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You Can't Ride Around With A Tiger On Your Bike One man-cub, one motorbike. And a tiger-striped poncho, just in case.

The Lake District 9

UNITED KINGDOM | Thursday, 13 October 2011 | Views [993]

My favorite tree in the world! 'Tis a mystical tree full of wonder and moss, where I sat and contemplated what to have for dinner. Bread and cheese again, same as always. I carved something in it, you'll have to go to the shores of Derwent water to find out what exactly. Or give me monies and I'll tell you.

My favorite tree in the world! 'Tis a mystical tree full of wonder and moss, where I sat and contemplated what to have for dinner. Bread and cheese again, same as always. I carved something in it, you'll have to go to the shores of Derwent water to find out what exactly. Or give me monies and I'll tell you.

"Hello little guy! It's the sweetie man coming!" ~ Wikus Van De Merwe, from District 9

Gosh it feels ace hitting the road again. No smartass, I didn't fall over. Heading up North-west-ish to the Lake District in Northern England, a journey of around 300kms from Middleton Cheney to the town of Kendal on the forest boundary. I was slightly delayed, my fault, zoned out in the shower and spent half an hour chatting with my mechanic, Mr Angel. I mean, he wasn't in the shower with me, nonono after I'd showered and changed and was ready to leave... ¬_¬

3:30pm and my first proper road trip on the bike began. No chance of making Kendal by nightfall so I thought I'd aim for Birmingham, or perhaps Manchester, and find a hostel to kip at by around 7pm. The weather looked good as I left, and anyways I have my trusty snowboarding gear on to protect me from the elephants.


One thing I was about to learn, and be reminded of time and again, is that snow and rain are two different things. Two hours into my journey the heavens opened, and stayed open until 10am the next day. I was taking winding, scenic back roads to try to avoid the boredom of three-lane traffic, thought it would be better to ditch this option and take the quickest route instead in the hope of finding a place to stop for the night. My gear was soaked through within an hour, and by then I was stuck on a motorway between Birmingham and Manchester with nowhere to hide. Stopped at a service station around 7pm to tip the water out of my shoes and squeeze my socks and shirt dry, and chow on some bread and cheese. By 9pm I had made it as far as the outskirts of Manchester. My first estimates of how far I could travel on the bike were way out. Gosh. Idiot. With a top recommended speed of around 40mph/65kph, and no way of checking my map heading without pulling over constantly in the rain and operating my GPS on iPhone with cold wet paws, it was extremely slow going.

I got off the motorway again to dry off and have a cigarette and a pint at the nearest pub I could find, and try tee up a place to stay. One Guinness later and I was invincible again! I could totally make it to the lake district tonight, rain, hail or shine! Well, not shine, obviously. On the map it was only an hour and a half away, I'd reach Kendal and the Youth Hostel there by 10:30pm, perhaps 11pm at the latest.

Stupid map.

I rolled into the town of Kendal at 12:30am, cold and wet and cold. Everything was shut except for a few pubs but all I wanted to do was kip. I headed out of town and into the countryside til I found a turnoff that led into a small clearing where I set up camp in the rain, stripped off all my damp clothes and dumped them in the sidecar, and sheltered in the tent to towel off.

Stupid tent.

You've all seen pics of my tent, it's tiny. If I lie down in it straight, my head and toes will touch the ends, and if I sit up straight, well I can't because it ain't high enough so I have to slouch. It's a pretty uncomfortable setup but I manage okay. It's fantastically waterproof, but I never counted on condensation inside the tent being an issue, so when I wake up after a cramped nights sleep the inside of the tent is covered in dew and there's usually a small pool of water on the floor at the ends. I always keep a towel inside the entrance to wipe the inside walls and floor dry before I move around to change or eat or listen to BBC Radio 4. Cosy ain't the correct word.

I awoke in the morning, as you do, to the sniff sniff of a police dog outside my tent. Turns out I'd parked my arse in a carpark where the locals all take their dogs for walkies. The cuntstable didn't pay me any heed though, so I took my time getting up, made a campstove coffee and went for a walkie in the surrounding forests before breaking camp and heading back into Kendal to find a Hostel to dry off. The local YHA (Youth Hostel Association) was located in the main street but it had recently been purchased by a 19 year old gal, Kristina, a few weeks prior. It was open for business though so I booked in, but it was just myself and her staying the night. Quite boring really, I do enjoy staying at hostels because of all the people I meet then get drunk with. I ended up helping her paint a room, something I've done a few times before for pals back in Australia but am still rubbish at. Practice makes perfect.

Went for a stroll around the town, it was very pretty. An old castle up on the hill overlooking the surroundings, where everyone from town brought their dogs to train to sit and stay. Kendal is famous for Kendal Mint Cake, the first Mint Cake to be successfully carried to the top of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hilary and his slaveboy Sirdar Tensing. I bought some, it tastes like peppermint-y sugar, which is what it is. Rot the teeth outta yer head it will. Came in a nice tin which I now use to carry my tobacco in. There's also a snuff factory in town but I didn't find it. Snuff, ground tobacco that ye put up yer nose and sneeze. Bless you.

The weather was still rubbish the next day so I decided to stay another night. My wet clothes were down in the basement, in a drying room, same as you'd find in a ski resort. Testament to how wet it gets here that they have one. I purchased some waterproofing spray and coated the heck outta my riding gear. Met two girls from Australia who were staying the night as well, and I arranged to give 'em a lift on the bike back to their car the next day. We were all heading up to the town of Keswick then, it promised to be ace weather and of course the weather bureau never lies, so I arranged to pick them up in the afternoon once they'd gone for walkies around lake Derwent. Derwent, like the pencils. No, seriously, the town of Keswick actually has a pencil museum, where the first pencil was made. Cereal! Next to it was the James Bond museum, NO REALLY IT WAS, but they were closed for some reason or other. SEREOUSLY, WHY WOULD I LIE ABOUT IT?! And no, I didn't take a photo to prove it, so if ye don't believe me, get bent. Or Goggle it on the internets.

(For the record, I've been extremely slack in journaling, ain't had much opportunity to get to an Internets facility. At present, I'm back from Scotland and haf landed a job stacking medication onto pallets for a company called DHL, so this will give me time to catch up on where my adventures have taken me.. Be patients)

On the ride from Kendal to Keswick, I passed the museum of Frankenstein, coooooollll!! No, turns out it wasn't that cool, it was just the home of the author of the book, Mary Shelley. I wanted to see Frankensteins lab dammit! Meh, needed to stop for a drink of port anyway, warm my mitts and my spirit. Gets cold up North it does. While the gals went for their hike (who hikes, honestly, how dull..) I contented myself by riding around and around and around Derwent Waters (name of the lake below the town of Keswick, probably named after something to do with watercolor pencils, or maybe the chap who writ that theory on evolution. That was a great movie actually, Evolution. "I think we've established that 'Ca-caw ca-caw' and 'Tookie-tookie' don't work!" Ahahaha..) which has some of the memorable-est road I've ridden on so far, bordered by lake on one side and forest on the other and everything was covered in moss and squirrel and it was just pretty. Mmm. Pretty boring after the first few hours. The area is home to Englands most photographed bridge, a tiny stone archway spanning a little stream, with an old stone cottage in the background. I completely botched the shot for a photographer by parking on said bridge to scratch myself. Didn't photograph said bridge personally though, my fellow Ostrayans were ready for liftsies back to their car. The motorbike handles so fantastically with someone in the sidecar, it's always a pleasure traveling with company, even if they were from Sydney. Had afternoon tea back in Keswick, then we parted ways, never to see each other again, except maybe on BookFace, or if I ever pass through Manchester. Now to find me some accommodation for the night. Both hostels in the district were fully booked so I found a campsite at the South end of the lake to spend the night. Alas, no one was available to take my booking. I waited for an hour, playing with a marmalade cat and counting some sheeps but the owners still didn't show , and God had turned the lights off so I decided to set up camp and worry about it in the morning. Nite nite xxo


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