Tastetastic South 1 : Hills 0

25th August 2012 by

Bonjour, Guten Tag from the French-German connection of the Tastetastic Southern Tour live from the beautiful rainy Cumbria (England!). We are deeply sorry that this won’t be more multilingual but we had to step back in consensus decision making process and accept English as the dominant language. Donc this blog entry will be in English ;-)

Welcome to Fairyland….

Over the last few days a happy bunch of cyclists managed to get through the dangerous and hilly Scottish Borders thanks to many fairies along the way. Magic pastries created by the fairies of the Dunbar cooperative community bakery, which was set up by Sustaining Dunbar, helped us power all the way to Westruther (once we were set free by the very knowledgeable fairy Mark who told us stories about local wind farms, landfills and nuclear power stations). Soon after having left the caring Dunbar fairies and after an impressive thunder, we were welcomed by more of them in Westruther. The local fairies kindly offered us the village hall as our shelter and soon we met many nice and interesting and curious little pixies at Westruther Primary School and taught them about fair-trade and food production.  As a final goodbye to the wee town of Westruther we spent a night of festivities in Angie’s local pub next to a heart-warming firewood, playing pool, the ukulele and singing songs.  Our charming landlady fairy finally offered us some yummy mange-tout which nearly gave us enough strength to cycle to the far far away Headshaw Farm next to Hawick passing via lovely Midlem where we were lucky to experience local Scottish hospitality…

Indeed, the big hairy hill fairy nearly attempted to kill our entire team by putting a massive hill at the entrance of our 5 star hotel in Headshaw Cottage… Comfy beds and hot showers were waiting for us but it was not long before we all had to jump out of our sleeping bags and cycle for more than 10 miles in the worst weather that the angry Scottish Gods could have created. All of our happy jolly team landed in St Margaret’s RC Primary School looking more than soaked but, the great pupils and teachers’ fairies helped us recover our positive spirits and deliver our 4 fun and informative workshops about energy, fair-trade, grow your own and transport. We final ly paid a visit to the marvellous and generous bike fairy Julian, from Borders Cycles, who took a lot of his time to repair all of our unhappy bikes… Thanks again!

With another good night’s sleep in the comfy cottage, new knowledge about passive houses and heat pumps and the feeling of having made a difference to the local primary school in Hawick we set off towards Low Luckens Organic Resource Centre in Cumbria, England. Unfortunately the local bike fairies were on holiday that morning and after an hour of punctures and little bike troubles we were saved again by our faithful bicycle fairy Julian at Borders Cycles in Hawick, we can only recommend him!  With lots of enthusiasm, a smart cow distraction fairy from Cambridgeshire to clear congested country roads, many fairies among us to push the trailers up many hills and brilliant cake fairies in the local teashop in Newcastleton, we reached a beautiful woodland camping ground next to grazing cows at Low Luckens. Now we’re ready to reach more youth with our sustainability workshops and eager to learn about the Organic Resource Centre…

A bientôt und bis bald

(Coraline & Ralph)

Rail, Sail, and plenty of Ale.

16th July 2012 by

The journey started much like my normal commute – weaving past traffic in the morning ‘rush’ hour I headed into the centre of London. It was the added panniers and tent strapped to my bike that set this morning apart, and I headed to Euston station instead of the office. The holiday had begun!

I was taking advantage of the Rail and Sail ticket – a few days before I had paid just £38 to get me and my bike from London to Dublin. These tickets are available from anywhere in the UK but the best thing for me was that the price (around £40) doesn’t change – no more trawling websites for those elusive cheap tickets! Once again I found  The Man in Seat 61  as knowledgeable and helpful as ever when planning this trip – the site offers pages of information and first hand experiences of travelling overland to countless worldwide locations. The pages on Ireland were particularly good, and even offers good advice about taking your bike (key thing – remember to reserve a space for it).

Once in Ireland I headed to Cork and met a friend before riding out to the South West Peninsulas. We had no real plan other than to sample the fantastic music, wild landscapes, smooth dark ales and peaty whiskeys that bought us there. All the while we were on the road we only met a small handful of other cycle tourers – a big surprise as Ireland seemed ideally suited. Away from the towns the roads become near deserted and wind through some breathtaking landscapes. We rode until early evening, and found no problem finding a spot to camp for the night. Some nights we approached a farmer, or a local tending his garden – but we always observed simple wild camping rules and never left a trace.


Whilst planning this article I’ve also found you can rail and sail to Holland for £36! I think that’s my next holiday sorted…

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