We awaken to a misty morning with light rain soaking the tent just as we plan to pack up and leave Kettlewell and already miss the BMW Bikers, Yorkshire Section. It has been a lot of fun.
Rain is not unusual for the terrain, but we hope for some clear skies later on, it’s a 130 mile journey to our next pitstop. We want to improve on our previous packing time of six hours. Can we do it?
Hampered by the weather, most is conducted in the tent. I occupy the sleeping area, Verd, the ‘garage’. He seems to make faster progress than I. But three hours later, we’re revving up the engines and on the road.
Alnwick starts with a superb evening meal in the Mivesi, an Indian restaurant with dazzling silver and purple décor. For a Monday evening, we’re surprised how quickly the restaurant fills and the lone waiter is soon rushing to keep the orders fulfilled. He smiles at us apologetically, his colleague failed to turn up for work. We’re relaxed and in no hurry, and savour the wholesome food. After 100 miles on the A1, in stinging rain, we’re wholeheartedly warming up to the place.
The waiter is later joined by two girls with the brightest of smiles, adding to the general ambience and professionalism of the service. The food is well presented and utterly delicious.
We are in bed by 9 pm, the A1 is a tiring journey. I’d not fully fastened the wrist of my jacket, so experienced a cold, wet wind tunnel. A lesson learned. The trip is presenting us with many. Verd believed that we’d experienced hailstones, but I’m unsure, and suggest that’s what rain feels like when you ride at 70 mph.
For the first day at the new base camp, we take stock of our journey so far, reorganise our belongings and catch up with some laundry. The rugby club has good shower facilities, but laundry is undertaken in a sink designated for cleaning muddy rugby boots! We’re getting creative. We wander into town during the afternoon and visit a secondhand bookshop, Barter Books. The shop is somewhat of a tourist attraction being housed in a former railway station. Established by a couple with a fondness for books and trains, it has a model railway running above the many shelves of books. The collection is vast. They have a catalogue of their rare and antiquarian books, but there are more than 300,000 that remain uncatalogued. Honestly, I could just live there, but they didn’t seem to require any tenants.
We purchase ingredients for camp cooking for the next couple of days and settle back to base. I study a map of Scotland and plan our next stop, near Pitlochry. I find a site run by the Forestry Commission which should prove to be prettier than a rugby field. It’s getting cold and we nip into the clubhouse for a swift half before bed time. It proved to be a fateful decision.
The next morning, Verd’s in a sweat, he can’t find his travel bag with every single thing that is most valuable for our travels in it. You know, like passport, cash, bike keys…… He realises he’s left it in the clubhouse. The problem is that the clubhouse is rarely open. Luckily we bump into someone who knows someone who has access to the bar. We meet the someone who checks behind the bar, to no avail. The someone promises to ring another someone who would definitely know if the bag had been stored safely. I bump into another someone who mentions the safe, but the someone who can open the safe is inaccessible by phone.
We’re getting gloomy and begin to assess just how bad our situation is. We find some reassuring optimism out of the gloom.
Long story short, it returned to us, with all contents intact.
Yet another lesson is learned.
Having planned a more adventurous ride out to Lindisfarne, we instead settle for a sedate stroll to Alnwick Castle, a very impressive construction. We play with the idea of being part of a small army wanting to penetrate the impenetrable facade, then realising our ambitions are somewhat lofty.
We’re staying in Alnwick until Friday, but hoping to fulfil the plan of a ride out to Lindisfarne tomorrow. Meanwhile, we will finally map out a route for ourselves, so we don’t find ourselves in the Alps during the winter season.