Readjusting To Life In The UK

A lot has happened in the 6 weeks since we landed in the UK in April 2014. We’ve cycled around Greater London catching up with family and friends (ahem, couchsurfing — thanks to Kate and Anne). We’ve spent a considerable time job hunting and thinking about where we might want to live. I’ve been making up lost time on my road bike and XC bike, a nice change from the 35lb touring tank. But perhaps more excitingly, I have been sewing my own outdoor gear for my next microadventure — a short bikepacking trip in Brecon Beacons, Wales! More to come on that later!

It should go without saying that our funds are seriously depleted after 14 months travelling with basically no income. The stark and immediate change of being back has hit us like a ton of bricks and we’ve been a bit overwhelmed by the pressure to re-enter the world of ‘professional working life’. At times, we’re almost tempted to abscond back to the cyclo-touring lifestyle and try to stretch our remaining funds a bit further. On the other hand, we’re both secretly craving a home base of our own, at least for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps by some cosmic magic, we’ve both landed great jobs that we’re genuinely excited start in June. We’ll be moving into a nice little one bedroom house in Marlow with plenty of bike storage where we’ll be able to cycle to our respective offices within about 20 minutes. For this, we are feeling thrilled and uplifted after several weeks of suffering the post adventure blues. We’re now optimistic that we can strike the right balance between our careers and our desire for adventures by bike.

Perhaps it helps that we brought back the sunshine and the days are getting really long, but it almost seems like England is not quite as depressing as I remember it!

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Only back at Mum Bell’s for less than a week and we were packing up for a ride into London for a few weeks to catch up with friends…

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… of course, we decided to take the scenic route…

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… even a trip into London has its backroads …

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… and quintessential British countryside, where the rapeseed harvest is brighter than the sun!

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Avoiding asphalt on our way through Cookham Dean, where Jenny will start her new job in June.

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On our way over to Jonny and Katie’s new house and meet the new baby, Max, Jenny wrapped his pressie next to the canal locks…

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… and then asked me to carry it the rest of the way. I think I wore it well.

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Our detour on the way back led us through Hampton Court…

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where the deer grazed with their velvety antlers…


We’ve discovered plenty of easy rolling trails for around Woodcote village…


… with a dash of the mud of May…


… and British bluebells.




Tyre levers double as emergency cutlery for spreading hummus on a roadside sandwich!

Making Some New Gear

Recently, I was inspired by some posts on the Bear Bones Bikepacking forum (BBB) and decided to attempt some more MYOG sewing projects: specifically a lightweight one-person tarp tent, a bug proof bivvy sack and a compression seat pack (photos below).

Thanks to the guys on BBB for the inspiration and Jamie Short for posting his designs for catenary tarp tent and bivvy sack, and the guys on for lots of additional design info.

I am just waiting for a few bits to arrive from CRC tomorrow and then I should be ready to cycle down to Reading where I’ll catch the train to Newport, Wales. From there I will ride up up to Abergavenny and into Brecon Beacons for a week long bikepacking escape – perhaps the last chance I will have for a while, with the new job starting in June.

I hope to do another quick post with some more MYOG photos and my pack list before I pedal off into those cold, rainy hills!


I used a bit of guy rope to approximate a 3 inch catenary ridgeline.


Mixing up equal parts of white spirit (paint thinner) and pure silicon creates a great DIY sealant which is easier to brush on to seams…


… brushing the goop on with a few inches on either side to cover up all the holes from the sewing pins and needles!


The mosquito net on the bivy sack provides great protection from the bugs, but requires a simple tie-up to keep it off my face.


Double stitched seams


The wrap around zipper makes getting into the bivvy much easier…


I used Jamie’s corner folding method to create the foot box…


Top view of the head box with mozzie net and tie up harness


Prototyping really helps to visualise the shape and fit before committing with expensive fabric.


It takes some getting used to sewing things together inside out to hide the seams…


Adding some ‘box x’ stitches to secure the webbing


‘outside in’ with the seams hidden


… a bit further along with some internal padding and more fastening points. In case you can’t tell, this is a seat pack which attaches behind the saddle and holds a waterproof stuff sack.

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