The weather is a critical factor in this trip as I discovered yesterday after nearly being blown off.
Constant checking of the forecast and it was not looking good, in fact it looked even worse for the whole day. However, the rest of the week looked good.
So I came to a rather dramatic decision to stay put and not risk coming off in the wind and rain which was absolutely howling outside.
I did doubt my decision as there were a couple of bright spells, but the rain soon returned and this early on in the trip and with some of the worst roads to travel I really didn't want to risk an accident.
So I had a relaxing day, and thought of nothing but two things! Firstly with my map book as my constant companion the trip itself and the route, which was open to change as I rode along. But secondly, a couple of weeks earlier I had been blessed with meeting someone who has been such a strong supporter of mine during the trip and managed to bring me such happiness that I am totally smitten!
Anyway back to the journey.
Next morning was not an early start due to various distractions! However managed to get away around 0800hrs and headed in to Lymington to see the lads and lasses at work. I pulled in to much mickey taking and it was pointed out that my rear tyre did look a little flat!
Not really surprising due to the weight that was on the bike! Mind you I would like to point out that the bike was not and I do repeat not overloaded. It is designed to carry a pillion passenger and I was quite capable of picking up and carrying my bags but I wouldn't of wanted to pick up and carry a person.
Down to the nearest garage to the air line, where I discovered my tyre down to 20psi. It should of been at 40psi! Now with the panniers on it wasn't easy to attach the air line. The valve had to be at 9 o'clock and I had to lay on the deck to attach it!
My destination for tonight was Margate and an old Army mate Diggers, more about him later.
Off through Brockenhurst, Lyndhurst, Ashurst and into Southampton, where I nearly got lost but managed to make my way through and out on the A27 through Fareham and on to Chichester.
A quick break and refuel at Chichester and off again following the A27. Now my original plan was to take the A259 but this is all stop start and I wanted to get some miles under my belt and as the journey had been easy so far decided to stay on the A27.
Skirting around Worthing, Brighton, and Eastbourne I finally hit the sea at Hastings. Pulled up on the sea front for fuel and a drink.
My kit was off the bike and I was busy refuelling so I didn't see the police car pull up behind me and give me a quick blast of the sirens. After checking to make sure my pants were not full the boys in blue got out and started to chat rather enthusiastically about my bike and what I was doing and how I was getting on.
Before I knew it one of them was on the bike and positioning it for a photo shoot!
It turned out the guy on the bike owns one and was in awe of my journey! So much so that his mate had to remind him that they had better get going as they were late for a court hearing!!!
Onwards towards now on the A259 towards Folkestone and Dover. At Dover I pulled into a garage for grub and fuel, with just a short stint to finish the day up to Margate.
On reaching Margate I made my way to the train station and gave "Diggers" a call, he gave me directions to his place and within 5 minutes I was shaking the hand of a bloke that I had last seen in 1987.
We were at 21 Signal Regiment 2 Squadron based in Osnabruck. 2 Squadron was infamous for being full of misfits and lunatics, not too sure how I managed to get posted there but I fitted in well!
"Diggers" and I shared a room, and so many memories came flooding back we were in tears laughing. We also agreed that some of our stories when told to civvies were either frowned upon or disbelieved as being too far fetched, but we know they were all true and we had a right laugh remembering them!
We had a cracking evening down his local with a few too many beers, when we got back that evening to his place he pulled out an old battered shoe box with all his memories in. One of which was a letter I had sent him a year after he had got out back around 1988.
To say I was touched to the core that he had this letter after all this time was an understatement.
One thing this proved to me that no matter how long it is between speaking or seeing each other. Those who served together are friends for life, no matter what goes on in-between!
The next morning I was feeling slightly worse for wear!
The journey continues.............