I’m finally in a country where this machine makes sense: lots of mud and occasional snow. I was busting a gut to justify one in Adelaide, though a ride out into Lake Eyre might have cut it. When I collected it from the shop, they’d pumped the tyres up hard, rather than leaving them at the recommended 10psi; it was like riding a pogo stick through Manchester, skittering about on cobbles and bouncing up kerbs. When I got to the Rochdale canal path, I let some air out a life got more serene. The fat tyres maintain control in sand, mud and gravel when I’d struggle with other bikes; and it’s a lot harder to lose back wheel grip going up steep, wet stone. So far, so good, then. Just need a bit of snow! A Brooks, sprung saddle will be swapped off the Bad Boy before I give that bike to my cousin.

We’re just waiting for the last of our stuff to arrive from Australia, after which we’ll have no external deadlines to work to. This will be the first time ever. Soon, we’ll start some big projects that will have their own pace but I hope we can just enjoy progress at a natural pace. A local group are scheduled to plant a couple of thousand trees at the end of February but they will look after their own transport, feeding and facilities.

Monica’s soon off to Granada, Spain, for a week with her brother and friends. I’ll remain here to look after the dog and keep things ticking over. I’m hoping never to fly again because I’ve done enough and hate the airport security bullshit; I’d ride down to meet them but we haven’t worked out how to accommodate the dog when we’re away.

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