Madness I tell you, Madness….

Posted by on 16, Jun 2021 in 2021 - Lands End to Ipswich, Tilly the Tandem, UK

Madness I tell you, Madness….

They say Madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results so why we have just boarded the Night Riviera bound for Penzance i have no idea.

It’s hilly there, very hilly and you all know how we feel about hills!

Still, too late now as we begin our 8 hour ride through the English countryside to Penzance… Best we have quick sundowner in the bar and retire to our cabin for a good night’s sleep, I think we are going to need it.

Of course this is all the fault of going to Scotland… We’ve never really considered doing Lands end to John O Groats as its, you guessed it, very hilly. But as we are still stuck in the UK we thought if we are ever going to do it then now is the best time to try, although we are doing it in 3 parts, a bit like Back to The Future. We’ve done part 1, Ipswich to Perth so Lands End to Ipswich is Part 2 then we hope to head on back to Scotland sometime maybe this year or maybe not, for part 3 Perth to John O Groats.

But I’m ahead of myself. We started looking at getting to Lands End a few weeks ago. It isn’t easy with the tandem, unless you want to cycle and we aren’t mad enough to cycle both ways….

The normal trains to Penzance don’t take Tandems… But the Night Riviera does, so we booked a cabin and reserved a place for Tilly the tandem. Next getting to London. The Greater Anglia trains have always taken tandems on the main line Norwich to London but when I phoned up to book I got told they no longer did. Cue a short panic and another phone call asking where on their bicycle info page it said this?

We’ve found this to be often the case in the UK. Staff say no until you persevere politely, pass you on to someone else who then says yes. But we always get a confirmation in writing and even visited Ipswich Station to double check a few days before departure.

The guy was a bit flummoxed by the question and next thing I know I’ve got an email from them saying they can book the tandem with no problems on certain trains and when did I want to go.

Anyway, we got all booked train wise and then booked all our accommodation back to Suffolk packed Tilly and did ‘The Burglar Clean’ (get it spic and span before you set off, it’s got to look nice for the burglars) left Taffy for a Holiday at the storage site and set off.

The Night Riviera leaves Paddington Platform 1 right in front of the statue of the bear himself. Its a grand looking train and wouldn’t look out of place in a 1940’s film – apart front he diesel engine up front.

They start boarding at 22.30 and I managed to collar the first hostess who appeared and got us checked in before an enormous queue built up of all the other passengers piling out of the first class lounge to check in.

We managed to get Tilly secured in the guards compartment and our bags into our cabin – which was so narrow you almost had to turn sideways in to walk and dashed to the bar for a sundowner. It was 3 for 2 on Bubbles so we had some prosecco in plastic cups to celebrate the first day of the next adventure.


  1. Great scene setter blog! There could be trouble ahead!……

  2. I’ve discovered booking an ordinary bike onto a train during COVID travel restrictions has been a nightmare, so fully understand and congratulate you on getting a booking for your tandem. You may be pleasantly surprised that the hills in Cornwall are manageable despite there being a few tough ones. Check out my June 2016 LEJOG blog just incase your route is following mine through the counties of Cornwall and Devon then enjoy the ride.

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