Travel Through The United Kingdom on a Harley-Davidson

By Peter & Kay Forwood

The United Kingdom on a Harley (24/7/09 - 29/8/09)
Distance 4910 km (538633 km to 543543 km)

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

Coming from Ireland or read our previous visit to the United Kingdom   

24/7/09 A smooth ferry crossing followed by a 150km ride to the Northern Harley Club's rally in Moore. We had met almost half of their active members at the H-D Club of Ireland's rally about a month ago, and had been invited to attend their UK rally, and when we arrived were welcomed as special guests, a great reunion for us. The rally format was pretty standard: a football field full of tents, motorcycles and cars, a venue for a band and drinking (the football club house), a couple of vendors, motorcycle clothing and food, but the best part of all rallies is the people we meet and the Northern Harley Club has some great characters, men and women. We took it pretty easy, sitting outside in bright sunshine as the evening cooled before moving inside after dark for some music.

25/7/09 Revelling in the UK sunshine after so many days of Irish rain we relaxedly let it dry our sleeping gear to crisp and packed up a dry tent for the first time in a month. Talking, and a bit of motorcycle and stove maintenance, lying about on the grass, filled the morning. We could only stay one night as a previous booking was moving us on. John, the club's president, and a small committee gave us a couple of mementos, a badge and sticker for the motorcycle and sleeveless T-shirts for us. There was a ride out at 1pm, but with our bike only being used to a minimum because of the clutch hub problem, we chose to move on to Gary and Denise's, just 150km's away, in the afternoon.The crowd at Northern Harley Club Rally Gary and Denise live in Nottingham, running their headstone business from home. Ignoring all the morbid puns like, it is a dying business, they showed us how the lettering on marble and granite headstones is carved, usually filled then with either lead or gold leaf. They purpose order the granite, complete the lettering, and install it at the grave. When not busy Gary heads off on his BMW GS1200, Morocco, Europe or North America, or plans future trips like his next one to South America. After again inspecting our motorcycle's clutch hub area, which has been getting worryingly noisier, but we found little extra recent wear to account for the increase in noise. In the evening we went out to a nearby hotel for a carvery dinner, joined by Gary and Denise's current house companion Arita, a Latvian woman, currently working in the UK.

26/7/09 A quiet morning as rain dampened enthusiasm to go out. DHL tracking has our part already in the Midlands of England, optimistically delivery should be tomorrow to where we will be staying, about 100km from here. The afternoon and evening chatting and watching a couple of travellers videos and the Moto GP.

27/7/09 GarySaturday morning coffee after a hard night at the rally and Denise drove us to Sherwood Forest, where Robin Hood reportedly ran with his merry men, taking from the rich to give to the poor. A large tree, now green with leaves (not dead like it was last seen by Gary), sits to the side of an open field and despite it not being large at the time of Robin Hood, 900ish years ago, it is billed as an example of the type of oak tree that he might have hidden in to avoid capture from the Sheriff of Nottingham. Still, over half a million people a year come to see the tree, (and it is well cared for as if it was the original). We also visited the interpretive display, a mix of Robin Hood folklore and modern forest conservation. A place where families were bringing their budding Robin Hoods, dressed in green, accompanied with bow and arrows. By lunch time it was time to leave. The 100 km's to Merv and Ruth's, passed uneventfully but still worryingly with the stripping clutch hub, but we arrived. We'd met Merv and Ruth at the Ripley HU Meeting a month ago and, being long distant motorcycle travellers, having ridden around the world between 2001 and 2003 on their GS 1150, they invited us to stay for a couple of nights at their place in Coventry. A pleasant evening dinner, joined by Damien and Rita, their son and Gary and Denise at work engraving headstonesdaughter in law, who is expecting their first child next January. Many travel stories, refreshing interest, thinking of future plans. Our DHL'd part had been delivered this morning, but the house being empty, it hadn't been left, another chance tomorrow.

28/7/09 We read up on doing the motorcycle repair (from the manual photographed and kept on our laptop) a repair we hadn't done for eight years and almost 300,000 km's, the changing of the clutch hub, and waited for the part to arrive, which it did about noon. A small engineering business nearby, walking distance, agreed to use its press to remove the clutch plates from the old hub, press out the old hub from the shell and insert the new one. It took just half an hour and the friendly boss didn't want to charge us, but accepted a tenner (10 pounds) for the worker's coffee pot. Even though the shaft had suffered considerable wear the new part fitted reasonably tightly, and we were comfortable it might last, at least till we need to change the gearbox, which comes with a new shaft. Optimistic, we started the motorcycle but the same noise (or very similar) was still there. Again we opened the area, concluding that the primary chain was still rubbing on the chain adjuster. The oldSherwood forest with Gary, Denise and Arita wobbling clutch hub had damaged the gear shaft enough to remove the small tolerance in the area. After phoning around, and just before 6pm we had located a new primary chain at a H-D dealer just eight km's from where we planned to stay tomorrow night. Merv and Ruth had invited Matthew and Anita to join us for dinner. A great night, a couple planning to travel, a couple returned from travel, and a couple still travelling. It is always interesting to watch and listen to the enthusiasm of people planning, almost as interesting is seeing how people have or have not returned to normal life after an extended trip. The evening was over too early with the others needing to work tomorrow, and us still with the motorcycle to be repaired.

29/7/09 In light drizzle we put the motorcycle back together for the 150km ride to the west of London, said goodbye to Merv and Ruth, both working today, and sat around for the morning hoping the rain would ease. It did about lunch time but still continued to drizzle all the way to the H-D dealer in Slough. An older H-D business they had a store of unused old parts, including the compensating sprocket, and spring, along with the primary chain, that fitted our 15 year old motorcycle, soOutside Gary and Denise's house near Nottingham we negotiated a price, almost at cost, then left for our Etap Hotel. Brand new, the hotel, one of the ultra cheap, roadside variety, small, clinical but certainly adequate. Situated right next door to the rest area facilities, cafe, shops and petrol, it was a comfortable place to stay.

30/7/09 After inserting the new primary chain and other parts in the hotel car park this morning we were disappointed to discover that the new chain still rubbed on the chain tensioner, not as much, but enough to make a noise. Fed up with pulling it apart and putting it back together again, we left it for a while. It seems, with the damaged gear shaft, the easiest option now would be to gouge out the chain adjuster foot (to help track the chain better) and file back the tensioner support where the chain is rubbing, a jerry rig repair, but later, not today. We had come to this part of England to visit the famous Ace Cafe. Built in 1938 it was bombed during the war but survived and was rebuilt afterwards. Functioning as a car and motorcycle cafe till it closed in the 1980's, after seeing the changing world of motorcycles and the Mods and Rockers. Reopening in 2001 it has again become an icon of motorists. OnceOutside Merv and Ruth's house in Coventry a month is Harley night, tonight, and by 8.30 a couple of hundred were in the carpark. Other motorcycles were also there but were relegated to a different parking area, I guess their night is another night. In more a looking than talking mood we had arrived early and sat quietly over a coffee to watch the talking and discussing of motorcycles. Pretty regular stuff. A lot of custom bikes, restored bikes, some new rarely ridden ones, a prize for the best custom. A place to be seen to be. Pub food, beer, but not much drinking. We left pretty early after a relaxed evening.

31/7/09 We had also come back to the London area to go to the West London Harley Riders Club's "Burning Budgie Rally" being held right next door to the Etap Hotel we have been staying in, so after checking out late morning, we set up camp at the rally site, and again proceeded to pull apart the primary area in the camping field. Moving inwards we noticed that the rotor was loose on the drive shaft, and could possibly be the cause of the noise, the chain was now not rubbing. There was a great band at the rally, and over a few beers we tried to keep our minds off the motorcycle problems, but kept returning to our options in case the noise was The famous ACE Cafe near London on Harley nightactually coming from the bottom end and not the primary area, a thought we had been keeping distant in our minds. Many people danced, good dancers, more men than women, and as the evening progressed we temporarily relaxed, going to bed late late.

1/8/09 We were back at the Slough Harley shop in late morning looking for a new rotor and the workshop manager, Paul, and his mechanic listened to the engine and a rough diagnosis was that the main bearing had gone. But still not convinced, and not wanting to totally have to rebuild the engine till we were sure, we found a new rotor in Southampton, 250km's return away, so in light rain we headed down there, riding with the engine noise, collected the rotor, had a coffee, and returned to the rally to insert the new rotor, pulling the primary apart, yet again, but as drizzle increased to heavy rain we abandoned the project for tomorrow and again joined the festivities of the rally. Another band, but the rally organisers were a little disappointed with the attendance, perhaps the rain, perhaps the economy, but for us it was a good crowd of friendly and helpful riders, but tonight we were not in a party mood. Talking to a few club members, we were put onto Matt's Engineering Shop in the south of Wales, supposedly the best engine rebuilding facility in the country for older motorPrimary apart again this time at the West London Harley Riders Rallycycles, and as we had already booked accommodation in that area we decided to ride there tomorrow.

2/8/09 If it is the bottom end, an engine with such a hard life, and an original gearbox, we tossed around a few options. We can refurbish the existing engine and gearbox, but that takes time and probably more money than new ones, and there is no guarantee the rebuild will be successful or possible if there is too much internal damage.  We can order and buy a new engine, (about 3800 pounds or a project engine was offered to us for about 2200 pounds), and buy a new gearbox later. We can buy another 1994 Electraglide with low mileage and pirate its engine etc, keeping its remaining parts for spares, if one was available. We can buy an accident wrecked motorcycle, taking out its engine and gearbox, if we can find one. Thinking about at all these options, each with its own merit, we put the motorcycle back together at the rally campground, said goodbye to the club members, and decided to ride across to Wales, to talk to Matt at his engineering shop as our first step. 

3/8/09 At 6am, Getting advice at Matts Engineering in Walesour time, we phoned Harley-Davidson Australia to see if they could offer any assistance. Unfortunately the person we wanted to speak to was on holidays, and their second was away for the next two days. Next step was to phone Matt's Engineering, but they don't open Mondays, however Matt offered to see the motorcycle in the afternoon, his day off, so at 4pm we were at his workshop. In the meantime we surfed the internet and made phone calls to check out some other possibilities, not a lot of success. Matt listened to our motorcycle with a stethoscope and determined that the noise was coming from the cam side, likely main bearing, the one near where bits of metal were thrown off the oil pump drive gear when it failed in Germany a few months ago, possibly now the cause of this failure. Not good news. Nor was the time it would take to rebuild, nor Matt's opinion that due to the engine's hard life there was no guarantee what would be found inside the casings, something that might delay or prevent a successful repair. We now started to think more seriously about a replacement engine or whole drive.

4/8/09 It seems we now have half of the UK looking for a solution to our problem. The HarleyBreaking up a couple of pallets for wood for an engine crate dealers in Slough and Southampton, friends we were to visit but had to cancel on, people from the Burning Budgie Rally, Matt, and friends we have just visited, all offered to see if they could find an engine or drive gear. Jumbo from Full Bore Motorcycles has a brand new EVO engine that they had purchased for a project that hadn't gone ahead, 2200 pounds. They can also fit the engine, a secondhand gearbox shaft and belt pulley immediately, for a total of 3000 pounds, not a bad option. Paul Lewis from Slough Harley-Davidson had been onto the UK marketing section for Harley-Davidson looking to see if they could assist and later in the afternoon we had a call from them saying they were looking for an engine for us, but most of their staff was at the new model launch and it might be a day or two before they could get back to us. The other option that appeared during the day was a 1994 Electraglide Classic south of London for 6500 pounds, the same model as ours. It crossed our minds we could remove all of our memorabilia, panniers, fairing, tank, etc, the external parts, and place them onto a motorcycle that has only covered a tenth of the distance of ours, giving us a newer frame and running gear, then ship our old motorcycle back to Australia. By evening, and still at the pub hotel in Blackwood, South Wales, we were a little more relaxed with howJumbo, the mechanic who changed our motorcycle's engine at Full Bore Motorcycles things were progressing, but no decisions.

5/8/09 Back on the phone to Australia Harley-Davidson, again 6am our time, but just voice mail, no actual person to talk with. More phone calls, one to customer relations in the US, a receptive call, but by afternoon HOG had advised that it was not in their budget to assist, that it was also not a marketing situation, but the customer relations department might be able to assist with parts to repair the engine. We would have to take the motorcycle to a H-D dealer, pay for the labour to remove the engine, to break it down for assessment and a parts quote, before any approval could be granted. With labour rates at over 80 pounds an hour, unknown damage, the offer of parts didn't look that attractive, and again the timeframe was longer than we were looking for.

6/8/09 H-D Australia politely advised by email they were unable to assist us in this matter. We have been trying to again contact H-D Marketing in the UK but without success, leaving messages but no returned phone calls, until late afternoon when we again called to find out there was no possibility of assistance from that area. We emailed the US customer relations person and advised that due to time constraints, (we had been advised it wouldCrated old engine ready for repair or shipping to Australia take Harley-Davidson a minimum of two weeks for them to get a new engine to the UK, and longer to rebuild ours through the dealer network), that we had decided to go ahead with the aftermarket workshop, Full Bore Motorcycles, who had an engine on hand, that could be put into our motorcycle after the weekend. This would allow us to continue riding, and should Harley-Davidson US decide on a full sponsorship to rebuild our original engine, we could make it available, otherwise we would continue our trip on the new engine. We also hoped H-D might consider doing some maintenance on our motorcycle, whilst we were back in Australia in November and December, to bring it back to reliable condition for the next five years that we hope to be travelling the world. This is the first time in the 13 years of travelling that we have approached Harley-Davidson US for any assistance. We rode our very rattling motorcycle engine slowly towards Watford, where the Full Bore Motorcycle shop is, stopping in at Swindon for the weekend. Irrespective of the final outcome from our request for assistance, it has already been disappointing, and we can't help compare it with offers of loan motorcycles and accommodation from recent friends we have met in the UK, quite a contrast, corporate or private.         

7/8/09 ConfirmedRoger, owner of Full Bore, and the motorcycle with its new engine our booking at Full Bore Motorcycles, Watford, and they will be ready for us Monday morning. A hotel day, raining continuously outside. The decision made we are just sitting around waiting.

8/8/09 Swindon is a town suffering from the current economic downturn. An historical railway and steam engine producing centre it has a lovely historical restored area alongside the more usual modern pedestrian shopping area. We strolled in brilliant sunshine, (always seems the way when we can't ride the motorcycle), through the parks, sitting reading the newspaper just filling time. The recession doesn't seem to have dampened people's enthusiasm for a drink. The pubs last night were noisy and by lunch time were in full swing again. There always seems to be money for a "drown your sorrows". Empty shops line the pedestrian way, others have half price sales, or are of the dollar variety, no Gucci shops here.

9/8/09 Sunday morning and with a list of items we wanted to mention to the workshop tomorrow we nursed the motorcycle, in lovely sunshine, the last 130km'sThe green hills of Cumbria, on Helen's field to our hotel in Watford. 

10/8/09 We were at the small Full Bore Motorcycle shop at 9am as arranged. It does almost anything with Harley's and old British motorcycle repairs as well as customising. A two or three man operation, one was on holidays and unfortunately a second one phoned in with family problems, so the shop doors closed for the day as Jumbo, the decent sized mechanic we had met at the Burning Budgie Rally, got stuck into working on our motorcycle. After explaining all the odd adjustments we had needed to do on our travels, like putting the battery in the panniers, having a quick remove seat, the starter switch on the starter motor, etc, we left him to his work. The engine to be installed was there. A silver and polished alloy model. The last of the EVO's, still being made as a 1999 Softail unit, new with clean exhaust ports, an engine that should go straight into our motorcycle's frame. It comes with a new oil pump, thankfully after the recent damage done to ours in Germany, and we hope it will solve the overheating problems. We departed to source a couple of old pallets to be broken down so we could build a crate Rabbit shooting with Danny and his new high tech airgunfor the old engine, to be shipped to a dealer for repair or back to Australia, depending on the outcome of our requests for a rebuild. We were back at the workshop with our load of timber about lunch time. Jumbo had already removed the engine and main gearbox shaft. The old shaft had been damaged by the worn clutch hub. Full Bore Motorcycles often removes good, slightly worn main gearbox shafts in their customising of motorcycles and had a number of old ones on hand. They also had a couple of slightly used front belt pulleys, so fitted one, as ours had covered 180,000 km's. We left Jumbo to keep working on the motorcycle alone, which he did through till after 8.30pm.

11/8/09 We were back at the shop about lunch time with scrounged packaging materials ready to build an engine box. Jumbo had already rebuilt the motorcycle and taken it for a test ride, no problems, running fine. So we set to build the wooden box for our old engine. It took us all afternoon and by 6pm was finished. After paying the bill, getting paperwork for the new engine, and a few photographs we rode what felt like a new motorcycle back to our accommodation. The vibrations had almost completely gone. With new main bearings in the gearbox, the work we had done in Helen's old forge house, pink motorhome, and pink hairthe primary area, and now a new tight engine the comfort difference was immense. We hadn't realised how much the old engine had deteriorated.

12/8/09 With instructions to run in the new engine we headed north towards the Lakes District, Alston, where our friend Helen lives. Keeping to the motorway in light drizzle we just cruised along steadily enjoying the new motor, varying its speed a little but not going fast. By late afternoon we arrived. We had met Helen at the Horizons Unlimited Rally a few months ago. A single mum of two small boys, they live together in a great period home, a cluster of a few places surrounded by rolling hill farmland. Her house was once a blacksmith's forge, built right on the road to attract passing trade and dates back over four hundred years. With almost metre thick walls and a coal fire the warm solidly built place dried us out after the damp ride. Danny and Cindy, Horizons Unlimited Road Kill fame, with their three children, had also planned a visit, timing it to ours, and so it was a bit of a reunion in the evening. Danny had brought with him his guns, one in particular, his new air rifle. It has a scope, silencer,The group at Long Meg Stone Circle red or white adjustable beam spotlight light and battery case. Quite a piece of high tech equipment compared to the single shot open sights of the .22 rifle I used to fire as a kid. And it was over 20 years since I had been hunting or fired any sort of weapon. With permission from neighbours we headed out after dark looking for a few rabbits, bagging four, a pair each, a reasonably easy shoot with this bit of "kit" and the rabbits not too used to being hunted. Late in the evening we received a phone call from Harley-Davidson in the US saying that between themselves and HOG, the Harley Club, they had decided to have our old engine rebuilt, as a goodwill gesture, so it could be returned to the motorcycle for our continuing journey, a great outcome from slightly protracted negotiations.

13/8/09 With last nights rabbits stewing on the stove for dinner, and after a relaxed morning, we all headed out to the Long Meg stone circle for a bit of history and peace. Helen described the place for us, dating back to a similar time to Stone Henge, the seventy odd stones arranged as a meeting11903 feet high, someone must have changed the sign?? place, also oriented towards the summer solstice. Giving the rabbits a slightly better chance we took the gun out for an afternoon shoot, another four rabbits, frozen for a later meal, while we enjoyed last nights rabbits in a stew with a few ales and wine. A call to Paul, the workshop manager at Thames Valley Harley-Davidson, the dealer who will be repairing our engine, and he agreed to collect the old engine from Full Bore Motorcycles, pull it apart and see what work is necessary. So we can now relax on that score.

14/8/09 We had planned to leave this morning but yesterday's sunshine had gone, replaced by drizzle, and after being house bound for the morning, apart from a couple of shooting outings nearby, we all went for a walk up Haggs Bank, up the fell, across the paddocks, walking Danny's dogs, who caught another rabbit, chasing many into burrows, and exercising the children and ourselves. It drizzled and blew cold wind for the entire walk but being out in the fresh air was invigorating and simply gave us an appetite for more rabbit stew.

15/8/09 ItA walk in the fells on a typical Cumbrian summer's day was no surprise and little consolation to hear that last July in the UK was the wettest for over 100 years, and the way August is going it will likely be the same. Heavy rain again this morning delayed our departure till 1pm with the forecast clearing in the afternoon. We had booked accommodation, laterooms.com again over the internet, again reasonable with the travelling public (both business and tourist) numbers down. 300km's to Ayr via Stranraer, and we were now in Scotland. The coast road between Stranraer and Ayr was spectacular in the afternoon sunshine, as we were still enjoying the smooth running of the new engine in the motorcycle.

16/8/09 Updated the website, on hold while we sorted out the engine, then left our hotel following the coast to Cardiff, inland to Loch Lomond, through the mountains, discovering that a Sundays travelling in the holiday season in Scotland will result in slow caravan and motorhome traffic. A beautiful ride alongside that lake and another lake as we headed towards Perth for the night.

17/8/09 Again, not a day goes past that we don't at least get a shower of rain, or more. WeCamped at John O'Groats had planned to stay in Inverness but arrived early so continued up north, towards John O'Groats, the furthest north in the UK. We had crossed the barren, heather clad Cairngorms, and the further north we went, the less traffic, the clearer the weather and the better the riding, finally arriving, 400km's for the day, and camped at the small campground at the top of the country. It was late evening and the crowds had cleared, the shops shut, in what is now a bit of a remnant of what used to be a major tourist attraction. The 1875 hotel is closed as are a number of the end of the road shops. Most visitors we saw were not British but were Europeans, French, German and Dutch, with a few Eastern Europeans thrown into the mix. We had joined that group who had travelled from Land's End to John O'Groats, all be it via Ireland.

18/8/09 After a morning walk along the beach, watching seals and birds fishing, and seeing plenty of rabbits (for Danny to shoot if he were here), we headed west, Thurso, Bettyhill to Durness, a lovely spot with camping right on the cliff face. Again magnificent riding, at least between showers, ocean views most of the way, over headlands around coastal inlets, pastThe heather was still in flower most places small lakes, across the heather, spectacular scenery and again little traffic making the riding particularly enjoyable. Stopped at Smoo Cave, a large inlet from the ocean, eaten out from the limestone cliffs and with a history of smuggling, boat repairs, and fishing going back for millenia. With the Scottish children back at school the European oldies in their motorhomes are the majority of visitors at our campground. There are also plenty of motorcyclists, doing a north to south, or a loop of Scotland, or just out for a ride.

19/8/09 A change came through in the night and our relaxed headland scenery became a windswept, wind exposed site, and as the tent flapped all night we were up early packing up just in time to avoid the worst of the storm, but hunkered down in the small camp kitchen, writing the diary as the rain passed. It didn't pass, so we headed out missing most of the scenery to the south before the rain eased around Ullapool where we could walk around the lovely seaside town. Choosing to ride further as the weather was kind we slowly meandered south past Fort Augustus and Loch Ness,Smoo cave near Durness and as the rain started again near Fort William we called it a day to camp beneath Ben Nevis, the UK's highest mountain, and not an ideal camp site on a wet night near such a geographical outcrop. As evening started the campground became progressively wetter with over half the tent sites unusable, luckily we had a less soggy spot. We cooked and ate dinner in steady rain, then walked to the nearby pub to dry out over a pint of cider.

20/8/09 It continued raining almost all night but even though Ben Nevis had occasionally appeared through the foggy rain of last night, it was obliterated this morning as we packed up and left in continuing rain, most of our camping gear was wet through. The mountains and streams were awash, rivers flooding their banks, and the waterfalls were spectacular as we rode past. Luckily we had booked cheap hard top accommodation in Glasgow, just 160km down the road and although we waited out time in a couple of roadside pubs over a coffee, we wanted to be in our dry hotel room, not available till 2pm. Brief sunshine but then more rainRaining, but great waterfalls across the hills till sunset as we later dried most of our belongings in the heated room.

21/8/09 We would have liked to have seen more of Scotland, hard on a motorcycle in consistent rain and camping, so I guess if it becomes an official new UN Country, assuming it's independence referendum goes ahead, and is successful, we will have to revisit Scotland as a new country, hopefully with better weather. While on new countries, the idea came to us of what we want to do with the motorcycle in the future. With it being the first vehicle to have visited all the countries of the world we would like to keep it visiting any new countries that are created. To be the same vehicle that would require us to keep the old engine in the same frame. Even though we are quite happy to keep travelling with the new engine it would be great to have the old engine repaired for any visit to any new countries that might be created, either tomorrow, during our lifetimes, or if our children are interested during their lifetimes. An interesting thought. In lovely but cool weather we rode fromRiding through the Lakes District Glasgow, meandering through the Lakes District, and after lunch at Cockermouth it was a magnificent ride through Buttermere and up over the pass to Keswick. A narrow winding road alongside lakes and farmhouse accommodation with many people out tramping the countryside or canoing on the rivers and lakes. We arrived at Kendal, where we had been invited to the HOG Red Rose Chapter's first rally. The rally didn't officially start till tomorrow but club members were setting up the facilities, another football club, a popular venue, a field for camping, club house with bar and rough footballers change rooms and showers. It was a nice quiet evening of meeting people, eating Chinese food and drinking a few ales, or in our case pints of cider, something we have become quite partial to.

22/8/09 Bikes started rolling in quite early, about 150 were expected, a nice number, big enough but not swamping. They had come from chapters in Scotland and Ireland as well as the UK. The football club had arranged an afternoon friendly football match, (an interesting aside to the usualRed Rose Chapter's Wake the Lakes Rally rally events of a bike show). There was a food van and a couple of events including a motorcycle race on mini bikes. Two bands entertained the rallygoers later in the evening, both a bit loud for the older eared bikers but great music. We won the longest travelled, as is often the case, and felt this rally was particularly enjoyable due to the exceptionally friendly people we met there. The rainless sunny day enhanced the event as everyone was in a relaxed mood.

23/8/09 There was to be a ride out this morning through the Lakes area but as it was raining when people were rolling out of their tents most just packed up and headed home, and as we were heading south the rain cleared to another lovely day. It was to Nottingham, our destination, again to Glynn's house, a welcoming destination. Friends of ours from Townsville Australia, Nottinghamites, were back in their birth part of the world visiting family and friends and we had planned to have a ride with Steve, but a recent accident on the Donington race track had left him with a broken shoulder, and not able to ride. Still it was a lovely dinner at a local pub,Steve with his daughter Madeleine and the 1100R one of his favourites, with his expectant wife Helen and their young daughter Madeleine. Joanne, a Canadian friend, working in the UK at the moment, also accompanied us for dinner.

24/8/09 After three days of socialising it was great to wake up to a quiet house as Glynn is off working. In the afternoon we visited Steve and family at his mother-in-law's house, helping to put his motorcycles, a couple of Honda 1100R road legal, racing motorcycles from the 1980's, back into storage as he won't be riding them on this visit to the UK due to his broken shoulder. Late afternoon a bedraggled group of workers led by Glynn arrived home. After working almost continually for the last week at the V-Festival they were a pretty tired bunch, but as always with Glynn's workers, were in good humour.

25/8/09 On the road again, said final goodbye's and headed for the Coventry Transport Museum the place where Ted Simon's original Triumph motorcycle is on display. We had seen the motorcycle eleven years ago,Being shown around the restoration area at the Coventry Transport Museum same place, but the entire museum has had a facelift and is now an enormous display of the transport history of the region boasting such brands as Triumph, Rudge, Hillman, Humber, Triumph cars, Austin, Singer, and more I can't remember. We were spotted looking for a parking spot and were invited into the museum's garage area, were welcomed with a couple of stickers, keyrings, free ride on the Thrust SSC simulator, (the world's fastest car, which was also in the museum), were shown around to the restoration area, photographed in front of the museum, and were generally looked after like celebrities. Our planned short visit was extended with great exhibits and a great welcoming, and it was four hours later, and with an offer to put our motorcycle on display for the two months we would be back in Australia at the end of the year, (something we are seriously thinking about) before we left the museum late afternoon. Down to Beaconsfield for the night at the cheap Etap hotel.

26/8/09 A not so enjoyable day as yesterday. After a pleasant stop at Thames Valley Harley-Davidson, just making sure that they understood our thoughtsOutside the Thames Valley H-D where our old engine will be rebuilt on the rebuild of the old engine, and a photo outside the shop, we got caught up in one of the UK's worst traffic snarls. We had seen quite a few over the last couple of months, an accident usually the cause and once the normally smooth but dense flowing traffic is disturbed great snarls ensue. Today though, the M25, the main London ring road, was closed in both directions, a suspected gas leak. Closed since early morning, by the time we arrived it was a total mess, so bad that trucks, unable to go on the smaller roads, were just parking up. It took us a couple of hours to make our way through and around the situation, finally getting south to the New Forest near Southampton late afternoon, in rain, the aftermath of a cyclone which was now battering the southern coast. Unhappy with the 23 pounds a night to camp in the forest we backtracked and headed towards Dover, and as evening was settling in we took another camping spot, not much better in price, and almost full, as it is the last week of school holidays, with a long weekend arriving.

27/8/09 Nicer weather we spent most of the morning at or near Brighton Pier. Had Kids gambling games at the Brighton Piera couple of games of air hockey, one of our favourite arcade games, while we watched kids spend their pocket money, and most of mum and dad's money, on rides and games. Budding gamblers, there were machines for the kids that looked like adult poker machines, taking coins, paying out up to 5 pounds, but they were kids gambling games, like snakes and ladders. In the next door adults only area, but open to kids eyes, there were the usual poker machines, so the kids could grasp the full gambling experience? We spent some time on Brighton's pebbly beach, watching a few locals brave the cold brown waters, watched the already large population grow larger eating their fish and chips and ice creams, and as the crowds increased we decided to move along. The accommodation situation didn't improve tonight. After trying at a few van parks near Dover, we could only book in for one night, even though we needed two before our ferry back to Europe. The parks were all booked out for the weekend, starting tomorrow. One of the effects of the internet is people can and do prebook their accommodation, so it removes some of the spontaneity of being able to just rock into accommodationPebbly beach at Brighton Pier on the day.

28/8/09 Another lovely day. Perhaps we should have spent most of our time in the UK in the South East corner like most local holiday makers. After getting approval to stay another night we sat around in sunshine on the grass tinkering with the motorcycle, tightening bolts, adjusting, having breakfast, morning tea and lunch as the day passed. Mid afternoon we ventured out to pass the enormous Dover Castle, then sat watching the Dover Port, England's busiest ferry terminal, where around 50,000 passengers, 11,000 cars and 7,000 trucks pass through each day at this time of the year. We then took to walk along the famous white cliffs in a strong sea breeze and afternoon thunderstorms.

29/8/09 We had to be at the ferry terminal at 7.10 am but had forgotten to check when the gates to the caravan park opened and found ourselves locked inside. It is common for UK caravan parks to have a lockdown time as the office is unmanned overnight. The lockdown helps with security and noise issues. Luckily we could squeeze through the pedestrianThe immensely busy ferry port of Dover pathway and arrived at the ferry on time. There were no immigration passport checks as we left Great Britain, perhaps it was the early morning?




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



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