My long articulated vehicle: tandem plus trailer plus clobber plus Jack.

My long articulated vehicle: tandem plus trailer plus clobber plus Jack.

Thank you to all concerned parties inquiring after my whereabouts due to lack of website updates. Since returning home in September from my summer cycling jaunt in the  Never Netherlands (as Daisy calls it) I’ve been here (and not there) and have been busy writing articles and my next book and chasing after children. In fact chasing after children has taken up a lot more time than writing so updating my website seems to go onto the back burner, but I shall strive to improve my ways.

So off to that low-lying Dutch land we go – a wonderfully watery place full of bikes, bike paths and bicyclists. And wind.

A quick recap: As soon as  our village primary school broke up for summer we were off. We is me and offspring: Molly (9), Daisy (6) and Jack (2) – though at the end of our escapade Molly turned 10 in Noordwijkerhout and Jack became a big 3 in Egmond aan Zee. The husband (builder Gary) wanted to get on with building so it was my first attempt at cycling abroad looking after the young rowdy mob single-handedly. It was also Molly’s first time touring abroad on her own bike (she had always ridden pillion with me before on the tandem) so it was a bit of a leap into the unknown: would Molly cope on her own bike (after all she’s not that keen on cycling – she prefers rock-climbing!) and would I be able to cope pulling Daisy (22.2kg), Jack (16kg), 4 panniers, 1 handlebar bag, 2 rear rack bags and a trailer full of a lorry-load of camping clobber? The total weight (including the tandem) came to 144 kg (317lbs) but was sometimes more depending on how much food and water I was carrying. Cycling this weight was on the verge of ridiculous – and impossible. The slightest incline and I started to be dragged backwards (and the North Sea coast is not flat – there were a lot of hefty dunes to climb over). I’m amazed my knees didn’t explode.

We spent 41 nights away from home. Two of these were spent sleeping in the North Sea (on a Stena Line ferry). The other 39 were in our Hilleberg Keron 4 GT tent. It was an amazingly good tent and stood up unflinchingly to countless gales, storms, hail, heatwaves, a boisterous herd of large drunken German men tripping over it and a rowdy mob of constantly exuberant children running riot within.

 

What's this - a Dutch hill!

Oh no! What’s this? A Dutch hill!

Strange but true - another Dutch hill!

Strange but true – another Dutch hill!

Stopping for a breather on a cycle path near Zandvoort. Jack is asleep in trailer, Molly is taking the picture and Daisy has leapt into my arms.

Stopping for a breather on a cycle path near Zandvoort. Jack is asleep in trailer, Molly is taking the picture and Daisy has leapt into my arms.

Stopping to catch sun rays.

Stopping to catch sun rays.

My sleeping-bagged caterpillars. We spent 41 nights away from home. 2 of these were spent sleeping in the North Sea on the ferry. The other 39 were in our Hilleberg Keron 4 GT tent. It was an amazingly good tent and stood up unflinchingly to countless gales, storms, hail, heatwaves, a boisterous herd of drunken German men tripping over it and a rowdy mob of constantly exuberant children running riot within.

My sleeping-bagged caterpillars. We spent 41 nights away from home. 2 of these were spent sleeping in the North Sea on the ferry. The other 39 were in our Hilleberg Keron 4 GT tent. It was an amazingly good tent and stood up unflinchingly to countless gales, storms, hail, heatwaves, a boisterous herd of drunken German men tripping over it and a rowdy mob of constantly exuberant children running riot within.

My long wide vehicle was a bit too long and wide to manoeuvre through barriers on way to Leiden so I had to momentarily shed some panniers.

My long wide vehicle was a bit too long and wide to manoeuvre through barriers on way to Leiden so I had to momentarily shed some panniers.

A kibbling and chips stop (Dutch version of fish and chips). Zandvoort.

A kibbling and chips stop (Dutch version of fish and chips). Zandvoort.

We had two birthdays in Holland: Jack had his third birthday in Egmond aan Zee...

We had two birthdays in Holland: Jack had his third birthday in Egmond aan Zee…

...and Molly had her 10th birthday in Noordwijkerhout.

…and Molly had her 10th birthday in Noordwijkerhout.

The North Sea Route bike path is like a smooth motorway for bikes through the dunes.

The North Sea Route bike path is like a smooth motorway for bikes through the dunes.

We kept to the windy and...

We kept to the windy and…

...often sunny coast because I felt that having the...

…often sunny coast because I felt that having the…

...sea and ice creams and an endless near-empty white sand beach on tap was a small reward for Jack and the girls after everything I was putting them through.

…sea and ice creams and an endless near-empty and endless white sand beach  on tap was a small reward for Jack and the girls after everything I was putting them through.

We camped beside the sea almost every night and...

We camped beside the sea almost every night and…

...it was the best playground they could ever want.

…it was the best playground they could ever want.

This pushchair weighs 6.2kg (not including the contents) and I hung it off the rear rail of the trailer. I nearly left it at home as I thought the extra weight would be too much but it proved a boon. Along with cycling the girls walked often anywhere between 5 and 8 miles a day to and from beaches, along beaches, to and from towns. Jack was still too little to walk such distances and too heavy to carry. Plus he likes his sleep which he did a lot of while being pushed. Plus the pushchair was useful for carrying heavy bags of shopping, swimming kit, books, toys, water, potty, bucket, spades etc.

This pushchair weighs 6.2kg (not including the contents) and I hung it off the rear rail of the trailer. I nearly left it at home as I thought the extra weight would be too much but it proved a boon. Along with cycling the girls often walked anywhere between 5 and 8 miles a day to and from beaches, along beaches, to and from towns. Jack was still too little to walk such distances and too heavy for me to carry. Plus he likes his sleep which he did a lot of while being pushed. The pushchair was also useful for carrying heavy bags of shopping, swimming kit, books, toys, water, bucket, spades, potty etc.

Jack spent quite a lot of time asleep in the trailer as well. When he woke up though he was full of bounce so we had to do a lot of stopping so he could be released to run off his excess energy.

Jack spent quite a lot of time asleep in the trailer as well. But when he woke up  he was full of bounce so we had to do a lot of stopping so he could release his excess energy.

Jack's least favourite pastime were campsite showers so he had baths in the camping bucket instead.

Jack’s least favourite pastime were campsite showers so he had baths in the camping bucket instead.

Occasionally we would treat him to a luxurious bath in the campsite sink.

Occasionally we would treat him to a luxurious bath in the campsite sink.

Us girls managed the odd shower or we would bathe in the sea. But you had to watch out - the North Sea was not only cold but full of jellyfish.

Us girls managed the odd shower or we would bathe in the sea. But you had to watch out – the North Sea was not only cold but full of jellyfish.

Poking and prodding the latest find.

Poking and prodding the latest find.

After coming out of the sea Jack and the girls would do a lot of jumping to warm up.

After coming out of the sea Jack and the girls would do a lot of jumping to warm up.

More bike path running races.

More bike path running races.

More windy beaches.

More windy beaches.

 

 

(More pictures to follow…)