Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Season's Greetings


Well doesn't a year go quickly .... here we are with just a few days of 2011 left. Dad has no plans to go away at Christmas but will be off up the Lake District to bring in the New Year. He is already in the planning stage of his next trip in 2012.

We would just like to take this opportunity of wishing you all well and to say ...



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A letter from Cuba

While in Cuba earlier in the year my Dad met up with a guy and they shared a common interest - bikes ! My Dad gave him some spares parts for his Raleigh bike as Dad was nearing the end of his trip and no longer needed the spares. I wrote in Dad's blog about the meeting - Day 20 .

My Dad received this lovely letter last week (took nearly six months to get here !) and I thought I'd share it with you. If you click on the letter it will open it in a new window.



I'll write back and hopefully it will not take six months to get there.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Almost 10,000 views

Can you believe, almost 10,000 page views on Dad's blog ... so who actually is reading this blog ?

Apparently there have 444 pageviews in the last month - bizarre.  The post I wrote on Charmouth Aug 17, 2009 while Dad was cycling around the coast, always seems to be the top of the list of views. This last month it had 39 views. Why, what did I write on that day that was so interesting ?

Always strange to look at the stats of the audience viewing the blog. There were over 100 views from the UK this last week (probably all me !) but then US had 26, Canada had 15, Russia 10 (can the Russians understand what I write) and India and Japan 3 views each - all this sounds a bit like the voting on the Eurovision Song Contest !

53% of the readers view the blog in IE, 22% Firefox, 13% Chrome and then Safari, Opera and less than 1% on NS8 - whatever that is.

Most users are using Windows (83%), then Mac (10%) and then through Linux, Andriod and with less than 1% on a Blackberry ... well they have been struggling this week !

Still get a high proportion of traffic from Mike Carter's article in the Guardian and from Facebook and assume from his followers.

Now my own blog which has been going longer has had just over 500 hits ... says a lot really !







Lake District Day 6 and 7

Didn't get chance blog yesterday. Had a quick phone call with Dad last night. The weather had turned good so they all headed off up Scafell Pike. Unfortunately they didn't quite make it to the very top as the cloud came down. They had two attempts but in the end decided against it. It was quite a long day and they'd not long been in when I spoke to him.  Dad was "killing a bit of time" waiting for Spag Bol for tea !

Today the weather has been dry but a bit dull and cloudy. However still a good day for walking. They decided to stay low level today (still feeling the affects of Scafell from yesterday).  They finished off the walk at the pub for a celebratory pint !  On the menu tonight was stir fry ... hopefully Dad might come back with a few more recipes up his sleeve !

Heading home tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lake District Day 5

Spoke to Dad earlier. Yet more rain!  Apparently overnight it had "lashed" it down and there was some localised flooding!  Thankfully Dad's friend Bob who was camping down at the pub had pitched his tent on higher ground and stayed dry overnight ... the kids out doing Duke of Edinburgh Award hadn't faired so well ! Lesson to be learnt there I think.

A late start this morning while they waited for the rain ease. When it eventually did stop raining about 10.30 am they headed off for a coastal walk. They walked from St Bees to Whitehaven and then headed back on a slightly inland route.

Dad's turn in the kitchen tonight. He did chicken curry (from a tin) and rice. They ought to be thankfully he didn't buy a tin of Butcher's Choice, thinking it was curry, like he did when he was cycling round the coast ! Pudding was peaches and rice pudding. When I asked if he'd made the rice pudding, he said "yeah, I opened the tin" ! Food must have been good, or they were starving, as they cleared their plates.

No nipping off the pub tonight ...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lake District Day 4

Just spoken to Dad. Weather hasn't been brill today again but they managed to get a low level walk in around Gosforth. They didn't set out until 10.30 and had to have lunch sheltering from the rain but at least they got a walk in. They'd finished walking by about 4.00 pm.

Whilst out walking Dad found a very wet wallet, with cash, driving licence, cards, etc in.  It was a local address and when they'd finished walking Dad went off in the car in search of the owner. He asked at the Post Office and Campsite if anyone knew the address. Eventually he found someone to give him directions and headed off to find what Dad described as "the most remotest house ever" !  Luckily there was someone in and Dad reunited the son with his wallet. Apparently he had lost it some time ago whilst out on his mountain bike but he actually thought he'd lost it in the house so hadn't applied for a new driving licence. The lad gave Dad £15 for returning the wallet  - nice gesture. The money is currently drying on the heater in Dad's room and he is planning on going down the pub with it later !

Dad's friend Bob has arrived and is currently camping down by the pub ... so that's another excuse for Dad to nip out to see him !

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lake District Day 3

Just spoken to Dad. They've had a very wet morning. In the end they ended up getting the waterproofs on and walking to a cafe half an hour away, having a brew and walking back again. They then had their packed lunch in the cottage and by that time the weather had cleared up and they headed off for a walk around Wast Water.  On the way back they stopped off at the pub ... Dad thought the women would head back to the cottage but they all stayed for a drink !

Dad was just waiting for his evening meal when he rang. So far the food has been good with each taking a turn to cook the evening meal ... I can't wait til it's Dad's turn!

Tomorrow, Dad's friend Bob is heading up but he is camping at the pub ... well I think that's just another excuse for my Dad to visit the pub !  Hopefully they will get another walk in tomorrow but again the weather forecast not very good.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lake District day 2

Spoke to Dad earlier. The weather hasn't been as bad today as forecast. They've done some low level walking in dry and relatively warm weather.

Dad had a good night down the pub last night - got his dinner and his beer bought for him by his friends for his birthday. That's always a good night out.

When I spoke to him they were just getting ready for the evening meal .... they'd over come a bit of a crisis in getting the oven to work. That must mean there is more than just cup-a-soup on the menu tonight if they are using the oven! 

Hopefully speak to Dad tomorrow and I'll update again.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lake District

Dad is off on his travels again ! He's off to the Lake District for the week. Not a great start ... wet, misty and damp were the words he used!

They had a good journey up having lunch at Windermere and a cuppa at Ravensglass and got to the cottage just after 4.00 pm (earliest they could gain access was 4.00).


They are staying in a cottage at Santon Bridge, Eskdale and some how Dad has managed to swing it so he's got the biggest bedroom and the double bed ! Hope he doesn't get used to the "luxury" ....  he's used to sleeping on a mat in his tent.  Only place with a phone signal is the attic bedroom.  Tonight they are off the pub for a late birthday meal, any excuse for a pub meal !

Tomorrow they are staying low level to do some walking as the forecast is not good but forecast should be improving come Tuesday.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Back-packer returns ..

Dad got back on Thursday evening just in time to settle down and watch Stoke beat Besiktas live on TV.

He had a great trip with great weather. After coming off Cadair Idris on Wednesday they'd camped at  Hafod Dywyll Campsite which is close to Kings Youth Hostel. There they met up with a guy named Geoff who kindly sent me a photo of Dad and Bob as they were about to depart on Thursday morning.


They then headed on back to Fairbourne.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

He's picked a good week ...

Well Dad has picked a good week to go back-packing! Weather has been great for late September. Dad and Bob headed off on the train on Monday to Aberdovey. They then walked along the beach to Twywn and headed inland 4 miles to the campsite which was next to a steam railway. Monday nights menu was fit for a king ... cup-a-soup, noodles with a sprinkling of mature cheddar cheese and the final touch - a sachet of tomato ketchup which Dad had picked up from a cafe earlier in the day.

Spoke to Dad earlier today and they were just below the summit of Cadair Idris. They were just having lunch. Dad's usual of cheese and onion sandwiches! Great weather, great views. Apparently yesterday they found a nice spot for lunch but it was a bit whiffy. At first they thought Dad's mature cheddar had matured a bit too much. Only turned out that were sharing their picnic spot with a dead sheep !

Tonight they are camping (somewhere with no mobile phone signal!) and then they will be heading back home tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tour of Britain - Stage 3 Stoke-on-Trent

Had a great day yesterday out with Dad and Andy "chasing" the Tour of Britain around Stoke-on-Trent. Initially we headed down to Trentham for the start. It was great to wander around the support vehicles and team coaches looking at the bikes and catching a glimpse of the riders.

Mark Cavendish

Team Sky Bikes

Team Sky bikes

Mark Cavendish and the rest of the riders rolling out from Trentham


We watched them roll-out of Trentham and then after we picked up a quick coffee "to go" we headed over to Gun Hill. After last year we decided this time to leave the car at the bottom and walk up. It wasn't too bad a walk up and we had plenty of time. We found our spot on a the windy top of Gun Hill and waited for the riders to come over.


Sky riders and Cav coming over the top of Gun Hill


Once the race and all the support vehicles had come over Gun Hill we headed back down and jumped in the car to head up to Hanley to catch the end. Dad took the "scenic" route back and I was giving him updates roughly where the race was from Twitter updates. Dad was confident we'd make it back to Hanley with plenty of time. As we were heading up Holden Bridge I told Dad that the leaders had only 5km to go .... it was then a made dash up to Hanley. Dad dropped me and Andy off on Town Road while he went park the car and we legged it across Hanley. We could see the helicopter and as we got closer we could hear the commentator. Just as we rounded the corner we heard that the leading group had already crossed the line!  However we did manage to catch the rest of the peloton and the stragglers at the back.  The stage was won by Lars Boom of Rabobank.

I waited around and watched the podium presentations, had a photo taken with Dean Downing and then had to go in search of Dad. Eventually found him sitting outside Go Outdoors !

A great days racing around Stoke-on-Trent.

He does come back ...

My Dad is like a boomerang ... I post he's off on his travels and then forget to post when he's back. Anyway he does come back !

Delemere Forest was a bit wet. In fact one night the tent resembled an Ark as it was surrounded my water ! It wasn't raining in from the top but lapping up over the door ! Anyway after a bit of drying out the following day they were fine.

Dad went off in search of and eventually found the Eureka Cafe - or as he likes to call it Ikea!  I was starting to get worried when he said he'd had breakfast in Ikea as I had visions of him cycling along the M62. It wouldn't be the first time he'd got escorted off the motorway.

He also found a boat museum which he thought was on Manchester ship canal. It was in fact the Shropshire Union canal!

It wasn't the driest of weekends ... but what did he expect for a Bank Holiday weekend !

Friday, August 26, 2011

The bike is out again

Well Dad has gone off on the bike for the weekend and the rain has made an appearance. He's camping at Delamere Forest. He managed to get the tent up and then, in Dad's words "it hammered it down". It rained that much that outside the tent had flooded ... so I suppose the tent was more like a boat !  When I spoke to Dad the tent hadn't rained in but there is still time !

The ride over to Delamere had been mainly rain free ... with about a half hour when the rain gear had to come out.

Camp site is quite busy, but I suppose that's because it's Bank Holiday weekend. Got a good spot up by a hedge, so if wind picks up tonight they will have some protection. Highlight of the evening was the Fish & Chip van and the pub is a bit too far to walk.

Tomorrow he is off to the Eureka Cafe ... well he is if he can find it again !


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Review One Man and his Bike - Mike Carter

Just left the following review on Amazon

Just finished reading Mike Carter's One Man and his Bike and I loved it. Ok I had a vested interest for reading the book as both my Dad and myself get a mention, but that aside, this book shows that Britain is not broken.


One Man and his Bike takes the reader on a journey around the coast of Britain. Mike writes really well and the book is a compelling and an enjoyable read. In places I found myself laughing out loud especially when he talks about what he packed in his panniers! There is no room on a bike for a “just in case” ! He talks about the places and the people he meets on his trip. How strangers want to talk to you, are interested in what you are doing and most of all offer such kindness. I know this to be true as while Mike was cycling anti-clockwise around Britain my Dad was cycling clockwise. Strangers think nothing of inviting you into their home, feeding you and offering you a bed for the night.

Most people will have visited or know of the places that Mike talks about so when reading this book it will bring back many fond memories of times spent around the coast of Britain.

For anyone with a bike, a tent and few months on their hands, forget about doing Lejog/Jogle this is what you should be doing. Oh and don’t do it for charity …. do it for the fun of.

Camping/biking in Scotland

Dad has had a few days camping at Barcaldine camping and caravan site which is about 12 miles north of Oban. A nice campsite but the only drawback the nearest place to eat/get a pint was 12 miles away (that was probably Oban !).  He's had a hike up to the trig point on Glen Stockdale but mostly he's been out on the bike. There are some good cycle routes around that area. He's had a couple of rides into Oban.

On Friday he took the ferry from Port Appin over to the Isle of Lismore. Bargain at £1.50 for foot passengers - the bike went free! The isles is just 12 miles long by 1.5 miles wide (I think even I could ride that !) so Dad rode out to the lighthouse for dinner. The name Lismore comes from the Gaelic "Great Garden" ... I think that would be lost on my Dad ! Dad was going to stop off somewhere en-route back to the campsite for tea but couldn't find anywhere so it was back to the campsite and Dad rustled up "Jack's Greatest Menu" - cup-a-soup, beef curry and smash and a tin of rice pudding for afters!  He managed to see two eagles. One was in the distance the other was flying down the lane in from of him. Wonder if Dad managed to tuck in behind and get in it's slipstream!

On Saturday it rained so he decided to head off on his bike to the Sealife Centre. However there was no where secure to leave his bike - they told him to "park" it on the car-park so Dad decided to give it a miss. Why advertise the Sealife Centre on the cycle routes if there isn't anywhere secure to leave a bike ! So Dad headed back to the campsite with a Sunday paper. By the time he'd read it the rain had stopped so he went off for a ride. He managed to see deer and he also saw another eagle which landed in a tree but by the time he'd got his binoculars out it had flown off.

Just spoke to Dad - he was in the shower block. I did say that was a bit much information! It rained all last night and today. It rained so much last night that his tent sprung a leak (an ex-plumber should be used to dealing with leaks!) and his sleeping bag got wet. So tonight he is in Loch Lomond YHA. Dad apparently got the last bed  It's a great hostel - I've stayed in it myself. I was giving Dad directions to the local pub/restaurant but Dad has said if it doesn't stop raining he ain't going out! He's been down to see what food they have on in the hostel but apparently the Chef hasn't turned up. I can see my Dad offering "Jack's Greatest Menu" to others in the hostel :)  I wonder how many cup-a-soup he has left !

He's met a fellow septuagenarian cyclist in his dorm who is tracing a route he cycled in 1952 ! I bet there will be some cycling stories swapped tonight.

Tomorrow he is heading on down to the Lake District to meet up with friends.

He'll probably be home Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kinlochleven

Spoke to Dad earlier. He has moved on from his friend Bill's house today to an independant hostel at Kinlochleven.  I think it's probably Blackwater Hostel. He had tried to get in at the hostel at Glencoe but they were full.

Today has been wet. He did set out walking up one of the munroes but at around 2,000 ft the cloud and rain set in so he turned back. Shame as there were only another 1,000 ft to go.

His intention was to camp tonight but the rain put the dampers on that ! Up until today the weather has been great. It's not been going dark til about 11.00 pm. Tonight he's hoping to get a pint or two in. 

Tomorrow he is heading towards Oban.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Still in Scotland

Spoke to Dad earlier ... well it is father's day ! He's had a good time at Dundonnel. He even had chance to go up An Teallach  which at 3,400ft is quite a climb! Weather has been mixed while they been at Dundonnel.

He is now staying with Bill again at Cuil Bay Duror. He's been there a couple of days. They had a trip part way up Ben Nevis in the gondala and watched the downhill mountain bikers. They can get down from the gondala station to the bottom in four minutes ! Dad says it's like they are flying down the mountain. Rather them than me !

Today he has been for a walk along the Cuil Bay this morning and this afternoon Dad has helped Bill in the garden. Dad is no gardener and cannot distinguish a plant from a weed so had to be given lessons on what to cut and what not to cut!

Tomorrow they are off to Glen Etive.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What makes a man a Dad

I entered a competition on Photobox ... Man to Dad. What makes a man a Dad. The photo I entered was Dad returning from cycling the coast of Britain. Not the best piece of photography I've done but it caught the moment as he saw us all out waiting from him on his return.

Well the photo got shortlisted to a list of 70. It then got into the Judges Favourite of which there are 21. I'm well happy.

This is the photo I entered


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Scottish trip.

Had a few texts from Dad when he could get a signal.which I seem to have deleted ! Apparently they'd never planned to go to Skye. Dad had assumed when they were heading to Mallaig that they were going to Skye. He even commented that they had set off at the wrong time to catch the ferry ! However it was the ferry to Inverie that they were heading for!

Following a few days in Inverie they headed off to Achininver where they stayed in the Hostel . Looks a very nice isolated hostel ! Spoke to Dad when he was on the top of Stac Pollaidh or Stack Polly. Well it was one of the few places he could get a signal. Great views from up there !

He is currently at Ullapool staying at the hostel.  It can't be very photogenic as there is no photo on the web page !  Today it's been a wet day but so far on this trip he hasn't done bad for weather.

On Tuesday he'll be heading for Dundonnel and staying in Sail Mhor hostel.

Will update when I hear more.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mike Carter - One Man and his Bike

Well Dad's fathers day present arrived today ... Mike Carter's book One Man and his Bike. Mike cycled in the opposite direction to Dad around the coast of Britain. Dad met up with Mike twice. Just flicking through the book and I notice as well as Dad I get a mention. The only time I see Kendal in print is in a road atlas ! So I've had to order another copy!

Anyone interested in the book - Amazon are selling it for £6.95 at the moment.

Looking forward to reading it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cycling around Coast of Britain some updates

Mike Carter the journalist who Dad met up with a couple of times whilst cycling around Britain has published his book and it's now out. It's called One Man and his bike .  Got Dad a copy for fathers day .... just waiting for Amazon to deliver it. I think I may have a sneaky read before Dad as he's away until the mid/end of June !  Apparently Dad gets a mention !

I've also had a tweat from a Anne Hughes (@EatSleepCycle) who is in the "planning" stage of her own cycle ride of the coast of Britain. She has a blog as well for those who want to follow her journey.

Bonnie Scotland

Well Dad had a good journey up to Bonnie Scotland calling in at Fort William on the way. He had a few days staying with a friend a Cuil Bay. Weather was fantastic ... clear blue skies. They had a drive over to Glencoe and a walk around the lake watching the fishermen.

The plan according to Dad was on Friday to catch the ferry from Malliag over to Skye. However I got an answerphone message to say there had been a change of plan and they were now in Inverie - which when I looked at the travel plan that Dad's friend had done that's exactly where they should be! Dad was probably reading the plan upside down (a bit like his map reading !).

So Dad is now in Inverie. They are staying in Torrie Sheiling bunkhouse - which is so remote I can't even find a photo !


Anyway I don't expect to hear from him now until Tuesday as the area has no phone signal. !

Will update when I hear again.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

He is off again

Well Dad is off tomorrow. He is heading up north of the border. He's having a few days in Oban visiting friends, a few days in Fortwilliam and then he is heading over to Skye and then back to Scotland. He'll be away 3 to 4 weeks. He's taken the tent, the bike, a chair and they've also got hostel accommodation booked !

He'll send me some updates so I'll keep you posted on his whereabouts in and around bonnie Scotland.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dougie Mac cycle ride

Dad took part in the Dougie Mac cycle ride today. He was on the 50 mile to Nantwich. He managed to get off by 9.30 ... it took an hour to "check-in". A bit of a blustery day out on the road but the rain that threatened most held off.

I headed out to met him on the way back. However Dad had given me duff instructions as to which road they were heading down so I decided to wait at the drink station in Wrinehill - at around the 38 mile point. I text Dad to tell him I would be there.


I had around half an hour wait, chatting to the cyclists as they stopped off for a drink. I then spotted Dad heading down the road.



I gave him a shout and he waved at me. Shouted again and that's when he noticed me, so he pulled in for a drink.

Had a quick chat, a drink and he had his photo taken.





and then he was back on the road again.





 He was back at Michelin by 1.30 pm. It had taken him 4 hours with a 15 minute puncture repair.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Some photos

Well Dad took with him a disposable camera ... I wish he'd move into the digital age - as disposable cameras don't give the best results !  Anyway here are a few photos from his trip




Some of the old cars in Havana and a yellow taxi

Old Station in Havana

Dad's taxi ! The Casa he was staying is just behind

Carribean sea - just outside Santiago de Cuba

Casa in La Boca

Evening meal at the Casa in La Boca. Fish, veg, salad and fruit.
Bay of Pigs

Casa at Cienfuegos - roof top view

Guama - reconstruction of a Taino village
Local transport !
Giant Crab ... Dad said there were lots on the road - not sure they would be quite that size !


Here's one I caught earlier. Guess what's on the menu for tea ! This was a Dad's Casa.

The north coast of Cuba - Playa Jibacoa

View from Casa at Vinales of the Mogotes

Vinales - Mogotes

Playa Baracoa

Motorbike and sidecar

Tall ship Havana
Dad told me he'd done this trip on his own ... but look what I found in his photos ! Looks like he had quite an entourage. They were a group of Italian cyclists.



Thursday, May 5, 2011

He's back !

Got a text off Andy last night to say Dad had landed and was just waiting for his bike. Had another about midnight to say they were home !

Just spoken to Dad and he slept like a log last night. He was off to Asda to stock up on supplies !

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 28 - he's on his way home

Well I got a text in the night to say "flight delayed five hours" so I've been keeping an eye on departures from Cuba and his flight has now left Cuba destined for Gatwick Airport.  On the last check he was roughly half way - some where over the ocean. Still another 4 hours 45 minutes to go. He should get into Gatwick around 8.00 ish this evening.

Unfortunately I'm out this evening but will update later.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 27 - Havana

Well the bike is boxed and ready for the journey home. Dad is spending his last day in Havana on foot ! 

His flight home is just after midnight Cuban time (5.00 am our time).  He is due back at Gatwick at 3.00 pm tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully he'll  have a good journey home.

Will update if I hear anymore off him ...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Day 26 - Havana

Well Dad is back in Havana today. He had an easy day and was back by 11.30 this morning and the weather is cloudy ! I assume he's staying at Casa Galeano because his plan was to leave his bike box there.

He text to say he was in Baracoa last night which is about 8km inland. Wasn't a paritcularly good night ... in Dad's words it was a bit like Blackpool ! The Casa was very busy and there were alot of people around the pool which was very noisy.

Today it's rained for the first time since Dad arrived in Cuba - told Dad it hasn't rained here for weeks! He's had his first mishap - the frame for his bar bag has broke. It's a good job he's heading home tomorrow !

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Day 25 - possibly still Baracoa

Had a text from Dad earlier to say he'd got not signal at the Casa. He was down by the beach. He'd been for a swim in the pool at the Casa and he'd been watching the May Day parades in the towns and villages. What he didn't say was where he actually was ! He'd had a good night last night ... I should think so he'd got the bed while the family slept on the floor !

Tomorrow he is heading back to Havana.

I'll update if I hear back as to where he actually is.
Updated to say yes he was still in Baracoa !

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 24 Baracoa

Dad has had a good day on the bike. Today he's biked out of Batabano ... which he didn't particular like  nor the accommodation he was staying in. Tonight he's in Baracoa which isn't far from Havana. I was slightly concerned when I Googled Baracoa and found it right over on the eastern tip of Cuba ... and I thought Dad would have needed more than a strong tailwind to get there in a day and he certainly wouldn't have passed a drug test ! Anyway I text and asked which one and he clarified the one just outside Havana.

Today he's cycled through Bejucal  (which apparently is where Andy Garcia lived until he was 5 - but Dad has probably never heard of him) and then on through lots of small villages. There has been plenty of arm waving as Dad has been asking for directions - the Cubans flap as much as my Dad when directing. 

Unfortunately Dad couldn't find a bed for the night but someone has taken pity on him and offered their bed - they are sleeping on the floor. So today he'll be dining with the Cubans and his bike sharing the yard with some pigs! He did say they were very friendly family.  He's off for a swim later.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 23 Batabano

Dad sent his usual early evening text (well early afternoon in Cuba). He is now in a place called Batabano which is on the south coast of Cuba. Today's route has taken him through many none tourist places - Candalarie, Artensia, Guira, Demelena and into Batabano. Dad had hoped to get on a ferry over to Juventud but they will not take his bike and told him come back tomorrow. Dad is not taking the risk of getting over there and then not being able to get back to Havana.

Dad is in a house tonight but he's moving back to the north coast tomorrow as he's not liking Batabano area.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 22 Soroa

Dad text earlier. He's had a hard day on the bike today ... well it make up for the easy day yesterday. He's cycled 100 km (around 62 miles) but it has been with a headwind.  He said he could have had a lift on a ox cart but decided to tuck behind a tractor with a trailer load of people for about half an hour.

He's back in Soroa which he cycled through on Monday. He's sorted himself a Casa for the night. It's one he'd spotted when he was cycling through. He was just off to have a shower.

Dad met an English lad a couple of days ago. He was out in Vinales for the rock climbing. Must have been good to have someone have a decent chat to.

Dad will be heading back towards Havana tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 21 Pina de Rio

Dad has had an easy day today ... in fact he'd done by 10.00 am !  He'd cycled the 30 km down from Vinales to Pina de Rio which is out on the western most province in Cuba.

So once he arrived in Pina de Rio the day has been spent walking ... he's walked his legs off. The place itself isn't very big on tourism - there isn't even a Wikipedia page for it !  However there is a cigar factory and a rum factory - I wonder if Dad went on a tour of either of them !  He's booked himself into a Casa for the night.

He's not sure where he's heading next ... he's got four days to get back to Havana.

Day 20 - Vinales

Dad has had a great ride ... in what the Lonley Planet says is the most interesting ride in Cuba!  What it doesn't say is that it's also the most pot-hold ride in Cuba - funny how guidebooks miss that out. It is a route that the Vuelta a Cuba races on. Wonder what Dad's average speed for the ride was ... a lot slower than the pros but then again they are not carrying a month's worth of clobber with them.

Dad's route took him through La Guira - which was originally a colonial estate known as Hacienda Cortina, La Palma and into San Vinente.  Dad has riden past many Mogotes. I spent a good 10 minutes wondering what that could be in text speak! Well it's actually a real word and it's a limestone hill formed during the Jurassic period.

The VinalesValley is a national park area and lots of tourist visit. However Dad did say he'd not seen many tour buses today.  Dad has managed to find himself a Casa for the night. There seems to be quite a few in the Rough Guide so he would have had not trouble finding one.

He also said that when he was in the spa town of San Diego he meet an English teacher who took him on a tour of the spa. The teacher was also a biker so Dad left him some spare parts he'd taken with him. Hopefully not all of them especially as he's been riding on pot-holed roads !

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 19 - San Diego de los Banas

Well Dad has made it San Diego de los Banos (or page 192 of the Rough Guide to Cuba !). According to the guide book this is a "laidback little village with healing waters".   Tourists and Cubans visit for prescribed course of treatments as well as beauty therapy .... Dad may still have time to become the Handsomest Man in Cuba !

Another good day on the bike. Today it was walking and biking day as some of the hills were a bit on the steep side. Dad cycled through Las Terrazas, past a couple of lakes and onto Soroa. Dad then picked up the Motorway (I assume cycles were allowed on it) and he cycled 35km  to Los Palacios. He then picked up some small roads and headed on to San Diego de los Banas.

There are few signposts in Cuba and apparently Cubans swing their arms about more than Dad when giving directions - I find that hard to believe !!  He's sorted himself a Casa for the night.

No idea where he his heading tomorrow ... so watch this space.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 18 Las Terrazas

Got a text off Dad earlier. He is about 5 km short of Las Terrazas which is a small community and nature reserve in the Sierra del Rosario mountain range. On reading up on Las Terrazas it is a ecotourism site and one of the most important in the country.

He's had a great day on the bike, probably one of the best of the trip so far. He'd been following the coast road at the start of the day to La Boca. He then headed inland to Mariel which is about 40 km from Havana. It was then onto Cabanas (I've just spent the last half hour looking for a place called Cabaoas which is what Dad text !) . Lots of lakes and mountains ... and to quote Dad "it's like cycling in the 50's no cars and small roads".  The 50's are way before my time !!!  He's probably clocked up around 75/80kms today. 

He's sorted himself a Casa for the night. No Easter eggs on the menu ... he said they would probably melt in the heat !

Handsomest Man in Cuba - Lynette Chiang

I've just finished reading Lynette's book ... I know I've taken my time reading it but with blogging and everything else I just don't get time at the moment to read!  I found it really useful as it gave me an insight into Cuba that the normal tourist books don't. I could imagine the places Dad was cycling through and the people he would be meeting.

Anyway I've left the following review on both Amazon and Goodreads as I'd definitely recommend the book to anyone who can get their hands on it. Just a pity we didn't find it before Dad set off. Anyway he can read it on his return and who knows Dad may publish a sequel to the book.

****
Forget about the Guidebooks to Cuba ... Lynette has written about the everyday life of ordinary Cuban people. She takes you with her on a journey around Cuba. She shuns the tourist routes and expensive hotels and instead she lives on a small budget staying with the people she meets on her travels. The book is about their life, their culture, and how they survive on a modest income.


The book is very readable and offers not only an insight into Cuban life but also into Lynette's life as well.

I only wished we'd found this book before my Dad headed off on his bike to Cuba earlier this month ... however thanks to the wonder of the Internet and text messages I have managed to get him to track down at least one of the families Lynette talks about in the book and they offered my Dad the same hospitality as they did Lynette.

I would definitely recommend this book to people who want to experience the "real" Cuba.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 17 - Havana

Dad is back in Havana tonight staying at Casa Galeano - I should know because I booked him in ! There was more traffic on the road today, probably because it's the weekend. Dad took the coast road passing through Santa Cruz del Norte, Campo Florido and back into Havana ... well not before he was escorted off the motorway but the police as there was a tunnel coming up and bikes were not allowed through the tunnel. Dad took the ferry instead. Never a trip goes by when Dad isn't escorted off some motorway or other by the police.

The Casa Galeano is in Vedado which is a suburb of Havana. Tomorrow Dad will be heading to Vinales. I've managed to top up his mobile phone for him so he can keep in touch. At 40p a text mobile credit doesn't go far !

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 16 - Playa Jibacoa

Dad text earlier. He's had a good ride today. Lots of ups and downs and bends and some great views. The Varadera road is a toll road which is free for bikes. However the road to Matanzas was a bike free road (no bikes allowed) so Dad took the coast road instead.

He's had problems getting a bed tonight as a lot of the cabins were full of Cubans - it must be their holiday time. However he's managed to get a Casa in Playa Jibacoa. The Casa is on the coast so he was off for swim this afternoon.

He text later to say the family in the Casa where he was staying had been fishing and caught a 4ft fish (Dad did say he'd got photos to prove) so I guess it's fish for tea tonight, well it is Good Friday.

Tomorrow Dad will be heading back to Havana.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 15 - Varadera

Dad is now on the west coast of Cuba in a place called Varadera. He's had a hard day on the bike with head and cross winds and long straight roads ! His text says "started on 4 lane Cuban motorway" ... I hope he his kidding but knowing Dad's track record of cycling on various motorways he's probably not !

Today's route has taken him through Jovellanos, Carlos Rojas, Jose Smith Comas (unusual sounding place) and then on through Cardenas and eventually arriving in Varadera.  The place he is staying is 80% tourist - Dad will not be liking that! Reading the blurb about it, it is one of the largest resorts in the Caribbean. The resort is on the Hicacos Peninsula which is only 1.2 km wide ... so there is no getting away from the tourist! However Dad will probably be able to stock up on any necessities whilst he's in a "touristy" place.

Tomorrow Dad will head back towards Havana as he's asked me to book accommodation for Saturday night at Casa Galeano which is where he stayed when he first arrived in Havana.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 14 - Australia

No Dad hasn't caught the first plane out of Cuba to Oz ... he's in a place in Cuba called Australia ! Been a bit wet on the bike, I think it's the first time he's had rain (well it's the first time he's mentioned it!).  He stopped of in La Boca Guama where there is a replica Taino village. I thought my Dad's text said Tiny village - I had visions of him touring a model village !  Dad met lots of bikers in La Boca Guama. In fact three coach loads, so around 60 cyclists. Dad said he was glad he was going "solo".

He is currently staying at the Batey Don Pedro hotel.  The hotel is located in the natural setting on Peninsula de Zapata - one of the most important ecosystems in Cuba and the largest swamp reserve in the Caribbean. Dad did mention that he had been riding through swamp land and he has seen lots of birds today. Reading the blurb it says the area of Las Salinas and Hatiguanico is where you can see more then 65 species of migratory, endemic and native birds and is ideal place for resting, bird watching and fishing.  I bet he's not taken his binoculars with him.

Tomorrow is heading for the West Coast.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 13 - Playa Girdon

Had a text off Dad earlier. He'd had an early start this morning. He was on the road by 7.00 am and he biked til 9.00 am. It was then a pit-stop for suncream and sunglasses and then back on the road and onto Playa Girdon which is part of the Bay of Pigs - pigs being a type of tiggerfish rather than the bacon buttie type of pig.  Today's ride was mainly on flat roads and Dad had reached Playa Girdon by 1.00 pm

Today marked the 50th Anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion but in typical Dad fashion he arrived after the celebrations had finished ! 

He's sorted himself a Casa and planned to go for a swim this afternoon ... it's sounding a bit like a Triathlon holiday rather than a biking holiday !

He'd ordered an evening meal of crocodile ... I text him back to say  "hope they make that "snappy" when serving it up !  "

Not sure of his plans for tomorrow ... but I must remember to top up his mobile phone soon or we will not be getting anymore updates. At 40p a text, credit doesn't last long.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 12 - Cienfuegos

Got a text from Dad earlier to say he was now in Cienfuegos. He got there about 1 o'clock so he must have had an early start from Trinidad this morning. He's had a good ride.  Last night Dad went "self-catering" as he had a house to look after for the night ! Who would leave my Dad in charge of a house! He must have eaten out at a restaurant as he text to say fish was on the menu.

Not sure what the Casa is called where Dad is staying tonight (I've texted him to ask) in Cienfuegos but it's on the sea front with good views out over the bay and of the ships in the port. Don't think there will be any swimming today though so instead Dad has been for a walk along the sea front. Tonight on the menu is lobster. He'll be nipping into Asda when he gets home ordering a lobster!

Well the "tip" to take £5.00 notes wasn't much use and Dad has now changed them into Cuban pesos.

Tomorrow Dad is heading for Playa Girón and the site of the Bay of Pigs invasion which happened 50 years ago to the day - well the 17th -19th April 1961 !

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 11 - Trinidad

Dad text me earlier to say he'd had a great evening meal last night in the Sol y Mar Hostel - king prawns. I hope they didn't arrive at the table with their heads still on ! Reading the reviews for the hostel it does say the "host is probably the best cook in Cuba". There are a couple of lads from Devon staying in the hostel but they are there for the music, beer and late nights. Now the last time Dad went to a music bar on one of these trips he had his wallet stolen (in Ireland) so I'm hoping he steers clear of music bars on this trip!

Dad has had a great day today in Trinidad itself. He's been to Church (well it is Sunday !). Apparently they had some "sort" of Palm Sunday service. He then did a 10 kilometre run/walk. Perhaps it was Trinidad's version of the London Marathon!  Anyway Dad apparently won the over 70's prize !  I'm not sure if that was for racing or for knobbly knees (I'm just seeking clarification on that!). After a busy morning of Church and racing he then went and had a Cuban pizza for lunch. I've read about these in Lynette's book!

Well today has been a great day for Dad's footie team Stoke City. Stoke were playing Bolton at Wembley in the FA cup semi-final, so I gave Dad a goal by text report of the match, plus a HT and FT recap (so that's FIVE texts for the goals and one for HT and one for FT - so at least seven texts) only for him to text me and say "Pam text me the Stoke result - good result!" I did have to go and check my phone just to make sure I'd actually text Dad and not some random from my phone book. Anyway all my text did eventually turn up ! I bet he looked like Mr Popular with all the beeping as the texts arrived!


Dad did say he was off for a swim soon to celebrate the win ... not sure if that's his win for the race/walk or Stoke beating Bolton and getting to the FA cup final. Either way, I hope he has a fab swim.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 10 - Trinidad

Dad text me earlier to say that today he had cycled from Sancti Spiritus to Trinidad - that's the one in Cuba and not the one in the West Indies !  He must have set off early as he text me just after 6.00 pm (which would have been 1.00 Cuba time) to say he'd made it to Trinidad. He'd got himself a Casa down by the sea in a place called La Boca. The Casa Dad is staying tonight is Sol y Mar.  Looks a nice place ... and it does laundry so Dad might get some washing done! He did say he was off for a swim later. He's had a great day on the bike today as the route he took was through the mountains on roads with bends !

He's getting used to using Cuban money ... ie shopping like the locals. Today he's had a bap and an drink of organge for 3 pesos (a few pence).

Got a text a bit later to say he'd been for a swim. Weather is still VERY hot, so he's been getting up early and setting off before 7.00 am. The first couple of hours it's ok cycling but after that it's on and off the bike and finding a bit of shade to rest. 

Tomorrow he is off to look around Trinidad.

30 Days of Biking

My Dad picked the right month to be cycling as April is the month of cycling http://30daysofbiking.com/
All over the world people are getting on their bikes. I wonder if many in Cuba are doing it !  I don't think my bike will be making an appearance anytime soon. It's buried in the shed somewhere with a host of gardening equipment hanging of it ! It would take me longer to extract it from the shed than the length of time I could actually ride it for!

A friend is currently doing LEJOG (Lands End - John O'Groats) and he has been writing a blog each evening  http://lejogon.blogspot.com/ and raising money for charity. Seeing that Jonny has only been on a bike a few times in the last 10 years (that's probably how long my bike has been in the shed) he isn't doing bad despite a few "incidents" that he's had along the way ! However I don't think I'll be joining him ... well not this year !

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 9 en-route to Sancti Spiritus

Got a text off Dad earlier to say he was on the bus from Las Tunas to Sancti Spiritus (or Holy Spirit). He is hoping to then do some touring around Trinidad.

He never did find the bakery by Arismilda's in Manzanillo. In fact he had trouble finding Arismilda's. In the end he found a school teacher who could speak English and she gave him directions. Oh well at least he found it. Apparently Arismilda has written me a letter .... so I'll wait on writing to her until I've seen her letter.

Just got another text off Dad to say he's sat at a cafe. I'm assuming the bus has stopped for a break. I "think" his text says that the journey is around 400 kilometres (about 250 miles) and it's cost him 17 C or just over £11.00 - which for a Cuban is around four weeks pay! I'm trying to find out how far he is from Sancti Spiritus or if he's arrived ... will update if I hear back from him. 

He is hoping to get a Casa tonight. I've text him details of one I found in Sancti Spritus called Santa Elena only because I liked the sound of it and they offered free Spanish lesson and dance classes !  Would love to see someone trying to teach my Dad how to dance. Knowing Dad he'll probably not be able to find it !

Updated to say that Dad's earlier text was from a Cuban cafe en-route to Sancti Spiritus but he has text again to say that he's now arrived safely and found himself a Casa ... so he'll not be coming home fluent in Spanish and able to salsa !

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 7 & 8 The International game of Dominoes

Had another couple of texts earlier off Dad. He filled me in a bit on what he had done while visiting Arismilda and her family. They played the International game of dominoes or 3's and 5's ... well they weren't really going to sit round playing Trivial Pursuit !  I wonder if in Cuba they "knock" when they can't go.  Following dominoes he sat and watched a baseball game with them on TV which featured the local team. Dad would have had no idea of the rules! Hope Dad enjoyed the afternoon and evening he spent with them.

Dad is now in Las Tunas. The route he took today was pretty flat as he was heading inland.  He is staying at the Islazul hotel and for 18 CUC  (roughly £12.00) it looks pretty good. Rooms have satellite TV, bath, terrace or balcony and most importanlty air-conditioning. It's been a hot day out on the bike today (temperature in the low 30's) - so after the bath the air conditioning must be very welcoming.

Tomorrow he is thinking of taking the bus up country and onto Sancti Spiritus.

Day 7 Manzanillo

I didn’t hear back from Dad last night. I gave up about 11.30pm (or time) and text him to say I was off to bed. I did start to wonder if Arismilda and her family had been hospitable to Dad or if they’d abducted him ! I need not have worried. Just got a text off Dad to say he had a good night last night with Arismilda and they were very hospitable to Dad and made him most welcome. He was unable to text back as there were lots of folk around and Dad needs ALL his concentration to text !

So as Dad has meet up with Arismilda that would mean he’s made it to Manzanillo (which apparently means “little apple”). I wonder if Dad got some bread rolls this morning from the bakery that Lynette talks about in her book !

Dad is now en-route to Las Tunas. When he text he was at a place called Cauto. Dad is hoping to find Sharon Garcia while he is in Las Tunas (he read about her on another blog).

Dad will text again later with an update.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dad has tracked down Arismilda

Just had a quick text off Dad to say he's managed to track down Arismilda which must mean he's arrived in Manzanillo.  

Arismilda and family feature in Lynette Chiang's book the Handsomest Man in Cuba. She wrote This is a lovely family, all crammed into a tiny living space. Arismilda listens to the radio and writes down the addresses of people who contact the station asking for a penfriend in Cuba. She has written to several but never got a reply. The family are clearly very poor, yet Juan secured me a dozen bread rolls from the bakery and refused payment, saying "All I ask is that you write to my wife." I wrote to them, but I am unsure if it arrived. Please pop by and say hello. And promise to write to her. http://www.galfromdownunder.com/cuba/cubalolita.html

Hopefully Dad will get a photo and I promise to write to them !

Dad will update me later.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A dip in the Caribbean

I had to text Dad back to ask him what he'd been swimming in for his dip in the Caribbean .. I had visions of him skinny dipping ! He text back to say his maroon stripey trunks. Now some of my Dad's friends may well know of these trunks. They are like part of the family .. well they've been with Dad for well over 40 years !  Most of my childhood holiday photos had Dad wearing the stripey trunks !  Now over the years the fabric they were made from (some sort of man made fibre) has worn thin in places. I can picture it now. Dad with his "cyclist" tan, his oh so white torso and his maroon stripey trunks! That would have made some photo.

He text back later and said "he was the best looking English man in Cuba!"

I'm wondering what he did with his money belt when he went for a dip ... he's always telling me NEVER to remove your money belt unless you are in the shower!  I bet he left it under some rock and is now currently down on the beach lifting rock after rock trying to find it !

Day 5 and Day 6 - the mountains

I didn't hear from Dad last night. Just got a text through to say "ngsl mon" which in Dad's text speak means no signal Monday night ! 

So Monday he spent cycling in the Sierra Maestro which is Cuba's highest and most extensive mountain range which stretches along the coast line. He managed to find himself a cabin for 5C (£3.32) in a place called La Mula. By the sounds of it, it was a local place for local people! From reading up I think he was staying at Base de Campismo in a cabana ... and the blurb says the cabins are in a small wood, with a banana plantation and on a lagoon next to an empty beach (this is sounding a bit like heaven !). 

Today he's continued along the coast and is now in the rural town of Pilon (not that rural as it has a mobile phone signal!). He's found himself a Casa for the night. I have no idea where it is, or if it's actually a legal Casa as reading up on Pilon it doesn't sound like it's very big on tourism. However, I'm sure Dad will manage - he usually does.

So the above comes courtesy of Dad's four line text ... sorry it's not a bit more in depth but it probably took Dad about 15 minutes to type the four lines !

When I Googled Pilon it came up with Lynette Chiang's blog. Apparently the Handsomest Man in Cuba was actually found in the back streets of Pilon. Well all I can say is the Handsomest Man in Cuba has competition now that my Dad is in town :)

Updated: Just received another text to say ... couldn't send a long text earlier the lady in the Casa was in the way !  Dad has had his first swim in the Caribbean at La Mula. I bet he didn't pack his trunks - so heaven knows what he swam in.  It's been very warm on the coast road the last couple of days so he's knocked of cycling after lunch. He's cycled through two tunnels. The road is very busy with lots of crabs, goats, turkey, horses, pigs and the occasional Cuban bus. No cars though! Oh how I wished my journey home from work tonight had been on roads free from cars!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 5 - Some where along the coast.

Not heard from Dad tonight. I have a feeling he'll have dropped out of mobile reception now. He was heading along the coast through Turquino National Park towards Marea del Portillo. I found this map with mobile coverage and I don't think he's near a pink dot !

Will update as and when I hear from him.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 4 - Chivirico

Just got a text from Dad. He's had a great day on the bike. Cycled 70 kms (just over 43 miles). The roads are tarmac with pot-holes - so it's a bit like riding at home and also dirt tracks. He's cycled along the coast from Santiago de Cuba and looking at the map probably passed through Rancho Cruz, Goacainabon, Playa de Caleton Blanco, Playa Aserradero, Playa El Frances before arriving in Chivirico.

He's staying in luxury tonight at the four star Brisas hotel - 48 CUC (£32) for bed, dinner and breakfast and air-conditioning!  He was just off to shower as he needs to "dress" for dinner ... hope it's nothing formal as he's not got much in those panniers. At least it being the start of the holiday he should still have some clean/cleanish stuff to wear ! 

Today he's met a Swiss couple and a Dutch couple.

Unfortunately he was too late to visit Cayo Granma as by the time my text arrived he'd already left Santiago. However I've pointed him (courtesy of Lynette Chiang's blog ) in the direction of

Arismilda Reyes Cintra, Marti #41 entre Tomas Barrero y San Silvestre, Manzanillo, Granma, Cuba 87510. I was invited into this house by Arismilda's husband Juan Francisco Arias Martinez as I waited across the road for the bakery to open. This is a lovely family, all crammed into a tiny living space. Arismilda listens to the radio and writes down the addresses of people who contact the station asking for a penfriend in Cuba. She has written to several but never got a reply. The family are clearly very poor, yet Juan secured me a dozen bread rolls from the bakery and refused payment, saying "All I ask is that you write to my wife." I wrote to them, but I am unsure if it arrived. Please pop by and say hello. And promise to write to her. http://www.galfromdownunder.com/cuba/cubalolita.html

I've told him to get a photo if he manages to track them down !

Tomorrow looking at the map he'll be cycling through Parque Nacional de Turquino .

I'll update when I hear from him again.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 3 - Santiago de Cuba

Had a couple of texts off Dad today. He was on the bus heading down to Santiago de Cuba. He was complaining yesterday how hot Havana was ... well he was freezing on the bus as they had the air-con on. There is just no pleasing some folk !  Hope he managed to get some sleep.

He did say that for tea last night he'd had soup (I bet it wasn't a cup-a-soup) and a chicken salad. The two nights in the Casa Galeano and two evening meals had cost 85 (Cuban Convertible Pesos - or CUC) which is approx £56.00.

His second text was to say he'd reached Santiago de Cuba. A bit of damage to the bike (a broken mud guard). Dad is staying in Calle Aguilera No 772 Casa and it's costing 18 CUC approx £12.00. I wonder if they will feed him for that !  Just googled it and found the following on a forum :

"Good place, average rooms, Melida is a lovely host. It's just a block or 2 past the Plaza de Marte, so is easy to walk to most of the central sites and activities in Santiago.The casa is actually owned by her mother (Magdalena), but Melida lives there and runs it."

I think he'll be fine staying there!

He's had enough of Cities and is heading for the east coast tomorrow.

I'll update as and when I hear from him

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 2 - Havana

Had a text off Dad earlier. He'd had a walk today to old Havana (Habana Vieja). He's visited a couple of Churches and a Cathedral - apparently they are cooler inside ... I think he means temperature rather than trendy !  I'm thinking it was probably the Catedral de la Habana.

He's also visited the Museum of Revolution. Dad picked up a cycle taxi - I think this is where someone else does the pedalling ! Now that sounds the perfect way to go out cycling.

Tonight he'll be catching the air conditioned bus to Santiago de Cuba. From the sounds of it the weather is a tad on the hot side - he mentioned it a couple of times in his text!

He had tried to call me and me to ring him but we never got through ... that's mobile phones for you !

Will update when I hear from him again.

The Handsomest Man in Cuba ...

Just been Googling about cycling in Cuba and came across this book The Handsomest Man in Cuba . Published in 2007. How can that be as my Dad only arrived yesterday :)

Been trying to track down a copy and it looks like it is only available in the States ! Doh. Would have been great to get Dad a copy for his return. Oh well, Dad will have to do his own version ... The Handsomest Man in Cuba Part II - The Return :)

Updated to say I've found one on Amazon Market place and ordered it :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 1 - Havana

Well just got a text from Dad with an update of his day.  He's had a great day. This morning he had a ride out to Marianao. Following lunch it was then onto Guanabacoa and finally onto Havana Vieja or Old Havana as it's also known.

Weather has been very hot - just had a look and it's around 32 or 33 degrees ! That's warm.  Tonight he's been back to the Casa and had lobster for tea ... now that's a bit more upmarket than his usual "camping" tea ! I bet he's having a craving for a cup-a-soup :)

Apparently it was the bike box that was damaged and not the bike. That's a relief.

Dad has booked the overnight bus to Santiago de Cuba for tomorrow night. Departs Havana at 10.00 pm and arrives in Santiago de Cuba at 12.00 am. So tomorrow he will have another day in and around Havana.

He's arrived !

Just got a text from Dad. He arrived at the Casa (B&B) in Havana just after midnight last night.. He's got a big double bed - I hope he's not thinking of taking that bike bed with him !  Talking of which Dad says his bike has got a bit damaged on the journey but it's gone together ok! He ought take a photo of the damage and claim on his insurance.

Today his plan was to go and sort out the tourist bus.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A few more photos

A couple more photos of Dad at Gatwick this morning courtesy of Andy.

Bike from car, to trolley, to plane ...

Suspicious parcel in departures

Dad waiting check in at Gatwick
Just been tracking his flight and his flight was delayed 45 minutes on departure. He should land in Holguin first and then onto Havana arriving 10.00 pm local time (3.00am BST).

Gatwick Airport

He's on his way. Checking in a Gatwick Airport (thanks for the photo Andy). I doubt he'll get that box in the overhead luggage holder !

Updated to say ... he's all checked in and he didn't have to pay any excess baggage.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cuba here he comes

Well the day is nearly upon us. Dad and his bike set off early in the morning (courtesy of Andy Swindells - thanks Andy) for Gatwick. His flight is just after 2.00 and he'll arrive in Havana 10.00 pm (their time).

He's booked into a Casa Particular (B&B to you and me) in Vedado. His plan is to have a couple of days around Havana and then catch the tourist bus down to Santiago de Cuba. He'll then have a day or two around there and then cycle along the south coast in a westerly direction. Apparently the winds in Cuba are from East to West so he wants to have a tail wind ( a couple of curries will do the trick for a tail wind I think) !  He'll head along the coast towards Manzanillo. From there it'll either be Bayamo and Holguin or he'll head direct to Les Tunas. He'll then pick up the north coast and head back towards Havana.

Dad will hopefully be in touch as often as he can ... I don't think he'll get a very good mobile signal even though he has taken it with him and I think pay phones will probably few and far between. Time difference is BST - 5 hours. I'll update the blog as often as I can.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The travel agent ... AKA me !

Well I've been put to good use tonight and managed to dial through to Cuba and now Dad has accommodation for the first couple of nights when he arrives in Havana. He's booked into http://casa.wordsweave.com/  Looks a nice place to stay and most importantly it is "bike friendly" and has some where secure for Dad's bike !  Dad's not daft ... he managd to wangle the phone call onto my phone bill !

Well the trip is all coming together nicely which is a good job cause it's only 9 days til he goes !

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cuba trip

Well at least now I know what Cuba looks like ! Dad has been and purchased two maps so at least now I can look at where he's planning on going but first he's got to get to Gatwick. It's proving a bit tricky. Parking for a month is extortionate at Gatwick, train is out of the question as he'll have his bike boxed up. National Express will only take the bike "if there is room" which isn't much use because what will happen if there isn't any room ! A friend recommended http://www.parkatmyhouse.com/ and we have found somewhere close to Gatwick. Also looking at option of taking the shuttle down from Manchester, or finding a willing driver to ferry Dad there and back so there are a few alternatives to look at.

Next problem is his mobile. Dad's basic Nokia is a dual band and he needs a tri-band for Cuba. So now we are on the look out for a cheap and simple to use tri-band phone !

Now he'd have none of these problems if he cycled around Britain again !

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cuba

Well the next trip is in the planning stage ... well in fact we are further on than "planning" as flights are now booked. Dad is off to Cuba in April. So anyone fancying a cycle trip around Cuba get in touch with Dad !