Saturday 28 June 2014


OK, I know I previously said the weather changes every few minutes but today that was not true, I managed to get the tent packed about 1minute before it started raining and it didn't stop the whole day, and in fact it has rained the whole evening as well. Hopefully there won't be any left for tomorrow.  Days like this I really have to create mini goals to keep going. I like to get the first third of the journey done and then 10 km chunks as they pass quite quickly. Stopping is problematic as once wet you just get cold if you stop.
Got another cabin today as all very well being stoical while cycling but hard to maintain that when lying in tent surrounded by damp clothes that stay damp all night.

Hurrah, went over the 1000km mark today by about 50 kms which means tomorrow should be over a third of the way.

Friday 27 June 2014


I am trying to make my way more or less straight across Sweden to the coast just south of Norway. However there are some huge lakes in the way so it makes it somewhat longer. The terrain is marginally flatter than Finland but otherwise similar. 2 days ago I got drenched then got completely dry and ended the day drenched again. It was still raining heavily by the time I got to the campsite so I decided to treat myself to a hut so I could get everything dry. It was expensive but worth it!

Yesterday was the first day in 2 weeks with no rain and it was a glorious ride close to the lake for much of the day,  with the bonus of a nice cafe at just the right time:-)

This morning I am still sat in my tent all packed up waiting for the rain to stop. Getting wet later in the day is one thing but at the beginning of the day it is a bit demoralising.


Once I had got the laundry done I was finally able to get into Stockholm.  It is a lovely city partly because of the rivers and sea inlets and has retained quite a few original buildings. The 'Old Town' is particularly attractive with old buildings and narrow cobbled streets.  I looked round the royal palace and the Nobel museum which was interesting.

However one day in a city is enough for me and I set off for a shortish cycling day as route finding out of cities is always time consuming. Wanting to get on I left without hreakfast hoping to find a nice bakery/cafe on the way.  And indeed I got lucky! I found a bakery that actually made proper latte, the gest so far in Scandanavia. It was actually a muffin bakery where they did all the baking for their other outlets in Stockholm. The owner was Swedish and his wife Anna was Greek. Anna was working on her laptop at the counter and invited me to join her and we had a lovely conversation for over an hour.

Sunday 22 June 2014


Yikes, I'm in prison! Well not really just a youth hostel converted from a prison. I thought I would catch up with my laundry, they have an arrangement here where you have sole use of the laundry room. This meant I could wash all my clothes and just wear my swimming cossie.  I didn't have any washing powder so used my shower gel. Part way through the cycle a mass of foam escaped from the machine and it stopped. I cleaned up the evidence then had to go to reception in my cossie to report the problem. Miraculously within 10 minutes an engineer had come and gone. So still parading around in my cossie I started the cycle again only to have the same thing happen with even more foam. Too embarrassed to go to reception again I retrieved the clothes and rinsed them by hand, cleaned the foam out off the machine then switched it on and off to clear the fault (which I think is all the engineer must have done). Finally 3rd time lucky,  minimal foam and after a tumble dry I was able to get dressed. The moral of this tale is don't wash  all your clothes at the same time!

Friday 20 June 2014


Those of you that know me well know I have a bit of a latte addiction. Well it's not that serious but I do like one each day. Now Finland has been lovely,  great scenery and friendly welcoming people but the coffee is terrible!  In my desperation for a latte I paid 4 euros in a cafe in Helsinki, it was OK but tiny, about 2 euros per sip. In the interests of economy I thought I would try a regular coffee but several experiences later all I have had is lukewarm/stewed/burnt offerings. If this persists in Sweden I am going to have to go cold turkey on the lattes.
BTW and I can hardly believe I am writing this, the only decent coffee I have had was in McD******, yes you know who I mean. Good coffee for a couple of euros and free wifi.

It will stop raining in a minute

Reluctantly left the Friendship Inn and new friends with promises to return and definitely have that sauna next time. Thank you all for your warmth and welcome -missing you all already!  Have a great midsummer weekend.
75km ride to Turku today went really quickly.  In my brief experience of the weather here today was very typical. If you think you should stop to take a layer on or off don't bother because the weather will change again while you are doing it. Strong wind, hot sun and biting rain all in a 10 minute period! The rain was particularly exciting as it occurred on a hilly section and going downhill at 50km an hour in driving rain is pretty exciting and a bit scary. The thing to remember is when you are getting really cold and wet is that shortly the rain will stop and the sun and wind will come and dry you out.

Thursday 19 June 2014


The title of the post is the 'Friendship Inn'. I am staying here on recommendation of Tufaan. It literaly lives up to its' name with a whole range of people in and out, some family, some staff, some volunteers, some visitors but everyone joining in the work and the conversation. It is a really lovely atmoshere and lots of conversation.
Possibility of a Finnish sauna later. Meant to do some laundry today but much more interesting to talk to people.  Will have to be grungy for a bit longer.


I hear there is a bit of a heat wave at home but here we have had snow! OK it was only for 10 minutes but the rest of the day was freezing with strong icy winds. I was staying somewhere quite remote and there was a lot of hills on the way, shielded from the wind on the way uphill then blasted with cold air on the way down.  It was too cold to camp that night and so stayed in a chalet at a B&B. It was not  near anywhere to get food so the owner made a meal for me without charge. It took about an hour to get warm even with a heater on, so happy I wasn't camping!
Yesterday was warmer and had a lovely ride mainly off road,  disadvantage being not a single shop so only had a cube of cheese the whole 70km ride.
Really enjoyed the home cooked food on arrival.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Helsinki return

Returning to Helsinki was feeling a bit sorry for myself, the route was straight forward - down the 170 but because the cycle lane dropped below road level I missed a turn and cycled 10k in the wrong direction. Not only that it was really hilly which makes my back really painful but everything turns around and got back on route, took ibuprofen and the sun came out.

In the campsite in Helsinki I met Tufaan who is an American Sikh having converted 43 years ago. He kindly shared his food with me and some of his travellers tales. He travels with his mountain wolf/st bernard cross but sadly lost him a few days ago.

Friday 13 June 2014


I stayed 2 nights in Hamina with the intent of doing the 40 mile round trip to the Russian border. However I only got about halfway there and there was a terrific thunderstorm and decided it would be more sensible to turn back. I still got soaked but at least I got back before the worst of it settled in.

I returned today back towards Helsinki taking 2 hours less than coming out on this section. Have I suddenly become much fitter - no, I just worked out the route myself instead of googling it.


On my way into Lovisa I stopped at Lidl and while waiting for the rain to stop met 2 women who were sisters riding their bikes having just got them serviced. We had a lovely long talk and were happy to offer me a bed for the night but were sadly in the wrong direction.  One of them taught maths at the university in Finnish, Swedish and English! I was very impressed.

The campsites here have kitchens and it is a good way to meet people. At the campsite at Hamina I met a chap who at first thought I was Russian and greeted  me with "Dos vo danya" (no idea if that is the right spelling). When I said I was English he was a bit flummoxed as he had no English to match my no Finnish! However with some miming I found out he was an excavator driver and we had an amicable time pretending to understand each other.

Tuesday 10 June 2014


First day on the bike decided on a moderate 35 miles to ease into things and get used to the weight of the panniers again. However I forgot about the difficulties of navigating out of a large city not helped by my general numtyness at not knowing which way the map is oriented. With endless stopping and checking and retracing it took 3 hours to do about 8 miles, this was following a Google route which likes to make sure you use every cycle way between the 2 chosen points. I thought I would never make it at that pace but I met Karlo who bought me coffee and took the time to cycle with me to get me on a better route. He also taught me my first very useful Finnish phrase:
"Suomen kesa on lyhyt mutta vahal uminen" which roughly translated means - "The Finnish summer is short but at least there is only a little snow"!
So far no snow but 2 days of hot sun and one day of rain.
More Finnish folk tomorrow.


Hurrah, BA manged a faultless service at Heathrow with no fuss about the bike. Pity about the 3 hour flight delay! After reassembling the bike at the airport it was 11pm before I got to the hostel in the centre of Helsinki.  It didn't matter though as it was light until after midnight. I shared the room with Julianna from Sao Paulo (sorry if I have not remembered your name right). We chatted until 1.30 am about how our societies have much more in common than differences. Julianna then went out into the night life of Helsinki - the energy of the young!

Friday 6 June 2014

One Pedal at a Time.

When I retired I felt like a bit of a challenge to increase/maintain my physical and mental resilience. The method I chose was to cycle from Halifax Nova Scotia in Canada to Key West in Florida.

 It felt good having done it but now it doesn't seem enough. My aim now is to cycle round the world 'One Pedal at a Time'. Well not literally one pedal at a time but around 2,000 or 3,000 mile chunks at a time.

This chunk is from the Russian border near St Petersberg back through Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France and up from Dover to home.