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

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A Look Around F1 Country

Ride Date 7 May 2022

By Ren Withnell

Brrrrr! Last night was chilly cold. Sharon's zonked out in her sleeping bag while I'm already up and about. Don't tell Sharon but having a chair and sitting in the "porch" of the tent sipping tea and relaxing makes it a lot easier for me to leave her to sleep. Our host is laying on breakfast and the notion of a sausage butty with lashings of brown sauce stirs sleeping beauty from her slumber.

I am experiencing a technical problem with my right leg. Let me explain. About 2 weeks ago I was fixing the hinges on Sharon's patio doors. I was stood upon a small 3-rung step ladder, only about half a metre (18 inches) high. I had a slight balance issue which lead to the ladders flipping out from under me, thus leading to rapid contact betwixt myself and the floor. AKA - I fell off some small ladders.

Admittedly Sharon was elsewhere in the garden and had already warned me about my wobbly ladder positioning. Never the less I have been sure to inform everyone who will listen that Sharon actually pushed me off the ladders. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. 

Not only did my body fall to the ground, my right shin caught the ladder en-route. As such I was left with a graze on my right shin. This was in total over a foot long, fortunately only about 5 inches of this graze was deep. Real deep. "You should go to hospital" deep. Knowing the current situation with healthcare at present I decided I'd be a "real man" (*idiot*) and let it heal au-naturel. 

I am now regretting this incident and possibly my choice of self repair. The wound has a large scab which refuses to remain sealed and healthy due to it being right under my knee pad. This causes rubbing and sweating which loosens the scab leading to weeping and slow recovery. Our morning routine is now covering the scab with tissue and tape to limit the ill effects of the pad. No, I won't ride without knee pads.

Ren show us his leg complete with a taped on dressing to keep his wound clean
What a brave hero!

Most of the attendees are off to Bletchley Park. We are not. Why? I'm a computer nerd, surely it would be of interest? I know the story and some of the maths, it'll be fascinating! This is YOUR history Ren, there to be perused. Errr, no. I honestly believe and support the merits of Bletchley's museum, we need to know that countless people (most of them women) worked incredibly hard to decipher the Nazi war machine's codes. These people deserve to be remembered alongside the soldiers and nurses and workers etc etc. 

Personally though I find museums "cold". Here's a box containing an enigma machine, there is a bunch of wires in a rack and so on and so on. I find I learn a lot more from a good documentary or a YouTube video. There I can see how the wheels of the enigma machine turn, I can learn that Alan Turing was a genius among many other geniuses, I can get a feel for how ridiculously complex the maths was. 

It's the same for motorcycle museums. Here's a 1934 Wurstlethrop Sidevalve 350 behind a cordon and a plaque telling me a very brief history. Great, again I support the preservation of such things for posterity. Personally though I'd rather see it being ridden and listen to the commentary of an enthusiastic rider's interactions and experience with the machine. I'd like a half-hour video explaining the history and/or the technology and/or the successes and failures.

So after the hearty cooked breakfast provided by our hosts everyone heads out. Most head off to Bletchley, Sharon hops onto the back of my bike and we're off to simply look around.

A very large and grand building seen from behind gates, Stowe school
A small abode in this area, Stowe. Don't fancy cutting that grass at the weekend.
Sharon poses and pretends she's showing us the impressive archway to Stowe
Her Ladyship welcomes you to her country manor. Please wipe your feet.

First stop, Silverstone, home of The British GP and I'm a big Formula 1 fan. I'm not a sufficiently big enough fan to shell out £25 to go into the visitor centre though - see above regarding my attitude to such things. I ride round where I'm allowed then onto the smart, crisp industrial estate opposite. This is filled with a plethora of mostly motorsport and engineering businesses as is to be expected. We're not here for long, I've achieved that which I hoped which is to just see and get a feel for the place.

Around the back of the circuit we only see fences and the underside of the grandstands
Yeah, Silverstone has a very ordinary derriere. I've been and I've seen.

I consider riding to McLaren's factory until I realise that's in Woking, about 80 miles away. However Mercedes F1 is in Brackley, 9 miles away, that's more like it. We ride the dual carriageway swiftly and find Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1. Mercedes' workshops are smart and clean... and bland and unimpressive. A handful of nicely painted grey industrial units, a smart chap in a security booth and a few swish Mercedes logos here and there. It's fine, it's me that's the problem, I expected more. I really must learn to manage my expectations. Come on sweetie, let's take a look at Brackley.

Smart but unremarkable grey modern industrial units form the Merc F1 factory
Mercedes' F1 factory looks like... a factory.

Expectations again. I'm expecting a dull drab grey 1970s concrete mess, instead I find a pleasant place with buildings from all ages and an old market town feel. I'm reminded of Llandovery or Settle or Midhurst, small enough to walk around, large enough to serve the needs of the surrounding countryside and villages. 

We park in the conveniently marked motorcycle parking bays, lock the helmets to the bike and take a walk. Old market hall converted to a cafe - check, ancient expensive "public" school - check, various alternative and hippy shops next to a Co-op - check, old chap on mobility scooter smiling and saying hello - check. It's all here, it's all very nice. We take a moment to look into the window of an estate agent, I could just about manage a ramshackle garage on my wages.

The CB500X parking in the motorcycle bay at Brackley with a few small shops behind
Convenient parking in Brackley.

We drop into a larger Tesco on the outskirts of town to grab some supplies and a lunch snack. We depart and I'm riding along hoping to find someplace nice to stop and eat when for no reason at all I follow a sign to Evenley. We are in a scene from Miss Marple and Midsomer Murders once more, complete with cricket on the village green and friendly locals politely enquiring about the motorcycle. This will do nicely.

Cricket on the village green, trees and old stone houses in a perfick scene

We share a sandwich, a drink and a packet of crisps as the cricket continues. The sound of leather against willow, the gentle breeze cools the warm sunshine, it's all so quintessentially English I'm expecting Pa Larkin to pop up saying "perfick!" Anyhow, enough of this nonsense, cricket is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Onwards!

We ride and explore, slowly along the country lanes taking in the farms and fields, cottages and cows, long driveways and luscious lawns. I'm calm and relaxed just pottering along with the engine strumming beneath us. We each point out various features, Sharon notes the sense of space and the big big skies. You all know we love the drama and awe of mountains yet today's broad vistas and genteel undulations seem right and proper for our mood.

Back at the campsite the evening progresses much as it did last night. Andy, as usual, just had to throw in a big ride after visiting Bletchley Park. He tells us where he's been but it means nothing to me, not knowing the area. There's chilli and rice for tea tonight and we socialise until the sun sets and the air turns cooler.

A group of people sitting outside a family sized tent just chatting and hanging out
Chilling and chatting as the day draws to a close.

My bed once again feels hard and uncomfortable yet the land of nod arrives easily due to the lack of sleep last night and all the charming countryside's fresh air. 

Share your own travel tales both ig or small - 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

Bill said :-
Glad you enjoyed your visit, Brackley was my home from 1987 to 2016 a big change from Merseyside it's expanded a lot but kept its market town centre although many shops have changed and Evenly never seems to change, quintessential village around the green.
30/05/2022 17:36:03 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
It's not easy being a normal height Ed. Try walking around an olde village pub with them ladders strapped to your feet. You might want to leave your helmet on!
I know what ya mean about blummin museums......but......you should, as I should, try to poke your head through the door. The Russian Convoy museum was fascinating and a great way to spend a couple of wet hours. But I'd have been happy to go straight past it.
I learned a lot in those two lovely hours, I still remember some of it.
Railway museums are great places but not so Viking museums with "life" smells.
And, you're wrong about cricket.
30/05/2022 18:47:06 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Ed, I know it shouldn't but did it feel strange going souff.
I can't say I've ever really thought about heading south on the bike in yonks, unless visiting rellies or passing over the stream to the "Continent".

30/05/2022 18:50:58 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Mersyside Bill? Which part of ScouseLand were you from? I dare say you've moved up in the world a tad but then the one thing your "new" part of the country sadly lacks is the sea.

Serves you right Upt' for being taller than is normal - AND - for looking down on us regular folks and hobbits. I'm torn regarding museums because the best way to support them is to visit them? If I weren't so prudent (tight) I could always contribute without actually going in? We will have to agree to disagree regarding cricket but I have seen faster games of chess played using the old style snail mail post.

It did indeed feel odd to be heading south for pleasure rather than need. However while the south is not as "...est" as Scotland or Wales them wealthy shandy drinkers seem to hoard more than their fair share of "nice". It's not breathtaking or stunning or amazing (or indeed awful or terrible) but there's a lot of lovely and pretty and pleasant and quaint. You'll have to see how we get on with the rest of the there daaaan saaaaf land in the next exciting episodes.
30/05/2022 19:23:33 UTC
Bogger said :-
I don't think I've ever been bored whilst visiting a museum, any museum. Not all parts of a museum are interesting, but bits certainly are. I think/know you're just tight and won't pay the entry fee.

Darn Sarf I usually find is both pleasant and warmer than where we is.

Oh and spend some money on a decent sleeping mat. Double Oh and I'm with U'pt, crickets ace.

It's seems that everywhere you went the gates were either closed, barred or shut. I take it they all must have known you were coming?

Please keep the write ups coming, I do actually enjoy them.

30/05/2022 21:13:46 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
I generally find cricket very boring. However, a number of years ago I was in France and got caught in the most torrential rain. I decided to call a halt mid afternoon and found a little hotel to allow me and the Commando to dry off. Idly flipping through the channels on an old radio in the room I chanced across the dulcet tones of John Arlott on long wave Radio 4. It was quite delightful laying back and letting myself drift into imagining sitting on a deckchair sipping a cup of earl grey while the rain lashed the windows.

Of course long wave is now to be axed so it couldn't happen now unless I used one of these new-fangled apps...
31/05/2022 12:53:19 UTC
Bill said :-
Ren, I am from Litherland originally as for the sea, in my youf the polluted River Mersey wasn't exactly a northern riveria :-)
I can't say I miss the sea but get a fix on visits to South Coast or Norfolk when needed.
31/05/2022 18:03:44 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Litherland? I had a customer in Litherland, I can say yes you have improved your lot in life Bill.
03/06/2022 19:03:58 UTC
nab301 said :-
I can't say I've ever been bored in a museum but I definitely never park my helmet on a road surface , who knows what's been there before and in my part of the world an errant dog would probably cock his leg proving for a very uncomfortable return journey...
05/06/2022 15:26:23 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I take your point nab301! It's a risk leaving your helmet anywhere and I know a chap who left his helmet connected to the underseat helmet strap lock thingy - only to find on returning someone had peed in it. Eeeewww.
05/06/2022 21:18:35 UTC

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