Rimbard Manor, Rimbard, Lavausseau

For those eagle-eyed among us, you may have noticed that on Tuesday afternoon Rimbard Manor or Manoir de Rimbard if you are being french, aka the place we ended up, was on the TV on May The Best House Win – Vive Le France, Poitiers episode!

Laura Henderson on May the Best House on Tuesday evening.

If you missed Laura Henderson From Rimbard Manor on May the Best house win you can watch it by clicking here or here.

It was amazing to see this wonderful place again and relive our memories of our stay there, however that got me thinking… we never wrote our review of the place! We are bad bad cyclists!

As I have just said the place was heavenly, I don’t think we have anything bad to say about it. We were welcomed with such enthusiasm, and after our little welcome party we were shown to our rooms. Notice the plural then… after 9 days of spending every moment with each other we now had 4 days of peace and alone time in separate rooms. Trust me this was amazing! Now I know I said about the Ethic Etap in Angers that if you were looking for a hotel with all the luxuries then that wasn’t for you, well it turns out that is because Rimbard Manor is the one for you!

Saying it was luxurious doesn’t even come close, this house has luxury in abundance. The house is an 800 year old renovated manor house sat in 15 acres of land. It has its own heated pool, which is round the back of the house and very private, so perfect for just relaxing and de-stressing after 9 days of cycling.


May the best house win Poitiers Rimbard manor Henderson

The stunning pool during the day!

Laura Henderson cooked for us every day, and the food was very tasty, I fully commend her cooking skills. I am told that this wasn’t just because we were special guest but that this is an extra service they offer to all staying with them for a small fee, and as the meals always included the odd glass of wine or 3 it would be well worth the money.

Anyway back to the rooms. The guest bedrooms are in the old tower end of the house in the east wing. There are three floors, which you get to via the original spiral staircase which was painstakingly taken apart and number during the renovation process to them be treated repairs and carefully put back together. The ground floor has the bedroom that I stayed in, the stunningly beautiful Queen Marie-Antoinette suite. The room is decorated in a French style, with solid wood sleigh bed, beautiful antique furniture, and of course an en-suite with sumptuous bath and walk in shower.



It’s safe to say in that bed I slept very well, I am sure Nikki also did in her room. Speaking of Nikki’s room, she was on the next floor up, in the Queen Elizabeth Suite. The room was actually to die for, I think she could happily have lived in it! Her room was styled in a tradition English way with a large king size four-poster bed with memory form mattress  Again her room was style with stunning antique furniture and had the most amazing en-suite complete with walk in shower AND claw foot bath! But talk about space, the room was huge, we could have had a party in there!



This bed and breakfast is in a word amazing! If you are every looking at going on holiday to France Nikki and I could not recommend this house more. Of course it’s not just us that agree as it has now won the prize as ‘Best House’ on Tuesdays programme! The other rooms in the bed and breakfast include a double room with en-suite entitled the Princess Grace room and a quirky twin room in the top of the tower with a nautical theme, again en-suite, entitled the Rapunzel room. There is a small kitchen with tea and coffee making facilities, microwave, dining table, settee and television which guests are free to use when ever they like. The kitchen opens out into a small private terrace for guest, which seems to catch the sun all day long! The hotel is lovely and quiet, yet at the same time there is plenty of activities to do, which are only a short drive away. Nikki and myself particularly enjoyed going to the Futuroscope theme park one night and going on the Dancing Robots ride!



If you are looking for a more self catering type holiday, Rimbard Manor also has a lovely little gite, or holiday cottage to us English folk, that you can hire out on a week by week basis, though I am told it gets very busy in the summer so booking early is advised. Now once again our stay here was kindly donated by John and Laura Henderson so I can’t comment on the cost, however I have been nosy and looked at the website and I have to say it all looks very reasonable, I would definitely stay here again. If you are looking for a lovely relaxing holiday in France then Nikki and I complete and utterly recommend Rimbard Manor. A big thank you once again them for putting us up!

If you would like to see more pictures or to book your stay you can check them out on their website http://www.rimbardmanor.com/

Nikki & Dan


Day 7 – Green eggs and ham… well, it almost was!

Hi Everybody,

No, we haven’t gone crazy, no, we haven’t got lost (again), no, we are not still on our way to Angers. What with the exhaustion of the last few days of cycling, then the want of a holiday while abroad, writing blog entries was the last thing on our minds. So, we are catching up with them now we are home to tell you about the last few days of our adventure.

Day 6 saw us cycling from the lovely french town of Vitre into the large city of Angers. If we’re being honest, it was not the most exciting cycling day ever. The roads were long and monotonous and it was pretty much one road all the way down, and yes, there were hills! With Nikki’s knee starting to swell, you can bet how happy she was about those! The real “adventure” started when we arrived in Angers…

Angers was a busy bustling city that we had to try to navigate our way round. After about half an hour of constant stopping, checking the map, turning round, and indecisions, we were finally crossing the right bridge on route to the Rue de Lac du Maine. About half way across the bridge, Nikki suddenly got very excited and pulled out the camera, much to a puzzled faced Dan. All become clear when Dan looked over the bridge to see two Frenchmen playing, wait for it… French horns!

The whole concept did make Nikki smile, even if their playing was quite bad. It turned out Angers is a rather musical city, but more on that later. The route to the hotel took us through a large parkland in the centre of the city. We have to say it was a lovely sunset view, and the park was full of cycle paths. In the heart of the park was the etape hotel, a hotel chain much like Premiere Inn, however this was an Ethic Etape. The whole place revolved round eco-technology and green practices such was walking or cycling rather than using cars, making sure electricity wasn’t wasted, etc. The hotel itself was lovely, although it did give off a slight youth hostel feel. We were both however very impressed with their bike storage facility. Our poor abused bikes each got their own little kennel for the night.

After making sure both bikes were tucked in warm and snug for the night, we went to check out our room. Our room was a little basic to say the least, but was a good size and had everything we needed. From the height of the toilet (yep, it always comes back to that!) and the grab rails everywhere, we had the slight suspicion that we had been given a disabled persons room, but oh well at least it had two beds which is all we really needed. By this point, we had realised we were starving, but town was a 15 minute cycle away which neither of us were prepared to do, after all, our bikes looks so snug and warm. Thinking the bar would still be open, we walked over to the main building where were were greeted with the sight of one closed bar, two vending machines of chocolate, and three french men who were staring at us. We quickly ran back to our room. So that left us with the puzzle of how do you feed two tired cyclists without leaving the confines of the hotel room? The answer, ring Nikki’s French speaking brother. Alas it turned out that Nikki’s French speaking brother was at a family meal, so back to square one. The solution to our problem was internet pizza! Why didn’t we think of that sooner? (For those concerned that we broke our no spending policy, we used the donated “Magic Mastercard“). Our craving for Pizza had been started the previous night. On the way to Vitre we were both running on empty and in serious need of food! We found a town 15 miles outside of Vitre and found that the only place open was a pizza parlour. The UK mainly only have tomato based pizzas, however here they had white pizzas, that being a pizza whose base is topped with creme fraiche. This combined with beef hache, onions, potato, and cheese was AMAZING!!!!
Now, in the UK, provided you speak English, ordering a pizza online is easy. In France, provided you speak french, ordering a pizza online is easy. This is where it got difficult. We were in France, but we speak English (surprisingly enough). Not so easy. But fear not citizens of the blog, there was an internet superhero ready to lend a helping hand! Google Translate! Turns out that if Google translate was a superhero, its special power would be the power of anti-climax. We had found a pizza place in Angers which delivered and set google translate to work on translating the site so we could understand it. It would seem that if traveling, Google Translate isn’t your best companion! Here are the four steps to ordering a pizza according to google…
Despite how google had translated it, we continued trying to order in the hopes that we wouldn’t be betrayed, and we would have pizza in half an hour. The good news is within half an hour, our pizza arrived. The bad news is, this is what it looked like…
Yes, I did taste as horrid as it looks, however we were that hungry that we still managed to demolish it within ten minutes, but not before finding a little frenchman’s hair in it, leading it to be christened as “Mr Fluffy”. Clearly the French don’t have the same strict food hygiene laws that the UK has. To continue eating we really must have been hungry! We’d also like to point out that the pizza came with a salad and a portion of chips. Turns out the salad was lettuce in a box, and the chips were ready salted crisps. The best parts of this meal were the only bits that had not been prepared at the pizza place; these were the two cans of peach flavoured iced tea.
Now, back to what we were saying about Angers being a musical city. While finishing off the remains of the fury pizza (or at least as much as we could stomach after that find), we discovered how thin the walls of the hotel were. Now, we can only assume that the only explanation for this is that her neighbours had kicked her out for being too loud, so she’d checked into a hotel to practice, but in the next room there was a girl learning to play…. We’d like to say something soothing like the harp or the triangle, but alas… the violin! The one instrument that has the power to soothe the senses or grate at the nerves, and you can guess which of the two a novice does! The way things were sounding, by the morning our nerves would look like something from a zombie horror film! But we had a secret weapon! A secret weapon in the form of the iPad! Not only was this magical piece of technology here to enable blog writing, but it was also connected to the internet, and via iCloud could access my entire iTunes music library. It also has several tv episode loaded on, and The Inbetweeners movie . Now, Nikki is not a fan of The Inbetweeners, however the film did make her giggle as she succumb to the effects of her comma tablet. The tablet was the root of several amusing incidents along the trip, much like when Nikki had taken it at this hotel, Dan knew within a few seconds due to her tone of voice, even though she tried to deny that she had taken it. We think the violinist took the hint and shut up, allowing us to get some sleep.
As you can imagine, it’s not the 5 star luxury we’ve been becoming accustomed to, we’re doing all the hard work so you just have the easy job of donating at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge.
Thank you
Nikki & Dan

3… 2… 1… PULL!!!!!

So, the other day, I had the though of “what happens if Nikki can’t make it up a hill?” and there was the obvious answer of get off and push, and there was also a slightly crazy idea (yep, another one on top of cycling 650 miles to France!). That idea was….. wait for it…. a bike tow rope!

The look many of you are sporting now!

Believe it or not, its not as stupid an idea as it sounds! During team races in Australia, riders will often tow the weaker members of their team to continue forward with speed without leaving team members behind. In fact, an Australian company called Bike2Bike has designed a retractable tow rope just for this purpose. Their tow rope is a bit more advanced that the one I created yesterday, however mine does the job just as well.

Another “feature” of this tow system is that it can easily be stored in the top pannier bag, and doesn’t take up that much space or weigh much.

And just in case you didn’t believe me….


“Feelings are not supposed to be logical. Dangerous is the man who has rationalized his emotions.”

How come whenever during training we have gone out on the bikes its has usually been cold and maybe just a little bit wet as well but today when the weather is lovely and sunny and all I want to do is go out on my bike (yes you did just read that right I WANT to go on my bike!) my bikes is currently at Blackburn Cycle and Scooter center having it’s last check. In fairness it is obviously important that the bikes do get checked over as it is a hell of a long way that we will be cycling on them, and Betty has started to develop a few click-y noises, but we will be re-united on Monday. Dan’s bike is also in having its MOT at the moment and will have his back tomorrow.

I have to say my emotions feel a little bit like they are all over the place. I am scared and occasionally just realise exactly what it is that I am doing and start to panic and my heart beats crazy fast and I feel like I am about to be sick! But then other times I get really excited about whats to come and I think about crossing that finishing line and how amazing it is going to feel knowing that I have done this. So yeah I feel a little bit like a wreck at the moment and can’t believe I have another week of dealing with these emotions war-ing inside of me! Grrr!

But the big news of the day: THIS TIME NEXT WEEK WE WILL HAVE SET OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How much of a scary thought is that! The last 6 months seem to have completely and utterly flown by, seriously can people believe it was 6 months ago that I came up with this crazy idea to cycle to France. It all sounded so easy when we planned it!

I just want to say a thank you to those who came last night, and thank you to Sahara as they where really good, but then again I expected no less! I had such a good night it was a brilliant send off!!

So our next date now is at the start line, hope to see you there!

Me and Dan at the moment with our bikes having their MOT's!

Me and Dan at the moment with our bikes having their MOT's!

Thank you to everyone for all the support these last 6 months and who are continuing to support us. If you would like to like to donate just like Carl & Michelle, Georgina, David & Amanda, Tim & Esnayder, Matt and Les then please got to http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge all the money that we raise is going to the NSPCC to help prevent cruelty to children, so please everyone show your support for this amazing charity!

Nikki xx


We all have off days

As Nikki said, I have been working long hours recently, so when it came to writing a blog entry, all I wanted to do was fall asleep! But, after a full nights sleep, I’m back!

So, as the title says, we all have off days, however on my off days it seems that I injure myself on the bike. Last thursday was no exception!

We were on the way to Skipton, when just outside Gargrave I came off the bike again, or rather didn’t as the case was. The front wheel must have hit a rock and I lost balance, but as I was clipped on, I went down with the bike. Nikki, who was behind, had the horrible feeling that I’d broken my leg given how I landed. Thankfully it was just swollen and bruised. Its now one massive bruise!

As well as the huge bruise, I also got road rash. Now Nikki thinks this should be a game of spot the body part, so heres a poll for you to pick an answer from.

One thing about the day I found highly amusing was Nikki’s trainers. This was the first day that our cycle clothing was matching, making it clear we were doing something for the NSPCC. As my cycle shoes are a dark grey colour, Nikki had bought some new trainers, as her old ones had a hole in the sole. Nikki hates trainers! The amusing part was the quote of “I’ll happily pay over £100 for a pair of heels, but I’m not willing to pay more than £10 for trainers!”. To be honest, I think she’d rather cycle bare foot than wearing them!

Today we are both unable to go out on the bikes, even though we wish we could given the practically tropical weather we have here at the minute (its sunny AND warm! In the north of the UK!). The reason for this is that both bikes are currently in the shops being checked over ready for the trip, which is now only a week away! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about it! However, tonight is another R2R milestone, the Charity Gig at Koko’s in Burnley. Its not too late to get tickets. Sahara will be headlining the event, then DJ Jim Random of NSB Radio will keep the party going till the early hours! We hope to see you all there! you can get tickets in the following ways…

1) Buy them from http://www.sahara-online.co.uk

2) Buy them directly from Nikki or myself

3) Contact us directly and we will add you to the guest list so that you pay £5 at the door

4) Donate £5 at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge and we will add you to the pre-paid guestlist

5) Show up with a flyer that will be distributed in town tonight for £5 entry

or 6) Just show up (although that will be £8 on the door)

All proceeds will go to the NSPCC.


Is this a precursor to the apocalypse?

Hi all!

Thankfully this isn’t a sign of impending doom for the citizens of Planet Earth, although you’d be forgiven for thinking that; its just me writing a blog entry after so long!

Firstly a bit of tech news; my iPhone has just downloaded iOS 5.1 which, according to its info says that it addresses and fixes bugs that cause battery issues on the iPhone 4 and 4S. Why are you telling us this I hear you ask. Well, seeing as my iPhone will be tracking our progress along the trip (and of course when training too), a boosted battery can only be a good thing! Before we set off I plan on buying a couple of extra battery packs to top up the power when it gets low, anything to ensure the Cyclemeter app continues to run for the entire journey!

Ok, so now you’re thinking “so what else had you been doing? You only have 24 days left until you set off!”, and in answer to that I would say “seemingly, not a lot!”. Now at this late stage, that is kind of worrying, however it is not true! To us it just feels like we haven’t done much, but in fact we have done quite a lot! Most of this has been the admin side of the venture, but obviously we need to organise the trip as well as actually doing it. Not to do so would be like doing a science experiment without first doing the theory work to go with it, things are bound to go wrong. We’ve been contacting supermarkets with the prospect of getting vouchers for food on the journey, and we have also been drumming up more press coverage for the event. Many of you may have seen our recent articles in the Accrington Observer and the Nelson Leader. I have also been in contact with the press department of Spar UK who are writing an article for the Spar Today magazine which goes out to the Northern Guild, and that will be published in the coming weeks. They also want to do a follow up story when we return! Once I have a copy, the article will be scanned and uploaded!

Another thing we have been doing is creating a banner for Nikki’s dad, who is in the country this weekend, to take back to France with him. This banner will be across the gates of Rimbard on the final day, ready for our arrival, along with all the guests who will be crowded into the courtyard. The whole event will have a party atmosphere, and quite a lot of red, white, and blue from the Union Jack‘s and Tricolors adorning practically any surface you care to look at! There’ll be buns in union jack bun cases, British & French flags, bunting, union jack table cloths, balloons… I’m not sure if we’ll be finishing an epic cycle journey or joining VE Day celebrations! (lol) Either way, it will be good!

If you happen to be on our route, look out for us riding past, we’ll be quite hard to miss, we’ll be the ones wearing black and green! Yep, thats right, we have decided what we’ll be wearing on the journey! Black cycle leggings (or shorts, depends on the weather), a black long sleeve top or a t-shirt, in my case a Nike Pro-Combat one (they are very warm considering how light they are!), and the NSPCC running vest over the top. We’ll actually look like we’re meant to be doing it and not just out on a pleasant cycle to pass a bit of time. I think that we will need at least two sets of clothes though, as after 9 days of wear, they’d bound to be a bit smelly, plus something for evening as we won’t want to be in a restaurant in cycle clothes. Packing it is going to be “fun”, and that is another thing on our to do list, sort out what we need to take as weight will be an important factor.

I would like to thank the two people who have donated on the Virgin Money Giving website this week! Your contributions will help the work of this amazing charity! If you yourself would like to donate, you can do so at www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge. Also, please like out Facebook page, www.facebook.com/r2rchallege.



Its voting time!!!

English: Bikes lined up as part of the Barclay...

Image via Wikipedia

Good morning all…. a little early for me to be doing an entry I know, lets hope I am more awake than I currently feel and this doesn’t just end up being a jumble of words that don’t make sense!

Thought I would give you all a quick update on what has been going on with the world of R2R! As you may have seen from Dans last blog he has a new bike, finally death came to Cleatus. Am I allowed to say now how much I did not like that bike?!? As for this new bike, despite Dan having got it a week and a half a go I have yet to see it… why I hear you all ask?  Well I have been in Sunny London. Ok so the weather might not have been exactly ‘sunny’ but compare it to what we have up here its been practically tropical!

I bet you are all thinking I was down in the south for something glamorous like a TV interview… I wish! No I was there simply visiting family, but I have done some networking, telling the whole world it would seem about my bike ride and handing out so many cards! So fingers crossed something will come of it soon! Can you believe it is just slightly over a month away, time seems to be going so darn fast.

While in London though I did however hire one of the Barclay’s bikes to get around. Such a wonderful idea and so easy and cheap to us. The London roads however, now they are one scary thing! I thought I was about to loose my life so many times, you really have to have all your wits about you if you are going to cycle on the roads. I think the moment I got a little more freaked out was when I saw the sign calling for witnesses as a fatality had happened on Friday lunch time due to an accident between a cyclist and a coach, now I wonder which one ended up the dead one…. me thinks it wasn’t the coach driver!! Have to say all these people who commute to work everyday by bike in rush hour in the center of London, you have my full respect… in fact I think I would rather be doing my 70 miles a day for nine days than do that!

In other news, we have now been in the Nelson leader as well…. big thank you to Lauren (who I believe Dan went to college with) for doing such a wonderful article, that for once focuses more on Dan than me!

Our Nelson Leader Article!

We also have an article coming out today in the Sandbach Chronicles all about us passing through there, hopefully they are going to send me a couple of the newspapers, so no doubt you will be seeing scans of that one soon too! It really feels like things are starting to come along well! We still have a couple of nights accommodation to find but alas they are in France so I am going to get my awesome translator, also known as my little brother, to translate the letter for me so I can get that sent out to French hotels and B&B etc. We are also starting to get mildly concerned about lack of food…. yeap that’s me for you, always thinking with my stomach! We have written and telephoned loads of the big chain restaurants and supermarkets in the hope of getting some vouchers, so I am keeping my fingers and toes all crossed that something comes from all that, will keep you updated on how that goes!

Route planning is going well, though that is a boring job 😦 For every village and town that we pass through we are also contacting the local newspapers and magazines and sending out posters for people to put out in their shops, so hopefully everyone is going to know who we are as we pass through! Hopefully!

I am at work at the moment, yes I do occasionally work, hence how you are finally getting a blog entry, but Dan is coming round when I finish work so we can go on a ride so I can tell you all about his new bike in more detail tomorrow. Don’t forget that the poll is still open for what Dan’s new bike should be called.

Thank you to everyone who takes the time to vote (Can you guess which are the suggestions I put forward?), and please check out our sponsorship page at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge don’t forget that all money goes to the NSPCC.

Thank you

Nikki xx