"Raindrops on Roses . . ." (these are a few of my favourite things)
Updated: Jun 1, 2018
(Oli) Here's a bundle of everyday bits and bobs that sometimes go unnoticed or get taken for granted, but which have made life on the road easier and more comfortable. Here's ten favourites that have stood out for us.
1. SOCKS: protect the extremities! WildBounds provided each of us with a couple of pairs of Horizon Socks. It's the kind of thing we might previously have taken for granted. There is some sophisticated anti-cold-but-still-breathable technology woven into the fibres of these socks & I loose count of the number of times we were grateful to have them whilst crossing Europe in winter.
2. STOVE: ours is a magical little lightweight Primus Gravity multi-fuel. It has fantastic simmer control. Campsite cooking has never been more enjoyable. Every so often we raise a tin cup to Stephen at Pannier CC for talking to his supplier on our behalf.
3. 'ANGEL LANTERN': it's actually an inflatable, extremely lightweight, solar powered lantern but our friend Angel recommended it. A fiver online. (You know where).
4. XTORM AP150 SOLAR CHARGER & AL420 POWER BANK: they came as a pair & they work well together. More often than not we have navigated using apps rather than maps. We also like to listen to a bit of music or a podcast here and there. The Xtorm folding solar panel is brilliant & usually sits neatly on top of Ruth's back panniers. It has two ports inside a neat little net pocket on the reverse. We frequently have the power bank & one of our phones tucked away, charging as we ride. Thanks to Tom at WildBounds for researching & recommending.
5. MERINO WOOL BUFF: I love this. I panic if I can't account for it when packing.
6. HANDLEBAR MIRRORS: everybody said it; a well positioned mirror is one of the most important pieces of kit on a tour. Ours aren't the best & can flop around a bit on a bumpy road but we would hate to ride without them now.
7. ROLLY MASSAGE BALL: I used to travel with a cheap rubbery cricket ball to roll beneath the soles of my feet. I'd forgotten to pack it though & one of our first hosts, Ellen, gave us a much better replacement.
8. KITCHEN KNIFE: it's foldable, it's lightweight, it's the Fieldchef Folding Knife & vegetables are no match. Slices like a dream. Again by Primus & again from Pannier CC.
9. TRAVEL WASHING LINE: a little pre-trip Christmas gift from mum. It rolls up to the size of a tangerine but is elasticated, stretches to several metres, & has a simple hook & loop at either end. There's no need for pegs; you simply trap a piece of your freshly river-rinsed laundry through the plaits & Bob's your uncle. You can sit back and have one more cup of coffee whilst your smalls are blowing in the wind.
10. TRAVEL TOWEL: thank you cousin Sophie for this one. I used to travel with a microfibre quick-drying flannel-sized thing but Sophie gave us a towel by Odlo. It's a decent size & made of natural fibres, yet rolls up small & drys pretty fast. Feels like a little bit of luxury compared to what I was used to. Wouldn't go back! We reached ten and still had more... 11. BIG LOOSE COTTON SHIRT: Ruth finds this great for chucking on over the spandex for a little off-bike modesty. I think we picked it up in Albania when temperatures began to soar.
12. SILVER MATTS: like the type you stick on a car windscreen in summer or wrap round expired marathon runners. We sit on them for a little snack here and there & lie them underneath our camping matts for a little extra insulation.
13. PADDED SHORTS: I'm on the fence. Some days I love them. Pantless of course. Other days I prefer to ride in normal shorts. Depends on the day. Ruth is a total convert though. Wears them all the time. Even on rest days. Ours are by Stolen Goat & we certainly wouldn't want to do a trip like this without them.
14. VACUUM FLASK: again by Primus & again from Pannier CC. Nothing beats a cup of tea with a view. We use this almost every day.
15. GLOVES: without them the palms of your hands soak up all the impact & are exposed to all the elements. We've got fairly tough skin by now but if I forget to put a pair on I soon notice the difference.