Épinal to Nancy (Monday 18th)

My first night camping since a bushcraft weekend where I pulled apart a pigeon and a rabbit with my bare hands. Nice campsite with a good little restaurant attached. We struck out amidst gloomy weather, the German children on the neighbouring pitch complaining about having to ride.

We followed the Canal de l’Est towpath. Well tarmaced. Paul explained his philosophy of life: executive drifting. He works solidly as a sparks in Seattle for 7 months and then takes 5 months off. Perhaps too extreme for me but I like the idea of downsizing and having less, especially after being let down by shithead electronic companies who insist you upgrade your shit every two years.

We stayed at a youth hostel in Nancy in an old Chateau for €17 a night. Dinner in Nancy was in the spectacular main square.

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The view from our table:

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Dinner was a spectacular looking but mediocre risotto:

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Seriously, I can make better.

Calais to Épinal

A dull train journey today. Calais to Lille to Paris to Nancy to Épinal. 8 hours in all. Calais Ville station on a Sunday morning has desperately poor north Africans and young people coming down from the night before. I don’t mind all this but I was wary with my bike in tow.

When I got to Nancy I bumped into Paul who I met in Carcassonne two years ago (we had arranged to meet in Épinal). He’s joining me to Koblenz.

Found a campsite. Ate good food.

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Wot, no photos?

Yes, no photos, because it turns out that the shitheads at Samsung have made their Smart Camera app incompatible with my phone. Samsung, you are not on my Christmas card list any more. So I’ll be taking photos on my smartphone from now on.

If anyone has a solution please use the comments. I’ve got a Galaxy S2 and a Samsung WB250F camera.

Saturday night in Calais

Actually I’m in Coquelles, close to Sangatte, the Daily Mail’s locale of preoccupation about 10 years ago. No North Africans attempted to sneak into my panniers, although I haven’t checked thoroughly.

A trip to the supermarket yielded these bad boys.

I’ve had the Westmalle before. Very strong, but with a good taste. The black beer was good –  like a cross between a porter and a stout.

French TV is still shit. Tonight a tribute to a singer who died a number of years ago and dubbed NCIS. Still, it has that bloke from ‘Manhunter,’ Michael Mann’s only good film. Don’t you dare mention ‘Heat’ to me.

Ready Steady Go

So today I left Blighty for three weeks journeying across Europe. Some good news was that I had some contact with Paul who I met two years ago in Carcassonne. He’s over here and we shall meet in Épinal tomorrow.

I spent last night and this morning neurotically packing. It seems that while I journey I learn exactly what I need. Then I completely forget this and end up packing all sorts for the following year.

Behold the plethora of crap:

Planned Obsolescence

Preparations are afoot, dear reader for my forthcoming trip.  Tickets are being booked, the tent is being aired, the strange, stubborn stain on my sleeping mattress is coming along for the trip, the Rig has been serviced, extra sunglasses have been ordered along with clothes that will, I think, make me look as fashionable as possible on the cycle paths of Europe.

However, with all this testing going on I have made some disturbing discoveries.  My Garmin GPS and Sony Reader are not working and my “smart” phone is acting all stupid.  I have had these three devices for a maximum of three years.

Needless to say I’m pretty disgusted with these so-called companies.  I suspect the Sony’s internal battery has run out.  Sony have shown their commitment to the e-Reader market by selling their online bookstore to Kobo and scarpering.

Garmin seem to bring out new devices with alarming regularity and would you Adam-and-Eve it –  they’ve only gone and brought out a GPS with Wi Fi, the exact thing I need as I had to charge and transfer data through a micro-USB post.  Garmin describe their GPS devices as “rugged.”  Well, Garmin, that makes me the toughest motherfucker on the planet because your devices are like putty in my hands.  Still, if you’d like to send me free stuff for destruction testing then send a message (start of cavernous silence).

I blog on a Samsung S2 and it is becoming a bit temperamental.  I’ve done a full factory reset and it’s a bit better.  This is just after my 2 year contract ended and I switched to a 1 year sim-only contract.

There are firms out there who build steel framed bikes that last and last.  Kona used to, Surly still do.  Perhaps Garmin, Sony and Samsung might learn something…

adbusters_tigerwoods

God, that sounds like something from an awful politics blog.  Next up, a selection of the gear I’m taking.

A Surly Ride rides again

Hello again dear readers

It’s that time of year – blog necro time, as I think hipsters call it – where this blog rises from its looooooooong slumber to stalk the cycle paths, restaurants, art galleries and toilets of mainland Europe.

New people have started to follow this blog: welcome, I can only assume you are thoroughly exhausted from Internet pornography and Angry Birds.

My trip starts in about 4 weeks time and involves 5 countries! I’m intending to cycle the length of the Moselle from Epinal to Koblenz and then following the Rhein to the Hook of Holland over the course of three weeks. Last year’s alpine adventure was, in retrospect, fucking hard work. Plus I had been redeployed at work and returned to a boss who was the biggest control freak I ever worked for. Incidentally he is a keen cyclist so I would love the delicious irony of him stumbling across this.

So hold onto your hats, it’s going to be a wild ride (bear in mind that I’m a middle aged man who stumbles across good art, food and dirty fuckers pissing in the shower).