Writing tweets on the village green...

Technically, you should find a real camp site before putting up a tent in Germany. This works fine when there is a camp site nearby, which there isn’t. Besides, you technically shouldn’t cook dinner on an open stove on the village green directly in front of the fire station when they are having a party, but no-one seems to mind. We move on with our eyes open for overnight possibilities. A patch of woodland, preferably well away from any houses, would be favourite, but we’re stuck in suburbia. It’s not like we can camp in someone’s front garden without them noticing. Then while we’re riding along a track in a woodland Alex disappears through a hole in the hedge, (the location of which I obviously can’t disclose for securit… never mind). When we follow him we get the bakfiets stuck in the undergrowth of what was probably once a carefully tended orchard. It doesn’t look promising, as the only ways through the seeds are trails left by dog walkers, but Alex doesn’t know when to give up and finds us a small Garden of Eden which looks like it hasn’t seen humans in years.

The morning after. I take no responsibility for the shorts.

The morning after.

We don’t want to attract attention, and nothing attracts attention like people whispering, waving torches about and falling over in the dark, so there’s a rush to throw the tent up while we have some light. We’re feeling pretty smug about our improvised campsite  when we hear voices through the trees to the east. We all stop and listen, wondering if we’re about to be pounced on by mad axemen or the residents association, but they don’t come any closer. There are some lights showing about 300m north but the woods are thick so we don’t expect anyone will notice the tent. We roll out the bags and go to sleep, hoping there are no insomniac dog walkers in the area.

We are woken suddenly at seven, not by angry natives but by someone’s cell phone. It takes us some time to find and extinguish it. We all slept well. My jet-lag seems to have been cured by the riding, and Alex reports the best night so far: he was lying on a tree root which was perfectly positioned  for his back.

We take the tent down, Alex expressing disappointment at leaving his orthopaedic tree root behind, and Travis goes to make breakfast on a car park half a kilometre away. I carefully pack the bakfiets and park it, whereupon the stand-with-the-missing-foot sinks into the ground and the whole bike sedately rolls over onto its side, spewing everything onto the wet grass. Thank goodness for well-padded computer bags. We repack it, creep out of the orchard, get stuck in the gate again, and somehow manage to get away unseen. We join Travis who is boiling water in the middle of a car park, and find about ten motor caravans have had the same idea as us and are parked around the tarmac, curtains shut. After celebrating the fact we are alive and haven’t been arrested yet with coffee, tea, and cereal bars, we set off to find someone who can tell us where the heck we are, and which way to get to Düsseldorf.