My Very First Blog Post

Dear Friends and Family,

Some of you told me I should blog. You were right.

This post will be huge, and then I will be caught up. I intend to post a short post every day or two from now on.

Where do I start? I already sent a couple of e-mails to about 75 friends, I guess I’ll start by pasting them here:

Dear Friends,

End of my first week. Camped once. Bike is superb. Saw Stonehenge.

Pubs are great, all with fires to warm up by. This one here is from 1270. Original fireplace and beams. They all have clever names like “Crown & Rose” or “The Bell”, so that pictures on their signs could serve the common man, who could not read. The food is good, despite the stereotype.

I stayed with Warm Showers people twice and they were great. It’s getting dark as I eat my roast beef dinner by the fire here in Odiham. (O-djyum). I don’t have a place for the night yet. Rooms upstairs are expensive. It’s been sunny or partly so, temps in the twenties days and teens at night. Rain is forecast in a few days.

Three hours later:

Yee-ha! While I was finishing that last sentence a fellow from a pleasantly loud party at the next table asked, “Is that a mandolin?”

Richard, a retired banker who picks an old Martin, his wife, and another couple just returned from Australia today. Now I’m in the hall of an old (1500) home in a section of town where the streets are too narrow for cars. They are all too tired for music and went to bed. I’m on my own in this old manor. A church bell just tolled seven times. Dickensian. I think I’ll explore.

40 miles to London tomorrow. I’ll enjoy a long sleep; I’ve been up late last few nights.

The view from my accommodations at Fay and Kate's house in Frome

Then a few days later I posted this e-mail to a few close friends and family. Now that my ego has mended I can share it with the world:

Dear Friends,

In a suburb of London I finally got snagged by a car door. Going fast on the flats, and I almost avoided it. Without panniers I would have been ok.

I’m somewhat of a mess. Face first on the pavement, I put my teeth through my lip in two places (teeth hurt but seem undamaged). Broke my nose. Several knuckles with no skin left. Pulled a right calf muscle badly, and my left ankle is the worst of it, swollen and throbbing and, for now at least, I’m not walking.

Imelda the door opener, her three Catholic-grammar school kids, husband Dave, and Romanian au pair Aura are nursing me. I’ll be here a few days. Haven’t even seen the bike; it’s in the garage.

If I can’t walk tomorrow I might visit a hospital. They tell me it’s free. Many would get stitches for this lip, but I would just as soon wear my scars proudly.

It would be surprising to get to Hong Kong without a mishap, so I’m happy to get it over with in an English speaking neighborhood. Last time I hit a car door was 1974. Time to change my dressings already (it’s five hours since I kissed the macadam). I’ll keep you all posted.

Yours,
Scarface

I will not include a photo here.

Following up three days later:

Dear People,

I’m walking and talking, pretty ugly, and happy to have met this
family. I feel right at home. Imelda, the mum, is making me well.
Little Orlagh, eight years old, sings to me. Imelda is pure Irish and
her voice is a major factor in my speedy recovery. (“You Romps are
made of pretty sturdy stuff, it seems, to my way of thinkin'”) The
bike was spared frame damage, the wheels were less than a quarter inch
out of true, and no gear was damaged. The handlebars, tape, and one
brake cable will need replacing, and some scuffs on the pedal and
brake lever will remind me to be careful passing parked cars. We went
to town to get bike parts and the folks were horrified to see my face.
SJS Cycles, who sold me the bike, is sending handlebars no charge,
and Imelda wouldn’t let me pay for the other parts. I’ll be here a
couple more days. The ankle is better. I’m alone here right now but
the kids will be home from school soon. They are teaching me to speak
proper English.

I’ll keep you posted.

Yours,
Billy

The night before I left that wonderful, amazing family I met Kay, Aura’s boyfriend. As all men do when they get together, we started talking about cell phones. Turns out he’s a buyer for a huge cell phone retail chain here in the UK, and he offered me a phone, since mine won’t work on the European system. His workplace was what I imagine Google’s looks like, with 1500 sharp-looking colleagues living the life. Kay really fixed me up. But more than the phone or the workplace, I will always remember that Kay, a busy executive, made me feel all the while that I was doing him a favor.

The forty flat miles to London kicked my ass. I got a bed at the Youth Hostel and slept twelve hours. The next two days I wandered around London, busking in Trafalgar Square and Picadilly Circus. I believe that my ugly face and scabbed up knuckles put people off; I only made fifteen pounds all together. A pound is about a dollar and a half. The kilted bagpipe guy was raking it in.

Leaving the tourist area and finding an old-fashioned spit-and-sawdust pub, I met Martin and Lucie, their son Joe, and their friend John, who owns 14 Bikes http://www.14bikeco.com/ . I slept at Martin and Lucie’s house after keeping them up late. Next morning, a Saturday, Martin and Joe (13) both on cool single-speeds, and Joe’s friend Leo and Leo’s dad Alan (cool dude on a folder with a sport coat) brought me on a super ride through London, down to the Thames, over the Tower Bridge, and more, mostly on great canal-side bike paths. Alan’s an artist, and we twice ran into world-famous London-based artists. Great ride, fellas.

Then I wandered around seeing the sights and looking for a jazz club where I could listen within sight of my bike (I had been warned about London bike thieves). I wandered myself into exhaustion and wound up spending a week’s budget on a fleabag hotel room and an excellent pasta dinner.

Next day I left London for the east coast, cutting through heavily ethnic neighborhoods, prosperous suburbs, equestrian estates, and finally the sheep-dotted countryside, spending half my time on interstate-like A-roads and the other half lost in the ridiculously charming lanes and villages. Another hospitable pub, working class and family style, and another night in a warm bed, thank you Martin and Samantha.

I’m bound for the ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland, staying with Simon Commercial. I don’t tend to use last names here, but Simon’s has a history. His great-great-grandfather was abandoned as an infant on the streets of London. When the sisters at the orphanage asked where he came from, the answer was, “Commercial Street.” I’m staying in the 400-year-old stable behind his 500-yerar-old house. I’ve never seen a more tasteful re-purpose. Simon is a cyclist and aviator, and a beer enthusiast. His wife lives in a house a few miles away, an arrangement I kind of like. We stayed up so late that when he went to bed and I got on his computer to make ferry and hostel accommodations for tomorrow, I forgot it was already tomorrow and I booked for the next day. So I’m staying here all day while it rains, doing laundry and creating a blog.

There, I’m caught up. Tomorrow I leave this magical island on a nighttime ferry. Future posts will be from my phone, so you know they will be shorter. I’ll take more pictures. Thanks for visiting. Please leave a comment. Cheerio.

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20 thoughts on “My Very First Blog Post

  1. Billy — so awesome to get to follow you around a bit! Sorry about your face…hope it’s feeling better by now.
    I particularly love the connections you’re making with folks as you go along. Very inspiring. šŸ™‚

    much love, watch the car doors,
    Britt

  2. Way to go uncle billy! Sounds like you’re having a great time I wish I could send you a hassleblad so you could photograph Europe properly šŸ™‚ I enjoyed reading the blog keep it coming

  3. Excellent adventure!! And some scars to prove the whole story, eh? Hope the rest of your trip is less adventurous in the injurious sense, and moreso in the experiential sense. šŸ™‚

  4. Excellent Billy, glad to see you’ve gone public, i suspect your bodily injuries will take a bit longer to heal than your ego and that you will need a resupply of comfry salve sooner than anticipated. Perhaps the bagpiper was raking it in because the Brits were hoping that when he got enough money he would quit sooner rather than later???? Enjoy your pedaling and picking and try to keep the rubber side down for the new few thousand miles OK?

  5. By far the most interesting thing I have read all week. Keep pedaling, and keep blogging! This adventure would make an excellent book when you finish. Watch out for parked cars. We saw the same thing happen to a guy on the streets of Dublin on our honeymoon. Messy. Much love from the Lanes!

  6. Awesome William!!! Sounds like you don’t need me to nurse your wounds THIS time!!!! I was reminded of the time you crashed in Vermont and lived with me till Rob aided you in escaping! BTW stitches leave scars too, but the cool thing about them is that they stop the bleeding!!! Glad you’re blogging – easier than the VT to AK trip! Keep them coming!

  7. Oh but ’tis grand to hear of your adventures and of the ease with which you are making new friends who open their doors to you… (oops, sometimes at the worst possible moment!)
    I am delighted to be able to sit on your shoulder like a little bird and see some of the world from your finding your way through it. Keep it up! And may you avoid any more unpleasant contact with the macadam!

  8. Billy it all sounds so damn exciting and having lived in England I was trying to picture you on those wonderful bike paths taking in all the OLD buildings and gardens. Sorry about your “spill” but I agree better to have happened in an English speaking part of the world and it sounds like you have endeared a few of those chilly Brits! Great that you are blogging ..look forward to more reads. Enjoy your pedaling!

  9. Hi Billy I am glad that you are feeling better. It sounds like your back into the saddle or bike seat. Be careful and have fun…. I love reading your blogs. Miss you.
    By the way I cleaned your laundry so in a few months when you get back your clothes are clean and ready for you! Keep the blogs coming. Lots of Love April

  10. So happy to be able to keep up with your adventures. We always love a good story from Billy Romp. What a way to start your trip but seeing as you’re alright it gave Robby a good giggle, and I’m glad you’re healing! Looking forward to your future posts, happy travels.

  11. Hey Billy! Sounds like a wonderful trip, crash and all. Only you could crash your bike and wind up being nursed by the family who’s car door caused it. Have a wonderful time, and be careful. Remember: ice the first 24-48 hours then go to moist heat. Any soft tissue injury. And also this acronym RICE is for Rest, Ice, Compress (keep an ace wrap in your saddlebag) and Elevate (when able). I’m glad to see you’ve started a blog, a great way to follow you on your adventures.

  12. hi Billy…….the blog is looking good. Hey…sorry to hear about the scrape with the car……but it looks like you were being well looked after….beer will help sooth the pain. Only Ā£15 from a live busk…what is the matter with these people…dont they recognise real authentic quality hillbilly jazz ! Keep on plucking your way to H.K……will follow. Richard Odiham UK

  13. Hi Billy,
    Good luck and safe travels. I wish I were with you. Maybe next time it’ll be by motorcycle and I’ll join you.
    Godspeed,
    Bruce

  14. You go Billy! I laughed so hard at the hedgerow incident. Reminded me when I rode into a tree in much the same condition! HAHA!

  15. So let me get this straight- you crashed in a similar fashion in 1974 and that lesson about driving too close to parked cars did not stick with you. As your mother would say – “YA DAMN DOPE !” And allll these friends and relatives are feeling sorry for ya. Serves ya right. Now buck up and go see what kind of trouble you can get yourself into in France. They deserve no less…

  16. I am loving hearing your story — JB has kept me up to date, just now I found your blog, and since I’m taking a break from having adventures, I am happy to follow yours!

    Wish I could get to see some pics – they don’t come through for me, if you have some up.

    ~ Guthrie

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