Day 3 – 4th July 2014
Early start to the port. 7 hours to Holland. Once disembarked we are met by diplomatic dignitaries who inform us that a special path has been prepared to usher us directly to Rotterdam. We traverse these smooth, well-constructed, well-signposted lanes, passing in front of cars that stop to allow us by, adhering to the green bike signal at traffic lights that flashes comradery. Perhaps the nation has been informed of our arrival we ponder, before observing the same situation for all the other cyclists around us. This must be what happens when you implement a long term, nationwide strategy that has clear social and environmental benefits. We cruise the 27kms all the way to Rotterdam on these yellow brick roads, following signs and ignoring cars. We pass by fantastical dwarf houses with pointy thatched roofs, houses ringed by moats, past houseboats and lakes. All the houses are unique, often with prominent features, the architecture elaborate and angular, yet traditional, constructed with ubiquitous grey bricks.
Arrive in Rotterdam to stay with Esther. She invites us in to a feast of truffle pies and copious bottles of wine, drunk from the terrace of her city centre penthouse overlooking the heart of the city. The space is stylish, the walls decorated with framed photographs from her cycle travels through Asia and New Zealand.
Day 2 – 3rd July 2014
The day is defined by a sense of elation and optimism. There is movement, rhythm, action. Trip to bike shop in Bury St Edmunds to investigate a wobbly wheel, results in the purchase of a spring. We then cycle 52 miles to the countryside outside Harwich. We camp on a hill overlooking the estuary, and sleep without tents in the long grass and beneath the stars.