which was great but occasionally we went over a bridge over the motorway. I couldn’t believe how many trucks there were on the motorway.

On the outskirts of Breda we went past Landgoed Bouvignae, a 16th century stately home, surrounded by water and gardens, very beautiful.



Landgoed Bouvigne


It was really hot and we stopped just before the hotel to have a cold beer. However just after we had bought a beer, the Irish pub bartender had an issue with the bikes – he wanted us to move them, and then didn’t like where we moved them to. They were “blocking the access for his customers”. I pointed out he currently had two – us! But no he wanted them moved, so his only two customers drunk their beer and went!

Today I saw hydrangeas everywhere, there are so many I wondered if they may be from here, but when I googled I saw they are native to Eastern Asia, and North and South America. I don’t recall seeing any in South America.


We are staying at the Hotel Apollo, and yay no convoy tomorrow into Amsterdam.



City Park coming to Hotel Apollo near railway station.


Both of my knees are really sore and I realised I have not been doing any stretching. I am having trouble bending and tonight I did lots of stretching. Luckily we only have tomorrow’s riding and then two rest days in Amsterdam.

Dinner was a buffet pretty standard buffet fare.

We had some very good news tonight, Laura who joined the trip with her husband Gregg in Dublin, was planning to do the whole trip but left in London as their golden retriever Kye had a mass on her liver and she had to see a specialist vet. Kye is only 9 and Laura and Gregg don’t have children so she is very precious. Thankfully it looks unlikely to be cancer and just needs to be rescanned in two months.

I have had nothing to read for the past couple of weeks (yep am making a list next trip), Michele has kindly lent me a book by David Baldacci “The fallen”, this is a new author to me, will see how it goes.


(Editor’s note: This photo had no caption, so not sure what it is or where to put it . . . )


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Day 22: Rest day in Brussels

For breakfast at the hotel there no baked beans, but instead delicious croissants straight out of the oven, with Camembert. Then off to do the laundry, once again remembering to take the iPad to catch up with the blog.

Then back to the hotel for a couple of hours to sort photos, catch up with emails, and a couple of blogs.

The weather is not that warm here, hard to imagine we are only two weeks away from summer.

We went out to have a look around, there are numerous clothes shops, here many of them men’s suit shops with intricate designs on them, at a cost average £750 or £950 for the shirt and tie.

Once again the streets were very busy. We went through one beautiful old shopping centre called The Royal St Herbert Galleries. This was built in 1847 and was one of the first shopping arcades in Europe. It is open 24 hours a day, on the arch at the front it has the motto “omnibus omnia” – “everything to everybody”. IMG_5285.jpg


We went to the chocolate shop inside Neuhaus and bought some delicious dark orange chocolate.IMG_5284.jpgWe had lunch not far from there at Le Marin Restaurant. I had a really nice tomato soup which came complete with fries. The Flemish diet appears to be a side of fries (frites) with everything. Along with waffle trucks, there are numerous frites shops.



Lunch menu



After lunch we wandered around the streets, going into the occasional shop but not buying anything as the prices are very high. There were a number of beggars and buskers, plus a few beggars with children. One man had made a whole lot of candle holders out of coke tins for £1 and I bought one of those.

Grand-Place and the longest shopping strip in Europe

For some reason Brussels has a famous statue of a boy peeing, which was added to later by a girl, then recently a dog. However coming from NZ, I can’t comment as we have a town where their icons are a carrot and another a gum boot.IMG_5289IMG_5288IMG_5290

The refugees are mainly in Brussels and the system is struggling to care adequately for them. There are night shelters run by volunteers that can take up to 500 a night, and hundreds of Belgium families have opened their home to migrant families. One of the issues is the Sudanese and Eritrean migrants don’t want to stay here, they want to get to the U.K. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to be a refugee in a country where I don’t speak the language and have no job, housing or money, and know that going home is not going to be an option.

We had Dinner at the café De Le Opera, I had a hamburger with frites of course. The hamburger was really nice.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a Pub called Brasserie Le Corbeau, because I wanted to try a beer in a wooden frame.

In the 18th century Pauwel Kwak both brewed beer and owned a coach Inn. In those days under Napoleonic rule coach drivers were not allowed to drink with the passengers or leave their coach to go into the Inn. So Pauwel designed a wooden holder so beer could be bought back to the drivers and they could drink it while driving, without spilling it. These days the beer is brewed by Brouwerij Bostees and still is served in the wooden frame. The usual percentage is 8.4 so you wouldn’t want to drink too many.IMG_5287

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Day 21: Bruges to Brussels – 101km

101 k mostly on bike paths today.

I would have liked to stay longer in Bruges, the town is a World Heritage Site and I have only seen a very small section of it. When we left Bruges there was a lot of work happening setting up the town square for the crowds who would be watching today’s World Cup football match between Belgium and Panama.

There is hint of possible rain as we set off, but it is not at all cold. Getting out of
Bruges it is very busy with lots of cyclists going fast, and darting in and out of the bike lanes. I am not used to the concept that cars give way to bikes at intersections frequently but not always, I am still working out the rules with this.

We were riding with a number of other riders including Tony and Michele, and Gordon and Karen from Canada. Gordon is a Ed Doc and Karen is a Doctor as well but currently working as a hospital administrator. This is Gordon and Karen’s first TDA trip. I was pushing myself really hard to keep up. Luckily it was pretty flat.

We biked for about 8 km along a canal then rode into Ghent, which is a beautiful old town with some amazing beautiful old buildings.




Just before lunch we stopped and looked at some amazing animals made out of driftwood – there were horses, Sheep, goats, deer and foxes. They were amazing but not cheap – €1407 for one of the horses.


IMG_5264After lunch we had a few small towns to go through but mostly quiet through the country side on bike paths.


The last 7 km coming into Brussels was not too pleasant. Lots of traffic, and lots of trams and tram tracks to look out for. People walking across the road even when bikes had the right of way. Having to cross busy streets getting across the traffic was a bit daunting.

There are lots of refugees, and we rode through one area where there was a large shopping area with lots of people wearing Burqa, Niqab and Khimar.  In 2016 Belgium took about 12,000 refugees which is double the number of the preceding years. The numbers are not big compared to a number of other countries, but most of them live in Brussels.

The Hotel is situated 200 metres from what’s is known as Brussels Grand Place (which is the town square). This area started in 15th century as market halls, guild houses and a town hall. Almost completely destroyed after being bombarded for 3 days in 1695 by the French Amy. A hotch potch of 4 different styles – Gothic, opulent Baroque, Neoclassical and Neo Gothic.

The hotel room has a nice big bath perfect, for a long soak followed by a nana nap*. The room also has a couch plus a separate toilet and a jug to make tea yay. On the downside the view is not so great – we have a view of the hotel heating vents.


We had arranged to meet Tony and Michele at 6pm in the hotel foyer and we went into the city to find the Delirium Cafe – Claim to fame it has the most different beer in the world available in its bar. 2004 Guinness Book of records listed 2,004 different types!


While walking there we went past a pub and Belgium had just scored the second goal against Panama – the crowds erupted! We got to the Delirium Cafe with 72 min on the clock and had time to get a Trappist beer (brewed by Monks) and watch the remaining minutes. Belgium score a third goal final score 3:1.

We ended up eating at a place called Le Savarin it was pretty average. Food and drink is really expensive in Belgium and you have to buy bottled water to drink. We started off with Mussels, which again were really small but tasty, followed by steak which had no flavour accompanied of course by frites (chips) and salad.

We then walked back to the hotel, even though it was nearly 10pm the shops are still open and there are crowds of people.

* Editor’s note: Is it still called a “Nana nap” if you are legit a Nana? Isn’t it then just a nap?? 35800793_10155309031965780_3773344793506086912_n.jpg

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Day 19: Gillingham to Dover – extra

Additional information to add to the blog about visiting The White Horse pub in Dover, where the channel swimmers came afterward and write their name and time on the walls.

Four people have done a triple crossing of the English Channel – one is Philip Rush. Philip is a Kiwi and a firefighter, and did the triple crossing in 1987.

The other people who have done a triple crossing were an American man in 1981, an Aussie woman in 2015 and a British woman in 1990.

Philip has the record. He swam the triple faster than the first person to swim it did it one way! It is amazing that Philip still has the record, made in 1987.

But what is also amazing is that only 8 people have done the double! And our Kiwi Philip has the record for that too.

…and you can guess that Phil would have been drunk in that place a few times!

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Day 20: Dover to Bruges

First of all the ferry: The Dunkerque Seaways Ferry from Dover to Dunkerque (Dunkirk) in France 122 k by ferry, just over two hours for the trip (pretty fast compared to the NZ InterIslander).


Thankfully it is a pretty calm day so I shouldn’t get sea sick. As we are leaving early we are having breakfast on the ferry not at the hotel. Last chance for an English  Breakfast.


The weather was looking cold and was misty and drizzling, but thankfully had cleared up by the time we got to France. It took a while to get off the boat and it was about 11 am by the time we managed to get on the road. Luckily it’s only 84 km today and pretty flat. There is a really strong wind but very lucky the wind direction is westerly and we are heading east!


The traffic was quite busy going through the town and on the outskirts. About 12 k we stopped at World War 2 memorial.

At 33 km out of France and into Belgium. At the Belgium sign I had a photo with Judy and Tim, the other two from NZ. Judy and Tim did the Odyssey last year as well. They were going to do the North American ride but are re-considering because of the amount of camping.


The towns and villages were pretty quiet as supermarkets and shops are closed on Sundays. We made good time, mostly on bike paths and got to hotel about 430. We are staying on a square in Bruges in the Park Hotel.

We couldn’t get the water for the shower to get any warmer than just under lukewarm, possibly too many showers at once for an old system, plus there was no jug to make a cup tea. I remember now it is not common to have a jug in most of Europe. I had got quite used to a cup of tea when getting to the room, and first thing in the morning.

The population in Belgium is 11.35 million with a land mass of 30,528 km2 compared to NZ with a population of 4.5 million and a land mass of 268,021 km2.

We had a lovely meal at local restaurant called Poules and Moules. We had a starter of fresh crunchy bread and a very nice salad, followed by a beef stew that had been slow cooked for 9 hours, along with more salad and a side of fries (frites). An unusual combination but delicious, with house lager to wash it down.


TdA dinner at the Poules Moules

This was then followed by home made vanilla ice cream, with chocolate sauce or chocolate mousse. I was full. A couple of riders who have been topping up the dinners with room service commented they wouldn’t need to be doing this tonight.

We then went for a walk round, looking at the amazing old buildings, churches and chocolate shops, including a really small one.


I have been noticing a number of houses with flags hanging out of their windows and pubs with lots of flags. Not being into football the penny has only just dropped – The World Cup is on. Belgium is playing against Panama tomorrow. The Chocolate shops all have chocolate soccer balls – one has a life size chocolate one you can buy for €34.

When we got back to the hotel a lot of work was going on setting up for the crowds watching the rugby tomorrow. Via TV of course, as the actual games are in Russia.

Bruges is where the 2008 black comedy crime film In Bruges was set. Two Irish Hit men decide to hide in Bruges until things settle down. It is very dark!


Streets of Bruges (Photo from Michele’s Facebook)




Beautiful town square in Bruges


Town square in Bruges




Medieval streets in Bruges





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Day 19: Gillingham to Dover – 84km

Not long in distance today, but quite a lot of climbing. Some great views, very pretty countryside. IMG_5211IMG_5217We went through a number of narrow tree lined streets from small village to village.

Suburban street coming out of Gillingham



Lenham historic village

After one steep downhill we came across of field of poppies that was very pretty. IMG_5195.jpgOnce again a number of quaint pubs with some interesting names. One pub was called “The Bad Habit”.

“The Dirty Habit” (the pub Kaye referred to as “The Bad Habit” #fakenews)

We stopped in a small village and the pub had a list of what was the special feature of each night, one night they featured boozy milkshakes – bet that could be dangerous. img_5206.jpgWe stopped and watch a pig with her piglets for awhile, she had about 10 and they were all trying to latch on and stay latched on while she was moving.IMG_5210Lunch was at the top of long climb and had a great view of the English Channel and Felixstowe, the town where the trains go under the English Channel. You can’t go through the Channel by car, your car gets loaded onto a train. The Euro tunnel is the longest undersea tunnel in the world with 38 km of it under the sea. We are not going in the tunnel however, we are catching the ferry from Dover.

View from the lunch spot (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)



After lunch I thought we had finished climbing for the day but coming down one hill I could see a road going to the right and a nasty looking up hill. I was hoping to turn left but the flagging was to go right! Climbing once more! Great views from the top but very narrow and a number of cars that we had to keep getting off the road for.


In the next town there was a “Battle of Britain – 10 July 1940 to 31 October 1940” memorial to the World War Two Airforce crew. From here you got a good view of the  white cliffs of Dover. It was interesting reading the information as I hadn’t appreciated until then the significance of what had been achieved by a relatively few against the Germans. IMG_5220.jpg


White cliffs of Dover (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

When we were leaving the memorial on the gate was a sign that said “No fly tipping”, we had seen this in a number of places including by rivers and I thought this was a type of fishing, but it turns out it means no driving past and throwing rubbish from your car.IMG_5222.jpgThen it was downhill all the way to Dover. We are staying at Best Western Dover Marina Hotel, which is right on the harbour front and we have a room facing the sea.



Room view from Dover Marina Hotel


Dover waterfront

Once we had showered and changed we went to the “Michael Coo featured pub of the day” – The White Horse. This is where the channel swimmers came afterward and write their name and time on the walls. There was a 70 year old, plus a relay team of 12 year old’s. So far there have been successful double crossings but not triple. One of Michele and Tony’s friends Anne has done the crossing and they were able to see her name and time up in the pub.

Records of channel swimmers line the walls and ceilings inside the pub.

Michele pointing to their friend’s name (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

Dinner tonight with Michele and Tony, and Judy and Tim (from Wellington NZ). Dinner was meant to be prawns but they must have run out as they asked us to have chicken liver pate instead. I agreed as I had forgotten how dreadful English chicken liver pate is – it’s like paste with no taste. The cod for the main was tiny, thankfully there was dessert which was sticky toffee pudding. There was nothing sticky about it but was quite nice when covered with cream.

We have an early start tomorrow, we have to leave the hotel by 6:30 am as we are catching the ferry to France – we land at Dunkirk. IMG_5214

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Day 18: London to Gillingham – 69km

We had a later than usual start so that we wouldn’t be in rush hour traffic when we left the hotel at 9:30 am.

The ride I am on – “The Pub Ride” – was so popular is sold out in a matter of days, so TDA decided to run “Pub Ride 2” as well. Pub Ride 2 left Dublin three days after us so they will be arriving in London tonight. It is interesting to hear the differences as various riders from both groups talk to each other. As an example, the day we rode from Boston to Cambridge we had great weather with no wind. Pub Ride 2 battled a really strong head wind all day, and didn’t get into Cambridge in time to visit the town. However it also means what didn’t work well for us can be corrected for them. They still went to the Smoke House in Grimsby, but they were down stairs in the main restaurant, had quicker service, and had a great time.

I am very pleased, as is everyone else, that the proposed 43 convey out of London has been reduced to 10 km. Getting out of London was so much easier than getting in, and we came to the end of the convoy very quickly.


Convoy out of London, just passing St. Paul’s Cathedral

After a few kms through the city we then went for about 10 km along a bike path along the Thames, past housing estates and Thames Dock areas. We passed some more geese and ducklings swimming in the murky brown river.


Bike path along the Lower Thames

We stopped at Greenwich as we wanted see a few things. First of all “The Cutty Sark” which was clipper ship that bought tea to England 1869 to 1895. This was one of the fastest ships, and did well in the annual tea race to be first in port with tea. It’s top speed was 17.5 knots (32.4km/hr). The Cutty Sark is one of only 3 remaining original ships of this kind from the 19th century. It had an unusual name so I was curious to find out where it came from. Cutty Shark is the nickname of the witch Nannie Dee in Robert Burns 1791 poem Tom O ‘Shanten.


Next to see is the Greenwich Foot Tunnel under the River Thames. Opened in 1902, it is 370.2 metres in length. There are both lifts and stairs to get down to the tunnel and it is for pedestrians and bikes (being pushed) to get from one side to the other.


Brett and Tony in the tunnel (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

Then off to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich prime meridian which is where longitude is measured around the world, east or west in degrees. This is where you find zero.


Straddling the Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. With one foot in the Eastern and the other in the Western Hemisphere

We went through some quite busy towns, but also some quiet country roads. Just before lunch we came across a paddock with a number of horses and foals, some of them really small still.

Due to late start, and the stopping along the way, we didn’t get to lunch until after 3pm. No wonder I was starting to feel hungry.


Brett and me cycling into the lunch spot (Photo credit: TDA Instagram page)


Lunch stop (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook)

After lunch only 15 km to ride. Every day, along with our notes, Michael Coo – one of the TDA staff – recommends a pub to visit. Today is the “Coopers Arms” in Rochester. On the way up through the village we came across the most crooked building I have ever seen, and then on the hill to the pub we went past Rochester Castle.

Rochester Castle (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook)


The pub had a lovely outside area, and we sat outside having a cold beer in the sun. My legs weren’t that happy to get working again, especially as there were a couple of hills to climb.IMG_5192.jpg


Coming up one hill I was distracted by looking at headstones in a cemetery and rode straight into a pole – ouch! I have a nice bruise on my left arm to show for it, but luckily was not knocked off my bike.

We stayed at the King Charles Hotel, which was past its best days, but was pleased to get there. Only just had time for a shower and change before riders meeting and dinner.

There were a number of woman walking around in a range of costumes, it turned out the pub was having a ladies night that night. There were a number of hens parties taking advantage of the male free evening.

Had dinner with Shirley and Dan and Michele and Tony. We had soup which was most likely pumpkin, and a very small turkey main meal with boiled potatoes, carrots, and peas, followed by a ice-cream sundae.


Rochester (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook)

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Day 17: Second rest day in London

I slept in this morning then had a messenger call with my daughter Kelly to catch up on news at home. Then down stairs into the breakfast dungeon. The ceiling is really low which makes the place look even more crowded than it actually is. As it was just after 9:30 am it was not as busy as yesterday.

Today’s plan was going to Kings Cross Station to Platform 9 3/4 (where Harry Potter catches the train to Hogwarts) then off to see Shellbe in Teddington where she is nannying.

We walked to Kings Cross station. On the way there were more beggars, one called Tim had a sign saying he is a person and no donation is too small. I can’t help wondering how each person I see begging ended up where they are, what went wrong in their life to bring them to here. I can imagine with the price of rent in London you would need a pretty well paid job to be able to afford somewhere decent to live.

Just before Kings Cross there was a big old Hotel called St Panras, established in 1873 when rail ruled the travel industry. Situated by St Panras international train station and Kings Cross station.



To  get to Teddington Station we had the choice of trying to catch 2 tubes to Waterloo and then a train, or catch a taxi to Waterloo and then the train. I hadn’t been in a London Black Cab yet so we decided to catch the Cab. I hadn’t taken into account how busy the traffic is. It look about 35 minutes to go 5.5km, we could have walked. There was one light that took 7 traffic light changes before we got through it.

The taxi driver was friendly and was telling us about the cabs. Like NZ they can only stay on the road until a certain age and then need to be replaced. The replacement cabs in London all need to be electric. They will cost £65,000 and with their range will not be able to get through a day without being charged. The driver lives 100 km out of London, so will already have gone through a lot of electricity just getting in. A lot of taxis are rented and driven constantly 24 hours – as soon as one driver finishes the next starts. Having to charge cars is going to take much longer than filling up with diesel. The cabbies view is it’s a great idea in principle but is going to cause huge problems, and he and a number of his cab driver friends will find it is not longer economical. The black London Cabs are made in China.

We got to Waterloo – what a huge station! Numerous boards of train time tables. We found the one for Teddington – Platform 18 going in about 15 minutes. The train was 10 carriages long and I was concerned that only the first few carriages would be going, but I spoke to the driver and he said no the whole train was going. He asked where we were going and when we said Teddington he advised us to get a middle carriage as a number of the platforms are currently too small for the new trains, and if you catch the first or last couple there is no platform to get off onto. I was surprised to note that not all platforms are wheelchair accessible.

Looking out the window we passed row after row of houses looking like a set for Coronation Street. There are also a number of individual gardens with sheds and veges and flowers.

When we got to Teddington Shellbe was waiting for us with Matthew, one of the two boys she nannies. Mathew was delighted to see me again and jumped up and gave me a big hug.


We walked through Teddington and Matthew told us about the barber where when you get your hair cut you get a lollipop, and then turned and looked speculatively at Brett and said “Brett you should get your hair cut” no ulterior motive I am sure. We stopped at a café and had a panini and Matthew had a chocolate ice-cream.



When we got to the house Matthew was very keen to get me outside playing swing ball. Then it was Brett’s turn while I chatted to Shellbe.


The family that Shellbe is nannying for are South African and one set of Grandparents were currently visiting. They arrived back from a walk and while Shellbe went to get the other boy Asher from school we chatted to them. Asher is 6, so being a bit older than Matthew is a bit more reserved but he soon warmed up and wanted to play chess, and went into great detail about two games where he bet his mum.

We decided after about another hour that while Shellbe was bathing and feeding the boys that we would go to one of the last local pubs and have a pint. We went into a pub called Hogwarths. While we were there Shellbe’s friend Polly joined us. Shellbe met Polly in Dunedin, and as well as living together there Shellbe stayed with Polly went she first got to both Sydney and London.

Last weekend they were in Las Vegas celebrating Polly’s 30 Birthday. Although I have hardly meet Polly I have heard a lot about her over the years and vice versus, so we chatted really well. Polly’s family is the opposite of Shellbes, in Polly’s there are 4 boys and girl, versus in Shellbe’s with 4 girls and a boy. At the pub I also got to hug a really cute 4 month old puppy, a Labrador-spoodle.


We then went to a pub called The Angler to celebrate Shellbe’s 31 and Polly’s 30 birthdays.


The weather was nice and warm so we sat outside. We got a couple of entrees, Polly doesn’t eat fish but we wanted to try the mussels so we got them and a platter to share. The mussels were ok but tiny by NZ standards. IMG_6464.jpg

I had seen fish pie on a number of menus so decided to give it a go, it was pretty tasty. We had a great time and all to soon it was time once again to say goodbye to Shellbe. Always hard but not as sad as last year as Shellbe is coming back home to live at least for awhile towards the end of the year 😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀.

Shellbe came to the train station to see us off. Polly also lives in London so we were able to catch the train and make the tube change with her. It was after 11pm at night and the tube was packed, hardly any room standing. We got off at King Cross and said goodbye to Polly who had another two stops.

When we got off the train and went across the road, Tim was in the same spot that he was in about 11 hours earlier. We gave him some money and wished him well. We walked back through the streets to the hotel. Like last night it was pretty busy still. Tomorrow we are off again.



Waving goodbye to Shellbe




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Day 16: First rest day in London

The hotel breakfast restaurant is what I imagine a large cruise ship would be like. It was crowded, lines of people jostling their way through the buffet, and trying find a table. We had continental breakfast, not cooked. The past few days a few riders have been complaining “not another full English breakfast” – of course those same riders complained today that they are not getting one. The counter to make tea and coffee was placed by the only exit, and once you had made a hot drink you had to push your way back through the line of people who were trying to get out.

After breakfast we set off to the laundry which was only a couple of minutes from the hotel. This time I remembered to take the iPad with me. Back to the hotel to put away the washing and catch up on a few emails. Spoke to Shellbe to sort out the plan re catching up with her tonight. Then off to look around London to see some things I didn’t get a chance to see last time.

We walked up to 221B Baker Street where the fictional characters Sherlock Holmes and Watson reportedly lived from 1891 to 1910. In 1891 to 1910 the Baker Street numbers did not go up to 221, but the Street has since been extended. The Abby National Building Society originally occupied these premises and for many years employed a full time secretary to reply to letters addressed to Sherlock.



IMG_5118.jpgThe place was well set out, 3 stories of furniture from the time in keeping with what was described in the books.


IMG_5100After this we went to the corner pub and had a toasted cheese and carmalised onion sandwich which was delicious and a cold beer. Initially I had got caught out by cask beer which is not cold enough for my NZ taste, so am now taking that into account, not just interesting names when ordering.


Hudson’s Restaurant at 241 Baker Street

We walked back to the hotel and got back about 4:30 which was only about 30 minutes before we had to leave again to get to West End. We met Michele and Tony at a pub restaurant called The a Beer and Staff, and I had a delicious mushroom, ale and beef pie. The meat was really tender and tasty, but the pastry was a bit tough for my liking, like it had been in the oven for too long. However I remember my daughter Shellbe telling me last year that this is how they like it over here.

We then set off to the Adelphi Theatre and met Shellbe, and went to see the show Kinky Boots. It was fantastic one of the best shows I have seen. At the end the audience got up and gave a standing ovation.


Then we walked with Shellbe towards the tube, and then went back to the hotel. Lots of people out partying – even though it was Wednesday, it was busy like a Friday.

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