Although we've had such a relaxing time here with family, it's time to leave London. The rest of the UK is beckoning.
Packing up in the early morning and saying goodbye to my cousin. We'll probably see him again on the way out of England
We're going to try to avoid the motorways and explore all the secondary roads on our way north. We're heading out without a definitive route, just a general direction. There are a few items on our list of things to see in the UK, but whatever happens in between we'll just leave to chance.
About an hour out of London, we pass by this pretty town called Downham
We're getting a bit hungry, so we decide to grab a proper English breakfast here
Mmm... steak and kidney pie! And hashbrowns, mushrooms and beans for Neda
OMG, we're gonna gain so much weight here in the UK... :(
There's something very blokey about British food. It's not particularly subtle nor is it healthy for you. If French cuisine is exquisite and nuanced, then British food is hearty and ham-fisted. Like, huge hocks of hams at the ends of your hands, anxious and waiting to be stuffed in your pie-hole, and then washed down with a pint of brown sauce.
After downing our big British breakfast, we walk around town a little bit.
The Brits have all these neat gadgets...
Because the roads are so narrow here, there are these Lazy Susans installed in the middle of roads all over the country, so if you want to turn your car around, you don't have to do a 10-point turn. Just park in the middle of one of these rotating platforms and the device will spin your car around. We sat down and watched several cars being spun around 180° in front of us...
Neda chases down some UK riders
Once we're out of London, oncoming motorcyclists on the road start acknowledging us in camaraderie. But they don't do the biker's wave. Because when you're riding on the left, you can't take your right hand off the throttle to wave. And if you use your left hand, other bikers can't see it when you're passing by. So British bikers do the head nod.
But it's a grossly-exaggerated head nod, so there's no mistaking whether you're acknowledging a fellow biker, or just having your helmet blown about in the wind.
To perform the British Biker Exaggerated Head Nod (BBEHN), you have to practically head butt the crook of your right elbow. The whole torso bends and twists like a demented Japanese-Scoliosis bow.
I've always prided myself on trying to blend in with the locals by adopting their customs and way of doing things. But this feels ridiculous. I watch Neda from behind as she does the BBEHN. Yep, looks ridiculous from behind as well.
I return the Exaggerated Head Nod to a few more oncoming riders. Then I tap the communicator and tell Neda, "I'm not going to do this silly biker bow anymore."
The next biker that passes me, I raise my left arm high enough that he can see it. I'd rather look like a dork than be ridiculous... #sorrynotsorry
First item on our list of things to see: a lavender farm!
Neda had read about this lavender farm in Norfolk, which is about two hours north-east of London on a jut of land called East Anglia.
Mmm... the smell of fresh lavender. Which smells like laundry detergent to me...
They harvest the lavender here primarily to make essential oils. But you can also use it as scented air fresheners, to put in soaps, in drinks or to make scented wreaths or wands that you can hang in your house and make everything smell like clean laundry.
Bumblebees love lavender! There were so many of them buzzing around collecting the pollen
Neda loves lavender! She was buzzing around everywhere!
More bumblebee shots
More Neda shots
Met this older couple and their dog at the lavender farm and made some small talk with them
I miss small talk!
This is something that you just can't do when you can only say a few phrases in the language of each new country you visit. But here, we talked about the weather, about their dog, about the lavender all around us... about really nothing at all. It was great!
I love small talk! I love England!
Crossing the Sutton Bridge in Lincolnshire
While in the town of Horncastle: Hey, is that a Canadian flag?! :)
Riding through Lincolnshire Wolds
Our campsite is right in the middle of a twisty road in the park. It's got some entertaining turns and sportbikes are continually ripping down that road, stopping at the end of it, then turning around and doing it again. We can't find the campsite right away, so we are also going up and down that road searching for it. We pass the same exact bikes two or three times. On the straightaways, they headbutt their right arm in greetings. Neda returns the right-arm headbutt. So ridiculous... I just raise my left hand.
But I feel very self-conscious that I'm not doing the Loco-Arigato Bow.
Back to camping, but this time, no rain! Which is quite unusual for England...
Since the Brexit vote, the pound has been plummeting in value.
Today, it is so low, they are just giving it away...
I guess that comment would have had more impact if we weren't camping out of economic necessity last night, eh...? Even though Brexit has given the pound a 25% haircut, things are *still* relatively expensive. Still too pricey for a real roof over our heads. We paid about £20 for our campsite. Funny how no matter where we go, regardless of currency, that seems to be the magic number for accommodations: €20, £20, $20...
This is my camera. That's Neda back there.
Today, we're hugging the eastern coastline as we continue to make our way northwards. The weather has been cloudy and cool, but at least it's not raining. Even though it's not that late in the riding season, I'm feeling a bit pressured to keep us moving because there's so much we want to see and we want to do it before the weather starts cooling down.
While on our coastal route, we stop at Selwicks Bay, in Flamborough
Selwicks Bay is a pretty and tiny secluded beach that disappears at high tide. It's got a great view of the white cliffs at Flamborough Head and there are many families here enjoying the English vacation weather, or what passes for vacation weather around here. It's cold! Not the kind of beach weather we're used to... But I guess if you're British, this is as good as it gets?
"The Stack" at Selwicks Bay
Vacationers taking advantage of low tide to pick a spot on the beach
I don't know why but this picture makes me laugh. See gull sea gull do...
This is the only chalk sea cliff in the north
Back on the bikes, I get this feeling like there's something very familiar about riding in the UK. It somehow reminds me of Ontario. Sure the scenery is very different. So are the buildings, and the fact that there are absolutely no sidewalks anywhere here.
What *is* it that's so familiar?
Then I suddenly realize: It's because I'm riding on the right hand side of the road...
An oncoming black Mercedes gives me the horn as I swerve back into my lane!
But seriously, there's something here that's so familiar to an Ontario native...
Scarborough and Whitby are all cities just outside of Toronto. We passed Pickering, which was also another familiar name. And then just a little bit later, we entered the North York Moors National Park. Neda and I used to live in North York, which is a suburb in the north end of Toronto.
Canada, at least Ontario, has never felt more like a British colony than now...
North York Moors National Park is awash with purple
On either side of us, the landscape is liberally coated with swatches of royal purple, like Barney the Dinosaur threw up all over the landscape. But these aren't lavender, it's heather, the low growing perennial shrub that practically defines the North York Moorlands. Heather moorlands are very rare, and 70% of the world's heather moorlands are right here in the UK. The purple hues are so captivating that we have to stop and check them out up close.
In all the excitement, Neda parks on uneven ground and the bike tips over
"Can you *please* help me?!?", she cries out from beneath her fallen motorcycle.
"Of course!" But first... a picture... hehehe...
Worst. Husband. Ever.
Closeup of the heathers, they're little tiny flowers!
Doesn't take much to make Neda happy. Snacks. Purple flowers. Lifting a motorcycle off of her...
Not all of the purple are heathers. Some are greater knapweed flowers. I think there's a bee in there... (knaBweed?)
Back on the bikes riding through the North York Moorlands
Further ahead, we spot a group of farmers who are sheep shearing. We talked to the lady who was there helping out and she told us that these sheep get shorn twice a year. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of money in selling the wool. After telling her of our trip, the sheep lady gave us some great tips on things to see around the Moorlands and further ahead. Now we have a rough idea of where we're going to go for the next couple of days! Cool!
The shearer uses a sling for back support
Loving the purple landscape of the North York Moors!