• 13 December 2013

I stroll in North England with my iron horse

I stroll in North England with my iron horse

I stroll in North England with my iron horse 300 169 Gürkan Genç

My leg muscles started to scream, “Oh my! What’s going on?” climbing small hills up and down, I had pedaled only five times from city to city within circa 40 days of my Holland stay.   : ) I let myself go. Staying in one house after another! Folk song bars, Amsterdam’s night life… Well, my body got out of condition.

(Actually, there were other reasons for this long rest break)

My first camping place in England was heavenly. After watching the spectacular view for a while I unpacked my camping gear. Oh, f..k it. Dude, the tent is wet. The last time I had used it in Holland was at 5th of November, I packed it just as it was without drying up. Well, since I had kept it in the air tight bag it remained wet. Boo… This tent was not used for days and also my mattress. After erecting my tent I unzip the doors and open all the ventilations. The tent dries within two minutes under the famous wind of England. I check the tent whether everything is intact. Yes. But the ends of the poles got moldy. I’ll take care the next morning. I unfolded my mattress. Hahahaha it also got moldy. : ) I snuff, it stinks like rotten cheese. Strange. I clean and unroll it, my sleeping bag is clean. I have to recharge the batteries of my head lamb. What about my stove? Just f..k it. “I won’t let you pass away, you will finish this tour on my side!!! You are one of the few pieces left over from my Turkey-Japan tour, you must survive the tour.” : ) I took it apart and cleaned. Woww, great. I managed to fix it. Dude, how much I missed the tent life.

The first big city I visited on the road was York, also the biggest of the region. Although its medieval architecture fascinates me at the first sight, after a while they lose their charm resembling the dwellings all over Europe. I surf in internet and read about the history of the city from Wikipedia. The streets I’m pedaling through lead me to the cathedral York Minster.

As I was taking photos of the building a guy came next to me and said:”I can take your photo together with your bike if you want”. I usually use monopod to shoot photos, so I do not need anyone else. Furthermore, by this way I keep my camera from being stolen. I thanked him. But, afterwards he came with his wife and asked me where I’m coming from.  They also had traveled to many places. English people turned out to be very warmhearted, more than I had expected. Before I entered the town York my bike chain got off. A guy who saw this happen came next to me and asked if I needed any help. When I was strolling along the streets another guy came next to me and we had a small talk. He told me that there is a camping area down town even open in this season. Another guy offered to escort me with his car to the exit of the city. After all, people are trying to help in any way which makes me feel good. I left the city after pedaling in the city for a while and camped in the forest.

It is easy to find a camping place. Well, I guess this is due to that I’m pedaling on the northern part of the region. There are lots of forests, farm lands and huge flat fields. The day I camped in forest a small vehicle stopped next to my tent at 7:00 a.m.

–           Hello.

–           Hi.

–           You are not allowed to camp here.

–          I camped just for a night. I’ll leave this place in an hour.

–           All right then. Have a nice trip.

I encountered a similar situation before. But at that time the crew with the small vehicle has come before I erected my tent. It is possible to camp over night in England once you ask for permission.  I don’t think you would get in trouble with the people or any officials.

The northern part of the country is covered with sheep herds. If you would ask me what mostly caught my attention in the United Kingdom, my answer would be “the sheep herds”. On all the huge fields, you can see sheep herds. I had seen that many sheep and goats only in Mongolia before. The best on this is that they are always outdoor in the nature. Well, this is why I ordered a meal with lamb meat at a restaurant in one of the villages. “Wow, it is delicious”.  Just to test it, I ordered another lamb in another village. Just perfect. Well, since the animal is fed outdoor in the nature, the meal prepared with lamb tastes incredibly delicious.

Another issue which caught my attention was the fields on the sheep herds were pasturing. Well now, you are at a huge country where all the fields are fenced in. There are sections belonging to one or the other. All these fenced fields have one or more entrances. There aren’t any locks on the entrance gates. If you want, you can just enter. How do I know this? If I wanted to watch sun set or sun rise, I definitely entered these fields and erected my tent next to the sheep herds. And yet, it seems that nobody is stealing the sheep of anybody. Well, I should ask this issue to policemen. One night the thermometer showed minus 4 degrees inside my tent. I guess this goes down to minus 9 outside facing the famous wind of England. Anyway, the sheep herds were also out on the field. They were not put in stockyards.  I’m sure that there are sheep folds, but I wonder at which temperature these animal are locked in. I remember that in 2010, 10 million animals died after facing minus 30 degrees centigrade in Mongolia. I would ask about this issue in the upcoming days. I like to talk to villagers about such issues rather than searching in internet.

(The reason why those animals look some different is that their tails are tied with a cord. I was told that by this way the tail fat disperses uniformly throughout the body. What interesting knowledge 🙂 .

Talking about the agricultural economics, I would say the leading countries are China in Asia and Germany in Europe and close up any discussions. I have witnessed that the economical strength of these two countries depend on their agricultural economics liberalized to a great extend but managed in a strict manner. I also caught the impact of a strong agricultural economics on the country’s general economics. I could say that also United Kingdom has an agricultural economics as strong as the both countries but must say that not as disciplined as the Germans or Chinese. With the term discipline, I mean the extent of taking benefit from modern techniques related to stockbreeding or agriculture. It is possible to recognize the difference when visiting the stockyard and the farm lands. Another issue which caught my attention was the high number house sale announcements in various villages. I saw such announcements for many farm or village houses. There are many but not that many as was in Holland. These are not brand new houses for sale. They are old obviously family heirloom, many of them older than 100 years. Nobody wants to sell willingly a house in which he had settled in or is a family heirloom. It must the fact of the economical crisis the European countries are facing.

Since I’m homeless I fool around with my tent. I’ll try to use the tent for many years. I surpassed my previous camping record already. The sales manager of The North Face Company said:

–       Gurkan, normally these tents are not tested for sequentially folding that many times. This tent copes well with such intense camping.

I got experienced about long-term usage of my camping gear and made some notices.

For example, previous night it rained and then chilled down. Wow, I remember the same had happened in Romania last year during this period. In the morning… “Dude, I cannot disconnect the poles of the tent. What if the pole ropes break down? Hahaha..” Anyway, I’m prepared for it, I have spare ropes. I hardly disconnected poles one by one. I entered a bus stop during day and took out all the paraphernalia. I initially rubbed and then cleaned the tips of all the poles. Afterwards I greased them with a cold insensitive lubricant. The next days you should have seen how the pieces glided on each other, as easy as shooting a fish in a barrel. No matter how cold it was. Dude, I wish it had come to my mind when I was pedaling to the Arctic Circle.

Another day I wanted to buy fuel for my camping stove from a gas station. I entered the first station I saw. “No” said the machine “I cannot pour gasoline in that small thermos bottle.” Dude, I look at the machine, is it different from the others? Noooo, it is a common gas pump… I went to another station.

–          Is is possible to have some gasoline?

–          No, we are not allowed to sell gasoline for these small tanks.

–         Why?

–          How can we know that you are not using it to make a bomb?

–          What, a bomb? It is obvious that I’m travelling with bicycle. I have a camping stove. Let me show you.

I take the stove out of my bag. He looks and goes inside talking to another guy. Then comes back.

–       No, we cannot sell.


Hum. A strange situation. Well, a guy who heard our conversation and saw that I was heavily packed said: “I’ve some gasoline. Come with me”. My first thought: “Well, I’ll not go hungry this night also.” There must be a good reason why they don’t sell any fuel. If wonder what would happen if I had shown up with 60 pounds container instead of a 60 cents one.


Let’s set off my black thunder, we are heading towards the North….

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