The outside of a motorbike engine seen up close near the exhaust

Home Travel StoriesFriends And Family 2017

Crawling To Sleaford

By Ren Withnell

Wednesday. How odd. Work, timing, logistics, that's why we're departing on a Wednesday morning. Sunshine. How odd. Travelling with the rain queen while not wearing waterproofs and not looking through a rain soaked visor is quite surreal, in a most agreeable way. 

Our two motorcycles against a backdrop of lush green trees bathed in sunlight
Look how happy Sharon is in the sunlight. I'll have to put a stop to that.

You join us as we travel towards Macclesfield and The Cat and Fiddle pass. Today we're aiming for a small village called Folkingham around 10 miles south of Sleaford, Lincolnshire. I, we are physically capable of reaching Norwich in one hop but being a saddle sore softie I have decided we'll split the journey up. This way we can squeeze a little extra out of the trip. Well, that's my excuse anyhow.

Why oh why oh why oh why? The Cat and Fiddle pass's most excellent collection of curves and bends are bathed in sun, the tarmac is dry and sticky and my Honda feels fabulous. So of course we are stuck behind a crawling, dragging line of cars and vans and trucks none of which can overtake the Nissan Micra ahead. Little did I know this would become a recurring theme.

Bakewell is busy Darley Dale is congested and Matlock is full. By the time we reach Matlock Bath I'm already weary so we stop in search of refreshment. The lady in the chip shop come cafe serves us with hot tea at an almost affordable price. Other than that she's disinterested, her mobile phone has her attention. I hope this day brings better riding.


You can tell when you're in Lincolnshire. With no motorways and few dual carriageways the major roads carry all the traffic along just 2 lanes. Audi executives wear smart suits with the god given right to tailgate and speed. Aged couples saunter their way to town for the week's shopping. Leather-clad bikers search for a race track. Overladen tractors and trailers take potatoes to the farm. 

The roads curve gently, tantalisingly suggesting an overtake may soon be possible but rarely is there a long straight. I wince as I witness overtakes that poke a stick in the eye of lady luck, I decide that 40mph in a 60 zone is actually quite fast enough. It feels safer behind the cars and lorries, suicidal overtakers coming in the opposite direction should hit them before they hit myself. Hopefully.

Finally, blissfully Sleaford comes into view. With rumbling tummies we park in town and ponder life's big question - to pay or not to pay? Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the wrath of opening one's wallet or face the horror of the parking attendant. We settle on one ticket for both bikes, Sharon takes a picture just in case the ticket is stolen.

The parking ticket on Sharon's tank in Sleaford Sainsburys
Evidence m'lud.
A street with shops and houses in the sun, Sleaford
Sleaford's not a bad little spot really.

Google directs us to a chippy. "Sunny's Plaice" might not gain a Michelin star but the food is good, tonight it's more than good enough for us.

Back at the car park we shop in Sainsburys where a delightful chap informs us there's motorcycle parking and we needn't have paid. Blast. He also suggests that Folkingham is pronounced...erm...beep!ingham, I'm sure you can work this out. I'm unsure if he's teasing us and elect not to try using that term with the locals.

Fu...Folkingham is pretty, Low Farm Touring Park is delightful. We make camp and settle in only to discover a disaster - no milk! I'm afraid, I'm very afraid. It's been several hours since my last brew and already there's too much blood in my teastream. I drag Sharon away from the flowers and trees around the campsite and into the village desperately searching for a little shop.

Sharon smiles wearing her sunglasses with a stone farmhouse behind her at the campsite
She still looks happy - dammit.

Ah sweet mercy - a little shop with a cheery chap behind the counter. With milk in hand and joy in my heart we take a stroll around Folkingham. Why do we see the old houses as quaint, quirky and pretty and the new ones as bland or boring? I wonder if in the 18th century the cottages and manors we admire today were seen as a blot on the landscape back then? Still, we ignore the new and focus on the old. 

To bed, with tea in my teastream and the sun setting. Not a bad day really.

Prologue - Friends And Family 2017 Ren is setting the scene for the trip to that there "daaaan saaaaf" place. He's also wondering what kind of person would ask 2 itinerant motorcyclists over for a couple of nights.
Crawling To Sleaford Ren finds it odd to be riding in sunshine on a Wednesday with Sharon. Frustratingly though the traffic puts paid to any plans of motorcycling pleasure.
Dawdling To David's It's a lazy ride through Lincolnshire and Norfolk today despite the antics of other road users. Cromer turns out to be quintessentially English.
Time With David There's no motorcycling today but fear not there's a guided tour in a classic car instead. They say variety is the spice of life.
Time With Dad The miles fly by as does the chill out time at Ren's father's place.
The Cotswolds As Sharon and Ren return home they stop in The Cotswolds. It's as pretty as the promotional pictures so what's Ren got to gripe about this time?

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-
Your description of creeping along in what seems like permanent traffic jams is just so familiar and yet another reason I often return from rides hot, irritated and frustrated. I will refrain from mentioning another country from which we are soon to be sundered but there you can ride for miles without encountering another vehicle.......

Here in the Midlands (as you will have (re-)discovered on your recent trip) it's very rare to see a clear road in front. While overtaking can be exhilarating, having to do so constantly can become quite wearing.

Sorry we couldn't meet up last week - life intervened.......
22/07/2017 09:58:22 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
No worries Ian, it was just a random off-chance thing.

We live in a relatively small country with a relatively high population. It's strange to consider that Australia has quite a bit less than half the GB population and is 31 times larger than GB. The place must be empty. That said here in GB it's only the other people that are trying to kill you, in Oz everything is trying to kill you. I imagine you'd wish there was a lot a traffic when you're broken down in the outback and you're 235 miles from water and something's just bitten you.
22/07/2017 01:03:27 UTC

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