Wednesday, 23 April 2014

There and a bit of the way back - The Good the Bad and the Scummy

Ever since my birthday I've had a bit of an upset tummy. I wasn't sure whether it was something I had ate, or as my usual getting stressed about nothing in particular.

On Thursday, at least I think it was  Thursday (my memory is shocking) yeah it was Thursday as I have just texted John who was with me, we went to visit our new friend Lee and his lovely wife Michelle. Michelle had contacted us on Facebook saying she was going to prepare a nice home cooked meal and I mean who can refuse that. Not only that we were heading over to discuss plans with Lee about going bike packing on Saturday, staying over Saturday night, then returning sometime on Sunday. Lee is quite clued up on the local area and he knew of a decent ride which ended with a good camp site.

As usual I left everything until last minute and found myself with John and Ern at Go Outdoors trying to pick a tent which I could quite easily pop on my bike. WoW it was more difficult than I though, so many tents to choose from and then when I did eventually figure out which one I wanted they didn't have it in stock, so I spent the best part of another half an hour trying to find one I liked. Sods law really I should have just opted for the very first one I saw in the entrance to the shop as that is the one I eventually bought. The one I got was a Vango Tempest 200,it's a 2 man and not a bad little tent for £90...Not that I know much about tents, other than they are held up mostly with stick type thingy's and bits of rope.

Once at Lee's we discussed where we would be going, had a cracking lasagne, thank you Michelle and watched a few of Lee's home bike movies which were very entertaining. Lee appears to have a more professional approach to making his video's where as I just fudge stuff together and hope for the best lol.

Oh I better warn you now, this could be quite an epic tale so if you would like to head off for a cuppa and some biscuits I'll still be here when you get back.

As the Title says "There and a bit of the way back" and  "The Good  the Bad and the Scummy. well lets start with the good huh?

Saturday morning arrives I've been feeling ill all of Friday and only had a few hours sleep. Both John and Lee were proper decent and said "hey if you don't feel up to it no probs, we can always do it another day/weekend". Sod that I thought I've just spent £90 on a tent. Maybe I'll feel better once I'm riding. So I messaged back saying that  "we are still on".

Again Mr Unprepared I set about figuring out what I thought I would need, after all John and I didn't have to be over Lee's until 12 midday. This is when it became apparent that this camping and carrying all your own gear is quite a task in itself. I had a few goes at packing various things then came to the conclusion it's never going to all fit. After sometime I managed to get everything I was going to take squared away...Jeez my bike was like a laden mule and after I added 2 litres of water to my backpack it felt decidedly heavy. I'm just pleased I had my Bike Bag Dude frame bag as without this I would have been stumped. I was able to pop various things in this handy bag, everything from my GoPro to a few banana's and my bobbly hat.

John arrived around 11'ish, carrying his gear and we had a few minor adjustments of each of our bikes and gear before heading over to meet Lee at his house.

On arrival at Lee's we were greeted by both Lee and Michelle and proceeded to make final checks, get a few photo's taken and Michelle took a little video of us all leaving so that Lee could use it in his video that he was going to shoot.

John,Lee and Myself

At the start
All packed up and ready to go
 A quick ride out of the housing estate and we were onto the main road heading back towards my house on Durham Road. We hadn't even gotten a mile when I had my first technical issue. My tent which I had strapped to my bars had turned my shifters and I was stuck on the big ring at the front. So I had to stop whip off my backpack, grab my tool kit and take out an allen key to loosen then re-tighten the shifter bracket,re-adjusting the position of my tent so as not to catch it again.

Ok we are off, we rode  along to the farmers trail. If your reading my blog on a regular bases you must now know where this is as I use it quite a lot. Anyhoo I thought it would be good to get a little footage heading along this way and have put it into the video footage both John and I shot. I have 2 GoPro's a Hero 2 and a Hero 3 that I got cheap in the US when on holiday, so thought may as well put them to good use. A nice steady climb up the farmers trail, bloody hell all that weight makes a huge difference, then once at the top, drop into No Place and cut through towards Shield Row. It was nice to be able to show Lee a slightly different route through Tanfield Railway, he really enjoyed the trail. I did almost manage to run over one of his water bottles as it came flying out of his fork mounted bottle cages, the cages being a bit loose for the bottles.

My amazing £1 multi-tool
Next we headed over the Causey Arch bridge and followed the Tanfield Railway route. This is where John got some nice footage as we rode alongside the choo choo train. If you watch my video you will see me waving to the people on the train, they waved first honest.We then crossed the road just up from the Potters Wheel at Sunnyside and went down the cycle route at the back of the houses. This brings you out at Watergate and the park. I like this section a nice quick downhill into the park, not so keen on the ride back up lol.Whilst in the park I helped Lee fix his bottle cages with a couple of cable ties and used my £1 TK Maxx utility tool. I knew that thing would come in handy one day. From Watergate Park we kept on the Tanfield railway path, it goes down like the back of Lobbley Hill. Then across the pedestrian bridge and through the housing estate.

Ok believe it or not I start to get lost from here, name wise. I think we headed through Dunston and eventually came out at the Dunston Staithes, these are classed as a listed building and although ugly to some they are part of our local history and they do have a certain character to them.

Checkout here for a little bit of a history lesson,_Tyne_and_Wear

It was a lovely ride along the riverside on the Gateshead side, heading towards the Swing Bridge. Instead of going over the Swing Bridge we went along by the Sage and Baltic Art Gallery aiming for the Millennium Bridge, this brought us out onto the Quayside on the Newcastle side. Again a smashing ride along the Quayside as we followed signs for route 72 and Hadrian's Way.

Getting more lost... I know we went past Scotswood and headed up past Newburn, which led to Wylam...I think. However from there it was just a case of following Lee as he knew where he was going. The scenery, weather and company was first class. I would have liked a few more photo's, however it had taken us 2 hours just to get to Watergate Park as we were so busy messing around what with shooting video stuff for both Lee and I.  We did have one little stop after getting over the nightmarish A69, at the top of this canny bank. I had intended to get a shot of a beautiful field of bright yellow rape seed, but for some reason I found a dead fly in a spiders web and a lock on a gate more interesting lol

A dead Fly
A Random Lock
 "Not far now" Lee mentioned, just as well as both John and I were suffering, from  tired legs and pretty sore arses. Personally I'm having loads of trouble with getting saddle sores. I really love a ride out and my bikes, however it seems every long outing ends in a miserable ending as I am so sore. And of course once I get sore from riding it means I'm also sore when wearing my "everyday" limb as I call it. I remember a time not so long ago where I would maybe wear my limb for a hour or less each day, now I find I'm wearing it almost all day, which is good, however that too can make me sore. Anyhoo moving on, almost at Well House Farm. A little ride up another bank and we see the Farm entrance on our left. Lee is already down the lane and resupplying his water at the outside tap.

We all head out to a nice quiet corner of the field. There are  quite a few other people there who have their tents pitched and there were a few caravan's  parked. Off with our gear and no sooner had we done this and the farmer or his hands drive along on a golf buggy to collect the £6 each camping fee. I receive a little orange tag to pop on my tent to let the farmer know we have paid. We then set about pitching our tents. Lee's tent is up in no time, he's a dab hand, mine takes a little longer even with John's help. I'm not happy with the saggy back end and Lee finds this very amusing. This is because on a video he shot he commented on how annoyed he was with the side of his tent sagging. All sorted I'm happy with both John's and my effort, the tent looks spot on.

Saggy bottom where
Tents up we decide to head to a local pub that Lee knows of, it's called the Robin Hood. Before we leave a nice family shares a few friendly words with us. They are pitched pretty close by, they are interested in how I lost my leg and where we came/come from, just general stuff really. The man of the family offers us a lift to the pub, however we politely decline as we don't really want to leave our bikes. The pub is only around a mile away, however it feels a lot further. It's a quaint place and as we enter the small bar it's heaving, not what you would expect of a rural pub. Lee buys the drinks, he orders 2 pints of Foster's and I decide to have a Strongbow. The barmaid comes back and informs Lee that the barrel of Foster's has gone off so he gets John a Carlsberg instead. I ask "are you still serving food" and the answer is "yes", spot on as I'm starving. We head through to the lounge and John and I decided to have a 8oz burger and chips each.

Checkout that burger n chips
I took this pic as we used to have one of these
  Lee says he doesn't want anything as he has brought a tin of pasta to heat up and it's back at camp. As the burgers and chips arrive they look awesome, they tasted even better. Lee looks over his pint and when asked "do you want a chip", says "No I've carried this tin of pasta all the way here I'm not taking it back". I feel guilty, it doesn't stop me shovelling my burger and chips down...Both John and I are now stuffed and have to ride the mile (I'm sure it's more than a mile) back to the camp...So far the microadventure has been brilliant...

Another tea break maybe, as now we move on from the Good to the BAD, really UGLY and definitely oh yes most definitely very SCUMMY.

Ok so we are back on the campsite, as we ride towards our tents and the nice family I mentioned earlier we see someone else has parked and pitched right in the corner of the field, really close to where we are situated. They have music blarring from their car and are obnoxious and extremely loud. Lee set's away cooking his pasta and this group of people consisting of 2 lasses and 2 lads, hold on I don't know if I can really call them that, as to acknowledge they were human is a really scary thought. Anyhoo they pass what they think are witty remarks about Lee doing his cooking. Both John and I don't really hear this as we kind of know they are trouble and have just gone indoors in our tent. It's around about 8:30 pm at this point I think, maybe a tad earlier or later I can't recall.

Anyhoo these errr things decide they are going to jump in their car and head off to the pub. Oh so it's not enough to be already pissed on the campsite you are now going to jump in your car and head off for more. So off they go. Lee, John and I settle in for the night. I have John for company and as we lie in our sleeping bags we share a bit of banter about the day and also about having the feeling these assholes are going to come back and cause grief. Well at around 11:30 that's exactly what happened. I was kind of dozing and remember the car headlights being awfully close then there was loud music and the sound of someone shouting "Hoy what the F"...Oh yeah these muppets had only driven their car back pissed and almost drove over the nice families tent whilst they were in it. The guy from the family had got up and had a bit of a go, telling them to watch where they were driving and to keep the noise down. John nudged me and I woke up, however a bit dazed.I didn't really know what was going on. John said "I think those dick heads have had words with Lee". We listened for a little while and it became apparent it wasn't Lee but this other guy. I then txt'ed Lee and asked was he ok. He said yeah, but also went on to say he was pissed off with these people. A little while later and all you could hear was this pratt saying "Hoy mate is it al-right if we have the music on in the car, we won't put it on loud", it's well after 11pm by now and there are children on the campsite. The nice family guy says "it's late I would prefer if you didn't". Too which this idiot said "ok mate" then he says well if I put it on quiet huh...Do you have breakfast in the morning? I have some eggs" WTF, the nice guy said NO, so what does this moron do, only turns his car on and starts playing shite music right across the campsite and one of these horrible lasses pipes up "hey man we are from Scotchy like and diven't get oot much, were on wor holidays like"...she then goes on to say "were harmless"...Yeah tell that to the poor sapling you tore to bits to pop on your fire which you weren't supposed to have.

Honest these oxygen thieves were the pure scum of the earth. One of the lasses had the most horrendous laugh, which in itself would have given you nightmares. The 2 lasses the way they talked reminded me of the Fat Slags from the Viz comic. One of them also talked like she was a right victim of society saying words to the effect of "Nobody likes me I can't understand why". Dear me I'll give you a clue it's because your a horrible nasty twat! At around 3:30am the farmer who must have had someone complain and he came around and rattled on their tent to which one of the Viz chicks said "oww!!! ye ave just kicked uz in the heed like". They then swore down that it wasn't them that had been causing all the noise...Oh so that wasn't you running across the field at stupid O'clock in the morning shouting "F'ing campers"...

As the night grew on we began to learn more and more about these people from hell, their names for instance,Pickles, Carl, Kelly and Laura, or Laura the explorer as she kept repeating over and over and over. All night it was Pickles!!! or that horrendous laugh.

And so the Adams family eventually died down at around 4:45am only to awake at 5:45 pack up and then leave the campsite looking  like a bomb had dropped in the area they had been in. As I watched them leave one of the Viz Chicks waved a cocky wave as if to say we know we have been twats all night but who cares, we certainly don't.

All I can say is I hope there is such a thing as Karma, because apparently it can be a bitch.

Ok so night ruined. John didn't get a wink of sleep, me I had caught a little bit, but that's probably because I was so tired from the Friday and not feeling to good. In the morning we packed up and headed up to get warm in this little building that was heated. Lee, John and I discussed the previous night, what a nightmare. Poor John was in no fit state to even attempt a ride home. Me I was still tired and really saddle sore however wanted to give getting home a real go. I told John my dad wouldn't mind coming to pick him up, bringing the bike mount. And John agreed to this. So before ringing my dad we all agreed we should head off and see the farmer and ask for our camping fee money back. We got on our bikes and rode the short distance to the farmers house. Lee knocked on the door and this elderly gentleman appeared. We explained the situation and I felt really sorry for this man. Here he is trying to make a living and you get people like that taking liberties and making life hard for him. The farmer agreed to refund our money and then it was time to head home. John waited by the farm entrance for Ern to arrive and Lee and I said goodbye and set off.

It actually felt quicker coming home, well that was until I discovered I had a puncture, just after we crossed over a small single file bridge. I think it's at Ovingham. Off with my back pack.I tip my bike upside down and release my rear skewer.I then man handle my rear wheel out of my frame and the tyre practically drops off the rim. "It's not so bad" I think I have a spare tube in the bottom of my bag.So I empty my pack, retrieve the new tube and  remove the old tube and stow it in the bottom of my bag and pack all my gear back in. Then I pop the new tube into the rim and continue to use my extra small hand pump to inflate the tyre. I'm pumping and pumping and then I do a bit more pumping and I realise hold on, the tyre is inflating massively at the top, however it hasn't moved at the bottom. The tyre is inflated so much at the top my tyre pops off the rim. On closer inspection I see I have a dodgy inner tube with a huge bulge in one area. Awww crap all my gear back out of my back pack I rummage for my old punctured tube and set about repairing it. I find one puncture and repair it, refit and blow up, yet I can still hear a hiss. So I have to take the tube out again. I go to release the remainder of air from the tube by taking the valve out and break my plastic dustcap which has one of those valve keys on it. Never mind I have the one on the front, so I set about using that one. Only for all the air to come out in a loud hiss and the vale cap goes shooting off somewhere in the grass. Now I have a tube with a puncture, it's also missing a valve (which I later find) however I have no valve key to put it back in with. Do you ever get the feeling someone is conspiring against you. I manage to get the valve in by using the broken air cap and set about finding this other puncture. I repair it and after an hour and a half both Lee and I are back under way.

We get as far as Newburn and discover the fish and chip shop shut, dam I was looking forward to a tasty treat. A little further on and my tyre is slowly starting to deflate, a little like my will to carry on at this point. I'm tired, a bit fed up and very, very addle sore. I again pump up my tyre and agree with Lee that it's probably best if I give Ern a call and get him to pick me up at Scotswood. I ride with Lee on route 72 until my turn off and then shake his hand say thanks and tell him I'll see him soon.

And so on the other side of Scotswood my adventure comes to an end. I'm really gutted I didn't make it home under my own steam. However when I got in and checked my skin situation I was bleeding from a sore area and I think I had reached what I could bare. Sometimes I guess it's more sensible to quit before you do too much damage.

In ending I would say I personally had a great time, even if it was marred by some scum. Next time it may be a good idea to go wild camping, at least it might just be the odd sheep or cow who disturbs your piece rather than a PICKLES!!! or the whale of a Banshee cackling as she asks for some skins.

The End

Hope you enjoy the video


  1. Absolutely brilliant blog ! Felt I was there with you all ....... And your Title couldn't be more apt ! Roll on Bike Packing Adventure No 2 ! x

    1. Thanks Michelle

      I wanted to try and get my blog wrote up asap, as with time you tend to forget stuff. It's amazing just how long it takes to recall and write a story. It kind of reminds me of having to write essay's at school when I attended in the Middle Ages lol x

  2. LOL,Brilliant mate,How You Remember It All I Dont Know,PICKLES !!!!!! LOL...

  3. Hi Glenn pleased that you did get out for a nights camping, pity the night was ruined by a few individuals, in many way it reminded me of a lovely valley in the Cheviots, in the winter it is deserted but come the summer months, weekends / bank holidays it is full with day trippers, walking along this valley in the summer I tend to find the very best and worst of the human race, I get offered cups of tea , cake and even some BBQ of really nice folks / families who just want a good day out with the kids having a picnic by the stream …….But there is always one crowd who are drunk , being abusive , load mouthed just throwing there empty bottles at the rocks to get smashed and generally ruining the day for everyone in the valley ………….I really don’t think that the human race would miss this type of person but unfortunately its against the law to shoot them :-)