Monthly Archives: June 2011

We somewhat reluctantly packed up and left our cosy room at Hotel-Du-Vin……


We somewhat reluctantly packed up and left our cosy room at Hotel-Du-Vin. My dad came to meet us with our passports (freshly stamped with Iranian visas-phew!) and we had a greasy fry up in a cafe near the dock. We’d just found out that we’d missed the only ferries across the channel for the day from Poole, and eager to get going, we decided to ride around the coast to Portsmouth, stopping for the night in Lymington; where my dad’s staying in his caravan. A nice ride following the coastline through Bournemouth (where, when stopping for a final taste of England; fish and chips with the obligatory rain and sand, we found £10 in the sand- another good monetary omen!)
We arrived into Lymington and following dad’s instructions, arrived at Amberwood, a beautiful home belonging to Sheila, a friend of Dad’s partner Di; in the extensive garden of which, Dad’d squeezed his little caravan (he’s been a little nomadic of late). Dad laid on, what can only be described as a dad-style feast: a couple of pizzas and some uncooked corn on the cob – (“What? You’re supposed to cook it?”, a wonderful attempt at a salad and a fine selection of booze. Nevertheless, cooking the corn in the Sheila’s kitchen gave me the opportunity to find out all sorts of fascinating things about her; what an incredible woman. We talked about global politics and her Argentine tango classes in a village up the road. She point-blank refused to strike a tango style pose, however, when I later asked for her portrait in front of the house! Sheila kindly offered us her spare room, which we accepted thankfully, grateful of not having to put the tent up and a hot shower.


leaving Glasto……


I had feared it might take us some time to escape the festival site. Today is not only the first day of our physical freedom (although I might argue we were never not free :P), but also the first of Joel’s freedom from nicotine! Hallelujah! I knew this might mean that he is unbearably grumpy, but I’m prepared for the worst.
Getting off-site was, as predicted, a serious challenge. Once we’d said our emotional goodbyes we sought out the nearest exit and made a bee-line for it. It was, of course, up an enormous hill.
After a few kms, it began to drizzle. We had been courteously offered the night in Hotel-Du-Vin, Poole; so we had to keep moving to make it there at a reasonable hour.
For England, we’d decided against a map and were relying solely on Joel’s iphone. After a short period on a busy main road I asked if there was maybe a smaller road we could take. Joel wasn’t really up for it, but conceded and we turned down a windy little lane. This quickly descended and then there was a sharp incline. Ouch! I pushed up, past an angry Joel, with all my might and silently wondered how we’d make it to Asia with such laden bikes. At the top we both collapsed into the wet verge and I must admit a few tears were shed. Joel’s nicotine deficiency was definitely showing.
We pushed on, and had a relatively incident-free ride down down to the coast. Mainly downhill, thank ye lordy. On our arrival into Poole, waiting for the bridge to lower and let us pass, we asked a kindly-looking chap for directions to HDV. He replied something along the lines of; “What the posh one?” and we explained how we’d been offered a night there because of the ride we’re undertaking. You’ll not believe this: he took a twenty pound note from his pocket and passed it to Joel, “Buy yourselves a beer, it’s pricey in there!” We graciously accepted and I suggested we might give it to our charity; Siddhartha Foundation UK, he said, “Do what ya like, but I’d rather you got a beer!” So an hour or so later; having dropped our muddy panniers off in the room, been stunned by the in-room roll top bath and two TVs (two!?) followed by a quick scrub; we did just that. Well, in actual fact I had a G&T “for the lady” and Joel had a much tastier men’s one; apparently ladies don’t like the taste of gin – it was barely detectable!
The waitress was delightful, and after we’d scoffed (perhaps not the best verb for such an establishment, but i’m reluctant to change it) down our fish mains, she produced a slate on which the artistic chef had drawn some snow capped mountains and a couple of bikes (we can’t quite make them out but i’m sure they’re Clem and Arthur), and written “Good Luck!” How kind of them. We were quite touched.



After an exhaustingly muddy five days at Glastonbury, working more hours than one is accustomed to (perhaps only in my case, certainly not in Joel’s!), Sunday night set in, and, instead of running off at the end of our shift at the Treehouse (Oh we had a gay old time; selling Pimms, cream teas and other cakey/tea-y delights with a group of Bristol’s finest) as we did last year when we met, Joel and I prepared ourselves a cup of Pimms and climbed the hill to take in the spectacle; incredulous, knowing that the sheer Western hedonism and display of abundance at their most extreme would feel other-worldly in a couple of months time, when, Insh’Allah, we’re enjoying the hospitality of some Iranian family in the mountains in the middle of nowhere, and begging them not to slaughter their last goat in our honour. (“What do you mean begging them not to?” Joel just asked me, puzzled…)
There we sat, as the reality of the mammoth task ahead hit home. We sipped our Pimms slowly and gazed quietly on the throbbing valley below.

on our way….


We set off after breakfasting and perusing Dad’s OS map. Sheila came out to see us off, and spotting the yoga mats on my bike, revealed the fact that she’d been a yoga teacher, and studied under the highly-regarded Iyengar! I would have liked to have stayed a week to hear all about it, but off we must…
We took a ferry across the Solent to the Isle-of-Wight, (this having been decided to be the best route) at which point, Dad, who’d been planning on riding with us for the day, admitted he’d not be able to keep the pace, and given Joel’s current temperament meaning he’s not keen on waiting around, we decided that yes, it might be best to say goodbye here.
A couple of hours traversing the Isle, and we were back on a ferry to Portsmouth. The ferry to Caen wasn’t ’til 11pm, so we found a local Coop; and bought some food for dinner, which we cooked in a park besides the motorway. Hopefully we’ll find some slightly better scenery for the next pique-nique!