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Mogs Travels: May 2008

Mogs Travels

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Good friends

We're spending a couple of days at the caravan. The trip is all organised so to distract ourselves from planning we're in our caravan in Pembrokeshire to relax. Unfortunately the place has been shrouded in sea mist all day even though there is glorious sunshine half a mile inland! Anyway have spent a wonderful evening with several bottles of wine and some very good friends. Life is good!


Friday, May 30, 2008

Nearly Ready!

Had my new chain and sprockets fitted today. That involved 150mile trip and 3 1/2 hours hanging around at the dealers - very boring! Mr Mogs was equally frustrated as he was trapped at home waiting for deliveries for my bike but it was worth it. By late afternoon I had my wonderful new panniers fitted and the cover had arrived so I could fit my tank bag. Just waiting for the taller screen now, should get it in the next day or two. It's not essential but will make motorways and higher speed riding more comfortable for me.

Just a quick plug for the Metal Mule panniers. They're expensive (especially with the powder coated finish that I chose) but worth every penny. They are well made, secure, easy to take on & off the bike, simple to carry with handles at the side as well as on top, smooth inside with nothing to snag on bags etc, waterproof, solid enough to use as seats & they look good. Highly recommend them.



Monday, May 26, 2008

Counting down!

Setting off a week tomorrow and getting excited! Things are quietly falling into place although the odd spanner is being thrown in the works for us. Had a new rear tyre fitted to the bike last week and a scottoiler , an automatic chain oiling system. Discovered the chain is actually no good so have had to order another one which will be fitted next Friday. As my bike dealer is about 70 miles away this will take most of the day. Have also discovered I will need to visit the solicitor to sign some work related papers before going away, I just hope they'll be available before Friday.

Various bike bits are still in limbo. The panniers, which are essential for the trip should be posted tomorrow. I'll be on tenterhooks until they arrive as we don't have time for any last minute hitches. It doesn't look as if I'll get the taller screen and engine bars before setting off,but I can manage without them. It's touch and go whether my Bagster tank cover will arrive. I hope so as I already have the tank bag which I've been bungying to the bike. This has proved not to be ideal as one of the bungy hooks got caught on something under the headstock last time I used it and we had to take the side panel off the bike to release it! That could get a bit wearing on a 6 week trip!

We're having a garden makeover while away so need to arrange another meeting with the gardener, order turf, slabs, skip etc,move dinghy off back lawn, pack away garden furniture!

On the plus side we have booked the ferry tickets and first nights accommodation. We've also spoken to Mr Mogs cousin who lives just north of Munich and arranged to stay with her the first weekend of the trip. Finally I have cancelled the papers and booked a haircut! Have also pulled out most of the stuff we're taking and laid it out in the spare bedroom. Can't start packing till the panniers arrive. I'm beginning to realise why people on round the world or other adventure trips have project managers! We seem to have had such a lot to co-ordinate and we're only doing 6 weeks in Europe!

Anyway here's a few photos of my bike with new exhaust and pannier rails, radiator guard nad HID lights


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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The kitchen & loo!

Well we don't have many innovative kitchen items. Our saucepans are a standard set for a start. We have some metal plates and mugs but have recently bought a set of folding crockery which seems to work quite well and folds flat, which is very useful in bike panniers. Incidentally we bought ours off e-Bay for a fraction of the listed price! We have a Primus stove which runs on unleaded petrol amongst other fuels. It saves us carrying gas bottles as we just syphon some petrol out of the bike's tank at each stop. We have an Ortlieb water bag which folds very small on the bikes. Everything else is fairly basic and plastic.

Toilet arrangements

Ok not a pleasant subject but neither is getting up in the middle of a wet and windy night to walk to the toilet block 100 yards away in your pj's. The answer is a pee bottle. We have bought a wide necked unbreakable screw topped bottle each for night time use. Now this is very easy for Mr Mogs but not so simple for ladies. The answer is a Whiz! I bought one a year ago and have found it useful in a variety of situations. Basically it's a specially shaped funnel which allows one to wee standing up.

It's very useful in dirty toilets and particularly those horrible continental ones that are basically a hole in the floor. It also enables accurate aim into a bottle! You can even use it when kneeling so it's perfect in the tent. So far there have been no accidents though I have the wet wipes handy in case!

I think that's enough intimate details for one day! These are the most innovative and unusual pieces of equipment we use when camping. They've all been tried out on our last couple of weekend camps and have worked perfectly so will be coming to Europe with us. Less than a fortnight to go now!!!!


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Camping essentials

We have camped intermittently for many years. We both love the feeling of being under canvas and the sociability of campsites. We've rarely spent more than a few days at a time camping until recently because of the problems with comfort and particularly sleeping well. We have worked our way through various tents which we have discarded because the were too hot or too low or unable to withstand a strong wind. We've also had trouble finding a good mattress. Many blow up mattresses take too much effort to blow up and are too bouncy, with no back support. Thinner mattresses tend to bottom out on the ground at pressure points such as the hips. We have found that as each night passes we got progressively more tired which ruins a good holiday and compromises our riding ability.

The solution was to spend a lot of money! Now we have two bikes capable of carrying bigger loads we are able to take all the best equipment we have found. Here's our essentials with websites, also added to the links section.

The tent is a Tentipi Varrie 7 which we bought here - it's a single pole Scandinavian design and a hefty 12kg but is quick and easy to put up, it takes me only ten minutes on its own. It is very stable in the wind, waterproof and breathable with a superb ventilation system so it never gets hot and sweaty like a lot of tents.

Campbeds! Yes, you can fit beds on a bike! These are brilliant! They have transformed our sleeping.
They pack up really small and are wonderfully comfy. They're best used with a mattress for insulation as well as comfort otherwise your back gets cold.
Thermarest mattresses - I'm not sure which ones we have. Perhaps we should have bought thicker ones to start. Ours are too thin on their own but are perfect with our camp cots.

Sleeping bags - can't find them on a website but they're 3 season down sleeping bags. We bought them several years ago in the middle of a camping weekend after after a first night spent shivering. Now we have no fears whatever the weather. We use silk liner bags so if it gets really hot we'll just sleep in the liner.

Hmmm! am running out of time here. Will talk about our other equipment at a later date. time for a cup of tea now!



Monday, May 19, 2008

Tossers at the Baskerville Hall

As the departure date approaches we had another weekend camping planned to help iron out the bugs. This time we were with another bunch of bikers, namely BMW Gser's who for some strange reason call themselves tossers. We are all members of this forum. They have regular meets, but this is the first we've attended. We were among the first to arrive, and put the tent up in the rain, without a crossed word.

Our teepee looks rather lonely at this stage, but within a few hours the field was fairly full of tents and bikes, and even another teepee!

The weather on Saturday wasn't much better when we set off on the road ride. Fifty or so bikes set off in one large group at 10am, and due to a few navigational errors on the part of the leader and his GPS, arrived back in several smaller groups about teatime.

This is a group picture before our navigational issues.

While we were out road riding, other braver souls were attempting some not so gentle off road pistes. This is one of them enjoying himself!

Other even dafter beggars decided to take their bikes for a swim in a local river!

There were a few minor mishaps on the day, but all riders and bikes made it back to the Baskerville Hall for the evening meal and disco.

Out of consideration for anyone reading this, I've decided to edit out the photo's taken in the disco, as the dress sense shown by many dancers leaves a lot to be desired. All in all an excellent weekend and further good practice for our big trip. LB

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Riding - version 2!

One of the things that has been at the bike of my mind for several years has been the idea of learning to ride a horse. I've never had the time before but now that is no longer a problem I booked my first lesson the week I retired. I've had four lessons so far, the latest was this morning. My teacher seems quite pleased with my progress but I feel it's very slow. I suppose I'm being impatient as it's only been 2 hours. Unlike learning to ride a bike, I couldn't do 5 full days training in one go as my muscles would never stand it! Half an hour at a time is just about right but it'sgoing to take months and months.

I'm still struggling to sit properly and to make the horse go. He keeps stopping! At least a bike doesn't have a mind of its own! As for steering, brakes and gears....!! Well it's all a bit hit & miss! Anyway I am enjoying it. I love learning and in particular learning a new practical skill. The aim one day is to go galloping over the Brecon Beacons but it's going to take a few years to get there, I think. You've got to have long term goals though. Unfortunately I'm going to have to take a break from lessons while away on the bike, sometime short term goals get in the way! The important thing is to be out there enjoying life!



Monday, May 12, 2008

Wedding Bells

Went to our friends' wedding, the day before yesterday, on Saturday. It was a second marriage for them both, after many years together. It was a lovely wedding - small enough to be intimate, but with enough people to be an occasion. The ceremony, in the local Registry Office, was simple and moving, with much laughter when the groom's ring wouldn't go on his finger properly. The forty or so guests then adjourned to a nearby hotel for pre-prandial drinks before the reception proper. There was more laughter when the staff announced the arrival of the bride & groom at the wedding breakfast, only then to apologise for a slight delay as the bride had nipped to the loo!! Mr Mogs and I knew few people there and were on a table with two of the bride's cousins, the groom's brother and wives. Fortunately we got on really well and a great time was had by all. The food was excellent and speeches short and funny. It was a really lovely day for us and, I'm sure even more so for V & P, the bride & groom.

Mr Mogs and I celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary in 6 weeks time. We'll probably be in Slovakia then although it might be Poland. What a wonderful thing marriage is, and much underrated these days! We're still learning about each other, still enjoying each others company but more importantly have learned to trust each other, work together, understand each other and love each other in a way that you can't after only 2 or 5 or 10 years together. V & P will be pretty ancient if they make it to a 28th wedding anniversary but I hope they do. It's impossible for outsiders to understand a marriage but they look good for a long term bet! I wish them every happiness in the future.



Friday, May 9, 2008

The big day ( June 3rd ) when we set out on the big trip gets ever closer, so a bit of practice on the camping front seemed a good idea. With some biking friends we arranged a weekend away camping next to a pub, with a treasure hunt thrown in. Elvie and I arrived early to get the tent up, and to allow ourselves to make mistakes without being laughed at. We needn't have worried so much as the tent went up without a hitch.

This is me relaxing after all the hard work, with a cup of tea in the making.

The campsite looks empty at the moment, but soon filled up. Our friends arrived later, and we were able to look on while they erected their tents. Soon we were all settled, and we adjourned to the pub for a meal.

Next day the treasure hunt. Elvie and I covered ourselves in glory. No we didn't win, we got completely lost. Much laughter from our friends and a little concern as we failed to get to the pub for lunch. Fortunately we found our way back to the campsite, and enjoyed a splendid BBQ, with threatening clouds and thunder as a backdrop.

This is the prize for last place being awarded. My complaints about us technically being last fell upon deaf ear.

As a dry run for the trip to Europe, we learnt a great deal. The sleeping arrangements were perfect, and we got all our gear on the bikes, even in the absence of Elvie's panniers which are yet to arrive.

We've another camping weekend in a couple of weeks, so hopefully all will fall into place by then. LB


Thursday, May 1, 2008

French Wine

Well we're back home but just for 24 hours! We're off camping with some biking friends tomorrow for the weekend. If you're lucky one of us will post a report next week!

Anyway, got home this afternoon and cooked a simple piperade ( courtesy of Keith Floyd's "Floyd on France" p83- quick simple tasty meal well worth trying & thanks to Madame Mimi!) The cooking and eating was accompanied by some lovely French wine particularly the Cabernet d'Anjou rose above. We're fortunate that our friends James and Sara visited us last week from their home in France and brought us a case and a half of mixed French wines. The price averaged out at £3.00 a bottle. I wish they'd visit every month. Good French plonk is just so nice, much lighter than the New World stuff filling supermarket shelves here. I'm no wine buff, I just guzzle down what I enjoy. The problem is that French wine is so expensive! Why? You would think that with shipping costs antipodean or Californian wines would be dearer but no, you can by 3 bottles of those for a tenner but French wine is£5 or £6. That's really frustrating when you can see it stacked high and cheap on supermarket shelves when you're in France. if I lived closer to Dover I'd be tempted by the booze cruises but it's not really economical from Wales. Anyway, enough moaning, we have a few bottles stashed away that will last us for a little while and then we'll be on hols sampling Hungarian and Czech stuff! perhaps we'll be on the beer by then!