First some planning:
Planning the first day: Courtesy of RAC route planner, Here’s the route. Interestingly the RAC says it should take 4 hours and 39 minutes. I put the same start and end point into my Garmin Zumo and it estimates 3 hours and 39 minutes with the same route. Maybe the motorcycle-orientated GPS expects you to go faster. The Michelin route planner is also useful.
Well, the bike is serviced, the oil is topped up, the chain lubed, the tyres upto pressure. I’ve even had my self serviced – I needed a last minute filling (I didn’t want to spend the trip in pain cruising around for a dentist and trying to work out the Czech for root canal. The dental diversion was welcome as for a couple of hours I forgot about all the other things I worry about on trips: will I get on the ferry? will the crossing be rough? will it sink? will I get lost? will the bike breakdown or have a puncture? will I have an accident? will I be abducted by roma in Hungary (even though I’m not going there)? will my stuff get stolen? will people laugh as I put up my tent at camp sites? will I get back in time for the boat? will I be bored? will it rain? You see, there are plenty of things in life to worry about.
I’m packed – just about and will leave about 6.30.
In my inside cell. Phew. You can see my newly bought netbook computer (with a uselessly small screen and keyboard) and lovely Ortlieb bag. My usual anxiety has left me exhausted along with a couple of hours at the dentist and driving over here. I’m writing from my ‘inside’ cabin – cheap but with no window. With some hours to spare I crammed as much of Harwich Morrisons (including Morsisons Ipubrufen for my still aching tooth) into my ever expanding tank bag as well as Morrisons petrol into my tank. My bike is now reassuringly heavy and it makes me feel like a real adventurer but I am annoyed that I didn’t manage to tie it down as well as I should, I will buy my own ties and practice in the privacy of my home before next time. Its 68 miles from home to the ferry terminal and takes about an hour and a half. Tomorrow my first booked night is a hotel near Kassel, 260 miles east from Hook of Holland. I have a little feast here including Potatas Bravas (from Morrisons) Camembert, assorted bars and pears all to be washed down by red square vodka. I can still feel my tooth in fact exactly the same as before the filling. Its 9.45pm and if I am right, we have another 2 hours before we pull out! Unlike my last trip on this ferry, I will try to get a good night’s sleep.
Oh my goodness, the bar is filled with loud drunken Brits in fancy dress engaging rather bemused Dutch men with banter verging on the racist. A quick drink and cigarette in the smokey room is all I can cope with. I wonder how things developed socially after I left. ‘Are there any Francais is here?’ called out northern man with slight aggression, dressed in hangman’s mask and wrestler’s bare-chested spandex. I’m looking forward to driving off in the morning. I feel like I’ve been here an age but we haven’t moved an inch yet…. the weather forecast says sun until Wednesday.