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north sea cycle route


Tuesday 9th May 2006

May and Vic and Mary set offVic and Mary Stanbrook cycled the 3,750 miles and seven countries of the North Sea Cycle Route to raise money for the Framlingham Community Centre Trust and East Anglian Children's Hospice.  They set off on Tuesday 9th May 2006 ...

Fr May 19


Dear All,

Cycled through Hervickbakken - pic by Vic and Mary Stanbrook Holland successfully and now doing Germany, the weather has been mixed and we are tanned but mainly from the wind!  Backsides are well worn in.  Currently we have cycled 700kms (438 miles) and today we travel from Bremerhaven to Cuxhaven.  We have camped, hostelled, stayed with friends and lived it up one night in a hotel after spending an hour trying to find a B&B (one night stays are not popular in this part of Germany).  Time to move on, only 40 kms today!

Regards to All - Vic and Mary

We May 24


Dear All,

Progress has been good although hard going at times.  The wind has been very gusty.  Problems with the bike and a new rear tyre needed.  Problems also with sheep, the German variety don't seem as clever as the Dutch.  They just just stand there and will not move, and use the path as a toilet.  Ever tried cycling on sheep poo?  Over 1,000km (625 miles) on the clock now and we should enter Denmark this afternoon at a place called Rudbol.

Still staying off the beer and bottoms bearing up!!

Thanks for all messages.

Best wishes - Vic and Mary

Tu Jun 06


Novel bicycle lock - pic by Vic and Mary Stanbrook Dear All,

Over 2,000 km (1,250 miles) on the clock and staying tonight in a Youth? Hostel 6 miles south of Gothenberg.  Denmark was fantastic for us, good road signs and not bad food.  The strong winds from the north were quite a problem, on a day when the wind was against us we managed only 60 kms but when its behind us 110 kms flew past. No sheep problems in Denmark!

Sweden is different again.  After leaving the Grenna to Varberg ferry the route signs just disappeared as did the signs for the campsite we were looking for.  Eventually found the campsite only to discover that it was a summer only site and not open as summer has yet to arrive apparently.

 Still causing great amusement when we turn up to camp on these smart sites with our tiny three foot high tent.  You should see the performance we have getting in and out of it.

No more problems with the bike but we have a creak which might be Mary's leg, just have to see if lubricant cures the problem.  Off to the big city tomorrow trams and all!

Bye for now
Best wishes - Vic and Mary

Tu Jun 13


Skijump in summer - pic by Vic and Mary Stanbrook Dear All,

Sweden has been and gone with beautiful weather and scenery, particularly the coastal islands above Gothenberg.  Our pronunciation led to some interesting comments from the locals and when we were looking for somewhere to eat (fancying fish) we assumed a place marked El must be an an eel cafe but found it sold washing machines.

The wild Norge ~ Noreg - pic by Vic and Mary Stanbrook life has included a rat trying to commit suicide in the front wheel, three snakes wriggling across the cycle path, a young deer, snail incidents which had Mary refusing to camp for three nights but no moose yet.  The scent that has been with us all through Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and now Norway is that of wild lilac.

About 2,500km (1,563 miles) now completed and we understand some of the hardest bits to come through southern  Norway.  Not halfway yet!

Norway is proving to be a test on two fronts. The price of a small beer in a cafe is £3.50 so we're drinking river water and cars are not so cyclist friendly.  In towns they have right of way from minor junctions and it's not easy to stop a tandem quickly!  Having a day off in Oslo at the moment.

Many thanks for all your messages - Vic and Mary

Th Jun 22


Dear All,

Flinks handelsbod - pic by Vic StanbrookApologies for not making contact, Internet access has been impossible around the coast.  Norway, as we expected, has proved to be the most difficult section so far. After leaving Oslo one section took us three hours to do eight kilometres.  The track was covered in loose stones and the tandem's front wheel just kept slipping away. On the hills Mary Cross country skier in the Summer - pic by Vic and Mary Stanbrook was walking the ups and downs, in fact at one stage it was very difficult to stop the bike just gathering speed and feet were used as additional brakes! The bonus on this section was that we saw a beaver, yes a real live one in the wild. After this experience we decided to avoid a particularly nasty section and took the train, which is very easy to do in Norway, from Kristiansand to Stavanger.

The weather has turned now and we have put up with four days of overcast skies and the occasional very heavy shower ... but the wind is behind us.   We've been staying in camping huts instead of camping because of the weather.

Currently in the town hall at Leirvik about 70kms south of Bergen.  The ferry for the Shetlands leaves Bergen once a week on a Tuesday so we must and will be there.

The sheep here have bells around their necks, not sure why, maybe they can't bleat!

Off in the rain again now , best wishes to all - Vic and Mary

Su Jul 02


Dear All,

Hello from a wet Shetland, arrived here from Norway after a hectic ferry trip.  When we were booking we were warned the boat had 500 teenagers from Faroe on board.  The youngsters appeared to be quite quiet but around 10pm the disco's really started and weScandinavian breakfast - pic by Vic and Mary Stanbrook enjoyed watching.  Arrived in Shetland at one in the morning and were asleep by two after putting up the tent in the dark, a first for us.  Later on in the morning we had our first All Day Breakfast, fantastic food and very much enjoyed.  What a difference from cheese and ham.

Although it's raining now the weather has been good.  Yesterday we travelled by bus to Sumburgh Head and had a fantastic day watching puffins and many other sea birds performing off the cliffs. The bus to within one mile of the cliffs was driven by an ex-racing driver. I was petrified that on one of the many blind bends we would smash into a cyclist.

The campsite here is run by the local council and is very well looked after with a full sports centre including swimming pool close by.  We keep meeting people who are cycling part or all of the North Sea Route. Tonight we catch the ferry for Orkney to arrive at 12 midnight, but this time we are booked into a hostel.

Sheep report: no problems, all are well behaved. Mary has really taken to the Shetland ponies though I keep saying that we are carrying enough on the bike already.

Just remembered the definition of a Viking as told to me in the shower block of a campsite in Sweden. A Viking cleans their teeth in cold water.  I am told by my German friends that warm water is preferred in Germany.

Best wishes to all - Vic and Mary

Th Jul 06


Dear All,

Arrived in the Orkneys at 11pmSunset - pic by Vic and Mary Stanbrook and the sunset was magnificent.  The hostel appeared to be a collection of old Nissan Huts but we were welcomed by a smiling warden and given a two bunk bedroom.  Arriving at the same time were six cyclists from Shetland who were travelling to the mainland for a time-trial, dedicated or what?

Our time was spent visiting the Island of Hoy which was a really good day out though Scarpa Flow has grim memories of submarines and sunken ships.  We left Orkney and arrived at John O'Groats at 12:30pm.  Did the tourist things and then cycled on to Melvick, to camp in the  grounds of a pub, very reasonable prices. The next night we camped at the the Crask Inn but they only had room for us to camp in the front garden. The pub had no mains electricity but a hefty generator and all the food was home cooked.  Probably one day they will cook the lamb that was running around the pub.  It had become a pet after being born with a foot abnormality. This is our Sheep experience this report.

Shadow on the road - pic by Vic and Mary StanbrookIf you get the chance a visit to this part of the UK is a must.  Tomorrow Inverness, our first big city for a long time time.  Big shock today as there was a double decker bus on the road to Tain where we are staying the night in a B&B.  Had to cycle along the A9 which not pleasant and the Glenmorangie distillery had closed for the day!

Best wishes - Vic and Mary

Sa Jul 15


Hello Everyone,

We have arrived safely in Edinburgh after battling with strong westerly winds for 30 miles.  The trip over the Forth road bridge proved to be a disaster as one cycle lane was closed for repair and we did not discover this until we were onto the bridge.  Well actually Mary saw the sign but I decided to ignore it and the only option was to walk the bike down a flight of steps under the bridge and then up three flights of steps.  We had to unload all the panniers but were helped by a couple of other cyclists who felt sorry for us.

We are staying in Edinburgh with Ian and Sue Corbett in a lovely flat five minutes from the city centre.  Once we start again, and its going to be difficult after staying here, we should be in Berwick in a couple of days.

Talking to some older people in Portsoy who were interested in the tandem we were very pleased to be given a donation for the Community Centre.  No sheep, plenty of pigs though.  Looking forward to England.

Vic and Mary

We Jul 19


Dear All,

Arrived in England Saturday 16th July at 7.30pm and it was a really great feeling.  Avoided the temptation to board the train at Berwick and head for home!  The journey south from Edinburgh was stunning, if you are travelling to Scotland turn left at Berwick to Innerleithen and over the Moorfoot Hills.  One of the best sections of the route so far.In the Borders - pic by Vic and Mary Stanbrook

We camped at Berwick and treated ouselves to a Guinness but were totally overcome by the smoky atmosphere in the pub.  Are we killjoys?  The Scottish pubs seem to be managing very well in the new smoke free environment.

We are now on route to Newcastle and our only problem is the heat.  The sheep are speaking English and some have rather large horns.  We also saw a field of what looked like thistles but closer inspection proved otherwise and we were told they are ploughed back in as fertiliser.  Answers on a postcard please.

Hope to be home the first week in August.

Best wishes to all  - Vic and Mary

Mo Jul 31


Dear All,

After a hot and sticky ride we hope to arrive in Framlingham tomorrow!  We've had problems locating terminals and apologise for the recent silence.

We've had a fantastic trip but are really pleased to be back in Suffolk.  Today Sunday we cycled over 75 miles from north of Norwich to Badingham where we are staying the night.  Once again we have been surprised at the beautiful areas of the country so near to us.  This includes Lincs, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Looking forward to seeing you all  - Vic and Mary

Tu Aug 01


Dear All,

We arrived safely in Framlingham 11am Monday morning.  Many thanks for all your messages of encouragement over the past three months.  Sponsorship money accepted as from now!

Next bike ride to the Station Hotel and back.

Vic and Mary

August, and Vic and Mary arrive back rather browner

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