Archives for category: travel clinic

Okay France was the second country which I crossed on my journey I arrived on the 18th February with the sole purpose of getting out of Calais and finding somewhere to bed down for the night and found a place which I had used before near the town of Wormhout so put up the bivvy bag and settled down for the first night of many beneath the stars. I have been debating with myself whether to write a blog for France as I was in the country for less than 24 hours however I think it warrants a blog as I had my first inkling of problems and someone may stumble across it who is planning to ride a bicycle out of Calais and this may help!

 

Cycling out of the ferry is always fun, and if you can get organised you can be off before the cars but if like me for this trip it took a bit longer and I ended up waiting for all the cars to leave and was last off, the rain may of made me reluctant to leave but hey I got off eventually. Calais is kind of hard to navigate but with a map and compass and a GPS route I found the road I wanted easily enough and it is very cycle friendly, I would recommend anyone who is cycling out of Calais to head for the Wormhout road. Wormhout is a small town where you can pick up the North Sea Cycle Route if desired, this is the path which I have taken before and leads all the way up to Norway if you desire. It also links with the R1 Cycle route which will take you to Berlin and beyond from Den Haag. A path which I had taken to Berlin in 2009.

 

Waking up in the morning, it was my first morning on the road in the middle of nowhere on the adventure of cycling around the world. The weather had changed and it wasn’t raining I was in luck! I decided to make some breakfast on the stove for the first time, I made tomato pasta and proceeded to burn my tongue, great start! However with fuel in the body I loaded the bicycle up and proceeded to hit the road and aim to get to Belgium which wasn’t too far away!

 

Before I knew it I was on the quiet French country lanes which are great for cycling, I was following the North Sea Cycle Route for a short while but noticed an issue with the front mud guard, it was rubbing against the tyre slightly and as I thought it might be worth checking I had an issue with the back rack as somehow coming down a hill it had become tangled with the rear guard and this proved to be a problem. I was cursing myself for having these minor problems on the first proper day of cycling. I fixed the problems and carried on going. France is a great country for cycling there is no denying this. It was also nice for it being a Sunday and seeing all of the roadies out pounding the roads like they do every Sunday but what isn’t great is the fact that everything is shut on a Sunday so it is near impossible to get supplies, especially if cycling through the little towns.

 

Feeling good though, I was ever approaching the Belgian border and looking forward to another cycle friendly country. This was a simple day mostly and was just about ensuring I was getting into the rhythm of riding. I enjoyed the cycle paths which immediately followed the Belgian border and would soon discover that it is pretty much possible to cross the whole of Belgium following paths.

 

I found myself in Belgium for a few days so will give it it’s own blog where things started to get a little more difficult. I experienced some very frozen weather in Belgium and also more technical problems and the start of the issues with punctures. That is more to come and I hope with the difficulties I can add some humour to the blog, this was more of a if you want to cycle out of Calais it is entirely possible and easy to get on some great routes blog!

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So, wanting to go away to some exotic land is a nice feeling. You plan the whole thing out, sort out where you are going to go and for how long and the date gets closer and closer. However with these exotic locations come exotic diseases, and if you are a man, like me. You will probably have left your health to the side and realise just in time that you need to have rounds of injections to protect you against all the nasties that we do not get here in the UK or Western world.

 

I plan to talk through the nasty stuff and why it can all add up as well as the timings needed for the jabs and the issues one can face. Firstly from the UK perspective, if you are going away you will need to fill out a form to your GP showing where you are going, when and where you will be staying. If you say rough camping the whole way like I did you are soon in for a shock!

The lovely NHS, free healthcare for all! What a delight, it’s a shame that most of the jabs you will probably need when going away will not be covered by the NHS, shame! However typhoid and a few others are which luckily I had before this big cycle trip so don’t need to worry about. Here is what I was recommended to get;

 

Hepatitis B – Blood disease, transferred through sex or blood transfusions. Three Injections over a month.

Rabies – Nasty, bites or licks on open wounds, feral animals. Fatal. Three Injections over a month.

Japanese Encephalitis – Mosquito transmitted disease, effects your brain. Two Injections over a month.

Tick borne Encephalitis – Tick transmitted disease, effects your brain. Two Injections over a month.

 

With all of these cheery diseases being described to me, I decided to check with mother as to what she thought I should have, obviously I’m a poor student I was willing to wing it in essence but mother told me to be fully covered so I held my breathe and went to get them done. As I was living up in London and my GP was in Dorset I had to go to a travel clinic in London. I went to the London Travel Clinic on Oxford Street and told them what I needed and the cost for the first round of injections was £245. This was only for the first round which hurt me, aswell as the two injections in each arm which made me feel slightly funny getting on the tube.

 

A week later I went back to the clinic where I had the second dose of the rabies and hepatitis B jabs which cost £90. These were okay and despite the running total of £335 thus far. I was far too busy to think much of it, it was just one of those things which I needed to do to keep me safe and I had 100 other things to do.

 

The third round of doses I was going to get back in Dorset so had the prescriptions for them and had to cash them in Dorset. Not a great deal happens in Dorset unfortunately so when I turn up to a local Boots store predictably they do not have the vaccinations and have to order them in. I got the price however and that was £168 so a bit cheaper than the travel clinic up in London. Proves that if you can get them all done by your GP, it is the best way ! I believe that Boots do cheaper vaccinations than other pharmacies but don’t have any evidence to back this up but I was happy with this price. This is the third and final round of injections so I am immune to most things now hoorah. In the words of Boris from Goldeneye, ‘I am invincible!’

 

However, there is always one more thing… malaria. Seems a long way off for me, especially with the cold weather at the minute, carrying malaria tablets through the -20’s of Eastern Europe is going to feel odd but it is another thing which I have had to consider. There are three types of malaria tablet, one which gives you hallucinations and bad dreams, one which is an anti biotic so has the potential to clear you out and give you a bad stomach and the third, newest one which I have opted for which is mallarone which predictably costs the most… Not sure of the total cost yet but will let you know when I have the stuff.

 

So the running total and ten injections later I am £503 out of pocket and they say you can’t put a price on your health. I disagree!