(1) Escape from the city

Whem my time has come to leave the British islands, I felt a bit dissapointed that over those years I really haven’t seen much of them… apart from the view from my office window. For this reason, only few days before departure, I scrapped my maps and instead of direct line fro London to continent, I drew a long curvy line across the whole of Britain… and a bit further. That’s how my journey began. The journey, which I’m hoping to become slightly epic dividing line between my life in the city and whatever comes next…

INTRODUCTION

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When my scooter Malina was thrown out of her nice parking lot in the back of the garden, she had to spend long nights in between the rubbish, broken down washing machine and thrown out TV. I knew that was time to leave. The city gave me a lot… courage, broader view and success, but I know the city too well now to know, that it’ll never bring me happiness.

At last after months of preparations the last little tweaks were made on Malina… I changed her from a little red city worm into a proper touring scooter. Guys in Whitton installed some useful accessories, inevitable for success of this journey, like heated hand grips, 12V power socket and front rack for extra luggage capacity. They also changed 2 years old Sava tyre on my front wheel for a new Michellin one. On my way from the garage, as I stopped on red light, an old homeless-looking guy approached me and which eyes open wide he asked “Is it Vespa?”. I nodded and just kept staring at my scooter, then looked at me and said “She is beautiful…” and walked away. So, a nice start of big journey ahead…

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…last evening before departure we had Cider with Jess, a blues-rock singer, I said good-bye to my budgie Zeppelin and little Dulcie gave a ride to her fluffy rabbit…

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…on early Friday morning, just before sunrise, my whole world was loaded on a small red scooter.

 

DAY 1 – East Anglia
Friday, 22 April 2011

How many times I dreamed about this moment… seeing my scooter ready for an epic journey, all packed, all what’s I have to do is jump on a ride wherever I want. It was a precious moment when it happened…

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…last time we passed by the rubbish, washing machine and TV…

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…and set off towards the rising sun, towards unknown…

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…here next to gigantic Heathrow airport the journey begins…

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…it was early morning, the city was still sleeping and so I decided to say good-bye to it properly, before it wakes up into a new day full crowds and traffic jams…

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…who knows whether I will ever ride across Westminister bridge again, like I did so many times before…

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…so many thousands of miles we made in these narrow streets…

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…but, Malina still hasn’t got a proper photograph of her in London…

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…so we passed Tower Bridge…

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…I smuggled her on a pathway all the way to the river bank a made her a proper portrait with London in the background…

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…last time we passed by the empty shiny world of money…

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…a then we had to get out of the city as quick as possible, it started waking up…

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…it took few hours, but finally we switched from the city lane-splitting style down to relaxing country-roads style and happily travelled along the country lanes of Essex…

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…there is a stone church in the middle of every village…

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…and between villages, colourful fields spread across the flat land…

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…green and yellow…

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…yellow and green…

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…occasionally a massive factory… this one produces sugar…

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…an ancient mill…

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…hours and hours of riding across this flat world…

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…only wooden electric poles were greeting us on these empty side roads…

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…or endless rows of trees tested by strong winds…

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…I found a lighthouse, but in this flat land, the sea was still so far from it, I couldn’t even see it…

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…this was East Anglia. Like a twin of Holland on the other side of the strait. Most of the land is on or below sea level. Marked by many wars is this land. Throughout the history, peoples were occupying this land… Gallic, Norse, Roman, Vikings and most often Anglo-Saxons, who named the country according to their homeland called Angeln in today’s Germany. Many wars with neighbouring kingdom of Mercia happened, Anglia never outshines surrounding lands. Only villages and fields, pure agriculture since the first men arrived here. No sign of sheep, chickens or cattle, si typical for the rest of the island. Strange country… a bit boring is such flat land in my mind. People end almost every sentence with “eeneet”… slang form of “isn’t it” I suppose… sounds a bit funny to me.

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I spent night on a small farm called Haven House. While I spoke to the owner, Malina attracted some new fans, a family with kids. Their father told me stories about his travels around Europe on his motorbike. He has four motorbikes today… but also 4 children and wife who won’t let him go anywhere. Two more times he came back and suggested me to stop by their house in Norwich on my way back to London where I would be most welcome and he would give a proper look at my scooter. Before we all went to sleep he said it was good that I decided to set off for a long journey before I have wife and four children… and ended it with the usual “eeneet?”… I think he was right.

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DAY 2 – Northumbria
Saturday, 23 April 2011

When I woke up, the sun was quite high in the sky and I could not believe that my program for the whole day is to be riding on my scooter and exploring the country. My mind still lived in the old world, where the dreams are to be dreamed, not becoming reality. Some silly inner voice always wants to turn back home, we’ll have to go to work, right? I tried to explain my inner voice that we have nowhere to come back to and no one is expecting me at work. I cooked myself proper big english breakfast, packed my tent, waved good-bye to family with four kids and set off for another day of journey…

…still flat land, the only change is that the stone churches turned into red brick churches…

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…spoiled by the big city, always when I wanted to buy something I found only closed shop… ehm, weekend…

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…ďfar in the distance, gigantic turbines kept slowly harnessing wind…

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…rollercoasters along the coast…

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…colourful british beach sheds…

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…and so further we went passing through many coastal villages…

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…sometimes more of of dirt track than road…

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…700 years old gate into Thornton Abbey…

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…near town of Hull we passed through ore than one mile long Humber Bridge, costing £1.20 for a scooter…

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…such height, strong gale a swinging cables, my head was spinning…

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…and suddenly I could hear peacocks from all directions as we entered the parks of Howard Castle…

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…that strong wind had to mean something…

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…before evening, stripes of rain covered the horizon…

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…might be unusual, but I like riding in the rain, listening to raindrops knocking on the windshield and splashing below the wheels. Scooters are designed in such way… while I’m moving, it’s not raining on me…

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…but I had to stop when I saw this and to be honest, after hundreds of miles on a flat land I couldn’t quite believe this sign. I have never seen such steep road…

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…but it was right. I was braking and praying for life as waterfalls of water from the storm were rumbling down the road with rocks, branches of trees and mud. Another surprise waited for me down in the valley… perfect milky fog. My headlight was pretty useless in these conditions and it was getting dark. With help of my GPS I found a campsite, but with a large sign FULL on its gate. The owner didn’t mind my drenched appearance and sent me away. Place for 250 tents and all of them full, out of season… I didn’t quite believe that. As I was looking for another farm, I managed to ride into a field full of soft mud. Malina helplessly spanned the wheel sinking deep into the mud. I couldn’t get out of that. Any of my efforts only caused sinking deeper and deeper. No force was enough. Then I used brain, investigated the terrain, turned the scooter in different direction and pushed it out of mud with no effort. I learned that thinking can be so much powerful than muscles.

The road conditions were hazardous and so I found a spot on the beachside to spent the night on. I knew this place. It was a night similar to this one. Dark patches of clouds were rolling deep down below cliffs when the skies were lit by lighting and a russian scooner Demeter crashed into the pier. The only survivor, captain tied to the rudder wheel could tell the horrors the ship crew encountered. A big black dog jumped from the scooner into the town of Whitby, one of many forms of a vampire. It was somewhere nearby on this cliff where Bram Stoker in 1897 selected Whitby as the place where grof Dracula enters England. One of the figures Mina, wrote in her diary:

“Right over the town is the ruin of Whitby Abbey, which was sacked by the Danes, and which is the scene of part of “Marmion,” where the girl was built up in the wall. It is a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits; there is a legend that a white lady is seen in one of the windows.”

…finally I’m experiencing England as I know it from the old books…

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…this is the journey of my past two days…

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…we are quite far north… but not enough. I want to go further north, much further. But now I need sleep, there is a long journey ahead of us.

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