Dublin to Brighton


Dublin to Brighton

Having overcome yet another technical hurdle I was ready to leave Dublin.  I took one last ride around the Temple Bar district, and just as I was beginning to know my way around the city I pointed my bicycle south and left.  I couldn’t help but feel that I’d missed something.  There was a bustling populace, pretty  buildings and lots of shops.  It seemed like Just Another City.  Nothing about the experience excited me, challenged me, nothing was unexpected – I felt like I’d seen it all before.  I began to second-guess myself and my journey.  I pondered that perhaps I just don’t like travelling.  Should I go home?

It did seem that the Irish are more friendly the further south you go.  Invariable strangers note how heavy the bike looks and ask where I am cycling to.  when I tell them I’m cycling home to Australia it usually takes them a few seconds to process the information – unsure if they’ve misheard me or if I’m joking.  Disbelief or slight bemusement follows with optional jokes about needling paddles.  I already feel like I’ve had the same conversation hundreds of times – but I suppose it at least gives me something to talk about.

Dawn had just broken when I arrived at Tiglin, County Wicklow.  As I understood it, my paternal ancestors had left (or been moved) from here when they emigrated to Australia in the 1850s – most likely due to the potato famine.  My GPS knew the location, but there was no town here.  Just a few houses and farms.  I was mildly disappointed – I had imagined myself scouring graveyards and church records for evidence of my forebears.  If a church had ever existed here, it was long gone.

I seem to be engaged in a perpetual search for places to charge my electronics.  While the IED provides some power, I’m simply not clocking up enough miles each day to rely on it exclusively.  I stopped outside “Peg’s Bar” initially because it was the first bar I’d come across in a long time that wasn’t playing shitty music.  I don’t even recall what was playing – only that it wasn’t shitty.

I was served by David, a charismatic Irish fellow with long greying hair.  I asked if it would be OK to plug in my laptop somewhere while I had a pint.  He directed me to the sheltered outdoor area next to where my bike was parked.  It was strangely and welcomely quiet for a Saturday night.  I had just started my second pint when a group of four drunk, teenage punks showed up.  At first the took no notice of me as from the corner of my eye, I watched them piss on the outdoor furniture and generally make a noisy nuisance of themselves.  I was tucked away in a corner and quietly continued sipping my pint and sorting photos.

One sat down next to me and issued mundane question after mundane question while another examined my bike.  I wasn’t too worried about it – the bike was locked to the front wheel so it couldn’t be ridden away.  Before long, all four of them were swarming around me.  One of them snatched the cap from my head.  I brief tug-o-war ensued – another advised me to let him have it for now – he would get it back for me later…  They were repulsive.  One literally drooled beer on the bench to his side as he grappled with consciousness.

“Do you want your hat back?” the thieves counterpart offered.  I decided disinterested apathy was the best strategy.  “Yeah, eventually.” I responded, my gaze not lifting from the screen.  I blankly and calmy answered their further mundane questions and my hat was returned only to be snatched away by someone else a short time later. 

I closed the laptop and rested my arm across it.  They had my full attention.  I figured they were sizing me up, trying to see if I was an easy target.  “Are you drunk?” one of them inquired.  “Nope.”

It push came to shove I felt reasonably confident about being able to defend myslf.  They were all young, none of them big and three of them barely able to content with gravity.  Keeping my laptop and other possessions safe was another matter.  The pub had locked its doors some time ago, hoping that cutting off the beer supply would cause my potential assailants to leave.  I noticed someone parting the window blinds and watching the proceedings.  This made me feel a little safer, and it wasn’t too long before David bounded out of the front door and told them in no uncertain terms that the pub was closed and that they should all fuck off.  Before too long a taxi arrived and they were gone.  I was informed that I was unlucky and that it was unusual to have that sort of problem around here.  They were described as Gypsies but I suspect that’s a term thrown around to describe anyone antisocial from out of town.

I had planned to cycle through the night, but David offered a patch of grass behind the pub to camp on for the night.  I wheeled the bicycle inside and was treated to a couple of complimentary pints, one courtesy of Peg’s Bar and the other courtesy of a charming local who looked disturbingly like Michael Flatley.  A genuine Irish sing-song later it was closing time – again – and I wheeled the bicycle out back and pitched my tent

I fell asleep content that, even though I’d nearly been robbed in the process, I’d found Ireland proper

As I cycled down the east coast of Ireland I became increasingly aware of pain in my left knee.  This is exactly the sort of injury a touring cyclist dreads.  I stopped at a camp site in Wexford, just short of my planned ferry crossing to Wales.  I only planned to stay for one night, but by the time I went to book the ferry, it was full – this meant staying for another night.  Here I met David Osbiston, strumming wistfully on his accoustic guitar.  He was an amiable and friendly chap, although he resoundly beat me at foosball, which I thought rather rude.

My ferry booked for the evening, I set off late in the afternoon, not realising quite how far the ferry terminal at Rosslare was.  With pleasantly flat terrain it turned out I had plenty of time.  I stopped at the Kilrane Inn just outside Rosslare, quickly gulped down my last Guinness in Ireland, said one last goodbye to the land of leprechauns, and boarded the ferry.

The ferry landed in Pembroke, Wales at around 1am.  I plotted an easterly course, trying to stick to the coast as much as possible and set off in to the night.  As I left the city the night air became drenched in mist, Merlin’s Charm of Making ringing in my head.

I cycled as far as I could until the morning traffic started to pick up – found a field and setup camp for the night.  The next day is rained – lightly but consistently and I took another day off hopefully allowing whatever was wrong with my knee to correct itself.

The next leg through Wales was punishing.  After reaching Carmarthen relatively hill free, I decided to ignore my GPS and head directly to Swansea via B roads, rather than sticking to the coast.  It was a mistake.  A big, hilly mistake.  I’d organised to stay with Bob – A host from Warmshowers.org, but as the sun started to set and the pain in my knee worsened, it was clear I wasn’t going to make it – or at least I shouldn’t push myself to try.  I consulted my GPS for camp sites – there were a couple in range.  The first had a pub on-site – the whole place seemed drunk and messy and I just had a bad feeling about it, so I moved on to the next.  I arrived after reception was closed.  The toilet block was locked so I waited for someone else to feel the call of nature; relieved myself and filled my water bottles.  The site owner arrived and asked me what I was doing.  I told him I was a late arrival.  He pointed out, somewhat sympathetically, that this was a caravan-only site and that tents weren’t allowed.


I’d already called Bob and told him I wouldn’t be arriving tonight.  It was getting late, the sky almost dark, so I set off looking for a place to wild camp.  The whole area was decidedly urban and no opportunities presented themselves.  Not sure what to do – I did what came naturally – I went to the pub for a pint.  It was a good old fashioned local Welsh pub full of good old fashioned Welsh locals.  One by one they marvelled at the task I had set myself and before long, the publican had offered a spot behind his establishment for me to setup camp for the night.

They autographed a Welsh flag for me to take as a souvenir.  I washed away my worries with Wales’ finest, and slept away the pain in my knee.

Finding Bob’s house wasn’t exactly easy.  Vast swathes of the UK have yet to discover the marvel of street numbers, and Bob’s place was among them.   Bob had two renters, Sue and Malcolm.  They also had two visitors whose names I’ve not forgotten.  All were non-smoking vegans.  I felt a little out of place.  OK I felt a lot out of place.  I generally kept to myself and avoided dining with my hosts – somewhat afraid of what vegan concoction they might be preparing – which I hope didn’t come across as rude.

I’d had a tripod sent ahead here, a credit card to replace one that expires soon, and a few other bits and pieces.  I stayed here two nights, again to try and give my knee a rest.  It was fine when I was off the bike, only presenting itself when exerting force down on the pedals, so it was hard to gauge what improvement there might be…

A neighbour performed Reiki on my knee.  Normally I would have been tempted to engage in a discussion of why Reiki is a pseudoscience, but I was a guest so I bit my lip.  And again when she told an anecdote explaining why she charges 5 pounds more than other practitioners for an hour of light touching and forced breathing – because she’s better at it.

I left at around 9pm, planning another night of cycling.  It’s been suggested that I would miss out on the scenery along the way if I cycle at night, and to some degree that’s true.  I do enjoy the quiet, the cool air, the long stretches of time that can go by without seeing another person.  If I really want to see what’s around me, all I need to do is point my camera and wait for 8 seconds

Somehow the Reiki hadn’t fixed my knee and I resolved to cycle more carefully up hills, keep in lower gears, and just get off and push when necessary.  Another camp site, another few days and I had arrived at the A48 bridge.  I was planning to travel directly east for London, and then head to Dover to board the ferry to Calais.  As I crossed the A48 bridge and found myself in merry old England, I had a sudden change of heart.  Within a few minutes I’d decided to head south and along the coast and skip revisiting London entirely.

The south coast of England was mostly uneventful.  At one point my bicycle speakers started making a strange electrical noise.  I turned the power off and opened the IED at the next opportunity, making sure there was no short circuits, loose wires or any other obvious problems.  Everything seemed to be in order.  I turned the power on again.  In an instant the 5V circuit powering the USB ports “let the smoke out.” (Jargon for “blew up.”)  I chalked it up as another challenge to overcome and ordered a replacement circuit.  Unfortunately the supplier had to build it, didn’t tell me he also had to order a part and ended up keeping me in Portsmouth for three nights.

My jaunt across the south of England was largely uneventful.  I spent a few nights camping in The New Forest.  In England every patch of ground is either covered by buildings or fenced off by a farmer/land owner.  To come across vast tracts of unfenced scrub land instantly reminded me of home and I confess made me a little homesick.   I camped for a few nights here and it was isolated enough to serve as a recording studio for a short operatic piece I’d been thinking about.  Sadly it didn’t make it in to the video for this entry, perhaps next time!

One my last stops was at Rowan Park in Bognor Regis.  I arrived around 8:20pm, just after reception had closed.  I set up my tent in the late arrivals area as the sign indicated I should.  I’d been awake for 30 hours, I was tired and grumpy.  The late arrivals area was gravel, designed for caravans (it was a caravan park that also accepts tents – thankfully)  I set up my tent in the grassy car park area bordering the late arrivals area.  Just as I’d finished, David the manager walked over and informed me that I couldn’t park my tent there, I was in danger of being run over.  I’d need to move to a pitch on-site.  I was annoyed, but he was probably right.  He offered to throw all my gear in the back of his car and drive me around to the spot.  I thankfully declined but he insisted – which probably saved me a good 30 minutes.  As is usually the case after staying up for so long, I slept for about 14 hours.  I didn’t particularly feel like night cycling again, so I stayed the next night as well, and managed to get an earlier start the next day.  David and his wife Nicolette were very enthusiastic about my journey and helped to boost my own flagging enthusiasm.

And so I cycled, on to Brighton, last stop before Newhaven and a ferry to France.  But before that, I decided to pay a visit to someone I haven’t seen in a very, very long time… (hint: it’s at the end of the video)

For High Definition version, click HD above


GPS track for this section:

Dublin to Brighton

8 Responses to “Dublin to Brighton”

  1. andrew says:

    what a cliffhanger ! we want the next episode!!

    oh and those punks made the right decision. you dont want to end up on the wrong end of a jordan calf.

  2. bruce says:

    some of your finest work here Jordy… pacing and poetry of the time-lapse was spot-on. I’d forgotten that that song was called “the tourist”, which just makes it an even more fitting choice.

    Look after yourself matey – and don’t make us wait too long for the payoff of that tbc (ya bastard)!

  3. craig says:

    We wait for closure.

  4. Ben says:

    That video is bloody fantastic Jordan, well done.

  5. Shane Caldwell says:

    Hi Jordan,

    Shane Caldwell here. You know me I m sure. Adrian and Craigs mate. They told me about your trip and I had a look at your blog.

    To say I am impressed is a massive understatment. I think my girl freind sitting next to feels the same also.

    Keep up the good work!!!!

    I am living in Oslo Norway these days. Shame you were not passing through here.

    All the best dude


  6. katy says:

    Jordan – me Bruce and the girls are so hanging for the next installment of your blog.. hope it’s all going well.

    We also found a notebook of yours behind the couch, (a big A4 spiral one) let us know how/ if we can get it to you safely… along with anything else you need from ‘sunny’ scotland 🙂

    Katy x

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