Arriving back at mum and dads, it was a great relief to see dad looking much better than we had left. Not 100% by any means but better!
We had a chill out first day, just relaxing, talking about the trip and sorting all our gear out ready to go back to England. I had left a small bag behind and it was just nice to wear different clothes again!

The next day was pretty busy with a bit of bike maintenance and then our first attempt at topiary art!!
There was a hedge down the side of my parents house that was desperately out of control in the growth department and we offered to trim it back. I’m not sure dad was terribly keen on this idea and knowing how meticulous he is with anything, especially his garden, it was with some trepidation that we approached said hedge with strimmer in hand!
Man, I never knew how hard it was to trim a hedge! A good few hours later and we were done. I’m not sure it was at all up to dads’ standards but it was distinctly tidier than when we had started. Of course, a beer and a bit of a rest was required after all that effort!

Leaving the next day was hard but I do feel happier with dads progress now. We hoofed it back up through France, sadly using the motorway, (no time for a pretty route), to the port of Cherbourg where we arrived in good time to be loaded on before departure…unlike a previous trip when we skidded in just a minute too late and even though the ramp was still down and we were only a motorbike, they would not let us on!
Brittany Ferries
Now bear in mind, this was a French ferry, staffed by the French and with plenty of French travelers on board and our sailing time coincided with the football world cup final, France vs Croatia. Great excitement ensued as  the game kicked off, which increased with each goal scored and culminated in much whooping, cheering and a tannoy announcement when the French team won! Not who I would have originally chosen to win but it was a great atmosphere and made the trip fun.

We arrived in Portsmouth after a smooth 3 hour trip. Success again, Iain has now completed six ferry crossings with only 1 (very minor) seasickness moment. Maybe he’s gaining some good sea legs?!? After a quick ride down to Gosport , we stayed overnight with our brilliant family friends, Ken & Anne, then carried on our way back “home” to Weymouth & Portland.
I was a tad disappointed as we passed through the New Forest without seeing any of the wild ponies. They better be out next time, I promised Michelle wild ponies!

Bovington Army Camp

We took a little detour from the main route to go via Bovington Army Camp, the site of our fateful meeting seventeen years ago! Nothing wrong with a little nostalgia!

Coming down over white horse hill and catching that first glimpse of “the island” was lovely. Nothing can ever beat that view and that feeling of being “home”.

Soon we were tracking across Preston Beach Road and past the infamous Sealife Center where Iain first worked when he left the army!


Finally, we headed back across to Weymouth and my Aunty Monica’s house – we were an hour late at this point and didn’t want her worrying.

We rode along the seafront and around the Quay, stopping for some pics along the way, before heading out across the causeway, onto Portland and all the way out to the Bill.
It sure was good to be back 🙂

Weymouth Harbour
Weymouth Harbour
Portland Bill
Weymouth & Portland
We’d taken these two days to be with my aunt to celebrate her 80thbirthday and she was overjoyed to see us…well, that’s only to be expected really! Bless her, she had waited all day to be with us before she opened her cards and the couple of presents that she had received.
As lovely as it was just to be with her on this special day, it was even better to see her face when we arrived at her birthday meal and seeing my cousins who had all gathered to surprise her!

We had a lovely night all catching up and reminiscing about the fun times we all had growing up together. Aunty Monica was spotted with damp eyes as she recalled her childhood and was so happy to be in the pub restaurant that we had chosen, The Fat Badger, as it was at the end of the road  she was actually born on and had spent many happy days during the summer playing down on the beach we overlooked. Fond memories indeed.

The next day I was up and out early for a much needed haircut and colour with my best friend of 33 years! It took 4 hours to get my head back in shape again but we definitely had plenty to talk about! After that it was time for a coffee and a slice of cake with another old friend, Karen,  before getting changed and back out again for a fun evening down on Weymouth Quay visiting some of our old haunts.
Weymouth Harbor
The next day was a bit sad. It was our final ride on the bike before she was to be collected and shipped back to the UK!
Fleet Services
Bike transport
Bike shipping

Unfortunately, due to the distance, we were forced to ride the motorways but it wasn’t too terrible and we got closer to our destination (back to Jac and Jases house) we were off the main roads and enjoying some country roads again.
While I condensed our cases and packed a bag of things to be shipped, it was a sad little Iain who stripped down the bike and prepared her for shipping. She did look a bit naked as she sat out waiting for the van to arrive.
Waving her off, we quietly prayed that the new company we were using, Shippio, would not give us any of the hassles that we had had when she was shipped in!
Safely sent on her way we headed on up to Newcastle, or “God’s Land” as Iain refers to it, to meet up with more family and friends.

Fun times were had, bridges were mended, tears flowed and bellies ached with laughter. Always a brilliant time when we go “up North”!

A new first for my beloved husband was attending Northern Pride! Another great day of laughter, drinking and dancing with a blast from the past when Gareth Gates performed…I had to video Beth’s old favorite song. Many a car trip passed by with her and Louise singing (squawking) away to this at the tops of their voices!

Northern Pride
Family time over, it was time for another reunion with old friends. Gina and Stuart were the first pals we made when we moved out to Tampa. Having returned to the UK a few years ago, they are now living in a beautiful village close to the border with Wales and near a canal network. Leaving early the next morning we stopped to take some scenic view shots but never did manage a picture with our old pals!
Canal lock
Back at Jac and Jases again, we spent a couple of days just enjoying some quiet time, sitting in the garden watching Lily make friends with a somewhat reluctant Roffie and also meeting up with Marcus, Sean and Louise again.
Puppy love
Finally it was time to go and meet up with our friends who travelled in from the US to join us for the last three weeks of our trip. On our way back to London we enjoyed a night with my sister and two of my nephews. She introduced me to Snapchat and the wonderful filter it uses to make you look fabulous!

On our way to Heathrow the next day, we took a slight detour through to the town of Aylesbury where I wanted to visit “Earthly Messenger”, the statue that memorializes one of my all time favorite artists, David Bowie.

The statue is situated under the arches in Aylesbury’s Market Square, which was referenced in Bowie’s song ‘Five Years‘. It is also near to the Friar’s music venue, which was where Bowie first debuted his Ziggy Stardust persona in July 1972.
As well as the viewing the unique bronze sculpture you can hear a random Bowie track played from an audio system on the hour, every hour, between 9am and 9pm! A live webcam shows visitors to the statue 24/7.

David Bowie Statue
Moxy London
Moxy Heathrow

Our hotel at Heathrow, The Moxy,  was pretty funky but it didn’t have a restaurant so we had to venture out down Bath Road and find somewhere to have dinner. Hmmm….that was a bit of an eye opener. Having spent the last eight weeks travelling through foreign countries and never feeling ill at ease I was suddenly feeling uncomfortable in my home country. Not the most salubrious area we could have chosen to stay in!
Passing straight on by the Indian that we had been heading for – it seriously looked like a heaving mess of salmonella waiting to happen – we settled in at a Portuguese (new one on us) restaurant, The Moniz. It wasn’t super nice looking. A little like a roadside café but man, the food was super good when we got it. Definitely a little jewel in disguise!

Moxy Heathrow
Moxy Heathrow
Happily sated, it was time for bed before our early ride out to the airport…I was almost too excited to sleep but it wasn’t long before the zzz’s were rising!

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Europe 2018








Follow our posts as we prepare for our 13 week tour of Europe that starts in May 2018!