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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.


UNITED KINGDOM | Saturday, 22 October 2011 | Views [772]

The morning after, stumbling around Edinburgh with some strawberry milk and a donut, it was one of the saddest moments of my trip. I felt completely lost and just wanted to go home to Australia, give up on whatever the heck I was trying to accomplish with this silly trip abroad.. :(

The morning after, stumbling around Edinburgh with some strawberry milk and a donut, it was one of the saddest moments of my trip. I felt completely lost and just wanted to go home to Australia, give up on whatever the heck I was trying to accomplish with this silly trip abroad.. :(

"Scots: Inventors of the modern world. You're welcome." ~ Ewan McGregor, Long Way Round.

(At the time of writing this, I ain't in Scotchland. I'm back in London. I don't own a motorcycle [not counting the scooter I own back home in Australia. Scooters ain't motorcycles anyway, they're engine-bicycles]. I have but a few thousand quid to my name, a one-way ticket to India in my pocket, and no one to spend Christmas with... On the bright side, it ain't snowed yet, I have a roof over my head, Vietnamesian beef-noodle soup in my tum, and the motivation to play catch-up with my journalising. Apologies for being so slack over the last month or so, glad you're still with me) xxo

Rite-o. Ignoring the first paragraph there, I'm back in Edinburgh! Wheee! I miss cities. I miss the easy accessibility to my vices. I've been craving donuts something vicious. Donuts and human contact. Donuts first though. But before donut must come accommodation. I found a YHA in central Edinburgh and booked for three nights. They very kindly allowed me to park my bike out the back in the tiny staff carpark, but I didn't mention to the receptionist how big my bike actually was lest he turn me down. Parking in cities in the UK is such a hassle, even for a motorcycle, and especially for a motorcycle combo like mine, where even the majority of free bike parking spaces have a sign allowing only solo bikes to use them. I met the manager of the hostel while I was busy wheeling my bike into position across a fire exit. He told me to fuck off, but only because he thought I was English. I wasn't so he let me park in front of his car. What a nice man.

After getting my gear sorted, I hit the phones. Had a rather worrying text message from my insurance company while I was wandering the moors up in countryside Scotland, stating that my bike insurance was due to be cancelled for some unknown reason. Eep. I wanted to wait til I was in Edinburgh before I sorted it out, as I was low on phone credit and decent call reception. Turns out that I had to fax them a copy of my international driving license, which I had previously sent by mail but they failed to receive, meaning I had until now been driving an uninsured vehicle, which was illegal, and if caught I faced the possibility of getting my bike siezed by the police, taken away and crushed into a cube.

HOMER:"Morning Mr. Burns, here's your messages."
"You have 30 minutes to move your car."
"You have 10 minutes to move your car."
"Your car has been impounded."
"Your car has been crushed into a cube."
"You have 30 minutes to move your cube."
HOMER: "Yello, Mr.Burns' office?"
BURNS: "Is it about my cube?"

Having sorted out this kerfuffle (insurance companies, phone companies, banks, would much rather shit in my hands and clap than deal with these companies over the phone), it was time for a stiff drink to calm my growly spirits. The receptionist at the hostel recommended a bar down the road called... Providence, or Prudence, perhaps Premises, I'm not sure anymore. It was a fantastic little place, the walls covered with rockabilly paraphenalia, the bartop pasted with random stupidity cut out from tasteless magazines to amuse the patrons. One stiff drink soon became two, then three. I ended up in the company of a few locals who shouted me drinks and told me how shit they thought the English were. The night ended with me passed out in the corridor of my hostel, where someone stole my half-eaten kebab. Who steals kebabs, honestly!

In the morning, once I had awoken and washed/vomited away the memories of last night, I sat in bed and tallied up my remaining funds. It's darn expensive running a motorcycle in the UK, but until this moment I had tried to ignore how broke I really was. Getting the bike back to Middleton Cheney for its second service would leave me with around a hundred quid, after fuel, food and accommodation had been taken out. It's barely enough to survive a week on, let alone finance a trip across the English Channel to Europe. I'd grossly underestimated my travel budget. It was time to seriously consider settling down and getting a job in England. This was one of the low points of my trip, the realisation that failure was so close. I still don't regret a penny spent on my journey up to this point. Well, perhaps the last two whiskys' I'd downed last night, my head still aches thinking about 'em.

I wandered the streets of Edinburgh that day, not even the donut and chocolate milk I'd been craving could cheer me up. I contacted a friend of a friend, Anna, who was in Edinburgh too, and arranged to hang out for a bit. Ended up booking in for a walking tour of the city the next day which was great as it took my mind off of my shortage of funds. It was a free tour as well, sweet! The tour took in the Royal Mile, so named because it was about a mile long stretch between the Royal Palace and the Royal Castle. It covered a lot of Old Town, so named because it was old. We saw Greyfriars Kirkyard, a very old graveyard, claimed to be the haunting-est in all of the UK, and home to Greyfriars Bobby, a loyal little dog brought to worldwide fame by Walt Disney in the 1961 film, Greyfriars Bobby: The True Story of a Dog, and most recently in an episode of Futurama, titled 'Jurassic Bark'.

The tale of Bobby: Bobby was a Skye Terrier who became known in 19th century Edinburgh for guarding the grave of his owner John Gray (Old Jock) for fourteen years, until he died himself on 14 January, 1872. He was buried just inside the gates of the cemetery, and a lifesize statue was erected at the Southern end of the George IV Bridge to commemorate the most faithful dog in the world. Awww...

The walking tour turned into a bit of a Harry Potter tour, with glimpses around Edinburgh of where the author worked or found inspiration for her books, including The Elephant House cafe where she wrote the first novel, the gravestones she stole characters names from, even the poncey castle-shaped private school she got the idea for Hogwarts from. It was nice having the company of young Anna. It's nice meeting people other people know from back home in Australia, made me a little homesick, made me remeber what I'd left behind.

The next day was to be the last day/night I'd spend in Scotland. I went for long lonely walks, bought some grapes (half of which turned out to be rotten, so I donated them to a bin) and snobbed about six volunteers throughout the city who were collecting cash on behalf of some lovely charity that supports, I dunno, something to do with candles and razor-wire. All I was willing to give was a hug to one of the ginger-haired chaps, because it was freezing out. This was by far the coldest day I'd experienced so far, but at least it wasn't raining.

No, it held off til my day of departure. I left the warmth of the hostel at around nine in the morning, the plan being to get out of Scotland, perhaps as far down as York. Wishful thinking. The rain quit after about an hour of riding but I was already freezing and the windchill kept me miserable. It didn't help that I'd chosen to take the coastal route back to England either. It was pretty but it did nothing to buoy my spirits. Shiver and sigh.


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