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Prologue - It's Not Up North

Leading up to 6 May 2022

By Ren Withnell

We're booked to go on a rally. This gathering is in Akeley Buckinghamshire, not far from Bletchley Park where a lot of very smart people deciphered Nazi Enigma messages and developed some of the very first electronic computers. I, we, could just book the Friday off and take the weekend away but we are both ready for a break. As such we both book the Friday and the whole following week off. With weekends this gives us 10 days away - YAY!

"So, where'd you wanna go after the rally sweetie?"
"Ummmm... errrr... Where's the New Forest?"

That'll be daaan saaaf that there New Forest. Find Southampton on a map and find the green bit to the left, that's the New Forest. From the rally to the New Forest is about 110 miles which seems like a perfectly sensible distance. Actually that works out well, the rally breaks the journey in two which suits our not-too-many-miles ethos. Good idea Sharon, well done you.

Map of New Forest and the surrounding areas
You can't miss it... I might prove myself wrong.

Both Sharon and admittedly myself have a mental image of the New Forest being a vast swathe of deep, ancient and dense woodland extending for miles. There may be the odd quaint country village hither and thither, otherwise we will see nothing but trees and deer and yokels hunting with bows and arrows and wearing Lincoln green hoods. I think Hollywood's notion of Sherwood Forest has a lot to answer for here. 

A stout tree enveloped in thick undergrowth and a vibrant green canopy
We presume the whole area looks like this, doesn't it?

Fortunately we have access to technology. A cursory satellite view of the New Forest informs me that my preconceived ideas are foolish. Yes, there's a lot of trees but also a lot of farmland and scrubland. There are villages but also towns too. After correcting myself I ensure Sharon isn't operating under any ridiculous delusions too. I think she's somewhat disappointed yet still enthusiastic to explore.

Later while perusing a map Sharon realises that Stonehenge and Salisbury are sort of, kind of, well at least close to the New Forest. I consult the maps and concur. The plan grows to - rally, Salisbury and then New Forest. These 10 days are rapidly filling up aren't they.

I'd best get organised. The last time the tent was on the bike was October last year, that's 6 months ago. Really? That long? Well, yeah, sadly. We've enjoyed a few weekends away in various hotels and cabins but it's been HALF A YEAR since we were in a tent. Amateurs, lightweights, hobby campers that's what we are. I'm disappointed in myself.

A large wooden and steel chalet with sliding doors and a view over the sea
I've been sleeping in style when travelling these last few months.

The tent at least appears to be OK. I can gather together the obvious items easily enough like the sleeping bag and the stove. I'm struggling to find the lesser kit though, the small stuff like the containers for teabags, my travel towel and the like. It takes a while but I think I've got everything. I think. I wish I was sure. I know Sharon's struggling too, having completely forgotten how to pack. 

You may recall my tyre troubles recently. Guess what. The rear tyre is right in that maybe/maybe not enough tread situation. Of course it is. It wouldn't be me would it if it were not. Stuff it, throw caution and money to the wind. I have a brand new tyre in the loft ready to go so it and the wheel are taken to the local guy who swaps my tyre. The rear is now brand new, the front only has around 300 miles on it. I can't do any more than that can I?

Well I can actually. The front, since being fitted with a new tyre daaaan saaaaaf, seems to have the subtlest of vibrations. I figure it's not been balanced to my exacting standards. Front wheel off, 50 grams of weights removed, onto the balancer and replace 35 grams. 15 grams ain't a lot but that subtle shimmy has gone. 

Now... can I remember how to ride the motorcycle when it's fully loaded?

We need your own tales - click here.

Prologue - It's Not Up North Happenstance and circumstance is the driving force behind this trip's direction. Ren explains it all.
Down To Akeley It's the first day of the southern adventure and already Ren is reclining in sumptuous luxury. So, err... what's changed?
A Look Around F1 Country Ren offers an all too lengthy explanation of his uncouth approach to museums before taking in some quintessentially English countryside.
Stones and More Comfort It's time to depart the rally and head even further daaan saaaf. There's plenty of time for tea and to explore some ancient standing stones. What will the next 3 nights' accommodation be like?
Stonehenge On The Cheap, Salisbury On The Hoof It's time to take in Britain's most famous monolithic structure - Stonehenge. Salisbury is also going to endure a good dose of looking at as well.
A Walk In Dinton There's a simple and lazy day ahead of The Dynamic Muppets today with not much planned. This eventually leads Ren to his new career as a Surrealist Artist Extraordinaire. Soon he will be famous and rich?
Off To The New Forest It's time to move on once again and head even further daaan saaaf. The New Forest might be quite lovely but given the foul weather Sharon and Ren won't be finding out today - in fact they are struggling to see the road ahead.
Exploring The New Forest With better weather and a tank full of fuel it's time to look around the New Forest. There's a risk of trees and horses and tractors.
Half Way Home Oh no! Disaster! The weather is just right, the trip goes well and even the accommodation is lovely. Surely there must be something Ren can find to moan about? It's all going terribly wrong.
Homeward Bound And Thoughts There's not much to report on the final leg of the journey - in a good way. Ren shares his thoughts on this adventure in that there daaan saaaf.

Reader's Comments

CrazyFrog said :-
I can recommend a trip to Winchester for a day whilst you're in the area. Romsey is also a nice little place nearby.
16/05/2022 18:30:08 UTC
Ricky said :-
When you visit the new forest you must visit sammy Miller's motorcycle museum, best full breakfast around.Its really interesting and has some animals as well. Enjoy the forest as it's a great place to live.
16/05/2022 20:20:45 UTC
Snod said :-
Ah you was thinking of Old Forest, this is New Forest. Different kettle of wotsit innit.
16/05/2022 21:10:54 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I suppose it's confusing but I write these reports "retrospectively"! I'm already back home and the deed is done. Thanks for the tips though good folks.

Snod - Aaaaaaaaaahhhhh... I see. It all makes sense now.
17/05/2022 09:43:19 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
The term "forest" was originally used to describe an area of land set aside for the great(?) and the good(??) to enjoy themselves - the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable. Such areas were not necessarily actually covered with woodland but would be a mixture of woods, scrub and open areas - like much of the New Forest is now. The term only became used for solely wooded areas more recently (than 1066 anyway).
17/05/2022 11:05:29 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Ian you are a fountain of knowledge. Essentially the word forest was the Lord's land of any description to go hunting, presumably complete with gamekeepers trying to keep the poachers and peasants out.
17/05/2022 12:45:32 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Ren the Ed and his able assistant/boss Sharon; I read Upt'North but obviously no, it was up north. I thought I was going to find you camped in the back field demanding tea and dunkers..
You be careful dowwwwwwn soufffffff.
They're a strange lot down there, too much money and not enough clothes. You can't trust folk who don't wear bob hats in July and indeed call bob hats beenies? Or is it Beanies?
I look forward to your future musings about your adventure and having visited the New Forest some years ago I can confirm it ain't all wood.
17/05/2022 12:48:13 UTC
Glyn said :-
As you're home and the event has passed, not a lot of point in me inviting you to join us for a cuppa down here on the Southern outpost.
18/05/2022 07:55:40 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
You've missed your change to meet "The Infamous Ren" Glyn, most people would consider this to be a fortuitous escape. If we had arrived I reckon by now you'd just be getting the oil stains out of the settee that I tend to leave everywhere I go. Your good lady still wouldn't be talking to you though.
18/05/2022 09:08:50 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Having experienced a Ren visit I concur. I had to move house to avoid the possibility of a repeat.
18/05/2022 10:14:03 UTC

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