Category Archives: scandemic 2021

Back in a box

Wake up and follow our noses to breakfast which makes a lovely change.  A proper cooked breakfast at our accommodation, the only one of this trip.  I think I even had a flower in a vase ..

Its twatting down and cold as we suit up and leave and it looks like it could be a very long day down to Oslo.  We head for Trondheim which has a bypass .. usually .. but today its blocked with an accident and we get directed over the mountains in the storm alongside all the crawling trucks.  This really is a reality check after the last 10 days. You may as well be anywhere on a day like this, staring at raindrops on the inside of your visor and trying to arrange a coherent image of all the threats around you by assembling a myriad of tiny kaleidoscopic images coming through the droplets.  Its bloody hard work, and very very slow.  Oslo is 600km and I just expected a motorway all the way but no.. not out here.. its just a main road… a pain road ..

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For a short while it all opens out as we’re free..

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But the closer we get to Oslo the worse it gets.  Frequently the single carriageway roads have a big fuck off barrier running down the middle for extended periods making it absolutely impossible to overtake.  Its a very unpleasant tedious journey, broken only with coffee and cake


Its not until you get really close that the road turns into proper motorway.   We end up getting in towards dusk and a small tired hotel in the centre.   This is another quiet capital city, and absolutely nothing like any normal big city.  I guess that isn’t a bad thing though.  And again, no parking.. not unless you want to sell your anal virginity to pay for it.  Well as far as I’m concerned that is exit only.. so I have a look about and see there is bike parking in front of a theatre about 5/600 yards away so the horses will have to spend the night there.  I’d never even think about doing that in a normal big city.. There is no bay marked but there is a sign. Lock the bike.. cross my fingers .. walk away .. life is too short to worry about it.


We’ve both got colons full of cake and we’re not really hungry so we take a quick wander about before the light disappears on another day.

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By the time we get back to the hotel I’m peckish and go on the hunt for food.  There is a supermarket just down the road with a ‘pizza hut’ standard salad bar full of snot and fingernails and I help the bloke out by clearing out all the dregs from all the containers to eat in the room. I hold my nose and eat it like medicine .. crunchy medicine.. with the occasional sharp bit in .. ummmmm

In the morning we drag our luggage down to the theatre, each telling ourselves that they will still be there, straining our eyes to get our first look.. wondering what the tow recovery fee is round here. I hear a fait whinny and I know my iron horse has picked up my scent.. she’s still there where I left her.  Thank God for that .. I never doubted it for a moment ..

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Today we’re headed back into Sweden and Gothenburg.  Its no distance at all really so we decide to take a longer route via Erska then south past a big bugger off lake.  But first .. breakfast.. again.

Its 7:30.  in any normal city there would be cafes open but here everything is still very much asleep here in the centre.  We can see a very very nice cake shop with a very very nice young lady filling the shelves and we knock on the door to see if she would fill out stomachs but no .. they don’t open till 8.. so off we go.. we’ll find somewhere soon enough.. or not.  You know its going to be one of those days when you see a brand new McDonald’s.. one with at least 20 Tesla charging stations .. go up to the door .. and its shut..

The road to Erska has been tarmac’d with black boredom so we just stop and press ‘scare the shit out of me’ on the sat nav which immediately recalculates the quickest and most direct route to Gräfsnäs at the head of the lake.  There has got to be cafes there right!

Turn right.. TURN RIGHT.. ‘but thats a footpath’… ‘just do as your told’.. I forgot to turn off the dominatrix audio .. ‘ and put that ball back in your mouth’… ‘Sorry miss ‘

So we’re directed down some very small rough twisty rough roads that soon turn into good gravel then open up with a view of the lake.

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Not really such a bad option.. and not scary at all once you swap your road brain out and insert the fearless one.  That brain has been in a locked box since we rode the Pamir .. it got sooooo scared there that it locked itself in from the inside.  So I got the dominatrix to shout at it VERY LOUDLY and it opened back up in an instant.

We get to Gräfsnäs and see a cafe at the head of the lake.. there are 100s of sailboats moored up.. its a beautiful warm sunny day.. there are deck chairs outside .. in we go.  No go .. shut.. shit.

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There is a tourist information office next door which seems to be the only thing open round here.  I think its open so they can tell tourists that everything is shut… which is exactly what she says.  There is however a small bakery just up the road that she recommends.. ‘is it open’.. ‘its always open’.. that’s good enough for us.   Down a couple of shady street and we spot a couple of old men sitting outside a shop with coffees in their hands, just chewing the fat.  Bingo ..  We’re going in ..


Inside the air is thick with sugar and I can almost feel it dive bombing my skin .. its like calorie radiation.  Well if I’m going to take calories on board its going to be via the traditional route..

The young bloke behind the counter is very obviously not Swedish so I ask him where he is from.  Turns out he is from Yemen and he came to Germany then to Sweden where he has a lot of family already.   He’s making the coffee, speaking in one of his numerous languages, just passing the time.  We buy some sandwiches and cake too and I ask him if he makes anything from Yemen.  He just smiles and adds a large slice of free cake to the tray .. two of my favourite words together at last .. free… and cake :)  And Fuck me sideways.. its delicious.  So delicious Brian and I almost come to blows over it.


Luckily for us, the young bloke comes out with more free cake to try before we need to call in a referee.  So.. then I feel guilty so I go and buy another 2 expensive coffees .. I bet it works for him every single time  :)


The ride down to Gothenburg is pretty uneventful, except for an unusual tag team helmet signing ..

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Tonight its my turn to get a room and I’ve gone for a B&B on the outskirts, right on the tram line into the city. had it as ‘only one room left.. buy it now .. you’ll be sorry if you don’t .. don’t be sorry .. do it.. do it NOW’ so we turned up expecting a place full to bursting .. people soup .. waiting for the loo .. showing in the last persons skin flakes and wee .. but the place was empty.. and if I’m honest.. it felt a bit weird.  Its a big house and the family .. if there is one.. lives in the above ground section, with the ‘guests’ all directed down some stairs to the very nice cells.. err .. rooms..   It felt like I might be locked in at any minute by some weird Swede with bulging eyes and a mouth only 50% occupied by teeth .. and then be experimented on.. and forced to have babies with Brian .. its not somewhere I’d have felt comfortable staying on my own.  We were definitely the only guests.

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But at least the bikes were close and safe this time


We jump on the  No5 tram into town for a wander about.  We can’t seem to find the centre, so we just end up following loads of locals .. most of which seem to be assembled out of absolutely perfect body parts ..

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Travelling like we do we frequently just end up ticking boxes and moving to the next place.  Some ticks are bright green, some are blood red, some flash madly and launch fireworks,  and some are a very very very pale shade of grey .. like this place..

Wake up the next day just happy to be alive and come back up to the light from the cellar below.  Breakfast.. Oat milk .. just WTF is that about .. did anyone ever see a calf sucking on oats?


I’m not lactose/wheat/whatever is flavor of this bloody month intolerant .. I’m ‘food intolerant’ intolerant.  The world is full of fuckweasels shouting and screaming trying to make themselves abnormal just to be normal.. you’re not normal unless your’re abnormal nowadays.  Its just like everything I can think of.. all the actual sufferers of any actual intolerance/disability/abuse are just drowned out by all the bloody cock wombles screaming this and that bollocks .. everyone nowdays seem to be born with big open sores that they spend their lives picking at and fucking off 99% of the population with .. ahhhhhhhhhh .. thats better .. and by the way.. I bought the actual proper milk from a cow last night in the supermarket,  just after I nearly walked straight into a big display of chocolate after getting a MASSIVE blip on my (recalibrated to only show perfection) tottiometer .. there apparently are humans made from body parts even better than perfection .. my advice .. when in Sweden wear a balaclava .. and put it on backwards .. otherwise you’ll be constantly tripping over your tongue ..

Today we’re headed to Lund to stay with a Swedish friend of Brian’s.  Its not far so we decide to pop into Malmo for more coffee.. more cake .. and more tongue/feet related incidents ..

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Lund is a lovely little town, beautiful streets, beautiful people, beautiful weather.  We’re sitting outside and I want to take a picture but it would get the woman sitting next to me in it so I ask if she minds.  She’s French and she immediately starts chatting like she’s cast off a veil of silence.. non stop babble .. she says that she knew we must be English because they are the only people that will approach and talk to random people in the street.. and she loves it.  She used to work in Oxford and loved it so much she is trying to convince her husband to move to the UK.  He is some mad scientist for a CERN related project they are doing out in Sweden.  They’re building more of those particle things – and this one will be straight, so the bloke throwing the particle can get a really good run up before he throws it ..   They’ve been at it for 8 years so far and she’s not happy.  WTF do the EU decide to build the most expensive projects on earth in the most expensive countries on earth?  Makes no sense at all to me.. unless they’re building it out of wood.. plenty of that in Scandinavia ..

Get on the bikes and ride out to Brian’s mate.  I’ve been looking forward to this bit of the trip.  Staying with a local is always an enlightening experience, being allowed into somebody’s home, to sit in beautiful worn furniture, turn taps used a million times by old hands .. a living museum .. I just love walking in and soaking it all up .. people’s character expressed through paintings and carpets and furniture and towels and soap and condiments.. sights.. smells.. an atmosphere .. character..  a lifetime mapped out before you .. I just love it.

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Brian’s mate keeps bees.. lots and lots of bees .. 1.5 Tonnes of honey a year bees.  The garden is full of hives and the house is full of well used and well worn bee related gizmos and gadgets.  Its quite a complicated business.  Did you know honey bees only live for 6 months.. and they die because their wings wear out .. something I would never have even thought of!  Poor little buggers. We just spend a lovely evening chatting and listening to old music that the old boys sing along to with their wine lubricated voices.  I just smile.. all night long.  Happiness like this isn’t expensive, but its absolutely priceless.

Next morning I’m sad to leave.  Jut say goodbye to the bees.


From here it’s just head down and back onto the tarmac treadmill back home.  Over the Øresund bridge.. where Brian buggers off because he thinks I’ll be arrested if I stop ..


From Copenhagen its due south ..and its very very very windy


take the short  ferry trip to Germany

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And head for our hotel in the Turkish district, home of the drunken carpet fitters ..

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At this stage in the game its just ride .. eat .. bed .. repeat.  We head go to the food court in the nearest shopping Mall and tank up on Turkish .. $%”^£$^”£  .. well that’s what I thought he said .. it was warm and tasty and cheap and that’s all I wanted ..


And some spunk for afters .. obviously


We need to get a negative lateral flow test before we catch the ferry, and Germany seems to be the easiest place to get it.  They allow anyone one free test a day, perfect.  We’re heading to see my brother tonight so this will be the last hotel of this trip.  My body isn’t used to coming home so soon.  I’m steering the bike west but I can feel it trying to tug me in the opposite direction, its far from finished.. but I promise her .. and myself .. an XXL ride next year.  This was just a short break.. a release valve for all the pent up frustration built up over the last couple of years .. the world is coming back slowly and I’m bloody well going to get out there and see of much of it as I can.  I want to come to the end this life with both my eyes displaying ‘MEMORY FULL’ :)

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The test centre is only 5 minutes down the road and in typical German style we’re in and out in no time, minus a few mills of mucus.

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One last stop for coffee and cake


And we’re on our way to my brother and his wife in Made.  They have a lovely little house with a beautiful garden so we just sit in the sunshine and chat, talk and listen,  just share our lives.


And all to suddenly its time to go home.  Brian is such an easy bloke to travel with.. everyone should have a Brian .. but you can’t have mine


A quick skip to Dunkirk, approach the ferry booths with a bit of trepidation.. but we’ve got all we need and on we go .. both being pulled inextricably towards home ..

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Get home and back the metal mule into the garage, open the door, and slide back into my parallel life ..


She’s like a dog that doesn’t want to go back in its kennel.. she’s fucked off.. she growls if I go near her .. I need to throw her a bone.. a Pamir Highway shaped bone,  a Magadan bone.. that should give her something to chew on over the winter .. and me too ..
















Heaven on Earth

Now children, this is a public service announcement.  If you wake up on a Sunday in Norway, just don’t bother getting out of your bed.. because hardly any other fucker will have.


There is no breakfast at this particular inn so we go into town to find a cafe.  Sunday morning.. people will be up and about walking dogs.. getting papers .. chatting over hot coffee .. we’ll have trouble parking.. and have to queue.  But no.  No dogs. No papers. No coffee.. No… just no.  Everywhere… everywhere is closed.  For anyone used to a 24/7 country like the UK, its a strange experience.  There is absolutely nowhere open apart from the filling station, and all they have is dirty fries .. nom nom ergggggggghhhhhh


So today we’re going to take a scenic route .. or should that really be the more scenic route..  We’ll head to Saltstrauman and follow the coast road down to the ferry at Halsa, then down to Jektvik for the longer ferry back through the Arctic Circle,  then the last ferry of the day from Nesna and follow the road down to our quarters in Mosjøen.  Its not sunny today.. the mood has turned and  we have the clouds in battle with the land for the focus of every landscape.. and its amazing ..

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I dont like repeating myself.. I don’t.. like repeating myself .. ever.  It took a very special effort just to type that .. and already thinking of deleting it.   I will do it under certain circumstances, if I have to, but very very rarely do I want to do it.  We’ve only been riding a couple of hours today, but this is one of those circumstances.  I already want to ride this again tomorrow, and possibly the next day too.  This really is a very very special journey.. a very very very special journey.

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Every turn, every corner, every hill, every move gives me a spectacular view that’s using a full pallet of natures colours to maximum effect.   Bridges.. tunnels.. ferries.. and more red paint than a fire engine factory.. its .. I dunno .. its art .. Mother Nature and Slartibartfast creating a landscape to rival anything else on the planet.

But still .. everywhere is shut.  We get to Ørnes looking for a coffee.  Petrol station. Closed.  Go into the small town and a parade of shops.  Not a small parade, quite  a big one with a big supermarket.. all closed.  Go to some other cafes on the satnav.. all closed.  We see a young bloke coming out a building. ‘Yes its Sunday, everything is closed, but there is usually a small shop open about 40 mins further on.  In the UK people would starve if the shops were shut on Sunday, and people would have mental breakdowns in they couldn’t get their Amazon delivery of that inflatable toilet seat..

Set off.. there’a cafe with lights on .. screech to a stop.. closed.  Nice flower arrangement though .. I wonder if I can eat it ..


My stomach isn’t being fed but my eyes and ears and nose certainly are ..

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We get to the shop and its like a single cowpat in a massive field with human flies buzzing all around it.. it does have a cafe attached.. but its closed on Sunday, as is the one directly behind it.. I don’t understand it.  I reckon I could make a good living just opening a cafe here and working just one day a week ..   We buy some crusty tarts and gold bars wrapped in snickers wrappers .. well we assumed they were by the price.. and just sit and stare at the world around us before following the visual roller coaster straight down the throat of the next ferry.. IMG_3037 IMG_3057 IMG_3060

The ferries obviously bunch the traffic up and if you don’t get off first then you’ve got some traffic to play with for a while.  I frequently get out in front before I simply have to stop.. climb down a precarious steep bank of big boulders and nearly fall into a fjord.. but its always worth it .. every single time ..


The next ferry is a lot bigger and has a cafe.. shock horror .. that’s not for the fact they have a cafe open .. its for the fact they charge about a tenner for a sorry looking soggy burger.. but the price is worth paying just for the view of the young lady behind the counter.. if not for the view of the mess on your plate..  I had 5 ..

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This ferry takes about 40 minutes and crosses back over the arctic circle where everyone rushes out on deck to take a picture of a tiny spec of a sign in the far distance

IMG_3089 IMG_3093and I had to stop young Brian from swimming across it.. mainly because young Brian can’t swim ..


Its getting colder and gloomier as the day goes on but it doesn’t detract from the fun we’re having.  On to the last ferry of the day before we chase back through the tunnels towards the real world where .. fingers crossed .. we can find a hot meal and let all this sink in.

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The hotel is of the unattended variety on an industrial estate, punch a code and a locker opens with a key.  We go out on a dinner hunt and I glance at my bank to see one of the auto petrol stations has charged me £125 for about 10 litres .. ummmmmm .. maybe that’s right.. see I told you Norway was expensive .. Jesus … still I can sort that out later.  Time now to crawl down a slippery bank of green covered rocks and slip, smash my phone protector screen and twat my hip bone.. still .. it was worth the trouble ..

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I hobble down town and we just push restaurant doors until the first one opens, no pissing about .. feed me now!  I have some special reserved slots in my memory .. my best rides ever folder.. they’ll never expire.. and I’ll never tire of throwing them back up on the projector in my head and slowly leafing through them .. today is going in that folder.  What a wonderful day to be alive ..

The next day is never going to match the day before.  We are heading towards Trondheim but its my turn to get the accommodation tonight and I’ve gone a bit left field.  Its a B&B on a small island called Tautra.  Its connected to the mainland via a causeway, and it looks quite interesting.  We’ll have to see how that turns out .. but first .. breakfast.  Again, the first few places we try from the satnav are closed.. brilliant!  We ride into an empty carpark for another cafe and it looks closed but there is someone drinking some coffee under an awning and I ask where he got it, and he points to the door.  In we go, and its completely empty but we can hear someone knocking about in the kitchen.  I give him a shout and he appears. ‘Breakfast?’ ‘Sure, Eggs and bacon?’  ‘Sir .. I want to have your babies’..


I’m salivating just at the memory.. the first proper breakfast this trip.  Just what my body needed.  I go to pay.. he puts the cost in the card machine .. its £126.50.  Ummmmmmmmm……. ‘Is this right?’ .. ‘Sure.. of course’.  ‘But its £126’.. ‘This is Norway .. its expensive here’.. ‘You are not fucking joking mate’ .. and then I have a moment where I’m actually going to put my card in and pay.. he must be right.. its Noway.. its expensive.. that makes perfect sense .. ‘But we only paid £60 for dinner last night, so how can 2 eggs and bacon be £126?”.. and then the light comes on for him.  This is apparently a hotel and he’s assumed we stayed the night here.. ‘Ohhhhhhhhhhh OK .. sorry.. £25 then please’.. ‘OK that is far more reasonable.. and I’ll add a £100 tip’ ..

So out we go heading south on the main road.  They can even get enough traffic here to form a small queue at road works


Its still a beautiful ride but its never going to take my breath away like yesterday did.  You know you’re spoilt when days like this are tagged as ‘average’ ..

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There really is hardly anyone about but they’re all crawling along at 80kph. Maybe they know something we don’t.  Its always best to follow the lead from the locals so we take just take it easy and cruise along all day, just stopping for some helmet love from Greta.  Not that Greta thank God, this one was born with fully functioning smile muscles ..


I think she lights her own farts too, so definitely not the other Greta ..

We follow the wandering river for a while, and pass little hotels covered in grass catering for the fishermen.

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The island is quite a few miles off the main route south.  I’m not entirely sure what the catering situation is so we drop into a supermarket and get a few provisions.  I’m a bit worried about this place to be honest.  Brian never ever complains but I don’t want to piss him off just because I want to stay on an island.

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So off we go, off the beaten track.  We are seeing the changes in sunset times as we come south and tonight its getting a bit gloomy as we twist and turn our way towards the hotel. We get to the causeway and there is a big electric gate to keep the foxes and other predators  out.  Over we go.. through some fields of pungent cabbages, and up a small hill.  I’m thinking Brian will be cursing me in his helmet.. I’ll have to apologise to him later.  We arrive at a small building and go inside. The second I cross the threshold I just know everything is going to be alright.. it has an atmosphere that runs up to me and envelopes me in warmth and friendliness and love.  There are some almost sexual cooking scents coming out of the kitchen, and this place is apparently a brewery too.  I’ve run out of boxes to tick, but then the host tells us we’re staying in his house and leads us across the courtyard to his house, then up the stairs. He pushes open the door to our room ..


Fuck.  Just Fuck. I still haven’t spoken to Brian about it but I look at him and his face just says it all.  This.. this is a beautiful place.. a very beautiful place indeed.

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Come here and see it for yourself, that’s all I can say.

Brian and I go for a walk after dinner, down to the jetty where we meet a group of pissed up people from Tronheim, all dressed like SBS recruits, ready to board a big rib that’s tied up with its engines burbling and burping in the water.  They’re all smiling and laughing and full of the full set of beers brewed by our B&B.  Turns out this place is pretty well known for its food and ales.  Sometimes you’re just lucky I guess.  You press a button on a tiny piece of glass and it all leads you to a secluded house with a view of a fjord from your bed, lovely food, and another memory beaten into your brain with a stake through it, never to be removed.

I walk down past the hotel through some fields and down to a rocky beach where I just sit and watch the show finish with the sun dropping and the clouds showing the end credits in gentle purples and reds… I collect some stones to take home and give to my wife. Stones I can just hold in my hands, close my eyes, and come back to this exact moment..

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Next: Back in the box



Fast Fjordward

Well I didn’t sleep that well, but not because we’re going to visa Santa, but because a group of people decided to have a huge argument in the middle of the night that involved (hopefully) throwing large objects about or worse.. throwing each other about.  It sounded like someone was trying to break into the building with loud thumps and bumps and bangs.  It reminds me of a night at a similar latitude in Anchorage where we camped near some Inuit’s that were smashed out their skulls and were having a full on family riot all night long..

The light up here is just beautiful.. how can a simple frequency of light give me so much pleasure.  I just stand and stare at the slowly moving shadows while the beast warms her lungs and looks like she’s inhaled from a huge vaping machine.  I remember when Brian and I were sitting eating breakfast thinking about this trip and saying that we’d probably have to keep it local this year. This doesn’t feel very local to me..


The practicalities of living at these latitudes means the balconies are totally enclosed against the cold.


A a few cold clicks north and we’re in.


As we’re taking some pictures of the bike a French couple come up to us.  He wants a picture with the bikes.  They only speak English through a little hand held translation device but it seems their daughter lives and works up here and they are visiting.  Perhaps she’s helping Santa with his French letters ..  He’s a biker and seems to have a large collection of old bikes back home as he scrolls through his pictures.  A couple of time as he scrolls he points at people and says ‘morte.. COVID’ which needs no translation.. and brings things into perspective as to why its all so quiet.

Santa isn’t an early riser apparently and he’s not available to take an audience until 10.. or until you can produce receipts that  prove you’ve spent at least a weeks wages in his gift store .. so I buy a fridge magnet .. so that’s 2 weeks wages ..

Off we go.. is there a queue .. screaming kids .. people feinting .. autograph hunters .. nope.. nobody at all.  We walk round the corner and there he is .. actual Santa .. sitting in his chair.. reading his phone .. he’s probably on the Santa app.

Santa wont have his picture taken unless you pay .. he’s quite insistent.. and reminds me of a Kirby hoover salesman that we once had in the house.. ‘Have your picture taken with me’ .. no thanks mate.. ‘Come on .. have a picture.. it will be great .. you can look at it and if you don’t like it then don’t buy it’.. no thanks mate .. I’m fine .. ‘Come on.. have a picture .. you can pay in 300 easy instalments or I can put it on your mortgage’..

‘Just Fuck Off will you Santa’..

So I have to ask an elf instead ..


And… true story .. Santa isn’t a fat bastard because he eats lots of mince pies over Christmas .. Santa is a fat bastard because he lives directly opposite a 24/7 service station serving cheap all you can eat gut buster buffets .. but don’t tell the kids ..


We’re headed for Kiruna today, in Sweden. and another unknown border crossing.  Judging on progress so far and that we’re going from one EU country to another we’re hoping it will be pain and hassle free. We’ve just got time for a few more lovely lakes though..


Get to the border and there is a Finish guard checking entry from Sweden but nobody cares if you’re leaving :)


Its odd how much a country can immediately feel so different even though its only a matter of a few meters away.. and Sweden does immediately feel different.  As though the seeds from the trees couldn’t make it across the river.  The landscape is different too, a bit more rolling.  Lots of roadworks too but luckily its dry so the rough road sections are just loose rather than ooooo’se.  So we decide to test what really matters to us both .. cake.  Drop into a small town and a tiny warm cafe for coffee cake and calories.


I really do like the Scandi style and the Swedes seem to do it best.  I could happily dismantle this place and live it in back home.. as long as it came with the barista and the calorie cabinet ..  They warn us there are lots of reindeer on the roads round here so to be careful on the bikes, and so it proves

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Reindeer really are beautiful creatures with velvet covered antlers and huge feet that make a noise like banging 2 bits of wood together when they run.  Bloody solid though I’m sure.

Tonight’s destination is some huts in the woods about 11km out from Kiruna and there is nothing else there so we head into town for supplies.  Kiruna is the northernmost town in Sweden and it’s there for one reason only, iron ore.  You can see the mountains of waste from miles and miles away.  Kiruna also has a problem.  Quite a big problem in fact.  Its sinking due to under mining.  Large areas of the place are being condemned and the government is paying to build replacement buildings and move people from the affected areas.

We spot a supermarket and go to park up when a woman comes up asking about the antenna on my helmet.  Err.. that’s not an antenna .. that’s a big cable tie keeping the broken visor up :)  Comes in useful for carrying it though, and I might even get a tiny flag to fly from it ..

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She’s a right hippy chick, and she tells us she is quite famous in Sweden as a singer of Sami music. Not something on my spotify play list .. but she’s a nice lady, very friendly and chatty and wiling to handle my helmet in public.

Sweden is as equally expensive as Finland but, like there, the contrast between the prices in the supermarket and the cafes is massive.  Coffee and a mouthgasm for a couple of quid .. oh yea ..


We’re both just sitting there in a post cake-coital state when a woman comes rushing over to us.. ‘are you the bikers?’ My first thought is bollocks, someone has run over the bikes .. but no .. she’s seen theem outside and has come in to search for us.  She just wants to chat and find out what we’re doing.  She is a biker and has a couple of Harleys .. yes I know .. but she’s test ridden the Pan American and is trying to buy one to ride the world on.   Her English is just amazing .. shes talking fast and keeping up with all the jokes better than a lot of natives would .. smiling and laughing, flirting and giggling .. she’d be a lot of fun to ride with for sure.  Turns out she spends all her life underground driving a concrete truck in the mines.  Her shift pattern lets her accumulate lots of holiday and she’s already been about a fair bit but she wants to go further.. much much further. Always a good thing to hear from a woman ..


Go and raid the salad counter for dinner.. this isn’t like your Pizza Hut salad bar full of manky lettuce with brown edges and sweetcorn full of bogies from snotty nosed kids.. this is proper nice and fresh.  Loads of meat, tuna, whatever.  I like going out to eat but sometimes I just like a mass of healthy food, and this is the way to do it here.


and a Ploppy for afters .. obviously


Ride back out of town and into the forest to find the huts.  We can hear dogs.. lots and lots and lots of dogs.  Turns out the huts are at a dog-sled centre and they’re absolutely everywhere.  300 of them!  They work constantly from September to May then rest up over the summer in their pens. Its quite a sight.  Loads of sleighs and harnesses sitting ready for snow to fall ..

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They reckon you can put your hands in any of the cages and they won’t bite you.IMG_2782

The hut is basic and there is a ‘kitchen hut’ at the end full of everything you need to prepare and eat your meals.. I like it .. I really like it.  Its the different things that stick in your memory the most, and this is definitely different.

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See… I really can really almost claim it as camping :)

I’m out for the count and hit the hay early.. but as usual I need to wee in the middle of the night .. standing on the viranda in the cold.. a star filled sky.. the smell of animals mixed with the trees .. the sound of the dogs shuffling about.. and wee pouring onto the  grass .. just perfect ..

There are wolves about up here.. we heard them last night and this morning they’re chatting to the dogs .. at 6 am.. which is nice ..

The wolves howl.. the dogs all howl back.. and then suddenly it all stops dead.  Its very odd.. they all just stop simultaneously.  Fuck knows how that works.. anyway.. back to the hut for brekkie.


then drop off my Ploppy at the long drop.. a loo with a view..


Today we’re going to try and get into Norway.  Brian’s Swedish mate says he doesn’t know if we’ll get in but we’ll ride up and check.  I think we should be OK but things are changing all the time so we don’t book any accommodation  just in case.  First stop will be Riksgränsen up on the border.

Its a beautiful cold bright morning as we follow the giant iron ore trains through the wilderness towards Norway.

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Its proper desolate up here, and all the better for it.  Fuck how much of my life do i spend crawling along staring at the rear bumper of a car in front, or filtering through a mass of metal, just trying to get 5 miles down the road in less than an hour ..   surrounded by concrete .. road signs .. noise..  people..  pressure .. but up here I just don’t care.. there is room to share.. room to spare .. there are a lot of hikers about but for the most part its just two blokes, two bikes, and the whole world to ourselves.

Get to Riksgränsen and I’m expecting a town but its just some houses, a closed hotel, a closed YMCA hostel and a supermarket.  There is a lovely ‘supermarket at the end of the universe’ vibe about this place. Hikers getting provisions before disappearing into the wilderness.. bikers having a last cake before disappearing into police custody ..

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At least the Swedes have a sense of humour though


And you’re going to need that if you go LARGE on the Plopps


OK, time to go.  Scoot up to the customs building on the top of the hill.. and ride straight through.  That was too easy.  Like a lot of these borders though, customs and immigration are often a good way apart with some nomansland in between .. if this is no mans land .. can I claim it for my own?

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Beautiful eh.  I think the tarmac is made from ground down currency.. they’ve got more money than they know what to do with..

Immigration is just a bloke standing in the road in the sunshine.  Flash the NHS COVID QR code and we’re in no questions asked. The integration of these systems that has gone on behind the scenes really is very very impressive.  These Scandinavians really are a smart bunch though too.

We were thinking about staying in Narvik but by the time we get there its only early afternoon so we decide to just have a look about and some lunch then wing it later.  The first thing that strikes me is all the mobility scooters .. everyone seems to have one.  They are screaming about everywhere.  I soon figured out why everyone drives them though, its because they can drive them faster than they can drive their bloody cars!!

Go for lunch .. Now .. even the Swedes think that Norway is expensive!  Dinner will definitely cost you an arm and a leg.. plus a lung and a kidney if you want starter and desert .. £2.50 for a Marathon bar? Really?  Behave yourself please :) So I buy a bread roll and fill it with dirt .. nom nom nom :)

My bike hates being driven at 80kph.. it shunts and hunts and complains and it drives me mental but that is what everyone is doing here.  There are a lot of overhead cameras for all the tunnels and as its often a single road I’m not sure if they can work out average speeds and stuff too – getting stopped for speeding can involve a fist in a studded gauntlet being roughly shoved up your Gary and vast sums money being extracted so we just go with the flow… go with the slow .. still, at least there is a bit of a view every now and then ..

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but I bet it looks shit in the other direction .. or not


So… not then .. this place is beauuuuuutiful.  Its not really like anywhere I’ve ever been before and I’m just in awe of it. Everything.. just everything is perfect.  Its just ridiculous how perfect it is.  The road winds and twists and dips and follows the water’s edge and leads us straight into the belly of our first ferry.

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All the locals are charge via ANPR cameras but ours aren’t recognised so the crew take pictures of them on their phones and tell us we’ll be billed later.. that’s something to look forward to ..

We’ve still not organised anywhere to stay this evening so Brian brings up the C word .. yes that C word.. the one I hate hearing and I hate even more hearing .. Camping .. I’m wincing even as I type it .. OK.. lets see what we can do.  All the sites we have seen so far have been closed .. hallelujia .. but we come to one on a beautiful lake side and go in to ask, but they just don’t want to know.  They will barely speak to us for some reason and in the end they just say its closed.  Using the miracle of technology I have a quick look about and find a hotel in Fauske a couple of hours south.  Just one click and there is a bed with my name on it.. they do camping too but what Brian doesn’t know wont hurt him .. and I’m really only thinking about his welfare .. and ..well .. I fucking hate camping ..

Luckily its stays light a lot longer up here and we chase the slowly setting sun along golden stretches of tarmac towards sleep.


We come across a small hotel in a town and there are bikes everywhere, mostly designed for the transportation of human bodies considerably bigger than ours.


We go in to find some dinner, and maybe some company but nobody seems to want to talk to us. Perhaps our bikes just aren’t man enough .. or perhaps we’ve just bumped into the local chapter of the other C word..  It doesn’t cost anything to just have a chat does it.  If only everyone was as nice as us :)

We get to Fauske quite late and a receptionist you can smell from a fjord away.. Christ .. I think she’s removed the atomiser from her perfume bottle and attached a hose pipe instead.   Doesn’t put Brian off though :)  Check in .. climb the steps.. open the door .. ahhhhh.. that’ll do


Its a place with a shared kitchen and bathroom and we can hear another couple arrive with a young baby.   I recognise them from earlier in the day when I saw them flying a drone.  She is German and he is Austrian and they are on parental leave.  They’ve just decided to bugger off for 2 months around Europe with a newborn in a pandemic .. they are our kind of people. They’ve been away for over a month now and they’re just taking it easy.  She’s cooking dinner and telling us they actually bought a burger and fries today and shared it because its so expensive.  They’re a lovely couple and the baby is a little angel.  We just spend ages chatting away, learning and listening and looking into other lives.  Good on em, I’m not sure I’d have just picked up the baby and gone like that..

We take an evening stroll looking to get down to the water but all the roads are private. Fauske.. who’s ever heard of Fauske.. another random point on the planet forever planted into my memory.

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Next: Heaven on Earth





Northern Sights

Up and out and over to the ferry.  Again its really really quiet.. like we’ve arrived 5 hours to early or something.  A few cars and trucks but not a ferry full for sure.  How on earth some of these companies survive is beyond me.  Government subsidies I guess.. but what other options are there.

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30 minutes later and we’re on Finish soil.  We’re directed towards a little shed and I see a woman who’s totally enveloped in plastic, like she has fallen on one of those luggage wrapping machines at the airport.  Shes walking towards our shed .. here we go .. they’re going to tickle my brainbox and test my gag reflex with cotton buds .. good luck with that .. my gut is fully loaded with my favourite spew ingredient of carrot .. and the JCB has yet to move it all to the exit .. this could get colourful and she’ll need that suit

Turn into the shed and there are 2 pretty young blonde ladies in full Finland border force uniforms.. except for the slippers .  I point to her feet and she just laughs .. ‘Well we’re not busy and spend most of the time just sitting in the hut relaxing so I like to be comfortable’ .. good girl .. she wants to see our QR codes .. waves her phone over them which pings obediently and we’re through :) Dunno what the woman in the tight plastic wrap is doing .. maybe that’s just how she feels comfortable.. interesting :)

Within 20 yards I go straight over a roundabout because I’m distracted.. WTF is this about?  Reminds me of what I see if I mistakenly open my eyes in the middle of the night when sharing with Brian ..


I always assume that an unknown capital city is going to be a pretty big place so I go for a hotel in the centre.  We looked for hotels with parking but with no luck unless we wanted to use our special issue asbestos credit cards that were issued specially for this trip.. these cards are the only ones that can take the heat of Scandinavia without having  a meltdown the second someone tries to charge £100 for a banana on them ..

So we turn up at the hotel hoping to find a nook or cranny or ditch we can park the horses in.


We’re greeted by a lovely young white blonde lady talking in her sing song English accent.  ‘Can we park the bikes here?’ No I’m afraid not, parking is by the hour on the street and is charged in testicles .. I could maybe risk an hour . maybe an hour and a half .. but definitely not two .. then she tells us about a ‘parking hole’ .. Brian and I look at her.. and look at each other.. neither of us want to say the wrong thing here .. apparently the ‘parking hole’ is available for €36 .. for all night … now depending on if this is a translation error or an extra service the lady provides.. is either fucking ridiculously expensive .. or very cheap and it would be rude to refuse ..

Still confused we decide to just smile and take the keys and say we’ll move the bikes in a minute .. When we were coming into the city I spotted a bike parking bay about 800m away.  The street parking stops at 9pm so we ride the bikes down to the bay and walk back.  We’ll collect them after dinner and park in the street close to the hotel.


The hotel is a bit tired.. well .. knackered really ..


but.. it meets all my criteria so I’m happy.  Another random room for me to load a 3d image into my brain so I can negotiate it in complete darkness and so not piss all over Brian in the night .. again ..

We’re here quite early, we’ll go for a walk around, so we go and ask the young blonde with the parking hole where would be good to go.. like an old part of the city .. but there doesn’t seem to be one so we just head off towards the water

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Gets bloody cold here in the winter obviously .. so cold you have to wear cushions .. I’d like to see the shot of her just dressed in earnings ..


I have to be honest.. I’m quite disappointed with Helsinki.  I’m certain I haven’t seen the best of it in an afternoon and I’d happily take recommendations of things to see here.  It has a certain atmosphere but it just doesn’t have the feel that a vibrant major city has.  My phone camera is showing a sad face .. so I go out for an hour while Brian sits like a teenager on his phone and look for places to eat later.

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a real sign of the times ..


We head out later to eat. Everywhere costs an arm and a leg so Brian feels he is old enough and had enough use from his limbs to exchange them for a small plate of food, but I go to the supermarket and raid their ‘fill your own tub’ meat and salad bar for about €16 a kilo..

Every day you open your eyes from sleep .. in a lovely dry warm bed.. wondering what the day will bring.  It sounds like somebody is throwing pebbles at the window.. maybe its the blonde receptionist trying to attract my attention .. maybe I’ll open the window and she’ll start singing and throwing me flowers .. or maybe Mother Nature has had an argument with Father Nature and she’s in a rage.  Its absolutely twatting down and throwing it hard against the windows.  We have breakfast and tell the receptionist where we’re planning to go today.. he suggests we stay another night ..

We run to the bikes to pack as quickly as we can but even by the time we’ve done that, then we have wet hands trying to slide into gloves and visors that have got water on both sides. So off we go into the storm.  We’re headed for Kuopio but a mate has told us about an Ace Cafe in Lahti and asked to get him some mugs.  By the time we get there we’re both soaked and cold.  We’re like 2 sponges plucked from a bucket as we walk in leaving a pool of water at every step.  This place is a LOT bigger and better than its London counterpart.  Its part of the chain though.  They’re all over the world now apparently.  The owner and his wife are there. He’s an ex motorcycle dealer and has a lot of contacts in the racing world.  He has exhibitions that he changes regularly and he’s put a lot of effort in

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We feel duty bound to spend enough money for them to pay the cleaner to mop up all of our mess, and we’re both freezing cold too, so we sit for an hour or so and consume as much as we can for our body furnaces to fire up and keep us alive for the ride north.  No British fat boy fry ups here though unfortunately :(

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Then back out into the relentless rain.IMG_2498

Fuck what a day this is turning out to be.  The rain has wicked it way down my buff and my (2) jumpers and my TShirt.. my waterproof leather trousers gave up completely some time ago and I am soaked to the skin.  We’ve done a couple of hours since the Ace and the furnace went out some time ago.  I’m properly cold and I’m shivvering, and its still pissing down.  Sometimes .. just very very occasionally I get to a stage where I just don’t know what to do. My body has all the warning lights flashing and its sirens are all going but its just about keeping going and upright as the little voices run about in my head deciding what to do.  There really aren’t a lot of options up here unless your plans include trees.  Then.. in the gloom we see one of those 200ft tall signs like they have in the USA. An ABC.  A service station. Thank fuck for that.  By the time we get inside I’m shaking so much I can’t even use the phone. Brian disappears to get something to eat then returns with a plate piled high with hot meat and veg .. I’m expecting to see smoke coming from his wallet where his credit card has caught fire but between quick mouth fulls  he says he’s found an all you can eat buffet for €10  round the corner.. and he’s dived right in.

I’m still soaked and shivering so I need to sort myself out first.  Years and years ago I was on a trip somewhere in Alaska with Nick Sanders and he came into a cafe all wet and cold.  He went round the place taking every newspaper he could find and stuffed them under his clothing.  I remember thinking if ever I get to that state when I look like a vagrant pikey and I’m resorting to sticking newspapers under my jumper then please shoot me. Well .. shoot me now ..

I go round the tables taking all the newspapers I can find and stick them under my clothes to absorb all the water and try to warm me up.  By the time I get to the hot food counter I look like a bloody scarecrow with newspaper poking out all over the place.  I’m not in the mood to brood though .. I’m in the mood for food.  Never has warm food tasted so good.  Brian and I just sit like two foie gras geese and stuff down hot foot until I’m about to burst.

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Brian is an amazing bloke I have to say. I just keep forgetting he is 77.  He just ploughs on and on through everything you put in front of him.  I’ve been all over the place with him and he never complains.. he just goes.

I take out all the wet paper and replace it with dry, hopefully that and all the food will keep the shivers at bay for a few more hours.  We get to Kuopio early evening and locate the house.  Its a AirBnB type arrangement tonight.  A room in a shared house.  We get inside and wander about, not really concentrating, through the living room, into a bedroom with 2 people asleep on a bed .. I’m not thinking about being in someones room, or that they’re in our room .. I’m just wondering how warm they are and if I could just slip my freezing .. wet .. tired body in there for an hour just to bring myself back to life.

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These are my favourite places.  The unique smell every house has.  The feeling of being at home but not.  Bumping into random strangers on the landing at 2am.  Mismatched towels and cutlery and cups.  Looking through cupboards for TBags, or opening the fridge and just seeing into other peoples lives.  The couple from the bed wake up and wander in but they dont speak much English.  We want to try and dry our clothes and there are fireplaces here but they say NO.. no fires .. definitely no fires.  There is a sauna in the basement, and, luckily a washer and tumble drier. We put most our clothes in and wander down to the supermarket for some tea.  My leathers are all soaked, so I decide that the weight limit on the drier door is advisory only and throw them in for an hour.  When I go to take them out I’m not sure if the strange smell is drying leather, or dying electrics.  The leathers are still steaming and I leave them to hopefully dry overnight.

Nothing beats that exact moment when you climb into a warm bed, lay horizontal and let all your muscles know their work is done for the day..

Wake up.. and the rain has stopped.. thank FUCK for that.. my leathers are still damp and pulling them on is a cold and unpleasant experience.  Coffee and some buns we bought last night and we’re off.  Its getting more and more remote up here with a lot less traffic.. you can almost feel yourself climbing up this giant ball that we all inhabit.. climbing up and up towards the Arctic Circle.  We thought about going to the Nordkapp but Brian has been before and I really have no massive desire to tick that particular box so we’re just headed as far as Rovaniemi today.  It sits just below the circle and we can head in tomorrow and visit a certain gentleman in red tomorrow too.  I just hope hes wearing a jacket and not red speedos..

Its quiet.. its cold .. its lonely and it feels a lot like parts of Siberia .. and I love it.

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And just like Siberia, or the Alaskan Highway, or a million other lonely roads  there are little random places in the middle of bum fuck nowhere that your body can mysteriously detect from miles away .. maybe a scent of cooking travelling through a cool breeze.. maybe a happy face travelling in the opposite direction .. maybe the distant sound of a truck accelerating away with a driver considerably heavier than when he stopped an hour ago .. whatever.. your mouth starts salivating.. your bladder starts to relax at the thought of relief .. and then you see it.  Not some characterless cookie cutter branded place where you’re served by a disinterested youth whose only thought is how they are going to pay for their next tattoo .. but by a husband and wife making a living keeping travellers alive and satisfied. Warm and friendly, cooked from scratch.  No heirs or graces.. my favourite places ..

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Fried eggs sandwiches … nom nom nom :)


You can genuiniely feel it … honestly you can .. I’m sure anyone that has been this way will tell you the same.  I’ve been to these latitudes elsewhere but often travelling east-west instead of due north .. and this time it really fells like I’m riding to the top of the world .. like the sunshine is pushing me up the slope .. its such a lovely feeling.  Seeing all the houses with their roof ladders to take the snow off.. and Randolf’s relations all roaming about..

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Get to Rovaniemi after another stop for a service station gutbustathon and this time we’re trying another accommodation option, a flat in a little tower block.  Collect the key from the local Chinese resturant and off we go.  New and shiny and now with the added odour of riding boots.. I’ve no doubt the maid will be very happy indeed. Got to the supermarket and get an ‘indoor camping’ meal .. then sit cross legged on the floor and eat it with a spork .. just like the real thing ..

I’m really not sure I’m going to sleep tonight.. I’m soooooooo excited … I’ve got my list and I’ve checked it twice .. guess who we’re going to see in the morning ..


Next: Fast Fjordward


North to the circle

A different day, a different country, different rules.  We had to prove vaccination last night but being unvaccinated wouldn’t have been a problem, it would just mean breakfast in our room.  As it is here you get a time slot to avoid too much interaction, and all the food has to be covered up.  The lovely receptionist is still on duty this morning and Brian is keen to know if Randolf needs feeding or would like a gentle stroking.. honestly .. he’s 77 FFS .. but only on the outside it seems ..

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I’m sure I’m not alone.. I’m sure everyone does it .. sometimes I reach a perfect point on the planet at a perfect moment and I just wish I could share all my senses , just share this, my hear and now. The smell of the riverbank, the sound of the birds fighting over breakfast, the sound of a massive body of water whispering past my feet, the fresh cold air building goose pimples on my skin .. another memory pushed to the front ..IMG_2063

And then the sound of a Ktm clearing its throat in an underground garage ..

The plan is to take the coast road from here to Tallinn in Estonia, and maybe see if we can see the sea.  Not much traffic about, still cold and windy, and its not long until we reach cake o’clock.  Stop, punch in a pin and head for a coastal cafe.  This area really looks set up for the summer months with lots of campsites near the water under the trees, but again all the cafes are closed and the beaches are deserted, so in the end we follow our noses like the Bistow kids and end up at cake and coffee heaven.

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God knows what that is but it has my taste buds dancing and my tongue doing a tango .. I’m constantly amazed at the seemingly infinite recipes for creating obesity fixes .. but I usually don’t eat as much on a trip and I know that if we get where we’re heading I’ll be eating air sandwiches anyway ..

Take a quick walk down to the beach and push our way through the crowds to dip our toes in The Baltic

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After a couple of hours the road and the sky both decide to take a turn for the worse and go very dull.  We notice the scenery start to don its rain jacket so we find some shelter . .with cake .. and do the same

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I didn’t think they needed this far north .. the sell by date was 1960


We decide if we’re going to get wet we might as well slow down and take a more indirect route inland so we get  the maps out and just take a wandering route.  They’ll still be cake I’m sure .. everyone loves cake.  There really is bugger all up here .. nothing but trees for miles and miles and miles, small towns, more trees.  It’s only August but everything seems to have closed.  We spot a lovely looking cafe and I need to stop because my bladder has created enough pressure for me to cut through a 1 inch steel plate.. but its closed..


So I urinaly cut a UK flag out of the 1 inch metal  front door and off we go.  A word from the wise .. always remember to wear a mask when working with high urinal pressures, and always close your mouth, blow back can be a major problem.

Get the next town and spot an interesting shop ..


Go looking  for refreshments .. there is a sort of pub/bar place but the owner looks like he has had his smile muscles removed and sold them on the internet so we walk out and see people going in and out of a house.. lots of people.  It looks like a human bee hive.. people hovering.. waiting their turn .. all covered in nectar ..    So we go for a look, walk in through someone’s converted living room and into their back garden for yet more coffee.. and yet more cake ..


Get to Tallinn and a very anonymous hotel by the ferry terminal.  We’re actually taking a day off here to see the old city and just let the horses cool down, plus we want to go to the Ferry terminal tomorrow and see what gives about crossing the water to FinlandIMG_2124IMG_2309IMG_2307

We’re wandering down to the old city and we’re constantly being buzzed by tossers on electric scooters.  These bloody things are the bane of society.  They’re all over the bloody place now.  And here in Tallinn they really are all over the place.  They are just thrown down across the pavements the moment they run out of power and left.. they’re bloody everywhere!  I’m having a rant about it.. walking head down and ranting.. head down and I’m suddenly grabbed by Brian and I feel the wind of a speeding car pass right across the front of my legs as I’m standing in the road..  thanks Brian mate… I  know he thinks he knows me inside out but one more step and he would have seen me inside out .. in kit form .. randomly distributed down the road … fuck.. that was close ..

We get to the edge of the old city. We’re not planning on going inside tonight so we find a bar on the outskirts where one single girl is desperately trying to serve everyone in the entire place, and take payments, and pour beer at the bar, and you can see shes struggling.  As we leave Brian just gives her a kind word and asks if she’s OK.. and tears come to her eyes..

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Get up and out to the ferry terminal, quite expecting that this might be a sticking point on the journey.  So far we’ve avoided all officialdom and our passports have remained snugly in our pockets but at pinch points like this we know we’ll have to face up to the federales.  So .. with some trepidation we go to the ticket lady and see what gives.  ‘Vaccinated?’ .. ‘Yep’.. ‘OK, 36 Euros please’. ‘Ohhhhhh K then’.  Its no problem at all.  We’ll have passports and COVID certs checked in Helsinki .. and that’s us done .. horah!

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So off we go into the old city.  Its a beautiful place, a very beautiful place indeed.

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Still remarkably few people about, certainly not enough to eat all the cake on offer.  Brian is doing his best though ..


We’re walking along the old walls of the city see a little dark door, with a little dark man sitting in a little dark kiosk.. with a little dark look on his face .. so we give him some money and walk up to the top of the wall for a view of the city.  We’re walking along and I see an bloke taking some pictures.  I stand behind him because I dont want to get in his shot


At first I think he’s a vagrant.  He’s wearing really shabby clothes and very worn shoes and he has sprayed himself lavishly with Eau de OldFella.  So.. because we’re British.. we start chatting with him.  He speaks with a strong Spanish accent but is actually an American from New Mexico.  Travel is his thing and he usually goes at least 4 times a year. He says he feels like a cat that’s been let out of a cage.  As soon as he had permission to come to Europe he was in the air and on his way.  A really interesting character.  I’m really not sure how many trips are left in him.. but I hope he enjoys every one.

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And a Tinder profile picture for my old mate..


We wander back through the old streets and back to the hotel.. without any near death experiences this time .. and money money everywhere..

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My bloody travel plug has gone tits up and I need a cable to charge my drone so I leave Brian to inspect the inside of his eyelids for an hour and skirt around looking for a lead.  I quite like this place ..

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All this cake is producing output that is putting us over our three wipe thresholds .. so we’ve decided we need to send a vegetable JCB down the tube to short this shit out … we were in the supermarket earlier and they had a hot food counter serving a large selection of unrecognisable brown slushy items, and vegetables, so we went out and got a load each and send them down to work in the dark depths of our bowels ..

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Next: Northern Sights





Up the Baltics

I walk to breakfast bare foot across the cool flagstones, feeling the gentle undulations and imperfections that would send a Grand Designs OCD kitchen freak to distraction.  All the steps taken before me rock my heals and steer me to a table by the huge old fireplace to eat, to look out the window, to hear voices arguing outside.  My brain usually full of thoughts of home and work is free to take whatever path it wants, and it just wanders round, takes its time .. relaxes.. breathes

Today we’re just taking a route across to Suwalki near the border with Lithuania.  We don’t want to have to be dealing with border problems at the end of a day. We’re keen to slow down just a bit and avoid the major routes, just get the map out and plot a journey through the lakes.


The road is real surprise, like going to see a tribute band then having the originals turn up instead.  Its an absolute joy after all the lifeless conveyor belts we’ve been on.  Rolling and twisting and ducking and diving like a roller coaster that’s been unwound and laid across the countryside.   We decided when we left that we’re going to do everything to avoid contact with any official authority, and in our case that’s mostly obviously the police.    Whenever we cross into another country we get a text asking us to go to a government site and fill in X,Y and Z because they all have official rules that we should be obeying, but we, like 99% of travellers just … dont…  Every time I see police my bum tightens so much it can be used as a pencil sharpener .. useful for a policeman that wants to fill in a form.. but has a blunt pencil .. The other day when we were in Szczecin we came across a load of coppers diverting traffic and they gave us a good look but luckily we didn’t exceed their bovveration threshold and they just waved us on.  Today we come round a bend and the road is closed because of an accident.  So we sit and wait… wait and see..


We’ve developed a habit of riding close and obliquely behind trucks when there are police about.. and its downhill .. so the Ktm can keep her voice down, so we slide past and back out into the open road.

We’ve had nothing to eat since breakfast and its mid afternoon so we decide we’ll take a lake lunch ..

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A billion places on the planet to eat but this one will go into my memory for today.  A random choice, a flip of a coin, a late squeeze of a brake lever.. decision made.

Get to Suwalki and another random choice hotel.  Much to my friend’s frustration I frequently go for the cheapest option because all I want to do is get clean and get horizontal.  Everything else is a bonus, and in an odd way I like the semi derelict places best.  This one is fine, if a little bit pink ..


And the receptionist mentioned to Brian that she needs her plumbing seeing to .. so she gave him her address and he promised he would bring his big plunger round later that evening ..


‘Where is the main street?’.. ‘This is the main street’.. oh.. OK.. loads of places are just shut and look like they have been for some time.  The town is just dead.  When I’m feeling down and hard done by back home I  think back to places like this that just seem to be coming to the end of their lives ..

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There is still hope here though I’m sure.  We go out to eat and watch the locals go about their business.  What can I say .. there is plenty of ‘very very good breeding stock’ here at least ..

And .. of course .. I’m always more than willing to sample the local delicacies …


Christ knows what it was but that stuff on the right looked like a perfect ball of fart fodder .. and so it was.  My bum was snoring all night long.

So far we have flashed our paper COVID certificates whenever we’ve been asked but it looks like some of the countries will only accept the QR code on the app.  I did mine before we came but Brian has a phone with dementia and it simply cannot remember anything between doing one thing and the next so he’s not been able to do it.  I guess sitting a few miles from a border with a dodgy internet connection isn’t the best place to do this but we manage to find away round his problem and submit his request.. and watch a lady Polish army officer match around showing off her perfectly made to measure camos with as many perfect curves as yesterdays fabulous road .. i can just imagine her on manoeuvres…

The coffee however looks like its not been used this century.. or someone has gobbed a dollop of COVID infected flem in it ..


Its been twatting down again all night and its dull and grey but the girls dont care.  They just want to run ..

IMG_1801 IMG_1807We go to get some fuel just before the border and a couple of Germans turn up on some ATs, both looking like they have just been ridden from the nearest showroom.  They’re the first foreign riders we’ve seen but they’re not interested in getting themselves dirty talking to us.  Fuck um.. I’ve given up trying to talk to wankers .. life is too short.

I come out the garage and take a wrong turning which makes the satnav recalculate which results in us heading down some single track roads through a few tiny villages.  Another random choice that just by luck takes up another winding twisting curvy road for a few miles then up to a small bridge that must be on the border.  A Polish police car one side, a Lithuanian one the other.  Neither policeman even looks up from their phones as we go past .. and we’re in to Lithunania 😀️

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Who built these roads .. they’re shit .. all smooth and curvy and up and downy .. all fast and open and with a grip like a hookers hand .. apparently.. I hate them…  😍️😍️😍️

The weather is brightening up too.  Still cold and windy but who cares. We’re heading up through Lithuania to Riga in Latvia tonight.  We’re leaving all the traffic behind.. seeing it disappear in the mirrors.. heading north.  You can see the light changing as we climb up through the latitudes, the days are getting longer, the air is changing too.  All these things your body is natively sensitive to, all amplified by being on the bike.  This is why I do this.  This is what goes through my head all day.  I don’t listen to music, I don’t have any comms, I just let my brain freestyle with no distractions bar the million things we see on our way.

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I got these Avons just because they are the only matched set my local tyre dealer could supply, and they are really very good. Amazing in the wet too.  See that stripe down the middle where the different compound is too .. isn’t technology wonderful 😊️IMG_1899

Have a coffee.. look at a map.. bung a few points in the sat nav and bugger off on the back roads.. there are always lovely things hiding on the back roads..

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Your brain always trys to fit what it sees into what it knows .. what is sees is a load of old Russian planes and helicopters .. what it doesn’t think is that actually this is an open air museum attached to a motel .. not something I’d find in Hampshire ..

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Get to Riga and we’re a little out of town this time so we can park the horses safely underground.  Go to see the receptionist .. but she can barely see us due to the ridiculous set of false eyelashes she’s wearing.  She looks like she has just put glue all over her eyelids then stuck her face in a big bowl of black spiders.  Her eyelid muscles can barely lift them and they’re flicking so fast I fear they’re going to come off at any moment and impale themselves in my forehead.  Lovely girl though.. unmarried .. likes cats.. has a big ginger pussy she calls Randolf .. ummm


I takes us about 30 mins to walk into town along the river and across the bridge.  Its a beautiful evening, there is a live band playing in the park and the old town is busy paining its face with the golds and yellows of the evening sun.

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I love live music, I don’t really care what it is as long as it sounds good.  I remember walking through the Moscow underground one day and hearing a violin from far away and being drawn towards it with all my hairs standing on end and my emotions going in all directions.. and then seeing a young woman with her eyes closed completely lost in the moment.  I remember just stading and staring.. its such a beautiful instrument to watch being played.  Tonight its a small band in a square surrounded by couples dancing between courses .. absolutely perfect ..

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I ordered Solanka, never heard of it before, turns out to be one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.


A lovely evening walk home in the dark, another day in my ridiculously lucky life completed

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Next: North to the Circle




You had plans didn’t you.  We all had plans. I had plans.  I had all sorts of plans.  I had Tajikiplans.. Kazakplans.. Pamir plans and Magaplans for 2020 and just like everyone else I watched as the shutters came down, the borders closed and governments round the world closed their fists around their populations.  Bugger…

So 2021 I remade the plans.. I had plans A to Z with different routes winding their way around trying to give them the best chances, and once again, they were slowly but surely struck off.  My last plan to be deleted was to just ride to Magadan.  Russia was open by air to UK citizens but not by land.  I got quotes to fly the bike to Moscow (£5k!) and tried to look at other freighting options .. like ships to St Petersburg, but I couldn’t find a way through.

I went to breakfast with a couple of mates in July.  We all had UK cabin fever and we needed to get out to taste some left hand drive tarmac.  We decided to just hit the ‘fuck it’ button and go.  Trying to find out where you could and couldn’t go and what you could and couldn’t do was almost impossible so we just decided to go freestyle and see how far we could get. So .. two of us threw the saddles over the horses and headed for the tunnel.

Getting out was no problem at all.  No pre-tests required.  Turn up, show double vaccination certificate, get on the train.

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We were speaking to a bloke on the train who worked for NATO in Brussels.  He wasn’t exactly positive about our chances when we told him our rough plan… which was nice ..

Off the train easy peasy.. no checks.  So… first border.. Belgium.  Pass the sign.. same as usual.. ok then.. the only thing trying to stop us was the weather.  Pouring with rain and blowing a gale. Who would ever want to live in Belgium? Are land and houses free here?  I can’t see any other reason to live in this place.

First petrol station .. are we allowed here?  Anybody going to say anything.. ask to see anything..  only our credit cards.  Perhaps they cant see we are British because we’re wearing masks ..


Then off to the first bed for the night.  A room in a house in a tiny village.

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And off to town for dinner.  No certificates.. no questions askedIMG_1441 IMG_1445The waitress looked at my hands and asked ‘are you having problems with your motorcycle?’.. errr .. nope.. not yet.. but it is a Ktm so its not completely out of the question.. 
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Holland has recently changed all their speed limits to a blanket 100kph in the day (0600-2100 I think) and we didn’t want to give the police too much time to pull us over so we passed through the south as quick as possible without stopping and into Germany.. and again, no borders, no checks, no nothing.  This was looking good.  We popped into a town for some lunch and weren’t allowed to sit inside because my mate Brian had left his certificate on the bike but they’re happy to serve us outside

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Get towards the hotel in Magdeburg and the sat nav tries to take us down a road that’s closed.  So we reroute.. to another road that’s closed.  We’re really really close .. and there is a path over there look .. we can just nip through there where those people are walking can’t we .. directly onto some Tram road works.. the sensible thing would have been to turn round at this point but my bladder alarm was feeling like it was going to go off at any point .. so we went up another footpath only to appear out on a big pedestrianised area.. with a police car parked on the side.. and another 20 police cars parked in a car park at the side of a big building .. and two policemen with their arms crossed looking in wonder at us as we rode through the pedestrians right in front of the police station. I think one policeman bet the other that if my Ktm could keep going for 100m without breaking down then he’d let me off.. which was nice

This was the first time we had to produce our certificates in order to check in.  Not many people about here, lots of places still closed.  It really feels like we shouldn’t be here at all but again, went out to eat outside with no problems at all.


Today we’re heading for Kolobrzeg, some random Polish seaside resort town neither of us have ever been to.  Not into the swing of things quite yet.. it always takes a few days.  If it takes me more than 1 minute to pack the bike then something is wrong.  Its just got to be grab and go.

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I love this bike… I really do LOVE this bike.  Every time I wake it up in the morning it thrashes and clatters and swears and farts and snorts and fills the air with the scent of adventure… and unburnt fuel.. my favourite combination ..

We head off ..taking the easy and fast route along the autobahns with all the fucking lunatics who didn’t specify a brake pedal in the list of options.  Its blowing hard like it has been since we left and the journey is accompanied by the constant blur of wind turbine blades sending shadows racing across the tarmac.


Its really quiet out on the road.  No cars fully packed with kids and luggage, no foreign plates, and everybody here is keeping there distance.. I can’t get anyone to put their hands on my helmet no matter how hard I try ..

It starts to proper tit down again and we head for the temporary embrace of Ronald MacDonald.  You cant even order a meal here without flashing your QR code.  Ours doesn’t work of course so we have to go manual and show the manager.  We end up doing this quite often.. showing somebody something they don’t understand or recognise but that eases their conscience enough to let us carry on ..


The German/Poland border is the most active we’ve seen.  Plenty of activity, but the road is open and nobody is stopping us so on we go.

We decide to pop into Szczecin because Brian has been told its a shithole and he never ever ever ever believes anything anybody says and wants to see for himself.  Big old place with crawling traffic and trams and people everywhere.  A real contrast to where we’ve been so far.  No masks, no distancing, life looks normal.  We go to a cake shop, always our destination of choice, and I finally manage to get my helmet into the hands of a young maiden .. and her mum

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And just for the record .. we quite liked the place ..

As we get closer to Kolobrzeg the heavens burst and paint an already grey landscape with yet another coat.  This place is advertised as a holiday hot spot.  Lots of roadside adverts with kids on sunny beaches and lots of smiling white teeth.. but not this year it seems.  People we speak to say the summer has been a washout and that this fucking relentless wind has been a feature for months.

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Dinner is served in a plastic tent in the square with heavy rain sounding like paintgun pellets hitting the canvas.

We’ve come up this way because I wanted to visit Gdansk but Brian has heard that Gdynia is supposed to be nice so we head off into the storms.  F*ck its raining .. its all gone biblical and I can’t see a bloody thing.  We’re on single carrageway roads and its getting almost impossible to ride so we decide to get some cakes to soak up all the water


Everything is soaked right through to the skin .. time to break out the touratwat waterproof glove liners :)


Now this is one of those days that we do so you dont have to .. I’ve done a lot of shit days over the years but this one is right up there with any of them.  When we eventually get close to Gdynia the world comes to a complete standstill, and it doesn’t seem to change for hours.  The place is just in chaos.  The EU has packed a big squadron of  of C17s with Euros then flown over here with the back door open and everybody is rushing around trying to grab it and spend it.. mostly on the roads.  Every road contractor from here to eternity has turned up and started to dig for tarmac.. its like a black gold rush .. and the traffic is carnage.  I’m sure the Ktm’s engine is about to turn to liquid metal at any moment, and my balls are glowing red like I’ve slid down a huge banister naked .. we filter for what feels like hours and hours just to get down to the waterside where I hang my balls in the water and sit in a cloud of steam to calm down.

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See .. this girl knows its going to be 3 days until she can eat again .. because of the traffic .. well that’s her excuse anyway..


Tonight its Torun, a little walled town a long way south, so back into the metal melee we go for another few hours of chaos.  Torun is well worth the trouble though.  A beautiful place full of increasingly beautiful people.

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Some of whom need the assistance of a pole when they dance ..


A lovely warm evening. I’m beginning to feel reality slipping away now .. I love that feeling.. When I sit at home I’m constantly thumbing thought my memories but I really began to think a lot of them were getting towards their use by date .. I was getting desperate to top them up and refresh them and now its starting to fall into place.. old memories are pushed to the back and new ones fill their places..


Next: Up The Baltics