Let’s start with some good news. Upon arrival in Dieppe yesterday after a long cycle in the heat, I sat down for a beer by the harbour and was, imho… fleeced €9 for a 50cl Leffe Blond on draft. (That’s a price Copenhagen’s harbour cafés would be proud of.) The evidence in my favour was a menu that said the price was €4.50 and that the drinks were served as 50cl or 75cl, giving the impression that it wasn’t an option for the premium Leffe to be a modest ‘demie pression’ (25cl). The drink was delivered and €9 demanded. I immediately complained and walked out in digust. Well, OK, being British, I smiled and tossed a cherry ‘merci’ in the waiter’s direction handing over my cash while seething internally. So where’s the good news? Well, having visited the local tabac-café this morning and paid the princely sum of €1.50 for a coffee (all in the name of price research), I’m back here now enjoying a 25cl draft Kronenbourg for €2.80. Success!
Phew! What a scorcher… And it’s apparently going to get hotter. I daubed myself three times today with factor 50 but I’ll be investing in a cap of some description tomorrow (as well of more supplies of the sun cream). Yet I’m staying well hydrated and fed by the French. Today’s food has all come courtesy of the toil of French labour; pastries from the boulangerie in Le Crotoy, fruit from a market in the same town and now a three-course meal in Dieppe at a restaurant called Le Sully. So far – a starter of smoked salmon and herring on a bed of new potatoes – so good, but I’ll update you as the meal progresses… I feel like Rick Stein without a film crew (and a bicycle).
A day to remember… Some of you may think that politics has no place on a website such as this. Yet I disagree. A head of government represents the country. He or she is not seen by those in other countries as a Tory or a socialist or a liberal or whatever. They are simply an embodiment of what the ‘majority’ are thinking. (Majority! Well, not in our archaic first-past-the-post system but that’s another argument.) So when I meet people and ask them what they think of our prime minister, it’s embarrassing to be told that he is thought of as an ‘idiot’ or ‘joker’ because in a small way they are saying that about me and you. We, collectively, gave him the power. I never voted for him but I am part of the system that did. I am glad that he will soon be gone. I watched him speak live on my phone this lunchtime. Just as he finished, I passed in front of a magnificent hotel in Le Touquet called… Le Westminster. Everyone, irrespective of the politics, should be glad that he will soon be replaced.
Is he still there? By the time you read this (posting is going to be delayed until Thursday morning due to the lack of a good mobile signal) he may well have been dragged out of Downing Street, kicking and screaming. Last night I had the pleasure of staying with a WarmShowers host in the outskirts of Ostend. He has lead the development of a co-housing project and he now lives on a large plot of land not far from the airport along with 17 other families – around 70 people in total – with separate homes but shared facilities. It’s a real village and it was wonderful to spend a few hours last night in their company talking about the development, the motivation for creating such a place and the practical advantages of doing so. (There are many – I’ll list them in the book!) I spent much of the evening chatting to a retired firefighter called Michel and the subject moved on to politics. I asked him what people in general thought of Boris Johnson in Belgium. “A joke” was his response…
This trip is turning out to have more ferries than a cycle up the west coast of Norway. Another two today; at the start from Vlissingen to Breskens and a short one at the end across the harbour in Ostend. I think, however, that may be it for the time being. Sandwiched between the two boats was a 69km cycle along the coast to Ostend and it was somewhat different to what I had expected…
The Cycling Europe Podcast enters a new era with this episode. Not only recorded on tour, this episode has also been edited on tour! Throughout July and August, new episodes of the podcast will be published telling the story of Andrew P. Sykes’ ‘Grand Tour’ through The Netherlands, […]
I’m coming to the conclusion that The Netherland is one big engineering project. Today was dominated by the dams and dykes of the west coast. I was told yesterday- I think it was Professor Matthias – that a dam is a barrier between water and water and a dyke is a barrier between water and land. I couldn’t quite work out if the barriers upon which I cycled were dams or dykes as although most separated the sea from the land, the land itself was fully of large lakes. Answers on a postcard. (Or in a comment…)
Today could have just the 41km, or thereabouts, and it nearly was. My journey will, hopefully, end at The Hook of Holland, which is just opposite where the P&O ferry berthed this morning. A circular journey should really start and finish at the same iconic spot. The P&O ferry terminal probably isn’t that place so I decided to head to the Hook of Holland. Easier said than done as, although very close to ferry terminal as the crow flies, no where near if you need to cycle there. Hence the extra 32km, but I’m glad I did it.