Word up dudes!
So, instead of spending the Christmas holidays at home this year I’ve teamed up with a pal of mine Chris Soteriou and we are heading to Portugal to ride the TET (Tran European Trail).
I packed my bags, tools and camping gear on the bike and left London today around 2pm and rode down south to visit my Mum in Basingstoke for a pre Christmas drink (coffee), Chris met me at 3.30 and we rolled out of Basingstoke towards Portsmouth to get the 7pm ferry to Santander in Spain.
We were going to hit the M3 then head down some back roads through the Meon Valley to Portsmouth, but as we were leaving Basingstoke on the last roundabout before the turning to the M3 a police car was on our near side and I knew that Chris had a really small number plate that wouldn’t go down well outside of London, mine isn’t much better, and I had an inkling that if that saw the number plates they’d give us a tug for sure.
Knowing this I tired to hang back and let them overtake us but sadly it didn’t work out that way, and they followed us on to the M3, and sure enough within 5 seconds the blues and two’s were on and we were being pulled over.
I was 100 metres further down the road and the jam jar was behind Chris, but none the less, being a law abiding citizen I pulled over and waited for the inevitable visit from the law.
I waited about 5 minutes and the policeman walked down the busy motorway towards me. I said to him that I was going to keep my helmet on for safety and asked him why he had pulled us over.
He replied saying that they our number plates were illegal due to the size ( mines 5×7 inches, Chris’ is like 2×3 inches!!)! And they have also had reports of off road motorbikes being ridden around the Basingstoke area illegally and that because we had off road tyres we fitted the description. ( Sorry?? WTAF? That’s a reason?? How dumb is that? How could he even see we had off road tyres when the wheels were spinning??)
Anyway. I’ve learned over the years to say the bare minimal to the Police, so I listened, offered my driving license, he did checks, asked me where I’ve been today and asked me where I was going, and told me if he ever sees me again he wants to see a legal size number plate on the bike. No problem officer. Am I free to go? Yes, he said.
So I waited another 10 minutes or so before they let Chris go on his way and he pulled up alongside me saying they’d fined him for his small plate. Not a great way to start the journey!
So with that delay the back roads were no longer an option and it was the M3/M25 all the way.
It was a busy motorway full of “frantic Friday drivers getting away for the Christmas break, us included.
The wind was picking up and the sun was setting on a somewhat nice winters a day in Hampshire.
We arrived An hour or so later at the ferry terminal in Portsmouth and joined the long queue to check in and board the ferry.
We checked in after a 20 minute wait and made our way through the lanes and waited again. Where we met by Paul from Oxfordshire riding a BMW R1200 GS, and shortly by Brian from Southampton riding a BMW F800. We chatted bikes for 20 minutes or so before being told to board the ferry actual.
We rolled in together and were told to stop whilst a trap door was opened wide enough for us ride down into the bowels of the ship! It was a pretty steep decline down and to the right were we parked the bikes and strapped them up for the journey, then made our way up to the decks and checked into our ‘cabin’. A room about 5.5 x 12 ft long which slept 4. Two single beds and two folding bunkbeds. This rocking platform at sea was our home for the next 24 hours. For some strange reason I started to feel claustrophobic and don’t like the idea of being trapped at sea for 24 hours, but there’s nothing I can do. I’m in it for the duration.
I’ve never felt claustrophobic before, so like I say, it felt a little strange, but we headed straight out to find the bar and a few beers later, the feeling had gone away and I was relaxed about the whole thing.
We met up again with Brian at the bar and talked bikes and roads we’d ridden around Europe and then headed for dinner, with Chris and I going for the cheap option at £6.50 a meal which boasted a wind protected open air restaurant, rather than the warm, enclosed Al la carte restaurant at £20 a head.
We met up with a a dude over-landing to Morocco for a few months that we met in the queue earlier and sat down to eat with him.
The food was shit but edible. Gotta expect that right? As a chef of 24 years I know how things are done, but when you’re hungry, you just put that shit to the back of your mind and go for the best cooked option. Deep fried fish and chips…..and a pizza / sans the disgusting fattening unneeded amounts of cheap rubbery mozzarella which I took off the top ( and Chris lapped up!)
After dinner we headed back to the bar and chatted some more and the dude went to bed, we stayed up and got started speaking to a family from Scotland. (Husband wife and 29 year old daughter who were friendly enough. After an hour or so I went outside for a smoke and when I came back everyone had gone!!
I went back to the cabin and Chris was nowhere to be seen. His beer was there, but he was not!
Maybe he had got lucky with the Scottish lass?
Who knows! Maybe I’ll see him in the morning!? Unless he’s jumped ship?!!
Tomorrow is gonna be a bore. We reach Santander at 6.30pm GMT and have no idea where we are going to stay!!
Just the way I like it!