My Tour de France


Hooray! The Tour de France starts today and for years I’ve dreamt about going to France in July in order to follow this major sporting event throughout the French countryside and soaking up the atmosphere and tasting the local produce as the world stops and focuses on France. I’ve been lucky to visit France on two separate occasions however not in the month of July when the country hosts the Tour de France. So like thousands of others I spend three weeks of July watching the tour from the comfort of my lounge room in the middle of the night.

Last year was my first time watching without the pressure of work the following day and I started to do a little commentary using my Facebook page. This year I have decided to continue to use social media and will use new skills of tweeting to enhance the whole experience. Thanks to a bit of luck and my new Twitter hobby, I’m proud to say that this year a tiny piece of me did get to go to the Tour de France and I didn’t need my passport, to pack a suitcase or to even leave home!

After seeing a Twitter request for knitted bunting to help decorate the town of Ilkley for the Grand Depart of this year’s Tour de France in Yorkshire, United Kingdom I got knitting. I had great fun knitting these triangles and even more fun with my dear friend Kath who helped take my photo in Williamstown one busy Friday afternoon before popping my 5 yellow creations into the post box along with a cuddly koala and a Melbourne postcard.

Luke and I traveled to the north of England in 2011 prior to watching Brianna dance in Dublin in the World Irish Dancing Championships. We visited Yorkshire and particularly enjoyed our drive through the dales along the narrow roads with the dry stone walls keeping the grazing sheep safe. I remember quite clearly the town of Bradford as we headed back from an overnight stay at Goathland, home of the famous pub filmed in the UK TV series Heartbeat on our way to stay at Haworth, home of the Bronte family. We may very well have driven along some of the same route that the Tour would take on its Grand Depart. Who knows? Ilkley is one of the first towns the TdF cyclists will pass through on Stage 1 and I would love to be there as the Tour de France cycles through such a beautiful part of the world.

I had hoped my bunting would be somewhere along the roadside for the cyclists to enjoy with other knitted bunting that so many people had generously knitted but my parcel of knitting all the way from Australia was such a surprise that it was decided to display it inside the Visitor Information Centre in Ilkley.  I’m more than happy to have heard from Peter that the staff have pointed out my contribution to many Aussie visitors!

After the excitement of the Tour there will be a group of women who are going to join all the triangles to make blankets for people in need. How lucky will those recipients be to know they have a blanket made with love from local UK knitters along with others like me from around the world?

In the lead up to the Grand Depart I continued to Tweet about the excitement of the Tour de France and included quite a few Yorkshire hashtags in my tweets. I enjoyed learning more about this form social media and continue to be surprised when someone from the other side of the world favorites one of my tweets! I didn’t know who was behind the @visitBradford or @IlkleyChat but am grateful for their reply tweets which I enjoyed reading. I hope that I helped make just a little bit of difference with my knitting and tweeting!

I was so excited knowing the Tour was actually starting and I had Luke and both Brianna and Branwell sitting in the lounge room watching with me. I know they all probably thought I was crazy, or should I say they know I am crazy but I hope they were proud of me and my contribution. Not that Vincenzo Nibali would have noticed as he cycled past but it all certainly helped with the atmosphere, which Yorkshire certainly had heaps! People lined the side of the roads from Leeds all the way down to London for the 3 days the Tour was in the UK.

Stage 2 York to Sheffield (201km). My highlight will be the riding through Haworth home of the Bronte family. Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall are among some of English literature’s classics. Branwell the brother of Charlotte, Emily and Anne was a poet and is who our son is named after!

The peloton making their way down the Blubberhouses dale in Yorkshire just a small mountain to get the cyclists in the mood for what is to come once they cross over the English Channel onto French soil. Like the previous night by time the Tour arrived in Haworth I was so excited and I had everyone gathered around again. I wondered what the Bronte’s would think of the huge crowds and colourful cyclists riding through their hometown?

It has been a wonderful 3 weeks touring the UK and France. Have had fun posting my photos along with information of each stage so those interested could follow along with me. Can happily report all of the yummy croissants, eclairs, crème brulee, pain du chocolate, macarons, chocolate mousse, pate, Brie, Camembert, Moët champagne, Bordeaux, Beouf Bourguignon and crepes have all been thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks to my lovely family for helping me on my own personal Tour de France even if I didn’t need a passport and it was in the comfort of our lounge room on some very cold dark winter nights.