I went to England in early September of 1988 with Bob Main. He had to go to England on business so he asked me if I would like to go and I jumped at the chance. We’d come home about the middle of October. We were away almost 6 weeks and looking back it was a great time and experience.
Bob’s mother was still alive and living in Cheltenham in Gloucester - approximately 100 miles from London. A good friend of Bob’s picked us up from Heathrow Airport and took us to his mother’s house. What a beautiful drive and scenery, travelling faster than you do in Australia. It took us no time in getting there. Wonderful greetings all round.
The next day we fired up the little VW Polo car and went out to their old farm and had tea at a beautiful place called “Bourton on the Water”. As it was not dark until 9 o’clock or more. There was nobody else there. It was then back to Cheltenham with more drives around the countryside. It was really beautiful scenery. The next day we went down to Stroud and hired an R80RT motorbike from Bob’s friend. It had only done 1000 miles from new and was an excellent bike. Three days later we were back in Stroud and another K100RS BMW bike. This was indeed another good bike and it only had 25,000 miles on the clock.
We then booked onto the ferry over to Ostend in Belgium. While waiting
at the ferry entrance a chap from Italy told us not to go to France.
They don’t like Australians, as we were kicking up a stink about their
nuclear bomb testing at Mururoa Atoll. So we went straight to Prum in
Germany and stopped at the YHA (Youth Hostel).
Next morning at about 7:30 we headed off in heavy smog. Couldn’t see more than 5-10 metres on the Autobahn, travelling in 1st and 2nd gears only. Lights on high beam and after 25-30 minutes I could see a bright light coming down through the clouds, great I thought and I looked over to where the light was going down to the ground. I could see little small cattle in a paddock (looked like calves). We were 100’s of feet up from this on the Autobahn. Oh God, I certainly moved over to the other side of Bob (I don’t like heights at any time). Not good for me.
After another few minutes, it cleared up and it was okay from then on. I found myself going too fast for my liking. Bob loves speed so he left me behind. Another bike passed me and waved me on. I could see Bob way up in the distance I thought but he had stopped (not supposed to on the Autobahn). He saw me go past, but I didn’t see him. After half an hour riding, I knew we had lost each other.
Then I saw a big river with barges and boats on it. It was the Rhine River. Another bike went past me so I followed him into a big building and he ran up the stairs. I waited for 10 minutes until he came down. I asked him to help me and so we went looking for a certain house number that we couldn’t find. I gave him a phone number which he rang for me.
It was the lady that had stayed with Jean and me for a couple of nights on our farm at King River. Boy was I glad to see her. After dinner I rang Jean and that’s when I met my friend in Heppenheim (I’ve stayed with several times since then). Bob finally caught up with me at the YHA in Heppenheim.
We then rode north following the river to Koblenz and then down to the Moselle River to the most beautiful places I’ve seen. Cochem and the Castle and then another place called “Yell”. Magnificent scenery, very hilly with grapevines all grown on one wooden support as it is so steep. The grapes are all hand-picked into buckets and then taken down on wire ropes to boxes on the ground where they are taken to the winery. All very interesting.
From Cochem we went for a ride around the race track at Nurburgring. And then on to Cologne and the Deutz factory where the tractors are built. Again- very interesting. Leaving Cologne, we headed into Belgium again and managed to get back to Dover. We found a B & B late at night.
The next morning Bob went and called on some cousins and I went off on
my own following the coast road. I came upon two big bulldozers that had
just started pushing up big heaps of dirt. After asking some of the
people in cars what was happening, I found out this was the start of the
new tunnel that will go under the sea to France. That was September
1988. I was so lucky to have been there at that time.
After leaving Cheltenham we went up to Raby Mere near Liverpool We
stopped at Bob’s cousin’s place for two nights. The first day we went
down into Wales on a very pretty ride. We spent a part of the next day
at the museum in Liverpool. It was most interesting. We found a 4 metre
replica of the Titanic. Perfect in every detail. (I spent half a day in
the Titanic Museum at Belfast
in Northern Ireland last year. So much history- it was great)
From Liverpool we rode over to the east coast of Scotland and up to John o' Groats and then on to Thurso and Tongue etc. We stopped on the main road for dinner. We bought two bowls of a special soup. The lady who was serving us was very shy and Bob asked her if she had done much travelling. “Yes” she said,”I went down to Edinburgh once on the train.” She said she had been crossing the road and she got hit by a car and run over. So she said she was never going that far again and then she walked off and said no more.
We left for Ullapool and stopped there at a B and B. Lovely town. We continued down the coast and then over to the other side of Scotland and down to beautiful castle called Blair Athol. We went through it. It was amazing with all the old pistols, guns etc. All in perfect working order. What a place! Jean and I have been there since and so have Jack Rowe and Mr Andy and Susan.
From there we headed back down through the middle of England and the Lake District. It was beautiful scenery and lovely riding. We saw where Donald Campbell was killed on Coniston Water. It was all very scenic around here.
After that we went down to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and then back to Cheltenham. From there I rode up to Warwick Castle, a huge castle, and then all around Gloucestershire as Bob had business to attend to. I went out to the Forest of Dean. There were lovely old stone buildings and very pretty countryside for sightseeing.
Bob’s mother told us about an old building that had just been found. It’s a funny way that it was discovered. A chap had a ferret which he took with him when he was catching rabbits. One day he went off into the woods and let the ferret go to catch a rabbit. The rabbit jumped up on a stump and then disappeared into it.
Looking into the stump, the chap could see mosaic floor tiles. He couldn’t believe his eyes and so he went back to the pub and told his mates. “What crap- here- have another drink” they said. This went on for some time.
In the end he went to a local policeman and convinced him to come with him and showed him the stump. So together they went back to the pub and told his mates that the story was true. There definitely were tiles.
So after a lot of tree-clearing they eventually found a complete house that had been built by the Romans 2000 years ago. I have photos of this place and it’s truly remarkable to see.
This was a wonderful trip and it’s something I will never forget.