Adv tour of U.K.

Discussion in 'EMEA' started by Beejaytee, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. Beejaytee

    Beejaytee Been here awhile

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    So I may be traveling to London in June of 2018. The wife an I want to see England and Scotland on a bike so I figure I'd ask for advice here.

    We want to rent/hire a bike for 7-10 days to travel around. A ktm 1090/1190 would be perfect and we would need panniers of course.

    Let me know your experience and recommendations.

    Thanks


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  2. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    http://www.superbikerental.co.uk/contact.php

    First in the google list.
    In small countries like UK, most bikers have a bike and ride to where they want to be, so the rental market is relatively small, but several in the first page of google where I got that from, say they offer the sort of bike\ equipment you ask for.
    Essex is adjacent to London and many people live there who work in London, so public transport may be easy. (no, it is very unlikely you will be robbed).
    Obviously, your flight destination should factor in your calculations of where is better to use. Arriving in Manchester, bike booked in Portmouth is a couple of days out your schedule. And bear in mind London is big. A traverse from Heathrow to Essex can can seem like hard work, doubly so if you have to schlep helmets, your other riding gear (and definitely waterproofs) as well as civilian clothing. As I said, public transport is there and works, but not every connection is coordinated.
    I'm not sure the idea of dropping the bike off at a different place is all that widespread, especially flashy ones.

    Unless you want to spend lots of time on motorways, with the restricted POV that brings (especially our super-shitty rest areas) 7 to 10 days is not much time if you are including Scotland - but yes, go! it's good. You can look on google maps and it tells you 4 hours (or whatever) to Edinburgh, but that is travelling at the max permitted all the time and no stops or refueling.
    Off motorway, allow at least double, probably treble if you want to enjoy the ride, stop and take in the scenery. 200 miles a day is a good target. If you want to treat it like an ironbut challenge, stick to Kansas. I'm trying to say, be mindful of what is possible in your brief time frame.
    The UK, like the rest of Europe, is very "dense". Lots to stop off at and see, have mooch, drink tea or an ice cream. See, it is so easy to get sidetracked, castles, churches, museums, stately homes and gardens as well as the views - or worse, wear blinkers the whole time and only look at what Lonely World tells you.
    The UK is an island with 19,000 miles of coast. The sea around defined the place for centuries, Through the Navy and trade and fishing, try to go home with memories of at least some of the better bits of shore and seaside.

    Whatever you find, I hope you have a great time.


    I'm sure an adult will be along soon with more names.
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  3. Plattypus

    Plattypus ADV wannabe

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    It depends what you want, and perhaps I'm biased against exploring the South because I'm from there, but personally, I think I'd sooner take a sleeper train to Edinburgh or Glasgow and then hire a bike in Scotland. Prices will probably be lower than around London, and Scotland is incredibly beauitful, the further North the wilder it gets - Sutherland is amazing, and the coastline is spectacular as are the mountains. And then if you want to explore England, you're not too far from the North of the country with the Lake District and so on which is also stunning. Some people wholeheartedly recommend the riding in Wales, too - though I can't vouch for it myself (yet - this summer will change that)

    But yes, definitely stay off the motorway and you'll discover lots of pretty and tucked-away places. Once you're in the countryside proper, it's wonderful to get lost :-)

    Also, some places will provide the riding gear. For my dad's 60th birthday I hired him a bike from a place in Okehampton. They provided all the necessary kit, were incredibly friendly and reasonably priced. We then went and explored Cornwall and Dartmoor for three days, it was lovely! And if other places do the same, then it saves you a lot of schlepping.
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  4. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    As a point of reference, I used to visit Ireland a lot - it is a much more compact country - and a reasonably spirited tour in 5 or 6 days would get us about half way round. Say Cork to Sligo.
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  5. Waygook

    Waygook Adventurer

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    Following! Just got back to the UK and i'm looking for inspiration
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  6. Beejaytee

    Beejaytee Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the detailed replies. The 7-10 is a soft number at the moment so maybe we will plan for 14 days. I'm not sure what will be the priority of this trip the riding or the sights but keep the recommendations coming.


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  7. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    We have had several threads about places to visit from London. A bit of research on even recent threads on here will turn them up.
    The mods don't like us to have stickies - when we can just type in loads of info over and over.

    Popular and scenic places in UK, in no order what so ever.
    Lake district. North west, underneath Scotland. Water. In lakes and in the sky, commonly called rain.
    Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors, opposite side to above. Moors, heaths and seasides. Cool seasides.
    Derbyshire Dales and the adjacent Peak district, yet more south. Caves too.
    North Wales, further west. More rain. Snowdon, a mountain, has 200" pa. Nice all day walk up the Pygg Track, no rope, but Kendal mint cake needed.
    Mid Wales still west, but souther. Nice roads.
    South Wales, A bit further west is possible, but no further south.
    The Cotswolds. A wold is a little hill, more a hump. Pretty villages, once rich, then poor. Now owned by the rich. Not as west as the above 3 or the one below.
    The West Country, lots of west, but in England, although "English" is not as you know it. And you thought Guy Martin was incomprehensible.
    The South Coast, lots of nice bits, fish and dinosaurs and views and Broadchurch. Get less nice the further east.
    London. HHMMMM. Large city. Lots of good galleries and museums, shops and shopping. Getting around can be tedious.
    SE or south east. Some bits are not so good, but off the beaten track can be very attractive. In an understated English sort of way.
    East Anglia. Must be good because I live there. North Norfolk coast, rather trendy and somewhat expensive, but lots of foodie places. Marshland and wide beaches, and birds. East end of the North Norfolk Coast is at Cromer, home of No1, a fine fish restaurant, also has a fish and chip restaurant and a take away. Strong recommendation.
    Once the richest part of England, now one of the poorest (except the rich bits). More Medieval churches in Norfolk than any other county. More abandoned churches - due to the Black Death and decline of the value of wool.
    Suffolk has Bury St Edmunds and Lavenham and Aldeburgh.
    Midlands, in the middle. Some very rural, Worcestershire and parts of Warwickshire. But also Birmingham (home of a thousand trades and BSA) and Coventry, both have things to see worthy of the effort, but not immediately appealing. Jointly home of the British motor\motorcycle industry (deceased) and the birthplace of the three point hitch, by Harry Ferguson, an Irishman. Also the famed Norton featherbed frame, by Irish brothers McCandless.

    Stones from the Stone Age at Stonehenge and the better Avebury. The Iron age stuff rusted, but barrows (graves) and hill forts left willy nilly.
    Romans came in 43 BC and shoved out or assimilated or killed the Brits, or forced them to Wales. Whichever was worse.
    Left a big wall in the North, lots of decent roads, not bettered. Although we do have some busy multi-lane roads now. Power vacuum filled by the Men from the North, the Vikings. Lots of linguistic evidence, place names.
    My birthplace predates the Romans.
    A namesake was involved in the Peasants Revolt, on the revolting side. Murdered after listening to, and believing, the king and his lying politikers in 1381.
    Kick me once, shame on you, kick me twice, shame on me.

    Scotland is beyond the wall, by Hadrian. Nice scenery, scantily used roads. Heather, sheep and maybe deer. And midges, considered as a whole, the largest single source of protoplasm.


    There is factory made, served cold beer. Called lager. Not really like the stuff in Germany. Little body or taste.
    Lots of small "real ale" or craft breweries. Lots of pubs with "guest beers" Lots or arguing how many of them fit on the head of a pin, and what defines one or the other. Most are really nice. I like the hoppy ones. The published % alcohol can be more effective than you may expect.
    Served, as it should be, at cellar temperature of 12C. As it rarely gets Midwest hot or East coast sweaty here, it is perfectly matched for the climate. Buy your pint, take it out into the beer garden and enjoy in the fresh air and sunshine. A\C inside is not that common, but then it is not hot, much.
    Draught beer is sold in pints (Imperial Pints), 8 to the (Imperial) gallon. Bottled beer, and there is some decent stuff in bottle these days, is usually sold in 500ml, with a few odd ball sizes thrown in.

    Bring or buy rain gear. In my extensive lifetime, we have had one BIG drought. So hot for so long, a minister was appointed to "do something".
    After weeks and weeks of working in a very hot factory, with superheated steam pipes everywhere, I went on holiday to Wales. Got half way there, in Hereford, the first unseen for weeks, clouds appeared. By Haverford West it was lamming down.
    Camping, with two kids on a hillside in South Wales in lashing rain was not fun. Three days max, returned home, kids bickering and fighting in the back. By Birmingham, it was so hot the heat made them even more fractious, but sullen. Home to yet more heat and water rationing. At least the tent and back of car dried out in a week or so.
    A sort of allegory of English weather, writ large in magnificent technicolour.
    If you don't like the weather, wait awhile, it will change.

    At least we don't have to explain the money now. One pound buys very little. I remember as a kid, my dad showing me a £5 note. They were huge, white, just with script on. People had to put their signature on them, to show they were entitled to so much cash. It was his first ever, a week's wages in the "good times". Fivers are now plastic and shitty. Made with animal products in them, so quite a few people won't touch them. Fragile too. The old strong paper ones are being withdrawn next week or so.

    A pound has 100 pence, or "p". You have a similar idea.
    We used to have 240d (or pennies). 12d made a shilling, of which here were 20 to the pound. There were also ha'pennies and farthings or quarter pennies. And several other coins, like a half crown or 8 to the pound (but no actual crowns). A two shilling coin 2\- (forward slash broken, please mentally flip) was called Two Bob.
    Posh items could be priced in Guineas, but there was no monetary unit, except in the past. 1 Guinea was 21\- twenty one shillings. There are still Horse Races where the prizes are awarded in Guineas.
    Anyway as young kids we had to learn how to do long division of our currency. Divide £17 - 19 - 11,3\4d by 5. Answer to nearest ha'penny.
    Base 20, base 12 with odd fractions thrown in for good measure. All before your 10th birthday. Show All Workings. Do not use a Rubber (erasure). Marks deducted for messy or untidy work or non joined up writing. (note, not added for neat work). The End of Times already happened and now everyone is a dolt.

    You may need smelling salts when you work out how much petrol is. Sold only in litres. Everyone, but everyone still talks miles per gallon (of course the good old Imperial gallon). Perhaps there is still hope, doing the mental conversion of litres to (Imperial) gallons.
    Another conversion you will become familiar with is the temperatures in Centigrade\Celsius.
    Most weighed food comes in metric, but like for us when we go abroad it can be surprising what is sold by the each and what is sold by weight.
    Germans still often ask for Pfund* of carrots (and not just carrots of course) although now they get half a kilo\500g. They also have and use the Zoll=inch.

    *Pf as the initial letters in quite a few German words, like horse or peach. I found this trick to get my lips round
    PppFearrsich= Pfirsich= peach, takes practice. Pferde= Horse, hence Pferdestaerke or PS for horsepower.
    I'm not good enough to explain why, but all German Nouns start with capitals, and nouns get shunted together, with the verbs mostly at the end.

    A short and possibly corrupted version of history and geography with a side order of monetary theory thrown in.
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  8. Beejaytee

    Beejaytee Been here awhile

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    Wow ^^


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  9. Beejaytee

    Beejaytee Been here awhile

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    Bring on the beer and food recommendations. The wife and I loved both while in London last year.


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  10. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    Breakfasts - most B&B's do decent ones, if you allow for the fat content, although you are quite likely to find alternative options these days to the full English.
    If for whatever reason, your accommodation is not offering enough fat n'carbs, then any supermarket with a cafe - most of the larger ones will supply something decent for around a £5. Mast now have at least drinkable coffee and a range of teas, but not always fruit flavours or other weird stuff. English Breakfast or Builders.
    A Waitrose supermarket will be slightly different, I often have a toasted saandwich, but their sweet stuff, Danish or Marlborough buns are nice. Better coffee, usually.

    I save up my eating out budget for France. There are a few near me that I could recommend, but as no one ever come to my part of the world its a bit of a waste.
    I mentioned the north Norfolk coast. It is highly populated by the well healed, well bred London set. Starting in Old Hunstanton and working east, there are more decent places to eat or snack. From the highly and justifiably acclaimed Morston Hall, in Morston, with accommodation. To Thornham, with a deluxe fish and chip shop, Eric's, The Thornham Deli (also has limited but characterful accommodation), The Lifeboat, The Orange Tree, and The Checquers. All in one small village. An interesting experience can be had - as well as good food at Wivden Hall. Run by a bonkers aristocrat, but cooked by Michelin standard chefs. Looks like a shack on the edge of a marsh. Because it is.
    There are many more to try all along - at Brancaaster Staithe, in season, there is a crab shack, mum cools and sells the days catch provided by here son. Ignore the bageuette versions, just have the dressed crab, they have other stuff too. Crab and seafood is a feature all the way along, and many fishermen are set up to sell to pubs or a stall at the road side.
    In land slightly, the small town of Holt is a gem. A Georgian gem. Not too spoilt yet, the population is lobbying agaist the proposals to build that destroyed of character, another supermarket. Try Byfords, decent food, and accommodation. Also a deli for baked goods, both sweet and savoury for a picnic. They also run the Kings head and the steak house behind, if you need something to get your teeth into.
    Woodfordes is a good local beer from a small brewery in the Norfolk Broads - you can go visit. Adnams is a Suffolk brewer, their Ghostship is a current favourite.
    Holidays and summer weekend the coast road, the A149 is the pits. Narrow and twisty. Plenty of obscure smaller roads so you can zig zag along, very roughly parallel.
    The coast continues of course. At Cromer - famous for its crab - and being a real old fashioned English seaside town, for families, with beaches, a pier with life boat, rentable beach huts (only by the week, and only in advance. They are tiny and not for sleeping in, but add character.
    Sheringham has a preserved railway, and there several places to go. Steam occasionally.
    The Muckleborough Tank (military) collection, just outside. And inland the East Ruston gardens, if you garden, and want to see a "start from scratch" then this is the place.
    Lots more if you search for restaurants in Norfolk, or narrowed to smaller areas.

    As an aside, most National Trust properties have or are reinstating the walled gardens from their aristocratic past. Blickling and Felbrigg are frequent destinations for us.
    If you have desires to visit more than 4 or 5 places (not limited to houses), then becoming a member puts you ahead - and no queuing at peak times either. There are about 400 properties to choose from. Unfortunately, not all stately houses are run by the National Trust. All NT properties are free entry, for multiple entry, for a year.
    I have visited only two restaurants in Suffolk. The Maison Bleue in Bury St Edmunds, excellent, French food, very good French food, prepared and served by a largely - not snotty - French staff.
    In Lavenham - a medieval wool town - the market square is as it was. The Old Guildhall (NT) is worth a look and nearby is The Great House, a Michelin starred restaurant. Nice food, excellent location.

    One of the places I would recommend, is Ascoughs on St Mary's road in Market Harborough, between Northhampton and Leicester. Incredible value, and superbly cooked food. Expanded into a much larger building a couple of years ago and it still all works. Still have a waiting list most days and no hiatus in quality or service. Set lunches, £12-15, dinners, about £18. Chris, the owner\chef has it spot on. Best food quality\imaginative cooking\price I have ever found. On a par with the best restaurants in France I have visited, but cheaper.

    Many pubs offer "home cooked" pub grub. Or call themselves "Gastro Pubs". Both usually a misnomer. Not always horrid, but not always the good food for a reasonable price you hope and expect.
    Excellent pub food does exist, but needs more frequent users than me to be able to monitor quality.
    Similarly, fish and chip shops can be of variable quality. In my local area it seems most villages still have a working chip shop, long gone in may areas.
    The Jolly Fryer in Wisbech is our best "local", also do seated, eat in, cafe style. with occasional waiting at peak times.
    If you ever arrive in Wisbech before 2pm, then you may be able to get on the Elgoods brewery tour. On the North Brink, just along from the NT Peckover house and garden (and small cafe in the medieval barn).

    The most frequently purchased hot food is now some sort of curry. Brits love spicy food. Many just deal in "Take Away", which I'm sure you can translate. Usually substantial portions for not much. Quality and style varies greatly. Towns like my home town of Leicester have several whole large roads where nearly every shop front is a sari or gold shop or restaurant. And many of them vegetarian. Usually , you can discuss the heat you need. For my friends from the mainland, the "normal, medium" is rather hot. Your taste buds, your choice.
    Other towns often vary, if they only have wimps for customers.


    A quick skim over, many more available.
    #10
  11. shoeb

    shoeb Been here awhile

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    +1 for the real ale, commonly just called 'bitter' here. Variety is huge, and every american friend I've ever had has said it's one of the things they'll miss most when they leave.

    I'm currently living in Yorkshire, which is a fantastic blend of moto and gastro specialties. Don't be tempted to fly past on the way to Scotland!
    #11
  12. chasbmw

    chasbmw Long timer

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    Surprising good real beer is very available in the US nowadays, often hoppy IPAs.
    Of all the suggestions I would take the rent your bike in Scotland and head north. Brilliant countryside, wild and spectacular. Thank god we have the decimal system!


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  13. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    The problem is there is just so much more to see and do than the simple size comparison will admit.

    You could easily spend a week on any of the regions I noted earlier, and still be finding new stuff. Like a mate who spent a long week end in New York and considered he had "done" "America".
    #13
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  14. shoeb

    shoeb Been here awhile

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    Same for most countries I reckon.
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  15. Wildman

    Wildman In my castle

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    7-10 days likely makes this a good investment:

    [​IMG]

    You can pick up a copy on Amazon for about £12.00.
    #15
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  16. shoeb

    shoeb Been here awhile

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    +1, got that book and the suggestions are cracking.
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  17. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    That is better.

    We did Ireland, N. Ireland, Wales, England, and Scotland in 19 days (rental car). We were moving every day, but not rushed too badly. That said, you cannot spend too much time in Scotland. You might also consider taking the ferry to Isle of Man for an overnight.

    It took us a few days to realize that driving too late into the day was causing us to miss some really great stuff. Castle museums often close at 4 or 5 pm. If you stop too late, by the time you settle into your room you'll miss it (and any other shops you may want to see). Stop at 3pm and explore. We also became frustrated trying to use paper maps, since the road names are not consistently marked with signs. We finally bought a GPS (aka "sat nav") and that made all the difference. You can pay less for a better unit (or simply the UK chip) if you buy before you leave.

    Stopping early also helps when looking for B&Bs (the best way for lodging in my opinion). Just look for the signs in front of residential homes, and don't be afraid to ask to see the room first. Most are fine, but we passed on a couple of them. They almost all serve the full "English breakfast", which turns out to be great for travelling since it is so hardy.
    [​IMG]

    We bought castle passes that gave us unlimited museum entries for the week (or whatever interval that was). Almost every castle sells them, much like a National Parks pass. We stopped at as many as we could find along our route, and really enjoyed the variety. They are often near a small town where you can find dinner and a beer. (I was surprised to find that I like Haggis, but already knew I loved smoked kippers).
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    One of my highlights was actually finding the ruined castle associated with my family name (we were probably servants :shog) on the coast northeast of Dundee, called Red Castle. I never would have found it, but happened to ask directions from a random guy who had my same last name!
    [​IMG]

    Some of the castles along the Loch areas were phenomenal! I tried to get my wife to go skinny dipping in Loch Ness to try to draw out the Monster for a photo, but she was having none of it. :lol2
    [​IMG]

    The "English bitter" is generally not bitter. They are brown ales, and one of my favorite styles. Think Wexford's, Boddingtons, Belhaven, etc. Most areas have a local brew, and we always chose that. The cask ales are best when served from the pump style taps. (I collected a huge number of beer mats to hang in my dart room/bar back home. :clap) Having two drivers and one car made it very easy to take turns enjoying beers or whisky. That might be a bit more challenging if you are always going to be at the controls, though bitters are not generally high in alcohol content. You can always get her a pint, and just sip. I did that a lot on my days to drive.
    [​IMG]

    The whisky trail was great, and another place we took turns driving.
    [​IMG]

    We also enjoyed hiking some of Cullins Ridge on the Isle of Skye (home of Talisker Whisky). I'm told the other Islay areas are also amazing, but we didn't have time. Applecross is supposed to be great too. The Ferry Pools at Cullins Ridge:
    [​IMG]

    The roads are often very narrow, which favors motorcycles. We found we were most likely to drive on the wrong side of the road after stopping for a while, such as overnight. We made it the job of the passenger to remind the driver when starting out again. Having helmet comms would help too. Your passenger might be able to watch the GPS over your shoulder and navigate so you can keep your eyes on the road. There are some complicated roundabouts and figure 8s (clockwise) with multiple exits. It really helps if your passenger can tell you which exit to take, because the delay on the GPS sometimes doesn't make it clear until you are already crowded by cars going all directions.
    [​IMG]

    It may sound overwhelming now, but don't worry. Just tour around and enjoy the place. For a year before we went, we put sticky labels on a huge map in our dart room. When we went on the trip, we just tried to connect as many as we could, and traced our route with a colored highlighter as we went. When we got back, we hung it back up for the memories. The people, the sights, the history...the most amazing trip we've ever done!

    Bekonscot Model Village:
    [​IMG]
    #17
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  18. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    Brown ale is a thing, asking for it will get you a bottle of darkish brown malty stuff.
    I guess "brown" in relation to bitter is closer than the watery colour of mass market US drinks (not the better craft beers).
    UK bitter is quite variable in colour, most breweries across their range, have different hues, making detectable which is which from the colour.

    Kippers are smoked herring, split and smoked. There is a range of things that can be done to herring, originally for preservation. Old school full on brining and smoking is very powerful and your doctor and insurance co would probably disown you if they saw you eating them.
    All the modern stuff is much milder.
    If you like the kippers, next time try Arbroath Smokies. Arbroath is in Scotland, but the smoking of smaller haddock whole is common all down the east coast. Milder and more meat.
    Different taste to the smoked haddock fillets common all over. Usually a choice of the fluorescent yellow or sorts greyish natural.
    Bloaters, an un-split and ungutted herring. Has a slightly gamey flavour.
    Buckling, another herring, smoked.... Hot smoked, so more cooked with guts. Often with the roe, but headless. Not sure if this is just where I have got mine from, or the proper way.
    Red herring - yes, a thing, not just a misdirection. Super salt, originally a trade food from Great Britain as it was then to West Africa where the salt was perhaps thought a good thing, then as slave food in the Caribbean.
    Salty because they are brined for 3 weeks.

    Drink driving is a criminal offence here in UK and AFAIK everywhere else within the EU. UK laws are actually less stringent than our near mainland neighbours and Scotland, and positively generous compared to most of Scandinavia.
    I forget the metricated\complicated units and limits - 80 somethings, but it is generally considered to be about 1 pint beer or a single shot of spirits or a small glass of wine here - all very approximate and variable according to the russian roulette of your metabolism. Suspect will be brethalysed, a fail here means arrest and removal to a police station for a blood or urine test, and waiting. Failing or refusing any test will result in the same fine\ban\points as being drunk
    Compulsory ban and fine, prison for wild excess. Lots of points and difficult and expensive future insurance.
    #18
  19. Jgxxx?

    Jgxxx? n00b

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    IMG_3711.JPG IMG_1086.JPG Really late to this post but try Northern Ireland. Very very biker friendly, great roads, better craic (fun).
    May take in some "real road racing", NW200, Ulster Grand Prix etc.
    #19
  20. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Thread revival!

    Are you still planning this trip?
    #20