Sunday and sunny, we headed off down to Edinburgh, round the bypass and onto the A7. As usual, Ed had thought about the route and we had the most amazing run through the Kielder forest on surprisingly quiet roads. Onwards further into the hidden depths of Englandshire…. The Yorkshire Dales were just amazing. The drawback was fuel. Smoggy has a range of about 240 miles. We’d only passed one fuel station and given it was Sunday it was closed. Typical. It was going to get a bit sweaty. Ed did ask at one junction how much mileage I had left.” 18″, says Fi. “Oh,” says Ed. We got to Castle Barnard with 2 miles left in Smoggy’s tank. Hell, had we run out of fuel it would all have been worth it! What a ride!
Our plan was to meet up with Ed’s cousin, Pamela and partner Lang in Leeds. We stayed on minor roads all the way. It was just an amazing route, it all went very well until we had to ride through a deluge of rain just as we got there. We hadn’t been to their house before, so we had to go up and down trying to find the right address. Ta da! Parked up and tried to work out how the hell we could get into the house without soaking everything.
At that point I realised that my new boots weren’t entirely waterproof and I had a soggy left foot. No worse than my Altbergs. I would have had two soaked feet by then. How come no one else has bother with Altberg boots?
We had a lovely evening. Went for pub grub, only to find the pub doesn’t serve food on a Sunday. Damn, too late, Ed had already bought Pam & I a bottle of wine. Only one thing for it. Drink it before booking another taxi. So, we went to an off licence and bought more wine. Into a restaurant of a certain religious slant. So much so, we were reminded that it was Ramadan and it was not suitable to drink wine at dinner. Thankfully they caved. We very subtly drank our wine and enjoyed our food. By the time we got back to the house it was 11:30. I bailed, Ed didn’t. They sat up until 3:30am drinking wine. I felt surprisingly bright the next morning. Ed didn’t.
Fuelled by a GF bacon and egg roll, Ed had plotted another classic route through the countryside to Milton Keynes. Off to visit Sue, Neal and my lovely God-daughter, Fiona. Thanks to Fiona for giving up her very comfy bed for us. Major brownie points! They’re renovating their house at the moment and I bet the last thing they needed was us visiting. Hospitable as ever, we had a great time. The next day, another route planned – Portsmouth – ironically, this is where Pam & Lang live, however, they were sorting their rental property. Smoggy already looked like he’d been ridden through a thoroughly trashed ploughed field. Ed’s bike had grass hanging from the crash bars, my panniers are a grey colour. It was a real Hicksville route. To sum up our journey, we covered 635 miles from Tyndrum to Portsmouth and the only time we were on a motorway was from Stirling to Edinburgh and on the approach to the ferry. Love sat nav technology. Well done Ed.
The ferry. Portsmouth to Santander. No “BING BONG, Welcome to Holland, it’s 7am local time. It’s time to throw your hungover ass out of your bunk, shower – trying not to flood the cabin AGAIN; get dressed without stotting yer heed on the upper bunk…… and stagger to your bike, where you will be made to sit for half an hour whilst you sweat your ass off waiting for every other sod to get off the ferry first.”
The worst we had was: knock knock….. Breakfast! Yep, breakfast in bed. The only complaint, not enough coffee. I’ll have that sorted on the way home. I didn’t have to amble out the (posh) cabin until just before my booking to get a pedicure. I walked about 20 yards to get that. Yes; a spa on the boat. Get in. Ed had two massages for his dodgy back. He was sorted too. We both snoozed lots too!
All in all, the crossing is a fabulous chill, getting us well and truly set up for our holiday in Spain. Imagine our disappointment when the sky was overcast on our arrival to Santander. We were lucky though, by the time we got to Eibar, we had missed the worst of the showers, having had a wee rinse and blow dry. Smoggy, however, was just as manky as he was in MK.
We had a couple of nights with Phil and Marivi in Eibar. A late supper when we arrived and our own personal tour guide the next day, showing us some of the local sights. That evening, Maravi was recovering from a dental appointment, so wasn’t able to join us, so we met up with a couple of locals, friends of Phil’s who had previously stayed with us in Fiarach. Can’t spell their names. Bad me. To sum up the evening, at 01:11am I wondered how the hell it had got to that time. A great laugh. Too much wine, again.
We really felt that the next morning was the start of our holiday. We had looked at the weather forecast and quite honestly, the LAST place we should go was the Pyrenees. Deluge. As it happened, the route Ed took us on was trying to avoid the weather. Just in the nick of time, we’d found a coffee stop. Just as we’d got our kit off (bike kit!) the heavens opened. It ended up being a two-coffee-stop. Just when we thought it was safe, we venture on our route again. GOOSH! Riding the most amazing roads, all of a sudden I had this really cold, damp feeling running down my leg. Not good. I had a real WTF moment. I had to stop. It was the opposite of the feeling when it’s so cold you think you have pissed your pants. I am sure many of my biker pals reading this have had that nasty feeling pass through their trousers and brain. Mostly though, thank goodness, you haven’t wet yourself, generally it’s just the combination of rain and cold. It was, after all, 7°. This though was different. There was rain water (cold) running down my leg. I stopped immediately, my right hand leg vent was wide open. How the hell that happened was beyond my comprehension. The thing is, I can’t do it up as I am riding, you need to get off, remove a glove, zip it up and then put a soggy hand back into the glove. Any rider will tell you that’s a nightmare. As it transpires, my (budget) left boot leaks and also my very expensive BMW gloves leak too….. Nothing to do with my short zip-up stop. The roads we were on were amazing, albeit cold and wet. Very.
We stopped in a town on our route, the first hotel was full, however, thankfully the second one had vacancies. Unloaded the bikes, got to the room and than had another WTF moment. My key to my Givi box had snapped. Oh. My. God. Numerous calls to Andy Brown Emergency Services were fruitless. I had to use my imagination, Ed, a Leatherman tool and Google translate. Luckily there was a hardware shop 100 yards down the road. Lock dismantled, snapped key extracted. Then it was the stressful bit. Given the Givi key seems to be made of Swiss cheese and the shop didn’t have a bloody replacement key that they could have cut…. We have since loaded my gear into one of Ed’s side boxes and we are going to deal with my dodgy box when we get home. In the meantime, my boxes are locked on. I have had to minimise my gear, transfer my big girl pants, wear my t-shirt for another night and get on with it. Calamity Fi. *rolls eyes*
Here ends my first holiday blog. Dodgy wifi so pictures for this one are on Facebook.
Things can only get better