United Kingdom 2005

Day 03

May 15


The crew wakes us up before landing and offers us some refreshments and small towels to wipe our faces. After eight hours on a plane, everybody looks a little ragged. Once the plane touches down at Heathrow, I can't seem to get out of it soon enough. It's kind of a mad dash to Customs as people figure the quicker they get there, the quicker they'll get through. But that's not always the case, so Guy and I just walk at a normal pace. I figure it will take a bit for the luggage to catch up with us, so why rush forward so you can stand longer in one place. Besides, being able to stand upright and walk again is really nice. We fetch our bags and clear Customs without a hitch. Fortunately, two Brits from the My-MC.com site that I have been communicating with are waiting for us as soon as we find our way out.

“Well, Hello Mates” I say in my poor imitation of a ‘southerner' from Britain.

They both laugh and help tote our bags. Nigel Moffet (affectionately known as Moff) and Paul Narramore have taken the day off to haul our carcasses to the place where we will be staying and then guide us around London on a sightseeing excursion. Moff is an active policeman in the Kent area and Paul is a retired policeman from the same area. I guess Guy is so suspicious looking that we have to have a 2 policeman escort to watch him. We really appreciate their willingness and it is just a taste of the many kindnesses that we are shown while in the UK. Moff is the driver today and we stash all our gear and jump in. I'm always amazed at how small the cars are in the UK but with the gas prices through the roof and traffic unbelievably dense, it makes perfect sense. Moff is a veteran of driving in the London traffic, so he gets us to the Brewer's Inn where we will be staying for the evening in short order.


We check in, toss our gear in the room, then we're off for a walking tour of one of the most interesting cities in the world. Mass transit in the UK is readily available and very functional when compared to the large cities in the US. We head for a local storefront, pick up some transit passes and board a bus that will take us to the nearest ‘tube' or underground station – which we would call a subway. Thankfully, they know where we are heading, so Guy and I just follow like dumb sheep. At the proper station, we ascend from the ‘depths'.


My right knee is really acting up – to the point I'm developing very noticeable limp. Moff asks me

“You all right mate?”

“Yep, I'll be okay but I may have to move a little slower. I wouldn't miss this for the world or a bad knee” I reply.

(When I get back to the states and visit my orthopedic surgeon, he found a large cyst on the ACL and some more torn cartilage). So we keep walking and I just lose myself in the surroundings and try to forget about the knee. Having been to London before on business, I remember that even walking is tricky for North Americans in London.  You have to remember to look right before stepping off the curb to cross the street, or risk being a hood ornament. As we stroll along, we see the Tower Bridge with the HMS Belfast moored on the right. The HMS Belfast played a major roll in the D-Day landings and deserves a place of honor for the service rendered.


Moff and Paul take us in to the heart of old London and soon we are in Trafalgar Square, which commemorates Lord Nelson's last great sea victory. I see the 185 foot column with the statue of Lord Nelson on top –


Moff tells me –

“If you look down the avenue, you will see ships on top of each lamp post. He is surveying his fleet from his position.”

It is a subtle point, but one that would be missed without the company of someone who knows the history. Moff is an avid student of history and is a real treasure to travel about London with. We move on and soon we are viewing the famous British Parliament and Big Ben.


As we make our way to view Buckingham Palace, we stroll through a park and I see this statue –



I do not know the history behind it, but I found it fascinating that there would be a large statue of Abraham Lincoln in a London park. We see the Palace, and again Moff tells us –

“You can tell whether the Queen is there based on the flags. According to the current arrangement, she is not there.”


Again, another subtle point that we would have missed just walking by ourselves. When we arrive, we see the guard in the traditional uniform.


With perfect precision, he makes his rounds, seeming to ignore the tourists snapping pictures. But judging by the rifle he is carrying, I would not think it wise for someone to climb over the gates and try to get past him! Sensing that my knee is getting worse and worse after about 4 miles of walking, Moff and Paul take us to pub for a bite to eat. They try to talk Guy into trying the 'Mushy Peas', but he just won't go for it. Always up for new things, I give it whirl and it's not bad at all - just what I call sweet peas sort of creamed. We have a lively discussion about the care and feeding of chickens, but you would have to have been there to appreciate it. After a good meal, we head for the nearest tube station and head back to Brewer's Inn. Although the London underground is very easy to travel on with well marked routes, it's nice just to follow someone since Guy and I are in a bit of a jet lag stupor. They guide us safely back to the inn and then head their separate ways. We will see them again at Exeter later on in the week. Guy and I head upstairs to our room as the fatigue settles into our bones. After we rest our weary bodies a bit, we decide to go down stairs and have supper in the pub dining room. As usual, Guy order the chicken and I go for the ‘smashed and mashed' something – great sausage and mashed potatoes. We discuss what Guy's bike options are in view of tomorrow –

“Well, you've got a VFR and a BMW gunboat to chose from. He did not have another ST available” I tell Guy.

“Bro, I just don't know which one. I guess I'll wait til tomorrow and sit on both of them” he replies.

“Just remember one thing – the roads around here are narrow and that Beemer is really top heavy. It would be great if we were just interstating, but that thing will kill you on the narrow roads in Scotland.”

We finish up supper and head back to our room. Both being very tired, we collapse into bed and are out like two dead men. Tomorrow will be a long day as we pick up the bikes, get out of the London traffic, and head all the way to Scotland.