Dash4Dosh – day 8 – Abisko to Moskenes

Starting Location: Abisko

Ending Location: Moskenes

Total Distance Traveled (including this day): 3500km (approx)

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :5

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :4

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I’m classing this day as a mistake.  Enjoyable, but a mistake.  It *was* supposed to be a rest/contingency day.  Where there was no pressure on us to get to anywhere and we could make plans if we wanted to.  We could surf the web, update sites, sleep or explore.    There was an alternative.  Head north to Tromso to do a “we got there” trip.  As there will be with any group, there were disagreements on what to do with this day.  We all agreed that while there were no technical issues and everyone was fresh, we should push on.  Tromso was an option.  Chris and I would have went for it but didn’t want to upset the status quo.  Roy wanted more “twisties” and Gregg…. well Gregg just didn’t care as long as he was enjoying himself on the bike.  We decided to bring the following day’s trip forward and head to Moskenes down the peninsula.  We were warned this was a full day trip, but didnt listen.  We added a detour north to Hartstad to increase the miles done that day.  This was the main mistake.

We set off early that morning and within an hour reached the Norway/Sweden border.

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After a few photos and some.. em… childishness, we pressed on and for the first time tried the Norwegian roads.  Two important points:

1 – Roads in Norway are good, but not a patch on Sweden

2 – Norway has no road that goes in a straight line!

We headed west on the E10 and then swung North up the B3 to Hartstad (the most northern point we reached).  The roads deterioated, but the scenery was amazing.  Then west to Refsnes and onto a quick ferry to Flesnes.

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Roy wanted to take lead so he could push on with the twisties, while Gregg and Chris wanted to enjoy the amazing scenery and stop when they wanted to for pictures.  I found myself somewhere in the middle.   Loving the corners but appreciating the desire to admire the scenery and enjoy the ride in a place I would never see again.  After the ferry we headed south and rejoined the E10.  It was then we started to notice it was already quite late in the day.   Roy went ahead again, but his terrible Garmin satnav and interesting sense of direction was not his friend.  We lost him, found him, then lost him again.  After waiting for a while for Roy we decided to press on.  He called/texted and we agreed to meet in Moskenes.  That lead to another 4 hours of riding, down amazing roads, hairpin bends, tunnels that went on for kilometres and very very narrow roads.  But by 6pm there was no joy left in it.  We had ridden all day and were at the “lets just fecking get there” mode.  My sat nav got us closer but we approached roadworks near Moskenes.  Well, this is Norway so we stopped and looked for alternative routes.

There weren’t any.  You drive through building sites and roadworks.  You do that because when you get this remote there is only one way to places.  Three bikes rode through a full on road building site, avoiding JCBs, vans, builders and at one point a 10tonne boulder being moved by a JCB.  After this part comments like “I think I pee’d myself” were mentioned.  For the non-believers, this is a screengrab of my SportsVue cam.

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By approx 8pm, we made the Moskenes camp site.  Gregg was tired.

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Roy joined us about an hour later, after his Sat Nav brought him via Mordor.  We pitched tents, knowing there was a very early start for the ferry the next morning.

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On the positive side, Chris discovered he had an exceptional talent in tea-making using his camping cooker.  Food, not so much, but tea and sleep was very welcome.  I set the alarm for 5.30 as we had a 7am ferry to catch the next morning.  Gregg had to share a tent with Chris.  Gregg’s snoring hit “legendary” status that evening.  We were waiting for written complaints by local wildlife and Fog Horn companies.

You can still donate to Dash4Dosh.  Just go here and throw some money at it.  Alternatively like it’s facebook page if you can.  It all helps a good cause.

 

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Dash4Dosh – day 7- OverKalix to Abisko

Starting Location: Overkalix

Ending Location: Abisko

Total Distance Traveled (including this day): 3012km 

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :6

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :3

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After the trip the day before, we felt like new people this morning after some real sleep.  We started to pack up items when Gregg announced the nearby restaurant served breakfast!  Actual cooked breakfast!.  So over we went.  The most expensive brekkie in living history, but it was worth it.

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And at this point, a moment of sadness and regret.  Sadness that Vladimir (who abuses me constantly) head to return home to Denmark and regret that after he did such a great job setting the pace getting us this far north so quickly, he couldn’t join us for Norway.  His lovely daughter’s 16th Birthday was coming up and he couldn’t miss it.  You would be hard pressed to find a better guide, host and family that constantly made me laugh as they viciously abused each other (and me) verbally.

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Before heading NorthWest, we just *had* to make a detour to a tractor museum we say the evening before.  A few kilometres away, we pulled in and met the owner, who decided to open up just for us (it was not open in season as yet).  This guy had fascinating tractors, motorbikes and more.  He could have spent all day showing us around.  Starting tractors, showing us WW2 motorbikes, offering us coffee.  We stayed for an hour, but then had to move on.

40km later, we hit the arctic circle line for the first time.  The swedish version is marked and a small store/coffee shop is there.  A nice lady sells tourist stuff and we sit there, impressed with ourselves.

 

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Then, onwards we went.  Feeling it get colder as we headed more north and to higher altitudes.  The first of the frozen lakes appeared and the volume of traffic dropped off to almost nothing.  In the next petrol stop a local in broken english wanted to talk about cars ( I tried) and then his daughter who can’t find a husband living in Munich and won’t come back home.  I nodded appropriately.  Then “Is Jesus your saviour”?.  I pretended I couldn’t understand and we had to move on.  A few hours later and the bikes are rolling past Abisko National Park.  Stunning.  Just stunning.

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From here, we had only a few hours to go to get the campsite.  The site was mostly empty (winter dog-sledding is their primary business).  Sean Cull had been in touch with them to book for us.  They even kept the local restaurant open for us and served us Moose.  We shared a room (bunk beds) and got to bed about midnight, in the sunshine.  The train station beside us rumbled with freight through the night.  The next day was the first scheduled rest day/contingency day.  There was an option to head north to Tromsö or take it easy.  There were differences of opinion on what to do the next day but everyone agreed that we were not tired enough to rest yet.  Onwards!

You can still donate to Dash4Dosh.  Just go here and throw some money at it.  Alternatively like it’s facebook page if you can.  It all helps a good cause.

 

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Dash4Dosh – day 6- Härnösand to OverKalix

Starting Location: First Camp Kolmården

Ending Location: Overkalix

Total Distance Traveled (including this day): 2685km 

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :4

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :47

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From about 5.30am Chris and I were too miserable to even try to sleep.  We packed up our soaking wet gear and got ourselves ready for a long day of “northwards”.  A few hours later Roy (aka Rested smug git), Vladimir (aka very rested and amused smug git) and Gregg (aka monumentally happy it wasnt him in the wet smug w*&ker) got themselves ready and tried not to laugh at us.  We knew we were bad when even they were saying “seriously, you guys look fucked”.  First objective – coffee.

We rode back into town in our damp gear and coffeed up as much as possible, then took the North East coast up the E4 to Umea.  At this point, I could notice the landscape changing.  More random boulders appearing.  Still lots of trees, but a different type, and the beginning of mountains with snow at the peaks.  The rocks got darker and the sky changed colour.  Sounds stupid but it started feel like a more primitive landscape.  About 300KM into the day, Vladimir waved us to slow down.  We were a few seconds behind an accident on the motorway.  A young girl got distracted and  had flipped her Saab into the motorway midsection.  By the time we got there, she was out of the car.  We rendered assistance until the rescue services appeared.  Although horribly unlucky, she was lucky on two fronts.

1 – She flipped into one of the parts of the motorway that actually had a real middle section (most motorways in Sweden are separated by a cable that can be removed so the road can be used to land military aircraft).

2 – She was in a Saab.    I joked with the girl that Vladimir could push it back on its wheels and she could drive home.  The girl had minor cuts and shock, but all was good.

Gregg’s GoPro was taking photos all day, so we have a picture of the car unintentionally.

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We proceeded north, at a more sober pace, suddenly not feeling the damp as badly. At Tore we came off the E4 and heading NorthWest on the E10.  The problem with working in so many miles on days like this is we passed so many things we would have loved to see.  The plan was to always get north and take a more leisurely approach south, so we passed incredible towns and campsites, with steam-engines and amazing bridges.  Frustrating, but we just ploughed on.

By the time we reached OverKalix, Chris and I were wrecked.  We headed straight to the camp site I had selected.  By a lake, great facilities, lovely land.

Closed.

Oh yes… closed.  Summer season didn’t start until June1.  3 days away.  I had not factored this into my research.   Not to worry, we passed a hotel a few minute before.  At this stage I was willing to pay for any type of bed.

Also closed.  European election day (shakes fist at sky).  This though, is when the best things happen.  Random people offered to lead us back to a cabin site we passed en route (about 8km back).  We drove back.  They had rooms.  I knew that I was supposed to stay in a tent, but there was a bed and I needed it.  Not only that, they had a massively overpriced restaurant which we also used!

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This photo was taken at 10pm.  There was no real “nighttime” anymore.  Taking advantage of cabins, we charged absolutely everything.  I worked on my broken scotoiler, Chris re-packed his bike, Vladimir and Gregg abused us and Roy washed his BMW (a nightly process – the only person I have ever met that washes the bike on a tour).  I passed out about 11pm.

You can still donate to Dash4Dosh.  Just go here and throw some money at it.  Alternatively like it’s facebook page if you can.  It all helps a good cause.

 

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Dash4Dosh -day 5- Kolmården to Härnösand

Starting Location: Jyderup

Ending Location: First Camp Kolmården

Total Distance Traveled (including this day): 1950km (approx)

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :8

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :2

Tracking availability - Good!

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We all work early and Chris and I set about packing up our tents.  In the meantime I did spy an aging Harry Potter (aka Gregg Eldred) heading off for a shower.

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Camping as a holiday makes no sense to me.  People drive for hours in slow big mobile homes just to sit somewhere.  We were just using these places as stops for the next day’s travel.  Seriously.  When you have signs like this

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..and toilets like this

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..you have to wonder what the hell you are doing there.

The objective for the morning was to get past Stockholm.  Vladimir suggested bypassing it totally by taking a circular route, so off we went on the 53 and then the 55 passing the big city to the East of us.  Rejoining the E4 North.  En route we stopped at Wiks Slott (castle) but it was closed.  The heat and pace were both high, cased by extreme heat and Vladimir on a 1200cc Vareadero.  North past Upsalla we continued onwards with only food and petrol stops.  The idea was to use the good roads of Sweden and get as far north as possible early while we were still fresh, and it was working for us.  Every petrol station in Scandinavia offers 95 or 98 octane petrol.  Almost all stations are card reading at the pumps (don’t bother with American Express – rarely works over there).  Hot dogs are everywhere and that was the staple diet.  At this point, Near Upsalla, Vladimir wanted to change the route and head west sooner into Norway as he wanted to get there and back before he had to return (he could not stay for the whole trip).  Democracy ruled though.  We had a plan to get miles in, so stuck to it.  When we were approaching Härnösand, we noticed *very* dark clouds following us north.  This did not bode well.  According to local followers, it was not supposed to rain, so when we arrived at Härnösand camping site, Chris and I elected for tents again.  The other three took a cabin.

First mistake – blindly taking a grass area the lady pointed out for our tent.

Second mistake – taking a break before setting up the tent.

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It started to chuck it raining.  Thunder, lightening.  The whole 9 yards of “rain god” onto us while we were trying to set the tents up.  The wind picked up too.  By the time our tents were up, we were soaked through.  Now we had to eat.   Nowhere open for food, so I had protein bars and this lovely bar of chocolate (that may have suffered in the heat).  We all still ate it though!

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But wait, Chris Harris had brought a burner.  He also purchased the fuel earlier (which ended up in my topbox as I somehow thought it would be fine to carry flammable liquid around on a bike).  Fortunately I had nothing to fear because.. well.. it was the wrong liquid and we couldn’t light anything.  Amid much laughing and bad language Chris kept trying until the three in the cabin realised there was a cooker there (“You didn’t ask if we had a cooker!”).  Of course, that didn’t work either so we just gave up and went to our beds/tents.

The wind picked up at midnight, along with the rain and the thunder.  By 3am my tent was anchored to motorbikes to try to prevent it (and I) being blown away.

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 Half of my tent floor was under water (I never checked the land – back to the “first mistake” above).  People passing by our tents would have heard a conversation like this.

Me (grumbling) “For fucks sake”

Chris: “You awake Paul?”

Me: “Is that a serious fucking question?”

Chris “What the hell are we doing here”

Me: “I wanna go home”

We got about 2 hours sleep and at 5.30 am were already packing and trying to dry things.  On to Day 6.

You can still donate to Dash4Dosh.  Just go here and throw some money at it.  Alternatively like it’s facebook page if you can.  It all helps a good cause.

 

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Dash4Dosh -day 4- Jyderup to Kolmården

Starting Location: Jyderup

Ending Location: First Camp Kolmården

Total Distance Traveled: 1398km

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :8

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :2

Tracking availability - Good!

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I woke early that morning in my tent and began the packing process.  Knowing I have zero experience I wanted to start before everyone else so I was not a cause of “flaffing” delay.  By 8.30am we were having breakfast and Thomas was standing guard over his baby.  A fully restored Mini Cooper S lovingly brought back to life over many years by himself.

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After breakfast and much flaffing (I managed to lose my keys for a while) we set off with Vladimir taking lead on our first stop.  A quick visit to the resting place of Kenneth Kjaerbye to thank him for the fantastic weather so far.  There is no doubt he would have been joining us on this trip, and many of us wanted to visit.  After that, a quick stop at Hillerød Castle (yes, that castle!) to meet up with the infamous Christian Denkler who wanted to wish us well.  As you can see from the picture, the weather was stunning.

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Then north, to Helsingor harbour, to catch a 30minute ferry to Helsingborg in Sweden.  (Tip – ferries are equivalent to busses to Scandanavia.  Typically you pay when you get there or even on the ferry).

From there onto the E4 for a long slog heading northeast. Swedish motorways:  Huge, smooth and very very dull.  We had 5 hours of it.  The first petrol stop had an aeroplane at the side converted into a candy store for kids.  By the time the second fuel stop arrived, the heat and sunlight had given me a splitting headache, and everyone was pretty tired from the motorway trudgery.  Paracetamol consumed with water and onwards to our first waypoint of the evening.  Well, the second one.  The first planned camp site had nobody there to meet us, so we left and found a much superior one by the name of First Camp Kolmården.  By finding this second one, a theme was developing.  Sat Nav on the bikes was supplied by two Garmin Zumos (Roy and Chris) and TomTom app on my iPhone.  The iPhone was vastly superior in almost every respect.  Something to keep in mind if you do this trip.  Anyways, I digress.  This camp, based on a lake, they offer tent sites or cabins.  Gregg, Vladimir and Roy elected for a cabin.  Chris and I setup our tents.  We then had to get back on the bikes to get food and fuel and drifted off to bed about 11pm.  It was still bright.

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You can still donate to Dash4Dosh.  Just go here and throw some money at it.  Alternatively like it’s facebook page if you can.  It all helps a good cause.

 

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Dash4Dosh – day3 – Esbjerg to Jyderup

Starting Location: Esbjerg Harbour

Ending Location: Jyderup

Total Distance Traveled: 830km

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :9

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :1

Tracking availability - Good!

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At 1pm (local) our DFDS ferry lurched into Esbjerg and we trundled off East with a plan for a short ride, petrol stop and then ride on to Jyderup.  After getting out of the town, we hit the E20 and headed east. Petrol stops on the motorway were few and far between and our tanks were getting close to empty (Chris was down to 7km free) so we decided to implement emergency measures and go searching for any local town one asap. We pulled in to check Sat Navs and saw there was one 4km away.  So we headed through the countryside on the blessed faith of TomTom and Garmin.  This is when, approaching a roundabout, a bee flew into my helmet.

What is your most terrifying moment?  Picture the worst thing that could happen to you, causing blind panic and being unable to do jack shit to prevent the inevitable.  Think back…. Yea well fuck you.  Approaching a roundabout, a bee flew into my helmet.

Screaming and not crashing I managed to crush the little bastard but not before he stung my lip and caused a minor heart attack.  Pulled over, disposed of remains and headed on.   Fuel done and lessons learned to plan better in future.

En route to Jyderup we had to cross the Great Belt.  One of the longest bridges in the world. We decided to stop on the west side for a photo near the coast, and ended up in Nyborg.  No real view of the bridge, but a lovely place.

IMG_1469 The ride over the bridge was windy, but from an engineering perspective, amazing.  All of this is recorded in video which will get on youtube when I get time to edit ti all.  On the east side, we headed to Körsor, so we could get pictures of the bridge, the Naval base and take  a few minutes break.

IMG_1471After that, North to Jyderup, where the fourth and fifth riders were waiting for us.  After arriving in the town, on blind faith of satnav we headed up a rough path on the bikes to a house in the distance.  There, at the end, Vladimir, his family, Gregg Eldred, Thomas Lindberg and Kirstin Denkler were waiting and waving us into a barn, to park up for the evening.

IMG_1476  We sat in the sun, made fun of each other and discussed the upcoming route while having a few beers and a bbq.  That evening, my tent cherry was popped (whilst being supervised and laughed at during the “erection phase”.  Later as I lay inside, constant pings of “what the hell have you let yourself in for” popped into my head.

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You can still donate to Dash4Dosh.  Just go here and throw some money at it.  Alternatively like it’s facebook page if you can.  It all helps a good cause.

 

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Dash4dosh – day2 – Liverpool to Harwich

Starting Location: Liverpool Harbour

Ending Location: Harwich Harbour

Total Distance Traveled: 550km

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :9

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :4

Tracking availability - Good!

Day 2 started on the Stena Line Ferry to Liverpool, after (at most) 2 hours sleep.  Possibly nerves or overthinking the route ahead was keeping me awake, along with  finishing off bits and pieces.

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 At  6am I got back on the bike and took it to Preston, meeting Sean Cull and Roy McGeoch.  Roy, all kitted out in his new GS1200 took off like a scared rabbit through the UK motorway traffic.  Myself, being a bit scared of the width of the panniers (there is an old rule on bike filtering that if your front mirrors make it through the rest will follow – with my bike that is not exactly accurate) filtered at half the speed.  But we ploughed through the horrendous UK motorways and arrived at Cambridge to a welcoming committee.  Steph, Arshad, Abigail and baby Daniel joined us for a coffee while the third rider, Chris Harris was on the way.  While there, we got talking to Irish/Scottish trio just back from their european alps adventure.  When they heard about the route and the charity, they fished out their last Euros and handed them over wishing us luck.  Top folks!

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After an hour we said goodbye to the ex Teamstudio and BCC staff and headed southeast to Harwich.  A small point about riding through the UK.  It is a horrendous experience on the motorways.  With where I live, I have to cut through the UK to get to Europe, and for a country with amazing A and B roads, the motorway experience is hideous.  Regardless, we made the ferry about 30 minutes before boarding.  Then, and only then, did it start to rain.

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After tying up the bikes (DFDS Harwich ferry is shite for bikes.  Almost no room and no assistance) we settled in for the 18 hour trip and got talking to the other bikers there.  Marcus from Austria was a young land that seems to have worked everywhere and was now off to take a summer break riding around Iceland.  It seemed this is a popular destination, as other bikers were heading there too (something to consider for the future).

The other lads were more rested than I was and stayed in the bar.  I passed out in the cabin.

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Dash4dosh – day1

Starting Location: Belfast

Ending Location: Belfast

Total Distance Traveled: Not very much

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :10

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :1

Tracking availability – Good!

Today went as planned  Staring early with work to finish off everything and remind people that this is one of the rare vacation slots I take where I will actually be *unavailable*.   If your server goes tits up while I am in the arse of Scandinavia, good luck with it.  At 3pm I signed off and started to pack.  In fairness I had everything I planned to take already in a room, so it was just a matter of chucking 50% of it and packing the rest.  In the end, I have one pannier for clothing and personal items. One pannier for tools and tech (with space), and the topbox with “what you will need quick access to”.  I have spare space though.  I could have left the topbox at home but you never know what will happen and I may regret it, so it comes along.

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A friend of my wife couldn’t understand the ability to pack everything for 2 1/2 weeks into the panniers, so I gave her an example of what it would be like to travel with her (hair dryer and straighteners coutsey of Lynne):

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So I packed up, showered, got ready, said goodbye to everyone, enabled the tracker and head on the long treck… to Belfast Harbour.  Yes, day 1 consisted of about 15 miles riding.   Then after strapping the bike up on the ferry, I have now found myself in the ferry Bar with a pint of stella and some spare time to get things sorted.

Tomorrow, Liverpool->Preston->Harwich and another Ferry to Denmark.  Onward!!!!!!!

You can still donate to Dash4Dosh.  Just go here and throw some money at it.  Alternatively like it’s facebook page if you can.  It all helps a good cause.

 

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Stunning

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Want to follow us on the trip?

From Belfast to Norway and back again.

Well, using the followmee app on my iPhone, I will enable live tracking from next Tuesday onwards, so every 10 minutes (as long as we are moving) it will update the map on this page.  It’s not enabled yet (hence showing me in Edinburgh) but I will tweet it every morning we are on the trip.

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