Travel Through The United Kingdom on a Harley-Davidson

By Peter & Kay Forwood

The United Kingdom on a Harley (25/5/09 - 29/6/09)
Distance 4560 km (530551 km to 535111 km)

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

Coming from Germany or read our previous visit to The United Kingdom
 

 25/5/09 The ferry left a little late and taking just two hours we were in Great Britain by 3.30pm having ridden in five countries in the last 24 hours. The Harley, at its age, is no longer a good freeway motorcycle. Sitting at around 100km's an hour its engine vibration can be tiring and we were looking forward to arriving at Glynn's place in Nottingham, 330km's north, a long two days after a busy rally we arrived weary, just after 8pm.

26/5/09 Glynn had been working this long weekend, running stalls at events, and arrived back at his house late last night. We had let ourselves in and had gone to bed early. This morning he was understandably up late, as tired as us. His place is the most relaxed place we have ever visited. A casual welcome, eleven years ago when we stayed here we were shown around, finishing with, "and here is the kettle, and when you have a tea, I have mine with milk" and that one statement put us at ease in his home, more than anything anyone else had previously, or since, said. It was now no different, we brewed him his first cup of tea this morning. Marzie, his current companion, who we had met in Australia when they had visited us a few years ago, was also staying over, and we had a relaxed day together, each doing small jobs that had been put aside during busier recent days.

Arriving by ferry to Dover27/5/09 Glynn operates stalls at sporting venues, mainly motor sports, car and motorcycle, Donington Raceway being his long standing venue, but also takes his mobile shops to music festivals. He was doing the same business years ago when we visited, it gives him a few months off in the winter to continue his motorcycle travels, but his business has grown to the extent of needing more and more staff, as the events calendar has also grown in recent years. Our motorcycle has been running too lean lately, and on investigating the carburettor we noticed the main jet had worn into the carby body over time, closing off the aperture slightly. A couple of washers to lift it will hopefully allow more fuel to flow. By mid afternoon it was time to leave for our 2am, tomorrow morning ferry to the Isle of Man. Just a few hours ride away, but we didn't want to get caught in rain travelling at night. By the time we reached the ferry terminal about 8pm, drizzle was starting, so it was to the local pub for a beer and pub meal, with many locals having come down to watch the European Cup finals with their mates, it was a lively evening,Arriving in Douglas, the Isle of Man at 5.30am although we tried to rest in one corner.

28/5/09 The budget dictated we should catch the 2am ferry, a substantial discount, and a nights accommodation saved. We had managed an hour's sleep in the ferry terminal, plus a couple more on the boat, then arriving at 5.30am sat over a coffee in the Isle of Man terminal reading over tourist brochures and waiting for the day to arrive. We had come for five nights, preferring to be here for the less crowded build up to the TT event rather than the actual race, and also wanted to look at the island itself, hopefully not too packed with tourists. Race fever was already in the air though. After checking into our campground on the western side of the island, near Peel, we went into town for groceries, sunned ourselves on the pier near the Peel Castle, then decided to ride the track. The safety barriers were already in place, bales of hay, foam padding, even wrapping up an old phone booth and memorials to past racers who had lost their lives in the event. On average about two competitors die every year, more if you include wannabe racers out testingSmall house padded up against possible motorcycle collisions their skills or lack of skills. Only two days ago, a local, racing the mountain, totalled himself on a couple of tourist cars heading in the other direction. Public safety issues have recently become a priority and many areas previously open to the public, on corners trackside, have now been closed, creating a lot of discussion on where the best places are to watch the race. Travelling slower than almost everyone else, looking at the scenery, taking in the tight corners, and the houses right at trackside, looking for places we might get to watch practice days, we were overtaken by many motorcyclists, just a bit enthusiastic. Almost all of the participants have now arrived. Their motorhomes and trucks filled with gear occupying the area near the finishing line. The gate security at this early stage slack enough to allow us to enter with our motorcycle for a photo next to the Dunlop trucks, and we could walk around, watching racers start preparations, untroubled by security.

29/5/09 They say it is rarely sunny on the Isle of Man, but today, after the fog cleared, it was T-shirt weather and everyone was out enjoying. HeadedPre-TT Classics on the Billown Circuit south to Niarbyl where Basking Sharks were also enjoying the sunshine. These plankton feeding sharks are the world's second biggest fish, after whale sharks, and can grow over 13 metres in length. Two were lazying off the Niarbyl peninsula, and after walking at low tide, rockhopping, past nesting seagulls and oyster catchers, it was possible to get close enough for a distant photo, but only of their enormous dorsal fins. Further around the coast at the southern most point of the island, seals played in the waters close to shore as we watched across to the Calf of Man island, lay on the grass and sipped coffee. It was late in the day when we arrived in Castletown, after strolling through the pre TT Classics compound where participants were preparing for the afternoons practice session. The short road circuit, 7km's, near Castletown, came alive shortly after 6pm with two stroke motorcycles, an era gone. Seven practice events, as lively as a real race, the leader losing it on our corner of the first event, but no other excitement as they progressed from 125cc motorcycles up to the open class plus sidecars.

30/5/09 WeSidecar practice at Creg ny Baa corner are scared our campground is going to start charging us for the sunshine, it is so magnificent, and so unusual for this island. The general public motorcycle enthusiasts are starting to arrive, more motorcycles on the roads and at camp grounds. We visited a great private motorcycle museum, the ARE Collection, in the morning, mostly British brands, old Triumphs, Norton's, BSA's, Enfield's plus names I haven't heard of. Then, as it is Honda's 50th anniversary of competition at the TT's, there was a special exhibition at the Manx Museum, including the first Honda to win a TT, in 1961. We joined the leather clad lads at Creg ny Baa, a popular race watching spot at the end of the mountain road. Racing boots, leather racing pants and jackets, colourful full face helmets their uniform, quite different from the H-D uniform of Harley events, or even the gortex uniform that we saw at the overland riders rally recently in Germany. We were the only ones not in a dress code, just members of "Joe Public", anonymous, while our motorcycle took most of the heat from onlookers. The first practice session was the reason so many were gathered on this downhill corner of the track late in the evening and the beerGetting a knee down on the Creg ny Baa corner and a TV football game had kept them pretty happy in the meantime. As the event is a staggered start it is difficult to keep up with rider positions and some of that impact is lost but just watching them scrape a knee passing the corner at a ridiculous angle is enough to watch in awe.

31/5/09 Each day we hear reports of accidents, and hear sirens, and it is no wonder as when we were riding part of the track we were overtaken by a sport bike travelling at twice our speed who squeezed between us and two oncoming cars. Part of the problem is the high allowable speed limits, signposted at 60 mph (100km/hr), or even open speed which here means 70 mph (113km/hr) on narrow winding roads where there are no double lines, extremely unusual, but I guess there is a perceived need to attract sports bikers to the island. Sunday is the worst day as there are no races, no road closures for practice, only for the accidents that occur. One motorcycle even went down at our campground, the pillion drunk, the rider couldn't hold up the motorcycle. We tried to stay off the TT track, winding across lovely green hills to the north coast, lunch at a pub as weTalking with other motorcyclists at MFN watched the watchers watch, ice cream at the beach in Laxey, sunning ourselves like many of the locals on this spring day, then back to our campground early evening to be welcomed by the newcomers off the ferry, many trailering their motorcycles, camping gear in their cars.

1/6/09 The TT Classics were racing again on the short course, a real race, all starting together, unlike the TT's where there is a staggered start racing against the clock. The races we saw were of nine laps, plenty of time to get a feel of who was winning. Most riders were over 40's, some much older, matching their machines. In the evening it was the first practice qualifier for the TT's on the 37 mile circuit and watching them from our campground, sitting above the roadside on a rock wall, just metres away from the racers, as they literally flew past, recorded at 240km/hr by a fellow watcher with a radar gun. They had to pass through three slight curves in our viewing, changing their seating and leaning position on each occasion, and it was here that we were really amazed by their skills, and sheer courage to throw a motorcycle about at theseGlynn and Willy getting gear ready for the Download Music Festival speeds with sheer rock walls and blind corners. The sidecars were no less impressive as they bounced along, virtually without suspension, just inches from the road surface. The practice session only lasted for two hours after which the wannabes again came out.

2/6/09 Our time on the island was up, the ferry leaving at 8am. We could have stayed a couple more days, there was plenty to see, both the natural scenery and the races, a few more pubs to experience, a few more places to watch the bikes from, but we weren't going to miss the crowds at the campground that had been arriving by the boatload, or the wannabes trying out the track at 4am. We were back on the mainland, back at Glynn's place by mid afternoon, pleased to see a real bed again.

3/6/09 Glynn has a good place to work on our motorcycle, undercover, tools, workbench, so we replaced the rear engine/swingarm support rubbers, a job we have been putting off for a while, which took much of the morning, and after lunch a friend of Glynn's, Richard, took us to a Harley aftermarket shop in Mansfield, where we bought a secondhand carburettorDanny and Kay sampling Silver Birch wine and front disks. Harley no longer make carby's for our model, but there are a lot of take offs, ones people have removed and replaced with different brands, leaving behind their old carby at the shops. The virtually unused carby we bought for 40 pounds, the same price for the two front disks. Our old disks have lasted 330,000 km's, and were a little warped, so instantly, braking was now better. In the evening Glynn took us to a biker meeting place, MFN, Middle of F---ing Nowhere. A pub in the country where on Monday and Wednesday nights in summer up to 1000 bikers descend, all brands, sizes, ages, (bikes and riders). A watch, look and talk fest, no attitude, just easy going bikers.    

4/6/09 Glynn's friend, Danny, a KTM Adventurer rider, an outdoor guy, invited us to his home for dinner, with his family, wife and three children. Danny does the Road Kill Cookout at the Horizons Unlimited Rally in the UK, bringing along rabbits, squirrel, and other animals he has caught for the event. Tonight he honoured us with a taste of his new brew of silver birch wine. Made from the sap of the tree, taken in early spring,House in Petersfield where I lived as a child it is fermented with yeast, then bottled. We had the first tasting of last years brew, a clear white, strong, a nose of apple, a pleasant taste. It was accompanied by a venison stew, one Danny had shot, and shared with Joanne, another overland traveller.

5/6/09 We had planned to stay an extra night at Glynn's but with heavy rain forecast and Glynn planning to sleep out, at the Download Festival, where he was setting up supermarket marquis for the next weekend show we decided to move along. Over 60,000 people will be attending this years show, a small city, and Glynn's four temporary supermarkets are designed to supply the crowds with everything they might need, from buckets for ice to waste, or food to tents. Heading south mid morning it was an easy ride to Southampton and after checking in to our cheapish hotel, booked over the internet using the web page www.laterooms.com we got a great double room, 45 quid, en suite and a full English breakfast included, with parking in the middle of town and cheaper than a hostel. It was near here, in Petersfield, that I lived for 18 months at the age of 5-6, when my father was stationed with the Australian Navy, doing anOutside Michael's friends pub in Southampton officer's course at Greenwich. The house we all lived in, occupying the top floor, the owner on the ground floor, still stands near the railway station, so it was an afternoon visit for a photo. Nothing we saw brought back any memories other than the houses outside, perhaps even that was a photo memory not a real one. The area looks like the past 50 years would have changed it little. Little new development, houses looking pre WW2, but there was a new supermarket mall area, but I couldn't find my old school or the park where I played.

6/6/09 My nephew, Michael, has lived and worked in the UK for the last nine years, coming over here under contract to work as a diesel marine mechanic, he has now settled here seemingly permanently. He also works part time at a corner pub in Southampton, where we paid him a surprise visit this afternoon. Well it was supposed to be a surprise but his mother was informed, and as mothers will, in her son's best interests, he was given a bit of a heads up, as we haven't seen him for over nine years and perhaps he might have not recognised us. We sat in the bar enjoying a few ales, watching world cup preliminaries on the "telly" whileOutside the Harley Dyna Cafe with Red Michael snippet chatted between customers, and then joined us on the other side of the bar with his friends later in the evening.

7/6/09 We don't visit a lot of Harley-Davidson shops, finding we now have less and less in common with the riders there who, like we used to, use their motorcycles more for a social event rather than for riding, but this morning we needed to restock our supply of wheel bearing seals, so we visited the H-D shop in Southampton. Unfortunately they were out of the seals but we stayed, talking to "Red" the chatty ex-American sales manager and had a coffee with a couple of Harley riding Horizons Unlimited followers, but the other riders, who turned up for the short ride out, were more locally social. The evening was spent at another local pub with our nephew and his friends. We enjoy the English pub scene, always a place to meet locals, a place to meet characters, whiling away an evening. But pubs in the UK are finding the recent downturn just another coffin nail in their business after strict drink driving rules, no smoking rules and changing community social values. It was reported thatKay, Liz and Michael about to drink slippery nipples at Liz's pub 35 pubs across the UK are closing each week at the moment.

8/6/09 Headed west along smaller roads through nice undulating farmland scenery. The UK doesn't have the same extensive network of freeways that we found in Europe and we arrived at Axminster mid afternoon, the place of the famous carpets by the same name. Carpets started being made here over 250 years ago, with women and children using the same techniques of knot tying, a cottage industry, that is still being used in the Middle East. Mark, another world motorcycle traveller lives nearby. We first met him on his 1979 model Triumph motorcycle at the Tesch rally in 1998, and he is still riding it. An engineer by profession and motorcycle rebuilder by hobby he works to be able to travel, living a minimalist lifestyle between trips, and on the road. His famed Horizons talk is on what to take and what not to take on a long distance motorcycle trip. His latest planning however is a six month bicycle trip, to Asia next winter, a bit different as he hasn't been on a long distance bicycle ride before. It's a small industry this travelling the worldMark and the same motorcycles we both had at the Tesch rally eleven years ago by motorcycle, although the Long Way Round couple, Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman recently made it more popular, and Mark and us had many friends in common, or we had at least heard of people we each talked about.

9/6/09 It was a short visit to Mark's place and we were on the road further west this morning, Dartmoor National Park our plan for the night. We are surprised that, at this time of the year, it is still cold with grey skies, getting to a max of 16 degrees but taking all day to get there as we rode through beautiful rolling hills green in spring growth. Dartmoor, perhaps most famous from the book "The Hounds of the Baskervilles" is one of England's most beautiful. It is an upland area, 500 metres above sea level, and as it missed the series of glaciers that rolled down from the north the landscape has been left weathered rather than flattened and tors, rocky crags, can be seen dotting the hillsides. It is also famous for its Dartmoor ponies, a stocky breed that wander semi wild, but still owned, across the moorlands. Generous tourists however outnumberFriendly Dartmoor ponies them, bribing their interest with food. Less humanly attractive black faced sheep wander aimlessly fending for themselves.

10/6/09 On a lovely, for the UK, weatherwise, morning, that means clouds with patches of sun and no rain, we rode the narrow roads of the moors, stopped again to watch the ponies, walked to a couple of hilltop tors, to some granite stone quarries, over 200 years old, but most impressive were the stone railway tracks that carried the cut granite to ships over 15km's away. Wagons, drawn by horses, rolled along these tracks for over 100 years. Cut rocks, between one and two metres in length, placed lengthwise, their own weigh holding them in place, guided the wagons. By late afternoon the good day had gone and as rain drifted by we watched a downloaded movie on our laptop in the kitchen of the bunkhouse accommodation.

11/6/09 It seems the impact of the recession is keeping Brits holidaying at home. Busloads of retirees seem to be keeping the economy ticking over.Stone rail track from the quarry to the ocean Headed as far west, and south as possible in the UK to Lands End, riding small roads often canopied by trees and lined with stone walls and there was no shortage of tourists when we arrived. A popular spot since people in the UK started travelling, it has all the usual destination add ons, souvenir shops, coffee shops, and entertainment venues for the kids, along with, something often overlooked, great coastal walks and scenery. In beautiful weather we decided to camp on a headland, just a few kilometres from Lands End, at a place where board riders come to surf. The season, if indeed there can be a surfing season in these cold waters, has just begun, and more than a dozen vehicles and tents were their homes, reminiscent of the 1970's in Australia. It was a steep ten minute walk down to the surf and we were surprised by a beach of yellow sand and good waves.

12/6/09 There is a distinct shortage of roadside places to stop where we have been riding, virtually nowhere to picnic, but plenty of places to buy something. It had drizzle rained overnight, with sea fog rolling in, and continued Lands Endinto the morning, and as I write this diary sitting in the laundry of the campground we hope the day will improve. It is not the riding in the rain that deters us, but more we don't see anything while riding in the rain, and seeing things is why we travel. The day did improve and as we sat trying to see St Michael's Mount, drinking a coffee, the drizzle eased to fog, and the fog lifted to show the beautiful island. Almost immediately after an elderly man backed his car into our motorcycle. He scraped his rear mudguard, but just another small scar on the motorcycle's front fairing, another war wound. St Ives was the next stop on the Cornish trail, and a Cornish Pasty was consumed there, along with dozens of other tourists sitting on harbour front benches. Well mine was partially consumed when an over enthusiastic seagull swooped down taking it out of my hand. Cornwall is England's premier tourist region and St Ives is one of its main period towns. Situated around a small fishing harbour, stone buildings along the shoreline, narrow lanes wind up the hillside, it has long ago handed itself over to tourism but has kept its period charm, and on the now sunny day was in its full beauty.

The difference between Devonshire and Cornish Tea, cream or jam first13/6/09 We met Keith and Ellen at the Horizons Unlimited rally in New Zealand a few months ago while they, and us, were touring that country. They live in the thriving surfing town of Newquay, Cornwall, and invited us to stay. They have toured the US on their Honda ST1300 Pan, and NZ on their Honda 650 Transalp, and are planning a trip to Australia and a ride back to Europe through Asia on the Transalp over the next few years. Similar ages to ourselves, Keith is currently retired so has plenty of time for planning and we chatted options for their next trip. During the afternoon we visited a few more quaint Cornish towns plus had a look at the china clay works, whose mines dot the countryside, plus the Eden Project, the worlds largest greenhouse, which has an enormous variety of the worlds plants growing under cover in an old quarry.

14/6/09 A relaxed day, at least for three of us, Ellen had to work, guiding a group of journalists and TV presenters, local and international, around Cornwall, part of the visit Britain or visit Cornwall promotion. Keith andKeith and Ellen in surftown Newquay us rode over to Padstow, another historical and touristic seaside fishing village, busy with fish and chip eaters, then later in the afternoon we rode into Newquay for a bit of a photoshoot, mostly photos for the local newspaper. Ellen's famous lamb roast, and again surplus red cemented the days enjoyments.

15/6/09 Ellen is an excellent cook, and used to run a guest house, and served us sumptuous evening meals each night of our visit, not to forget Keith's Sunday morning cookup, so it will be on tight rations for the next couple of days to help reshrink the stomach and waistline, not to mention our over indulgence of red wines. This morning we left for Exmoor National Park. National Parks in England are not like those in other countries, having only started the concept 60 years ago, most of the land was already occupied, so when areas like Dartmoor and Exmoor were set aside people had been living on the land there for centuries, or even thousands of years. So it is a strange mix of rules that separate public space and public walkways, from owned land. Rules that govern what animals can be kept, what use the land can be put to, what can be builtEllen cooked some of the best meals we have ever eaten on the land. Still it seems to work, and landowners and the public all somehow seem to benefit from the National Park designation. We're camping in Porlock, in the north of Exmoor National Park for two nights. A lovely basic farm campground, right in the middle of the village, where we made a short walk to nesting birds on the pebble beach and the historical village of Bossington, and to the pub for dinner on the rainy evening, which was followed by watching a movie in the campground laundry on our laptop while sitting on the bench above the washing machines. Evenings can be long in the tent, and unless we want to sit in a pub drinking each night, there is little else to do in a town that closes at 5pm when the busload tourists leave.

16/6/09 We awoke to a lovely day, breakfasted sitting on the grassy field in the sun, followed by maintenance on the motorcycle for an hour or two, then headed off to Lynmouth, where we caught the water driven cable car railway up to historic Lynton for a stroll and lunch in the local church yard overlooking the coast towards Wales. Later it was a ride over to Tarr Steps where large stone slabs ford a river, believed to have been placedTarr Steps in Exmoor National Park, believed to be over 500 years old there over 500 years ago. Each stop of interest in the park has a walk, an interesting stroll, and we enjoyed Exmoor more than Dartmoor, more relaxed, less crowded, finishing our stay with another movie in the campground laundry.

17/6/09 The maintenance we did on the motorcycle a couple of days ago was for a vibration, something we have been attempting to locate for a while. We looked into the primary area at Glynn's a week ago and found the primary chain tension adjuster foot loose, so thought we had solved the problem, but no, so it was back into the primary area again, tightening bolts, checking the chain tension, but again no success. The vibration occurs mostly under load and may be associated with the recent oil pump drive collapse which could have allowed metal shards into the engine's main bearing, so we are hoping to locate any alternative possibility, if one exists. Still looking. The ride today, 340km's to Ripley in central England proved we haven't yet located the vibration, but was still a pleasant, although highway ride. By evening only a few earlybirds hadMedieval village of Bossington in Exmoor National Park arrived at the ninth annual Horizons Unlimited Rally, organisers mostly, Glynn, Grant and Susan, Danny, Sam, and it was nice to be able to choose a tent site anywhere.     

18/6/09 A sea of volunteers had been lined up and we were on the welcoming committee mid afternoon, a good opportunity to meet people arriving. We like to arrive early at rallies, or any function, taking the opportunity to watch it grow, see how it has been organised, how it comes together. The first of our two slide shows was at 8pm tonight. About 150 of the 250 people who had arrived during the day were in the room and the talk seemed to go over satisfactorily, 45 minutes, followed by a couple of questions.  The early time allowed us to have a few drinks later in the evening without needing to be concerned, and when we could relax.

19/6/09 Sjaak had arrived in his van from the Netherlands with his famous Yamaha R1, R1 Goes Extreme, and his array of merchandise, did his
Kay welcoming riders to the HU Rallyenthusiastic presentation in the evening, even better than what we remembered from the German HU Rally. Ted Simon had arrived late afternoon and introduced his new format slide show in the evening, a digital imagery of part of his first trips photos with a pre-recorded voice over. Currently it covers the planning and travel as far as Kenya but he suggested it might be extended to include his entire trip in the future. It has been eleven years since we first met Ted, at the Tesch rally in 1998. At the time we had only ridden from Australia to Europe. It was great to be reintroduced to a person of such renown in the motorcycle travel network. He seems to have changed little, is now 78, and is still riding, having ridden his BMW to the rally. A thinking rather than talking personality he passed the evening quietly sipping down his bottle of red wine whilst reading, occasionally disturbed slightly by an eager admirer. Ted's talk was followed by Nick Sanders, a different personality, one might even suggest the opposite. Nick has been around the world, eight or is it nine times, it is hard to keep up. A dynamic man, hard to pin down. There was a couple of times by bicycle, something to do with a hot airDanny, with the help of his children, about to pluck a pheasant balloon, a canal boat trip across the channel, a couple of motorcycle trips and more I can't remember. We had also met Nick Sanders at the Bernd Tesch rally in 1998, eleven years ago. He had then recently finished his world record of riding around the world in the fastest time, a bit over 30 days from memory. Recently Nick completed a similar ride on a Yamaha R1, almost a Guinness record, at least if they hadn't dropped speed records from their record list, and this time it took just 19 days, 19 days to travel 19,000 miles (30,000km) an amazing achievement. His slide show seemed to be almost as manic as his personality jumping from one thought to the next almost without finishing the first, and it took much concentration to watch him filter through his amazing achievements.

20/6/09 Danny,
of Road Kill Cookout fame, had invited us to hang around his Winnebago, his comfortable base for the cookout. Supplemented by a large refrigerator and hot water urn not to mention the enormous log fire, it was a great refuge from a hectic schedule of slide show watching and presenting, a place to chill out away from motorcycleTed Simons and Susan Johnson at the rally travel talk, a place to recharge our batteries before the next onslaught, and more, it was just fun. Danny has a great sense of humour and an amazing array of food that he had prepared, most of which we had not encountered during out travels. Woodcock, pheasants, elderflower champagne, wild garlic, game stew with a variety of animals, not to mention trout and yabbies fresh from local streams. We had been invited to a special guests preview of his cookout assortments over the last few days and today he had an amazed and slightly stunned audience as he proceeded to humourously describe unimaginable ways of catching yabbies and trout by motorcycle, or attempting to run down rabbits or deer using a motorcycle. There was a demonstration of preparing the "road kill", the audience could assist, preparing their own, and cooking it in the log fire, a well received, although squeamish for some, but immensely humourous presentation. Meanwhile other presenters had their books to sell and we noticed we seemed to be one of the few presenters not financially gaining from our travels. I guess we are still travelling, fortunate to be able to without the need to sell. Despite the number of sellers and in this electronic world and economic downturn, book salesNick Sanders, Sjaak Lucassen and myself, different personalities were reported to be at record levels, perhaps motorcycle travel should be added to beer and gambling as recession proof. It was our turn again, and at 8pm we were on stage, another hour long presentation, followed by Ted Simon, a parallel of his first and second trips, an interesting insight on how he saw the changing world between his trips, not that positively, that the 30 year gap had produced. It was interesting that overpopulation, as with us, was his biggest concern, along with a loss of isolation, loss of remoteness, and how the influx of travellers had reduced the locals welcoming nature, and in fact had often turned it into one of profit and corruption. Austin Vince, the evening's last slide show presenter, performed more a slide show of comedy rather than of motorcycle, and perhaps could be more billed as after dinner entertainment, but was incredibly well received by the audience, likely the most popular show on the weekend. The different array of presenters, different styles, different experiences, only shows the individual nature of long distance motorcycle travel, may it always be such. This Horizons Unlimited Rally is reputedly the largest of its kind in the world and the quality of the presenters, and travel stories of participants,Final farewell to new friends, only a few left at the rally can amaze the most seasoned of travellers, as it did us.

21/6/09 It was the reverse of three days ago as the campsites slowly emptied in the morning, a thank you lunch was provided by Grant and Susan for the volunteers, and many promises to meet again, on the road or home visits. We decided to stay another night, nowhere much to hurry off to. About a dozen late leavers gathered around the last fire on a relax evening, listened to Helen and Joanne strum guitars and sing, ate the remaining "road kill" that Danny had prepared, sipping a few beers, the event over for another year. We had a little reassessment of our travelling during the rally, and whilst we liked doing the presentations, we probably won't do anymore for a while, and while we liked writing the book while stationary, waiting for boats in the Pacific islands, we probably won't have it published for a while, for I guess both are just interludes that have become part of our motorcycle travels, part of what makes up the jigsaw puzzle of the world, and we will now move along to look for Row of B&B's at Great Yarmouthdifferent pieces.

22/6/09 Great Yarmouth was described to us as the place where the Great Unwashed go for a holiday, where greasies are supreme and a salad is unobtainable, so that is where we headed for two nights in a small Bed and Breakfast to relax and recuperate whilst observing a different part of England. It was an easy ride thankfully as we were still shell shocked from the rally's hecticity, and we arrived mid afternoon to wireless internet in our room and only ventured out to stroll along the beach in the evening, not eating any of the culinary delights offered by the billboard posted "restaurants". A lovely yellow sand beach stretches for miles along the coast, broken by the pier and a backdrop of offshore windmills. Every imaginable amusement from bingo to waxworks is the beach's backdrop, interspersed with fast food, with accommodation lining the next street, where our B&B was located in a line of similar, actually almost identical B&B buildings.

23/6/09 There wasWindmills offshore at Great Yarmouth finances, family emails, web page, photos, washing, oil change on the motorcycle, and just getting our heads around where we were. The one day a week we tell everyone to rest during travelling, but haven't been listening to our own advice, so even though it wasn't a real rest day, we had our own space and time. The British economy is in a bit of a mess, although where we are visiting it is holding up pretty well. Some cities are showing signs of the recession, shops closed, looking a bit shabby already, but the holiday destinations are thriving, people holidaying at home. With the pound a lot weaker, less money about, a short holiday at home seems to be the best option, and the B&B we are staying in is fully booked during the summer. We went for a ride to the north, along the coast, the only "scenic" road marked on our H-D England map, but it was just another ride scenic wise, however the coastline north of Sheringham was quite spectacular with more yellow sand beaches and riverstone houses.

24/6/09 English breakfasts last us almost all day. Cereal, juice, toast, sausage, egg, hashbrown, bacon, beans, coffee, mushrooms. So already feeling theBarbecue on the roof of Elspeth's converted water tower weight of greasy food we left, passing many others who had obviously had many such English breakfasts in their lives, barely getting around, or if too overweight they had taken to electric wheelchairs, that which younger and younger, fatter and fatter people now occupy as their last bastion of mobility. The day was sunny and temperature perfect for the 280km's to the south of London to Godalming where Elspeth lives in a renovated, revamped, long ago disused, but heritage listed water tower. At six long stories high the octagonal structure was a bit of a climb to the top where, open to the sky and with vast views all around, and a magnificent sunset, we had a barbecue dinner, joined by Elspeth's son Tom and partner Paul Blezzard, a freelance motorcycle journalist and photographer. Elspeth is one of those people who you wonder how they have fitted everything into their lives. Motorcycling around the world alone, in her early twenties, the first British woman to do so, riding a 600cc BMW motorcycle, then flying across much of the world, now a successful architect running her own practice, taking seven years to convert the magnificent water tower into her home, and still she managed to raise a family. Our bedroom, occupying theOur bedroom in the water tower with open raised bathroom entire second floor, was spacious and period decorated with an open bathroom on a cutaway mezzanine and similar to the other two bedrooms above. It was one of the most unusual and interesting places we have slept and certainly one of the most comfortable.

25/6/09 Breakfast was in the fifth floor kitchen, again spaciously decorated. Our visit here was too short, there was too little time to catch up and admire Elspeth's home, and she was then off to work, and Paul was interviewing us for a magazine article and before we knew it we were leaving on the short ride to Grant and Susan Johnson's, Horizons Unlimited founders, place in London. We had stayed with them when they lived in Canada a few years ago, and were again invited to stay at their smaller, though very comfortable place here in England. As busy as ever, managing the Horizons Unlimited site, organising rallies, which is taking up all of Grant's time and Susan is currently putting together a series of four DVD's for sale on, "The Achievable Dream", how to get started and how to do an extended trip by motorcycle, overseas or aroundHaving a free lunch for the over 50's with Grant and Susan the world, a project that for them has been in the making for a number of years and is just now coming to fruition.

26/6/09 Grant and Susan's place, near a quiet bend in the Thames River, in walking distance to ferries and Greenwich, seems to be in London but out of the hecticity of the city. We all went for a walk through the nearby city park, really a city farm, pigs, horses, sheep, chickens etc, in small paddocks, for children, or adults, to get a feel of farm life, and in the middle of London, quite interesting. We even managed to be invited to a complimentary lunch. You know when you are getting older, when you get offered a free, over 50's lunch, designed to inform the elderly on healthy eating, something Grant and Susan already do and know a lot about, but the meal was quite delicious, and recipes were obtained. We watched the first of the new DVD's in the afternoon, seeing ourselves for the first time in the production, along with notables like Ted Simon, plus dozens more who were interviewed for the series. An interesting, floating play, with fire effects and fireworks, was performed on part of the old dockyards, in the evening, part of the city's summer theatre it was certainlyFire and light show on water, in the Isle of Dogs region of London entertaining although none of us followed any specific meaning, an abstract performance.

27/6/09 We were up early, Grant and Susan keeping later evening hours than us, alone we walked to Greenwich via a tunnel under the Thames River, a look over the old Greenwich naval academy, where my father went to study for his Naval Officer course in the late 1950's, as did Australian Naval personnel at that time, then walked up to Greenwich Observatory, where Greenwich mean time, now Universal Time started, and stood with one leg in the two hemispheres, east and west, either side of the 0 degree longitude line. The great Thames River ferry service had us up and down the river for the rest of the day stopping at London Bridge, Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Big Ben, Parliament House, Tower of London, and much walking in between. We didn't see the need to go into any of the pay to enter displays, choosing just to see London from the street, on our one day visit. The Thames River Barrages, designed to keep out sea water, and protect London from flooding at times of extreme tides and storms, we could see fromTower Bridge on our one day London walk the ferry, but it was a smaller structure than we had anticipated. We had ordered a special 3 inch washer to put extra pressure on a spring and worn parts in the compensating sprocket, in the primary area of the motorcycle. A non Harley part it was ordered from a bearing company yesterday with promised next day delivery, but it didn't arrive. We had pulled the relevant area of the motorcycle apart to identify the problem and it was still lying in Grant and Susan's small back yard ready for the part. Seeing a damaged light post, of the right metal thickness, we, with Grant's help, and Susan's videoing, set about making one by drilling, and then filing the aluminium light post. An hour later and we had a, although softer metal than we wanted, washer that was fitted to the motorcycle. We relaxed later to watch the 4th, but second produced, DVD in "The Achievable Dream" series, "Ladies on the Loose", which heavily features Lois Price, and is designed primarily for women.

28/6/09 With the motorcycle back together, the rattling noise gone, indicating the temporary washer was working, at least for the time being, we saidCutting a spacer washer from a broken light stand goodbye to Grant and Susan, with promises they would mail the ordered washers to us when they arrived, so we left for the 500km ride to Wales, as we have a ferry booking from there to Ireland tomorrow morning. Summer seems finally to have arrived as from the 21st of June it has been warm weather, today 28 degrees, and warm enough for the locals to think they might be going to have a summer this year, something that seems to have been missed the last few years. It was a freeway ride, with us wanting to move quickly and without problems, and we arrived to a campsite late afternoon, a basic field farmsite, limited facilities, but popular with the summer boating crowds we had been seeing returning to Liverpool after their weekend away.

29/6/09 Overnight drizzle but we left with a dry tent in bright sunshine for the ferry with promises for another hot day. 

Move with us to Ireland or go to our next visit to the United Kingdom

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