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We were waiting for the bike shop to give Phil and call and tell us our bikes were now ready for todays stage. In the meantime we had some breakfast provided by the slightly confused seeming, but very lovely, barmaids. The breakfast too was lovely.

Predictably it was raining still, as it had been virtually all night and the falls were in full flow outside the Inn. They had risen noticeably from the height they’d been the previous evening so we spent some time watching them, mesmorised by the water, and taking some photos.

To get out of the rain we settled in a coffee shop where we in fact spent most of the morning, Richard phoned to sort the arrangements for Summer Sundae, I did some washing in the laundrette next door and wrote some postcards. Outside the rain was showing no signs of let up. Eventually we got the call we had been waiting for and went down the shop to collect our bikes.

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We’d arranged to spend a day chilling out in and around Callander so we kicked off by doing some washing and then headed into Stirling where we had a look around the castle and tried to find the Wallace monument so Phil could see Willy Wallaces huge sword. This was not an entirely successful mission since we arrived just as it closed. An extremely grumpy bus driver gave us a lift up to the monument so we could at least admire the view and then even more grumpily he gave us a lift back down again. We had a great chinese in the evening and then watched some film with Jim Carrey in back at the hotel. He was imprisoned in a huge virtual reality world designed by a scary designer. I quite enjoyed it.

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I think we were the some of the last people to leave the YHA in the morning, we headed straight back into Balloch to grab some breakfast. There was a folk festival going on in Balloch whilst we were there and the, friendly, lady in the cafe we chose to eat our breakfast in was a little disappointed that none of them seemed to want breakfast. Apparently she had been geared up for a huge rush but ourselves and a family were here only guests.

It was around midday by the time we’d finished off our bacon and eggs so we set off through the Balloch country park to find the little blue signs which would lead us on our way.

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We were up and out of the guest house by around 9 o clockish, the sky was grey and it was raining but undeterred we donned our anoraks and set out to find the starting point of the Sustrans cycle route.

Eventually we stumbled across it and I stopped to take a few photos of the nearby Finnieston Crane. Then we were off, but not for long as we stopped to watch a huge paddle steamer churn its way up the Clyde out towards the sea and buy some cakes and some water.

The first part of the route was not quite so close to the Clyde as I had been expecting but instead it was down a mixture of roads, old railway lines and canals through what was in the main a rather uninspiring wasteland or the backs of factories. On one piece of wasteland I noticed a large group of people clad in shell suits drinking from cans, they looked at us curiously but luckily our path did not take directly through their congregation. There were in fact quite a lot of people all down the route drinking cans of cider, tennants and the like, some of them were at least pretending to fish in the canals or rivers but the rest were just lurking drunkenly in the bushes.

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It was all a bit hectic, I had only been back home for 1 day after my Spanish adventures at Summercase and Benicassim, and I had a lot to do. I had arranged to meet Phil at Bournville station at 12:30 but before I did that I had to go into Solihull to pick up my new sunglasses and to buy some suitable lightweight clothing for the journey. I arrived home around 11:45 and simply had to do all my packing, work out how to affix everything to the bike and cycle down to Bournville to meet Phil.

The packing was simplified by the lack of room in my two panniers and didn’t take long at all; 3 socks, 3 sets of underwear, 2 T-Shirts, 2 Shirts, a jumper and a pair of trousers and that was pretty much it.

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After a rather hot train journey, during which Dan was offered sandwiches by an increasingly lunatic middle aged Spanish lady, we arrived in Benicassim in the mid afternoon and jumped directly onto a bus to take us to the Bonet campsite.

On arrival at Bonet we were thrust into the ruthlessly efficient, and largely uneccessary and annoying, tent pitching directorate and administration division of FIB. We were commanded to pitch our tent in a tiny area of grass along with the 200 other campers who had arrived with us on the bus. Consequently our pitch left a lot to be desired being right next to the path with no available shade and no where really to lounge around outside the tents. The erection it’s self was hot, sweaty and tiring as we attempted to pound our tent pegs into the iron hard ground with large rocks. Tents pitched we immediately left for the beach and a cooling swim.

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This year I was joined by Dan & Rich on our annual jaunt to Benicassim, as well as the FIB festival we also planned to go to the Summercase festival in Barcelona which was happening on the weekend before FIB. Dan & Rich were already in Barcelona when I met them outside a bar in the Placa Catalyuna. Richard was still in shock from a vicious attack on his legs by a giant cockroach which he had, luckily, eventually managed to fight off and destroy. Bits of it were still scattered around underneath the table.

We had planned to spend our time in Barcelona in a nice apartment to prepare ourselves for the weeks camping in Benicassim. Our original apartment had fallen through, or fallen down or something, so to begin with we found ourselves, via a few bars and an extremely busy underground club, in our replacement apartment which had several beds, two large fans and very little else. Later on Dan discovered that the fans have hitherto unknown voice modulation properties but to start with they just provided something to fight over to combat the immense heat of the room.

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Shortly after setting off it became apparent that the car had virtually ran out of petrol, Rich operating the in-car computer was able to relay the rapidly decreasing range of the car. This was decreasing in a manner which bore no relation to the number of miles we were doing and further increased the concern already caused by the petrol guage on Empty and a little illumated icon of a petrol pump which had appeared on the dashboard.

We were travelling up the side of steep mountain expecting to see a petrol station around each corner, eventually at the bottom of the descent ( which luckily required no petrol at all ) we did find a petrol station but I was beginning to get a little concerned.

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Rich woke me at some point in the morning to hand over various items for which I was ( sleepily ) very grateful and said his farewells before heading off to begin his journey back to Kidderminister.

A while later I summoned up the energy to poke my head out of the tent and was greeted by a site which really announced the end of the festival festivities – where Rich and Tim & Gemmas tents had been there was now a big gap opening up a view of desolation of half dismantled tents, tired people and the detrius of 8 days camping. Coupled with a bit of a hangover and my general morning grumpiness it struck me as all being quite depressing.

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Rich and I set off to find the car, we had parked it miles away from the campsite just outside the backstage area of the festival stages and I was a little worried it may have been towed away or otherwise removed by the festival organisers. Luckily it was still there but was totally covered in an inch thick layer of brown dust.

I drove back to the campsite and we roused the others ( Dan, Leigh and Ed ) and began trying to cram them into the car. Eventually we found a way to fit everything in which involved everyone but me having large rucksacs on their laps for the entire journey – it didn’t look too comfortable in the back.

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