Current Location: Wexford, Irish Republic
Distance Cycled on Tandem since New: 21,502 km
Distance Cycled this Trip (from Lisbon, Portugal): 2,484 km
Punctures this Trip: One caused by tacks strewn on cycle path
Chain Wear: Chains and sprocket replaced today after 2,500 km
Tyres: Schwalbe Marathon XR both in good condition after 5,400 km
"Where could we go next summer, somewhere not as hot as here (Eastern Europe)," said Judy the Stoker as we both gulped water.
An idle thought bubbled up."Ireland," I said. "Colder and wetter."
Judy seldom forgets even the most idle of conversations, so a year on here we are and so far I have been proved right on both counts.
The rain started in Wales as we worked our way west. On my 65th birthday we woke to rain in Tenby. Packing up meant the inside of the tent was soaked by the time I had it stuffed in its bag.
We cycled all day in the rain and unpacked the tent in the rain.
We did our best to dry out the interior with Judy's "happy" towel, which she uses to wipe the sweat from her brow in hot weather.
The rain had discouraged us from seeking out a supermarket during the day and my birthday dinner consisted of our emergency rations - instant soup and a freeze dried backpacking meal of roast lamb, veges and mashed spud, brought all the way from New Zealand. It wasn't bad under the circumstances, though the birthday cake that followed was a tiny piece of leftover bara brith (Welsh fruit cake) and three squares of chocolate each. No wine.
A small piece of cake and three squares of chocolate each.
The rain pelted down. We listened to music on the IPad and found ourselves thoroughly enjoying the moment. We were in shelter, dry at last and snug as a couple of bugs in a rug. We settled back content in the knowledge that at home MP Winston Peters was sending out my pensioner's Gold Card.
Inside the tent we sang along with Jackson Browne - Running on Empty.
65th Birthday Menu
Porridge with dried prunes (2 for the Captain, just 1 for the Stoker thanks), dried cranberries, banana, brown sugar and dried milk
Bread rolls, Red Leicester cheese
English Breakfast tea
Accompanied by rain
All day breakfast at downmarket cafe - sausage, eggs, baked beans, bacon and toast
Latte - 2 each
Accompanied by intense rain
Hors d'oeuvres - stale bread roll, slither of Red Leicester cheese
Instant soup - minestrone
Main of roast lamb, vegetables and mashed potato with gravy
Dessert of bara brith birthday cake and 3 squares chocolate each
English Breakfast tea
Accompanied by heavy rain and strong winds
We had a two or three day respite and then crossed from Wales to Rosslare, Ireland. It was an overcast but dry evening. It wasn't to last.
In Wexford we had a solid 24 hours of rain and high winds. Foolishly we had put the tent up on the harbour foreshore in the lee of some shrubs, only to have the wind change direction in the night. We were almost blasted out of our sleeping bags and for the first time started to question the tent's ability to withstand the forces of nature. The next morning, even the locals were apologising for the weather.
"You should have been here a fortnight ago," said one. "We had a really good start to summer."
This morning began fine. There was blue sky, even if the wind did carry a wintry chill. As I write this, the cloud is building and it's possible, very possible, that we will have more rain.
But it's not nearly as hot as Eastern Europe and I'm just waiting for a question from the Stoker,"where could we go next summer - warmer and drier than Ireland but not as hot as Bulgaria?"
Judy the Stoker: "Yuk, your hands are all covered in grease. You need to wash them again."
Mike the Captain: "Nah, I'll have a shower later and shampoo my hair. That always gets my hands clean."
Judy the Stoker: "Yeah, and I guess the grease helps hide the gray coming through."