This is to be a new journey. Today is my first day and I am joined by Dagmar who has come to Devon from southern Germany on various trains that apparently competed with one another with extreme German and British efficiency. Dagmar tells me that the train company from Paddington is her favourite.
I first met Dagmar 5 years ago while cycling in Germany and this is to be our 4th bike ride together since then. She has introduced me to cycling in Switzerland, France and Germany while I have introduced her to Cornish pasties and English breakfasts. This time it is my route that we are following. I have not worked this out exactly yet but it is to include Ireland. We leave Ivybridge for a slow first day. We make our first stop for coffee and tea cakes in Buckfastleigh. "Do English people normally buy tea cakes in fish and chip shops?" asks Dagmar whose face is a picture of bemusement. "This is Devon" I reply. "Of course you can"
Dagmar has brought her Birdy bike, a touring folder that has Rolhoff gears. She has also brought "Badger" who is our jointly shared mascot that lives 1 year in Germany, then the next in Devon, then back to Germany, etc. This time Badger is on my bike. We leave our coffee, er fish and chip shop and discover a clapper bridge on our quiet lanes.
For a slow ride, we are cycling very fast because of an unexpected tail wind. But the hills are another matter. Dagmar sometimes cycles the Alps where roads take an even gradient climbing gently for several miles at a time. In Devon, they go straight up and over the top taking in a extra bends where they are not steep enough.
Dagmar tells me that Germans believe that Devon is cider country. This is correct but we also enjoy pasties and cream teas. Tonight we reach Topsham having cycled a modest 34 miles and are staying in a bike cafe. Tomorrow we set off for "Flooded" and "Hippy" countries.
This is where you find Dagmar's blog