Day 7: Winschoten (Nederlands) to Papenberg (Deutschland)

19·6 miles today: Cumulative cycling: 133·4 miles

What Elly said, with the addition that I slept for two hours when we got to the hotel. We then staggered to Kim and Kim for dinner. (You can see into it through glass doors in our hotel corridor but need to go out of the hotel to get there: Rauchenpause!) It’s cooler now, but still too hot to go under the duvet.

My legs are doing far better than I feared, but not as well as I’d hoped. However my arse is the main casualty stopping me doing the 35 to 40 miles per day we’d have needed to average. (Then factor in places to stay!) So tomorrow, we **hope** we can cycle to Leer, then get a train to Hamburg. It seems that there are plenty of trains but no bike spaces until late in the day. Ach wie schade!

We can faintly hear a Rammstein tribute band from the room. Here’s info on the gig: I think I need to join CAMRA: campaign for real Rammstein!

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Day 6: Groningen to Winschoten

24·6 miles:, cumulative cycling 113·9 miles

Today was a good day, with stops at Hoogezand and Muntemdam. I’ve been quite dozy all day, so mile after mile of smooth path and little thinking were welcome. Having said that, the first stretch was very dozy: Hoogezand’s coffee got me going. By contrast, it was the last stretch that gave Elly foot-pain.

We crashed out for a while at our hotel, then wondered around Winschoten for food (Subway), then sat in the town park eating and plotting where to go next. On the walk back to our hotel, we encountered this: Unspeakable thoughts.

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Days 4 and 5: Lelystad to Assen, Assen to Groningen

There are two ways of looking at this, so I’m doing all three. We could say that the first cycling day was too much for our unpreparedness. We could say we’re on holiday, so we can do what we like. Or we could just say ‘wibble’ – I often do. Anyway, despite wearing padded pants over my padded shorts and chamois cream (I’d left off the padded leggings to let my legs cool), my bum was bruised. My right calf had responded favourably to deep heat cream at a stop – but not for very long. Elly may – or may not – write about her own tribulations. But I think the killer was the combination of a light but unending headwind and no opportunities for coffee. My leading us towards Dronten (our original destination for day 3) instead of towards Waterwijk (the only obvious break on the way to Dronten) didn’t help. So we stayed night 3 in Lelystad and, after rethinking routes and where to stay, we took a train to Assen.

We both think Assen is lovely. (So is Groningen and the area between.) As Dutch as you like (waterways funky buildings, oh-so-lovely tarmac cycle paths) but with more history in the architecture than Flevoland. (This is not a surprise given how young Flevoland is.)

So we spent yesterday afternoon in Assen’s Drents Museum, learning a little about Armenia, the Nebra sky disk, bog-bodies, and generally being on holiday. Yay! We also bought a phone-holder because the glue on my lifeproof holder had died. (The new one holds phones by their corners rather than a sticky pad on the back of the phone, so it will work with many devices.) 

I think we (and Drenthe and Groningen) got today right: about 10km to Vries, drinks at Onter den Linden, another 13 km to Haren, bean salad and cheese toasties and cake (there was a CHOICE of vegan cakes) at Verbeek and then a few km on to Groningen. The only issues were the my water rucksack’ hose detached itself from the bladder, causing moistness in interesting places, and the sun being so bright that at times I couldn’t see my phone to navigate. A little shopping was the first stop: I bought a new bladder for my water-rucksack, and Elly bought other essentials. (Ask her!) This afternoon’s trip to Gronigen’s library-cum-everything was a wee highlight. Currently we’re in Handy Wash because our cellphones were minging.

OK, I wrote that hours ago, and left it and photos to upload while we went for dinner. That didn’t work (I’d saved the text elsewhere, thank goodness) so here’s hoping it will this time. Dinner was at the Groningen De Baren. Burger and chips have pulled me out of the hypo I took on the way. Yay! We both really want to revisit this area to explore and enjoy more. Next year?

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Day 3: Almere to Lelystad

25.2 miles (cumulative 74.6)

Day 3 is often a challenge. Today pitted rather tired bodies and minds against a headwind and going off course, more aches than was nice and more distance between sensible breaks than is optimal. We were loving the countryside and funky architecture, though.

So the train to Assen will be our way forward. Stops today were to buy an inner tube (Elly had given her spare to a bloke struggling with a puncture between Newcastle and North Shields), a picnic spot, an Albert Hein. Looking forward to being just a tourist tomorrow afternoon.

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Day 2: middle of the sea to Almere

38.1 miles of cycling (cumulative 49.4). Cyclemeter map:

I woke about 2 am (I’m not sure whether this was UK or Central European Time) and read and tried to blog over maritime Wi-Fi. Lesson – don’t try to blog photos over maritime Wi-Fi! I got back to sleep about 5am and so hardly stirred when Elly went to breakfast.

Getting off the boat necessitated traversing the lorry-deck, all the while afraid the lorries would start moving. But we survived and meandered on our merry way, from IJMuiden to Sloterdijk station. Oh smooth tarmac and my legs working (almost)! At one point Elly had to take advantage of the wonderful facilities and put the hammer down. I can’t accelerate very much just now so it took a while to catch up. It appears Starbucks coffee in the Netherlands is better than the UK equivalent. There were a few interesting aromas in hte crowd outside the station – I’d not realised until I looked at the map just now that Sloterdijk is in fact an Amsterdam suburb, and we’d come further than I thought.

We had another stop in Muiden, about 12 miles further on. I think this is where I had the first of today’s mango sorbets. However, apart from the tarmac and the sheer joy of being able to cycle comfortably, not feeling unsafe, knowing where we are going (even if I can’t see how I’m getting there – just following the little blue line on Google Maps) is wonderful. And we are in Almere after a day of cycling when we thought it would take 2 days.

That said, after Muiden I was flagging. Not so that I couldn’t keep going, just so I couldn’t push at all. Dinner this evening was a delight: De Beren restaurant – vegan burger with vegan cheese and huge amount of chips. Oh man – I have a very happy tummy!

We’re now back in the hotel room, clicking keyboards at each other. A wee walk may be called for once soon. Tomorrow should be a shorter day – we’re aiming for Dronten.

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Day 1: Edinburgh to the middle of the sea

11.3 miles of cycling

And we’re off again. Two 50-somethings get on their bikes again, 3 years older and unfitter than their last jaunt. However train facilities for bikes haven’t got better either. I am not strong enough to life my bike anyway. Wonderful Elly struggled the bikes in despite the doors being locked shut. Apart from that, so far travelling has been smooth: cycle to Waverley, train to Newcastle, cycle to North Shields, ferry to (just now) east of Lincoln, north of Ostend.

The inevitable Cyclemeter maps: home to Waverley, Newcastle to North Shields.

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Online Identity Assurance stakeholder meeting: 31 October 2018

My ‘professional’ side has taken up the reins of Online Identity Assurance. That’s probably because I was wearing my 2018 Napier PRIDE t-shirt at the event.

Bruce's IT-ish world

Being involved, no matter how tangentially, with the Scottish Government’s work on online identity assurance (OIA) is important to me for at least five reasons.

  1. I want government to be efficient, and that means using digital techniques when possible and rational.
  2. While pursuing that aim, government must pay great heed to privacy and security. This is mostly because government has (in theory) great power to do good and do harm. (NB I do not believe that the current SG intends to do harm.)
  3. There will always be people who cannot use digital techniques. This may be because  they don’t know how just now. This may be because they will always lack the mental capacity to know how. This may be because they do not wish to learn how: either they see nothing in it for them, or the potential gains are not worth the time and money…

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