A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

Home Travel StoriesSouth Wales 2017

Not Even Wales!

By Ren Withnell

There's a storm a-brewing and it must be of some significance because it's been named Aileen. While a blustery British storm is unlikely to wreak the havoc that hurricane Irma has on The Carribbean I'm getting old and no longer looking for trouble. As I ride my fully laden 500 down to Sharon's place I'm fairly sure she'd rather we stayed at her place tonight rather than risk a drenching or being blown into the sea.

I'm right, Sharon's not too keen about camping tonight. What I'm not prepared to do though is waste today, the weather is peculiarly calm and the rain is very intermittent. I ask her ladyship if she has any suggestions expecting the usual "I dunno, you decide". Even more peculiar than the weather rather than mumbling some random none-statement she clearly pipes up "Let's go to that Aprilia shop in Liverpool!" I'm stunned.

Neither of us have a thing for Aprilia motorcycles but we both like the salesman we know there. He used to work at the shop where Sharon got her bikes from, he moved to this new place a while back and we haven't seen him since. What a good idea that woman. I'm stunned.

Getting through Liverpool is a drag, getting through any large city is. With patience and care we're now on the road north from the town centre towards the docks. I spot our turning and park up. I hate city riding.

Chas greets us with a smile and a welcome. Last time I'd seen him he was recovering from surgery to repair the veins in both his legs and he was walking poorly and to be frank a his manner suggested he was suffering. Today he is walking tall and strong, looking bright and perky and the smile has returned. It is wonderful to see him looking so well.

Sharon talks to Chas at the shop surrounded by bikes and bike kit
Just chilling at the shop with Chas.

I think the new job is suiting him better too. This is a smaller concern and while he must work hard and sell motorcycles he's not just another cog in a massive machine, he's his own man. 

Sharon's on a tiny kids walking-bike, pretending to get her knee down
Sharon's getting her knee down these days.

We talk bikes, surgery, bikes, holidays and other subjects besides. He promises me a test ride on the 300cc Piaggio 3 wheeled scooter thingummyjig (MP3) which fascinates me. We drink his tea and I have to employ all my inner strength to not eat all his chocolate biscuits. It is heart warming to see him looking so at ease.

The Piaggio MP3 looks like a big scooter but with 2 front wheels
Not quite my thing but I am fascinated and look forward to riding one.

It is time to leave though. I'm sure Chas is happy to see us but as a couple of potential customers arrive we must let the man do his thing. 

I detour Sharon and I north along the coast past the massive cranes at the docks, through Litherland and towards Ormskirk. Back through Rainford, St Helens and back to Madam Parker's place. The air is still and the rain has not arrived. Has storm Aileen not bothered getting here? We're not in Wales and we're not even in a tent, it has been a very good start to our trip though.

Storm Aileen did arrive in the night. It wasn't as strong as the weather folks had feared although we weren't to know that so I think we made the right choice. 

By Sharon Parker

What is up with me. I am going on holiday I should be excited, I should be all bouncy and happy. Instead I feel like a wrung out dishcloth, all damp and limp and a bit shabby. I have been a bit under the weather. Lots also going on with the daughter's poor health and I guess I still am not fully recovered from my own operation. But there is no doubt I lack some serious enthusiasm right now and I do not appreciate that in myself and I am sure Ren will not appreciate it either. 

However art comes to the rescue. I used to do some artwork a while back but bikes became my all consuming passion and there was no spare time for additional hobbies. I have begun to miss my creative skills and as my job becomes more and more unstable I really need to find a way to secure additional funds if I can. So out comes the art supplies and the idea of BAT or motorcycle artwork is born. I totally become immersed in the world of Modge Podge, Sharpies and pencils. The ideas flow and I have a fantastic time. My art has left me buzzing. I forgot how much I love working with my mind and my hands to create something unique. It leaves me feeling refreshed and energised. I have so many ideas now I have to try and reign them in and stop myself boring Ren with another oh what if I do this or that or the other.

Various drawings of simple helmets with dragons and flames coming off them
Getting my sparkle back by being creative, BAT art style

My new found found spark ensures I pack up my bags quickly and with less supplies than last time. I took too much on my last trip so the 3s of everything (ie 3 t-shirts, 3 jumpers) has been reduced to 2s. All except base layers of course, I take 3 of them and the - err - smalls, they are small so you can take more of them right? 

The weather however is frankly horrid with torrential rain and a storm warning. I am absolutely delighted that Ren is willing to hold off for a day. We can stay safe in my house while the storm rages outside, snug behind solid bricks and mortar.  The storm is not predicted until later so we spend a pleasant day visiting Chas at the Aprilia dealership In Liverpool. City riding is not my idea of fun but I wanted to go see Chas and I am very glad I did. He looked great and very relaxed in his new job. Always good to see the people you like looking happy. 

Just bimbling around on the bikes and talking to friends may not have been the original planned start to our holiday but it was a good start nonetheless. The older we get the more relaxed and flexible we seem to be getting with our plans. Ren is definitely chilling out as he gets older and I for one find this to be a real advantage. Age has many minus points but it also has it positives. You get to gain the knowledge that you do not have to always rage against the storm, sometimes it is prudent and wise to seek shelter. As many a wise man and woman has said before , we should always choose our battles wisely.  

If you'd like to advertise on Bikes And Travels drop ren a line. ren@bikesandtravels.com

Not Even Wales! With a storm set to cause havoc across the UK is this day the best day to set out on a camping holiday? Maybe not.
Into Tywyn Finally Sharon and Ren get themselves out of the house and onto the road. They've set out, but have they got everything?
Exploring Around Tywyn Mid Wales provides an engaging, gorgeous and sometimes challenging landscape to explore. With all the sea, hills, mountains, valleys and single track lanes that go nowhere, our explorers are exploring.
Bracing Winds And Wobbly Hobbits Between the rain and the beauty Sharon's riding is creating mixed emotions for her and Ren is getting giddy over a TV programme.
Exploring St Davids - On Foot It is time to leave the bikes for just one day and set out on foot to explore the tiny city of St Davids. The city is small and pleasant, the cathedral is just sheer delight.
Exploring Around St Davids In the land of a thousand coves Sharon and Ren are looking into a handful of them. There's a chance Ren's 500 might not be getting out of one of them though.
Is Tenby Really Utopia? Tenby has been much lauded to both Sharon and Ren but now it's time to see if the reality will live up to the hype. Will Tenby be amazing or an amazing flop?
Exploring Around Tenby Between the endless cute coves, splendid coastal resorts and curiosities there's time for some field repairs. The big worry now is the forthcoming weather.
Spoiled Rotten In Gower Sharon is for once actually preying for rain and Ren is wondering if Sharon is going to kill him. What on earth is going on?
Exploring The Gower Peninsula Considering the day was supposed to be a washout Sharon and Ren get to look around the Gower Peninsula in good conditions. There's only one problem with Sharon's perfect beach - the walk back.
New Friends And Llandovery While the weather is very much against them Sharon and Ren enjoy the day with new friends and a lot of hot tea. They're heading a little North in South Wales.
Exploring The Brecon Beacons After yesterday's deluge will the soggy campers get chance to dry out and actually see The Brecon Beacons? Sharon is bleating out some awful sheep puns too.
Epilogue - South Wales 2017 Once again another trip comes to an end and it is time to return to the reality of everyday life. Neither Sharon or Ren are ready for it to be over.

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