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Monday, May 31, 2010

England 2010: Part 2

Monday, May 17, 2010

Villequier to Jumieges:

Not much of a ride today as we are busy seeing the country side and just enjoying ourselves. We know there is no making Rouen today and there is no campground listed between here and there. So we decide to spend the night here, get up early and make the run to Rouen. We talk about the two ways to get to Rouen the first uphill, a long, long hill or second follow the Seine which will take an extra day. We sleep on it but first a ride down hill to the campground. There is an old abbey in town which we elect to walk around.
Now it is time to eat and we find this little café/grocery store which looks promising. The shop keep tells us there is no hot food available. But wait she rummages around and comes up with the most wonder meal. She is dressed in a beige skirt with a needle point vest to match she reminds me of Aunt Bea on the Andy Griffiths show.

I’m not very talkative and wonder why it seems there is nothing to talk about. I also find myself being very moody, must have my period, or is it the medication to reduce hormones? We stop and look a cemetery for about an hour talking about the graves and church. At the campground it time to settle in for the night. Mark has rented an adapter we can use to charge our computer. After a snack and a little typing on the computer it’s off to bed.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jumieges to Rouen:

Up early, cook breakfast, pack up and hit the road to Rouen. We reach Saint-Martin-de-Boscherville were we need to decide which route to talk. Mark opts for up and over to get to Rouen and we begin the climb up. I did this hill the last time and ended up walking the whole thing. This time I make it to the top riding but, find no exaltation in the event. Mark has to walk like I did and pats me on the back he seems to be more excited them I am. As we coast down to Rouen I wonder why could it really the medication? We travel through Rouen in order to get to the other side. I’m irritated with myself because I see the way in my head but can’t find it.

I get my bearing and we arrive at the campground in Saint-Ledger-Du-Bourg-Denis a small village on the out skirts of Rouen. After setting up camp we walk down into the small town with Mark is delighted with. It has a bakery, butcher, café, florist, and small grocery store. We visit the butcher, baker, but not the candle stick maker instead we opt for the grocery store. We have picked up dinner and breakfast and will just hang out at the campground tonight.

Wednesday May 19, 2010


We site see around Rouen for sometime then Mark wants to find a WiFi café. About ten minutes later we are in this café that serves only hamburgers and chili oh yeah! A gentleman from the U. S. greet us and proceeds to talk our ear off: his name is Steve. I’m irritated that I’m in France and have to eat make-believe American food. We are told that if we order a meal the internet will be free. I should have seen this coming. Mark orders chicken fingers that look like pencils with bread on them. I order a chicken burger, or was it a veggie burger, while Mark goes for the good old fashion beef kind.

Steve finally, thankfully, has to leave for an appointment. We ask for the code to the internet and neither of us can get a signal. I’m pissed, Mark get a free sign on upstairs on the café computers. I’m noticing all the, what I consider, unhealthy food he eats, I eat healthy and get to deal with cancer, can’t lose weight and he just stays the same. I find myself being very angry with him. We ride to the train station which I can’t find and am getting angrier by the minute.

Finally he asks someone where it is and we find out it is right around the corner from where we are standing. We get prices for our trip to Calais and begin to leave the station. Now we decide to stay and extra day and go to Paris before we leave. We head back to the campground, take a little side trip to the butcher where Mark picks up a stake for the morning. I talk little as I eat salad, chicken, and green beans. I’m wondering why I am this angry as the day was not that bad.

It can’t be the cancer working on my subconscious? I have to make this decision which does not guarantee life, it only guarantees being free from Prostate cancer. I get to possibly lose the capability to have sex again, but I’ll be cancer free. I can continue to eat “healthy” yet with no idea whether or not it will keep cancer at bay; so far it has not. I’m trying to keep a positive outlook, but it is hard to do as I want desperately not to have to make this decision at all. I want my body to stop betraying me, but it may again.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Today we decided to spend an extra day in Rouen and take the train to Paris. It is a 1 ½ hour ride through very scenic French country side. After arriving in Paris we head across town to the International station where I hope to pick up a train to Graz. Mark has the map and will guide us to our destination. We arrive at the wrong station, but no problem the correct one is only a few blocks away.

Found out that there is a train from Paris to Graz which I really wanted to get on, however I’d have to stay here until Tuesday because it is a bank holiday this weekend. It would cost 117 Euros one way than another 117 back which is about what I paid for air fare last year. Next year I may just take the sleeper car and see what it is like, however I’d miss seeing a lot of French country side until Munich. That is where I’d change trains to head to Graz. My bike would be with me not sure where, but I was informed all that was needed was to remove the front wheel The train was an overnight and I’d have gotten to sleep in a bunk which would have been an new experience.

Second time I’ve been to Paris and again unable to see any of the famed sights. Oh wait there is the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Well somewhat more than the last time. We rode through Paris as if we were locals, even managed to get into a few staring matches with cab drivers who, like in NY, thing they own the road. We were supposed to have a nice dinner in Paris, which didn’t happen, and visit some sights, which also didn’t happen. But, all in all it was a decent and informative trip.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rouen to Calais:

Never ever believe what the internet tells you about traveling in a foreign country. First it told me there was no way to travel from Paris to Graz without it costing over $400. Not true! Then it told us there was no way to get from Rouen to Calais via train without going to Paris. Not true! Sadly you really have to get to a station and ask, or break the trip down into segments. Then you can get to where you are going inexpensively. I not once found it necessary to buy a Euro pass or any pass as they are very limiting and expensive. My experience is to buy tickets as you need them, which is much less restrictive and if you can travel on a discount pass of some kind you are better off.

We left Rouen at 12:30 pm on a local train that accommodates bikes. It was a leisurely ride 160 km ride through some magnificent French scenery takes a little over three hours. No problem getting the bike on to the train whose floor is the same height as the platform which is not always the case. We were lucky when we had to switch trains as our next train was at the same platform. There are some very old French train cars looking like something from the 50’s to the newer ones hot off the assembly line. The first one we took was fairly new and had sockets to plug in your computer, phone, what not.”

The second seemed to be something from the sixties lacking air conditioning. I used the toilet and looking down saw the track beneath the train. This certainly does not say much for the environment around the station. We zip through banked cures as if we are at Indy. Fly in to a station stop dead, motors off, the conductors chat a bit then we are off. I can see the guy driving the train from where I sit. The windows are open at fresh air blows through my hair. The skies are filling with clouds that are bluish-gray with white edges. I begin to wonder if we’ll have a rough crossing from Calais to Dover.

We watch the ship we will be traveling pulling in to its berth. It is an amazing site seeing this huge ship dock. No tugs to push it into its berth, it has jets on the side shooting water out to push the thing sideways. It slowly closes in on the dock so the ramps line up perfectly while the jets hold it against the dock. Truck after truck disembarks from the bottom deck with cars and motorcycles come off the top. Now it is our turn to load and we are motioned to ride up this very steep ramp. I’m getting on my bike when I see Mark wiz by like he had a rocket attached. I’ve never seen him move so fast. He is at the top of the ramp before I even start up.

It is difficult for me to get up the ramp because I’m laughing rather hard at this sight. After parking the bikes we head up to the top deck where we secure a table with a view. Then we decide to have dinner in the dining room instead of the buffet. It is as if we are dining in a first class restaurant with all the amenities. China and crystal glassware along with spotless white table linens next to the window we eat in style. The food is nicely presented and has wonderful flavor. We finish our meal the run down to the buffet for desert. Back at the salon table we which the White Cliffs of Dover come into view. The channel is as calm as bathwater and we have enjoyed two wonderfully smooth crossings.

Once in Dover it’s off to the train station in order to get to Martin Mill our campground for the evening. After looking at the terrain Mark agrees with me that the train is the way to go. It is even make clear as the train climes a very steep hill to take us on our six minute ride. The campground is quite nice with heated bathrooms and hot, hot water to shower in. We decide that tomorrow we’ll take the train to Canterbury.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

We arrived in Canterbury this morning around 10:30 via train from Dover. After a brief walk about the town we decided to find a campground and spend the day here. After we settle into a campground not far from town I had most to the day to myself as we went our separate ways. There is a place call the Canterbury Tales which is a set of scenarios based on Chaucer’s writings. It was quite entertaining and took about ½ an hour to wander through. The after visiting an abbey, Franciscan monastery, and the Museum of Canterbury I settled in for a cup of tea. After a sip I decided that it would be nice to have something to nibble on so back to the counter to check out what was to be had.

The young lady behind the counter assure me that they did indeed have some sweet pastries and said I should go sit and she would bring them to me. In a few she arrived at the table carrying two nice looking pastries and handed them to me. Upon asking how much they were she responded “Oh they are free. They are the last two of the day and I usually give them away.” What a pleasant surprise, yet another was to come. The particular establishment had free Wi-Fi so I signed on to check email as I figured my daughter was about to strangle me for being out of touch for so long.

There was an email from the Salisbury Festival informing me that a story I had entered in their contest was to be read in the town square on May 30th. How fun was that to learn that someone was going to read my story in the middle of Salisbury. We get back together and at the campground have some nice home cooked pork burgers for dinner. It turned a bit cool more to the dampness in the air then actual being cold if that makes any sense. I get into my sleeping bag and type a bit before heading off to sleep.

England 2010: Part 1

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Preparing for my fifth trip to England! Having hoped to be able to do this once, I never imagined doing it five years in a row. It has been a very trying year filled with frustration, new challenges and health issues. New equipment has been purchased to supplement the old tried and true. The big question, again this year, will my bike still be there? One can only hope that for the fifth year my bike will have survived the winter and vandals. My bag this year consists of a new pair of panniers that will hold everything and stay under 50 lbs. At this point they weigh in at 41 lbs and need to be unpacked and packed again to make sure everything is inside. The last item that will be needed is a new Deuter backpack which I’ll purchase with my REI dividend and 20% off coupon.

This will allow me to carry on some of my stuff thus reducing the weight in the panniers. It may allow me some extra room to bring my Hobson bike seat. As tax season comes to an end the want to be riding my bike increases. My friend Mark will be coming over again this year for a three week stint. Tickets have been purchased costing more than any previous trip. Finding a ticket for under $800 was not to be this year. We will be flying a combination of Delta and KLM going through Detroit and for the first time landing in Heathrow. I’m thinking about taking the National bus to Salisbury as I’ve not done that in a few years and it costs less money. Money could be an issue this year, but I’ll not know that until the end of April.

Somewhere on one of my computers is an equipment list that I had intended to post this year. So I’ll have to have to head home and see if it can be found. I also just realized that I have not finished my posts from last year, especially the most exciting part. So maybe I’ll work on that tonight also.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Scottsdale AZ again for more doctor’s meetings, more information plus and ultrasound to see how the baby is doing. Ha-ha!

Going to be busy right up to when I leave. Teeth cleaning, getting the house ready for my being away, another test, end of season dinner with the Block gang, finals, and putting in grades for my classes. All stuffed into 11 days, however I’m packed. Everything is stuffed into two panniers and a back pack. I have less weight than last year only 41 pounds hope I’m not forgetting anything. Maybe I should repack just to make sure.

This is when the stress starts to build up! Will I forget anything, will I make the plane, and will my bags get to where I’m going and on and on. It all goes away when I get on the plane and am in the air. Then it is time to sit back and relax forget about all the stuff going on in my world and focus on the here and now. Enjoy the ride to Detroit which is the first time I’ll be landing in that airport that I can remember. Three hour layover then it’s off to England and Heathrow again a first. Prior trips have taken me to Gatwick a less hectic airport.

I’m excited to go this year as this is the first time I actually have an agenda for part of the trip. So this will be a new experience to deal with. Past trips have been willie nillie where I am there I am no plans kind of thing.

Monday, May 6, 2010

Arriving at the hospital promptly at 5:30am I’m checked in and then follow a nurse to the surgery suite. They keep saying surgery I keep saying “no surgery, Test, no surgery.” They smile “it’s just a term we use.” Not smiling I retort “I don’t like your saying!” They take pleasure in that by using the S word more than necessary. “Take off your close and put the gown on with the open facing the back.” Gee you think!

I’m sitting on the gurney and Nurse Betty comes in. All the cute young nurses are assigned to other patient’s, life us just not fare. ‘You have any valuables, money, wallet, jewelry?” Not being quick on my feet I answer in the affirmative. “I’ll get the guard to lock them up!” My wallet contains my passport which as not left my sight for three days. You’ll have to arm wrestle me to get it I think, but she looks like she could take me. “I get the guard.” Say’s she.

She comes back guard in tow along with several forms to fill out “So your stuff will be safe.” “I don’t want my stuff locked up I didn’t have to do that the last time why do I have to do it this time?” So round we go until she finally gives my “valuables” stay with me as I’m wheeled off to the “surgery.” Later I’m told that there is not reoccurrence of cancer in that area of my body.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Time to leave! Up at 5am ready to go, packed, as usual nervous about getting to the airport on time. Always worry that the road will be closed, the car break down, or some such rot. My son Kevin will take us to the airport, I’ve already woken Mark up. We will pick him up a tad earlier then he expected, but we’ll be there on time.

On the plane we end up sitting together along with seat mate Caroline who is returning from an Erikson Hypnotherapy workshop. Pleasant conversation al we sit on the runway awaiting departure. Packed flight heading to Detroit were we will connect with our plane to England. Now that we are in the plane I begin to relax allowing the world of work and illness slip to the back of my mind for now. I’ll let my unconscious dwell on the aspects of both for awhile.

Oh sitting at the airport I pull up the urologist’s telephone number and there is a like to a blog written by someone in Kingman. He was the same age, and the Doctor involved is the same as the doctor I saw in Scottsdale. The gentlemen in Kingman had the same treatment that has been prescribed for me. The doctor told me that everything would work just fine after the treatment. This fellow in Kingman writes that he is cured of cancer however the Package does not work correctly, and continues not to work after four years. I’ll do a little more checking.

We are off to England and Marks seat assignment has gone a rye. After much hassling he has, unhappily found himself in a middle seat in the middle row far from the seat he had booked. After watching a few movies it is time to get a few winks hopefully waking up in England.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Arrive at Heathrow.

After standing on long lines to get through customs I am again faced with the feeling of being home. It washes over me after stepping through the customs gate. Thank the baggage gods that our stuff arrived alone with us. Off to the bus station to pick up a ticket to Salisbury and after a three hour wait we’re on the way. The bus offers a better view of the English country side which is quite refreshing. From the bus stop in Salisbury it is a short walk to the YHA were I have started my trip from for the past five years.

After settling in at the YHA it is time to take a walk to the train station to see if the bikes have survived another year. As happened before I cannot find the bikes on the first look see. And them for the fifth year in a row my bike is waiting at the station for me. Marks bike is waiting for him also this will be his second year.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Around Salisbury

Today was spent at several stores picking up some things to get the bike ready for a nice long ride from Salisbury to Lyndhurst in the New Forest. After another trip to the Pound store the bikes are ready to go. So we take a 12 mile ride to the Upper Woodford and back. I had to stop a few times to adjust my seat which seems to be a rather precise undertaking. After several stops the thing is still not adjusted correctly, this is going to take time. (Posted 5/16/2010)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Around Salisbury: Part II

So I talked to Liz today who told me, sadly, she will not be at the YHA next year. She is getting married and will be teaching French to school children. The place will not be the same without her lovely smile. We have dinner at the Cathedral Hotel then down to the local movie house to catch Iron Man 2. Mark is a bit taken aback by the smallness of the screens at this movie and we were in the main theater. We hung around today to catch the Village market only to find out there was none until Saturday.

After doing not much of anything it was all in all a very relaxing day. I’ve not spent a lot of time thinking about whether to have surgery or radiation when I return. Just letting it run around in the back of my head. It does come to the forefront every time I take the medication to slow the growth of the cancer. I hate taking the medication, but it is a necessary evil for now.

My daughter calls or text’s me daily as if it were local calls. Remember when you could only call with in your area or it was long distance. Well there is no more of that via cellular except when you’re out of the country. Oh well its only money. Miss my kids.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It is time for the first ride of 2010 to the New Forest then on to Portsmouth. I’ve picked a new route which looks more direct and will shave off some miles. Told Mark that it will still be more than the 10 mile limit he talked about prior to our leaving. He tells me this is O.K. so off we go avoiding major roads as much as possible. However the map lied and we are heading to a road I’ve tried to avoid riding on for many years. Funny the way life works when you try to avoid riding on some road and then you find yourself on it anyway. Then you find out the road was not as bad as your head fanaticized it to be. Such it is with this road which turns out to have a very nice path along side it so you don’t actually have to ride on it.

I can think of a few times that I found the nice path rather than ride out in the middle of the road. But, there are times, due to lack of wisdom, I’ve chosen the harder ride down the road, rather than the easy one. It is my hope that those days are no more and some of this wisdom can be passed on. We’ll see! As we ride the hills become more packed together and steeper. Another dictum from Mark was “NO HILLS” So now he says “O.K.” So we ride down and then walk up the hills several times. We are heading for Lyndhurst where there is a campground I’ve stayed at before.
The new panniers I’ve spent $129 on flew off the bike because the hooks bent. My $120 saddle is not working and my butt is getting sore. Other than that all is well. Upon arriving we find a nice little café to have lunch and decide our next move. I leave to go to a store to pick up a pair of pliers to fix the new panniers. Upon my return Mark informs me that he has lost his phone. He wants to ride back to a place where he thinks it was dropped. Now I’ve been down this route before. I too once when in search of a lost phone which was never found. But, if he wants to go look we’ll go look.

Outside the café he says “You stay here and watch the stuff I’ll ride back.” I spy a bench across the street, but Mark is already somewhere else. I call to him as a bus is going by and I make a face at the noise the bus is making. The next thing Mark is screaming at the top of his lungs at me. Now I know that this is because he is upset about the lost phone. However, I don’t like people screaming at me so I walk across the street and say with a smile “I’ll wait here.”

About an hour later he returns no phone in hand. Arriving at the campground, which is really a farm, we are told that it is not open for the season yet. So we ride on to see what we can see. We find another campground, but you must have your own toilet to stay there. I offer up a green garbage bag but it is not acceptable. So Mark spies a path leading off into the wood which we follow until there is a spot that looks as good as any to camp in.

We make dinner, and then eat while being eaten alive by nasty little bugs, than it is time to turn in.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I have a quick breakfast as the bugs are after us again. After a short ride we arrive at the town of Beaulieu which is a nice little tow with narrow streets, cottages, and sitting on the edge of a lake. Mark did not get to make breakfast so we hunt down a place to eat which is part of a nursery. Mark has a nice breakfast while I have coffee. Our next stop will be Brockenhurst where we’ll get a train to Portsmouth.

Upon reaching Brockenhurst we check out the local bike shop then head for the train station. We find out that the train for Portsmouth is on the next platform. So we have to unload the bikes drag everything including the bikes up one set of stairs and down another. We arrive in Portsmouth and Mark wants to keep going. So we head for the ferry and book our passage. It is 2 pm and we do not leave until 11 pm. We snagged a little lunch then work on the bikes at the ferry port. Met a fellow who tells me about how miserable it was to live in England especially with the new government. He tells me about his home in Spain and how it is going there with everything collapses. He has a well and stream along with several aches of fertile ground. That way he can grow his own food and make his own drink and believes he will do just fine. Guess he missed the special about folks from England buying land in Spain then having the government sell it right out from under them once it’s been improved. Hope is dream comes true. He scoffs when I tell him I’d love to find that in England.

We board the ferry at around 10 pm after waiting about ½ hour on the open wharf with the wind blowing at us. Upon boarding I find this ferry is far different from the one I took two years ago. It seems to be a smaller ship so there are new things to figure out. I had told Mark where to go, but there were no seats like I had on the last crossing. There is no Wi-Fi, nor are there electrical outlets for the computer. Mark wants to upgrade to a sleeping room which has a reclining seat then share it each sleeping half the night in it. I pass.

I blow up my sleeping mat, slid into my sleeping bag and out for the night. I awake in the morning about an hour from docking in Le Havre plenty of time for breakfast and get ready to disembark. We have breakfast and after docking we disembark and ride into Le Havre.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Le Havre to Villequier:

I tell him which way we are going and why and off we ride toward the campground in Villequier. This is not the same campground as the one two years ago. It is one that I saw the next day which was much nicer. We ride and I am able to retrace the route I used two years ago without the getting lost part. It is a pleasant ride through small villages, on fairly empty roads. The weather is cool, but the sun is bright with puffs of white and gray clouds in the sky. When the sun disappears behind a cloud it is pretty darn cool so the jacket comes off, the goes back on, then…

After about 20 miles we arrive at Villequier and finally find the campground I’d seen. It is very nice and the people who run it go out of their way to make sure our stay is pleasant. We set up our tents then head to the dining room for a very nice dinner. Not understanding the menu we ask the wife what some of the items are. She runs into the kitchen and brings out cans or frozen meat to show us what is on the menu. The meal is ordered along with drinks. Mark has a Coke, but I have something called and orangeina. I am hooked! Sadly we do not have this drink in the U. S. nor do I think they have it in the U. K., but I love this stuff.

Dinner is done and I glance to my right and see a small girl head in my direction. She walks up to puts her arm on my back and her head on my shoulder. I am amazed at the gesture and she picks up the place mat which has games on the other side which she points to. So we play the games and she giggles and laughs as we play. We then play tic tack toe which I let her win. She makes up a game we all play which Mark wins much to her dismay. Mark excuses himself as Orialmarie and I continue to play.
Mark comes back with a Grover puppet in hand and the little girls giggles with glee. The girl’s parents watch from behind the bar as we spend time together. She reminds me of my granddaughter Elizabeth and I begin to miss her and my family. and we ask if there is WiFi around. Low and behold the campground has WiFi for sale so we buy and happily tap away.