A summary of the start- and thanks to all!

29 05 2007

Well, if there’s one thing I’ve discovered about this whole ‘life on the road’ business, it’s that there simply aren’t enough hours in a day to do even half of the things I need to do. Not if I want to actually get anywhere. In light of this, my posts are going to be very short… after this one 😉

As promised – a (very) brief summary of the trip from May 12th – May 25th.

Japan

May 12th was a day of last-minute shopping and general running around, capped-off by a little surprise party at a Spanish restaurant in the shopping mall I was quite cleverly led to in the evening (nice work Maki-chan!). Thanks for coming guys – and for your well-wishes and gifts. You can see where the blog got it’s name from here, though I still have no idea what ‘BAaDG’ means…

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From there it was a mad all-night packing session, cramming far too much stuff into a suitcase purchased only hours before, and destined to be thrown away in England. A taxi to Tokyo station at 6:30am, off to Narita airport by NEX and I was on my way.

Having checked the luggage limit for the airline I was taking (Korean Air), I was little worried I’d be over my 33kg limit. It turns out I needn’t have been – I weighed in at 31.4kg – a huge relief, right up until the girl at the desk informed me that there was a 20kg limit on this flight (!). She said I’d have to remove ‘a few things’ and come back again. In the end, I staggered onto the plane looking as though I was about to pitch tent right there in the aisle, but at least they let me on. They even smiled politely – though the passengers next to me were less impressed…

Korea

The customs mob for the transfer in Seoul were very interested in a particular item in my hand-luggage – the suspension headstem I’d had to throw in my bag at the airport. I believe it was Gree who dubbed it “Terminator’s shin-bone”, and he isn’t far off the mark:

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A few tense moments of close scrutiny, followed by ‘what the hell is this?’- type questioning, and it was handed back to me with a frown.

England

After arriving at Heathrow, I took the Tube to Waterloo station, where I transferred to a train bound for Southampton. I called my aunt Helen on the fancy new 3G mobile phone my boss gave me as a parting gift (thank you Furumoto-san!), and she was good enough to pick me up from the station at the agreed time – which was just as well, the phone couldn’t find any 3G towers at Southampton Airport Parkway station.

My stay with the Foulkes’ was fantastic – a very welcome chance to finally get to know my family members in England. I was treated like royalty by all of them (‘barking mad’ royalty, perhaps) and got all the support I could possibly have hoped for. In fact I dare say the trip would have been a non-event if it hadn’t been for all the help and running around, cooking and cleaning and general organizing that I received from them all. Thank you very much guys!

Quiz night at the pub with Mary, Bethan and John (quite enjoying himself, apparently) :

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Family BBQ:

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Lots of amazing sights in around Winchester and the cathedral – here are a few:

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I’ll get some kind of web-album sorted out soon – I have too many pics I’d like to share for this blog…

The Bike

This will get a post of its own in the near future, but I’ll put a few details here for now.

I went to Saint John’s Street Cycles in Bridgwater to pick up my steed for this trip, a Thorn Raven Nomad S&S. After a bit of messing about and configuration, she was ready to roll:

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Lots to say about the bike, it really is an amazing machine, but that’ll have to wait for the feature post. Glyn was good enough to escort me on my first test ride around the river on his own Mean Machine (which he delightedly points out cost him less than one of my handgrips – but we won’t dwell on that)

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The Beginning…

From there it was more packing packing and re-packing, with much help from Bethan in particular (who must still be reeling from my incredible packing ‘skills’). Thanks again!

When she was all loaded up and ready to roll, it was time for the tearful farewells – and to begin the trip in earnest:

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A bit of London (sunny, even!)…

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…and eventually to my ‘official’ starting point – London Bridge (not Tower Bridge, as I was helpfully told by everyone):

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The Ferry

The Ferry from Harwich to Esbjerg was great – I had a 3-berth cabin to myself (which is just as well, as you can see from the photo), with shower and toilet. Finally, a bit of relaxation time (in contrast to the 1 hour of sleep I got the night before). I opted for the buffet dinner, and ate myself silly. Then I slept like a brick.

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A bit of high-tech shenanigans with the GPS (which will also get a featured posting) in the cabin:

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After an equally pleasant and gluttonous breakfast, I was in Denmark. Esbjerg, to be precise – and that’s where my first post originated. And so concludes my summary of the beginning of the trip!

Thanks

Finally, I’d like to thank all concerned for their help, support and inspiration in my undertaking this trip:

My Maki-chan, for her love, support, blessing and patience. Thank you baby – I promise to call you often! Thanks also to the whole Hamaguchi and Shiraga families!

My Mother and Father, for their love, blessing and assistance in everything to do with the trip. This simply wouldn’t be possible without you.

The Foulkes’, who as you’ve already read assisted me incredibly and tirelessly in the U.K. – Thanks yet again to you all! (Just got off a Skype video-chat with them – you have to love Skype!)

John, Parvin, Elizabeth & Paul Tennant – I was fortunate to catch up with John during my brief stay in the U.K., and was able to have a phone chat with the rest of the family. Great to catch up with you all, and thanks for your support!

Furumoto-san, and everyone at Data4C’s for their support (and the 3G telephone!). D4C!!!

The whole staff & crew (present and past) at Berlitz Nihonbashi – thanks for your great support!

Graeme & Kaoru-chan – for all your support and well-wishes, and a very cool adventure watch. (Sorry I missed your birthday Kaoru-chan!)

Gerry – my partner in crime, who will be joining me in the Netherlands very soon. I’ll try to keep up, mate. Thanks for your inspirational organizational skills – I hope some of it stays with me when you depart in Zurich…

Gree, Inson, Lisa, Kebber, Yasumi-chan in Japan – Chris, Sarah, Ashley & Justin back in Oz – I’ll be relying on your comments to keep me going through the trip. Thanks guys!

Last but not least – Steve Tallon – the one person I know who could have actually talked enough sense into me to stop it all from happening (having done it himself a couple of years ago). Huge thanks for your inspiration, advice, encouragement and support. You’re the guy I’ll be cursing when things start to really hurt 😉

Well, it’s now almost 1:00am and I’m deliriously tired – time for dinner! I’m sure I’ve missed some very important people in this list – sorry to whoever that is – I’ll have to edit it later…

That’s all for a while, folks – I’ve got a lot of riding to do, even if it is pouring with rain!





Denmark – Esbjerg

25 05 2007

I like Denmark. It took me about five minutes to reach that decision – the people are friendly, the days are long, and there are actually bicycle roads – not just lanes – next to the major car roads. Now that’s cool. It’s a shame other countries haven’t followed this idea, it makes inter-city riding a dream come true.

Did I mention the days were long? I haven’t gotten used to it yet – the sun rises at about 4:30am, and there is still plenty of light at 10:30pm. In fact, it’s only truly ‘night’ for about 3 hours. Glad I brought an eye-mask for the tent.

Here’s me, enjoying my first taste of a local brew – my reward for finding a campsite and getting the tent up before dark. I actually had 5 hours of daylight to spare, though I didn’t know it at the time…

A little celebration

A view of Esbjerg’s main square – the fancy building on the right with the white window-frames was my dinner destination. Great food, and not expensive, surprisingly.

Esbjerg’s main square

Some of the locals: Nice people, but rather quiet…

A rather ominous view above me at one of the local pubs. Quite symbolic really, though I’m not quite sure of what…

A sobering sight

And finally, my view of the Pentagon Internet cafe – my lifeline in Esbjerg – as I was leaving at 2:00am:

My lifeline in Esbjerg

 

Sorry about the dodgy formatting of these images and posts in general – still getting a grip on WordPress. Expect a bit of stylification when I have nothing better to do (ha!)

My next post will be to rewind back to the beginning of this trip, and fill-in a few blanks between leaving Tokyo and arriving in Esbjerg. In particular, to give credit where credit is due – to my family and friends around the world (thank you Maki-chan!), and especially to my newly embraced and dearly loved family in the U.K. – the Foulkes.

Tomorrow I’m off to fulfill a life-long dream – I’m going to Lego Land!!!





Welcome!

24 05 2007

Welcome to Keep it Wheel – the blog for Nigel Tennant’s somewhat-planned bicycle trip from England back to his apartment in Japan.

I’m a bit late in getting this blog started – in fact I’m no longer in the U.K. – I arrived in Esbjerg, Denmark on the 24th May. The trip actually began on the 14th May in the south of England, but better late than never.

As fate and fortune permits, I’ll be updating this blog with stories, photos and drivel from my life on the road – so stay tuned!

My mobile home for the next half-year or so