Looking across to the snow capped alpine mountains seen from the back seat of a motorcycle

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Off To The New Forest

Ride Date 11 May 2022

By Ren Withnell

Hmmmm. This here forecast ain't quite what we would hope for. Presently as we breakfast it is dry, almost nice you could say and yet the BBC reports it may be better suited for jetskis rather than motorcycles. I suppose then it's a good thing our next campsite is only 40 miles away ain't it.

It's a funny thing is luck. There are many times when I feel unlucky, when it feels like it's always me that gets stuck at the lights or endures wet and windy holidays or loses out on a motorcycle deal and so on and so on. It's all to easy to forget that time (that one time) when I managed to get the tent down and the bike loaded before the rain came. Today is that day. Just as our respective asses are placed upon our respective seats, the first drops of rain start to fall. 

This feels right. Our 2 days and 3 nights near Salisbury was the correct amount of time. The campsite has been great and this area is lovely, still I'm ready to move on and see what else there is to see. I'm ready to see the sea and to find out what this 'ere New Foresty place is all about.

My sat-nav is mounted to the bars and ensconced in a clear plastic sandwich bag to keep the rain off. It is programmed Fordingbridge. Why? Primarily because it's en-route but also because a certain someone has pointed us to a pub there that looks lovely. Madam Google leads us through Coombe Bisset and various other sumptuous clusters of very expensive houses. I rub my fingers and thumb in a "serious money" fashion, I can see Sharon nodding behind me.

It keeps on getting better (and worse) as we approach Fordingbridge. For example Rockbourne. Timber framed houses, gravel driveways, thatched rooves and exuberant hanging baskets are delightful and pretty yet scream affluence by the bucketful. It is perfect piece of quintessential tranquil Englishness wrapped up in trees and fields and... rain. The rain is thick and heavy now, so much so actually seeing anything is becoming an issue. We are keeping our pace way down low.

By the time we reach the outskirts of Fordingbridge we've only covered 20 miles and yet we are drenched and worn out. This rain is perfect for blocking vision through a visor and/or glasses - not too heavy to wash away the droplets, not too light to make little difference, just right to ensure minimum visibility. It is with great relief we park near to Fordingbridge library. It is also a relief to find our waterproofs are waterproof.

We walk into the small town. I suspect if the sun were out it would be most lovely, even in the rain I will still credit it as being quite pleasant. There are many small shops and the usual small food chains, pubs aplenty and nail bars and barbers mixed in with houses. 

We find the pub in question - The George - and it's shut. However a cursory look at the menu in the little cabinet turns my frustration into joy, it seems the food prices match the house prices. We trudge in search of sustenance and step into The Dolls House tea rooms. Damn. The room is tiny, cramped and frankly odd. Trinkets abound on every horizontal surface, it's dark and my immediate feeling is that of a Brothers Grimm fairytale. I back out as quickly as I walked in. Sharon agrees, odd.

Ren pulling a silly face outside the pub in Fordingbridge
Found it! The George, mercifully shut.

Belinda's Bakery is at the other end of the spectrum. It is primarily a hot sausage rolls and pie takeaway type bakery but beyond the glass counter there's a few tables. It is a simple affair with white tiles and plastic tablecloths, laminated menus and brown sauce in squeezy bottles. I check the menu and decide this is the place for me. Sausage roll, chips and beans for me, healthy baked spud with chilli for Sharon. When it's wet-n-wild outside this is good solid simple food with hot tea, exactly what we both needed.

The rain is easing just a little as we head out of Fordingbridge, however progress is kept to a sensible pace. As predicted The New Forest is not all trees, rather a mix of thick dense woodland and open hardy moorland. The internet has also warned us of freely roaming critters, in particular horses and sheep. Sure enough, there are indeed freely roaming critters and with these and the weather I'm more than happy to keep to the mainly 40mph limit, often below it. 

Lytton Lawn Touring Park comes into view between the droplets on my glasses, complete with shop come reception. The lady within is efficient and friendly which is most welcome. As the rain eases a little more I get the tent up, admittedly the pitch we've been allocated has grass that is more than worn out and getting the pegs into the compressed soil is irksome. Ahh well, at least we're not 2 miles from the toilet block. Compared to the previous site Lytton Lawn is far more commercial and business-like but fear not, our welcome was warm, the facilities are up to scratch and the shop will be handy.

As we unpack Sharon is frustrated to find one of her Kreiga bags has leaked. Luckily it's a tiny leak so only a few items within are damp rather than soaked and there's nothing important that won't dry just fine. Contrary to common experience the rain is set to stop at 1800 and, give or take a few minutes, it does. With the coming of the evening sun we spread our wet bike gear and the moist items from Sharon's bag in the hope of returning all to a state of dryness.

By the tent is a low wooden fence covered in clothes and motorcycle kit drying out
With a little luck this will be dry... before we get home.

It's been a fair old day so far but at least it's ending well. With the weather on our side we take a walk into the seaside town of Milford on Sea. The road in takes us past some very grand houses before we enter the town which contains more down to earth residences. Milford is another small town, not quite picturesque though I'd say pretty, pleasant and peaceful on this Wednesday evening.

a village green with a few shops and houses around the edges with clear skies
Milford on Sea is a calm place on Wednesday evenings it seems.

The coastal wall is stout concrete with hard lines. While not handsome it is purposeful without being ugly and during a storm probably very welcome. Beyond this we find a shingle beach and The White Cliffs of Dover - sorry - The Isle Of Wight. After today's rain this evening's sunset is joyous. The air is cool while remaining comfortable and the weather looks fair for a while longer.

Across the water we see grass topped white cliffs and a few outcrops of white rocks
Not Dover but The Isle Of Wight. 
Ren stands against a railing on the sea defences looking over a shingle beach and out to sea
I can see the sea from here! 

It's almost dark by the time we get back to the tent. The only thing left to do is make a brewski and settle in for the night. I suspect it's the rain but so far the New Forest has proven charming as opposed to impressive. Maybe tomorrow's exploration will bring new opinions and experiences. 


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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

Ian Soady¹ said :-
You're a bit close to that caravan Ren - hoping for a cuppa?

Although I avoid rding in the rain these days when possible I found that Pledge or mr Sheen furniture polish on the outside of the visor made a huge difference and made the rain bead up and fly off just by turning my head to one side. I also use an anti-mist liquid made by Rain-X on the inside (don't let the polish touch the inner surface) whch helps a lot. all far better than the old days of Mark 8 goggles filling with water and the elastic strectching so they slid down my face.

Oh by the way you're near Sammy Miller's museum which is worth a visit although I realise you're back home now. You'll have to get up to date and blog in real time......
25/06/2022 14:56:30 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Yes we were close to that caravan - but hopefully the image will explain why. I was eeking out grass rather than gravel as the dry hard earth come gravel can damage the tent floor somewhat.

I have tried Bob Heath's little bottles of visor treatment, I've had some sort of waxy stick that you rub on and polish in, I've even applied RainX before now (for visors not car windscreens). They all work - for a short while. That's great if you carry it with you at all times and have the patience and wherewithal to apply it at each brewstop and overnight stay. I haven't either the patience or wherewithal.

A dab of soap or washing up liquid with water helps against misting for a half hour commute but not much more. Visor inserts (Pinlock) are GREAT! Until they fail which they do relentlessly usually when you're 300 miles from home. When they fail they are worse then no insert.

I now avoid "ratchet" visors if I can because of the limited options for partial opening - much preferring a simple friction mechanism. Crack the visor a little, more depending on the level of misting. Accept you will never see as well in the rain as the dry, slow down and look harder.
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25/06/2022 18:19:01 UTC
Ross said :-
Nice write-up again Ren, thanks. The white cliffs obviously can't be Dover...there's no migrant's in little dinghy's!!

Interesting your comment on Pinlock's failing, in what way do they 'fail'? I've only had to replace a couple because they get scratched, and they do scratch REALLY easily, or the odd plastic pin has broken...otherwise I think they are a brilliant bit of kit, wish they'd been available in my youth when I was ridding all year round!
25/06/2022 19:39:08 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
My experience with the Pinlock system always ended up with the seal giving up. It is my understanding they work on a combination of "double glazing" and some magical anti mist property of the plastic (not sure if this is true or internet here say). As such the seal and how tight the pinlocks press the insert onto the visor is important. If this seal fails, even microscopically, rain gets between the insert and the visor. You end up with your own private swimming pool to peer through.

What I suppose most folks forget is the sheer amount of abuse I dish out on my kit. My helmet will typically get on and off my head at least twice a day, often more. It gets carried around shops and cafes, into and out of work and the like. It gets frozen solid and manically heated by the elements including rapid temperature changes going from cold outside to warm inside (at work, not at home you understand). All the movement and expanding/contracting takes it's toll. Throw in sun and ice and things can't cope.

The ultimate solution would be a miniature windscreen wiper and a heated visor. This is probably technically possible these days but then you'd have to run a wire from your lid to the bike for power. And your alternator would need more power for this AND the sat nav AND the heated clothing AND the phone charger AND the heated gloves AND the heated grips AND the heated seat AND the pillion entertainment system AND the driver alertness monitoring system AND the speed limiting system AND the crash prevention system AND the cruise control AND the ABS AND the traction control. I'm sure there's something else I've forgotten.
25/06/2022 20:24:51 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
Yes, I've had that happen with pinlock inserts too. Most annoying because they aren't cheap either. I'm currently trying one of these, and so far seems a reasonable solution. Not perfect because you do get a bit of misting still 1st thing, but soon clears and seems OK after that.
https://respro.com/store/product/foggy-mask...
25/06/2022 20:58:33 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I've seen them CrazyFrog but I've yet to try one. The ultimate solution is to not breath. This takes a little practice but after a while I only pass out after a couple of minutes rather than seconds.

I also find the shape and fit of the helmet makes a difference. Look at motocrtoss helmets - the chin bar sticks out quite a way. This aids with breathing while bouncing around a track at high speads. As such Adventure style helmets share a similarly long chin bar which helps with keeping the misting down (helps, not eliminates). If your chin bar is within say a half inch of your face your breath doesn't clear so easily.
27/06/2022 08:51:11 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Of course those of us who refuse to use full face helmets don't suffer this sort of problem.
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27/06/2022 14:14:17 UTC
ROD¹ said :-
Lovely looking Brough Superior Ian, how did you get to ride such a great bike?
27/06/2022 18:06:17 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
I wear an open face helmet in the summer Ian, but far too much of a wimp to wear one in the winter! Brrrrrrr
27/06/2022 18:08:06 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
You need a proper beard CrazyFrog. Because much of my face has yet to reach manhood I too have to wear a full face or fear the freeze.

ROD - I seem to recall Mr Soady Esq has some connection to some museum or something and gets to play with some wonderful machines on occasion. While my tastes are more modern than Ian's that Brough has a certain beauty to it don't it.
28/06/2022 08:54:39 UTC
Ross said :-
Yeah, your kit has to work a LOT harder than what I use, Ren...I did have a problem with water getting on the inside of a Pinlock visor on my old Caberg helmet, I've found the best bet is to try to keep the visor shut ALL the time if it's raining!

Looking the part Mr Soady...I think I'd be too scared to ride something with a hand gearchange, especially that valuable!
28/06/2022 09:01:34 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Yes, as a "friend" of the National Motorcycle museum I get to ride things like the Brough even if only around the museum grounds for a few quid. Brilliant day out.
28/06/2022 12:50:13 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
A|t the risk of totally sidetracking, here are a few of the bikes on offer. First: a pre-first world war New Comet. Single speed, no clutch, virtually no brakes. Something of a challenge:
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01/07/2022 12:21:41 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Velo Venom. I had one for a couple of years and it was a pleasure to try one again - it looks tiny doesn't it:
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01/07/2022 12:23:32 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
And another very pleasant bike - BSA Star Twin. I had its bigger brother the Golden Flash A10 again for a couple of years. Again either the bikes have shrunk or I've grown.
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01/07/2022 12:25:45 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
And finally.... a 1920s BSA Sloper.

Other bikes I rode on the day were a Vincent Rapide - not really suited to the rather cramped riding area, a Sunbeam Model 90 which was quite similar to the Model 10 I had at the time, Triumph Grand Prix, and a 1990s Norton F1 which was far too fast and inflexible for the environment but sounded wonderful.

The day was £10 well spent.

All photos by Gary Chapman from the Classic Motorcycle magazine.
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01/07/2022 12:30:28 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
The problem with the bikes Ian is not that they are too small for you, you are too big for them. These are the advantages for myself who is "normally proportioned".
01/07/2022 13:49:22 UTC
nab301 said :-
Ren , my understanding of the pinlock system is that the pinlock visor actually absorbs moisture which is probably why they're not recommended for use at night. That said they were a revelation for me when they were first released but more recently I've found they don't seem to work as well, but the attached link suggests there are various grades available which I've never been made aware of .
Heated visors were available decades ago afaik (BMW branded Schuberth helmets) and worked well but for some reason they disappeared. I'm sure you could botch up some 12v heated mirror pads using the heating elements and create something!
@ Ian Soady , lovely selection of bikes you got to ride and I know what you mean about bikes appearing to get smaller, Triumph Trident t160 triple and the above mentioned Velocette spring to mind.
I had a fascinating read recently of the BSA Maudes trophy victory on the Star Twin , they don't make bikes or riders like they used to!
Nigel
https://www.classicmotorcycle.co.uk/book-review-where-bsas-dare-bsas-1952-isdt-golds-and-maudes-trophy/

https://pinlock.com/insert-lens-optimisation/...
03/07/2022 21:01:28 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
"Pinlock problems"?
Can't really say anything negative about them. We've had them on our last three or four helmets, Arai and now Shoei, they do what they should.....keep the visor clear in dire weather.
Ours had a real test over the last three weeks or so, where we rode in some of the wettest weather ever encountered on tours, but the pinlocks stayed clear.
Upt'North.
04/07/2022 09:13:25 UTC
Ross said :-
nab301 thanks for the info' and link on pinlock's...I learnt something new! I had thought a pinlock visor was 'just' a pinlock visor! Having said that, it looks like they only do one type for my current helmet (HJC IS-max 2).
06/07/2022 14:22:44 UTC
Glyn said :-
I don't often feel the need to question the wisdom of the Ed or, indeed his views or opinions. However, during his recent trip to the New Forest he posted a picture of himself outside of the George at Fordingbridge (the picture can be seen 11 shots above in this thread). This is quite a nice spot and I didn't feel the chosen picture quite reflected that to be so. This, in the town that lies just 3 miles to the East of my home. Consequently, I offer the same subject from a different angle, taken today for advertisement purposes only. To be fair, it was raining when Ren visited, but it hasn't since.
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23/07/2022 17:52:14 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
I think we can always count on Ren to find the least photogenic spot. Of course it makes him look better in comparison..........

That canoeist looks about ready for an early bath Glyn.
24/07/2022 11:25:07 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Are you suggesting Glyn that wherever I go the rain follows? I'm afraid it may be true :( To counter your argument here's an image that Sharon also took on the same day at the same place. Just goes to show it's all about the angles and context.

I think we'll be looking back to where you took your image from.
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26/07/2022 12:18:49 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
If you're wondering where the rain is this year Ed, it's always in a small cloud over my helmet.
Every f'in time.
Every, every f'in time.
Do I care, do I worry........yes actually.
Upt'North.
27/07/2022 10:55:46 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Aaaaahhh Upt' thou hast curs-ed thyself by naming Sharon "Madam Moisture" and then renaming her to "Madam Du Soleil". I now shall refer to you as "Monsieur Moisture".

If, like me, you play Solitaire a few times a day you begin to grasp of the notion of "luck". There are times when I seem to complete a deck every 2 or 3 decks. When this happens I start to believe "I've got it! I'm a solitaire GENIUS!!". This may continue for a few weeks. Then, my luck turns. It seems I am incapable of completing a deck. Deck after deck, game after game comes and goes with nary a sniff then I'm foiled miserably at the last few cards. This too may continue for a few weeks. I start to believe I'm a failure and a useless fool.

Our innate nature is to look for patterns. This once helped us to predict "when the days grow shorter and cooler it's time to hunt for buffalo" or "when we see this plant there's a good chance that poisonous spider is nearby". When it comes to truly random events we still see patterns where there are none. Just because the last 10 coin tosses were heads it still means the next coin toss is 50-50 heads or tales.

Your "Monsieur Moisture" sensation will pass, maybe. Or... indeed it might be that you are truly cursed.
27/07/2022 16:44:08 UTC

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