Late afternoon we arrived in the UK and picked up our scooters, Vespa 70th Anniversary Edition GTS 300s from About Town Bike Hire. What a pleasure to deal with Mike, the scoots were ready and he even offered to store one of our bags so we didn’t have to drag it with us around the UK.
Took a few minutes to attach the TomTom Vio to my blue Vespa and put in our Brighton B & B, A Room with a View and off we went. Neither of us had a problem riding on the left side of the road. Must have been all that time in Australia and New Zealand last year. GPS was set to avoid motorways and that’s what it did for the 30 miles between Horsham and Brighton. Traffic was pretty good especially when you consider that we were right at prime going home from work time thanks to delay in leaving Barcelona.
Unfortunately it was a bit dreary and overcast with the odd bit of rain so while the view from our B & B wasn’t as enjoyable as I’d hoped. BTW, the payment for that view was that we were on the top floor of a 4 story row house that had no elevator.
After unloading, changing clothes and generally take a break we headed out to explore the town, okay we wanted dinner and an adult beverage.
We quickly discovered that we weren’t in Spain anymore. 8:00 pm and three of the places we stopped had already taken their last food orders for the night We finally found a place with a “just opened” sign that was still serving. Food was decent but they didn’t have any beers on draft so we had to make due with the house wine.
We also discovered that although the maps said we were some distance away from the Brighton Pavilion it was only a 5 minute walk away. Had we realized that so many places shut down their kitchens so early (okay there were several takeaways still open) we’d have eaten before exploring but still.
Next morning the weather wasn’t really any better but leaving the scoots at A Room with a View who allowed us to keep them there along with our luggage after checkout time we set off for the Brighton Pavilion. Steve left his backpack at the B & B only to discover that backpacks were allowed in but cameras were NOT! The excuse being that many items were on loan and the terms of the loan agreement was no photography. How that prevented you from taking photos in the music room of the ceiling I don’t quite know but suffice to say we were disappointed.
What Steve couldn’t get over was the “chinois” interior especially where they took mahogany stair rails and faux finished them to look like poorly lacquered bamboo.
Apparently Queen Victoria couldn’t stand the place and sold it expecting it to be torn down. Instead it’s had a variety of uses over the centuries since constructed including being used as a hospital for the Indian Army in WWI. Who knew?
Anyway we didn’t linger since a few of the rooms were musty enough to trigger my allergies. So back to the B & B to pick up the scoots to head over to stay with friends near Basingstoke. Since we had plenty of time we decided to set the GPS to “shortest route” figuring that would keep us off the dual carriageways.
As you can see it did that taking us on some scenic single track roads.
The white flowers blooming like crazy in the picture above right was wild garlic. It has quite a heady aroma that smells more like onion than garlic to me. Apparently Rape plants as well as wildflowers bloom in May.
We did escape the gloom of the coast after a bit. The drawback to these single track roads is the occasional encounter with farm vehicles.
I don’t have any photos of the most exciting moment of the ride though. We had reached saturation with a single track lanes especially those where farm traffic had deposited lots of dirt and other detritus on the roads as shown left and told the GPS to reroute us avoiding interstate highways since neither of us desired to go 70mph without a windshield on the scoots.
That took us to a two lane country road bounded by high hedges several feet taller than you could see over on each side but room for two normal size cars to pass each other. A good thing since it was now late enough on a Friday that people who took off early for their county houses were starting to appear on the roads. As we were riding on these two lane roads we’d see the occasional sign warning of a single lane bridge coming up or the road coming to a section that was single track. Sadly this wasn’t always the case. Approaching a blind curve I slowed down because a couple of cars appeared around it so I approached the curve going pretty slowly. That was a good thing because as soon as I could see past the bend I saw the corner of a Range Rover. As I was able to see more of it I realized that it was just entering a single lane stone bridge only a few dozen feet in front of me. As I completed the curve I was staring straight at its headlight and there was only about 3’ of clearance between the side of the Rover and the stone bridge Instinct, training or something kicked in as I focused on that clear space and the next thing I knew I was past it. I still don’t quite know how I managed because there was no way in the space available both the Rover and I could have stopped before we reached each other.
Fingers crossed that will remain the closest encounter I’ll ever have for the rest of my life.