Sarah: England’s green and pleasant lands

Having finished my 3 month work contract, I’m off again, just for a relatively short one this time…. I’ll be home in 11 weeks.

South of England. I arrive a few days ahead of Tom, giving myself the chance to catch up with various members of my family before he arrives. (Yes, both of us hail from this side of the pond originally, though one of us disguises that fact behind an Australian accent). I’ve visited many a time, but it’s the first time my 20kg of luggage has included my bicycle as well as all my camping gear.

It’s transforming. I am no longer totally dependent on others for lifts, and I can explore so much further afield than I would be able to on foot. Though I don’t get the chance to do anything major due to family commitments, I thoroughly enjoy day rides exploring the seemingly endless network of towpaths, bridleways and footpaths that criss-cross their way across the counties. Surrey is rich and interesting cycling territory, in fact the Olympic road race went through just at the end of my brother’s street. Local roundabouts are still ornamented with flower-bedecked bikes, not quite sure why I didn’t think to stop for a photo.

By the time I head north, I feel like I have hardly begun to explore what the beautiful green south has to offer. I’m overwhelmingly attracted by the little wooden signposts that sprout all over the country, pointing off down trails and promising delights – “public bridleway” or “public footpath” they call, each one a path leading somewhere – I crane my neck, wanting to follow them all. We just don’t have this in Australia.

Maybe this sort of riding seems boring to you hard-core mountain bikers out there, but I must admit: I do love a good towpath. This is a scene we just don’t see in a sunburnt country Down Under.
View from the North Downs. This area has a beautiful and extensive network of small country lanes and bridleways – potential for all sorts of short and long loops. I doubt you’d ever need to ride quite the same way twice.
My host for my stay in Surrey: my half-brother, Grahame

Grahame and I spend a day pottering about by car and find ourselves relaxing on the south coast….
I head in to London for a day to catch up with my cousin Claire, who I’ve not seen in about 10 years!
We eat and chat and wander along the South Bank as far as Borough Markets, where I am fascinated by the range of produce on offer.
I’m not entirely sure what kind of person goes to London and comes back with a bunch of photos of vegetables…..
…but, overall….
…I guess I am OK with being that sort of person.