Day #344 09.12.16

Had a BEAUT of a bike ride out to The Woolpack in Slad today. Sunny and (fairly) warm, it was pretty glorious to get outside. I have decided that my new bike is a) a girl and b) called Crumpet. No real special reason for that name: she’s a Croix (nope, still don’t know how to say it) de Fer, and so decided to think of words beginning with C. Crumpet was the first C-word (HA!) that came into my head (not sure why, I’m not a huge fan of the foodstuff) and so, voila, that’s it.

She’s a bloody DELIGHT to ride and I had a pretty big smile on my face for all of the ride, but ESPECIALLY that long downhill into Slad – weeeeeeeeee! What I failed to realise at the time is that YOU HAVE TO GO BACK UP AGAIN for the route that we were taking back. This realisation dawned on me when my belly was fully of chips and two pints of beer (one of which I’d pretty much downed). Not the best cycling conditions; that first hill was a pretty harsh warm up and I spent most of it regretting my life choices (not for the first time that week too). But of course, what goes up must come down and the cycle back to Cheltenham along a different route (along the side of Coopers Hill) brought a pretty sweet sun setting view and then the A46 Shurdington Road became a racetrack to go as fast as possible because I’d forgotten to take my lights with me….I can confirm I beat the actual sunset, my thighs were on fire and no cyclists were harmed….

Well. They nearly were later on… After a quick pit stop to pick up said lights, it was time to make a beeline for The Barrel, the outside festive bar on the Prom (it’s not actually got a name, that’s just what I have called it – it’s shaped like a barrel). On the way to The B, I nearly got taken out by a car which pulled out of a side road while I was haring down (us cyclists can go quite fast you know) Montpellier to The Prom. Luckily she put her brakes on in time otherwise I would have absolutely hit the side of her car and gone flying for sure, but I had to slam mine on too and felt the back wheel go from under me. At that moment all kinds of things flashed through my mind….”shit, Crumpet is so nice and shiny and new…..PLEASE DON’T BREAK…SHIT, I might actually break too….oh no, and if I do, I might not be able to cycle in Chile. Look at Stav and his broken collarbone, I could be joining him…well, I might bounce…oh crap now I am wiggling around…maybe this is good, maybe this will be OK…HA!” Yes, I managed to fishtail it a little bit and stay upright. How the holy crap I did, I don’t know, but Tara: 1, Road: 0. My skin stayed on my body and didn’t end up on the Promenade and all bones remain intact. Hurrah!

I then glided down the rest of the Prom towards the traffic lights.

Van driver behind: “That was a close one eh love <chuckle>”

Me: “Yes, it bloody was eh <manic-adrenaline fuelled laughter>”

Me: “Did you see that Sam?” (who was behind me)

Sam: “See what?”

Me: “DAMN IT, I totally smashed some cycle-riding wizardry there and you didn’t see”

Sam: “Oh.”


Cycling is bloody ace. But motorists, please look out for us and our bright flashing lights.


Day #343 08.12.16

The trusty Golf (I haven’t named this car – I’ve named every single other car I’ve ever had but not this one. Not sure why that is.) has clocked round to 100k. I can’t even remember what mileage was on it when I got it about 2 and a half years ago but it was a fair way off this. Safe to say, I’ve done a shed load of trucking around the UK in this bad boy. Good job VWs are notorious for just keeping going on and on and on because I still have so many places to go and in no position to buy another car.
And it’s STILL a novelty to have a boot and foldy down seats after years of tiny classic mini boots and a two seater with no boot…YES to adventures and practical cars for travelling! It’s the simple things in life…
I also spectacularly kerbed it this evening; YAY to practical cars and not show cars! Ooops.

Day #342 07.12.16

I’m rich! Well, not really. Chilean pesos – seem to be one hundred million to the pound. Got a few notes to start me off when in Chile, the rest I will just get out of ATMs (providing there is some in the small towns we will come across on the Carretera Austral). If not, then I guess I will have to sing for my supper. And probably starve, given that me doing any kind of singing SOUNDS BAD.


Day #341 06.12.16

Still not so well so had to cancel plans to go out again, and instead stayed in and rested. Having some unexpected free time though did mean I managed to set up a fundraising page for my upcoming trip to Chile (have I mentioned that trip yet? HA). I’ve decided to try and use the challenge to also raise money for local charity Cheltenham Open Door, one I’ve already spent a bit of time with doing a collection of winter clothes, food and toiletries. They do a cracking job and offer a much-needed service to people in need in the town and every penny anyone donates goes straight to the charity.

If you wanted to bung a couple of quid that way and see me try and cycle 1200km on unpaved roads, you can donate here, and I’d be ever so grateful. Just think of it as forgoing that morning coffee one day, or that last pint in the pub one night.

And if you DO donate, you can give me something random to do while away on my travels and I will provide photo or video evidence of me doing it. Like a kind of dare, if you will. Fill your boots!



Day #340 05.12.16

Still feeling shite so instead of going out tonight like I was supposed to I stayed in and sorted a bit more kit stuff out for Chile. Hammered the credit card a bit more ordering new stuff and decided to get the stuff I’ve already got out and have a play around with putting it in my panniers to figure out whether I’m on the right track or whether I need to start panicking and thinking about whether cycling the Carretera Austral naked is an acceptable thing.

Now, I’m not an overpacker and have done a few bike trips like this so I know how to travel light, and my other panniers are quite a bit smaller than the new ones but there still just looks like SO MUCH STUFF. And it doesn’t even include half of it like all my clothes, camera, bike stuff like lock etc. I got to the point of throwing it all on the floor and then lost enthusiasm for then getting all said clothes etc out to have a go at proper packing. Probably because I went to get my adaptor to add to the pile and I COULDN’T FIND IT AT ALL. I knew I’d put it somewhere for safe keeping but could I remember where that was? Could I fuck. Then I GOT THE RAGE with myself for moving from the old place which was perfectly (kind of) fine and at least I knew WHERE IT WAS. Then I found it IN THE NEW SAFE KEEPING PLACE and told myself off for not looking properly and realised what I probably should do is go have a cup of tea and an early night.

Still, I know I’m nearly there with getting the stuff I need for my trip, and anything left over can be bought out there or just made do. When I did my Tassie trip I was so green to what’s needed I had loads less than I had now and managed perfectly well, so things always come good and you can always sort shit out at the time. In fact, sometimes it’s just as well to do that rather than planning for every eventuality that may not happen….let the adventure take over.


Day #338 03.12.16

The annual BMF Christmas party. This one was a big one; a regional one (not just Chelts) and also involved a daytime activity of ‘BMF Hunted’ which was kind of based on the TV programme (which I’ve never seen but just presumed it was like a big game of hide and seek). Basically we had to split into teams and run off around the Cotswold Water Park looking for letters that would make a word/phrase without getting caught by the ‘hunters’.

This was SO MUCH FUN. Running around in the sun and fresh air for a couple of hours armed with nothing but our sharp senses, a hip flash full of sloe gin and a go pro. What else would you do with a Saturday afternoon in December?

Follow that with a bit of afternoon drinking, a pre-party in Bev and Rich’s hotel room and an evening of fun, frolics, music, fizz and dancing and you have yourself a pretty sweet as Christmas do.

I’m so lucky to have met this great bunch of people; couldn’t think of a more fun, real and genuine group to be able to call my friends. And still so many people missing off this picture too. BMF Cheltenham: you rock!


Day #337 02.12.16

Had a little Christmas drinks party at my flat tonight for my neighbours in the Lodge. Fab to catch up with the ones I already know and get to know the ones I don’t know so well. Aelred had just moved in today also so it was a great way for him to be able to meet everyone. We all got to know each other a bit better by telling random/embarassing/odd stories. Like a mortification ice breaker.

The Burger Star story got trotted out (with the physical evidence) but it was blown out the water by Aelred’s feet story and Hannah’s broken-arm-in-7-places story.

I spent 8 years living in a place where I never even knew the name of my neighbours, and found it quite isolating; I love now that there is a little community and friendly faces literally two steps from my front door.


Day #336 01.12.16

It’s 1st December – NOW christmas stuff can start (and I have checked that Matt Cavill‘s little tree with the big baubles is out which is THE official xmas starter gun). Now normally I’m not a tree/decoration person until at least the 2nd weekend however I’m having a bit of an xmas party tomorrow night and so needed the flat to look at least a bit festive. So I went off to the garden centre again and got another christmas tree graveyard tree, where they chop a bit off a bigger one that was destined for the wood chipper. This one is tall, a bit lanky and spindly, and most definitely wonky. And exactly why I love it❤


Day #335 30.11.16

How to tell it’s cold: the winter furry boots came out. These only have a wearing period of a few weeks (maybe a month or two) each year so are still going strong – I must have had them over 7 or 8 years now. I remember when I bought them; we didn’t have a lot of spare cash at the time as we were saving up for something (can’t remember what) so to avoid the ‘what the hell have you bought those for’ conversation with the ex-husband I greeted him at the door when he got home from work just wearing them and nothing else. It worked.