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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.

My Return To England And A Life Of Poverty

UNITED KINGDOM | Tuesday, 25 October 2011 | Views [1507]

The Angel of The North, a colossal statue in Gateshead, England.

The Angel of The North, a colossal statue in Gateshead, England.

(Oh boy, I'm almost two months behind with my journal entries, my memories have faded with time, too many late nights and ummm alcohol consumption, but luckily I've kept up regular FaceBook rants. Digging all the way back to a certain post on the 22nd October has reminded me of where I was, and brought a smile to my dial..)

FACEBOOK: William Kendell Ashton is back in England! Scotland was ace, I learned a new phrase while over there, the most common one spoken. It goes "FUCK THE ENGLISH!"

Yeah, the Scots really don't take kindly to their border brethren. I like 'em though. I like their many pubs. I like the accents. I like the countryside. There's a whole bunch of stuff I like about England, the best being the people I've befriended. Oh, and big English breakfasts. But definitely the people I've met here, my mechanic David, my musical pals Luke and Holly, Jamie and his cat from the pub in Middleton Cheney, my cousin and her cousins (who are my cousins too) down in the South-West, and all the crew at my favorite hostel in London, Clink78. Mmm, English breakfast...

Alas, I'm down to well under £200 and all I can afford to eat at present is bread and cheese and cherry tomatoes. It's tasty, but I'm sure it's lacking some extremely essential vitamins. The last week has left me severely low in energy, I just want to lie down under a huge fleecy blanket and sleep for days. I think the gloomy weather is also getting me down. The sun it rises, but I rarely see it through the clouds, and when I do it has no warmth. Vitamin D deficiency, no wonder Englanders look so down. Carp face. I needed cheering up, and at the point I felt the lowest, I zoomed past a sign with a kangaroo silhouette on it. Eh? Roos in the UK?! I had to had to had to take a look, so I pulled a u-turn and followed the signs to an animal park that advertised wallabies. Wow! I jumped at the chance (haha, get it?) to see a northern hemisphere wallaby, hopping-uh-hoping it'd cheer me up. There were so many animals, I felt like a kid again. I was happy. Donkeys and squirrels and ginger cows and tiny ponies and goats and sheeps and swans and more sheeps and even some llamas fucking each other, it was fantastic!

Hit the road again, spirits up, hoping to make it as far as York before the day died and I with it. Set my sights too far though, I only got as far as Wingate, which was a fair effort nonetheless. I passed through Newcastle upon Tyne late afternoon, looking for The Angel of The North, a huge work of art that miss Holly recommended I see while up here, as this was the area she was born and raised. After an hour being stuck in after-work traffic in the city center, and finding a tiny angel statue on a pole that turned out to be the wrong one, I gave up my search and hit the highway again, heading South out of the city to find somewhere to set up camp for the night. As luck would have it, I found the Angel about five miles out of Newcastle. It was hard to miss, looming up over the horizon like a massive... northern.. angel.. statue. I stopped to take a photo and unwind my spinal column. I also called my dear friend Melissa while I was here, because she likes angels and I like her.

I ended up riding for another three hours, as the campsites listed on my iPhone map did not accept tents, only caravans. Oooh, so ANGRY! It was well past eight and the temperature had plummeted along with my mood before I happened upon a campsite that'd take me. Bloody caravan fairies. Still, it was a good day. Started off shit, ended up nice, then shit, then nice, and finally shit, but also nice because I could rest my weary head. Some of the best sleeps are had when you've earned them. I awoke to the sound of ducks. Shiny northern ducks, flying in formation. Not a flying V, other shapes but nothing resembling order. These northern ducks were a lazy, undisciplined bunch. Anyone else would have ordered them shot, had it been the season for it.

I made myself a damn good campfire coffee, before packing up my gear, saying farewell to the campsite owner and the groundskeeper, and heading towards the walled city of York which was but a few hours away. I reached it before midday, it was by far the most touristy of places I'd visited so far. The city centre was packed with sightseers, and rightly so. York was an amazing old town, founded by the Romans, then becoming the capital of the Church of England, and a whole bunch of other boring things too. Today it's known for its university and health services, and for its vibrant tourist industry. Vibrant. I don't know what vibrant means, only that it's a good descriptive word for successful tourist industries. York has one. Swindon does not. I passed the hours wandering around the tiny streets, wearing my dirty riding pants and boots I must have looked like a tramp. Kind of hoped people would give me their spare change. I decided to shout myself a hot meal at a pub, it was vegetarian but it was delicious. Best £7 I'd spent in ages. I watched a few street performers juggling things and being sexist, before jumping on the bike and hitting the road. I wonder how many times I've used the phrase 'hitting the road'... Too much? I ought to change it. Straddling the bike and rolling out? Mm, sounds too man-love-ish. Almost two hundred miles to cover before I reached Middleton Cheney and the bike was due for its second service. By my calculations, after fuel and one more nights accommodation somewhere, I'd be about forty quid short of the money needed to pay for the bikes required maintenance. With this knowledge dampening my spirits, I knew I had only two options left to me: Either find a job within the next few days, or sell the motorcycle and plan my trip around Europe/India without the Ural which seemed and is a damn shame being as this bike has been such a massive part of my original ideas.

But we can't think too far ahead of ourselves now, can we? The past is history, and the future ain't happened yet. Live in the present. The present for me at this time was a five hour ride. Take it on home, Will. You stupid, skint bastard.


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