24 – 30 May 2016: Completing RTW & family reunions in Yorkshire


So another 24 hrs of flights, and we landed at London Heathrow at 7am (half an hour ahead of schedule). THE PLAN was to get straight to Motofreight in Egham.

We made a really quick exit through immigration, (eCard booth with our UK passports), baggage pick-up and out through customs. SO first we just sat down at Costa for a coffee, and to use the wifi to have a browse about where we could potentially stay this evening. We decided a nearby Travelodge or the like would do, but we wouldn’t book anything, just see how we got on with the bike pick-up. With that sorted it was around 8.30am, and we headed out to the taxi rank – the quintessential London taxi. What a rip-off; it was a fixed price £35 ($70 AUD); and I knew it was only ~6 miles to the place. But we didn’t have much choice, and the cabbie was really quite pleasant, so we were soon heading out onto the M25 – SOO much traffic! We were duly delivered to the door at Motofreight, 20 mins later, and found the place just about opening.

Kathy came down to greet us, and soon showed us where Fritz had been for the past month; in very good company with other touring bikes. It was quite a glorious blue sky day, and getting warm – so not really what we were expecting on our first day back in the UK. One of the guys moved the fork-lift, and started pushing the bikes around, so we could get Fritz outside, and parked up on the forecourt Stew set about getting him ready for the road; including the new seat we’d brought over on the flight. I sorted out the paper work and paid the bill with Kathy, and we had the ‘green card’ insurance document there too. They were really helpful, and Kathy even made us mugs of coffee; we nattered a while over the morning, and it turned out they were going to the Horizons meeting mid-June, so we might just see them there!

We also asked about any nearby accommodation, and Roddy (Kathy’s dad and business partner) ended up ringing a local B&B place, just a mile or so down the road in the little village of Thorpe. They did have a room and it would be £75 for the both of us. It seemed like a good option, so decided we’d just head there. It was ~ 11.30am when we were finally togged up and ready to go, and I asked Kathy just to snap a couple of photos at the start of this next leg of the journey.

The Coltscroft B&B was the perfect place to crash out and recharge our batteries, and ideal for what we could comfortably achieve today….and talk about the timeplan and what we could do. The main thing was checking out everything for the TT, not easy with it being such a massive tourist attraction. We had an afternoon walk about the lovely quiet village, and found only 1 small general store. With the expense of the accommodation, we decided on make-do meal in the B&B this evening, so we bought a wrap, salad, packet soup, bread rolls, tea, coffee, a can of beer and cider. We weren’t late in bed at all.

We slept better than we expected and were aiming for breakfast around 7.00am; a nice plate of sausage, bacon, egg, tomato, mushroom, baked beans and toast. The skies were totally overcast, and it looked like rain. It ended up a long cold, and wet drive up to Yorkshire – we had to stop twice for coffee and hot soup!

So it was November 1989 when we first left our, then, home in Dewsbury, driving a rather new(ish) and sparkly, fully loaded Fritz, to embark on our round the world (RTW) adventures and now finally, we succeeded in completing the circle on 24 May 2016, riding a well weathered Fritz and equally fully loaded, the last 200 miles up the M1 north from London to Dewsbury. It was so familiar and yet so strange, and at least 10 years since we’d seen the UK in the rich green, verdant fullness of Spring time in bloom.

We made it to grandma and granddad by 2pm – and had lovely afternoon catching up with more coffee and kitkats. We gave them bigs hugs and the card from Sairha and Lacey. Then onto to Lez and Elaine’s at 5pm (after they finished work) – more hugs and greetings. It was so strange and familiar seeing all the old haunts, and now back in a new house on Healds View (next to where they lived years ago when Jessica was born). The house was gorgeous, and Babe, the cat totally comfy in the lounge.

It was wonderful evening – and as usual, surprised we pretty much just arrived at the doorstep with no plans! They took us out to a new curry place for dinner – an old converted pub at the end of White Lee road. It was great food, and we swilled down BYO wine, reminiscing and catching up so many years – couldn’t stop chin wagging. The guys left us to get to bed around 11pm, but me and Elaine kept going, till 12.15am.

The next few days went really quickly, as we tried to catch up with as many family we could, and sort out going off to the Isle of Man TT races. And we were battling bugs already – Stew got up ~4.30am the next day – he had a bad throat and needed a drink. So went downstairs to make tea, and was dozing on sofa when I got up at 6.45am. I could hardy talk – we are so full of UK cold bugs; all in the head, achy sinuses, ears; just hope we can shake it in a few days.

We had to drive over to Meltham, Huddersfield, to pick up some spares for the bike. It was still, cool cloudy and looking like rain, so we put on the full riding gear, and the waterproofs in the topbox too. It was so strange driving on familiar roads, such a mix of different houses, buildings industry, and so dense lush vegetation. Everything was coming out in spring bloom – so many huge conker trees. We found Motoworks no probs, and soon picked up the parts, then found our way pretty well to Caroline’s too – but there was no one home. I wrote her a note, and put it in their letterbox with one of our travel cards. We had to call at the garage to fuel up (£22; its over a pounds a litre, so almost double what it costs in Perth). There was also a decent jetwash, so Stew gave Fritz a pretty good wash down for one pound too.

When we got back Caroline telephoned when she’d finished work. It was SOO lovely to hear her, even though I could hardly talk. I said Charlie had invited us for tea on Sunday, so hopefully we could all go and meet up then – as I’d already said we’d be away for the TT from Tuesday to Sunday next week. We headed off out with Jason when he picked us up ~ 2.30pm Friday afternoon, running round in his mini (doesn’t look like its had a clear out for years!). It was so lovely being together again, and he ran us round Bradford Road, to some car parts places, so Stew could get some engine and gearbx oil, as well as looking for spark plugs; but he couldn’t get any. We were going for a coffee somewhere, but with the time of day the roads were getting quite congested, so we decided to just go to Tesco. We picked up the 220 Triathlon magazine too, and some postpacks. Jason had done the front cover photo for the magazine, and full article photos on two of the ‘Yorkshire lasses’, Non Stanford, and Vicky Holland, preparing for their Rio Olympics event. It was awesome, so nice to see – and this was to send back to Lacey and Sairha. The coffee lounge was really quite a nice place to sit and watch the Batley shoppers go by too.

We headed back, and after a coffee Stew set about doing the oil changes – while I was online, trying to find somewhere we could get new sparkplugs (none of the local places stocked the iridium one we wanted). Stew came back in, not happy – it looked like the gearbox oil seal had gone, and its quite a big job to strip down and replace; and he really hadn’t wanted to do that before we went to the Isle of Man – but really he didn’t have a choice!

By 3pm, Stew had done the engine and gearbox oil change, put in new brake pads, and wanted to do a test run again. So I togged up again, and we headed down to Batley – there was a vintage day on in the market place, and we even managed to park up in the display area. The afternoon was turning quite warm, and lovely blue skies again. There was a lot going on, and it was a really lovely nostalgic event; lots of WW II vehicles, retro market stalls, old cars, prams, people dressed up, live music playing, and even a spitfire fly over.

By the time we got back, Jessica and Anthony had arrived – and everyone was sat out in the backyard sunshine, and enjoying a beer. We took off our helmets and there were hugs and greeting all round, so lovely to see them again. They were up here not just to see us, but also Delia, as it was her birthday after the weekend, and they were going to take her out for Sunday Lunch, as Elaine would be away to Budapest on Monday.

It was a great afternoon, and we sat out in the sunshine as everyone showered getting ready, and a couple more beers. We had a leisurely walk down to the train station, seeing all the old places – and the old Ridings pub, looked just the same. The curry house, Mim’s,  was booked for 7.30pm, and it was a really nice place. It was BYO, and we had a good supply of beer and wine, that was going down really well. The place had a lovely atmosphere, and the food and service was absolutely delicious. We nattered the night away, so amazing to be catching up with them all – as we ate our fill, even getting a doggy bag to take away.

Sunday we had another lovely morning; after Lez and Stew got back from carbooting, bringing only some cat food, the rest of the troops got up slowly. So there was a succession of teas and coffees. Everyone was still really full from the big curry meal again, so no one was really interested in breakfast. Jason arrived around 9.30am, so we could go out and meet up with Grandad and Grandma at the Whiterose centre, for a brunch. Jessica said she’d come along too, as she hasn’t seen the gramps for a while. I don’t think we’ve ever been into Debenhams at the Whiterose, and the whole place was a huge building site; looked like it was going to more than double in size. Amazingly there were quite a few people waiting to go in when the doors opened at 10.30am, and most making a bee line for the café. It was a lovely setting, and we got a nice table with views over the valley.

It was really nice chatting away, over an hour, but we couldn’t stay much longer as Stew wanted to make a start to replace the gearbox oil seal. But the afternoon didn’t go too well; a couple of runs down town for another socket, and then the puller tool, to remove the output flange from gearbox, was damaged and bent (it’s a home made one, that had been used several times), so couldn’t be used. It’s a specialist tool, and totally stumped the work – Stew would have to see if he could fix up our old (home made one), or cobble something else together!!

Time was pressing on already towards 4pm, and we were going round to Charlies for 5pm. So we’d have to start again tomorrow. Jason very kindly acted as chauffeur for the night. We called off at a small co-op on the way, just to pick up a couple of bottles of wine. It was a glorious afternoon, warm in the sunshine and still some blue sky. The garden and cottage looked so lovely. Big hugs and greetings all round – it was the start of a really wonderful evening. It was us 3 and Charlie and Angie for tea (roast potatoes, green beans and baked chicken in a creamy sauce – yum). Then as we settled in the room nattering away, the other evening guests filtered in – Caroline (a friend from the village), with her two chiuhua (Freddy and Olive – very cute), then Geoff and Eileen; looking really well. Then Caroline, Andrew (Huge hugs – so wonderful to see her again, after such a long time), and then Richard and Nedime, now living together in a rented place, and looking for someplace to buy. It was a magic evening, so much to talk about and catch up. The wine was flowing and the conversation; Angie put on a lovely selection of cheese and crackers, for nibbles as we chatted on for hours. We did get a few photos of me, Caroline and Charlie in the garden, before the lovely light faded, and then before we knew it was already after 10.30pm – time to pack up, say goodnight, and then catch up again, and with the rest of the family we hadn’t yet been able to see, when we were back from the TT.