19.07.2015 - 23.07.2015
Departure: Grevbo Sweden 6:00 Sunday 19 July. That's when our fun, fun, fun started in ernest. Van packed with bags and bikes and a snack for the road and off we headed for Lubeck Germany via the Long Bridge into DK and then the Rodby to Puttgarden ferry into Germany.
Great selection of hotel Lyndel! Five minutes walk from the old town where we had a look around and ate a good meal of Weiner schnitzel with a couple of beers chucked in at an old family run restaurant, Am Rathaus, off the town square surrounded by ornate wooden buildings dated 1422. Lubeck "back in the day" was surrounded by a moat, which is still in existence, with elaborate entry gates, which are not.
Good German brekky then back onto the freeway to travel at a comfortable speed of 130km, with cars passing us like we were riding a push bike, to Yerseke and our friends Leo, Marianne and Karelien who are travelling with us to the rally. After our lunch at our favourite restaurant on the wharf where the mussel boats dock (mussel season has just started) we unloaded the bikes and re packed our bags after a load of washing was put on at Kareliens's, then a great meal and a good night's sleep.
Off again Tuesday afternoon to catch the overnight ferry to Harwich now riding our bikes. Karelien - 741; Jim - 348; Lyndel - 641 and Leo and Marianne with the 34 Standard scout in the van.
The ride to a short ferry crossing at Rotterdam was flat and pleasant, hugging the coast and smelling the sea - wind turbines everywhere. While we waited for the little car ferry to return across the canal we had a cup of tea at a cafe by the ferry, Jim indulging his sweet tooth again with profiteroles and ice cream.
Riding to the Hoek van Holland to catch the overnight ferry we passed acres and acres of glass houses full of flowers and vegetables - the Thermo King lorries travelling with us on the ferry taking this produce to the UK. We had an early dinner at a restaurant prior to boarding the ferry at about 7pm.
Riding onto these big boats is crazy fun and I parked my bike in the lane next to the monster lorries, tied it down and headed to our cabin, with window, to ditch our bags and head for the bar.
We sailed at 10pm so were well and truly ensconced in said bar by that time making new friends with a group of Poms that were returning home after a week's dam busters tour on their bikes. Also helping us while the time away where our Danish friends Bof and Anne Mette and their family and friends (10 travellers in total). The Danes heard our accents while we were waiting in the queue to board the ferry - accents? Not us Aussies!
Wednesday morning I woke and opened the blind to see where we were and was surprised to see we were sailing up the estuary to the dock. I checked the time - 5:30 - so I thought I would have my shower and be ready to start disembarkation at 6:30. Hmmm. England is an hour behind the European time we have been used to and so I was awake and clean at 4:30!!! A snooze for an hour, breakfast on board and then the ride off the boat to meet our three Dutch companions and the van and unload the 741 for Karelien to continue the ride. Jim's GPS girlfriend, Karen, had a wee bit of trouble getting her bearings on British soil and we travelled a few roads twice before stopping to ask a local and check the map Marianne was navigating by.
Once on course we set set our destination to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford near Cambridge, about 320kms and for us 5 hours of lazy riding through quintessential English rolling countryside and ancient towns and villages with buildings with dates of 1560 and 1492. Wow! We passed through Woodstock and Blenheim Palace and then onto our morning tea stop at Finchingfield in Essex, a typical Anglo Saxon town so old it was listed in The Domesday Book of 1086.
The view from our tea house is apparently one of the most photographed views in the country. A short way down the road we stopped at the medieval town of Thaxted (pre Domesday book this one) to photograph the Guildhall built somewhere between 1390 and 1475, the date is under dispute between members of that community.
The nice lady I spoke to in the massive church said it was built by the Guild of Cutlers around the time that the church pipe organ was installed toward the end of the 14th century. The organ, she also told me, was one of two surviving in England - the other is in Buckingham Palace.
We arrived at the IWM around 12 noon and spent a pleasant couple of hours there seeing many aircraft both static and airborne including a Spitfire taking a lucky man for a ride. Jim was keen to fly too but the cash in his wallet was just a little shy of the $2000+ needed for the fare for a 30 minute flight...
Lunch was at Royston at a kitch pub - the Jolly Postie - where the service was good but the staff were not sure where The Cotswolds were... As the sky was black and rain looked imminent we opted for wet weather pants and then off to our night's accommodation in Oxford. The route I wanted to take was to pass through the part of the Cotswolds where Midsomer Murders is filmed but by now we were getting tired and sick of roundabouts and traffic congestion so we travelled as directly as we could to Oxford, arriving at our digs about 7pm. The Nanford Guest House was a 5 star, no! 4 star, no! Three star? No! Two please? OK ONE??? Well, let's just say that the Internet does not always tell the truth and I went into a brief period of shock when I walked into the renovator's delight and was greeted by our host for the evening Bart. I offered the others the opportunity to bail on the booking and flee but we agreed to stay and really for the price and location it was clean, the beds were comfy and the full English breakfast tasty and filling. Like I said, they were under full renovation and also had no vacancies with the breakfast room full of guests this morning, so it can't have been too bad eh?
Thursday morning we walked the whole 5 minutes into Oxford centre and had a walk for a couple of hours and a cappuccino at a very hipster coffee cafe run by some guys from New Zealand.
Back to the Nanford Palace to change into riding gear and then off about noon heading for the rally at The Prescott Speed Hill Climb site near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire. We rode through The Cotswolds passing historic towns, Chipping Campden being particularly spectacular. Lunch was taken at another spectacular town called Broadway at the foot of the Cotswold Hills. Our dining venue, The Lygon Arms (now this was definitely 4 stars), has a history that goes back beyond Elizabethan times and saw historical figures like Oliver Cromwell stay there. Sandwiches and a beer for me and a hamburger and glass of Shiraz for Jimmy that cost him AUD50! (Could have put that towards the Spitfire flight Jim)
A ride of 20 miles took us to our digs for the next three nights at The Premier Inn at Ashchurch but not till after Karen took us the long way round via Tewkesbury, the next big town on. She can't help herself! Kay Murphy flagged us down as we rode back past the motel we had previously missed, having heard us go by the first time, and guided us in to our next 'home'. She, Conor, their son Eamon and Frank Hutch were there waiting for us and to join us on our next leg of this 2015 tour. We checked in, dropped off our bags and headed out to the rally site. We registered and got our ID bands for wrist and bike, said hi to lots of our international friends and helped the Van IJsseldijk's set up their "camping system".
Time now being 8:30pm or thereabouts Jim and I rode back to the motel for a beer and a curry - yes, yes Jim has bangers and mash OK!
Tomorrow is the visit to the Morgan factory so an early start is required. Let's hope the weather forecasters are right and that tomorrow at least will be dry. The forecast for the following few days is terrible. Oh well, it is summer here. Hehe.