The Last Beach Before My Travel Began, No 43: Lady Martin’s – 17 May 2015

Is this a bit of a cheat? I visited Lady Martin’s on 17 May 2015 – one week before I departed for my midlife gap year – but never posted about it. I don’t want to visit it again so I’m going back to my diary from the day to write it up now. Lady Martin’s is a wee crescent of beach at the bottom of Point Piper. I suspect in any other country it would be privately held and divvied up among the millionaires whose mansions hover nearby. These include the current Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull. Of …

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An Irish Interval in My Midlife Gap Year – Part 1: 3 – 7 October 2015

It’s my 132nd travelling day and I awake in Dublin. Saturday 3 October 2015 Dublin is overcast and cool this morning. I wake at 8 am and have breakfast. When I booked the Adelphi Guesthouse, I thought the breakfast was included but when I checked in last night found that the providers of my tiny €99 room with a shared bath, in a place which bills itself as a B&B, charge extra for breakfast. My look of disappointment led to the receptionist throwing it in for free. If you present yourself as a bed & breakfast, which they do, then charging …

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BERLIN! And a flight to Ireland (30 September to 2 October 2015)

We rejoin our story on day 129 of my mid-life gap year. Wednesday 30 September 2015 I wake in Berlin to diffuse autumn sunshine and breakfast in the sparse kitchen before reorganising my gear in preparation for putting my bicycle in storage and slimming down to just a carry-on bag for the next leg of my journey. With those chores done I set out for lunch and bit of exploration. Hummus & Friends proves too inviting to pass by and, oh my God, it’s so good. The hummus is creamy with just the right amount of tang – I could …

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From Zurich to Mainz and Berlin (27 – 29 September 2015)

Sunday 27 September 2015 I feel less than certain about everything. I feel like I am in a miasma in the middle of my mid-life gap year. I’m worrying that the year will be a series of experiences and nothing more, that I’ll return to Sydney and pick up my life where I left it – in a confused and ill-directed place and edging ever closer to 50. I want, and expect, this journey to change me and to clarify for me what should come next, but I also think these things must come organically, that I can’t force them. …

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Riding in Switzerland: From Brugg to Zurich for my day near Christoph

We re-join our story on the morning of my 123rd day on the road. I am in Brugg, Switzerland and poised to ride to Zurich in time for the Zurich Film Festival and a screening of Inglorious Basterds to be attended by Christoph Waltz. If, as you are reading this, you find yourself wondering what my thing about Christoph is, I’d point you to the explanation in this earlier post. Thursday 24 September 2015 Today is my last day riding in Europe. I wake with that thought and it weighs upon me. I have 40 kilometres to pedal and I …

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Riding in Germany & Switzerland: Cruising towards Zurich Wrapped in Anxiety

Monday 21 September 2015: Bad Bellingen to Bad Säckingen At the beginning of my ride, back in June, there were farmers selling cherries and strawberries, they were rolling hay in the fields. Now there are apples everywhere, nuts falling from trees and the only crop still in the ground is corn, just about ready to be picked. It’s as beautiful a day’s riding as I’ve had. It’s sunny and warm but not hot. Under a big upturned bowl of blue sky, I follow the river for a while then traverse the city of Basel. The city provides directional street signs …

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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: Reims to Châlons-en-Champagne and a train to Strasbourg

We arrive on the 114th morning of my mid-life gap-year as I awake at Hotel de la Cathedrale in Reims, France. Tuesday 15 September 2015 I wake to an overcast day which quickly becomes a steady rain. I breakfast in my room, setting up the camping stove and a Mini Moko in the shower stall – I must have my coffee, but I don’t want to risk burning the place to the ground. I’ve been doing for a while when staying in hotels – shhh, don’t tell them. I spend the morning working through plans and details, sending emails, and just fifing …

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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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