We are a family of nomads, the Browns. My youngest brother Ash, introduced me to long distance cycling nine years ago. He said, why don’t we do a cycle trip? Where? lets do South America, he says!!! Hang on. the last time I rode a push bike was in 1962!! No sweat he says, you’ll get the hang of it. It got me thinking, it would be rather neat to do something like that but perhaps not in South America. So, we reached a compromise. I said, lets start in Portugal and ride back to the UK?
So, thats what we did. I flew to the UK and picked up a bike I bought online from a shop in Chorley. Ash bought his from NZ and we met at Jen’s place in Bromley, and flew to Lisbon. Talk about baptism of fire. Portugal in the early summer can get pretty warm and some days we had to have a siesta in the middle of the day to get out of the sun.
From that, a passion developed. Jen decided she wouldn’t mind doing a trip either, though she couldn’t remember when she last rode a bike. So next summer we cycled from St Malo down to St Nazaire then along the Loire and Danube to Constanta on the Black Sea in Romania. Nearly 4000k’s, which took us three months. We were both like Racing Sardines by the time we got there. It was an amazing journey, sleeping in the tent nearly every night and eating like horses but not putting an ounce on because of the exercise we were getting. And so it goes, we have cycled every year since then, until this year.
Brother Ash has just cycled the Tour Aoteaoa from the northern tip of the North Island to Bluff, the furtherest point South on the South Island. 2300k’s in about two weeks. Crazy!!! He was in Europe last year bringing his KTM Adventure bike from NZ and starting in the UK, rode up through Europe and Russia to Murmansk and back down through Norway.
Our other brother Kelvin and partner Jen #2, are currently driving their Isuzu Ute and towing a caravan around Australia. Kelvin is the more sane one of us and likes his creature comforts. His journey hasn’t been without hitches as they broke a spring in the caravan and had fun getting a new one from Perth. All us boys, have had a huge amount of fun in Outback Australia. It remains one of the most challenging environments but is so rewarding if you are well prepared.
We have a sister too, Lizzy, who is married to a Pom, a £10 one who arrived in NZ as a wee boy with his parents in the early 60’s. Liz is a worrier, a bit like Jen. She sits at home worrying about her crazy brothers. They lived in the UK for a number of years. Husband Chris is one of those ‘can do anything guys’ and he must cringe at some of the work that his brothers-in-law do. He trained as an Aircraft mechanic in the Royal NZ Airforce and now is an Alignment Specialist. He will have a hard job aligning our sister..:) . We all refer to our “Lennie”moments. Our dad, Len was a DIY man, without much idea…laughing. He would try most things and nearly succeed. So, when his sons achieve similar results we joke about it. He was a lovely gentle guy, our Dad.
Jen here. Well, now I will try to get a word in edgeways! To continue with today’s saga. During a very tasty brunch, we were interrupted by a message from the garage. They thought they had found the problem and could we come to the garage to “discuss the way forward”. I thought that sounded rather ominous. To be brief, they thought the problem was the air mass sensor and they did not have a spare in stock. They knew of a shop selling spares on the other side of St Petersburg and suggested we drive the L R over there and get it. We asked if they could get it delivered, but no. In the end we agreed to go by taxi (not expensive here) and collect it. So, we set off across town, an interesting ride and by now we are getting our bearings pretty well. The first place we arrive at is not the right place – taxi driver is using a Sat Nav. A conversation takes place with a local lady and we set off again. The next stop is at another glossy showroom and does no the look right. Dennis goes inside with the taxi driver and we get directed somewhere else. We eventually arrive at the right place to find the shutters down and the place closed! Our very helpful driver calls the shop number and manages to locate the owner who is at lunch. A few minutes later a brand new, top of the range, black Discovery L R with blackened windows pulls up beside us. Out jumps a wide boy who opens up the shop. We have been warned he will only take cash and the part is quickly produced. Back we go to the garage.
We leave the part for the garage to fit and return to our hotel for a rest before some more sightseeing and dinner. The day’s fun isn’t over yet though. I decide we need some more cash and we try and find a cash machine. The first one we find won’t give me any money. We try another and the first slot does not want to take my card. There is another slot so we try that and my card gets jammed in. I go into the bank and a large, angry lady comes to have a look. She tells us to wait 10 minutes. 15 minutes later nothing is happening, so we decide to take matters into our own hands. We are very close to our hotel so Dennis goes back for my eyebrow tweezers! While he is gone the large lady returns with another large, equally angry lady with a bunch of keys. She opens up the machine but it does not help and they tell me to go away and come back tomorrow. I try to explain Dennis has gone to get tweezers but they just get crosser. Fortunately Dennis returns with the implement. We manage to extract the card and beat a hasty retreat.
The new part has apparently been fitted, and it’s fixed. They have also found some oil leaks which they will work on in the morning. Then we’ll be off. What will we talk about if the Land Rover works faultlessly? Won’t that be amazing!