Potash for breakfast
Working for Fugro, collecting geophysical data for some major engineering projects, I get to see some interesting places I wouldn’t ordinarily visit. A Cameroon rainforest, for instance, doesn’t contain enough quality bouldering to lure me away from Fontainebleau at Easter, but I went anyway. And flying to Mozambique only to fly home again isn’t my idea of a fun two days, despite the 15000 airmiles I would have accumulated if I subscribed to that sort of thing. But you’ve got to go where the money is, and currently the money is in Turkey
I drive a vibroseis truck – it looks like an armoured milk float but weighs nearly 8 tonnes so isn’t very floaty. It’s powered by a four and a half litre John Deere diesel tractor engine, has three gears and a maximum speed of about 25mph. Although massively powerful and shod with huge knobbly tyres it regularly gets stuck in surprisingly benign-looking ground conditions, then has to be towed out by something more manly. In the Cameroon rainforest this was the giant bulldozer that had been used to clear the tracks through the forest that we were surveying. I’d got the vibroseis truck stuck in a swampy area that has previously claimed the scalp of the machine that was now rescuing me. It was in the process of creating the so-called ground by shovelling tons of sand into the swamp, when it has shed a track.
Five months cycling and climbing around France, Spain and Portugal starts here. We’ve recorded a chat over breakfast which is an attempt at a podcast but don’t yet know where to put it – suggestions on a postcard please, keep them clean.
As I type we’ve stopped in an Ashbourne cafe as we’re hungry already and it’s rained all the way from Buxton. we’re damp and filthy from the muddy trail and the going has been hard work into a cross headwind with the surface like wet cement.
The campsite we’d planned on stopping at tonight is almost as expensive (it’s a caravan and camping club site) as the nearby Ibis Budget hotel, so as we’re wet and it show s no sign of brightening up, we’re spending the first night in the relative luxury of a room with a view of the A50.
One more cup of tea then we’ll set off again, only 17 miles to go.
Eating, sleeping and being merry, for tomorrow we ride. The trailer still hasn’t arrived but we’re hopeful. And if it doesn’t we’ll just have to wait until it does. The over-arching plan is cycle to Paris and get the train back. Intermediate plans include visiting friends and relations in Banbury, Bicester and London, checking out Bletchley Park, Brighton beach and the towpaths of various canals, then sampling every cake and wine we can get our hands on in France.
The mountain of gear in the spare room is suffering from uplift, I hope the trailer arrives soon…