Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

Home Travel StoriesThe Netherlands 2016

Helter Skelter

By Sharon Parker

I did not sleep well. After my tumble yesterday I now have a rather large bruise and lump on my left leg. It is the opposite side of my broken toe and slashed finger which is on the right. So no matter what side I tried to lay on it hurts. I am also over-thinking yesterdays topple so I'm not exactly relaxed. Today however should hopefully be relaxed, if we have no further mishaps that is. We have a lot of time to kill before we need to catch the ferry. 

Sharon's leg shows a large red and blue bruise coming out to the skinBeginning to bruise

As I load up my bike I watch the other campers getting ready for a POW WOW Day that will hosted on the campsite today. I am not really sure what a Pow Wow day entails but those setting up look very enthusiastic about it so I wish them a great day.

The campsite is very basic. Basically a field with a portacabin for toilets, but it is only £10 for the night and the main draw is the huge cafe on site. We go there for our breakfast. 

I am nervous on the bike. I tell myself just to accept it. It is to be expected after a fall and only miles will take the anxiety away. I have been here before, I know the score. We have so much time to kill Ren is happy to relax and after lunch in a old priory garden I fall asleep on him. I guess the restless night is catching up on me.

Ren being Ren we arrive early at the ferry terminal in Harwich so we go for a meal at the conveniently situated Brewers fare. I enjoy the meal and a feel some of the tension leaving my body, I am beginning to relax again. Ren however begins to fidget and worry no doubt about being on time for the ferry. So although boarding is not until 9pm we are at the docks by 7pm. I am surprised by the fact that we are not as usual the first ones there, there's a small smattering of other folks as keen as Ren. We are informed that we might as well go and have a sit down as it will be a couple of hours before boarding. Once again I fall asleep in the TV room, I guess I am tired. 

Finally we get the go ahead to board the ferry. I am quite frankly terrified. I was already super nervous about the metal ramp onto to the ferry but after yesterdays spill my confidence is not exactly where I hoped it to be. OK Sharon deep breaths and smile. keep smiling, it is OK keep smiling and...what the hell it that before my eyes!?! No one told me they had Helter Skelters to negotiate onto ferries. I never liked fairgrounds. I avoided them and I would very much like to avoid this one. But no everyone is riding on this ride so it looks like I am too. I scream silently into my helmet as I spiral round and round. I no like this, I no like it at all. I am so relieved to get off the spiral ramp that the ramp onto to the ferry ceases to be a concern and I ride up that with relief. Being dry the metal ramp proves to be fine and not slippery at all. 

On other ferries I have been on staff come and ratchet down your bikes. However this appears to be a do-it-yourself affair and I have no clue. Ren takes the strap out of my confused hands and does it for me. I am happy to try and work it out myself another day.

We have a cabin on the 10th floor. I get travel sick on ferries so I really wanted the option of curling up in a bed if needs be on this trip. The 10th floor seems a long long way when you are carrying your luggage dressed in full bike gear. Phew I am sweating and out of breath by the time we get to the cabin. I am totally thrilled with the cabin. After only ever being sat on chairs on other ferriesre this is total luxury to me. I feel like I is posh. 

The inside of the cabin bathroom with a mirror and sink
The bunk beds inside the smart clean cabin on the ferryThis may not be much to some folks but to me this is total luxury.

I have a lovely hot shower to wash away my aches and pains. Feeling very relieved to have successfully made it onto the ferry after yesterday's disaster I join Ren on deck to wave farewell to good old England. Bed time comes and I am grateful that the new anti sickness tablets I have tried are working well and I do not feel too sick at all. I curl up into a warm comfy bed and the smile is now completely genuine. I am very, very happy.

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Prologue - The Netherlands 2016 Why are we going Dutch? What's that peculiar box on Ren's bike? Why are we taking our 125cc motorcycles? Is there even a plan? Find out more...
Disaster The first day of our trip is not the start we would hope for. Yet with some luck and the desire to improve his mindset Ren manages to keep a calm and positive outlook.
Crashing Out To The Netherlands This is Sharon's take on the first day of The Netherland's trip. Oh the best laid plans of mice and women.
No News Is Good News It's an ordinary day of ordinary travelling for our dynamic duo. Sometimes a lack of excitement can be a good thing doncha know.
Helter Skelter Sharon covers the second day of the trip to The Netherlands. She moves from discomfort and bruises through nervous and fear to luxury and comfort. All in one day!
Hades - I Mean Amsterdam Ah The Netherlands, fields of flowers, windmills, tranquil canals and leisurely cyclists. Or is this what the tourist office would have you believe?
Crying In The Rain And Laughing Gonkeys Sharon's first time motorcycling on foreign tarmac is a baptism of fire. What on earth is a laughing gonkey anyhow?
We Are Tourist So what is Ren's take on the popular city of Amsterdam? Will he survive the bicycles? Is he a wild traveller or just a tourist?
The Lost Experience Once again Ren's expectations get the better of him. Once again Ren gets completely lost. Once again the rain is coming down. Is there any hope at all? Actually it's not all bad.
Smiles In The Rain The friendly Dutch folk mean that a rain filled day can still be a worthwhile day.
Bicycling De Hoge Veluwe Will today be a tortuous day stuck in the tent waiting for the rain to stop? For the sake of Ren's mental health let's hope there's some good weather.
Urk? Is That The Sun? A break in the weather brings a positive feel to the day along with pleasant places, friendly faces and new acquaintances.
A Big Dyke With Edam What is the Afsluitdijk for? Why would you name a town after a cheese? All these questions will not be answered by reading this.
Edam, Marken, Tourists and Symmetry Ren and Sharon visit a town named after a cheese. Why would you name a town after a cheese? Weird folks these Dutch.
Curious Distelloo Sunshine, philosophy and an alternative kind of campsite.
Drowning In Zierikzee Philosophy, friendly people, terrible rain and salvation all in one day! Not bad really for pair of wastrels on 125s.
Exploring Zeeland We're chilling out and exploring Zeeland 2-up on a 125. Is this the Dutch Riviera?
A Short Hop To Oostkapelle How do you get lost in 15 miles on a route you already know? How do you upset a German camper? How do you do all this and remain content in yourself? It's called getting old.
Dodgy Dutch Drivers Their last full day in The Netherlands sums up the whole Dutch experience. "The nicest bad drivers you'll ever meet".
Going Home-ish It's time to leave The Netherlands and return to good 'ole Blighty. There's some shocking news that might change things for the future though.
So, What About The Netherlands? After 2 weeks of riding around The Netherlands on 125s what does Ren think of the country now?

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