Planes, Trains and Bicycles – The bike saga continues

Waves of frustration. That’s the perfect way to sum up the last week, as we wait impatiently to get our bike on the road.

bike old peopleHopefully us someday soon!

Last week we arrived in Amsterdam chomping at the bit, ready to start our tandem cycle tour of Europe. The only problem being our bike had gone AWOL somewhere on route from the oversized luggage section at Luton Airport to the airplane.

48 hours later the bike arrived. All seemed well after a quick glance over. We unpacked it and assembled all the bits and pieces; quickly improving our novice cycling knowledge.

Annoyingly first appearances were deceiving. Those carefree baggage handlers had managed to buckle both wheels despite packing him in 150 metres of bubble wrap. We thought we’d been overprotective, on second thoughts they may have handled him more delicately if we had placed him in cling film.

The bike christening

You might have noticed I called the bicycle him a few times. It just doesn’t seem sufficient to describe something that will, eventually, be carrying our lives and possessions for many miles, as an ‘It’. We’ve christened him Donkey. It’s more affectionate than it may seem, we both love donkeys and they always seem a bit sad, which is definitely the case here with his wonky wheels.

Donkey needs repairs. Not to worry, I thought, Amsterdam is the king of bicycling. As you walk through town, the swarm of bikes is incredible. Like bees around a hive, somehow they never collide. Although near misses are plenty, as are bicycle repair shops.

It seems Donkey is a unique case though; his tyres are an odd size/gear combination (don’t ask). After calling what seemed like a billion repair shops, I gave up hoping for a quick fix that very day. It was Saturday; the quickest the new parts would arrive… Wednesday.

Be still brave Donkey, you will soon be fixed. He seemed unmoved by the news. Kellie and me decided to moan about it a bit longer, just to let off some steam.

In the grand scheme of things this wasn’t a big deal, but the delay then the damage made it seem so.

We decided to upgrade our accommodation, a little treat to boost moral.

The hut we are staying in (or shed as we call it) is an icebox at night. But the campsite is full of luxury accommodation, not too dissimilar to our tiny house dream. Budget happily thrown out of the window we headed off to reception. And then turned directly back again. We discovered the entire campsite was booked (besides the icebox sheds of course).

After another hour of futile internet accommodation searching, we raised the white flag and accepted our fate. Back to the shed for us, and wearing every single item of clothing we’d brought, making hot water bottles and maybe even sneakily using the hob to heat the place. We can live with that.

Time for operation restore positivity.

This mainly involves cake. We visit places (using the trains) and eat cake. Thankfully the Netherlands is not the worst place to be stranded, and the bits in between cake eating have been rather delightful.

I have convinced myself that the dessert eating is necessary training for our impending tandem escapade. Calories are important aren’t they?

I am not going to lie, it has been frustrating being stationary, but I tell myself soon this will be a distant memory. Instead we play tourist for a week, not the plan but still fun.

bike cakebike canalHaarlem bikebike crazy kelMental wife keeping me amused

flag bikemore cake bikeIf you like our pics follow us on instagram.com/hungryescapades

On the plus side I’ve had a good vibe from the people we have met and the places we have seen so far. Friendly, flat and picturesque are the things that stick in my brain. Obviously the flat part being the most important bit, for our unknowing legs.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the bike parts will be suitable for Donkey and our stuttering start will stop spluttering. We will know by Wednesday…

Don’t feel sorry for us though, tomorrow we are off to Haarlem for afternoon tea. Scones, clotted cream and English breakfast tea, more training innit.

Tandem honeymoon goes wrong – The plan and frustration

It’s the first day of our three month honeymoon and my Lord has it been eventful few hours. It wasn’t in the plan to be writing a post today. We should be sat weary legged at our maiden campsite, enjoying the satisfaction of pedalling to our bed for the night.

But we are not. No cycling action today. Just frustration!

Before I reveal the source of frustration, first I should finally announce our plans for this trip (Although they are so sketchy I’m not sure if you can actually call them a plan).

We are cycling Europe on a tandem for 3 months. Today we landed in Amsterdam and our final destination is Italy, via Belgium, France and maybe even Switzerland. I would like to get to Florence, as it’s a ridiculously romantic place and would be a fitting end to our honeymoon.

We shall see… Having never taken on such a challenge we don’t have a clue what distance we can cover, especially with over 60kg of bike and gear to haul. Hopefully we have an innate talent and we will be speeding over flats and mountains. If not we will just catch a couple of trains to help us on our way.

We haven’t booked a single thing. No house sits. No hotels. Nothing! This freedom makes me smile from ear to ear.

The tandem is our faithful steed, due to the fact that we are very different speeds on separate bikes and Kellie has a permanent scared face when solo cycling.

I’m proud of the fact that she is doing something that scares her. In fact I can happily say it scares me too!

For some this maybe a walk in the park, but for us newbies, deciding on a whim to cycle a large part of a continent is just a tad daunting.

That’s the plan revealed… What’s the problem?

So what happened today to make my blood pressure go through the roof? (You hopefully asked)

OUR BIKE GOT LOST!

plan tandemNot in the plan – they lost this huge tandem

Yes, thank you EasyJet for losing our bike on the shortest flight distance ever. London Luton to Amsterdam, you practically take off and land immediately. Obviously the bike never made the flight.

I don’t usually get stressed, but stuff like this gets on my nerves. When you do all you can to make everything go smoothly and then hand it over to someone else and it goes tits up!

We sat patiently waiting, hoping, that the big beast of a bike was just taking it’s time getting from the plane to oversized luggage. But alas no, we are bike-less, for now at least.

After speaking to the Baggage Claim Desk we were left with no other options, find accommodation and wait for the bike to emerge from the depths of the black hole that is more commonly known as Luton Airport.

By the way EasyJet wont help you find accommodation, or offer to pay for their mess up or show any sympathy for your situation, that would be a ridiculous idea. Sort it out yourself is basically the message you get, whilst you hope that somebody pulls their finger out and finds your essential wheels.

Thankfully we had a campsite in mind, which is accessible by the fine Dutch railway system. One last rant though, we had to walk about 3km from the train station to campsite with 35kg of gear that is most definitely bike shaped and not human compatible, in the hot sun! We ruled out a place to stay in the town centre, the last minute prices were crazy.

Right my rage is over, the bike should hopefully reach us tomorrow (if they can find it).

plan cabin

We have checked into a wonderful cabin in the woods. Who cares that it only has bunk beds?! How romantic! I’m sat outside on a wooden bench enjoying the sun and the birds are tweeting away, plus Kellie just brought me a cup of tea and a packet of ginger biscuits. Happy.

LATEST UPDATE: The bike is due on a flight this evening! At least EasyJet appear to sort things quickly. Food update – We’ve had strong delicious beer and discovered the food in the Netherlands is amazing.

Our secret wedding. In New York!!

Yep that’s right we had a secret wedding in New York.

Wedding-kiss

Here’s how it all happened…

The wedding proposal

We were sitting on the sofa at our farm house sit in Canada. The log fire is roaring and we have a cup of tea in hand. Rob turns to me and asks…

“Do you want to do something fun when we’re in New York?”

Me: “Yeah, ok, what have you got in mind?”

I was thinking it would be some sort of food tour.

Rob: “Do you want to get married?”

Me: “Shut up…no…are you serious?…no…do you mean that…no.”

I said no a lot.

Rob: “Yeah I’m serious, let’s do it, just you and me… somewhere cool!”

Tiniest of pauses.

Me: “Okay let’s do it” as I leapt into to Rob’s arms screaming!

And so that was it, we were getting married in New York. Our favourite city. In six weeks time!!

A change of heart

Marriage wasn’t on our radar. If I’m honest it terrified us both. All the organising, the pressure to do things a certain way, inviting your third cousin twice removed and being centre of attention for an entire day. Nope, it just wasn’t for us.

Being married however is something we could do. We’ve travelled together for 16 months, spending pretty much 24/7 together. If there was a test you had to pass before you got married, I think that we’d ace it.

Plus I’ve known from an early stage, Rob and me are going the distance. Previous crap boyfriends helped make this decision easy.

Once Rob popped the question in his typical understated way, something changed. I instantly felt much more secure and closer to him. I was shocked how a simple question can make you feel so different.

Our little secret…

We’d decided early on this was just going to our little secret. This made the build up even more special for us. It felt like ours. Something that was just about the two of us, which was just how we wanted it to be.

The ‘lengthy’ six week engagement flew by. We spent the time searching online, cobbling together some funky threads for the big day, as well as finding the all important wedding meal venue, putting together our favourite ‘Us’ tunes on a Spotify playlist, and finding cool vintage shops for last minute outfit purchases.

Before we knew it we were saying goodbye to our house sitting duties and jumping on a plane, New York bound.

Our journey to New York was not without event. Our flight from Toronto to New York was cancelled as we sat on the plane on the tarmac. Gutted is not the word. Snow has a lot to answer for.

A night in an average airport hotel was what we were in for, instead of our lovely Airbnb apartment in Brooklyn. The following morning we awoke bleary eyed at 3am to hop on a red eye flight.

The grumpiness didn’t last long once our flight was off the tarmac and 100% on the way to NYC.

WE. ARE. DOING. THIS!

Every now and then we would just look at each with giddy smiles.

No amount of giddiness could stave off sleep. Our plans to take The Big Apple by storm were halted by an essential power nap, as we finally reached our apartment a day late. A couple of hours later we began our New York story.

We landed on the Saturday and spent 3 days exploring, before our wedding on the Tuesday. The whole trip had a completely different focus to our last tourist filled trip 4 years ago.

We almost completely ignored the usual sights. Instead we discovered the cool Williamsburg area, packed full of vintage shops (which are incredible by the way. Cheap and full of clothes thanks to the hipsters who frequent the area).

We also had to sort out the paperwork, heading to the City Clerks office to pick up our marriage license, which you have to do at least 24hrs in advance of the ceremony.

The wedding day

On Tuesday 24th March we practically leapt out of bed, both on a high.

The day was perfect and although not traditional in any sense, it was exactly how we wanted it. We ate breakfast together, drank bucks fizz and listened to our favorite music whilst dressing in the finest clothes we could find. After 16 months of living out of a backpack, I’d like to think we rocked it with our wedding outfits!

We organised a carriage to our wedding… Sorry, I mean we caught the subway train! And walked passed the impressive City Hall and all the grand court buildings to the City Clerk’s office.

wedding-spin

Can I get a witness?

Now, one of the problems you have when organising a secret wedding is the fact that you need a witness. A willing witness complete with identification.

I think this was the only thing that brought nerves to the day. The witness would in fact also have to be our photographer, and filmographer. Quite an important job for a complete stranger.

We stepped into the City Clerks office with some trepidation. The first person we spotted was a lady leaning against the art deco walls reading a book. She could read! This surely was a good sign.

Rob approached her and got straight to the point, “We are getting married today and would love you to be our witness.”

She beamed from ear to ear, “are you serious? I would love too! Oh my God this is amazing! I’m just about to become a Minister so I can marry my friends next week! Oh wow!”

This was Uli. Somehow this complete stranger managed to make our amazing day even more awesome as she agreed to be our witness. Uli has the energy and excitement of someone who loves life. I can see why her friends had asked her to marry them.

She took our camera and immediately began snapping pictures and getting us to pose, in between complimenting even the tiniest details of our outfits. Then handed us a little book of inspiration she carries with her, as we waited to be called for our ceremony.

When you pick someone random to be part of your wedding day, you take a chance. Our roll of the dice paid off, I could not have been happier. Uli truly enhanced our day and I’ll be forever grateful she was part of it.

wedding-witness

The wedding ceremony

We weren’t really sure what to expect from the ceremony, however I probably could have given Rob a heads up as to what finger the wedding ring goes on.

This awkward moment was quickly followed by the stunned silence of Rob when the Clerk asked him if he wanted to say anything to me. His off the cuff bumbling was full of sentiment and love…although he’ll tell you different. My teary eyes told the full story.

We then headed out onto the steps outside as Uli snapped more pictures. The whole thing flashed by.

Then our star witness was gone, and it was just the two of us again hugging on a park bench surrounded by the incredible New York skyline.

“You want to go eat Mrs Ward?” Rob said.

We went uptown for steak and cocktails, before heading back to our apartment where I made a cup of tea and put my slippers on. Not the normal end to a wedding day, but we had a flight to catch that very evening. Jetting back home to spread our exciting news to our shocked family and friends.

Our day was perfect; I wouldn’t have done a single thing differently. I’m incredibly lucky to have met such a wonderful, kind, funny and tolerant person and I’m even luckier that I get to call this man my husband.

wedding-proud wedding-pigeon wedding-park-benchwedding-shoe

So what’s next? A honeymoon of course! Probably not your typical honeymoon.

Next week we head off to Europe, with a tandem bike! A three month cycling adventure is the plan… More to come very soon.