"Ride safe Will! And remember, stay off the M25!" ~ Luke May, giving me some very good advice just before I leave Middleton Cheney for Tidworth. Advice which I ignored.
The M25 is a motorway that circles all of London. Motorways in England are horribly dull but pretty convenient. Unless you're stuck on one, on a bike that isn't allowed to exceed 40mph, and travelling away from your destination instead of towards. Something in my head registered with the huge M25 sign I passed and I thought 'yes, M25, that's where I should be, Luke mentioned it if I recall correctly. M for motorbike, yes yes.' I originally wanted to take the backroads back to Tidworth from Middleton Cheney but ended up getting lost in the countryside (hey, haven't I seen that castle before..?) and running out of daylight, so I hit the big roads to get there quicker. It's a shame I couldn't follow my GPS directions, one too many fare-thee-well drinks at the pub before I hit the road perhaps, because the bike is perfect for tiny English country lanes. On the motorway, sticking to the far left, being overtaken by truck after truck after Fiat 500 really sucks. There ain't many exits either, you'd probably pass five to ten towns before you're given an exit, then have to backtrack on another road to get to them all. It's terrible. What's even terrible-r is that I took the M25 going East, instead of West to where cousin Paulas place in Tidworth was. This led me completely around the outskirts of London, clockwise, adding another two hours to a trip that had already taken me four, when I should have been there in three. I ended up reaching my destination a little after 11pm, after over eight hours in the saddle. My hiney hurts. And my hands are bent into claws, my back is ouchy. And it drinks fuel like a... like a fuel drinky thingy. Bitch moan whine. But the bike is mine! If I stay off motorways I'll enjoy it more, I'm sure.
The area around Tidworth is fantastic, lots of small lanes lined by stone walls covered in ivy and bird shit. Riding through small forests that form an arch over the roads, it's all very pretty. If only every single lane and street and road in England wasn't fenced off or blocked by hedge or cottage or bird-shit-covered stone wall, I'd be able to pull over every once in a while and appreciate the beauty a bit more. Still, there's always a pub just up the road, up every single road probably. I can't afford to spend much time on the Ural unfortunately because my trip down here ate up 350kms of the 500kms that once are on the clock will mean it's time for the bikes first service. While I'm down in Tidworth I have to await the registration & insurance papers to be delivered in the mail, and organise a transfer of my funds in Australia to my bank account with Lloyds Bank, because it seems I've spent almost all of the £800 I brought, about £200 on some motorcycle extras like helmets and badges and lots of fuel, the rest on fuel for me, and accommodation these past 2-3 weeks. It ought not take too long. Because banks, as we know, are very efficient.
"We regret to inform you that your transaction can not go ahead until you receive your verification code in the mail, which should reach you withing two to five working days. Once entered into your online account, the transaction will commence"
Oh for goodness sake! Yup, two days later and it arrived, I entered it in on the Friday morning aaaaaand... got an email that afternoon stating the funds have been transferred, yay! Aaaaand will appear in my account in approximately three working days. Oh good grief Charlie Brown >_<
It was Wednesday when they graciously let me have MY F*CKING MONIES so I could leave this F*CKING DULL ARMY TOWN AAARGH!! So boring! Even worse when I had a gorgeous bike I couldn't ride, it's not fair! I spent most of my time either watching Sky TV (it's like Foxtel, pay tv innit) or cooking some remarkably good food (remarkable because as everyone knows, I'm rubbish in the kitchen) or sitting on a wall in the sun and drinking fruit cocktails. No, really, I did! I took the bike here and there on short jaunts some evenings, and got a bit of practice ferrying my cousins (I found some more cousins while there, so many Fijians in the British Army, what's wif that?!) around in the sidecar. The bike handles so much better with more weight, becomes more stable. Having said that, it is great fun with less ballast in the sidecar, I still don't have the skill to bring it onto two wheels at every left turn but I am getting less fearful about it.
I did love staying with my cousin and my other cousin and meeting another cousin as well, but until I get the bike through its first 500 kilometer service, I won't be able to explore the rest of the world. So once I cashed myself up and fueled the tank to the brim with fuel (and nicked a bottle of cousin Paulas port to keep in the trunk, THANKS CUZ!) I was off again, back to Middleton Cheney. I'm beginning to really like that village, everyone is so friendly and giving, the New Inn pub there is fantastic to hang out in (yay for bar cats!) and they have a Folk Festival on the 7th October that I really want to see. Also my bike was from there, my awesome mechanic lives there, I've had some very life-changing experiences there, hehehe, and it's the only place in England I have a sense of familiarity and comfortability with.
Still, I pictured myself riding through Germany or Portugal now, not puttering back and forth from Tidworth to London to Middleton and back. I'm really yearning to see more of this wide brow... uh.. small green land, feel like I'm wasting my time even though I'm enjoying every minute of it. I'm certainly wasting my money though, it's definitely time to consider getting a job and settling down for a few months, or else I won't be able to truly enjoy Europe.
Scary thought, holding a job. I'd have hoped to have escaped that part of my life for at least half a year....
The things we do for money. Or is it, the things money does for us..?