I turned right at the junction and followed the road for 500m I past a small school and maybe half a dozen cottages. The area was quite and it was just before four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon when I rode into St Martins camp ground, it was almost like a small graveyard were all the graves had been removed. There were a dozen or so pitches for tents with a tree at the back of each pitch and a hedge divided the middle ones up. I cycled around the gravel path looking for an office of some form, there wasn’t one. Above me to my right was a tennis court surrounded by wire mesh a small car park and a building, outside this building which looked like a school entrance was a man smoking. I said “office” as I gestured towards a nearby pitch, he pointed to the school door.

I lay my bike on the floor and walked up some steps next to the old tennis court, at the top in front of me was a shower block so I realised this small campsite was on two levels and something to do with the local school. Just as I approached the door a stout lady appeared, it was four o’clock and she was opening up for a couple of hours. The smoking man had already pitched his tent and just wanted to pay what he owed. I handed my driving license over as identification, I had been using it all my journey and not once had to show my passport. The campsite was extremely basic and that reflected in the price of €5.95 I paid, all I had to do was decide where to put my tent.

The grass was worn and muddy in places with trees shading the pitch. I propped the bike against a tree and decided to set up the tent facing the bike with the back towards the office and path. I felt a presence when setting up the tent and wondered if it really had been a graveyard, it hadn’t but I was being watched by a woman from an attic window of an old three storey building with wooden beams and shutters on the windows, it looked as if it had once been a grand house but as its original occupants had moved on it had been converted into apartments.

I looked up and waved saying hello, she said hello back and smiled, her hair was short and a little wild, she was wearing a silver-grey cardigan and was smoking, she watched intently as I assembled my tent. I asked her if she spoke English, ” a little ” was the reply, she then asked in a French accent but good English whether I wanted tea. I replied that I was okay and had coffee but felt I’d been a little rude so finished the sentence with “tea that would be lovely” she directed me around the building to the front door, I didn’t even know her name so introduced myself, she said her name was Sophie and I should press the top bell.

I put all my gear in the tent and walked around to the front of the apartment block, I was a little apprehensive about having tea with a complete stranger especially as my French is awful. A little yappy dog was barking at me from a balcony as I walked into the driveway, another woman was on the second floor, hanging out her window smoking, I said hello. I pressed the top bell on the intercom next to the door and it opened, I had no idea which apartment it was just that it must be on the top floor, I climbed the three flights of stairs and came to an orange door which was slightly open, I knocked.

Sophie opened the door and beckoned me in, I was a little nervous but entered, shuck her hand and kissed her on both cheeks. She pointed to the sofa and told me to sit, I did as I was told. The apartment was modern but Sophie had added some wonderful touches, there was a small square coffee table which had been hand painted with small flowers, it was an unusual table as the legs weren’t at the corners they were in the middle of each side, it also had four small stools around it, each equally hand painted with delicate flowers, the floor was white laminate but had a floor board effect, looking like the original floor boards had just been white washed. Two green rugs that looked like grass lay in the lounge and from the corner of the room were four colourful tin chickens set in a line leading to a small tin bucket full of daisies. The kitchen clock had a knife and fork as hands, there were small teddy bears and straw rabbits sat on window sills, small pot plants all over and decoupage art on the walls. It turns out Sophie had made the decoupage, there was a large wooden dining table with paints and a painting that looked like a child had done, however Sophie said it was her artwork. The light was a wild colourful plastic chandelier, Sophie was obviously the artistic type.

Sophie offered my a bowl which was full of packets of different flavor teas and told me to choose, I did as I was told and picked eucalyptus and menthol. She put a pan of water on to boil and sat opposite me, for a minute or so she said nothing, I broke the silence by complementing her on the apartment and how lovely it looked. Sophie then asked me about my journey, although she struggled with her English it was a hundred times better than my French. Sophie was 44 had a daughter who was 10, she had been separated for 4 years and was still sad that her family was no more. She took me to a window and pointed out the house they all used to live in, and told me life was hard. I told her life will get better and time will help her move on. The views from Sophie’s windows were beautiful, we could see the rooftops of the village from one, a hill with a church surrounded by vineyards from another and of course my tent, the campsite and school from the last.

We sat and I drank my tea and Sophie drank beer, she had been drinking all day and did seem a little drunk but it was apparent that she was lonely and maybe a little sad. We chatted the best we could and looked at her photos, she showed me round her apartment, there were two floors the bathroom, kitchen, lounge and her daughters bedroom were on the lower floor and only her bedroom and an attic store-room was on the upper floor. The whole apartment was decorated in trinkets and art, mainly Sophie’s art.

I finished my tea and was expecting to return to my tent when Sophie announced that she would like me to stay and eat with her “Pizza”, ” Pasta ” she said in her French accent. I had the feeling Sophie was having a bad weekend, the village was quite and maybe she wanted some company, so I agreed “Pizza” I said, Sophie agreed and offered me the bowl of tea and said “more tea”, I chose blackcurrant but this time I put the pan on to boil and Sophie poured herself more beer. I sat on the couch again but this time Sophie sat next to me, I thought she was going to cook pizza but she had got a take away menu from the kitchen drawer. We looked through the menu and decided on a pizza and a flambé with a bottle of Oringina. Sophie phoned and ordered the pizza, I wandered over to the window to admire the view and check that my bike and tent were still next to their tree, they were. Sophie joined me and we both just stared out of the window, I was quite as I didn’t know what to say, especially in French, Sophie put her head on my shoulder and sighed, I put my arm around hers and gave her a hug. Sophie looked up at me and then kissed me, pleasant surprise.

We sat back on the sofa and Sophie got a felt tip and paper and we started communicating better but when one of us didn’t understand what the other meant we drew a picture. I finished off the tea and we sat chatting pictionary style until the food arrived. We ate our pizza and flambé at the kitchen island, me drinking oringina Sophie wine. Sophie said I was good company and kept thanking me for coming for tea, I thought I was being a bit boring as I didn’t speak French other than what I learnt in school, where is the cat, there is the cat, that short of thing. Sophie didn’t have a cat, so I was unable to use these phrases. Once we were full we tidied up and Sophie explained where her window sill rabbits and teddies came from and out of the blue asked me to stay as she apparently enjoyed my company. I was a bit taken back and even thought that I wished I’d met Sophie before paying for my tent I would have saved €5.95, her apartment was far better than my tent. I said we’d only just met and was she sure she wanted me to stay, she said yes and drew a bed with two people in it and pointed to the picture “John” “Sophie”. I wasn’t expecting that I thought I’d be sleeping on the couch but Sophie wanted me in her bed, she said I looked like a good man and wanted sex.

I nearly choked on my tea but I wasn’t drinking any and then I started to talk her out of it. What was I doing, here I am, hundreds of miles from home cycling solo and I’m being offered sex and a bed for the night. I did as I was told! She led me by the hand upstairs to her bedroom. In the early hours of the morning I was a little concerned about my gear in my tent, I whispered to Sophie that I was going back to the tent as my passport, tablet, camera etc was not secure, she said she had work in Strasbourg in the morning and we should see each other before she left, I agreed and went to my tent. I woke up at 09:00 and Sophie had already left for Strasbourg. I packed my tent and continued my journey.

Continue reading

LA Route Des Vins D Alsace


I somehow managed to find the EUROVELO 5 and follow it, the route was excellent, I spent hours cycling through the wine region, with the main road in the distance and as I was high on the side of a hill, I could see for miles. It was well signposted and goes village to village via the vineyard’s which were covered in green and black grapes, some farmers had started to pick the grapes others were cutting the grass between the rows of vines in preparation. I continued through some magnificent countryside, wonderful rolling hills, a smooth path to cycle on and it was very popular, a lady with a large brimmed white straw hat was having a picnic on her blanket at the side of the road, we exchanged pleasantries but I couldn’t help thinking that the bright yellow blanket she was sat on would attract the many flying insects around. I was overtaken by dozens of cyclist’s on various types of bikes from a rusty old red one with small wheels ridden by an octogenarian to the latest carbon fibre racer and rider wearing the Sky Sports gear.

Molsheim to Dorlisheim was mainly following a railway line, Roseheim was medieval and was having a medieval festival on September 14 th. Apart from cars parked in odd places, I felt like I had traveled back in time, every house, shop and business was in a medieval stone property. I was surprised I didn’t see the local blacksmith hammering on a hot sword.  The cycle route took me through the centre of Roseheim and on cobble streets, over rivers and streams, through amazing stone arches. It was a pity cars were allowed in the centre. I really liked the architecture and atmosphere of Roseheim, I vowed to return.

I followed the route until Barr then followed a sign that said Campsite’s. I also thought of the days when you used to return Barr bottles to the chip shop and get 10 pence, what ever happened to that! I arrived at a fork in the road (oh! I thought someone’s dropped a fork in the road). I had a choice of two campsite L’Oldie or Saint Martins, feeling old I didn’t fancy L’Oldie based on name, I’m sure it would’ve been lovely but I wouldn’t have met Sophie.

If you like this post, then please consider sharing it on Twitter Facebook etc. To stay up to date just pop your email address in the box at the bottom of the page.

Continue reading



Being 600 miles away from the place you normally call home makes you think! I’m sat in a hammock in pitch No:64 at Camping De Molsheim, the sun is blazing, it’s about 11:30 or 12:30, who knows. I’ve started to tell the time by counting the number of chimes the church bells make, so if I know the hour I can tell that one chime it’s 1/4 past two is 1/2 past three 1/4 to. I have lost track of the days of the week though. I wonder how many people just stop what their doing to watch the trees and leaves move in the wind, or the birds flying in the sky and the patterns they make. I can see a man outside his old beige caravan buttering bread, washing drying in the sun, I’m drinking a beer, not because I want a beer but I bought two at the last campsite and still have one, it’s heavy and I don’t want to carry it anymore. I’m sure it’ll help me sleep soon too as I’m knackered.

I bought postcards and stamps when I arrived yesterday but haven’t written them yet. I was so tired when I arrived I just setup the tent, watched the end of the film from last night. I was comfy but didn’t sleep well. The traffic noise took a while to drift into the background and then go away, my legs were still moving with the thought of pedaling, I’ve always had twitchy feet. I woke up in the middle of the night bursting for a wee but didn’t want to get up and walk to the shower block. I had an empty yop bottle outside the tent door so filled it up. I woke once more with the same dilemma so had to empty the yop bottle only to fill it again, race horse came to mind.

I woke at 07:00 ish but got up at 09:30 ish grabbed my wash bag and went for a nice long hot shower. The shower felt really good on all my aching muscles. I had two lots of Frosties for breakfast and went to tell the receptionist that I would stay another night, I needed to rest my legs when I mentioned this to the girl on reception she gave me a free voucher to the open air pool across the road. I walk around the corner to the big super market and bought pens as mine was running out, bananas and a can of Canada dry. I also had a coffee in the cafe, back at camp I moved the tent from beneath the trees and put my hammock up only to go and sit on it and end up crashing to the floor. Once reattached correctly I sat and drank my beer and lay in the sun.

I may have dozed for 20 minutes or so, the sun has moved off the pitch, just waiting for the church bells to tell me the time, 2pm. I attempted to do some washing but the machine was broke, I reported it to reception and got a refund but didn’t manage to get any washing done. I also found a map for my ongoing route, La Route Des Vins, the wine route. This route would take me from Molsheim to Thann which is close to Mulhouse, should be fun especially getting on the right track. I packed away the tent so leaving would be quicker and sorted out my clothes, so when I came across a launderette it would be easier.

It turns out that riding six hundred miles from London to Molsheim was a good idea as it’s the home to Bugatti, also there’s a party at the campsite tonight so I’ll join in. I have set my hammock up for sleeping in, so looking forward to a comfy nights sleep. The party was actually a camping style dinner consisting of Flambe, this is basically a square, extremely thin pizza base with sour cream, cheese and ham on it, cooked in a wood burning stove. I sat down with four other people who didn’t speak a word of English but we managed to enjoy ourselves using sign language, gestures and trying to speak each others language, it was fun and entertaining.

I left the get together and went to my hammock, I lay there listening to the Eagles and Gerry Rafferty before nodding off, woke around 05:00 to nip to the loo then back to snooze land. I woke at 07:00 to the sound of the church bells and lay as warm as toast in my hammock. I fell asleep again until 09:30 then hit the shower. I left the campsite at 11:00.

Molsheim  was like a scene from Dr Who, old wooden buildings, almost medieval. I went to the Bugatti foundation, it was closed Sundays, which was a good thing as my budget won’t stretch that far. I did however decide to cycle the 6 km Bugatti route to see the factory and their headquarters. The weather was overcast and threatened rain so I stopped at a Mc Donald’s for a coffee, I sat outside to keep my eye on my bike and across the road was the Bugatti headquarters. On leaving Mc Donald’s I followed the road around to Bugatti SAS the HQ gates, then I had to ride back the way I came as my route was a turning opposite the Aerospace factory, which turns out to be Bugatti’s. It seems they also make aircraft landing gear. I passed schools and colleges all named after a member of the Bugatti family.

Their house was enormous and had deer running around the ground. One thing I did notice is all the Bugatti car parks had VW and Audi card parked in them, mostly black but I didn’t see a Bugatti car anywhere.

Continue reading

A New Bike

BTWin Bike

The cost to repair my bike was almost the price of a new one, so I decided just to pick up another bike, At first I couldn’t decide which bike to buy but I opted for the BTWin for a couple of reasons it was cheap and had rigid forks. I spent the next five hours swapping everything over, rear rack was easy, front rack was a pain. I bought new panniers and could have fitted all my gear in them but it would put too much weight on the back-end. The shop didn’t have front panniers so I stuck with the old ones. I kept going back into decathlon to get more stuff, the panniers then a bottle holder followed by a new bottle, then a ruck sack to hold my tablet when navigating.

I left decathlon at 13:50 all seemed well, the gears made it a lot easier to go up hills, I just need to tweak the seat height and it was spot on.

The navigation app played up almost immediately as it took me through a field, then country lane, over a very straight and long canal. I went through yet another forest and up another hill I couldn’t manage so pushed, the freewheel down was 3 km and fast too. I took a right turn and had to get off and push “left turn” the app announced, there wasn’t a road left but a grass track which was a steep down hill, so I took it but it soon turned into mud and on its first day my new bike was already filthy. I looked at the app settings and the only thing is that it was set to shortest route, so I changed it to fastest route. I had to push for about an hour to get out of the valley I was in with its stream running through the middle.

When at Dabo Schaeferhof I bought a bottle of Orangina, a pear, water and a cake. I sat on a bench next to the little store and indulged. After the little village everything got a lot harder, I don’t know whether it was because I had so little sleep and had been up since 04:30 or the massive hills. The hill out of the village turned out to be a killer and went up for 2 km and then some more. 1.7 km to go until my campsite for the evening I went to a small supermarket opposite a fantastic church with an unusual clock, it was 6 pm, I picked up my provisions for the evening. I followed the navigation apps instructions to turn left and then left again, I thought it was just cutting the corner around the lovely church, it wasn’t, it was a pleasant down hill but turned into a dead-end in fact it was someone’s house, I turned around in their drive way. The road I really needed was now above me to my right, the hill was too steep to ride up, so I pushed all the way back to the church, the clock now said 6:30pm.

I pushed the bike around the church and up another steep hill to the top, I was on the D45 in a lush forest somewhere near Haselbourg, France. At the entrance to the campsite there was a motorcyclist who had broken down, I said hello and was going to offer the use of my tool kit but was so exhausted and sweaty I needed a shower first.

The campsite in the forest was two fenced compounds one for motor homes, one for tents. There was a family playing in the small park but no one else, the office also had a refuge chalet and I could see the beds through the windows and was tempted to ask the price. I paid €3.40 for the tent and €1.80 for me, I did wonder how a tent could stay on its own. I ordered a baguette for breakfast.

After setting up camp I had a hot shower, shave and walked back to my tent in only my towel wrapped around me, I didn’t want to put those smelly clothes back on. My feet and legs were throbbing with pain and I was tired but hungry, so I put a film on my tablet as I heated up a tin of ravioli, had a beer and fell asleep.

I woke up at 07:20 snoozed until 08:20 then rolled out of my tent and went to the chalet to pick up my baguette, it was huge, well for one person anyway. I was still achy and my ribs were sore so I took some pain killers, had breakfast and packed up.

Continue reading

Achy And Grumpy

Valley Views

This morning I was in Dabo it turns out I had cycled and pushed up to 650m above sea level, I was achy and grumpy.

It was 13:33 I’m just outside Wasselone on the D224 having lunch, I opted for Plat Due Jour at €8.20, blown the budget again but you’d spend more than that in a Mac Donald’s. The starter was strips of ham, almost like bacon but without the fat in oils and vinegar with lettuce and boiled eggs with the compulsory delicious bread. Main course was breaded chicken ham and cheese, veg which was like thick vegetable soup and chips with more delicious bread.

So back to this morning, if someone had said let’s go home, I would, but there wasn’t so I took two hours to pack up the tent and load the bike, the panniers I had bought from decathlon seemed to be designed to stay on the bike, they were cumbersome and hard to put on the rack when full. I should have found some Ortlieb panniers, I’ve met cyclists with them and there a dream come true. I fitted the bar ends I got from Jeremy the technician in Namur.

Almost immediately I had to push the bike up hill, after an hour or two I rode through a forest and came to a sign which said I was 650m above sea level which explains the pain over the past two days. Finally I was heading down. For the next 10 km I shot down hill through a gorgeous forest, with a blue sky and awesome views.

I passed a huge timber yard and stopped to watch the machinery turn a tree into some planks, you could see the whole process through the fence. I followed the river Mossig to Wasselone, at one point I was over taken by a cheeky girl on her bike. I didn’t catch her she was too fast for me. My mood had lifted, although I still ached like hell, so it was time for a rest.

The D45 slowly turned into another D road No:43 I think, there were more hills a couple I had to push up. The cables on the bike have stretched a bit on the gears, so I’ll soon be doing a six-week check within the first week of owning the bike. I’m getting the riding position better and have raised the seat. There was one big black cloud following me all afternoon and I stopped in several bus shelters when I thought it was going to rain, one such bus shelter was opposite a cemetery with huge headstones, who spends all the money on these headstones as the dead person will never get to see it.

The roof tiles on the houses opposite were crooked, no doubt there suppose to be that way but looked odd. The road changed to a busy almost motorway type but I picked up a good cycle path and kept going until it turned to gravel, I then went onto the shoulder for a while, at one point the cycle path just turned into a pavement and started to get narrow, to avoid bumping into a silver hair frail old lady wearing a dark blue cardigan, I went down a lowered kerb at a crossing and was nearly hit by a Renault Espace. I came to a red traffic light on a steep hill and couldn’t cycle further so pushed the bike on the pavement passed a very nice chocolatiers.

It turns out that as a cyclist you can’t go on the D1004 as it’s a motorway, I learnt this from a passing cyclist who told me I have to take a 2km detour. I was getting good at detours, this one would prove prosperous. I had followed some cycle paths to the west of Strasbourg, I missed a few turns and ended up going through a village which would lead me to the D422, well I found €85 on the road, that’ll take some pressure off. I picked up some supplies from a supermarket buying Frosties and milk, there was a campsite close by so I checked in.

Continue reading

Square Wheel & Homeless

Wilderness woods

Cycling has becoming a lot easier, I’m getting used to the weight and I have it set up so I’m comfortable, well as comfortable as you can be on a bicycle. Today turned out to be a tough day though, I had been cycling for five hours so stopped in a nice picnic area on the edge of a village. It was more like someone’s garden than a picnic area, it had neatly trimmed bushes around the perimeter a few trees in one corner, lovely cut grass, a bench and a picnic table. It was on the corner of a small country lane and had four large rocks at the entrance to stop vehicles driving on the grass the only real clue to it being a public picnic area was a fairly large bin next to the trees. I decided I was going to rest here for a couple of hours, maybe even get some sleep.

I had been riding the D27 through forest and lots of steep hills, pushing the bike a lot so I was hungry and tired. I lay all my gear out on the grass to dry, had my jacket spread out on one half of the picnic table and my cooking set on the other half. I was cooking rice and making a coffee when the sky started to change, it seemed the dark clouds had appeared from nowhere and the breeze had picked up. I’ve started getting good at knowing when it’s going to rain, there are a lot of signs when your constantly outdoors. The obvious is of course the clouds and their colour but you pick up on other things like a change in the breeze, that birds fly around in circles then hide in trees or foliage, it seems birds don’t like it either and they can tell when it’s going to rain. There’s a change in the feel of your surroundings, like the air becomes dense.

I needed to cover all my gear and quickly, I tied a ridge line between two of the trees and hung my tarp over it, with the ground sheet underneath this makeshift shelter, I quickly gathered everything I had laid out earlier and put it under the tarp. I then sat on my ground sheet and ate my rice whilst it rained. The rain wasn’t heavy but vehicles coming from the direction I was heading had their lights and wipers on so I waited an hour or so. I still had to set-off in this light drizzle and head into the rain.

The afternoon was also tough the gears on the bike wouldn’t engage properly and the back tyre went down. I pulled into a wooden bus shelter opposite a church at 3 O’Clock and took my panniers off, then took the back wheel off, I couldn’t find a puncture so cleaned the valve, I then noticed that the actual wheel was no longer round but had a flat side. I pumped the tyre up for ages but struggled to get it to the 50 psi I needed, once I set off I had to stop to try to get more air in. I went through another forest then a colourful village (Balimory Style) so stopped at a bakery for coffee, Quiche and a bap. On leaving the village I followed a sign for bikes to Sarrebourg, another forest and more hills.

I spotted a sign for decathlon, I thought I would look at a new bike, it took me ages to find the store, and more hills. The choice’s of bikes was poor, most had front suspension, so front panniers would be a problem, there was a choice of two a €149 BTWin hard tail and a touring BTWin €249.99 with 28″ wheels. The hard talk had rigid front forks but looked cheap quality, the other meant ditching my spare tubes and buying more. The store closed before I could decide, with the thought of getting a new bike and panniers I headed for the Ibis Style hotel, tariff €69, if they had a room I would have stayed but they were full.

I cycled around for hours looking for a place to sleep, I sat in a park and looked on my tablet for camp sites but there wasn’t any for miles, I went around the park which had a lake in the middle, it was too busy with joggers, dog walker and a local kayak club was having a session. At the back of the park ran a railway line with a cycle path along side it, I cycled up and down it looking for a suitable spot but could not find any, I came to the end of the path and back on the road going over the railway line, it was getting dark now. I saw the lights of some jet wash bays and sat in a bay and adjusted my squealing brakes. A few cars came got washed and went before I set off in the dark to find a suitable spot to sleep. There was an old closed off-road in between a dual carriageway, a river and the railway but it was noisy and exposed, I even left town and was on a large road with big stores on each side. I went in every car park looking, ALDI had potential but there were staff inside, they must have been stock taking as it was approaching 22:00. I ended up going back into the outskirts of the town and going behind a hedge between the road and a wire mesh fence of a Bric superstore, similar to B&Q. I propped the bike up on the fence put my groundsheet just under the edge of the hedge on wet grass, my sleeping mat, the sleeping bag, just when I was about to take off my trainers and climb in the sleeping bag when a torch-light appeared, it was the midnight security guard doing his rounds, I attempted to tell him I was lost and couldn’t find a campsite but he didn’t understand a word of English but knew one which was “No” so I packed up under the watchful eye of a security guard and moved on. I pushed the bike and rode it for over an hour but found nothing, I saw the sign for the railway station and thought my only option was to sit in the station until daylight. When I arrived the station was closed and a sign on the big shutters said it opened at 04:45, I’m sure I could survive until then. I wandered through the station car park and at the back of the main building there were steps under a canopy leading down to a subway, at the top was two television monitors with the times of departing and arriving trains and a big black clock with yellow digits hanging from the roof of the canopy. First train to depart was 05:01, surrounding the top of the steps was an ornate metal fence and a plinth, I lifted the bike on the plinth, locked it to the fence and lay my sleeping mat along side and laid down, I was exhausted. My theory was if I was asked why I was there I’d say I was getting the first 05:01 train to Strasbourg.

I lay there in my coat and waterproof trousers on my sleeping mat watching the click tick by, second by second. I saw 01:15 go past, 01:30, 01:45 then nodded off only to wake and see 02:30, 02:45 again I drifted into a nervous sleep, at 03:30 it was foggy and I was cold so I wrapped my tarp around me. Two trains passed in the night, they were really loud, freight trains I think. At 04:30 a railway worker went past, I said bonjour. The station was being opened so I sat up, lights came on, the shutters on the stairs were raised, the television screens were rebooted, I noticed they were still using Windows XP as I watched the boot screen scroll by. I packed my stuff as I watched the 05:01 to Strasbourg depart and cycled round to the front of the Sarrebourg railway station, I pushed my bike into the concourse and it felt warm compared to the foggy darkness outside. I tried to buy a coffee from a vending machine, the first 20 cents went in but all the other coins just fell through.

A guy in jeans trainers and a lumberjack style shirt came into the station and asked for a cigarette, I told him I didn’t smoke. He left but returned four times for a chat, asking me questions about England, my family and what I did, he was homeless and used to work at a nuclear facility but his wife left him and he lost every thing, he was a really nice normal guy who spoke excellent English but was going through a bad patch. We agreed that both of us should never give up, for a guy with nothing he was very positive about everything. I wish I’d asked for his name. The station was a place were the local homeless came to get warm in the morning, there was quite a few that came in chatted with each other, got warm and left.

The Relay news shop was showing signs of life and at 06:00 opened to lots more activity, people coming through the concourse on their daily commute to work, some with luggage, a few with bikes, the station cafe opened at 06:00 too and by 06:30 looked full, people having their morning espresso. It was still dark outside and time dragged. I left the station and cycled to a small bakery and bought a chocolate croissant and an almond croissant and ate them outside.

07:00 I can see the sun rising above the buildings to my left, luckily it’s going to be a nice sunny day, the sun on my face is welcomed warmth.  I cycle back to decathlon pushing the bike up hill one more time, I called in a tyre depot to ask for my water bottles to be filled, the guy who was pulling trailers outside to display in the car park filled them for me. Decathlon was closed, after all it was only 07:45 and they didn’t open until 09:00 so I set-up my stove in their car park and made a coffee, I sat in the warm sunshine drinking my morning Nescafe. I saw a Carrefour further down the street I went for a look, it doesn’t open until 09:30 but I thought I would wait until it opened and see if they sold bikes too and then I would have a bigger choice.

I sat on Carrefour’s car park, cleaned my teeth and had a shave with cold water whilst I waited for it to open, when it did I found out it was a food store only, I bought a yop and water then  returned to decathlon.

Continue reading