November 10, 2010 GMT
Royal Homecoming



On Monday, I nipped down to Gatwick, hired a van, found the BA Cargo depot and collected H.M. The Bike. It had been put on a flight four days later than originally booked, for reasons I don't suppose I'll ever find out. But that was no problem, it gave me a bit more time to clear the decks and settle things down a bit before its arrival.



The collection was all pretty uneventful, although about two and a half hours in all.
And a little unreal - there's no customs office here. It's in Salford.
The clearance all done by computer, on the Gatwick agent's account with HMCR.


Then a gentle van ride back to Whyteleafe for bike and rider.



home112.jpg
White van man arrives home. First cut made into the plentiful wrapping and padding materials.




home213.jpg
The agents in Cape Town made a good job of all the padding.




home313.jpg
And back on English soil.



The engine started easily enough, but does sound pretty rattley now.
I'll put it back on the road here for short journeys and see what happens.


I'm now engaged in the oh-so-stressful business of starting my other bikes after they've sat idle for well over a year. Maybe they'll burst into life as readily as my car did, but definitely not, I hope, head for the scrap heap.
But first, it wasn't only my bike I collected from Gatwick, most of my luggage was on the pallet with it. So now I have to try to remember where it all goes. That'll take some doing. Just WHERE did all this stuff fit??
What'll be even more difficult is remembering where I've put everything after it's all stowed away (about a year's work there, I think).



I've had quite a few welcome emails about this blog and its accounts of our journey - Caroline, Beau and I from Whyteleafe to Nairobi and me onwards to Cape Town - saying it's been an entertaining story and how readers have enjoyed following it.


Armed with such encouragement, I'll try to continue the blog with reports of the upheavals of returning home, what might (or might not) happen next, and other bits and pieces, relevant or not, that spring to mind and have been left out up till now.


So returning to the southern tip of Africa, there was a fair amount of rain while I was there. More usually at night, and people would say to me in the morning, "Look, you should cover your sheepskin up. It's been out in the rain, it'll be soaked!" (That's the sheepskin cover on my bike seat. Standard kit for long-distance riding).
"Put your hand on it," I say. "See if it's wet."
"Oh! It's dry! But it rained a lot in the night."


Now, there's a constant debate about what is the best gear to wear on such long trips. And I'm learning about the practicality of sheepskin on motorbikes, and why Ted Simon still laments the loss of his sheepskin jacket in Central America. It had served him well for over half of his round-the-world journey in the mid-1970s, including Cairo to Cape Town. I'm beginning to think that sheepskin is highly practical for a jacket for long-distance motorcycling.


Back to the rain in the night, many people down there have experience of sheep farming, and end up saying, "Of course! Sheep are always out in the rain and don't seem to suffer or dissolve. I suppose if the wool side is on the top side so the rain doesn't fall on the skin side which is on the underside, then the rain runs off and both sides stay more-or-less dry!"
Which is exactly what I think is happening.
During this journey I've often left the sheepskin uncovered, unintentionally, when the bike has been parked. And when I've folded the back part over the front part, so the skin side is the up side, catching the rain, then the whole lot gets soaked. But now I always make sure the wool side is uppermost, and I can leave it in the rain all night and it hardly gets wet. Including those last couple of nights in Cape Town.


What I need to do now is to test that situation back in England.
Because I have scientific evidence that English rain is a lot wetter than other types.


It was back in the 1990s that Pete, a good motorcycling friend of mine, and I went over to Normandy one year for a D-Day anniversary. In June.
On the last day, riding back to Calais for the ferry, it started raining. But it's always a fuss, stopping to put on waterproofs on a motorway or busy road. And way ahead in the distance we could see the sky was brighter.
Well, it rained quite a bit, but the clear sky drew nearer, and we were wearing fairly good quality leather jackets and trousers. So we continued, eventually leaving the rain behind us a little way before reaching Calais, where we found all our clothing dry on arriving at the check-in booths for our ferry.
Just to be sure, we could hang our jackets up in the self-service cafeteria on the ferry back to Dover.
So everything was dry again, including the weather, when we disembarked the ferry and headed for London.


But later the rain caught us again, so we employed the same tactic - not bothering to stop on the motorway to put on waterproofs.
By the time we reached the join of the M20 and M26 the rain petered out and Pete continued north while I went west. But I had that certain wet feeling, that after years on two wheels you get to know so well.
It was another twenty minutes or so of riding, in the dry breeze, before I arrived home.
The next day Pete and I compared notes over the phone.
"Did we have the same amount of rain on the M20 as we did on the way to Calais?"
"Yep. And what about when the rain stopped. Did you ride further in the dry to get home than we did before arriving in Calais?"
"I certainly did. And everything was dry when we reached Calais, wasn't it? Jackets? Trousers? The whole lot?"
"That's right, bone dry. Were you dry when you arrived home?"
"I was #***@# soaked to the skin! What about you?"
"Me too! Did you happen to collect any samples of that French rain, so we can have it analysed?"
"Don't be silly, we just agreed, it didn't make us wet at all. I didn't keep a drop of it."
"So why's that, then?"


Perhaps that's why those English kings of long-ago were so keen to keep a hold on northern France. Maybe they too found the rain over there to be a lot dryer than our English stuff.
So I've a funny feeling that, in the English rain, unlike in the African rain, whether the wool side is the up side or the down side, my sheepskin seat cover will become a sodden mess. Just like Henry V's did when he was in England instead of surveying his realm across the Channel in Normandy.
So why's that, then?




Posted by Ken Thomas at November 10, 2010 06:08 PM GMT
 
 

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

Next HU Eventscalendar

See all events

 

Latvia to Australia, an inspirational 5 month journey full of unexpected adventures!


Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!