Geeeze where to begin… Anna and I are back on the road, for good now it feels. Behind us lies family, friends and comfy bed’s, ahead – the unknown. It is 10:30am, hot as hell, and we just emerged from the tent with tired bodies after a mega day. More on that later though, first an update of the last month.
Shit it was good to see dad! It only happens every three or so years, but when it does we always have a good time. What’s a good time at look like at Kervelen you ask? Barn sessions have to be up there. The barn goes way beyond the confines of a man-cave; hours were spent in there “honing” our dart throwing abilities, although they only seemed to get worse… We were not so much seeking to develop the hand-eye coordination as much discover the perfect state of mind to ‘zone in’ – is it one vape then two and a half beers? Or three beers followed quickly by two vape’s?? Sorry, but we still don’t know they answer. It’s great to share so much in common with him, those of the Queens Ave era would not be surprised to hear we spent the majority of time in the barn.
And the kids, wow how they have grown! Such cool little humans, it is obvious their upbringing on the farm has been a positive one. They are both very well spoken, love to laugh and have fun, intelligent, and very independent (they will happily stop me from emptying the dishwasher, as “it’s their job”!). At 10 years old I think it’s a good time to strengthen our relationship, I look forward to spending more time with the two of you in the future.
Our stay in Brittany was not all barn parties and farm work though, we did also venture out for some wild weekends in two of Europe’s famous cities, Paris and Amsterdam. Sure you have the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and stunning architecture but what really drew me to Paris was one person, one legend, Gilaad Amir. As you can imagine the three of us had a wicked time, made all the better by our city-center apartment Sian had hooked us up with through old friends (thanks Sian!). We gorged ourselves on endless pastries, cheeses and breads whilst soaking up the Parisian sites, sounds and vibes atop our little hire bikes. Give it a few years though and I garantee the only thing that will stand out will be 3:30am Monday morning… Having really pushed the boat out Sunday night we climbed the endless flight of stairs to sanctuary, hoping to crawl into bed and quietly die for the next 12 hours. Oh, hmm what’s that on our door? A note? Oh NOOOOOO! “Hi Sam, sorry but we have come home early from holiday. Hope you are only two now as we are in bed. Please be quite. Laura (apartment owner)” Despair… The three of us slump to the ground. How could this happen. What do we do. Fuck… The only option is to tippy toe into the now hostile feeling little box and tri-spoon on the tiny couch. Lame. A few hours later I woke, one arm over Gil (?!), and suffered an awkward 20mins of our two hosts leaving for work. The place was a mess with wine bottles and pipes – we felt like death. Things got better from then on though, we utilized Air B&B to secure ourselves the most expensive little dungeon in Paris. No seriously this place was terrible! To access it you needed to walk though a maze of underground stairs and corridors, it shared a bathroom with some 120 other humans, it smelt like rotting fish carcass soup, and it didn’t even have the wifi it advertised!!! Alas we laughed it off and enjoyed our last night together. Gil I hope you find all your looking for in New York city, failing that of course you always will have the Queens Ave crew to fall back on.
After a couple of week’s recovery back at the farm it was time for the big shebang, a weekend with Jacko and Manda in Amsterdam! If there is one thing that stands out from that trip it’s that living on the other side of the world from a best friend does nothing to dismantle the friendship. The two of us have played tag team with living abroad for the past 8 or so years, but it did feel an end was in sight. Once I have ridden around the world and these two awesome people have completed their in-depth Amsterdam orientation, I look forward to a short drive to visit as opposed to a 24-hour flight.
For a change we hired some bikes and rode for miles each day… The difference being Amsterdam is undoubtedly the best city to cycle in, with its dedicated cycle lanes and bike friendly culture. The city is clean, all the food tastes amazing, most of the people are beautiful; it’s obvious why these two have stayed for so long. The 11-hour car ride home was fairly tough as you can imagine after such a weekend, but we made it back to Kervelen for one last week with the family.
Preparations for departure started the next day, we had brought a few new bits and bobs for the bikes, and planned to strip as much excess weight as possible (remember we are novices to this cycle touring stuff). This time it was for good, no more safety net of family houses and friends, it really felt like the start of the journey! It was sad riding out of Kervelen, who knows when I will next be there. At least my wedding will force Dad (and hopefully the kids) to come pay a visit to Aotearoa.
We soon picked up the Brest to Nante Canal, constructed by Napoleon to serve as an inland transport route this canal was the prefect route to ease back into it – flat, smooth tarmac, with plenty of easy campsites and no navigation required. The canal was teaming with French family’s enjoying the summer holidays, whole tribes taking to bikes for a week. We even met an extremely well educated (home schooled) and traveled 10-year-old and his mum who were riding to the bottom of Spain! Our days on the canal were punctuated with regular 2 hour reading breaks under oak trees and plenty of cold beer and pindas (Dutch for peanuts). After 5 days / 250km of canal life we were ready for a change, so we veered off the EV1 trail in search of white sand and cool water. Our detour took us over the Saint Nazaire Bridge, a colossal beast ram-packed with camper vans and trailers. Awaiting us on the other side was the heat Anna had dreamt of, the contrast was crazy! It now felt more like Spain than France, with white washed houses and parched earth that had clearly not seen the rain for months. We wanted summer and we got it!
We went for our first swim, ate our first Snickers bar ice cream, and sweated like pigs for the first time. From cruising through temperate England and Brittany for the past months to being smacked with a 35’C blow dryer was a real shock! Sadly coastal life is not all we hoped for… almost every stretch of beach is inhabited, streets are teaming with fat leathery holidaymakers, and the food is way below par for France. Having had a little taste of it this route, riding further South then across to the Mediterranean coast does not excite us so much (you were right Heleen, it’s pretty boring). But that’s the cool thing about being self-sufficient and driven; you don’t like it CHANGE IT. We’ve decided to shoot East in search of those stunning alpine vistas of the Swiss Alps. Haha I can just picture many of your faces and thoughts “What another change of route” or “What, they are crazy, the ALPS!” yup, bring it on – hill climbs, snow-capped views, $18 beers. Freedom – it’s one thing we both love about life on the road.
Thanks for reading, hope this is enjoyable for you. If you have any suggestions or requests for what we should include in these, please feel free to leave a comment. Blogs do feel like very one-sided communication, so we love getting comments from anyone out there reading 🙂
Thank you Sian for organizing the apartment in Paris. Hope Laura was OK with it all in the end.
Cheers for the awesome weekend Jack and Amanda!
Thanks for having us Dad, Heleen, Charlie and Lola J
And to the German couple in the camper next to us at Notre Dame de Monts, who asked “Do you like cold beer? We have some excellent Weizen beer if you do”.