Mike and Jen


Europe » Belgium » West Flanders » Bruges October 13th 2017

The home stretch!! Ghent to Bruges. No hills, well almost, hey Henry?? Chiel stole the show at the start of the day when he insisted on showing us not once, but twice, how clever he was at manoeuvring Elodie out of tight spots. (I think the university students were having too much fun in O week so they decided to relocate one of our life rings) After we negotiated the tight canals coming out of Ghent and reached our drop off spot we faced an easy 47km, mostly along canal paths, with the requisite patisserie at morning tea time and a pleasant lunch spot (with bonus café close by). At one stage we were matching our speed with a power boat, which was ok, except it shattered the peace of the canal. The highlight of the ... read more
Racing the Elodie along the canal
The merry band of riders...
The beer bike

Europe » Belgium » East Flanders » Gent October 12th 2017

Belgique, you are magnifique!! We were sad to leave Oudenaarde, not only because of the memorable brewery tour, my dears, but because we had little time to tour the city. We left Chiel and Jantien to sail Elodie down river whilst we headed off for another very pleasant cycle. Mostly along the canal paths with the occasional foray into the Belgian countryside. First detour was to a nature school for children. They had some great stuffed animals and birds and videos of birds in their natural habitats. Soon after leaving the school I discovered I had a flat tyre. A quick stop to reinflate it and we were on our way. Next stop was a wonderful patisserie and coffee shop. It required a couple of hill climbs to get there but was well worth the effort. ... read more
This is what happens if you don't change your underwear
This one's for Joshie
These are for Lyla ans Saige

Europe » Belgium » East Flanders » Oudenaarde October 11th 2017

After a difficult day yesterday where the French socialists hampered our progress, we started off behind schedule today but Chiel did a great job playing catch up. We were woken to the throb of diesel as Chiel negotiated the now functioning locks and made progress towards Tournai. We disembarked at 10.00am where Elodie was due to take on fuel. We covered the final 8km to Tournai in good time and Henry very kindly gave us an hour to explore this wonderful town. We really enjoyed Tournai and the cathedral, undergoing a massive renovation, is truly a work of art and will be well worth a return visit after 2020 when it is complete. It didn't take some of our group long to realize that we were now in Belgium and that means chocolate and waffles!!! (Thank ... read more
Elodie taking on fuel

Europe » France » Nord-Pas de Calais » Valenciennes October 10th 2017

We must be in the Irish region of France as Murphy has been everywhere today. We awoke to find that French public servants had pulled a lightening strike and the lock operators had not turned up for work. Uncertain as to when the strike would be lifted Henry decided that we should head off for our bike ride and check in with Chiel later in the day to see whether we should return to Valenciennes or continue on to Tournai. We were berthed right in the middle of Valenciennes but were just resting against three pillars so poor old Chiel had to manoeuvre the boat to align the offload point with the jetty. This was an exacting task which involved much friendly banter (in Dutch) between Chiel and Jantien (forward deck hand aka chef). After completing ... read more
Gare du Valenciennes
Valenciennes Town Hall facade
Miner's cottages

Europe » France » Nord-Pas de Calais » Valenciennes October 9th 2017

Chiel made a terrible mistake today - he said the weather was going to be perfect but cold. He was wrong - it was perfect and warm!! The ride was also extremely enjoyable. 50km of tracks alongside the Canal de St Quentin and across very gently undulating countryside. You will note from my pictures that the land usage has swung from crops to livestock. Henry did superbly today when he took us into Cambrai for morning tea. Some of our group (who should remain nameless, shouldn't they Jenny and Kerrie?) had what the French describe as cappuccinos with lashings of whipped cream on top. Divine!! (so I'm told :-) ) After Cambrai, we continued on the canal tow paths for some time before stopping for lunch near a lock. By this time, the sun was out ... read more
Maureen and the ever-vigilant Jonathan
Swans and Cygnets on the canal
Jenny and her 'small' coffee

Europe » France » Picardy » Peronne October 8th 2017

Back in the saddle again!! After a delightful but moving day yesterday, it was back in the saddle again today for the ride from Peronne to Marquion. The day started with the transit of a couple of locks and then we offloaded the bikes and headed upstream along the Canal du Nord, pausing briefly on a bridge to take photos of Elodie as she passed beneath us. The riding today was at a very pleasant pace and the weather was kind, with light winds and scattered cloud. Temperature of around 15C. We rode through picturesque village after picturesque village. Very quiet as it was Sunday. Henry found a café open for morning tea and we stopped in a lovely picnic location in Moeuvres for lunch. We made such good time that we arrived at Marquion at ... read more
The team waiting for Elodie to pass  below
Here she comes
Lunch Break at Moeuvres

Europe » France » Picardy » Peronne October 7th 2017

What a lovely day!! My backside didn't go anywhere near a bike saddle all day today and, for that, it is eternally grateful!! After a yummy breakfast of bacon and eggs with all the usual trimmings, we packed up and headed into town. A brief tour of the Saturday morning markets cost me nothing more than 2 Euros for a scarf and 3.50E for a couple of pastries. The lady at the fruit stall gave me a delicious plum for free!! Next stop the Historical Museum de Guerre Grande (Historical Museum of the Great War). Well worth a look for an overview of the atrocity which was the First World War. What a frightful waste of 11 million young lives!! Plus, of course, the aftermath of so many men with physical and psychological ailments many of ... read more
The Weapons of War
German War Graves
Digger Mike and the Golden Madonna

Europe » France » Picardy October 6th 2017

Today reminds me of that Beatle's song "Long and Winding Road". 55km of long slow inclines and short whizzes down hill, all into a 20km/h head wind. Those with battery power were certainly at an advantage today. Not a great deal to see today other than the gothic cathedral at Noyon. Built in 1140 to 13th Century with various additions over the centuries including France's oldest religious library built in the 1400's. Noyon had its first Bishop in the mid 6th Century and a Pope came from Noyon in the 14th Century. The other significant feature of the ride today was our first Commonwealth War Cemetery near Brie. A small but very moving tribute to those that gave their lives for our French colleagues in the Great War. When you read the ages on the tomb ... read more
First coffee of the day
It looks a very tight squeeze from the Wheelhouse, as we approach a lock
The Pipe organ in the Noyon Cathedral

Europe » France » Picardy » Noyon October 5th 2017

Jenny's Birthday and what a day!! The day started with Jenny getting tea in bed. At breakfast, she was smothered with kisses (2 if you're French, 3 if you're Dutch) and presented with a cute little 'rum baba' cake complete with candle. The cake had cream and a raspberry on top and a small vial of rum which you inject into the cake. We had it for afternoon tea - Yum!! Today's ride was almost completely within the Cempiegne forest. We left Elodie and were subject to a rugged start with a few hundred yards of rough cobblestones across the front of the Palace. This is where the Paris to Roubaix bike race starts. This race is largely on cobblestones and the riders cover approximately 260km in one day of bone jarring, teeth shattering riding. After ... read more
Birthday Girl at Breakfast
Birthday Girl and hr best friend
Lonely bikes outside the cafe

Europe » France » Picardy » Compiegne October 4th 2017

Can this be possible??!! Yet another great day. 45km ride of pure bliss, mostly along the banks of L'Oise, mostly flat and mostly on quiet bike paths through farmland and forest. And the weather - perfect!! Life doesn't get much better than this!! Along the way we witnessed the Thalys high speed train from Brussels to Paris whizzing past on an elevated track at around 300km/h. We saw farm animals (horses, cows, chickens), plenty of swans on the river and ponds, ploughed fields and vegetable patches. We even had time for a coffee break (tea for Warwick) and we still got back to Elodie in time for a stroll through the beautiful town of Compiegne (how many times have I used the term 'beautiful' in these travelblogs? I'm sorry if my use of this superlative is ... read more
Coffee (& tea) break
A view from astern

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