Friday, 26 July 2013

Nuclear submarine sits off the coast of Sweden....

So, first of all - a few technical problems. Not Scandinavia's fault. Wi-fi is available (although at a cost. Typically £3 a night in a campsite). No, the problems are all mine. My camera packed in, then started working again, then packed in again. And the Netbook is being very grumpy and slow and uploading to my blog seems to be harder than it should. Although if this is online then I must have managed it somehow.

Denmark was fun. Fantastic weather, almost too hot – especially when we got stuck in traffic for an hour on the way over to Zealand. I wasn't sure if lane splitting is illegal so I waited until another bike went past and I followed him. Most of the cars we passed politely moved over for us but it was noticeable that a few didn't. In fact they saw me in the mirrors and actively moved into my way so I couldn't get past. This seemed mean – even if what we were doing was illegal, they were going nowhere, stuck in a tailback because of a fire on the bridge, and what they were doing was likely to cause an accident. One particular car really annoyed me. He moved over, after seeing me coming and then moved over to the other side of the lane when I thought about going the other way around him. And then back again. Then another biker came from behind me and over took (on the wrong side really) at which point the driver veered over, almost hitting him. I took the opportunity to move up the inside of the car, as he'd moved over to the left so much, pulled alongside the passenger window and asked, politely, what his problem was. I didn't understand the reply.

I only tell this story as an example of how one small event or encounter can cloud someone's view of a whole nation. We only spent two full days in Denmark but unfortunately when I think of Denmark in the future it will be hard not to think of this.

Which will be a shame as we had a wonderful full day in Helsingbor, visiting Hamlet's Castle. Kronborg Castle, a Royal Residence and tax collector's house - as all shipping passing the narrow straights between Denmark and Sweden had to pay a tithe. It was famous in the 16th Century and Shakespeare would have certainly known about it (Indeed he might even have visited). Hamlet is set in the castle and we wandered around it on our own before joining a fun, light hearted 'Hamlet tour' as Horatio, our guide, took us through the play (fortunately in 45 minutes!) stopping at key sites in the castle and ending in the ballroom (where everyone dies in the final scene) which was, in the 16th Century, the largest ballroom in Europe (62 m long).

Next day we left Denmark on a 15 minute ferry to Sweden. I couldn't think of another place in the world where two countries are so close, but separated by sea. Unfortunately it was raining and it didn't stop for a few hours. This made the ride up the Swedish coast, along a motorway, a little dull. But we ended the day in a lovely campsite, on the shore just south of Stromstad. It was so nice we decided to stay the next day and spent Friday washing, resting and sunbathing. Sunbathing in Sweden! I'm not sure of our latitude but we must be north of Scotland by now.

Tomorrow we get the ferry to Norway.

I've had problems with my Netbook and have had to type this blog out twice. I'm not sure the photos will load but I'll try. Hopefully I'll work out what the problem is and next week's blog will be better. But I am on holiday and won't be spending all my free time trying to write a blog!

Top Tip so far. Danish and Swedish petrol stations are often unmanned and only take cards – no cash. And my Caxton visa card doesn't work in them. We did find one Swedish one that took cash. Petrol is about £1:45.

Elsinore - Hamlet's Castle

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In the 17th Century the Swedes stole the fountain!

Biggest ballroom in Europe!

Heidi on her second ferry crosing - to Sweden in the rain

Sweden from Denmark. A ferry crossing every 15 minutes

Sunny days in Sweden.

Title of this blog refers to a Billy Bragg lyric just in case you still cared...

Sunday, 21 July 2013

New website for GONE RIDING

I've recently created a website. It's to promote my book GONE RIDING which should be out in the Autumn. The website is certainly a 'work in progress' but if you want a look...

And I just joined twitter  DomGiles@DomGiles1

HU meeting June 2013

I know this post is a little late...I've been busy.

The Horizons Unlimited UK meeting this year was another success. Here's some photos...
Heidi next to my tent on a sunny but cold late May morning. This year the meeting had moved to Castle Donnington, with more camping space.

I did a talk on my trip, not forgetting to mention my up and coming book - GONE RIDING (out soon!)

Lots of bikers lined up for the slow bike race.

I very much hope (and plan) to be here next year selling my book alongside the likes of Ted Simon and, next to him, Dr Pat and Ness Garrod (Bearback).

I know travelling on a bike can be annoying sometimes, what with the lack of space - this is the other end of the spectrum. Notice the SOLD sign - £74,500!

That's a quick review of the HU meeting. More exciting news (for me at least) is that I've done a deal with Indepen Press and they will be publishing my book - hopefully within months. It's been a bit of a rush to get things sorted before the holidays but I signed a deal last week. More news, no doubt, when I get back from my current trip.

I'm off to Scandinavia....