The overnight sea route across the English Channel from the Hook of Holland to Harwich in England is more like a cruise ship holiday than transport on a vehicular ferry. Resplendant with ensuite TV equipped cabins, restaurants, duty free shopping, movie theatre and coffee shops make the overnight voyage very relaxing. When coupled with a beer or wine or two it is easy to sleep the journey away in your cabin and wake up safe and sound in Old Blighty.
Around 7pm we were waved onto the Stenna Line "Hollandica" by crew wearing orange coloured safety gear together with about two dozen other motorcycles, numerous cars and motorhomes, the odd pushbike or two and several heavy vehicles we boarded the at 7 pm. The ship however, did not sail until 10pm after all the vehicles, foot passengers and freight had been loaded.
After finding our cabin, dropping our tooth brushes (that's all we needed as our clothes were good for another day) we set off to find a cosy place to while away some time before sailing. We found the lounge area, purchased an icey cold beer each and settled down to chat with a group of British bikers.
Whilst sipping our beverages we watched a multitude of vessels including the huge P&O cruise ship the 'Britannia' sail past our docked ship all heading towards the port of Rotterdam. Not surprisingly Rotterdam is one of the world's busiest ports.
Our arrival in Harwich was early, 6:30am. Our tasks for the day were to ride the 50 km to Ipswich, pick up our hire car, purchase some bubble wrap, drop off the bike at Felixstowe and then head off to explore southern England. As nothing opened until after 9am we took our time over breakfast at a McDonalds in Ipswich.
Bike drop-off went smoothly - ours was the first bike to be returned to the depot but three others were still waiting to be picked up! We paid our storage fees and drove off in our Astra hire car for the next part of our holiday.
Our first night's stay was at Hockley Heath. We discovered The Oak Hotel several years ago and have enjoyed multiple stays there, so it was time for another visit. The hotel is in the countryside, not far from Birmingham but you would never guess such a large city was just up the road.
It rained for most of our drive and was still wet when we arrived at the hotel. Never mind, we were not on the bike and were happy to settle in for the night as the restaurant at the hotel is great.
Still raining in the morning, we headed into Birmingham for a browse around J&S Motorcycle Accessories. Greg found a pair of sportsbike gloves in the bargain bin - he says you can never have too many gloves! We also purchased a "Thunderfoot" - puck for the bike's footstand with a retractable cord, can't wait to try it out.
Greg, being an amateur historian, had a 'Hitler" connection planned for us the next day. Bridgnorth, a small village near the Welsh border was supposed to be the future location of Hitler's UK HQ (true, just ask Google) had he been successful in 1940 with Operation Sea Lion the planned Nazi invasion of UK.
While wandering around Bridgnorth we even spoke to an elderly local who confirmed the Hitler connection. As well as the history connection, the town is very scenic with the Severn River splitting the town into the High Town and Low Town.
We wandered through the market stalls and rode the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway Funicular in both directions. After a delicious morning tea in one of the many delightful tea shops we drove on to our next overnight stay.
The Webbington Hotel and Spa is another country hotel in the middle of nowhere but very close to Weston-Super-Mare, a coastal holiday area on the Bristol Channel. We have stayed here before and really enjoyed the atmosphere, indoor pool and great country views. The only drawback are the tiny, one-lane country roads that lead to the hotel.
After checking in and being given a welcome drink voucher each we relaxed over dinner in bright sunshine - really feel like we are on holidays!
With only two days left we drove off through the countryside on the A Roads to find another Motorcycle Accessories Shop - Infinity.
On our way we passed signs to Salisbury and realised the slow traffic ahead was because cars were slowing down to take photos out the window of Stonehenge. Not to be left out, Greg took a quick video out the car window but we did not stop - been there, done that!
Not far up the road Kerrie spied the sign to Thruxton Race Circuit so we turned off to check it out. This circuit is one of those iconic British race circuits used for British Superbike Championship and we were surprised to find that there was an airstrip in the middle of the track with several small planes on the runway. Unfortunately, there was no racing today.
Another GPS reset soon had us back on track to Loomies Moto Cafe, a bikers' cafe and the English version of our Outpost Cafe at Canungra. As it was Sportsbike Sunday there was a good roll-up of bikes in the carpark meaning we had to park up the road and walk back. After checking out the bikes and having lunch we reset the GPS - yet again.
Our destination this time was finally, Infinity Motorcycle Accessories. This was another huge shop as it was the clearance centre - the range of clothing, boots and helmets was amazing. But as Greg said, it's a pain when you don't really need any thing, so we walked out empty handed.
Our hotel tonight is a Premier Inn at High Wycombe in the middle of a large shopping area. I can hear you already asking why? This hotel was chosen for its proximity to Great Missenden - any ideas yet?
Great Missenden was the home of author Roald Dahl for 36 years until his death in 1990. The town boasts an interactive museum about Dahl which was unfortunately closed today. We did however, have lunch at Matilda's Cafe which was named after one of Dahl's books.
Another reason for the Great Missenden visit is that Greg subscribes to several YouTube Channels as well as having his own - "Villain Catcher" channel. Check it out and don't forget to subscribe!
One of Greg's favourite channels is The Missenden Flyer - TMF to his 106,000 subscribers. TMF lives at Great Missenden and his videos often have him riding around his scenic home area while doing a review of a bike that he has been asked to check out. He also reviews riding gear such as Oxford's Mondial Laminate waterproof riding suit, a set of which Greg now owns!
So, we took a drive to Great Missenden to see if we can catch a glimpse of TMF. No luck however, as it was probably the wettest day of our whole trip and no self respecting rider would be out in the weather unless it was absolutely essential so we guess TMF was tucked up at home uploading YouTube videos to keep his subscribers happy.
We are staying close to Heathrow Airport for our last night in England before we fly to Chicago for the next three weeks of our trip.
Stay turned to see what we have planned for the USA. Don't forget to check out the Photos and also subscribe to Greg's YouTube channel for videos - Villain Catcher.
*Blog of the Day - 10
Sandra Karamitelios A wet send off - typical UK - trip has had lots of different twists and turns this year. Looking forward to your next part.
Craig and Marg Not sure we'll be able to sleep soundly after seeing the Loomies wall picture , the second one particularly. Say hello to Donald when you guys get to the good old US of A. Perhaps a selfie and just an idea, I would stay clear of the Mexican border if I was you.
Christopher It wouldn't be the UK without rain.Donald will give you a warm welcome.