First Steps

Daphne & I have spoken about a ‘blog’ for several years. It’s been a strange year, several planned trips have been cancelled, and we’ve never travelled so little. But it does mean we’ve had more time at home - and now it’s time to try out a website blog of our own.

A few of our past travels

We have many interests, and travel has been included in most of them. We also enjoy our family, and find that leaving them for long periods of time is our main regret. However, in this day and age we can generally keep in touch somehow, and most places in the world have an airport nearby if we really need to get back urgently.

We love canal boats and canal holidays, and have had at least one holiday on the canals every year since about 1978.

In 2004 we cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats (LE JOG), staying in Bed & Breakfasts or Youth Hostels. Our two children were now adults and we thought it was time for us to play. Were we fit, healthy and prepared for this trip - ….er No. We were so unsure that we only booked accomodation for the first 5 nights, and planned to have some kind of holiday in Wales if the complete expedition was not working out.

John OGroats

In 2005 we were looking for an expedition to try, and found a Cicerone Guide to cycling the Loire Valley. We were hooked! We were also surprised to find that the total distance involved would be less than the distance we had cycled for LE JOG. It didn’t spoil it for us, but it would have been a really good idea to start at the top of the mountain, instead of the bottom! We found this such a beautiful part of the world that we faltered halfway along the route & had to return the following year to finish it off.

2015 saw us exploring Southern Africa as our holiday of a lifetime (South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and back to South Africa) on an organised tour with the Camping & Caravanning Worldwide Holidays (no longer in existence) - a really wonderful trip which we would never have dreamed we could accomplish. Having completed the tour, we applied for, and were accepted as tour escorts - in 2017, 2018 & 2019 we were tour escorts for those tours. We were scheduled to be escorting a tour to Argentina this year, but the pandemic has led to the tour being cancelled.

Hobbies & interests


We’ve both been involved in one way or another with Kent Search and Rescue (KSAR). Every day in the news you can find some mention of a missing person - there are many reasons; teenagers worried about exams, elderly people suffering from dementia, breakups in relationships, money problems, etc.. The volunteers for KSAR are highly trained, highly motivated, and very professional - and yes, they are volunteers. It’s also surprising what you can do to help them - fundraising is always a problem, so any help there is always appreciated, but there are other ways as well;

  • Pretending to be a casualty at one of their training or assessment exercises,
  • Hiding in woods so the search dogs can look for you - the dogs need to be trained, assessed, and have to pass stringent assessment exercises - ‘stooges’ are always welcome, and it’s a good topic of conversation afterwards with your friends.
  • You could volunteer to undergo the training, and become a ‘search technician’ - one of the volunteers who carries out the searches.
  • If you’re not in Kent, then do a little research - most, if not all, parts of the UK have volunteer teams (Lowland or Highland) who carry out these searches.

We’ve both been involved in Girl Guiding and Scouting for many years.

Nick has been involved in since 2008, when OSM’s level of detail of the UK was very poor and for much of the rest of the world it was non existent. Satellite imagery of a kind was available for tracing, but it was so poor that it couldn’t be used with any degree of certainty. Nick cycled along streets, with a gps obtaining traces or tracks which he was able to load into an editing programme, and correct the layouts of the roads - at the same time he obtained the road names and added them. He has also been involved helping Aid Agencies such as the Red Cross & Doctors without Borders create mapping data for remote parts of the world. The Heat Map of his contributions is interesting. As a result of his involvement in training others he went to Sierra Leone in 2016 to help local residents learn to map and carry out surveys. He is still a prolific mapper.

Requirement for our new site

  • Nick is a contributor to which is maintained using a Jekyll theme, so something along those lines would be ideal as a base - Lanyon is the current favourite.
  • Although there will be lots of text, photographing wildlife is high on our needs.
  • There’s a good chance we will want to embed a map and following a little research which also has the benefit of being built using OpenstreetMap, Github (where learnosm is hosted) and Jekyll looks as if it will make the whole thing very easy.