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Mogs Travels: July 2008

Mogs Travels

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A leopard and it's spots.

Well as you can see, a leopard can change it's spots, or in this case it's blog colours. When we started the blog we chose a simple template as we tend to follow the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principal in most things.

However having got up at an unearthly hour to wave son H off this morning, we spent a few hours looking around the Blogger web site, and decided to change the layout. We also looked at FEEDS, and are wondering whether to include them in our blog. This would enable anyone interested to be informed of updates to our story. Any views on this? Also as some peeps have had difficulty in posting comments, we've tried to make it easier. If you have had problems why not try again? LB

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Fathers and Sons

The boys and I have been fishing on and off for many years, but we've not done much together recently. Some months ago I booked a fishing charter out of Dale, looking to head out to the Smalls lighthouse some 18 miles offshore, hoping to catch some big fish. I also invited a couple of close friends and their sons to join us. Our boat was named Volsung, and the previous week Andy the skipper had the victorious Welsh boat angling team aboard for an international competition, so I felt very confident in his abilities.

We would only be able to get out to the Smalls if the weather was perfect, and as the great day approached we were all listening to the forecast with fingers crossed. Luckily it couldn't have been better. So yesterday on a fine sunny day, with light winds and a flat sea, we headed out to try our luck.

The fishing wasn't spectacular, but we caught several good sized pollack and 3 good sized codling. The seals which swam around us seemed to be enjoying themselves also.

I was struck by how difficult it must have been to build the first lighthouse on the site. It was built of wood and was designed to sway in the wind. All the materials would have had to been delivered by sailing ship!

At the end of the day I was shattered and had an early night, but Chris and son H, had a cod supper cooked by our neighbour on his BBQ. Apparently it was superb. LB

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Monday, July 28, 2008

A Cliff Walk

It's LB's turn to post today as he and the boys have gone off on a charterboat & will come home with fisherman's tales and perhaps some fish. I though I'd tell you about my little walk on the cliffs in the meantime. Good summer weather transforms Pembrokeshire from its normal grey soggy state to the most beautiful county you could ever wish to visit. I particularly enjoy the cliff path, away from the crowds on the beaches so caught the wonderfully named local bus, the Puffin Shuttle to Nolton Haven for the 3.5 mile walk back along the coast. Nolton is a pretty little beach with good rockpools at low water and a colony of fulmars nesting on its cliffs

As you see I had the bluest of sea and sky to enjoy from the path which follows the edge of the cliff quite closely. Very few people were out walking today, perhaps because of the heat. I was well prepared with plenty to drink, a sandwich and some bananas for sustenance, my hat and sunglasses and my trusty camera. I did forget my swimsuit which I regretted when I came to Druidston, the only other beach on the route, as a dip there would have cooled me off nicely.
I opted to avoid sand in my sandwiches and found a nice grassy knoll on the cliff top to enjoy my drink and sarnie. The scenery along here is glorious as you can see from the photos. Many flowers brightened the path and the only sounds were the buzzing of insects and the quiet swish of the sea on the rocks below. Gannets were in the bay diving for fish as well as the usual gulls and shags.

This little stonechat wasn't hard to spot but I was pleased to get close enough for a photo

Approaching Broad Haven I was feeling somewhat baked so turned off the cliff path into Haroldston Woods. The cool green shade was a welcome relief from the sun for the final twenty minutes of the walk.


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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bird Shit Island & swimming by Skomer

Lots of scrolling for you today as I've posted four photos! Had a wonderful day on our friend Clive's boat to Grassholm, about 15 miles off Broadhaven and home to one of Britain's largest gannet colonies, hence its local name. Downwind the smell of the sh*t is pretty appalling but as there was little wind today it was quite localised & we avoided it as much as possible. You'll have to enlarge the photos to see the birds properly.
Gannets are magnificent, elegant birds that we only see as singles or pairs close to shore, it was wonderful to see them en masse with large flocks coming in, in V formation, from the ocean. The boys had a good days fishing, catching mainly pollack and coalfish, all of which were released back into the sea. The sea itself was an amazingly flat calm as you can see from the photo.

On the way back we stopped off at South Haven, a quiet cove on Skomer Island. There we all dived in for a swim. The water was cold initially but ok once you were used to it. As you see there were several other boats there.

We were surrounded by wildlife. Canadian geese and rabbits looked down from the grassy slopes of the island, puffins flew around us, spider crabs, in abundance crawled beneath us and in the water were sandeels, jellyfish (they only stung a little bit!) and a seal. The seal was quite curious, the two little blobs in the distance in this photo are me and the seal. Unfortunately the zoom on the camera has stopped working and as its only a very old 1 megapixel camera & enlarging the photo just gives two big blobs so you'll have to believe me!

Anyway another great day and probably the best weather this year.


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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Beer in the Castle

There was a beer festival today in the grounds of Haverfordwest Castle. Several families from the caravan site caught the bus in, then walked through the town's winding, mediaeval streets to the remains of the castle. There we found several tents of cheap booze. The one pictured had about 20 different real ales, some of which were quite nice and others too strongly flavoured for my liking. The Clarbeston Road Apple Pickers had examples of their CRAP Cider including Shite Lightening, Mingers, WrongBrew and Big Pecker! LB & I had a couple of halves each and enjoyed the banter with our friends. Our stamina is obviously poor as after an hour & a half in the strong sunlight we made our excuses and left! Will spend the rest of the afternoon on the sun lounger, recuperating. Drinking in the afternoon is always a struggle for me but I do enjoy these little events that break up the routine. Later in the summer I'm looking forward to the Broadhaven Carnival, the Duck Race, the Raft Race and then the big one of the Pembrokeshire County Show. All will duly be reported on, so watch this space!!


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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Smoke - fume funk haze puff smog

Here's a post you''ll enjoy, Singletrack!!

Due to the vagaries of British weather we bought ourselves a gazebo a couple of years ago, normally referred to as LB's erection. This has proved useful especially as an extension to the caravan, in particular as a dining room. It has proved a bit chilly for prolonged evening post-prandial drinking in so 2 days ago we invested in a small chimnea. This is the result!

The offending article looks quite innocent but the smoke goes straight up and is curved back down by the shape of the roof giving a cubic smokefall. If we had Slovakian hoverflies it would be quite useful but currently Pembrokeshire is midge free.

It could be a coating on the chimnea but LB blames the cheap quick light charcoal that we bought in bulk. Last night it left a sulphurous yellow coating on the BBQ, ( like a volcanic fumerole and most unlike the volcanic Czech bog!) after nearly singed LB's eyebrows with the huge flame!

"Don't play with fire" they say, but isn't it fun?!!



Gone Fishin'

The weather here has been gradually improving, and the sea getting flatter, so yesterday we decided to launch the boat.

It's the first time we've been afloat this year, and it was nice to have the boys along. We had a very enjoyable few hours in the sun, fishing and chilling.

I've posted a few photo's of the trip, including one of the good sized pollack G caught. The photograph doesn't do it justice, as it is made to look smaller than it really was. Fortunately after the good fight G enjoyed to land the fish, he was able to return it alive.

As we had already caught a few mackerel for the BBQ, we headed back to shore for a well earned beer, and a good meal. The trip brought back very pleasant memories of similar trips we have enjoyed with the boys over the years. LB

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hunter Gatherers

While Elvie was working hard on the sun lounger yesterday, the boys and I went fishing, hoping to catch food for the table. It was just as well we'd visited Tesco earlier as we didn't catch a thing. For some time a seal was watching us but even he got bored in the end. Still a nice afternoon in the sun, and a BBQ when we got back to the caravan. LB

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Monday, July 21, 2008

What next?

Here's a clue!

It's time to chill! We have escaped the chaos of the garden and come to our holiday caravan in Pembrokeshire. Our sons Huw & Gaz are going to spend a couple of weeks here with us, which will be the first time for several years. We have been coming here for nearly twenty years and have many very good friends on the campsite. By day the beaches, cliffs, sea and boats are our playthings and in the evenings we're looking forward to some serious socialising! It should be an interesting contrast to Europe.



Sunday, July 20, 2008


Just a few facts about our trip before we move on to other things!

In total we traveled 4,465 miles in 45 days of which 19 days were spent in "moving on" and the rest staying put. My bike averaged 61mpg according to its computer. LB's doesn't have an on board computer and we haven't worked out his petrol consumption but it was less good. He tended to put in an extra couple of litres every time I filled up with12-13L. Our average speed for the whole trip was 42mph ( so - I'm not a speed merchant!) In fact that was boosted by the 800 miles on motorway at the end of the trip. While in Slovakia the average was showing as 27mph! We found that petrol prices were much the same wherever we went although with all the different currencies it's difficult to compare accurately. It was over a pound a litre everywhere.

We spent just under£1300 on accommodation for the two of us for 6 weeks but could have been more economical. We're not very good at finding hotels on the move. We tended to arrive in town centres and fall into the first and biggest hotel we saw. I think we need to look around a bit more as we would inevitably take a short walk after checking in and having a shower, only to find half a dozen cheaper hotels around the corner! Accommodation costs ranged from 9 Euro per night in Gerardmer, France and 12 Euro in Slovakia - both camping; 30 Euros in the Krakow camping cabin and B&B in Budapest & Silvasvarad; to 80 Euros in hotels in Eger and Mlada Boleslav. The Eger hotel was worth it but the Mlada Boleslav hotel in Czech republic was probably the worst place we stayed. In future we would do more research and look for campsites with cabins rather than hotels as much as possible. We've also discovered that there's a whole network of "biker camps" throughout Europe that we would choose to stay at. Incidentally the Etap at Chemnitz proved to have been a brilliant choice for the MotGP at the Sachsenring with easy access ( & more importantly egress) from the circuit, a choice of excellent restaurants nearbyat 44 Euros per night for the room.

Would we do it again? Definitely! Our limitations are family ties at home but we certainly have developed a taste for long relatively unstructured bike trips.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Intermediate Garden Update

No it's not finished yet! ( in case you haven't worked it out - that's a link to previous post re garden- read it before going on!!!)) The gardener thought we were coming home next week, and he's been delayed by bad weather so this is what we came back to!

We also found a bit of a forest by the back door that we had to move to get inside!

At least there's just enough room to ride the bikes around the back although we can't get the car out as there's a skip in front of the garage door! None of this matters as we've only two or three days at home before heading west to our caravan. We're quite relieved he hasn't laid the turf yet because then we'll have to stay home for a bit to water it. Anyway I'm pleased to see we have an apple and a cherry tree to help us with our 5 portions and also a Christmas tree so we can open our prezzies in the garden this year! ( I'll have some thermals please LB!)


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Back Home!

We're safely back home! Our last view of the Continent was the port of Boulogne, at 10.00 this morning.

Arrived back in Dover, also at 10.00 & enjoyed the scenic M roads (!!) back home. Arrived to a scene of chaos in the garden which I'll tell you about tomorrow ( told you I was addicted to this blog!) and a pile of post which was considerably smaller than I'd anticipated after 6 weeks. Even so most of it has gone in the bin.

The only two important things were a tax demand, which I could do without and confirmation of our next holiday booking! Mother-in-law is getting a bit too elderly to holiday on her own so we're all off to the Red Sea in November. She enjoys just sitting in the sun & LB & I are hoping for a fairly active holiday with snorkelling, desert outings etc. If we have internet access there you'll be able to read all about it here!

Anyway we're home, fed up, slightly p*ssed, to drown our sorrows, but already reviewing the choices for the next road trip. Where to go? There's such a lot of interesting options!

I must say, if any of you are thinking of riding beyond the usual France Germany Italy Alps & Spain - do it! Time can be an issue with the longer distances but really it only takes 2-3 days down the motorways to get across the old iron curtain, not much longer than the south of Spain or Italy. Prices are much cheaper once you're there and standards are similar to the west in most places, it's just that little bit more interesting and different.

Finally ( for this trip at least) many thanks to those of you who posted comments on our blog, or who tried and failed!! Although it's great being away it was also important to us both to keep in touch with friends at home. We'd hate to be totally isolated - we're not that sort of adventurer! While neither of us would claim to be great writers, we hope the blog has amused and informed you and perhaps kindled a desire for travel. It's great!!!!


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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Last night on the road.

We're now in Calais, overnighting prior to an early morning ferry home and feeling rather sorry for ourselves. Six weeks sounded a long time before we set off but now we want more. There's the Balkans, the Baltic, Scandinavia, Non EU eastern Europe and more to explore. Will we have the time and fitness to do it in the future? I hope so. We're gypsies at heart and love being on the road without too many plans but staying where we fancy and moving on at will. The roads and scenery have been fantastic. We've met some great people on this trip and hope we can keep in touch with at least some of them.

Anyway, we've had our last meal on the continent & are looking forward to the M25 & M4 tomorrow! The blog will continue as we've got rather addicted to writing it!


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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Manx Bikers + a Yorkshireman!

Met you guys while staying at the Etap in Chemnitz for the MotoGP. Enjoyed your company & the sit on the Ducati though sorry I didn't catch all your names! Have a safe journey home & get in touch if you're ever in S. Wales.


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Race Day at the Sachsenring

Up bright and early to get to the bike park, and disappointed to discover it was drizzling with rain! It didn't really stop until after the last race of the day. The racing wasn't that exciting, spoiled by the rain, but it was an enjoyable day, with good company, both German & British either side of us. Stoner won the MotoGP but the highlight was Scott Redding coming 8th and Bradley 4th in the 125 race.

I've included a few photos taken yesterday.

You do get some strange people! However everyone seemed to be having a good time. LB

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Friday, July 11, 2008

The Sachsenring.

Well unfortunately this is the last weekend of our trip, but this is a least partly made up for by being able to watch the Moto GP. We found our way to the track fairly easily using Mr Zumo, and parked the bikes for a small fee in a garage about 100 yards from the main entrance. We were also able to leave our kit safely locked up.

There was a party atmosphere, with large crowds for a Friday, and many food and retail stalls. Much more than I've seen anywhere else, and the types of food were very varied.

Our stand is close to the entrance for once, and we have a great view, with a giant TV screen opposite us. Race day should be good.

On the way back to the hotel I was pulled over by the police, as you can see from the photo. Elvie thought it was all very amusing, as she wasn't made to produce her documents. The young man spoke good English, but made the mistake of asking the purpose of my trip! By the time I'd only got half way through the lists of countries visited, I could see he regretted the question.

And now we are safely back at the Etap. There were a bunch of bikers from the Isle of Man sitting outside, drinking a beer and relaxing. They have recommended a restaurant in town, so tonight a taxi is in order. LB

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bog on the Blog

I chose the title with care. The alternative of Blog on the Bog could have been misleading! We've been staying in the highest town in Germany, Oberwiesenthal, which is the first town we entered on leaving the Czech Republic. The town seems to have it's own micro-climate, and the clouds are low over the mountains, giving rise to heavy showers. It's also several degrees colder due to the village being so high up.

The Hotel Deutcher Kaiser, is right on the market square, has a secure garage, and the manager offered us a good discount for being bikers.

We've done the tourist type things of wandering round looking at the shops, and also taken a chair lift up to the top of the mountain. I've included a photograph taken as we came down.

We've also had a great ride on the bikes. Elvie had read of a volcanic bog in one of the guide books, so we set off to find it. The ride there was via main roads and unremarkable, but coming back we trusted in Mr Zumo to take us cross country using minor roads, and he came up trumps. We had an exhilarating 2 hours riding back to the hotel, some on bigger roads with long sweeping bends, and some on smaller roads, with picture book villages and long wooded sections. It was one of the rides of the trip!

As for the bog, well frankly it was a little disappointing. The water level had fallen, and there were only a few places where the gas bubbled to the surface, but it did give us some idea of what it would look like in it's full glory.


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Monday, July 7, 2008

Church of Bones, Kutna Hora

Fans of Long Way Round will remember this place. We made the short trip to Kutna Hora this morning. After visiting the chief of three cathedrals there, purely to find out where the ossuary was we arrived about lunchtime. It really is rather bizarre. The church was the cemetery chapel associated with one of the cathedrals. After a plague and thousands of burials ( 30,000 in one year!!!) the bones were dug up to make the cemetery smaller. After being stored in various places they were artistically arranged as now seen. Most are in four large pyramid stacks of femurs and skulls, but there are also candelabras, urns & chandeliers. Here's a coat of arms made out of most of the bones of the body.

Afterwards while having a soft drink a family of Danish bikers turned up. Dad Sven, with wife and daughter on two bikes, had a chat then bumped into two British lads Lance & Matthew on a real adventure.

They're part of a group, though travelling independently, to Mongolia! although a lot of their group are in 4x4's they're doing it in 2 Nissan Micras!!!!!! We wish them well. The organisation they're travelling with is Haven't looked at it yet myself but have put in the link for you all, hope it works.

Again, don't know where we'll be tomorrow or if we'll have internet access but will be back on line as soon as we can


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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hello Czech Republic

Didn't want to strain ourselves so only rode about 200 miles, half of which was on motorway. I like Poland, it's actually a very western country, clean and well kept, and the food we had there was exceptionally good. One thing we won't miss is the traffic which is horrendous. Fortunately today is Sunday, & like Sundays used to be at home. The roads were empty! So after a pleasant ride we arrived in the Czech Republic & found a hotel in the old town square of Hradec Kralove. Here's the view from the window.

We've had a walk around and a great meal with wine for about £25 in total. while there a procession of vintage cars went passed with horns blaring which was fun.

Now settling down and catching up with communications! Are moving on again tomorrow so will post whenever we can get on line again


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Au Revoir Poland & New Friends

Had a quiet last day in Krakow, a sign that it's time to move on. The day before, on the campsite, we had briefly said hello to a Canadian couple who had shipped their bikes to Europe and were spending 3 months travelling. Then when setting off to catch the bus we bumped into a British couple trying to find the bus stop so showed them the way. Last night, in the rain, they all turned up at our cabin clutching beer and wine so we had a nice get-together and a natter. It reminded me of college days, in a small room, with visitors sat on the beds surrounded by our clutter!

On the left as you look at the photo are bikers Ross and Maria and on the right, motorcaravanners and sailors Jack and Angela. All four are experienced travellers. Jack and Angela have sailed all around the Baltic and Med in their yacht and have now bought a motorhome, as well, to visit the places in between. They seem to spend hardly any time at home. Ross impressed when he mentioned he'd ridden from Canada to Brazil. It made our so called big trip look rather small but has given us a taste for more travelling and exploration.

Anyway we said our farewells and left Poland this morning.


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Friday, July 4, 2008

Wieliczka Salt Mines

This picture probably isn't going to look brilliant as it's so small & a bit dark but try enlarging it. It's the "cathedral" in the salt mines, a brilliant place to visit! completely different to anything else we'd done before, it was a wonderful exposition of industry technology history and art! The mine started in the 1400's. One of the first tourists there was Copernicus at around the time Columbus was discovering America!!! It was quite awe inspiring to be treading in Copernicus' footsteps. There are nine levels to the mine but we only visited the top three down to 134m below ground. I forget the full depth but if the Eiffel Tower was placed at the bottom level it wouldn't reach the surface! Final fact before I get too boring - Tolkien visited here and was told about the dwarves the miners believed lived there & it's thought this gave him the inspiration for the Mines of Moria in lord of the Rings.

Afterwards, had a wander around the old town again, a super meal and then watched some street entertainment in the main square, including these amazing dancers.


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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Auschwitz Birkenau

Auschwitz - You've all heard about it, know what happened there and I'm sure you'll recognise the scene above which is the entrance to Birkenau camp. The reality was very like what we've seen on the tv, the entrance gate at Auschwitz with "Arbeit Macht Frei" ( Work brings freedom), the brick blocks where prisoners slept the display cases with piles of shoes human hair and suitcases, the railway line at Birkenau where Jews and other transportees were off loaded from the cattle trucks.

What was it like to be there? Well strangely sanitised and not initially as upsetting as I had feared. The sun was shining,the grass was neatly mown and large groups of people were wandering around with guides. There was surprisingly little visible trace of the misery & degradation that had gone on there although we were told about it. What I found more disturbing was the video we saw on the coach on the way there, of the people and bodies after liberation. Then as the hours have passed since leaving and I have thought more about it I have felt more distressed and angry. The torture those people went through is unimaginable. The average life expectancy of the 25% not immediately sent to the gas chambers was less than six months for men and 3 months for women, death being due to starvation disease or execution. The cruelty of the SS is beyond belief. How anyone could conceive such a scheme and carry it through is beyond me. More apalling is the realisation that such things still happen in the world. I'm really lost for words & sick thinking about it. Just visit the place yourself if you ever have the chance.


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Wednesday, July 2, 2008


We finally decided it was time to leave Slovakia after the weekend, and move on to Krakow in Poland. We have experienced some wonderful riding while in Slovakia, and the countryside is spectacular, but the wanderlust can't be denied, so on Tuesday 1st of July we made the short trip to Krakow.
The border crossing was like something out of the cold war, except the barrier was up. A long straight narrow stretch of road with checkpoints at either end! It didn't take too much imagination to see a military policeman with his hand up saying niet.
Having made the crossing it was immediately apparent that we had entered a new country. The overall appearance was of greater prosperity, both in the housing, and the number and type of car on the road. No more battered Skoda's, more silver grey VW's and quite a few Mercs and Audis. The road itself was full of traffic, and had lots of road works. Not a nice ride!
We eventually arrived at our destination, Camping Clepardia, and decided to treat ourselves to a camping bungalow, rather than put up the tent again. This is a picture of Chris sitting outside enjoying the evening sun, while on line catching up with emails.

This morning we decided to take the bus into the historic medieval town centre. We didn't realise that the ticket had to be bought before getting on the bus, so we had a free ride into town, all the while hoping a ticket inspector didn't get on. The main square in town is a honey pot for tourists, and we had a beer while watching the world go by. This chap offering free beer kept on passing by. Even though we couldn't see his face his walk suggested someone who wasn't having a good day. He was definitely trudging along in the hot sun

We then took a tour of the town by electric buggy, and it was a stark reminder of the recent history of the area. We visited the Jewish area, and saw the square where they were chosen for deportation to the concentration camps. The remembrance stone was erected as a reminder of the 60,000 Jews from Krakow who lost their lives in the holocaust. It was a quarter of the entire population of the city!

As a welcome reminder of the goodness in people we went past the factory owned by Oscar Schindler, where he employed and hid Jews, and saved many from deportation and extermination under the Nazis.

Tomorrow we have booked to visit Auschwitz. It's a place I've always intended seeing, and I have no doubt it will be a moving experience. LB

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