Travel Through the United Kingdom on a Harley-Davidson

By Peter & Kay Forwood

The United Kingdom on a Harley (4/5/11 - 17/5/11)
Distance 489 km (583200 km to 583689 km)

This is part of the seventeenth section of our around the world trip.
Complete Trip Overview & Map

Coming from the sixteenth section, The United Kingdom

4/5/11 It will be equally as difficult getting back into travelling as it was adjusting to staying in one place eight months ago. For a bit of background on what we have been doing on the block have a bit of a peek. We landed in Birmingham midday, a flight from Australia via Dubai and headed for a small hotel near the Coventry Transport Museum, where our motorcycle has been on display while we have been away.

5/5/11 Jet-lagged, even though we slept well on the plane, courtesy of sleeping pills purchased in Thailand. The Museum had offered us a place to work on the motorcycle. Always some work to do on such a well worn machine. Emirates Airlines have generous weight allowance and as we had 60kg's of spare parts, including two tyres, we needed every kg. Our personal luggage for the six month trip had to move as carry on. New forks, springs, triple trees, steering head bearings, ignition switch, brake disk and speedometer the aim for the next couple of days. The forks and springs have over 300,000 km's and the triple trees were original. This work
New speedometer, in miles is to be followed by new exhaust pipes and heat shields, also replacing originals, rear shocks, tyres, replacing the problematical mainshaft seal with a high pressure one, a new clutch hub and bearing, plus a few more minor repairs, which will hopefully give us back a reliable motorcycle. The last trip saw us spending almost as much time working on the motorcycle as riding it. Well that is a bit of exaggeration but there were a lot of roadside and some shop repairs. The motorcycle is old, but we enjoy riding it not repairing it, so I guess these repairs are a bit of a last chance for a return to reliability, or who knows what?

6/5/11 Still jet lagged and exhausted. It seems it takes longer and longer the older we get to recover from a long flight, or it could be the busy lead up to the trip along with packing up at the block and our son's wedding in the last
week before we departed. Back working on the motorcycle. As is our norm, three steps forward, one back. A problemPressing in the new clutch bearing getting one of the forks into place, looked like a dodgy thread but turned out to be the burred hole, but solved by Bill, one of the Museum mechanics. Exhausts fitted, heat shields, a new front disk and the day was done. In the evening two extremely tired people joined Merv and Ruth, Coventry resident motorcycle friends and travellers, for a British barbecue in their backyard on a lovely balmy spring dusk. Sitting around the BBQ/log fire with  a glass of wine and good food relaxed us from the flight and motorcycle repairs along with great conversation of what had been happening in each others lives since we last met.

7/5/11 At the Museum early again. Finished putting back the front end, the new speedometer (miles, as no km's speedos were available), front brake disk replacing a warped one, air filter, spark plugs and by mid afternoon, with a little bit of petrol poured into each cylinder to remove the protective oil we had placed there on our departure eight months ago, and
the motorcycle sparked into life almost instantly. A short ride in the Museum car park and we were back to our hotel for a well deservedA bit of a drink after the work late afternoon off.

8/5/11 An internet invitation from Stephen and Sheryl had us collected at our hotel, following Stephen to their lovely 1860's converted barn, (cow shed) about 8 miles out of Coventry. A small village surrounded by a green belt designed to keep villages from running together with development. Their neighbours are a converted stables and the original farm house plus village cottages making up the rest of the area. Part of their complex is a large garage housing Stephens 9 motorcycles and his workshop where we replaced our rear shocks in the afternoon. Semi retired from the military Stephen has time for his hobbies. We were still exhausted, particularly as there was a fight in our hotel last evening. The noisy
group of Spanish students overboiled the blood of our hotel room neighbour and one of the students ended up with a black eye. The students had been noisily banging and slamming doors, calling out from about 1am till 3am before the altercation. The manager called, there was the hallway argument that went on till after 4am, so tonight after a lovely dinner we excused ourselves and went to bed early to catch upRadio interview at the BBC on last nights lost sleep.

9/5/11 A quiet morning in Coventry shopping for forgotten items, a shirt, plumbers tape and battery terminals, followed by a telephone interview, organised by the Museum, with the Observer newspaper. No not the National Observer, the local Observer, the free paper that is home delivered to the 100,000 residents of the area. The Museum hopes it will publicise our Thursday night talk, with a 5 pound donation entry at the Museum. In the afternoon we pulled apart the primary area of the motorcycle in Stephens workshop/garage. The stator had been damaged last trip and we also hope to solve the oil transfer from the primary to the engine compartment that has been causing us concern for a while. Armed with a high pressure seal, and a new bushing we are optimistic of success, this time, as always, but only time will tell. The clutch hub bearing has also been causing some noise so we had brought a spare one from Australia. Stephen arranged a friendly neighbour, Chris, to
press out our old clutch hub and swapping the clutch plates in went the new hub. It was a lovely evening, dinner with the family,Saying farewell at Stephens converted barn plus Paul, an old military friend and boarder, and drinks in the garage after pressing the clutch hub just rounded out the day.

10/5/11 Back into the bike early this morning with closing up the primary area and greasing the swing arm bolt to finish off the repairs that will hopefully make the motorcycle reliable enough for regular travelling, and by lunch we were finished. Now part of the Museum's media machine we were at the local BBC radio station, or the BEEB as it is colloquially called, for a live interview. The almost manic presenter Tim and his dynamic producer Rosie had us, after a few minutes of air time in the studio, out in the street for an impromptu out and about radio session at the motorcycle, describing its stickers and country list. It seemed all over in a flash of conjoined seconds but 20 minutes had passed and we were being thanked as they slipped into the next segment. Later that evening we were at the pub with Stephen and Paul sampling Hob Goblin beer after their regular Tuesday six mile run. We avoided the run and just participated in the celebratory aftermath, both at the pub and on our return to the "barn" to listen to real vinyl recordsTriumph Meeting through till tomorrow.

11/5/11 Back to our basic hotel in Coventry after a ride with Stephen and Neville. The ride was to a weekly midweek meet of mostly Triumph, many old ones, some new issue, motorcycles at an old farm, now turned into a tea house, small farm shops and a childrens petting farm zoo. A short ride, long enough to get the feel of the motorcycle back and to test the repairs, which seem to be holding up. Perhaps there were 50 motorcycles, a couple of older cars, with generally older retired owners, enthusiasts, then a quiet evening back at our hotel relaxing.

12/5/11 We have been using Skype to call our mothers back in Australia for a few years now and as wi/fi has spread it has become easier. Broadband has given us the opportunity to widen those phone calls to video and today we spent an hour on a video link to our daughter as we both played with the new, at least for us, medium. Guess I will have to be fully dressed for phone calls in future. The rest of the day was spent preparing for our evening's slide show presentation
Mock photo of Merv and Ruth's BBQ as we forgot on the night at the Museum, which seemed to go well by all accounts. It was an hours talk followed by equal questions and answer time. The interested audience made for a good experience although I am never totally comfortable with these public speaking events. It was also great to see so many of our friends attending, many who have heard the talk before.

13/5/11 With our split lives little was done back in Australia concerning travel. Our old laptop computer had died and programs needed to be added to the new one along with program settings. Didn't leave our hotel room today while we updated programs, plus updated and published the web page.

14/5/11 The last day in Coventry. Finally ready to roll. Our last evening we spent listening to a duet folk band over a bottle of wine at the museum coffee shop. An underrated event there were less than 20 people in the room and most of them were friends of the group, a couple getting up to join in or do a session. The economy here is obviously still struggling,Our Welsh accommodation, quiet on a Sunday night and will likely be for some time. Government VAT tax on all sales and services has recently been increased contributing to shops going out of business and the streets are lined with empty premises. We had lunch out today at an Indian restaurant and were the only people eating there.

15/5/11 Left Coventry after first having a cuppa with Merv and Ruth who we have promised to meet up with in Northern Ireland at the North West 200 road race next weekend. An easy day planned for our first on the motorcycle this trip, just 160 km's to Llandrindod Wells in Wales. We have not managed to have a reasonable look around Wales on our previous visits to the area as we have either just been passing through or the weather has been dreadful. This time it was reasonable, 16 degrees and only sporadic drizzle, a great day's weather for the region by all accounts. A Sunday carvery pub lunch at a small country pub along the way and we were at our hotel by mid afternoon, the only guests, such is the economy.

16/5/11 Llandrindod
Admiring the lake at Llandrindod Wells Wells was at its peak perhaps a century earlier and is now showing signs of its aging buildings. Built because of the nearby spa waters, the town was popular when spa's were the rage but now few tourists arrive here, yet the hotels all still exist, conferences the main draw these days. With cheap flights and sunnier climates elsewhere it is unlikely to return to its former glory when the who's who of society would visit.   

17/5/11 Another shortish ride to the ferry at Fishguard this morning, then off to southern Ireland. As we were leaving, getting free wi/fi from the Stena Line ferry office, the news from Britain, apart from the Queens first visit to Ireland, and the first visit by the British Monarchy in over 100 years, was perhaps more concerning to the British population, inflation had reached 4.5% and rising interest rates were back on the agenda. The thought of slowing an already sluggish economy by raising interest rates the talk on the ferry.  

You can now move onto Ireland or go to our next visit to the United Kingdom




Top of Page

Story and photos copyright © 1996-
All Rights Reserved.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website, with more Travellers stories, a great Travellers Newsletter, and a Bulletin Board for all the latest On the Road Information! Webmaster: Grant Johnson