I’ve been pretty busy writing my CV and applying for jobs this week so have not had much time for thinking about the trip but, in response to the findings from the Clevedon trip, I have researched and bought a new pair of sandals. This has thrown my footwear plan into a bit of a tailspin and I am having to rethink it based on this purchase. I was planning on taking one pair of cold weather boots, that would also function as walking boots, one pair of everyday warm weather sandals and one pair of crocs for beach/camp and shower wear. However, my new sandals are of the ‘adventure’ type and designed for rough stuff and getting wet so could happily function as beach/camp/shower and cycling wear but they do fall down in the ‘city wear’ category. So the question is: do I now take a small pair of more dressy shoes for restaurants etc. or just make do with the two pairs?
The adventure shoe decision was a difficult one, as there is no denying that adventure sandals have a lot of good attributes but they are also really quite ugly and lumpy looking on your foot. So I went in search of a ‘not too ugly’ adventure sandal and found that I also had the issue of size to overcome. It seems that some brands/shops believe that only people with feet over a certain size go on adventures – presumably they take a leaf out of the police handbook and assume that only larger people can catch criminals, or go traveling. Evidently, those of us that are podiatorily challenged are thought unsuited to the rigours of walking further than the nearest bus stop. This attutude is surprising given that we live in Middle Earth where small adventurous types such as Bilbo Baggins and dwarves live. However, eventually I found a shop that admitted the existence of a size 36 adventure sandal and would order a pair for me. The next decision was colour – do I get a subdued neutral colour to try and minimise their visual impact or go bright and bold? I decided that the neutral colours made me look a bit ‘worthy’ and reminded me of something school children or nuns wear (incidentally, they all looked ridiculous as I was trying on a size 40 simply for colour selection). In the end I went with red ones having decided that ‘lumpy and red’ was better than ‘lumpy and nun’ (no disrespect intended to any nuns who may be reading this post)
We have also made the decision about the camping cooker and ordered it online. We are going for the really small and light weight titanium Primus Omnilite Ti cooker. We decided that every bit of weight was important, and the weight saved on the cooker may go someway towards compensating for the lumpy sandals. This trip has made me do some quite strange things. One of these is certainly my new fascination with thoughtfully handling tiny kitchen weights to see how much I care about the difference between what is in my left and right hands.
FYI – we are planning a trip to Waiheke Island next weekend to try out the type of electric bicycles that Antoine reviewed over on Cycling in Auckland so next week’s ‘installment’ may be a little late.
I picked up a couple of books from the library yesterday. I perused the introduction ‘Per-departure planning’ section of the first book, which is called Bicycle Touring in Holland, and promptly decided that a. It was written by an American (and it was), and b. that I wouldn’t read any further. There were three particular points that led me to these conclusions.
Firstly, under equipment, the author states ‘Most Europeans do not wear helmets. Regardless of what the locals are doing, play it safe and wear a helmet’. I think that this is a very silly statement to make since ‘locals’ are in the best position to decide what is necessary in their particular environment. My rule of thumb is always to take considerable note of what the locals are doing.
Secondly, the clothing section states that weight is an important considerations, which makes sense, but then goes on to include the dreaded zip-off trousers as well as a bottle of hand sanitizer as necessities. I fail to see the allure of zip-off pants – how hot can your lower legs get for goodness sake! In the olden days we used to just roll our trousers up, which has the advantage of having a range of length ‘settings’ as well as looking stylish, rather than screaming TOURIST. And hand sanitizer … Really? We’re talking about Holland here, not Deli. What is this modern obsession with germs? I was brought up to understand that regular exposure to germs was good for your immune system. The French believe that getting food poisoning at least once a year is a good thing as it provides a good clear out for your digestive system.
The third and final straw in my dismissal of the book was the item in the clothing list where it states that women should take at least 2 sports bras – why? Perhaps if you are built like Dolly Parton and are embarking on particularly bumpy off-road cycle routes, then perhaps the bra thing may be of particular concern. But I tend to think that this is just an example of American breast-phobia. Have you ever noticed that during steamy sex scenes in American films the female always wears a bra? Never ever does she seduce the male with it’s removal nor does the red blooded American male think of ripping it off in a fit of passion … we know this because the bra is still demurely in place during any post-coital scenes. The Europeans are not afflicted with breast-phobia and it is quite acceptable to release ‘the girls’ from bra incarceration on wash days, or any other day for that matter.
Incidentally, here is a picture of Dolly Parton on a bicycle.
The second book, Greece on my Wheels, is very good and I will tell you more about that next time when I have read a little more.
Featured image from here