Days 5 & 6 – Frolics, Fumbles, Friends & Family

Days 5 & 6 – Frolics, Fumbles, Friends & Family

N51° 5' 6.9324" E0° 59' 30.0336"

2017/06 - A Return to England with Mom
16 June 2017 in Some Infidelity, United Kingdom

Yesterday marked the end of our miniature motorcycle expedition through Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. Today we return to our previously scheduled travels, visiting families and friends. Not to say that there aren’t adventures afoot (because that seems to have a certain inevitability, particularly when I’m involved). But they are changing their tone. And they don’t quite have the same epic scope of time and distance.

First stop today is lunch with old friends of Mom and my step-father. Geoff originally met my step-father in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), lost touch, and than ran into him again in Nairobi, in Kenya (apparently the offshore insurance industry was a pretty tight-knit club back then, so this apparently wasn’t entirely as unusual as it actually sounds). They have stayed in touch ever since, and Mom likes to see them whenever she can.

The ride from Weymouth to Chandler’s Ford was pretty delightful, and set the tone for much of the remainder of the day. The roads were smooth and largely empty, the weather was glorious, the bike was behaving itself and the GPS was actually providing useful directions. All of which makes one wonder what’s going to happen next.

Lunch turned into our next romp, which was relatively short (at least in comparative terms). Our next stop was Alton, home to very dear friends of my Mom who she has known for years. The trip is all of about 25 miles, and once we’re out of the town, it’s back to gloriously wandering two-lane roads, with pretty minimal traffic (despite the fact that by this time we’re closing in on the rush hour that seems to engulf any part of England in vague proximity to London).

Sue and Phil live in the middle of a national park. They didn’t start that way, but the park got declared around them. So not only do they have spectacular countryside, but it’s pretty much destined to stay that way. It’s part of a vast estate centred on Rotherfield Park (you know it as the Scottish wedding location in Four Weddings & A Funeral, to continue my apparent trend of referencing English locations by popular culture movie references).

This is a British B road. Those signs mean it’s the national speed limit of 60 mph.

Our last stretch meanders through fields and trees. Were getting entirely used to being directed to single-track roads, and happily wend our way through, keeping a watchful eye out for bunnies and approaching vehicles. The bunnies are actually more frequently encountered, if I’m entirely honest.

If all was seemingly going swimmingly early in the day, however, I ran into a small, motorcycle-related snag that evening. We’re travelling with the luggage supplied with the bike. It’s hard sided, and basically drops into place and is fixed with a locking mechanism. It’s been extremely secure (even when the top box has been filled with surplus supplies, wine being the most frequent of suspects). Although I’ve been frequently annoyed when the handle for carrying the top box gets locked back into place, because the keys to unlock it are invariably somewhere else.

Today, however, the handle for my side carrier seemed altogether fiddly, and wouldn’t close. Which I thought decidedly odd. Given the beckoning of a G&T, I decided to leave it until morning. The next day showed no greater sign of the box magically repairing itself, however, so I figured I would do what comes naturally; take it apart, and see what’s wrong. While I attempted to do this, prats of the cover are held in place with little plastic rivets that lock in place and don’t come back out without being utterly destroyed.

It was about this time that Phil mentioned there was a BMW dealer just up the road a couple of miles. Not a BMW car dealer, mind you, but an actual a motorcycle one. Because yes, they do in fact seem to be distributed liberally through the entirety of the UK. So we loaded the recalcitrant can into his Volvo, and headed off to see what might be the case.

The parts and services departments at Bahnstormer (a name that proves even German motorcycle dealers have a sense of humour) were enormously responsive. They looked the case over, hemmed and hawed, discussed things amongst themselves, mentioned whole assemblies that might have to be replaced… and then asked “Have you tried just putting it on the bike?”

Apparently, unlike the top case (whose handle closes independently at all the wrong moments) the side cases will not lock unless they detect that they are actually on the bike. We tested it on one of their bikes, and sure enough, it was working just fine. Feeling slightly chagrined (and altogether grateful that I didn’t get too far along in my disassembly and repair of an altogether serviceable case) we headed back to get packed and once again head out.

Our final destination is St-Leonards-on-Sea, near Hastings on the south-east coast of England. Home to my step-sister and her partner, it will be our stop for our last weekend before we begin the process of heading home.

Our Friday jaunt was fairly leisurely and relaxed. We once again started with a single-track lane that progressively opened up into a B road, before finally intersecting with something that looked like an actual thoroughfare. For most of the day, we enjoyed a relaxing ride on some lovely roads, with delightfully minimal traffic. And while the GPS chose today to be stubbornly obstinate about its preferred routes, I had mapped out our itinerary in enough detail that I eventually just turned it off.

Leisurely stretched into downright indolent when we got as far as lunch. Hayward’s Heath is a pretty established town of about 20,000 in Sussex, that largely serves as a bedroom community of London (a fairly distant bedroom community, but that’s apparently trendy these days). While it took a bit of circumnavigation to find, we managed to locate one of the better stretches of shops and restaurants, and ventured off to forage for food.

A delightful patio, for a leisurely lunch.

That led us to Prezzo, an Italian restaurant with a delightful patio. The service is friendly, but it’s not the kind of restaurant you want to go to if you’re in a rush. We had an entirely relaxed meal outside. Mom found yet another salad featuring chicken, bacon and avocado (a ridiculously popular, if absolutely tasty, combination of foods in England). And I enjoyed the calamari, a Vesuvio pizza (less spicy than it sounds) and an altogether serviceable americano.

Great food and service. Redefines ‘leisurely lunch.’

Two hours later—I kid you not—we were on our way, having stopped to replace a rogue toothbrush and once again stuff the top case to the brim with wine and champagne—one simply can’t arrive empty handed, now, can one? Our last stretch of highway had a slight increase in traffic (although we delighted in how readily we were able to pass most of it; travelling by motorcycle does have it’s advantages). We arrived just after 6:00pm, and are now settled in for a comfortable weekend with family.

The first G&T of the evening. It won’t be the last.

Our trip concludes on Sunday, with our return to Heathrow to reclaim our luggage, return the bike and prepare to fly back to home and our real lives. But that’s not for another two days.

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