I set off in the morning and upon the advice of mine hosts I opted for the scenic route to my brothers riding through Fort William along the banks of Loch Ness and eventually arriving in Edinburgh. The plan was great on paper but it rained not hard but constant drizzle and then I got stuck behind caravans and mobile homes on winding roads with no passing places and then the infamous Scotch mist descended. Scenic it was not! Fort William was almost invisible as I rode through it. I finally arrived at my brother’s home some two hours later than planned due to road conditions. No matter I was met with the words, “Yo bro here’s a beer”. This loosely translates as “Greetings dear brother welcome to my humble abode, would you care to partake of some refreshments”. And so with aching limbs and glad to be out of the saddle I took him up on his offer and after a beverage or two (read lots) I was persuaded to stay for two nights instead of the one I had planned. By now some of you will have noted that I did not say I reluctantly agreed or even that I took any persuading at all.
After two nights of pampering and constant raiding of a drinks cabinet that appeared to almost magically replenish itself, it was time to depart. I really did not fancy a trip that consisted of 75% of almost mind numbingly boring motorways and I took the A7 road to Carlisle. I felt good again with both my mood and spirits uplifted and the ache in my backside and legs had gone. Rhonda was behaving like the lady she is and the ride was enjoyable until I hit the M6. The wind from Carlisle til Lancashire was almost unbearable and I was blown across the motorway one more than one occasion. At times I was leaning at an alarming angle to stay on the road. I have to say at this point that I am not the best rider in the world and Rhonda is not the best motorcycle. She is the Delia Smith of the biking world, not much to look at (sorry Delia), but is certainly no moose does not set the pulse racing and is hardly likely to have you overdosing on adrenaline. However, she is reliable, very forgiving and tolerant and you know the end result will be excellent. We were made for each other; we go together like ham and eggs, Amy Pond and short skirts and Pimms on a summer’s day. Both me and Rhonda arrived home safe and in one piece and just before the rush hour had gathered any noticeable pace in the city centre.
Ok now for the boring bits. How much did all of this cost and why do I bother with costings? Some people have said whatever it costs you it will be different for other people because we all spend differently. That may be so but if I use a gallon of fuel to get from a to b then someone else will use roughly the same amount and if it costs me six pounds per night to camp then it will cost another person the same to camp at the same site. If you are on limited income then such things do become important. Most writers and bloggers leave out expenses leaving many of us to wonder could we afford to do the same thing. If we knew how much the writer or blogger had spent and on roughly what then we could decide in an instant if we could do likewise. The argument that prices change over time holds no water with me because if something cost ten pounds ten years ago then with inflation it will cost around 50% more today. For what it is worth I save money where I can. I take sandwiches and a flask with me on journeys because I cannot bear to spend up to three pounds on a paper cup full of liquid shite from Starbucks or Costa whatever and the same goes for stale sandwiches on the motorway service stations.
In five days I travelled 1050 miles at roughly 50 MPG and averaging at six pounds per gallon. The camp site cost six pounds person per night and I stayed two nights.
I hit the bar hard but I need not have done and I could of ate a lot cheaper than I did although I thought the prices reasonable. To sum up then:
Camp site £12
Food and entertainment aprox £80.
The food and entertainment could have been cut by three quarters by me cooking my own meals and drinking tea and I would still have had a good time and any one not wanting to camp could have stayed in a B+B. I could have done this trip for £150 and still had an amazing time or I could have maxed out my credit card.
The current financial climate has affected almost everyone and after speaking to various people at the meet it was obvious that plans to travel have been put on hold by a lot of would be travellers. We can’t all be like Charlie and Ewan and have equipment donated to us and then make money from the trip. Many of us will never be like Ted Simon and become ambassadors for a motorcycle company whilst keeping our jobs as newspaper correspondents and having an income on the road. This is not criticism of any one and many of us would jump at the chance do what they did in the manner they did it. But for the vast majority of people the chance to travel is far too costly to say nothing of personal circumstances that may prevent people from taking off for long periods of time.
Occasional small trips like this, meeting other likeminded people and enjoying the amazing scenery on my own doorstep will have to suffice until circumstances improve. However I am not on my own and like most of the folk I have met I suspect I will manage it one day.