We feel like we have as many friends in the United Kingdom as any other country. It feels like we are coming home. With all the political unrest and absurd government regulations it could be the US. The biggest differences are we feel safer, no guns in every belt and nook, and the people are actually polite, even when upset. We are here this time to see friends that have been closed into a corner and barely allowed to breath, and our favorite motorcycle event, The Overland Event. But first, to get in.
We blitz across the Black Forest, in the rain, toward the ferry in Calais, France. We divert quickly into France from Belgium so we can get our CoVID PCR test before crossing into the UK. You see, the rules for entry have become very strict. First, you must schedule a PCR test before crossing and then you must also have a PCR test scheduled for two days after arrival. That is sometimes difficult to do when you don’t have a plan. This time however, we do. Our good friends Nigel and Debbie have said we could stay with them for a few days to get things sorted.
We spend the night 100 kilometers from Calais, have dinner, and then it’s my turn to get sick. We wake up in the morning and then it hits me. I wasn’t quite sure what IT was, but it affected both ends. We had to go though as our expensive CoVID test was done, our ferry booked and paid for and our expensive 2-day CoVID test booked and paid for on the other side of the English Channel. We managed to pack, and I rode the 100 kms to the port with extreme waves of stomach cramps and sweat drying in the wind.
At the port we made it through the first booth that checks tickets to the second booth, the border control, manned by none other than a Brit who took his job way too seriously. Melanie was dealing with him at the window as I was just trying to survive, not look sick and keep the bike upright. This ASS took as long with four vehicles as the other person did with 50. He wanted all our information, even things that didn’t pertain to us entering the country. He wanted to know all about our trip, where we had been. Then he wanted to know how long we would be in the UK, and we had to show him proof of us leaving. Then he wanted proof of us leaving Europe. None of your business, mate. Melanie complied after I dug the information out of my phone. Next, he proceeded to inform us that we were not able to work in his country. Then he told us we were not welcome to any benefits either. Geez, and I’m just here to see friends, drink beer and spend money.
We made it through our interrogation period and got in line to board the ferry. I slowly got off the bike and laid down on the pavement and went to sleep. After another quick trip to the toilet, we finally boarded the ferry. The added heat and fumes didn’t help my condition, but once on board I got close to a toilet, laid down on a couch and started searching for a hotel near the port. Cost was still an issue, but not as much as usual. To fit the day, when we arrived at the hotel the bed sheets weren’t ready, so we couldn’t check in. I again laid down in the parking lot until the room was ready. After we checked into the room, I started to feel a little better, even enough for a beer.
The next morning, we headed to our friends’ house and had a delightful stay with them. A couple days later, with negative two-day CoVID tests in our pockets, we headed off toward Snowdonia, in Wales. We ended up taking as many small lanes as we could, no road lines, painted sheep on the road or grass growing between the tire tracks being a priority. We ended up seeing small villages that began with ‘Ll…’ all along the route. My grandmother was Welch with a similar name, Llewellyn, so, in a way, this is home. We rode up through the Elan Valley and along the Garreg-ddu Reservoir as much as possible. After a couple days we stopped in to see another couple friends, Simon and Lisa. They hold they hold the world record for the longest motorcycle journey by a couple at around 16 years and over 500,000 miles. Check them out at @ 2RideTheWorld. It was another couple of wonderful days sharing stories and wondering ‘What’s next’ in this now crazy world. FYI, Simon is really a very talented. 😉
We rode off after a couple very enjoyable days of eating Lisa’s incredible cooking (Lisa’s book is Dirty Dining), drinking and talking and started to make our way to The Overland Event. On the way we stopped to camp with Nigel and David, who were also on their way to Oxford. The campsite was deserted except for us four.
The next day we rolled into the Hill End Outdoor Education Center in Oxford, the site of The Overland Event. This would be three days of interesting talks from experienced motorcycle travelers and good films. But, more importantly, FRIENDS! This group is one we really miss and have a great time whenever, wherever we happen to meet. The fun started at the gate with a super warm welcome. Everyone was super excited to finally be able to so other people in person. Laughter, hugs, cheese, Pimms, beer and friends. It doesn’t get much better than this.
As always, the hardest part is the parting. See you all again, somewhere.
Hugs, many more adventures and safe riding, mates.