Sunday, June 30, 2013

Towards Scotland

We left London with high hopes for the better. We were happy to get out of our dungeon and this city life which was (and is) really not for us. Direction straight north, on to the A1. After we got out of the suburban area, we went back to smaller roads and made it to Cambridge for lunch to the only open vegan restaurant (Cam Yoga). On a positive note, we realized that motorbikes - even those with a sidecar - do not need to pay toll in tunnels and bridges. Convenient :)

The average speed on smaller roads was ridiculous due to roundabouts every few kilometers if there are even kilometers between them. Brits really seem to love roundabouts!!! Yet, we did not give up and continued to Peterborough, where we had already booked a motel for the night. We went to the local supermarket to get some food and we were truly surprised about the vegan options as well as generally their healthier food selection! :)

Riding on the left side of the road with a solo bike is not difficult at all. We had this experience already when we visited Australia and New Zealand a few years back. The only new thing here was the usage of mph instead of kmh - not so big deal. We went with the feeling of speed and it will be fine. Riding a sidecar on the left side is new to me and especially the fact that the sidecar is mounted on the right side. Since people in the UK seem to "protect" their street with all sorts of bushes and walls just beside the street, the visibility in left curves is close to zero, which makes it a little more exciting riding with 50mph into such one in the hope there is nothing blocking the way ;)

Another observation which amazed is that so many traffic signs are hidden behind bushes, branches of trees etc. This causes sudden changes in directions or stops where I need to consult my GPS. Also the weather in UK has not disappointed us. We've had plenty of cloudy, rainy, windy days with short sunny moments.

We did not book a budget accommodation for the next night so we decided to go camping - what could possible go wrong there? Next morning, we packed our stuff and hit again to smaller roads. This time we were more lucky and found curvy stretches of up to 12km without any circle! We rode over the bridge to Barton upon Humber and continued around many circles towards North York Moors National Park. We did check two campsites beforehand in the internet and both seemed fine.

We went to first one, it looked all promising and when we came to reception they said they are closed for renovation. What the F***! And nothing about this in their webpage. OK - we knew there is another coming a few miles later and it was the same place this guy recommended to us. So, we thought what the heck - a few km more are not so bad, I had no idea what time it was, but there was still plenty of light. We rode to this other place and wanted to check in for several nights. When they asked how many dogs I have, I answered three and then they said, that they cannot take us. They have a strict limit of two dogs/tent, so we cannot camp here. After telling them that we did ride whole day, Skippy had started to get a flu and one of the dogs is the size of a mouse. They would have allow us in, if we are not showing all three dogs at once - max two. If the park owner sees three dogs, we will be asked to leave! What the heck is going on here? By now, it was getting late and we got desperate. They gave us a hint, where we might be able to camp. First, we tried the two motels in the village - both fully booked. We went to this nice lady who works (or owns) the local pub and she was really understanding. Since she owned a field which was currently not used, she allowed us to pitch our tent there. We went to her farm house to fetch some water and so we stayed one night in the fence together with two (other black) sheep :D

First wild camping (a bit involuntarily though)

The view from our camp site was nice and enough space to walk the dogs :)

Lucky us the village had some public toilets so we could refresh ourselves a little next morning, have breakfast on the parking lot and get going towards north.

Hertta found a new position to enjoy the ride and the breaks.

... and then we found this almost perfect break/camp site

View in North York Moors National Park

Beautiful cottongrass fields everywhere.

This was a lesson. For our next stop, I consulted my GPS map for some camp sites and called them beforehand to figure out whether they are open and allow three dogs. The plan of calling beforehand did not really work out. Two places which were nearby Holy Island did not answer and the call was diverted to an answering machine. One place answered and they allowed three dogs, however they were a little too close for a day's ride as we wanted to ride a bit more this day. The phone line of the other candidate place was always busy (good sign - many customers?). Anyway, we gave it a shot and we were lucky. They were open and had no problem with three dogs since they were so small. Now we had a place to stay a few nights to get Skippy in better fit for Scotland.

Rules in the UK ...
The story goes like this. We had two neighbors at the camping site, one friendly old gentleman who likes to take pictures of wildlife seabirds and then there was a mother/parent with two daughters who enjoyed playing outside. We came to talk to the gentleman right away and he was impressed by what we do and asked whether he can take some pics of my bike. I said sure and then later that afternoon he came with his tripod and old fashioned film camera to take a few shots. Some hours later the police came and we could first not understand why the police was here and what they talked to both of our neighbors (innocently as we are with a Finnish mindset). When the police was gone, I asked the old fellow what was that all about and he told, that the mother/parent accused him of taking (secret) pictures (remember with a tripod!!!) of her daughters. He was then asked to hand over the film to the police for destruction and he needed to leave the camping place INSTANTLY!!! Well, it seems that the other ones needed to leave too. Hey, come on you Brits - a little bit more relaxing would do you well! The good thing was that now we had one whole side of the tent area for us, and we used it to play with our dogs (which was also forbidden!!!).

Testing our new tarp

Skippy making salad dressing with on board electricity

Almost alone in the entire tent area

Testing local beer - quite good, a bit expensive though
Hyvää Juhannusta!

Walking the dogs in the neighbourhood

In order to get to the public footpaths I needed to climb over the fences. Typically those had some kind of steps for that. At least some were not made for dogs ... click here Lyra finding her way :D

Lyra and Ulpu - always wanting to be above ground :)
Weekend came and camping site got busy ...
We relaxed a few nights there and then we continued our ride - next via point was Holy Island. The interesting aspect of the island is that it is cut off from the mainland in high tides. If you want to go there, you need to be aware of the tide time tables. We did a small walk around the village, Skippy was still not doing too great and so we moved on towards Falkirk...

Castle at Holy Island
and who cleans the poop of the sheep?
The rescue tower for those who test their luck with the tides
Somewhere on the way to Scotland
Jipiii - we made it

∼ Wolfi

Friday, June 21, 2013

London calling

Before leaving France, we needed to get the required vaccinations for girls against tapeworm so that we could enter UK. After a quick search, we found an English-speaking vet nearby and got at the same day the vaccinations, stamps and signatures. After waiting the required 24h, we were good to go and booked us a ferry for the following day. The online booking system does not allow pets in a sidecar, however if you call, they still do the booking (they know about this issue and we do not seemed to be the first with this problem).

Interesting way to fix a bike
The paper formalities were no problem at all neither at the check-in in France nor customs in England. London welcomed us with small occassional showers. Finding a (low-budget) flat (we wanted with own kitchen) proofed to be rather complicated. First we needed to send an inquiry by email (together with paying for the accommodation in full in advance) and then wait for the answer from the landlord or the rental agent. We got refused by several places due to our dogs. In the end, what you get might be quite different from what you wanted and this process also takes a long time and requires internet and thus it felt like a bit of hassling. Our so called studio  was located in Harlesden. It was so tiny, that we could barely move in there and so we decided to take the dogs with on our sightseeing through the city

Parking was only for residents or max. 4h by paying, so we took initiative :D
We found a good parking spot for our bikes - nobody cared about them except for one person ...
Images from the neighbourhood
London seems to have a trash problem
I wonder in which neighborhood we were ... anyway nothing happened to the bikes.

One thing seemed for sure, if you want to get attention in London - take Ulpu with, especially when she has her cute outfit on :D Just to test the British humour, I started to ask people for 1GBP if they wanted to take a picture of Ulpu. Wow, some people were even willing to pay, of course I did not take any money. The fun was enough for me.

We walked around some of the usual sightseeing places, did some small shopping at Lush (they have vegan cosmetics) and went to explore Whole Foods market, where we had lunch. We walked towards Hyde park and saw by chance the premier of Sandra Bullock's and Melissa McCarthy's new movie "The heat" - unfortunately I missed Sandra by a few minutes :( - pity, would have been cool to see one of my favourite actors live.

Premiere of the movie "The Heat"

And Skippy said: " Oh, the Big Ben is not big at all"
St. James Park - walking the dogs
Suddenly I felt an itch at my arms and head and I thought "oh no, I must have eaten something I am allergic to (no idea what it would be)". I told Skippy and since it got so bad, we went to pharmacy to get some medicine. After a while it did the job and since everybody was tired we decided to call it a first day and go back to our dungeon.

Tired Ulpu and Skippy after a long day in London downtown

What a discrimination!!!

Cool bench in a park nearby our dungeon.

More playing in another park

It was time to plan the next legs, so Skippy used her "Pinky-finger" method :)

We also visited Vx - Headquarters of the "Secret vegan society" - a well assorted shop, where we got some snacks. 

At the last evening we went to the Lexi cinema to see "Behind The Candelabra" with Michael Douglas. It was our first movie since we left Finland! Lexi proofed to be a cute cinema, where "100% of The Lexi’s profits go towards improving the quality of life for the people of Lynedoch Village in Stellenbosch, South Africa".  

Skippy found the movie excellent, it was well acted, well written and had great music. I found the make-up amazing.

Next morning we were off towards Scotland.

~ Wolfi

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

First cake of the trip!

About a week ago we had a rather nice little apartment in Germany in a small village called Blomesche Wildnis and there I finally had a chance to enjoy a PROPER kitchen! And was I happy! :D The very first thing I did was this delicious cookie tasting cake for my 'cake monster'. I didn't have any recipes with me and no internet and didn't feel too creative either, but luckily I was under good stars and it came out just perfect! Two days after that I had to make another one for the road because we never really know what sort of facilities will be in the next place...

Cinnamon cake
  • 3 dl wholewheat spelt flour
  • 2 dl  cornflour (coarse)
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp No Egg-powder (most likely potato starch or so will also work)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (I used German version which contains also baking soda)
  • 2 dl raw cane sugar
  • 4 dl soya-rice milk (or other veggie milk)
  • 0.5 dl melted coconut oil (or other veggie oil)
Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Heat the milk slightly if you use coconut oil to prevent the oil from solidifying on contact. Pour wet into dry and stir together. Pour the dough into an oiled cake form and bake in 175 C degree oven for 40-60 min. Let cool down fully before taking out from the form or cutting into pieces.

~ Ilta

Monday, June 10, 2013

Riding towards Calais

After Kappeln, we needed some "vacation" from the rainy and cold experience of Brodersby. We found an affordable apartment in Blomesche Wildnis (Glückstadt) with own kitchen and stayed there for a few days. THE opportunity for Skippy to do some nami for us :)
In fact, the cake was tasting soo good, that she made it two times in those few days :D

Delicious cinnamon cake
Tasty salad for lunch with BBQ-fried soy and eggplant.
Though luck for us, the owner forgot the password for the WLAN. Several days without internet - our backlog just piled up. We also went to Hamburg - shopping at Globetrotter, Louis, vegan shop and an emergency stop at Starbucks to check email and vegan places. I was a bit disappointed from Globetrotter and Louis compared to those in Berlin. In Berlin, the shops feel spacier and cleaner. Well, we got what we needed and went quickly to eat in a vegan restaurant "Loving Hut".
Vegan food for Wolfi

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Oh - this was good, could have had some more ...
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Skippy was supposed to have something lighter without soy/wheat, but then there were these weird soy medallions.
Springrolls (which tasted like 'kaalikääryle'), rice noodles and yummy salad.

Skippy had again her butt-problems, so we went to Cuxhaven to visit "Elbe - Orthopädie" in the hope they could help Skippy. We decided to take the ferry (quite expensive - we paid a total of 12.50EUR one way) to cross Elbe.

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Ferry Glückstadt - Wischhafen

HUGE container ship crossing our way and we needed to give way

Took a while ... I wonder how many thousands of containers are there ???

The guys collected rubber ducks :D
They were everywhere on the landing poles ... strong sailor and little boys :D
Evening walk in Cuxhaven

And yes, the winter got extended :D

The next day Detlef had time to look after our seat. So we went there, took the seat down, removed the seat cover and measured Milady's butt and her "pressure points".
They do all sorts of things from seats to prostheses
They decided to replace the centerpart of the seat with a different kind of material.
Detlef - the boss flexing out a piece of Skippy's seat.

Modified seat to release pressure points in the butt and it fits the color of the bike ;)

Elbe Orthopädie

The real boss of the house
After we figured out how to use an electronic stapler :D we put the seat cover on and the job was done. THANK YOU very much!!!

Obviously we complained enough about the expensive ferry (we went over three times), and so they allowed us to stay in one of their empty flats which is currently under renovation. This was very kind. The bikes were parked in the inner yard and I did some maintenance. For some strange reason, the front axle bolts got loose. First I did not get it what happened. When we were in Hamburg, the speedmeter went off occassionally, which meant there was a huge clearance. During our stay in Blomesche Wildnis, I tried to tighten them according to the manual, but then the wheel did not move anymore either. Strange behavior. I called Peter, he could not advice any more then RTFM. OK, I dissambled the front, so that I could remove the wheel. All parts looked fine to me, then I put them back together and now I was able to apply the appropriate torque without problems (and the wheel still moving). Well, I need to keep an eye on those screws.

Tightening front axle bolts
We were good to go and off we went to enter Netherlands. We found a sweet place directly besides a canal, so you could tie your boat directly in front of your room :D

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Pension B&B het Smidsvuur
Shoping street
Plenty of those kind of bridges - traffic lights for boats, barriers for street traffic
More pics of the neighbourhood - we wondered about those huge living room windows, where others can easily look into your living room.
Small harbour in the village
Breakfast in sun at the landing stage

And we got some company during breakfast - unfortunately the diets did not match, so no food for those fellows
We spent two nights in a sleepy village called Aardenburg, made it quickly through Belgium and entered France. Now we need to figure out how to get with sidecar and dogs to UK and we need to find a vet to give our girls the required tapeworm vaccination.

~ Wolfi