We’re now committed to the start date and I have booked the hotels for the journey north. Our original plan, some 12 months ago, was to drive to Newcastle, leave the car with relatives, take the ferry to Bergen then a five day ferry along the western coast of Norway to Hurtigruten. Although websites were still offering a booking service for the Newcastle – Bergen leg of the journey, in reality, the ferry stopped operating at the end of 2008. That left us with the flight option of Gatwick to Alta. Logistically this was possible but we were not looking forward to Ryanair transporting our bikes and kit to Stanstead, then transporting it all to Gatwick for the flight north with up to 3 stops and luggage transfers and finally putting the bikes back together in Alta and cycling to our first accommodation. Hardy souls have done it but we were looking for a more leisurely start. We mentioned our dilemma to good friends Dean and Anne and over a couple of bottles of wine we had our dream start. We’re driving to Stockholm over 4 days, taking the scenic route, and picking up Dean and Anne who are flying out from the UK. A three day drive will take us to Nordkapp, where we’ll don our winter clobber (+2deg at the moment) and start pedalling. D & A are planning to explore the Lofoten Islands and will then take our car back to the UK. An added bonus, Dean’s lad Ev and his partner Sophie will house sit for us while we’re away. What happens when we reach Malta is a problem for another day.