August 2018 and it’s time to pack up B1 & B2 with M1 & M2 for another cycling adventure. The cast of players: Jen & Greg with road bikes M1 & M2 in the bike bags B1 & B2 and some family history to discover.
The idea of cycling in Scotland was hatched 2 years ago in 2016 following our journey through the Pyrenees with M1 & M2. Finish one journey and start planning the next. We were at the beginning of developing our cycling clothing brand called Connal Kit. The brand name was inspired by the discovery of a photo of my mother (Katharine Connal) taken in 1934 whilst doing a cycling trip in the Scottish Highlands with a girlfriend. Two University of Leeds students on their summer holidays. I also found several postcards she had written to her parents and posted along the way. With this I’ve attempted to plot their route using Ride with GPS.
With this 1934 route as a guide we then planned our own tour of the Scottish Highlands. With family connections to the Macdonald Clan on the Connal side (Jenny) and the Crawford Clan on the Banfield side (Greg); plus a connection to Arisaig & Mallaig as the SOE training area during WWII for the Czech Special Operations Exectuive where my father was based from 1942-1945; we had plenty of intersting sites to add to our tour.
I’ve added the 1934 photos and postcards to this post. Also the route I endeavoured to plot from the information I had. I believe they trained from Leeds to Edinburgh. Then either train or rode to Stirling. I have started Kate & Mabel’s tour in Stirling. I have shown lodging’s where I knew they stayed but am missing a couple of nights.
Stats 1934 Cycle Tour:
Date: 31/7/1934 to 9/8/1934
12 Days 660 km
Katharine Connal aged 22, University Student Leeds University.
Mabel Howat University Student Leeds University.
Stayed: Hostels and friendly farmers.
Katharine Connal August 1934 Cycle Tour
1934 Scottish Highland Cycle Tour Katharine Connal
1934 Postcard from Glen Shee
1934 Postcard Glen Shee
1934 Postcard from Culloden
1934 Postcard Culloden
1934 Postcard from Loch Ness
1934 Postcard Loch Ness
1934 Postcard from Loch Ness 2
1934 Postcard Loch Ness 2
Katharine Connal 1934 near Inverness
Katharine Connal 1934 Loch Creran
Now Wednesday evening and the eve of our departure from Plzen and the Czech Republic. Our room here in Plzen at Pension U Salzmannu has been a great base to soak up some Czech food, beer, culture, and to be lost in a language rather beyond our Australian imagination. A few polite words of greeting and thanks are about all we can manage. Thank goodness for the helpful and friendly locals who have a ‘little’ English. Below our window is the tram stop – I love the sound of the trams as they rumble up the hill, squeal to a halt, ring their bell and roll off again. From the street our window can be seen as the one that is open with washing hanging off window handles to catch the sun and the breeze. Despite the chill in the evenings we love to leave the windows open. Partly to air our clothes of the ever present smoke from the bars and restaurants. Always a shock to non smoking Australians!
A day trip to Prague was a definite highlight. Our third visit to this beautiful city. A great feeling to be familiar with this place and be able to navigate directly to some of our favourite spots and to discover some new places. The old city is just beyond description. Wonders around every corner and if you can stay off the main tourist drag and avoid the tour groups with good timing it is so rewarding. David Cerny’s emotive, political statements through sculpture are treasures to be found and discovered. My first visit to Prague 4 years ago overwhelmed me when I entered Vaclavske nam and relised this was the place where my father was committed to hang in the mock trials of the early 1950’s. Fortunately the regime had to suffice with ‘in absentia’ and he lived to see Australia as his new home. This visit the emotion hit me at the John Lennon wall as we left our message for peace and acknowledged those who took a stand for freedom.
Today in Plzen a mixed day of riding the trams to their limits to explore all corners, discovering hot chocolate to die for at Andel cafe (needed a spoon to eat it), being front row at the town hall as the Czech President Milos Zeman emerged to greet the public, discovering the size of Skoda and what they make, viewing a strange collection of modern art, eating goulash, pork, duck and apple strudel with a bottle of Bohemian Sekt.
Ahhhh Czech you are in my blood!
Guten Tag. Sitting on the banks of the Danube in Regensburg after way too many hours sitting in a plane. Taking in the sites and immersing ourselves back into Europe. The best sausage und beer at Historische Wurstkuchl – the oldest sausage inn in the world – been serving them up for over 500 years! This isn’t the inn just the building we’re looking up at! Soft greens of European trees, bird life, history, architecture, languages not spoken, happy hash house harriers running along the banks of the river trying to follow their maps. Oops then the same ones running past again, lost? Kayakers trialling the Strudel (whirlpools) under the Old Stone Bridge. Beer tavern, more good food and finally a great sleep. Points to me for the first accom booking – a 5 star private apartment in old town 50 m to river. Success on this one. Regensburg, Germany a beautiful old city UNESCO world heritage site listed in 2006.
In memory on this day – ANZAC day and the birthday of my dad Bill Stukely AKA Major Jaroslav Stuchlý. Born in 1913. Caught in European conflict and served in the Czechoslovak army, Intelligence section of Ministry of National Defense, Graduate of the War University and teacher at the Military Academy in Hranice, participated in the Western resistance during WWII. After the war Joined CIO in London and later headed the CIO branch in Frankfurt and Klagenfurt. Left the turmoil for good in 1954 and found peace in rural Western Australia. A story to be told. RIP dearest dad xxx.