I thought of that while riding my bicycle.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

A day out in Spandau

It’s the luxury section of the holiday. 

Today I had nothing to do really. I had no where I needed to be, no camping admin; just a day off. I started late (obviously). After a sleep in and a bit of German Tv watching I decided to explore a bit. I left the bike at the hotel and wandered into the small town centre. 

Much of east Germany looks very similar and this centre was like hundreds of others I have visited. I wandered along uninspired and thought about heading back to the hotel when I saw the train station. Well, there’s a possibility. 

You know I am familiar with trains, but I think this is the first time I’ve taken a train in Germany, indeed in anywhere other than the U.K., without bikes or baggage. It was so easy. I got my ticket, found my platform and headed off to Spandau. Spandau has an old town, a citadel and a shopping centre. It no longer has a prison. They knocked that down after Rudolf Hesse died. 

I wandered around, did some shopping, got a sandwich, looked at the citadel from afar and generally mooched. Then I got the train back. The train was late. 

As I sat staring out of the window I thought about how comfy I feel in Germany. I think it’s because, after travelling in a new country (Denmark, Sweden briefly) Germany feels familiar. I’ve been here quite a bit over the years and know little things like supermarket names, brands, where shops are likely to be, when they’ll open. How to get trains. And while my German remains terrible I know scripts (‘I would like to camp for one night with a small tent and a bicycle.’  ‘Do you have a vegetarian option?’ And god bless my terrible German education. The one thing that appears to have stuck - apart from random bits of useless songs - is numbers.) I can use what I have to function. 

I’m off to Berlin tomorrow. I’m looking forward to just relaxing. We’ve had a few holidays there so rather than sight see I’m planning more mooching, coffee drinking, maybe push the boat out and eat out. Who knows? 

Last night I had the window open. The room is stiflingly hot and the fan wasn’t helping much. I was in bed reading when a bat - I kid you not, a bat - flew into my room, did a couple of circuits and then flew out again. I let out a quick yelp.  Giggled for five minutes (bats are amazing, it was never going to get stuck in the room but imagine. I know the German for bat -thank you Strauss- but doubt I could manage to tell the rest of the tale.) and closed the window. Then I went back to my book. 

Monday, 29 July 2019

To (near) Berlin

I am luxuriating. 

I set off this morning in hot but overcast weather to a campsite 50k away. I ended up 80km away in a hotel. Shucks eh?!

I was happy this morning to see the clouds and the flat tarmacked woodland roads pass under my wheels. As the clouds burned away the heat began to really kick in. Before if had felt like someone needed to open the window. Now it felt like the heater had been left on too. 

I realised at about this point that I hadn’t done my usual internet check of the site in the book. Cue an hour of no signal and then finally confirmation that the campsite was caravans only. 

Not one to be put off (easily) I recalibrated.  I found a site 30km away and pushed on. Towards some rather ominous clouds. 

I hit the city with a whoomph. It felt like I turned a corner and suddenly there were noise and cars everywhere. After my woodland ramblings it was rather a shock. Still, I cycled on. 

When the rain clouds eventually burst it was that kind of torrential rain that is a short lived but soaking downpour. It was too hot for waterproofs, they were at the bottom of my bag and, as it started so quickly and decidedly, looking them out would be rather pointless. So I was soaked. Very much to the skin. 

As soon as I could find shelter enough I liberated my phone and used then now stable signal to do a bit of searching. I found a hotel really near me but, because my very wrinkled finger print ID didn’t work for payment passwords, missed the only room. The next hotel didn’t look as nice and was quite a ride away. I ran the search again a couple of times fairly convinced that the room I wanted was showing as taken because it was in my shopping basket. At last, it came back up and this time with a discount. I tried to pay again and this time was successful.

I got a few odd looks but checked in, went to the room, threw my soaking clothes in the bathtub and got changed. One quick trip to the supermarket and a cool shower later, I’m set for the eAs I cycled along I waited for it to ease a little but, it didn’t. It just went on and on and on. At one corner a car drove through a puddled, the water was really warm. 

I began to imagine arriving at the site. No doubt it was now flooding. And it would be that horrible sandy soil. Pegs wouldn’t have a hope of staying put. And it was due to rain for the next day. Would there be a bar to wait in until a break in the weather so I could get my tent up with minimum damp? I hate the way sand sticks to everything in the rain.  Then I began to have a word with myself. By now I was in suburban Berlin a mile from the site. Why was I going to a campsite I didn’t even like the look of? 

To Seilershof

Another day of woodland cycling. The promised rain never materialised so it was a rather hot one. 

I set off reasonably early despite having a go at fixing my ‘on bike’ charger with no success (there was a bent pin and A missing bit). Then I checked out. Then I went back to get my computer that had fallen off when locking my bike up for the night. Then I set off again. 

I felt a little tired after yesterday’s off road adventures so was pleased to see it was tarmac almost all the way. The miles go far quicker and climbing is easier when you’re not drifting in the sand. 

I cycled along, had an ice cream because everything else is closed on a Sunday, and otherwise enjoyed myself.  I passed 1000k on a lovely car free down hill cycle path through the woods and watched my computer set back to zero. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere. 

I arrived at this quiet lakeside site in reasonable time and set up my tent in the shade. I got out my knitting bag and in a flurry of (since lost) mobile signal downloaded books and podcasts to see me through my last two days. 

Tomorrow I’m making the short hop (luckily because the temperature keeps going up) to a small town just north of Berlin. Then it’s one last rest day before cycling into the city to meet Mr H. 

(There would be fascinating photos of empty roads and woodlands. And even a video of a bike computer ticking over, but the signal strength suggests such notions are mere fantasy.)

Sunday, 28 July 2019

To Kabelicksee

I think today was a fairly epic ride. I’ve an idea it was near the 100k mark (40k of which was on unsurfaced roads) but, in a pact with myself to preserve my sanity I haven’t been paying too much attention to distance and so I’m not sure. 

I have rather enjoyed myself. I’ve spent most of the day cycling along tracks listening to the noises of the forest. Trees groaning and birds singing. And the smells.  In the fields the wheat is baking but the woods smell of damp earth and pine.  Then the trees change and so does the scent. 

I’ve reached the point where 20k seems like almost there and that’s how I felt today apart from the track surface being like a solid version of Morecambe Bay after the tide goes out. All those waves in the sand. 

I am again camped by a lake. Although the water looked tempting earlier it has turned rather cool so I think I’ll stick to the shower. 

In the wee small hours of the morning I was woken by the sudden screams of a duck not long for the this world. The growl of the animal that had it in its jaw was rather terrifying. The scuffle was over quickly and I tried to go back to sleep. Only I needed the loo. Anyone who camps a lot will tell you it features a lot of rolling things up and kneeling on them and an awful lot of deciding how much you need the loo and if it is worth leaving your cosy tent to address these needs. Invariably it is because you just wake up again and again having the same conversation in your head. So, I bit the bullet and went for it. This isn’t simple. First I had to put on some clothes (Gone are the three layers of the early weeks of the holiday.  This site features the strangely liberating joy of communal showers but I’m not sure they’d welcome random wanders in the buff) . Then put the torch outside the tent so as not to invite the moths in. Then close the doors after to ward off other unwelcome visitors. Then I had to walk to the loos. Past the scene of the recent murder. 

On a campsite there’s often reflective bits of tents that seem to glow in the dark. On a campsite with cyclists this is multiplied ten fold as bags, wheels, high viz coats all light up in the torch beam. 

Suddenly, in amongst all of this, two pairs of reflective eyes began to move. Backing away slowly from my light. Watching me pass. Probably pausing from their macabre feast until I had gone by. They were still there on my way back. Bodiless eyes moving in the dark.  In the bright light of morning, after a sleep unbroken by further incident, I went down to the lake and saw badger sized foot prints along the beach.  

Friday, 26 July 2019

To Krakow am See

I was a determined cyclist today wasn’t I? So much so that this:

Is the only photo I took.  I like the jolly yet ominous nature of the road signs. 

I got up fairly early and left by nine. I cycled along and felt good after the rest of yesterday. I caught myself rather liking the rhythm of longer steady climbs but was happy that they never got too high. 

I stopped in a shady spot for lunch and drank lots of water. I reapplied suncream at regular intervals and ate lots of veggie chewy sweets (which are 1/4 of the price they are at home - forget duty free, I know what I’m filling my bags with). I added fruit juice to my water and also ate some salty crisps. Overall I weathered the weather. 

I arrived at the site by mid afternoon and pitched up in the shade. I had more to eat and drink then fell  asleep. I realised later that a broken cable had precipitated a power crisis. I have come to the on site restaurant to charge things. And eat. 

Near Rostock

Today I mainly chased shade. At first I thought about moving on but campsites were either a full day’s ride away or about 20 miles. A little too near to make it worth the hassle. 

As it was due to be really hot I decided instead to get food supplies then just stay here and knit. 

Which is basically what I did. 

Thursday, 25 July 2019

To Rostock

This morning I visited one last Danish museum, spent the last of my Krone and whiled away a merry half hour looking for ancient stones in a wood. 

The museum was the Museum Obscurum - A bizarre collection of Victorian curiosities. There were the preserved remains of fairies, dragons, vampires and werewolves. Who can say if they’re real or not?   

For my only meal out in Denmark I had to go for nachos. The prices are just high enough to put me off but as I had the cash to spare I went for it.  They were very cheesy and very good. 

Then it was an hour or two to the ferry. It’s hot here, not boiling. However, I have learned through sweaty experience that when I feel too hot it’s best to stop, have a drink, eat something and cool off. Today that meant wandering around a wood with a wet scarf on my head. You do what you have to

As I was wandering I was looking at the map on my phone and trying to not think about the news reports that kept flashing up.  I saw some archaeological sites marked but no details so I went to find them. 

There were several stone circles (not really circles, on further investigation, long barrows) amongst the trees. I sat for a while contemplating history, shared heritage, the nature of time. I watched a small deer run through the woods and listened to the birds sing.  These little unexpected diversions are my favourite part of touring.  Eventually I pulled myself back to the here and now, took off my fetching headdress and got back on the road.

As a final kind goodbye the last 3kms were slightly down hill, slightly wind assisted. 

I stood waiting for the ferry listening to the BBC live feed, despairing. Back in Germany and my site was a little further than I thought - motorways and estuaries making a simple 5k 20 but, the site itself is worth it. It’s a very basic affair but charming. There’s fairy lights in the shower, an occasional sculpture and a tightrope set up for those who feel the need.