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

Home Travel StoriesThe Netherlands 2016

No News Is Good News

By Ren Withnell

Today should be an easy day, mind you yesterday should have been easy too so you never know. I am lying awake in the tent with light rain pattering against the material at 0630 and I'm considering our options. The ferry departs at 2300 this evening, we need to be in Harwich at 2130 at the latest, we are approximately 110 miles from the ferry port and to be honest I think I'll have to drag this journey out otherwise we're going to be in Harwich by lunchtime with 9 hours to kill. I like having plenty of leeway in case of problems but 9 hours is probably too much.

Sharon is loading her bike with all her gear at the anglian hotel campsiteLoad up and hit the road. Where does everything go again?

After a light breakfast in the cafe we depart. First stop Tesco Kings Lynn for supplies. Next I accidentally stumble upon Thetford Priory where we stop and relax in the pleasant surroundings while eating our triangle sandwiches. Quite unlike my usually frantic self we are so at ease we nod off briefly in the warm dry sun. Tesco at Bury St Edmonds is visited for a toilet break and a splash of petrol. We make a brief stop at Travelodge Capel St Mary in preparation of our return in 2 weeks. Like most Travelodges it is a plain building in mundane surroundings, we don't care as they're cheap (if you book early), warm and clean. It is barely 1600 and Harwich is only 30 miles away. 

Ren takes a selfie as sharon rests her head on his chest at thetford abbey ruins
Just chillin dude, which is most unlike me.

I'd like to tell you about awesome roads, majestic landscapes and mind blowing architecture. Nope, nothing to report. I'd like to inform you of a great personal epiphany I have while riding. Nope, nothing to report. This is transport, this is moving myself, my luggage and my motorcycle through the land. What I am glad to inform you of is that inside I am quite calm and in a good mood and that Sharon, while being a little too careful on the car parks, is keeping her bike shiny side up just fine.

A concrete channel runs through the Tesco car park, looking rather industrial and dullIt's not all stunning architecture, beautiful sunsets and remote locations this travel business. Most of it is like this.

Finding the port is simplicity itself, we practically fall into it as we follow the signs for Harwich. We kill an hour and a half in the nearby Brewer's Fayre pub by having a meal very slowly. We make our way to the port at 1900 thinking we'll be the first there yet even at this early hour the lines of cars are forming along with a healthy sprinkling of bikers. We join the queue and begin the process of waiting.

Sharon's face is screwed up with laughter at the queue for the ferrySharon is laughing AT me not WITH me. She does that when I'm naked and I don't know why.

Sharon is terrified of boarding the ferry. She's heard tales of how slippery the metal ramps can be and after yesterday's disaster she's hyper vigilant. I agree they rather concern myself too, they need to be treated with respect when they're wet. Oddly enough what sets her heart racing is the tight spiral ramp we must ride down to reach the boarding point, she's so pleased to be off this safely she barely notices she's just ridden onto the ferry. I strap the bikes down, the straps never feel tight or secure enough but then I don't want to break the side stands either by over-doing them. 

Our cabin is the cheapest we can get but at least we do have a cabin, Sharon insisted on that. While it is a little small with 2 single bunk beds it is clean with a shower and toilet. We are both showered and changed before the boat has even left port so I go topside and wave goodbye to Blighty. I wonder what's going to happen? I wonder what The Netherlands will be like? I wonder if I'll be able to find a motorcycle shop if either of us breaks something else. Oh god...what if my bike breaks down? STOP IT! Stop worrying. There are a million things that can go wrong so just take each moment as it comes. 

Harwich port in the fading light as seen from the shipBye Bye Blighty, we'll be back soon.

The cabin is comfortable and after being reassured by the customer service desk that some kind of message will surely awaken us in time to get off the ferry before it comes back to England I retire to bed. With the odd shake from the massive ferry engines and just the slightest hint of rolling on the oceans I soon fall asleep. 

I usually try to write more but there really is little to report. Do not assume this was a boring or bad day for us though. The riding was easy, the little rain we had was very light, we are both happy and healthy and we are both on this boat to The Hook Of Holland. No news is good news so today has been a successful day.

Prologue - The Netherlands 2016 Why are we going Dutch? What's that peculiar box on Ren's bike? Why are we taking our 125cc motorcycles? Is there even a plan? Find out more...
Disaster The first day of our trip is not the start we would hope for. Yet with some luck and the desire to improve his mindset Ren manages to keep a calm and positive outlook.
Crashing Out To The Netherlands This is Sharon's take on the first day of The Netherland's trip. Oh the best laid plans of mice and women.
No News Is Good News It's an ordinary day of ordinary travelling for our dynamic duo. Sometimes a lack of excitement can be a good thing doncha know.
Helter Skelter Sharon covers the second day of the trip to The Netherlands. She moves from discomfort and bruises through nervous and fear to luxury and comfort. All in one day!
Hades - I Mean Amsterdam Ah The Netherlands, fields of flowers, windmills, tranquil canals and leisurely cyclists. Or is this what the tourist office would have you believe?
Crying In The Rain And Laughing Gonkeys Sharon's first time motorcycling on foreign tarmac is a baptism of fire. What on earth is a laughing gonkey anyhow?
We Are Tourist So what is Ren's take on the popular city of Amsterdam? Will he survive the bicycles? Is he a wild traveller or just a tourist?
The Lost Experience Once again Ren's expectations get the better of him. Once again Ren gets completely lost. Once again the rain is coming down. Is there any hope at all? Actually it's not all bad.
Smiles In The Rain The friendly Dutch folk mean that a rain filled day can still be a worthwhile day.
Bicycling De Hoge Veluwe Will today be a tortuous day stuck in the tent waiting for the rain to stop? For the sake of Ren's mental health let's hope there's some good weather.
Urk? Is That The Sun? A break in the weather brings a positive feel to the day along with pleasant places, friendly faces and new acquaintances.
A Big Dyke With Edam What is the Afsluitdijk for? Why would you name a town after a cheese? All these questions will not be answered by reading this.
Edam, Marken, Tourists and Symmetry Ren and Sharon visit a town named after a cheese. Why would you name a town after a cheese? Weird folks these Dutch.
Curious Distelloo Sunshine, philosophy and an alternative kind of campsite.
Drowning In Zierikzee Philosophy, friendly people, terrible rain and salvation all in one day! Not bad really for pair of wastrels on 125s.
Exploring Zeeland We're chilling out and exploring Zeeland 2-up on a 125. Is this the Dutch Riviera?
A Short Hop To Oostkapelle How do you get lost in 15 miles on a route you already know? How do you upset a German camper? How do you do all this and remain content in yourself? It's called getting old.
Dodgy Dutch Drivers Their last full day in The Netherlands sums up the whole Dutch experience. "The nicest bad drivers you'll ever meet".
Going Home-ish It's time to leave The Netherlands and return to good 'ole Blighty. There's some shocking news that might change things for the future though.
So, What About The Netherlands? After 2 weeks of riding around The Netherlands on 125s what does Ren think of the country now?

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