Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Poetic welcome

February 17th, 2012

We had a visit ’round this time

From Ken from Outward Bound,

Who’s cycling up and down the World

Raising money as he goes around.

Four years he thinks he’ll pedal on

Through all the types of weather,

Meeting people everywhere

We think he is quite clever!

If I’d had sense I’d have retired to bed several hours before I actually did. But I was too tired for that. Besides I wanted to chat. Even if I found myself frequently loosing the thread of the conversation. Ever decreasing lucidity.

Earlier, interviews finally completed, photos taken and cake cut, I’d joined my Mum and Dad for afternoon tea with friends in the village. Then a hasty rummage in my panniers, extracting things I’d need for the next few days before loading my trusty steed into the back of my parents car. They’d be taking her back to their garage for safe keeping. I’d follow in a few days.

I’d a plan to spend a couple of nights staying with my neighbours, my own cottage still rented out. If I’d felt at all weary after such an intense day, the rush of emotion as I’d stepped inside their home pushed it quickly aside. For a while at least. Tantalising aromas from the kitchen beyond. Soft heat from the woodstove. Tea in the pot.

A few items of post that’d turned up in my own cottage next door. Amongst them a Christmas card from the Shapland family. I’d stayed with them out near Brisbane. Inside a newsletter with a twist. A poem. Twenty eight carefully crafted verses. Wonderful.

[Quotation above courtesy of the Shapland family – Mike, Mandy and Felicity – with whom I’d stayed back in Brisbane, Australia. And especial thanks to neighbours Jon and Helen, and Sue and Roger, for their generous hospitality]

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Catching up with Mark

June 11th, 2011

Catching up with Mark from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Introducing Mark. Someone Ken had met at the end of his first day on the road back on Dartmoor, UK.

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Follow the Logan Road

June 9th, 2011

Want some advice on cycling through Brisbane? Simple. Don’t. Go around. Visit Melbourne instead. Get your legs waxed. Anything but. Or maybe I was unlucky with my timing. My visit coinciding with a redneck convention in town. Knuckle-draggers aplenty. If you really must take the foolhardy path, follow the Logan Road.

I’d Niall to thank for the suggestion. And copious maps showing every twist and turn. Soon finding the road in the very heart of the city. My escape route south towards the Gold Coast. Slowed only by my own caution. Keeping my enthusiasm for turning the pedals in check, lest I wander off course and get quite lost. And a few roadworks to contend with.

V1 sign

Later stumbling across the V1 cycle route that seem to make use of the Logan Road and the subsequent M1 motorway service ways that run parallel. From what I could make out, right out to Surfers Paradise on the coast south of the city.

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Battling through Brisbane

June 8th, 2011

Battling through Brisbane from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken battles his way south through Brisbane’s traffic

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Northbound to Niall’s

June 8th, 2011

I’ve carried heavier sandwiches. If Emma, my trusty steed, is a tough northern lass, Niall’s road bike was a London girl. Not least because ordinarily he had a cast iron rule. Never go out in the wet. Bit problematic I thought in Queensland. And necessitating a previously unheard of exception today. Joining us on the south western outskirts of Brisbane, the State’s capital, for the ride up to his home to the north of the city.

To compound matters, our respective bikes weren’t exactly well matched for speed. A sort of north-south divide. The only thing that gets Emma and I to sprint is a particularly energetic bout of travellers diarrhoea. And Brisbane certainly isn’t the easiest of cities to traverse. Even for an experienced London cycle commuter.

But Niall has endless patience. Unless you’re one of those drivers to behave plain dangerously. Before you cut someone up make sure you know who they are. Police officers are never really off-duty. Red traffic lights are a great leveller.

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Along the Brisbane river

June 6th, 2011

Along the Brisbane river from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken explores the Brisbane river in Queensland’s capital city

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Triumphal entry

June 6th, 2011

Triumphal entry from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken discovers the best way to explore the streets of Brisbane, Queensland’s capital

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The cunning plan

May 29th, 2011

The cunning plan from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken introduces his latest cunning plan. And his pen.

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Springs and neaps

January 22nd, 2011

"A king tide", the reporter explained, had Brisbane residents worried there might be further flooding. Something to do with the combination of high water and a still swollen river. Still, didn’t justify the abusive language. Children might be watching.

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A stoic nation

January 12th, 2011

Tropical downpour from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Queensland. I’d always known I’d be here in the wet season. But this year the rainfall has reached levels not seen for decades. Towns and villages flooded. Some several times in just a few weeks. Even, Brisbane, the State Capital not immune. Tens of thousands of homes expected to be submerged shortly.

The scale of devastation is difficult to comprehend. And, with much of population living along the east coast, the impact on people likely to be far greater than the geographic extent of the flooding might suggest. This isn’t a few rivers bursting their banks. This is de facto a national emergency. Three quarters of Queensland declared a Natural Disaster Zone.

The extent of the damage, to property, to the lives of individuals, is truly moving. Watch just a little of the saturation news coverage and you’d be hard pressed not to have a tear in your eye. And yet the people remain truly stoic. Ordered evacuations, precious few reports of panic buying, even less of looting. Perfect strangers helping residents rescue possessions. That the emergency services are able to cope as impressive. This isn’t New Orleans.

And no let up in sight. Ground saturated. An otherwise ordinary downpour a few days ago resulting in a devastating flash flood. Ripping through the town of Grantham. At least ten dead. The final death toll likely to be much higher. Flooding starting to shift south into the neighbouring State of New South Wales. And Cairns itself not immune. Flash flood warning in force earlier.

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