We are in Germany at the moment, on the island of Rügen where snow is piled up at the side of the roads to a height of two meters or more. There is travel chaos here, trains run up to 10 minutes late and the bus we caught this afternoon was very nearly 4 minutes late. Just before we came away a combination of moisture laden air and a cold front conspired to drop a whole load of snow on Scotland. We were out walking in this winter wonderland by the river near our home in Musselburgh and quite enjoying the novelty of it all. Behind us, the sound of an approaching bicycle and someone shouting “Esther and Warren!”. Only a madman would be out on a bike, and yes our friend Paul French one time Masters European and World down hill mountain bike champion could be called just that.
Here in Germany the bike riding postie still goes about their business, sharing the road with elderly ladies on upright shopping bikes and neither thinks anything of it or has thoughts of a pro contract for the new season. Compulsory snow tyres and a bit more preparation are what we need in the UK just like they have here in Germany, and a good many less tons of salt would be a good idea too. The wheel arches and chassis of my Bongo would thank us for it and we could all get to Glasgow in under two days.
I already know what will be the thing that reminds me of our status of “no fixed abode” as we travel, and that is the lack of a house key in my pocket. I have had moments of panic these last couple of weeks whilst we are here and my keys are back in the van as it sits on an airport car park back in Edinburgh. But it is not about property ownership but an involuntary, cold sweat panic about having to break into my flat because of a mislaid key. This must stop as it does my mental health no good at all.
We have had great fun here. First in Hamburg, and then on the island of Rügen. Nip back to the previous blog and have a look at the island during our time here in the summer sun. You will see from the maps there that it just about qualifies for being in the Baltic and so the winters here can be very cold. We have had a great time walking many hard miles in the snow, pointing the camera at this and that. The sea has frozen quite solidly as far out as a distant shimmering horizon. Quite by chance I have with me “mad, bad and dangerous to know”, Ranulph Fiennes biography. It has been an immersive read as most of it involves walking across snow whilst getting increasingly badly injured and pulling a very heavy sledge. My foot is recovering well from surgery, but these walks have been painful, and very painful at times when an iced lump has made contact with just the wrong point of the foot. How Ranulph Fiennes does it all I have no idea, snow is hard work, which is something you tend to forget. He has lived the life of a hundred men, which is something we should try to do if we can.
Just two and a bit weeks left now to pack up the flat for rental, tuck the Bongo up in a good friends barn, and pack the Dave Yates bikes into their flight bags. Then we stuff what will be our home into eight small bike panniers and things become terrifyingly real.