Monday, 24 May 2010

On finding the bike box

I asked at the desk after breakfast if someone knew the whereabouts of the bike box. This time I got user-friendly liveware who knew about it and where it was. Leonardo is now in pieces in the box, sitting beside my overfilled duffle. I have just got to master the art of traveling more lightly.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

On taking chances

The staff member at the Youth Hostel that I spoke to, didn't seem to know thereabouts of my bike box, so I will have to go the Air Canada plastic bag and limited release route. Actually, this makes getting to Heathrow a mite easier in some ways. However, it does make getting home from Trudeau a little more difficult. I will ask again if anyone knows about the box tomorrow morning, if not, I wouldn't mind lift back from the airport. Air Canada flight 865 getting in at 17:50. I probably could try a bike shop or two, but given tomorrow is a bank holiday, I don't think it is worth it.

I spent today tooling around Central London on Leonardo. I started at Madame Tussaud's where I was rather disappointed in that not only has Mr. Rush's effigy been removed, but Lance Armstrong was nowhere to be seen even though signs claimed he was there! I am not impressed. I would have liked to take my photograph with him, especially as I had my bike helmet on hand.

I then rode through Hyde Park and along the Mall to Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately, the latter was closed to tourists on account of it being Sunday. Bloody Christians. I then hit up some of the major bookstores, followed by lunch and a trip to the London Transport Museum (very interesting).

I then rode over the Tower Bridge to get a shot of myself on Leonardo on the iconic bridge. This was the furthest a-field I have been in London. I got slightly lost coming home, or rather London streets got in my way. While the map said there was a street, access to said street was often problematic. Also, the Smithfield market got in the way. Still, I am back at the Youth Hostel, safe and sound despite taking the chance biking in the Big Smoke! Gorgeous day, many, many people and bikes out and about.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

On getting back to London

Well, I'm back in London at the same youth hostel. Unlike the last time, it is very hot out.

Looking back over the last two days, I think that I was so focused on getting to Bromyard, that I didn't give too much thought to what happened at that point. As a result, I missed a couple of opportunities. The first was going to visit the National Trust site at Brockhampton, about two miles East of Bromyard. I thought about it, but didn't feel like getting back on the bike, until it was too late in the day. The Brockhampton site is a moated medieval farmhouse complex.

The second missed opportunity relates to the fact that I mis-remembered the opening hours of Cadenheads in London and didn't double check my notes. As a result I thought it closed at 16:30 on Saturdays, rather than the accurate figure of 6:30 PM. Consequently, I was in too much of hurry in Gloucester and caught the 13:15 train, rather than one an hour or two later. My hurry was partly due to anxiety about leaving the bike and gear behind while I gave the Cathedral the attention it deserved. I had found that the Gloucester civic tourist centre in the curfew bell tower were happy to watch over Leonardo, but the residual worry kept me from taking full advantage of this.

Gloucester was better than Ben's opinion made it seem. However, the Tailor of Gloucester shop and museum lacked ceramic wares relating to that book suitable for my nieces and nephew. More's the pity. I did get myself a Tailor of Gloucester mug. Someone I spoke to said that the Tailor of Gloucester was among Beatrix Potter's favourites.

Time to hunt down some supper.

Friday, 21 May 2010

On getting out of Birmingham...

...I was quite relieved, as getting out of Greater Birmingham was much trickier than I conceived it would be. The cycle route map that I found after a long-ish search proved of relatively little use. It did get me on a cycle-path along the Birmingham Canal, which was better in some places than others. It was also the home to numerous families of Canada geese, some of whom hissed at me when I got too close to their goslings. Then again, they were on the bike path. I eventually left the canal and tried to get out the urban area. I was aiming for Stourbridge but got shunted towards Halesowen. As the latter was also on the edge of Greater Birmingham, I said to hell with it, and went with the flow.

Unlike Canadian cities, British ones end with a bang once you hit the green belt. One moment you are in suburbia, the next you trundling along a country lane. Britain is much denser in different areas than Canada.

I got to Birmingham from Glasgow by a relatively underused and slightly late train. In defence of Virgin Trains, the late arrival was due to a road vehicle striking a railway bridge. Before the train could cross it, someone had to give the bridge a once over. Furthermore, unlike the Montreal commuter rail lines, the passengers were quickly informed about what was up, and we were only held up by about 20 minutes. Quite unlike an experience my sister had about six months ago in Montreal.

Central Birmingham was alive with people. As well, there were countless flags and posters calling for the city to be named the 2013 British city of culture. Whatever that means. ;-)

This part of the country is much hillier than I expected. Consequently, it took me longer than anticipated to get to Bromyard. Also at issue was my navigation which took a considerable amount of mental energy. I stopped at the pub in the misnamed Great Whitley (it is quite small) for 'arf a pint and some crisps. As I sat at a table outside, a young lad who wandered by asked how far I had come. Even though I said "Just from Birmingham" he was quite impressed. (In case anybody wonders why only 'arf a pint, I still had 12 miles to go over hilly terrain in warm and humid weather.)

It took a fair bit of asking as well as trial and error before I found Fox Hill House. I had made arrangements to stay with my aunt Isabel, her husband John Fox, their son Ben, his wife Charlotte and their three and half kids (one more due in June). It is quite an interesting house and arrangement of households, but it seems to work so far. John and Izzy were at the hospital when I arrived as John had suffered a heart issue that day.

Ben is in the process of looking for new job which might mean moving. I jokingly suggested to Ben that the next time he moves, he should go someplace A. nearer to the National Cycling Network and B. flatter, such as Norfolk. ;-)

This morning I went to Hereford with Ben, Charlotte and Isabella, their youngest. While Ben was conducting some business, the ladies and I visited the cathedral, the Mappa Mundi (a medieval map) and the chained library. The books in the chained library were chained to shelves (hence the name) to prevent anyone from stealing them. A bit like the sign threatening to excommunicate anyone who pinched a book from the old library in Salamanca.

Tomorrow, I ride to Gloucester and catch a train back to London. It has been a good trip, but it is time to go home, alas.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

On a Campbell

According to cousin John of Campbelltown, I am related to the Campbells of the Dukes of Argyll fame. For some reason this makes me think of the more plebeian Douglas Campbell of whom I have written. Born in Glasgow (where I am), he had his anarchist period which included working on their newsheet. This meant he did some typesetting which he found both interesting and fascinating. As my readers may remember, I did some typesetting at Robert Smail's about a week ago. I wonder what Douglas would have thought about the NTS running such a place!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

On some good days

On Sunday, I gave Helen, John, their daughter Claire, her husband Christian and their daughter Susanna a hand raking up vegetation in the garden behind Springfield House (where Claire and Christian and company now live).
I hadn't realised from my previous visits how extensive the back the house's backyard was. Claire and Christian's son Daniel wasn't around as he was playing golf in Machrihannish. Susanna was quite taken with the copy of "Just one goal" by Robert Munch that I gave her.John and Helen gave me a boat-lift to Ardrossan yesterday. Despite some of our fears, the weather was gorgeous and if anything, too calm. There wasn't all that much wind, so Stargazer (John's boat) was force to use the iron lung (as John terms the motor) a fair bit, arriving at Ardrossan at about eight thirty at night, having left at about two in the afternoon. Leonardo was stowed in the foc'sle, in Spanish bus style (i.e. the front wheel removed along with the seat and the chain wrapped in a garbage bag). I steered part of the way. It was the first time I recall being at the helm of a boat steered with a wheel rather than a rudder. Certainly the first time for a sailboat. I was rather disconcerted at first as I wasn't quite sure which way to turn the wheel to go port or starboard. Also, Stargazer is relatively large and therefore responds much more slowly than a Laser or a Tanzer 16!
Coming into the harbour at Ardrossan, I saw some eider ducks including some eider ducklings! Lots of fun to see!John, Helen and I spent the night in Stargazer. It seemed much bigger inside than just 3 feet longer than Stephen's Quasar.
In the morning, after a necessarily late breakfast, I bid adieu to John and Helen and headed off to Glasgow. As the weather was glorious for biking (sunny, warm and a favourable wind), I cycled to Scotland's largest city rather than take the very handy train whose station was a few hunderd feet away. I found the National Cycle Network rather easily. However, badly laid out signs made me lose faith in it for a while and I lost time trying to figure out where I should go. Returning to the faith, I got on the right path for Glasgow.
After some putzing around on sundry roads, short paths and changing into a short-sleeved biking jersey for the first time on the trip, I got on a very nice bike path. At first, I thought it had formerly been a canal, but it seems it was formerly a railbed.
With the wind in a favourable position and a smooth, well-paved surface, I was frequently zooming along at 30+ km/h!!! Why couldn't I have had more days like that? ;-) Unfortunately, the path ended in Paisely as the railway beyond was still being used!
For various reasons, I decided to stay at the Argyll (or possible Argyle) Hotel in Glasgow. One of the reasons was it was very near the Mother India restaurant. Helen (I believe) had recommended it to me. In hindsight, I probably made a mistake in not ordering a starter. The food was wonderful. Mere words cannot describe how delicious it was. The menu's descriptions of the dishes I had, while accurate, did not come close to suggesting the richness of the sauce or the tenderness of the lamb. I am half-tempted to go back again tomorrow! Thank you Helen for the suggestion!!!My one regret is that from the boat, I realised that Arran is pretty darn spectacular. I am dreaming of a new bike trip to Scotland that would go, Arran, Campbeltown, Oban, and points North, West and East. ;-) However, I think June might be a better month for biking in the Highlands.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

On getting to Campbeltown

I have arrived. (Actually, I arrived yesterday afternoon at a little after 4, but that is besides the point.) I would have made more posts but, alas, the parts of Scotland I have been in are regretfully lacking in internet cafés. While some tourist information offices offer internet access, the computer at the one in Stirling was out of service, whereas the one in Inverrary wasn't cooperating with Google Mail and Blogspot.

The more observant of my readers will note that I did indeed go via Stirling and therefore Doune Castle as well, rather than Perth. It had been chilly that night, and as I left Edinburgh on the train I was startled to see that the Lothian Hills were covered with a dusting of fresh snow!

As I tried to bicycle up from the station to Stirling Castle, my chain kept coming off as I went into lowest front gear. I had the luck to go into Stewart Wilson Cycles in search of help with the matter. It was diagnosed as the smallest front gear ring being slightly bent. Stewart Wilson carefully bent the cog back into shape, but advised me to get it changed eventually (i.e. after the trip.) He then offered to store my bike while I was in Stirling! Kudos to great bike store.

I spent the night in Callander, from where I went North via a bike path through Balquhidder where Rob Roy MacGregor is said by some to be buried. However, at least one source I have read casts doubt on this. There were a number of coins and candles on the grave which appeared to me as a little odd.

After many days of battling a North wind, the wind changed to the South on this day. Unfortunately, it was the very day that I stopped going North and was now heading South from Crianlarich! The road between Crianlarich and Loch Lomond shared a valley with a railway line. At one point, the road went over the railway line and I saw an older man looking down the railway line expectantly. "Ah", thought I, "a trainspotter. How British." Then I heard a rapid "chuff-chuff-chuff" sound. I leapt off Leonardo and ran with my camera across the road to the track where in less than a minute a steam train puffed into view!!!
(Since I first posted this entry I was able to identify by zooming in on these photographs this steam engine as no. 45321, or LMS Stanier class 5 4-6-0 5321, part of the collection of operational steam engines of the Preserved Central Railway, which is in Leicestershire, relatively far from where I was. However, I have reason to believe that it was hauling the Jacobite excursion train from its winter quarters to Fort William.)

I spent the night in Tarbet (not Tarbert). The owner of the B&B told me he sometimes got phone calls from people who had got the two confused. I had hoped to spend the following night in Tarbert, but owing to a shortage of rooms, I spent the night in Lochgilphead.

Rest and be Thankful was as spectacular as ever, made more interesting by a procession of classic British sports cars (Austin-Healeys, MGs, etc.). There was a traffic light part of the way up owing to road repairs. As the light was red, I asked one of passengers of an Austin-Healey to take my picture. He commented that I didn't have an ounce of fat on me.
Despite some rain yesterday morning, the final day of real biking was quite glorious, even if the headwind was a bit much. (I was finding it hard to maintain 23 km/h.) I was passed by a tractor a little before Muasdale. I found I could use the tractor as a wind break and thus easily move along at 25 km/h! Unfortunately, there was a hill a little after Muasdale, and the tractor left me behind. Still, I must have got at least a good 2 kms of drafting out of it!
Helen was here to greet me when I arrived. John soon turned up. After some chit-chat, John got a call to go deal with the arrival of the Kintyre Express boat service from Ireland at the pontoon he runs. I went down with him. Among the passengers arriving was Frank McHardy who runs Springbank! John, Frank and I repaired to the White Hart inn for a pint.
In conversation with John, it seems that he will be sailing to Ardrossan in next few days to get a radio installed in his boat. In order to get to Glasgow to catch my train to Birmingham, my plan had been to go through Ardrossan as it is the ferry terminal from Arran. Hence, therefore or otherwise, Leonardo and I may be able to catch a sea-lift with John! I am not sure about the exact timing, but doubtless something may be sorted out.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

On Scottish roads

Well, here I am in Edinburgh, having reached the city rather late yesterday (about 7:50). My late arrival was due to getting turned around a few times, spending too much time at some historic sights, the North wind, and the decision to follow the National Cycling Network route 1 into Edinburgh rather than try to navigate myself on busy roads. This last decision meant that the route was significantly longer as it was fairly circuitous. However, it was calmer and ended up going through a rather neat former railway tunnel emerging near Edinburgh University.

I found my B&B, had a bath and tried to phone my cousins in Edinburgh to make arrangements. Owing to my ignorance, I couldn't make the call, so I said to heck with it, and walked the few blocks, just to say "Hi". Donald greeted me warmly. As he, Dominique and the new au pair were about to sit down to supper, I was invited to join them. I was very touched by their warm welcome. I am now sitting at Dominique's computer writing this.

On Sunday, I left Carlisle via the Reivers route bike path. At Longtown, I veered Northwest, parallel to the border, before crossing near Newcastleton. There, I celebrated with some of the other Scottish national drink (Irn Bru) and lunch. From there, I pedaled up a lonely road, mostly populated by sheep and motorcyclists to a pass. From there it was mostly downhill to Jedburgh. I visited the Abbey and bought an explorer pass to sights of Historic Scotland. In order to make the most out of it, I have decided to alter my route. The short of it is that I will now go through Stirling rather than Perth. I have yet to work out how I will get to Stirling, but in order to do both Stirling and Doune Castles in one day, I may well take the train to Stirling.

On Monday, I think I got confused by the multiplicity of trails, ways, routes, etc. and got slightly lost. However, I did get to ride on a former Roman road, visit Melrose Abbey and do some typesetting at Robert Smail's print shop in Innerleithen. The latter is a Scottish National Trust site which is small yet very fascinating. One of the employees at the place asked what route I would be taking. When he found out it would be the B709, he gave me the friendly warning that it involved a lot of climbing but was very beautiful. Also, that there would be very nice downhill at the end. All of which was true.

Anyway, I need to plan what I will be doing over the next two days, as well as take advantage of the Athens of the North. Cheerio.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

On getting on with the English weather

I'm in Carlisle on a sunny Saturday. After three days on the road through some of England's roughest terrain and some of its most annoying weather.

I left York under moderately sunny skies and made my way through gently rolling terrain to Ripon and Fountains Abbey. I stopped at both places and became, perhaps foolishly, a member of the National Trust at the latter. I was walking around the old abbey when I became aware of a smell not unlike green onions, or shallots to the English. I asked one of my fellow tourists if I was crazy. They pointed out a patch of wild garlic, the smell of which they rather disliked! Each to his own. I have smelt wild garlic on the road.

After lunch at the Abbey, I continued my journey under increasingly cloudy skies and increasingly common and steep hills. I stopped in Leyburn for hot chocolate as the day was getting increasingly cold as well as damp. This made thermal regulation tricky as it was very hard to find a good mix of layers.

I entered Wenslydale at Wensly (appropriately) and kept on a side road until Hawes. As tourist information was closed and they didn't have a map displayed outside, I had to ask at the White Hart Inn (a pub) for directions to the Youth Hostel. This had two sequels. The first that after I found the hostel and had supper at a fish and chips place, I went back to it for a pint of the local ale. While sipping my pint, I was amused to listen to the young barkeep going on a length about his luck (or lack thereof) in betting on horse races.

I shared a room at the youth hostel with an ex-civil engineer who was now working at a hilltop pub (possibly the highest in Britain). It was his day off and he was anxious to get some rest before the weekend when the pub would be hosting a pop festival including a group called the Arctic Monkeys of which even I had heard of. When he heard that I had a degree in history, he was amused as he would start on a history degree in the fall. I didn't tell him I had started in engineering before switching to history myself.

Leaving Hawes, I headed up towards Ingleton. Just after a wind and rain swept pass, I turned off the main-ish road onto a narrow back road to Dent. It was rather wild, beautiful and twisting descent. I stopped to photograph a stone railway viaduct and in the process realised that I hadn't seen any other traffic on the road since I got on it! If I had wiped out, how long would it have been before someone found me? Ironically, just behind the viaduct was a large transport truck (Heavy Goods Vehicle or HGV to the Brits) full of logs. Given the narrowness of the twisty roads, my personal opinion on the driver was "Better you than me, mate".

I followed stream down the valley past Dent. It ran over ledges of rock, some of which had been eroded away underneath forming small caves behind the waterfalls. At least, there would have been waterfalls had there been more water in the streams. Despite the wet weather I was experiencing, it seems it has been relatively dry in these parts. I also wonder if the paternal unit would be interested in visiting the Yorkshire Dales on account of geology. On the other hand, he shouldn't be allowed to drive on British roads as he would end up missing too much of the scenery.

I got to Sedbergh in times for elevenses. In a bakery/café, I happened to share a table with an older couple who had been in the White Hart pub when I stopped for directions! They were "relieved" to know I had found the hostel.

The weather was clearing as I arrived in Kendal where I built up mint cake supplies and had lunch. I then set off for the ferry across Lake Windermere. This was country that I absolutely knew I had seen before and indeed there was one hill that I swear I could remember from thirty years ago. As in my trip of thirty years ago, I stopped in Near Sawery where I visited Hilltop, the cottage where Beatrix Potter lived. I don't think we did that in 1980. We did stop at the Inn featured in one of Potter's stories. The sign has now faded but the beer inside is very good. The publican recommended the Black Bull pub in Coniston to me.

Between the pint of beer, fatigue and an odd sign, I missed my turning at Hawkshead. Luckily, I am somewhat obsessive about checking my map, so I noticed at the next hamlet which was only a mile or so down the road.

I entered Coniston on another familiar seeming road and found both the Black Bull pub and the YHA. As the pub was also recommended in Lonely Planet, I chose it for supper and some Bluebird Bitter. Bluebird is a reference to the name Donald Campbell gave to his record breaking vehicles including the one that killed him on Coniston Water in the 1960s. It was only in the last decade that they found both the boat and later his body.

The forecast for yesterday was relatively unfavourable as it called for relatively heavy cloud cover and low temperatures. Consequently, I opted not to take the Kirkstone pass and instead went via Grasmere. After more back lanes and at 25% pitch (down fortunately) I arrived in Grasmere only to be buzzed by an RAF Tornado jet at very low altitude. I went into Sarah Nelson's Gingerbread shop where I picked up my nibbles for the day.

As luck would have it, there was a cold wind out the North East that blew for much of the day. Not only did this blow the clouds away, it also made for some surprisingly tough biking as I was heading in that direction for most of the time. It was really quite chilly, though quite pretty. It was also wild and woolly. That is the landscape was wild and the sheep were quite woolly. I am almost getting tired of the "miiiinnnnnt saaaaaauuuuuce!" joke. Almost.

Lambs are wonderful to watch, especially when nursing as they seem almost ecstatic. The Lake District's native breed of sheep is something called the Herdwick. The adults' coat looks more hairy than woolly, and is a gray-ish brown, or possibly a brown-ish gray. On the other hand, the lambs are mostly pure black.

North of Grasmere, the main and only road rises to high-ish pass, beyond which lies Thirlmere, reservoir. The main road goes down the Eastern shore, but fortunately, there was a minor road down the Western shore which was much more peaceful.

North of lake, I veered Eastwards to Threlkeld. I visited its mining museum and was amazed to find out how many different types of minerals had been mined in the small area. It included a reproduction of the many types of old mines in the area that was quite labyrinthine. I would recommend the place to the paternal unit except he would end up annoying the guide with his lame "hacking and hewing" references.

There seemed to be some sort of bike event going on between Keswick and Penrith and I was in the company of other cyclists for a few miles. Some of them were in shorts and spandex only, and I was tempted to ask if they weren't freezing.

From Scales, I veered Northwards over a Common with grazing sheep and small horses/ponies. It was very rough and empty country. Wondering about possible overgrazing, I checked the Common's bylaws which posted at the far end. I didn't find anything about grazing rights but I was a little surprised that I had broken one of the by-laws by singing. Luckily, no one else was about.

After leaving the Commons, the landscape pulled a switcheroo and became tidily English rural splendour. After carefully navigating a succession of lanes and minor roads, I got on a major-ish road (B5299) that was signposted into Carlisle. Nearing outskirts, I got on a bike path that was part of the National Cycle Network (no. 7, the Reivers) that led into the centre of the city but then rather disappeared on me. I eventually had to ask a clerk in a Staples outlet where I actually was on my map.

After finding my B&B and showering, I dined in an Indian restaurant as well as entered in the day's mileage into my notes. It had been a bloody hard day but I had only done about 81.36 km, only 2 more than my estimate. I attribute the difficulty to the headwinds and the very cool temperatures. Still, the weather has been very pretty if not warm!

I am very much enjoying my day off. But tomorrow, Scotland!

Oh, the volcano is still making a fuss.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

On getting ready for the road

Well, I've done York. I done most of the things you can do in York without getting obsessive. They have tours by boat done by a company called York Boat. I was amused by this name as I believe in Canajun context, a York boat is what was used on rivers and lakes out West by the Hudson's Bay Company.

Yesterday, I rode from the London Youth Hostel to King's cross station where I caught the train to here. The only real complication was hauling Leonardo up and over the tracks in York. I probably could have looked harder and found the lift but I was feeling macho. After lunch at a pub, I headed to the Youth Hostel, where I checked in, and then spent too much time waiting for the St-Henri Caisse Populaire to tell my that I was SOL as far as my debit card was concerned. Consequently, I have put as much cash as prudent from bank account into my credit card.

As I got ready to do some sight seeing in York, I noticed that I had left my clear cycling glasses behind. I picked out a bike shop from the cycling in York pamphlet I had acquired from tourist information and made a bee-line for it. Fortunately, the bike shop had what I needed, if not at the price I wanted. Still they gave a discount so I can't complain (£34.99 instead of £39.99)

At breakfast this morning, there was an older man in bright spandex biking togs in front of me. I made a comment about how I was glad I wasn't the only fool on bike around. I don't think he heard me. When I was walking to my table, I saw that he was one of party of four cyclists, all of them, apparently, Dutch, all older men and women, and all in bright spandex. I later saw them setting off on what seemed to be mountain bikes with road (smooth) tires. Not very fast looking, so I wonder if there is any chance of me bumping into them further along the road.

I took a walking tour of York this morning. I am pretty sure the guide was exaggerating the height of the Roman soldiers as being on the order of 4 feet (sic). After a quick bite, I took in the Jorvik centre, the walls of York, the Richard III museum (I couldn't stop thinking of the Black Adder version of events), the Guild of Merchant Adventurers and finally the pièce de résistance, York Minster.

There is a weakness with the Lonely Planet guide as the featured restaurants tend towards the exotic or artistic rather than the filling. Then again, maybe the problem lies with the restaurants of York! As tomorrow I hit the road, I wanted a darn good feed rather than a culinary experience. Consequently, I went into a pub listed in the guide as featuring real ale. As it served food, I ordered their grub and filling it was.

Time for bed.

Oh dear. It seems that the volcano in Iceland is acting up again.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

On things that went right

My previous entry was a bit negative so I will say a few good things to keep in positive spirits. Leonardo got through customs ahead of me and was waiting, unattended, on a trolley near the baggage carousel. I only noticed after I had pulled out a trolley. With a cry of "Leonardo! You made it!" I abandoned the first trolley and headed over to him.

When I got to the Youth Hostel, (across the street from the British Library!), I assembled him on the sidewalk (i.e. the pavement in the British parlance) outside the front door. I attracted a number of stares as well as a few comments. One was from someone who said I might start to look like I was having fun. Another asked if I had mailed it to myself. Nothing appears wrong with Leonardo, so I am set to get on the train to York tomorrow.

As it is raining today, I went to the British Museum along with several thousand other people who had the same idea. Along the way, I got slightly lost and before I found the museum, I stopped in at a Waterstone's bookstore where I hoped I could get some batteries as my rechargeables are giving me trouble. They did sell batteries in their stationary department but it only opened at noon, a few minutes away. I sarcastically muttered something about what a "bore" it was for a librarian to have to kill time in a bookshop. ;-) Anyway, I got some new rechargeable and pre-charged batteries.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

On getting to London, just

The wheels on the bike box worked relatively well, but otherwise the trip to London has proven a bit problematic. I got to Trudeau airport relatively easily, but it involved listening to an-off duty bus driver yack on to the on-duty bus driver about how the schedules for the 747 bus had an interesting, that is to say non-existent, relationship with reality.

Getting through security was excessively long for some inadequately explained reason. Even then, I managed to short-circuit it by going through the domestic security gate rather than the international gate. I made my flight with little time to spare. Unfortunately, there was a fault with one of the radios which meant that what with figuring out the problem, tracking down the relevant spare part, installing it and dealing with knock on effects, the plane arrived at Heathrow nearly three hours late.

Then again, I did get to see an Airbus 380. That is one very large, but unattractive plane. Consequently, I doubt the 380 will have the cultural impact of the elegant 747.

Then my debit card refused to work for some yet to be determined reason. I managed to get some cash with my Visa, but I have not have had energy to seriously investigate the matter.

I went to Stanford's to get some better maps for the trip. Unfortunately, Sustrans (the British equivalent to Velo-Quebec) could learn a hell of a lot from the latter with regards to biking publications. It has a fair number of detailed maps, etc. but unfortunately, they are very local in nature. If I were to use them, I would end up carrying too much paper for too little value. I ended up getting a Great Britain A-Z road atlas that I will shortly be taking a jackknife to.

Then it began to pour with rain. Me without my waterproof breathable rain jacket. I made it to the Irish pub next to the Youth Hostel where it turned out they were out of sticky toffee pudding. Bloody Fenians! ;-)

Am very sleepy.