An Irish Interval in My Midlife Gap Year – Part 2: 8 – 12 October 2015

Thursday 8 October I’m enjoying another quiet day in the Irish countryside. I’m writing emails to friends I might visit in the States, while chatting and hanging out with my friend and host, Cornelia, as she does stuff around the house. We Skype our mutual friend Jim – who we find fireside on an Australian spring evening with a glass of red wine in his hand. He waxes on about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up the book by Marie Kondo which his daughter has given him. We ask him to show us around his place to see the results …

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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: Two days of problem-solving in Reims

We arrive on the 112th morning of my mid-life gap-year as I awake at Hotel de la Cathedrale in Reims, France. Sunday 13 September 2015, Reims The past few days have been tough. They have been emotionally draining – between the time spent thinking about all those dead Australian diggers and my own homesickness. And physically challenging – riding in the rain, days proving to be longer than I expected. And now I’m having my period. I should know I don’t need to justify my decision to spend a second night in Reims – but, yet, I feel like saying I’m …

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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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Leaving Ireland with Melancholy and Hope

Dark blue sea meets kohl-smudge horizon in the very last light of day, a buoy light and low clouds.

17 – 22 August 2015 (Days 84 – 89 of my Midlife Gapyear) Monday 17 August 11:30 am – Flanders Cross And just like that, time is fleeting. The Kilkenny Arts Festival is finished and all my new acquaintances have begun to fade away. I returned to Kilkenny via Dublin sharing a festival courtesy car with American author Jane Smiley and her husband Jack. They were both lovely. We talked about Australia. (Jane wondered why the people of Adelaide think so little of their city. “They live there even when the festivals are over,” I said). Not surprisingly, for an Iowa …

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Not the Dublin I First Visited – Mostly for the Best, But Not All: Thursday 6 August 2015 (Day 74)

Thursday 6 August 12:40 pm – Umi Falafel I fear I’ve been pretending to be a normal tourist – more flush, short-term. I’ve been getting coffees, eating out, paying entrance fees for museums. I’m a little scared to add it up and convert it into Australian dollars. This morning I was meant to join a free walking tour of the city but the crowd was large and the guide too bubbly for my mood so I wandered off before we even got going. Instead I visited the Chester Beatty Library. Admission was free and they have a pretty interesting collection of …

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Feeling a bit low, uncertain in Dublin: Tuesday 4 August 2015 (Day 72)

Tuesday 4 August 9:30 am Am I doing this thing right? I guess I am because it’s the way I’m doing it but am I doing it in a way I’ll be satisfied with when it’s over? Sanz sent me a link to a piece about Groningen, in the Netherlands, where 61% of trips are by bicycle. She wondered if it’s on my list … and I’m kind of like: what list? Where am I going and why? I feel like it’s become very organic but maybe too organic. Should I make a point of getting to bicycle places? To …

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Quiet Domestic Day for Thinking About What’s Next: Monday 3 August 2015 (Day 71)

Monday 3 August, 2:07 pm – Flanders Cross It was rainy and blowy all night; clear, if gusty, this morning. I’ve been for a good hour’s walk: quiet, peaceful, a bit of exercise, head clearing. I was thinking of where to go next, how to get on with it. I’ve made no decisions but I feel a little clearer in my mind. How am I feeling? The cold is slowly clearing itself – but I’m still coughing. And I’m definitely feeling a need for a bit of physical contact with a male of the species. Last night I thought I …

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Should I Take That? Should I Take This?

Basically I’m having endless circular thoughts about gear. I’ve been thinking about clothes again, more. I’ve gotten two new pairs of Merino undies. I’m again leaning toward wearing the knicks and cycling tops I have, at least to begin with. For off the bicycle: I’ve the Kathmandu shorts and the travel skirt and the new Merino dress. I’ve the Midnight Oil t-shirt and the grey Kathmandu one or maybe Powell’s Books. Should I get something a little nicer? Something long sleeved? Will I sleep in my existing leggings and a t-shirt? Or should I take something more pyjama-like? Something loose …

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