Too much of a good thing

Can you have too much of a good thing? Of course you can and I think we may have found our limit. All of a sudden we are both a bit tired and weary. A bit worn down and ready for a proper break from touring. I struggled with this idea for a while. After all, I have been singing the praises of this nomadic lifestyle to anybody that was prepared to listen or take the time to read this blog for a long time now. I know some people don’t quite get the cycling or the camping but just about everybody can relate to not working for six months and doing as you please. We have also been having a generally fabulous time exploring this sometimes ugly, sometimes pretty and sometimes simply awesome country of ours so to find myself wanting a break was a bit confusing.

Ugly nuclear power stations like Dungeness

Ugly nuclear power stations like Dungeness

It’s natural to want a break when it’s cold and raining or you can’t find anywhere to camp or the chain has come off right at the bottom of a massive hill. Those brief occasions when you just want to throw in the towel, jump on a train and go back to normality were always to be expected. We knew from previous touring experience that they would come and we were ready for them. This is different. This is a creeping, growing sensation that has been building up in both of us over the last week or so. It may have been exacerbated by the exceptionally hot weather we have had but I suspect it would have descended on us at some point whatever the weather. I’m trying to work out why doing something that we really enjoy for weeks on end should stop being fun and I think it just might be a case of too much of a good thing.
All things in moderation, my Mum used to say and I suppose that applies to not working and enjoying yourself too.

The prettiest of chocolate box cottages

The prettiest of chocolate box cottages

One of the joys of cycle touring is the constant stimulation of new places and people. There are some elements of routine such as making camp or loading up the bikes in the morning but apart from that just about everything we do is new each day. We rarely know where we will be sleeping each night or what we will come across during the day. Even the terrain is a constant surprise whether it’s the gradients we may or may not have to tackle or the state of the roads or cycle paths that make for easy or difficult progress. Little, if anything, is predictable and therein lies the conundrum. Variety and unpredictability is the essence of what makes touring so satisfying but it is also at the root of what has brought us to this point of fatigue. It’s not knowing what is coming next all the time that can actually be quite wearing. We generally build the patterns of our lives around a balance of known routines interspersed with short periods of variation and new experiences. The whole weekday/weekend concept revolves around this idea and is thoroughly ingrained in our psyche. Monday to Friday the majority of people know what they will be doing then come the weekend they introduce elements of change and excitement in stark contrast to the working week. We have effectively been living one long weekend for over three months and now we need a few days, or better still, a week of stability. Bodies and minds are crying STOP!

Awesome coastal scenery

Awesome coastal scenery

As it happens it looks as if we will be able to take the break we need thanks to great friends and family who will give us the chance to put down some temporary roots and enable us to escape the endless change that the last three months have consisted of. Hopefully it will  give us back the appetite we started out with. The appetite for the daily menu of the new and the different that Devon, Cornwall, Wales and finally the last piece of the jig saw around Mereyside and Lancashire will provide us with.

It’s a fascinating situation to be in. To be given the biggest, nicest box of chocolates in the world and to find a way to eat them without making yourself sick.

Weekend breaks

Who cares what day it is

Or more precisely a complete break from weekends is what I’m looking forward to. The more I think about it and the more I realise just how obsessed with weekends our society is. How often between Christmas Eve and the January 2nd did you hear someone say, “I don’t know what day it is”. All because weekends are irrelevant during that holiday period. That’s when you become aware of what an important anchor they are in our routine lives. Even those lucky retired friends still can’t get away from weekends. They may not know their Mondays from their Wednesdays but the weekend still brings them back to the real world once a week.

On our honeymoon we stayed in a guest house in Pembrokeshire run by a couple from the east end of London that had ‘run away’ and opted for an altogether more chilled life running a campsite and accommodation. There was a sign above the bar that read: Opening Hours, if James is awake the bar is open. If James is in bed the bar is closed. If that didn’t sum up their attitude to life, when we came to settle our bill I asked James if he knew the date (I was writing a cheque, remember them?). His reply was priceless and I’ll never forget it: “I’ve no idea”, he said, “I’ll have a stab a Tuesday but I could be wrong”. Now that’s what I call living the good life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love weekends as much as anybody but I am really looking forward to not needing them for six months. They won’t serve any purpose and I suspect that it won’t be long before we will be like James, oblivious to both the date and the time of the week. Bring it on. You see for me this represents a big part of what this trip is about. It’s about the differences between our live as they are now and our lives as they will be on the road. The greater the differences and the more significant the adventure. As I thought about it I jotted down some of the things that I am most looking forward to:

  • No Mondays or Fridays
  • No schedules at all
  • No work, apart from riding the bike
  • Nobody other than us influencing our decisions
  • No ironing
  • No television
  • No idea what tomorrow will bring

Vive la difference!