Sunday, August 31, 2008

Evening News

Here's a story about our cycle that appeared in the Evening News!

Oh, and here is a photo of my cycling computer just to prove that I did in fact cycle 1688 km!

Monday, August 25, 2008


Thank you to all who have sponsored me (Isla). I will be in touch soon to tell you how much you owe me and how to pay.

To anyone who wishes to make a donation to help streetchildren in Ethiopia, the following will help.

We have arranged that the all the sponsorship money will be paid to a UK charity called Students Supporting Street Kids who specialise in supporting street childrens' charities around the world. They will be responsible for transferring the money raised to the Forum on Street Children Ethiopia. Donations to SSSK can be gift aided.

If you wish to donate, please send a cheque made out to SSSK, to me at: -

9 Inverleith Terrace, Edinburgh EH3 5NS

We will collect all donations and forward them to SSSK. Contact me for further information.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cycle Day 27 Home at last

We arrive in Rosyth at 11 am on Tuesday 19th August. It is raining (hard!). We head into Edinburgh. The rain eases on the Forth Road Bridge.

At 1pm we arrive home.

We have cycled a total of 1688 km (1048 miles) over 27 days of cycling, an average of 62.5km per day.

We passed through 12 countries - Scotland, England, France, Germany, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Netherlands and Belgium.

Isla busked in Paris, Helsinki, Moscow, St Petersburg, Tallinn, Riga, Gdansk and Berlin.

Isla hopes she has raised lots of money for streetchildren in Ethiopia. Many thanks to all our sponsors - we'll be in touch soon!

We hear that the UK has won 3 cycling Gold medals at the Olympic Games - let's hope cycling becomes more popular as a result and that better facilities are provided. The contrast between here and continental Europe is stunning.

Thank you for reading our blog.

Cycled 24.75 km
Busking earnings 0
No punctures

Monday, August 18, 2008

1609 km - 1000 miles

1609 km equals 1000 miles - my secret target. Seems a long way but when you do it bit by bit it's not so bad! So here I am in front of a field of Brussel Sprouts!

1600 km

1600km on the cycle to Bruges.

Cycle Day 26 In Bruges

In Bruges is the title of a recent film we understand. Don't know anything about it but Bruges is pretty in the rain. We visit the Chocolate Museum and potter around the old streets until lunchtime when we head off for the ferry.

Cycled 22.99 km
Busking earnings 0
No punctures

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cycle Day 25 To Bruges

Today we head to Bruges. But before pedalling north, we have something important to do. We head into Ypres and visit the British Grenadier Bookshop where we ask the nice Canadian owner, Steve Douglas (who runs the Maple Leaf Legacy Project) to search for a grave.

He finds it on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and gives us the details. We head out to Bedford House Cemetery which is perhaps one of the most beautiful of the Commonwealth cemeteries in the Ypres Salient.

We consult the Cemetery Register to check the details and then Isla heads off to find the grave.

She finds it quite quickly among the 5139 graves.

Here is the grave - one Private TSH Peaceful of the 4th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers.

Private Peaceful was the name of a book written by childrens' author, Michael Morpurgo and a set text in P7 at Stockbridge Primary School. We have all read it - it is a wonderful book. The main characters are Tommo and Charlie Peaceful. They are fictitious characters but the book was inspired by this grave.

This find brings the whole story to life (even though, as we say, this Private Peaceful has no connection with the characters in the book).

En route to Bruges, we make another important stop at Essex Farm where John McCrae wrote his famous poem, In Flanders Field, which led to the poppy becoming the symbol of remembrance of WWI

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

It's a rainy day - the first real day of rain we've had in 7 weeks. We cycle to Bruges partly along a former railway and spend the night in Bruges Youth Hostel.

Cycled 75.32 km
Busking earnings 0
No punctures

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Memories of World War One

We have come to Ypres to learn something about World War One when the town was at the centre of intense fighting between British, French, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian soldiers defending the town and the Germans attacking it.

There is much to see and we begin with the excellent In Flanders Field Museum. Click on the Man Culture War icon for a brief description of the very interesting exhibition on the over 50 nationalities that fought here (Chinese, West Indian, Chinese, Inuit etc.) and the Museum link for more info about the permanent museum exhibits.

In the afternoon, we headed out on a cycle round Ypres to visit some historical sites of the Flanders section of the Western Front such as Hill 60 and the village of Passendale (another excellent Museum on the Battle of Passchendaele or Third Ypres that we didn't have time to visit. 

We visit Polygon Wood Cemetery where the recently discovered body of a Scottish soldier, John Thomson of the 2nd Gordon Highlanders, was finally laid to rest on 21 October 2004, having been posted missing in action.

Polygon Wood Cemetery is an example of a small battlefield cemetery with the graves left as they were dug during the War. As a result, the graves are arranged in an irregular pattern reflecting the chaos of retrieving and burying the dead in the midst of battle.

We finished our outward cycle at the Tyne Cot cemetery, the largest Commonwealth Cemetery in the world.

We head back to Ypres at 7.30pm as we want to see the ceremony of the Last Post but stop briefly at the recently erected Scottish Monument which was erected in 2006.

We arrive back in Ypres to witness the ceremony of the Last Post. Every evening since the end of the war (apart from the years of German occupation in WWII), the local Fire Brigade have played the Last Post at the Menin Gate which has inscribed on it the names of the 54,896 soldiers of the British Commonwealth who were reported missing between the beginning of the war and the 16 August 1916. These soldiers therefore have no known grave. The names of a  further 34,957 soldiers missing between 17 August 1916 and the end of the War are inscribed on a wall at Tyne Cot Cemetery.

Cycled 37.44 km (but not counting towards sponsorship)
Busking earnings 0
No punctures

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cycle Day 24 To Lieges and on to Ypres

We get up early and head off to the village shop to get some food which we eat in the village square. Groups of racing cyclists enter the square every ten minutes and zoom out again at the other end. The Belgians are keen road cyclists.

We head off still not really knowing where we are going. We are behind schedule and want to spend some time in Ypres so decide that we will cycle to Liege and try and catch a train there. Liege is shut down for the day as it's a local holiday but we manage to find the rather futuristic new railway station that is still being constructed and caught a train to Brussels 
and onto Ypres.

Ypres is an amazing little town - more on the WWI history tomorrow - but the town centre features an the enormous restored Cloth Hall - fully restored after WWI. 

Here it is now.

And here it is after the WWI bombardment by the Germans.

We find the local campsite and pitch our tent beside lots of British tourists.

Cycled 53.58 km
Busking earnings 0
No punctures