This week I bought some maps. It was quite hard to choose as there were so many permutations but in the end I decided to go with an overview of Europe map at 1cm = 30km (1:3,000,000) and two slightly finer grained maps at 1cm = 8km (1:800,000) covering Italy, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. This does not cover all of the places we would like to visit but it’s a start and I think these, along with the internet of course, will be sufficient to plan the general route. We will probably need to use more local maps when we travel by bike but we can no doubt pick these up as we go along.

I have come up with the broad overview plan and have nominated the Husband as official ‘Route Finder’ and ‘Navigator’. His sense of direction is better than mine and I think there is a natural affinity between maps and men. They may not be any good at navigating, but there is something about the little squiggles and icons and measuring that appeals to them. As anticipated, the maps produced the first real ‘travel glint’ in the Husbands eye.

So the broad plan I have come up with is a) only visit countries with no daft helmet requirements, and b) start in the south in early spring and then travel north as it gets warmer (Northern hemisphere remember, so north is colder and south is warmer). Then as it gets colder in autumn, go south again. Spend winter working, most likely in the UK, with periodic skiing trips in the Alps. As you can see, this is very much a skeleton itinerary that needs quite a lot of fleshing out, but it’s a start.

I have been doing a bit of research already and there seems to be a huge quantity of cycle route kilometers in Europe and quite an industry around providing for them. There are dedicated cross-Europe routes as well as specific cycle routes within each country … if sounds fab! And of course I will be discussing them as I unravel it all.

So for a general update …

This weeks dance class was Hip Hop. Yes, that’s right, Hip Hop. I’ve been putting this one off because it was one of the dance styles in the ‘scary’ basket. However, last weekend we had some friends around for dinner and somewhere between the second bottle of wine and desert, two do us committed to attending the Hip Hop class … and then neither wanted to be the first to chicken out, so we went. I have to admit that Hip Hop will not be a regular entry on my ‘dance card’ but a) miraculously we survived the class, and b) the class did have a few positives. For instance I can now moon walk … a skill that will no doubt be invaluable at some point in my life. It certainly impressed the hell out of the teenage Daughters! The requisite kitchen demonstration went passably well and even convinced daughter No.2 to take the class next week … on the strict proviso that I do not attend. Apparently, it is considered unbelievably uncool to go to a hip hop class with ones mother – who knew!

The knitting is going quite well and I have almost finished the cowl. This is a good thing because the wool that I ordered for the ‘traveling cardigan’ has arrived and is waiting in the wings. I have decided that I will not allow myself to start it until I have finished my previous projects. Finishing is a weakness of mine. I have an unfinished shawl, which is called my ‘masters shawl’ (I am such a slow knitter that my knitting projects actually have names!). This is the project I worked on whilst completing my masters degree – I graduated MEd four years ago but failed to complete the shawl … until now (she said in anticipation). In addition, I have promised to complete a jumper that the Husband started knitting some years ago. I think it was a mid life crisis thing – some men buy expensive cars, some men try knitting! I think the Husbands knitting and my Hip Hop career have ended up in the same ‘tried it, but maybe not’ basket.

To do list …

I have added a new item to the ‘to do’ list – ‘buy swimsuit’. I don’t actually own one. This may seem quite a strange admission for an ex scuba diving instructor but I have a theory that you only get an allotted amount of any one thing in life, and at some point you use it up. An example would be that the Husband was terrible at getting out of bed … to Olympic standards … until his mid thirties and now he simply cannot stay in bed past 7am, even on Sundays. Similarly, as a scuba diving instructor, I spent a lot of time submerged and now water just doesn’t appeal at all. I have actually heard of some past colleagues becoming physically allergic to water.

I am not looking forward to this shopping experience and will take reinforcements and emotional support along, in the form of a daughter or two. There has been a lot of water under the bridge, shall we say, since my last swimsuit purchase. Thinking back, I remember being quite surprised at how demure Antipodeans were in the beachwear department. I arrived owning only a very skimpy swimsuit bottom, as wearing swimsuit tops is not common in Europe. Balancing this knowledge with my current compulsion for head to toe coverage will be a challenge!

Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. The IGN 1:100 000 topo maps are great for France, once you know where you’re going.

  2. @Alistair – thanks for the info – good to know. I was thinking that something with information on where the hills are would be a good option 🙂

  3. Just done several weeks up there. Hardly see people grappling with maps now. Buy a Lafara(?) SIM in France and it works in spain do all your stuff off a phone, or if you are really ‘executive’ a tablet. You get all the nearby info, directions too…etc etc and you have to have iPhone or Android to cloud your pics eh

    Old far east travel rule:
    Husband like smartphone more than map.


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