Riding in Germany: Cruising along the Rhine from Strasbourg to Bad Bellingen

I awake on day 117 of my mid-life gap-year in a hotel room in Strasbourg, France and keen to get to Germany. Friday 18 September 2015, Strasbourg to Ottenheim Admittedly, my morning coffee may have been a little strong. But the day is clear and I am leaving France. I’m jumpily excited. My legs bounce at I breakfast. As I begin my ride, I’m initially on the road and I am pumping, pedalling hard for the border. I switch to the footpath where I can, just to slow myself down, calm myself a little bit. I reach the Rhine and …

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Riding in France: Missing home between Noyon and Reims

We arrive on the 110th morning of my mid-life gap-year as I awake at Hotel Le Cedre in Noyon, France. Friday 11 September 2015 The day starts lazily. When I’ve paid good money for a nice hotel room I do like to make the most of it by languishing about in the comfortable bed, relishing the fact that there’s no tent to pack away, that I don’t have to carry my kit to a distant ablutions hut. So, I lie in bed, watching the BBC. Hearing English-speaking voices but not having anyone to talk to makes me lonely. Spending yesterday …

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Riding in France: Days with Fallen Australian Soldiers

I am slowly transcribing the long-hand diary entries from my midlife gap-year and turning them into blog posts. I’ve reached the morning of the 108th day as I awake in Amiens, France. Wednesday 9 September 2015 I’ve received a lovely email from Robert Pinsky in response to my poem about reading his poems. That gets the day off to a good start – I’m feeling light-hearted as I leave Amiens in bright autumn sunlight which warms me in a way it hasn’t in quite a while. I follow the Somme. I have a cheap mp3 player which I refill with …

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Riding in France and Thinking of an Austrian Actor: Le Havre to Yvetot to Le Grande-Ventes (3 – 5 September 2015)

I’m slowly transcribing the long-hand diary entries from my midlife gap-year and turning them into blog posts. I’ve reached the 103rd day of my journey when I awoke in a hotel in Le Havre, France and rode my bicycle to the town of Yvetot and the 104th day when I rode on to a campground in Les Grande-Vents (a map can be found at the bottom of this post). Thursday 3 September, 10:30 pm — Emilie and Rémi’s Home,  Yvetot I rode 78 kilometres today – that’s not a lot for many bicycle tourists but it is for me. It was my …

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In Between Days, Riding in France: Houlgate – Le Havre (1 – 2 September 2015)

Camping Municipal des Chevaliers, Houlgate – Tuesday 1 September 2015, 9:50 am (Day 100 of my midlife gapyear)  In the Australian way, it’s the first day of Spring – but as I’m in France, I guess I can say it’s the first day of Autumn. After getting up to go to the loo at 7, I went back to bed and dozed off and on until 9:00 am – realising, again, that if I didn’t feel like getting up, I needn’t.  No where to be, no where to go. No one expecting me. I can tell already it’s going to be a …

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Silent in Foggy France: Bayeux – Benouville – Houlgate (30 – 31 August 2015)

Sunday 30 August 9:10 am – Relais ‘La Roseraie’, Bayeux (Day 98 of my midlife gapyear) I wonder when I will converse again. Will my voice go rusty, my tongue uncertain? This will be day eight without a proper conversation. ‘Sadness & Happiness’ – the last poem in Selected – one of my favourites – so much so as I think my shoulders slumped and I let out a little sigh of … there should be a word which reflects the regret of finishing a book. Now I’ll have to finish my ‘poem’ and prepare to share it with Robert. …

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Pedaling with Ghosts in the Normandy Rain: Isigny-sur-Mer to Bayeux

Thursday 27 August 2015 (Day 95 of my midlife gap-year) 9:15 am, Camping Le Fanal, Isigny-sur-Mer, France: Rain Rain Go Away I slept until 9 and it’s raining again. At 7 the church bells were pretty insistent on waking everyone. I’m surprised I fell back to sleep. If I’d gotten up at 7, I might have packed away a dry tent. Now, and since just as I woke, there is a steady pitter-patter. Riding in this sort of rain is not too terrible but I’m growing weary of it, as a constant companion. I’d like to get to Bayeux today – but …

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To Ride is to Live: Jonville to Isigny-sur-Mer (Normandy, France)

Tuesday 25 August 2015 (Day 93 of my midlife gap-year) 9:25 am, Camping Municipal de Jonville Today’s ride will bring me closer to the landing zones of D-Day – I’ll be following Utah Beach much of the day. This campground is filled with holidaying European families, including some German-speakers. There’s a dissonance in that. Over a breakfast of pain au chocolates I’ve continued to read Robert Pinsky’s Selected Poems and write my poem about where I’ve read them. Where: And in the morning With Irish tea and the crunch, chewy, (not too) sweet of ‘deux pain au chocolat’ from the bakery …

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Back On My Bicycle in France – Riding from Cherbourg to Jonville

Flag of France against a blue sky above the city of Cherbourg.

Bonjour (again) France Sunday 23 August (Day 91 of my midlife gap-year) 11:35 am , Cherbourg YHA:  I woke to the ferry-wide announcement that we were soon arriving in Cherbourg. It was raining;  perhaps I wouldn’t start riding straight away after all. Waiting for my passport to be stamped and returned to me, the driver of a car – also awaiting their passport – sought my attention. “Excuse me!” he said, “Yes?” I replied. “Are you from Australia?” The guy waiting for his passport was also Australian and as a huge Oils fan, noticed and loved the Head Injuries t-shirt …

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Wales: You Are Beautiful but Hard: 21 – 24 July 2015

21 July 2015 10:35 am, Cardiff Cardiff makes me think of my ex-husband. It’s a Rugby place and a Doctor Who place. So it prods the scar tissue – tests the healing. I feel milliseconds of missing his friendship followed by doubts of the genuineness of that initial feeling. It reminds me of the swirling mess of thoughts and feelings I had in the weeks and months after we split. They are best left to lie. … I begin my exploration of the Welsh capital with an amazing exhibition at the National Museum. Chalkie Davies is a Welsh photographer who …

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