"Left to Live" - A 23-Day Motorcycle Adventure Around UK and Ireland...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by TravisGill, Oct 28, 2018.

  1. TravisGill

    TravisGill Been here awhile

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    Thanks you. The journey was some of the best. I'm glad I can relive it again by putting together this ride report.
    #21
  2. TravisGill

    TravisGill Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Day 2 - Saturday, 25 Aug 2018 - The White Cliffs of Dover:

    Not sure why this has been an iconic place for me to visit... Perhaps a childhood memory of a film? Perhaps a military documentary? Anyhow, presenting the White Cliffs of Dover…

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    We managed to find a quite section to launch the drone to get a nice picture of the cliffs from the ocean.

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    It seems this side of the channel was a bit greener than France. Perhaps is rains here more?

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    There is a walkway that runs down the cliff face to a ship wreckage on the beach. It would have been fun, but we were on a schedule of sorts.

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    Kinder WHITE chocolate to celebrate our WHITE Dover experience. Get it?

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    The port of Dover is a busy area with ferry traffic running around the clock.

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    The famous cliffs and famous Chantil!

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    We’re glad we stopped to enjoy this landmark; especially on this beautifully sunny day.
    #22
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  3. TravisGill

    TravisGill Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Day 2 - Saturday, 25 Aug - Riding from Dover to Beachy Head:

    Our first day of riding on the left side proved to be less difficult than I thought. There were a few mistakes but nothing dangerous. The narrow roads, green farmland, and picturesque homes were quintessential England.

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    Sheep grazing near the ruins of a roman stone building.

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    A narrow stone archway on an obscure road surrounded by farmland and sheep.

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    The narrow roads had no shoulder but there were pull-off sections every so often.

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    The curves can be tight but there are plenty of warnings beforehand.

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    Our favorite section of the road today.

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    Beachy Head! We made it.

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    Definitely a beautiful place worth staying awhile.

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    A memorial to those many WW2 aviators who looked down on Beachy Head as their last and final view of England.

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    Sundial showing some bearing and ranges to places around the globe.

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    All in all, a great day of riding and exploring!

    Since it was getting dark and we still haven’t found a place to stay we called a nearby campsite in Fairfield Farms near Eastbourne. It was a bit challenging to find in the dark, but we found it and quickly set up out tent and sleeping bags. We were ready for sleep…

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    …but not before getting a bite to eat.

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    Just a short walk from camp was a takeout place called Swan Traditional where we ended the day eating this fried deliciousness!

    More adventure tomorrow as we make our way towards Stonehenge…
    #23
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  4. Critic

    Critic More or less!

    Joined:
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    Location:
    West of the Illinois, heart of the state!
    Good job, I am enjoying photos!

    "Funny story from last night. As we pulled into camp last night, an excited couple approached us and started talking to us in German. Being in France, we wondered why?? Turns out they assumed we were German because of our German plates on our German BMW motorcycles. It’s funny what people assume sometimes."

    I had a simular thing happen in Belgium in 1985. While checking my tank bag map, a German guy pulls up as and asked a question; I said, English. He rode off yelling, as he gave hand signals to enforce his feelings!
    #24
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  5. TravisGill

    TravisGill Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Day 3 - Sunday, 26 Aug:

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    Our route for today - Beachy Head to Woodhenge. Only 240km today since rain delayed us for a couple hours in the afternoon.

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    A bit of drizzle this morning so we’ll be in our rain gear today.

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    Back to Beachy Head where we enjoyed the early morning with these beautiful cliffs and lighthouse. We launched the drone, but it was really windy making video footage difficult to shoot; we did capture this image however.

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    Beachy Head Lighthouse looking great in red and white!

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    The road leaving Beachy Head offered another chance to fly the drone where I captured some shots of Chantil riding through some beautiful countryside.

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    A nice sweeping turn makes for great fun on a motorcycle.

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    This section of the A259 ended up being the best riding we did all day.

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    Life is good!

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    Rain kinda’ sucks when you’re on a motorcycle.

    We experienced more than six hours of rain during this afternoon’s ride. The rain became so heavy that it started flooding the roadway so we decided to wait it out at a McDonald’s in Petersfield, England. We ordered some food and then ended up talking to a nice group of people who were riding scooters through the area.

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    …At least there is no extra charge for ketchup here!

    Side rant: You may be asking “Why does this dude take pictures of ketchup?” I’ll explain… Having a ketchup dispenser that provides a limitless supply of FREE ketchup is a luxury. In the USA it’s expected but in Western Europe you must pay for condiments like ketchup and mayonnaise. Most Eastern Europe restaurants also don’t do free refills of soda. It’s the little things in life like free condiments and refills that get noticed. Thanks UK!

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    The rain let up enough that we could continue our ride. This section of A272 through South Downs National Park was pretty but unfortunately wet.

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    The rain cleared up just before we reached Salisbury. As we entered town, we came across these tiniest of streets. Just look at how narrow this is! Yes, traffic goes both ways!!

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    Check out these pubs and restaurants. Quintessential England!

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    One of the window displays had these folded origami birds.

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    Colorful umbrellas decorate a narrow pedestrian street.

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    A famous red telephone box. We’ve seen quite a few of these but many have been converted to other things like trade-a-book bookstores.

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    English rooftops!

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    We enjoyed our walk through the streets even though many of the shops were closed.

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    Salisbury Cathedral is striking. It would have been nice to go inside but it was closed by the time we arrived into town.

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    Some of the incredible detail in the cathedral’s exterior.

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    One of the entrance doors. Wonder how many people have walked through this door since it was built in the 1250s.

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    A detail of the cathedral’s water runoff system with unique statues.

    We walked back to the mules and continued our ride to Stonehenge before they close at 8 PM…

    Unfortunately, the gates closed about two hours before published closing, so we just missed seeing Stonehenge! Oh well, we’ll find a hotel, dry off a bit, get a good night’s sleep, and be ready for a new day tomorrow.

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    But not before one final stop for the evening to Woodhenge - Stonehenge’s smaller brother. Read about it here: www.english-heritage.org.uk

    Tomorrow we’ll check out Stonehenge in the morning and continue our way north through Wales to Cardiff…
    #25
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  6. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

    Joined:
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    Excellent report! Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us! I really am digging your relaxed approach, based more on experiencing the place rather than racking up the miles. Yes, French drivers are very gracious towards motorcyclists (and also toward bicyclists in my experience)! It is standard for cars to move to the right to let bikes pass, and riders typically say "merci" by giving a little waggle with their right foot. England is grand, too. But rain? Oh yeah! Plenty of that! When I was in Ireland there were frequent, short (mercifully) showers almost daily but as a man in Tralee told me, "it's always raining somewhere in Ireland." Love the drone shots. I've thought about taking one along, but have never done so. I'm assuming yours could take on a compact size for packing?
    #26
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  7. TravisGill

    TravisGill Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the kind words and comment! I wish there was MORE TIME (don't we all) for this trip. I would have definitely spent more time at some places doing more hiking and exploring. Will only three weeks, I think we managed to find the sweet spot between seeing some places and riding; I find that 185 miles (~300 km) of two lane roads to be ideal for our kind of traveling.
    #27
  8. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

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    Meridian, Idaho
    Do you ride with music , just wondering ,as I can go for right to left or whatever on a moto without a hitch, in a car I even have that problem when I return home.
    Thanks for the report.
    #28
  9. fennellg

    fennellg n00b

    Joined:
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    I really liked your photos. What camera do you use?
    #29
  10. TravisGill

    TravisGill Been here awhile

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    On the long stretches of road we'll listen to music from my iPhone via the Bluetooth headsets.
    I feel it's definitely easier to adjust to riding on the left side than it would be to drive; the controls haven't changed sides. I drove in Japan and kept using the windshield wipers every-time I wanted to use the turn signal.
    You're welcome. Although the ride reports are a bit of work, it gives me the chance to relive and share the experience.
    #30
  11. TravisGill

    TravisGill Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Oddometer:
    327
    Location:
    Germany
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    I currently use a Canon G7 X Mark II compact camera.
    + Compact size
    + Great zoom lens for such a compact camera
    + Excellent image quality - can shoot in RAW
    + Excellent color rendition
    + Great sensor (1") for a compact camera
    + Flip up screen for taking selfies
    - Transferring files to the iPhone app requires Wi-Fi and is a bit clunky
    - The auto focus sensor can be a bit temperamental
    #31
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  12. GP640

    GP640 Long timer

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    Fantastic report.
    Might want to wear your waterproofs for riding through "Whales" though.
    I'd imagine that could get messy.
    #32
  13. TravisGill

    TravisGill Been here awhile

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    Lol! Typo fixed. Riding through "Whales" would be quite the experience!!
    #33
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  14. despertaferro2008

    despertaferro2008 n00b

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    Bravo....buen viaje...
    #34
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  15. Adamastor

    Adamastor n00b

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    Great!!!!
    Thank you for sharing :1drink
    #35
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  16. TravisGill

    TravisGill Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Day 4 - Monday, 27 Aug:

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    Map of our Day 4: 260 km from Stonehenge to camping at Brecon Beacons National Park.

    Stonehenge opened at 9AM and we wanted to be there early to avoid the crowds. The weather wasn’t very cheerio, with a bit of a drizzle. By the time we arrived at the Stonehenge site, the clouds lifted a little revealing a ray of sun.

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    After paying the price of £19.5 ($20.10) per person you can then tour a small museum and outside area describing how the henge was build and what life may have been like for those during the Bronze Age.

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    A model showing what the completed circle may have looked like.

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    Artifacts and bones from those buried within the henge area.

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    A display where you can test your strength pulling the stones. Good luck pulling! Somehow I think there was A LOT of labor that went into building Stonehenge; unless you believe the alien theory.

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    A 3-D map with landmarks shows that there is more to see than just Stonehenge. If we had more time, and the weather was better, I think I would have enjoyed seeing the other sites.

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    After a short bus ride, you reach Stonehenge! Here is a pano image showing the site in relation to all of the other tourists like us. Bring a zoom camera if you want to get close-up photos; the standard tour doesn’t include getting really close to the site.

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    Stonehenge, you’re not as big as I imagined. Seriously! I thought you would be more impressive.

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    Tip: Download the Stonehenge Guide app and bring headphone for your smartphone so you don’t look like me holding a cheap cell-phone guide to your ear the whole time.

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    The back side of the site is actually the most visually appealing because it’s the only side that has the standing horizontal slabs.

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    I definitely had a different idea of what Stonehenge would be like. I imagined it would larger and more remote. Instead I found it to be overly touristy but still worth the experience. In the end, I’m still glad I went because it’s one of those “been there, done that” kinda places. Perhaps I would have liked it more if I was at this event: Paul Oakenfold DJs at Stonehenge!

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    This lovely Royal Enfield parked next to our mules at Stonehenge.

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    The company is making a comeback to US markets.

    After Stonehenge we made our way north and enjoyed some of the most beautiful narrow roads and countrysides.

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    Speed cameras! Every road in the UK and Ireland seemed to have these cameras. I tried to find how many are installed and found this site: www.SpeedCamerasUK.com. Their database list over 3,500 cameras in the UK which doesn’t include Northern Ireland. That’s a lot of cameras! We’ll be very fortunate if we didn’t get a speeding ticket mailed to us during our 23 days of riding.

    More of Day 4 to follow…
    #36
  17. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
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    Edmonton, Alberta
    Great stuff!
    #37
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  18. TravisGill

    TravisGill Been here awhile

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    Day 4 continued...

    Along our trip, we accidentally stumbled across this great restaurant when Chantil noticed some long canal boats floating near a stone bridge.

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    Honeystreet Mill Café was a perfect place to enjoy brunch.

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    Just some of the finely decorated artwork around the restaurant.

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    Chantil enjoying a hot coco.

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    We shared this heavenly tasting carrot cake. Well done Honeystreet Mill Café!

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    Alton Barnes White Horse is approximately 180 feet high, 160 feet long, and was cut in 1812.

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    Launched the drone to grab a closer look. During winter solstices locals outline the geoglyph with candles and even hosted a lantern parade in honor of the horse’s 200th birthday.

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    Before landing, I also captured this image of England’s south-east countryside. A beautiful day!

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    Passing a horse-drawn carriage of gypsy travelers. I prefer my carriage to have more than 1 horsepower. Our 47hp seems about right!

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    These stones are part of the largest megalithic stone circle in the world, located near Avebury in Wiltshire. Unlike Stonehenge, people can get right up to them and enjoy them. I wonder what the main reason was for placing them? Still a mystery but there are some theories.

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    Although we plan to see a few things along our route each day, it is often the unplanned things that capture our attention...

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    ...like these wooden benches designed after iconic British WWII fighter and bomber planes of the Royal Air Force (RAF).

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    Or a tiled mural just tucked away behind an obscure wall…

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    …that remembers a history of WWII that this region provided to the war effort.

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    It wasn’t too long, and we were passing through toll booths and crossing into new country. Great news, motorcycles don’t have to pay to toll!

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    Crossing the Severn River via the, apply named, Severn Bridge. Welcome to Wales!

    We continued onward to Puzzle Wood where we enjoyed a hike through some JR Tolkien inspired forest. This is a unique and enchanting place, located in the beautiful and historic Forest of Dean.

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    The grounds have colorful and interesting flowers.

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    I lucked out with this picture. The fly just stayed there posing for the picture!

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    Gotta’ wonder how these sunflowers grow without sun. I kid, of course there is sun in the UK.

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    A tiny donkey posed for the camera at the kids petting zoo.

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    Taking time to smell (or at least capture) the flowers.

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    Into the enchanted forest! A forest of adventure and fairy tales!

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    We explore the outer trails which included about a mile of meandering pathways, with its fantastic tree and rock formations.

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    There are 14-acres of ancient woodland. It has an atmosphere unlike any other woods we’ve visited.

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    In an enchanted forest? Then why not eat one of my favorite candies - HARIBO Smurfs?!

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    The forest is pretty large considering that much of the surrounding area is flat farmland.

    We ended up spending almost two hours at Puzzle Wood. It was definitely worth the visit and admission of £7.00 ($9.00) per person.
    It was now time to make our way south to Cardiff. We arrived after 6PM so we didn’t get to go inside the castle but we did get to see a giant T-Rex !

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    The side entrance into Cardiff Castle. Locked up tight and I didn't bring my army to storm the entrance.

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    It seems Welsh is also spoken here. In Wales, go figure?

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    Ducks swim in the moat around the castle.

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    A GIANT T-REX!! Not something I imagined we would be seeing today! The maintenance crew was taking down what looked like a food court event with life-sized statues of dinosaurs. RAAWWWRRR!!

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    The octagon gothic-inspired tower stands 75-feet high and was completed in 1439.

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    The Cardiff Castle 150-foot high clock tower was built in 1868.

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    Many statues guard castle entrances. One of the most popular is the noble lion…

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    …but what about an AARDVARK?...

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    …or this bear full of personality?

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    Perhaps it’s his energetic orange eyes.

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    Can you guess what country we’re in? Any flag with a red dragon on it has got to be a wicked cool country!

    After some pizza in Cardiff, we continued north where we finished the day at Grawen Caravan & Camping Park.

    Tomorrow we’ll continue north through Wales and then catch the ferry to Ireland. At least that was our initial plan. Murphy has a different idea in store…
    #38
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  19. TravisGill

    TravisGill Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    Day 5 - Tuesday, 28 Aug:

    We woke up, broke camp, and were on the road by 7:40AM. It was not more than 1 mile down the road when Chantil’s mule overheat light came on. Shucks!

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    High temp light. The crazy thing is that we don’t have any other indications of overheating. Could it just be a failed sensor?

    We pulled over in a quite parking area and went over options. Our model of motorcycle has a history of coolant pump drive shaft problems. Was it our time? Unfortunately, we don’t have this part with us. We called around from 08:40-09:10 and finally found a part that could be in Liverpool by tomorrow morning!
    Now how to get to Liverpool and back? It’s three hours away making a parts trip at least six hours of riding - a whole day lost:becca ! Perhaps we can let Chantil’s bike cool and try to get us both there or at least closer to Liverpool?

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    Only 210 km of riding today as we make a straight shot to Liverpool to the BMW Motorrad dealership.

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    As we passed through Brecon Beacons National Park the view was too good not to capture the beauty via the drone.

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    Even though we didn’t stop much, the roads offered plenty of great scenery.

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    During our first fueling stop we ran into James and Laurence who recommended Greggs restaurant chains. Nice guys! In fact, everyone we came in contact with, here in Wales, has been really super nice. Anyone else feel this way about Wales?

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    Funny hay bales on the side of the road. When I first saw them, I thought they read “We support Terrorism!” Thankfully not.

    Riding to Liverpool together turned out to be a good plan because we got more than half way before the light came on again. We stopped to grab a quick bite while waiting for Chantil’s mule to cool down.

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    I ordered lemonade and this Sprite tasting beverage showed up in a glass. Is this the UK version of lemonade?

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    Enjoying the open road.

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    Part of the fun of a new country is trying different food items. Oaty Bites! Little biscuits full of good fun!

    We arrived at the BMW dealer about an hour before it closed. They were all wonderfully nice people who did their best to accommodate us.
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    Gary and Harry at the BMW dealership. Both super helpful and very generous with their time.

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    Ted, one of the mechanics, was also incredibly nice. He is also a motorcycle traveler and has ridden from Europe to South Africa via the east side of Africa: http://www.touringted.com/

    We left Chantil’s mule in their care and then rode two-up to the hotel nearby. We enjoyed some good Mexican food at a nearby restaurant and then made plans for the next day.

    If all goes well, we’ll have Chantil’s mule back and be on our way to Ireland before the end of the day tomorrow...
    #39
  20. crashkorolyk

    crashkorolyk just happy to ride

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    202
    Location:
    vancouver island
    Brilliant trip & pictures,thanks for sharing,looks like wonderful roads to explore on 2 wheels,can`t wait for the rest of your adventure!
    #40
    TravisGill likes this.