Off into the storm…

Saying goodbye to your friends is always sad but I was looking forward to my next destination as I would be staying with a relative and his girlfriend that I hadn’t me yet and also because I would be in the famously beautiful city of Delft…… also my LAST destination before heading back to England.
In true form it took me a while to get ready to leave and I even ha to return as I realized as I was doing my food shop that I didn’t have them anymore (I never found them!) The rest of the afternoon went pretty smoothly with a couple of stops for a fresh plum, though as the afternoon started to become early evening I realize that I still hadn’t managed to find a spot to camp as the countryside seemed to disappear. After a couple of camp attempts I decided that I would just ask one of the farms if I could camp in their field for he night, I went with my instinct, got off the bike and ventured down the steep driveway. A group of young boys met me at the bottom, I explained why I was there and one of the boys broke off and said he would go and get his dad. He appeared out of the large shed with a quizzical tool on his face but it soon turned into a smile as I explained again and he offered me the front field to set up camp. It turned out it was his wife’s birthday so he asked me to come and join the party after I had set up, in no time I had a cold beer in my hand and a plate of food in front of me. I felt so thankful for this turn of events as I met some really awesome people and stayed up late into the night having conversations in broken English yet sharing the same jokes. Thanks again for a great night!
The next morning I woke up content but rather aware of the strong winds outside the tent, I knew that was a reason to get moving so I set about packing up. Wanting to say goodbye I ventured back into the barn where I had been told I could find coffee. I had a good look at the map and felt confident about my journey to Delft, I would soon be in the National Park and then just a few hours up past Rotterdam and then into Delft. I was soon informed that we were actually looking at the beginnings of a large wind storm and that I would be cycling head on, great! I quickly packed up my bike, took a quick picture and off I went. It was tough, from the word go it was a struggle but I had my music and I was feeling enthusiastic. Huffing and puffing I reached the bridge that I felt was the real of the park, deciding that I should check I went to get the map out just to realize eventually that it wasn’t with me. My heart sank, I stood for aged going back and forth in my mind whether it was worth the trip back or not, eventually I gave in and headed back with the wind behind me. No surprises that the storm was getting worse so I already felt exhausted by the time I got back to the same spot again, looking out I knew that it was about to get a lot more difficult as the flat open land lay before me. But the only way is forward so off I went, puffing, panting, legs straining but hardly moving! After what felt like a lifetime but in reality was probably only about half a km I saw another cycling figure heading my way, at great haste and ease I noticed with unintentional resentment. The young man was from Rotterdam and was just out for a leisurely ride (it wouldn’t be so leisurely on the way back I thought) he informed me that a. I was going the right way, b. The ferry was still open and c. That I would make it no problem…. With sweat already creating rivers down my back I desperately hoped he was right! Off I went but it wasn’t long before a huge gust sent me off the path and into the sand….. there was no staying on the bike!! The bike went down, the bags flew off, one foot never detached from my cleat which resulted in a mangled heap of wet, sandy and bruised Gem intertwined with a twisted bike and scattered luggage. After a quick stint of feeling sorry for myself, gathering my things and dusting off my pink and sandy palm I strained to set off again. The next challenge cropped up while crossing one of the many bridges, another unforgiving blast from the elements caught me like a sail and I uncontrollably smashed into the railings! Just in time I grabbed my front pannier as it swung away from my wheel and towards the choppy waters below…. Close call!! After that near miss and with the idea that everything comes in threes I wasn’t as shocked as one might think when a branch crashed into the side of me from a near by tree. I didn’t even try and get off the bike this time, I was forcing myself to try and laugh at the ridiculous situation I was in as the tears stung my eyes….. where was I ever going to reach this ferry?!? About two hours after leaving the turn around spot (usually a 20 minute ride) I finally saw the ferry crossing and thankfully a little waiting hut, I had made it!! It took a while for the ferry but I was grateful for the chance to sit in a windless environment for a while and even more grateful that the ferry was still running. By this point I had decided that despite my regrets that I should think about finding a train, there was only about 30km to go but the thought of riding on the busy roads with my kite of a bike terrified me as it had become very obvious that I had little to no control over things in these conditions, after boarding the ferry my decision was made up as a large tree fell over and blocked most of the road that we were heading for. I consulted my map and peddled off, dodging branches, blinking through the rain and swerving around the debris that covered the path. As I started to be surrounded by houses I met a lad biking along with his skateboard, he told me he was heading to a competition situated by the train station and so he would lead me to it…. My saviour!! We said our goodbyes, I bought my ticket and slumped in a soggy, dirty heap next to my plastic bag clad bike feeling completely defeated but relieved to be there…. But it wasn’t over yet! I was due to change in Rotterdam but when I disembarked I realized things were not going to be that easy as it seemed that everything was on a stand still and so it was a hugely busy, frantic throng of people all questioning the situation and demanding answers. To cut things short I went up and down to three different platforms where I got on and then off two trains (I’m sure you understand that this is no easy task with a bike that weighs as much as a train), almost made it just to get sent back again until finally reaching Delft! One last stint through the city in the calming storm and I was there…… finally!!

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