Gibraltar Or Bust


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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there existed a British Motorcycle Industry.It had been present at the birth of Motorcycling and had spawned many exciting developments along the way.

However, it had managed to push its head so deeply into the sand that the first thing it knew about any real competition to its existence was when it felt a deep, violating stabbing coming from its exposed rear.

Still its head stayed down and almost without exception, it withered and perished leaving little more than blue plaques on walls where once monolithic factories had produced great machines that thundered off of production lines.

Then, from over a distant horizon came a once familiar sound. At first, some thought it to be the ghost of Keith Moon keeping the beat on his Bass Drum. Others thought it was the sound of Thor and Woden battling it out in the heavens above.

"Dub-Dub-Dub-Dub" On and on it went. Getting closer and closer, - yet still oh-so-distant.

Then, from a garage forecourt, somewhere on the A38, came there came a plaintive cry.

"Quick, - Mother, throw some sand on the forecourt, I can hear an Bullet, and it's coming this way!"

Few had remembered that, at the closing of an Empire, the very technology that had caused the demise of the Industry had been exported to the only nation who could be trusted to keep the dream alive and carry on like the Sorcerer's Apprentice making the same old thing, in the same old way, because no one said to do otherwise.


India had been making bikes based on the machine that they had admired and chosen for their Armed Forces and Police so many years ago. Now manufactured to the highest of standards with CNC machining and even tightening up some of the nuts and bolts. They were now being rewarded with being able to find a ravenous market back in "Dear Old Blighty".

So many people are proud to be able to own a link to such a worthy inheritance but sadly many of them only get used as "Garage Ornaments" and for physiotherapy by over-polishing with "Magic Cloths" and potions.

This is the record of three variants of the saviour being taken on a 4500 mile expedition from the UK to the southernmost tip of the European mainland – Gibraltar,..........and then back again.



Bill has a 350 Enfield which he is loath to give up as it is the reasoning behind his nick name.

It is rumoured that he is going to switch to anthracite in it as a fuel to assist the current climate problems.

The bike that Bill took to Europe was an Enfield Bullet 500 electric start. He bought it for a few hundred quid in several baskets and proceeded to resurrect it from the floor up. The fact that it generally held up for a 4000+ mile trek is testimony to his skills and confidence as a mechanic.

These skills are second only to his ability as a rider. Now, if only he had longer legs and could reach the floor when he stops.......

I apologise for having to use a picture with a Kawazaki in it on a Blog about Enfields but, as you will see as this Blog continues, this is the only incident, on record, where Bill is smiling.


Henry is the proprietor of Price Parts Motorcycles and it was his stupid idea to go on this trip.

For those who don't know Henry, he supplies an excellent service in all aspects of anything Enfield and, I have to say that, to watch him set about fixing a non running, fully loaded bike, spanners and oil flying all over the place, in temperatures of 35 degrees, while you and your mate wander across the road and have an ice cold beer is truly a sight to behold.

Henry's daily hack is a Royal Enfield Lightning 535 with many mods. Samarat rockers, lightweight piston, rollerbearing big end, upgraded oil pumps, en-suite panniers..... the list goes on and on. It's more of a work in progress considering that Henry rarely has less that six bikes ready to go in his workshop and enough spares on the shelf to build another six.

The one mod that Henry did to his Lightning for the trip was to copy my mod by removing the twin seat and fit the "fat arse" U.S. style sprung solo seat. To this is added a piece of sheepskin.

You may laugh but no more "Enfield Arse"!


Yours truly from Chepstow, South Wales. I've had an Enfield, of one sort or another for about 5 years and recenty went for the Electra with the alluminium lean burn engine.

My bike had done 6000 miles before we departed and has had a Delorto 32 m.m. carb, unrestricted Hitchcock’s exhaust and a Goldie silencer fitted along with the single seats (and sheepskin cover)

The rack has a large top box and large hard cased panniers attached to the sides. But more of that later.....

I also had my Tom Tom Sat Nav with the maps for Western Europe. We decided that, rather than be led by the nose for the whole trip, we'd use the Sat Nav to get us out of the clag when we got lost beyond redemption.

I'd installed a weatherproof 12-volt cigarette socket into the battery cover to power the Sat Nav, Mobile Phone and Ipod chargers.


All three of the bikes were extensively serviced prior to departure to the extent that even when wheels were removed for tyres, tubes and tapes, wheel bearings were replaced. It's much easier to do something like this at one's leisure than on a fully loaded up bike in the heat of the noon-day sun somewhere.

Henry made use of his copious panniers to take as many spare as he thought we might need and could manage to squeeze in. On top of this, I had spare cables, tubes, a mini compressor, and as many tools as I could manage. Bill had one of his wife's old leather handbags with a selection of tools, a compact, comb and a lipstick! Now there's confidence for you. He must have thought he was going to get lucky at some point.

Henry and I both had cycle computers fitted to allow for a more accurate record of mileage and speeds etc. We had enough cable ties to tow a small ship, various nuts and bolts and, most importantly, full breakdown and repatriation cover.

We had all bought camping gear. Bill's first atempt at a tent was a £12.99 thing from Argos. It turned out to be the sort of thing you might buy for the kids to use in the garden on a Sunday afternoon. He had a "try-out" in it and found it was more akin to a canvas coffin. Henry and I had also bought weatherproof "stuff bags" which proved invaluable.

Added to that was a liberal amount of bungees, super glue, magic metal, liquid gasket, copper grease, spark plugs, insulating tape, rabbits foot....... and we were good to go.

FRIDAY 29th JUNE 2007


I woke early (no surprise) and set off from Chepstow to meet up with Bill and Henry at Price Parts U.K. Headquarters at Rockhampton, Thornbury.
I got as far as the Severn Bridge and decided that I didn't have my mobile!
Back to base, only to discover that I had it all along! Too many pockets.

I arrived at Henry's at 8 o'clock. Ric was there and was going to accompany us to the Ferry at Poole and make sure that we really went.



Bill arrived 10 minutes later and couldn't dismount unaided. Good job he wasn't going on his own.

After a passport and ticket check, we set off in the direction of Poole via Bath and the A350. We got as far as Bathampton, south of Bath when we ran into one of the many monsoon-like storms that this summer has brought us. Despite stopping to don waterproofs, I was soaked through to the skin within two miles. The rain lasted for almost an hour and then, brilliant sunshine started to dry us out.

What a site we must have made, four steaming Herberts heading for the coast!We arrived at the Ferry Terminal at Poole at 11 o'clock. I changed out of my "shower proof" coat and Kevlar lined strides and hung them both out to dry on the bike.


After a cup of tea and a cheese sandwich, we boarded the Sea Cat Ferry and, with a wave to Ric we were off!


We parked the bikes on the car deck and stewards arrived to lash them down with ratchet straps. Perhaps they anticipated bad weather? We had booked reclining seats for the trip and, made our way from the car deck to the stern cabin where the recliners were. We were shown to our seats by another steward.

He returned a few minutes later and asked an elderly Gent and his Thai Bride for their tickets. They'd tried to blag two spare recliners and had no intention of paying any extra and told the steward so. Off went the steward and returned with a very hard faced officer. He explained without any emotion, that if the Gent didn't either (a) move or (b) pay the surcharge for the seats, he, and his wife, would be forcibly removed by members of the crew and his car would be off-loaded when the Ferry returned from France. Tomorrow!

I've rarely seen a wallet open so fast.

After a long blast on the ship's horn, we were off. Out of the harbour, past Brownsea Island and out into the channel.

That's when it happened.....

First the cold sweats, then the churning of the stomach. Five minutes at the toilet sink told me that this wasn't going to be a five minute thing!

I made it out onto the deck and, after carefully testing the wind direction (once a boy scout.....), spent the next five hours making a fine effort to try and turn myself inside-out. I became soaked from head to toe in sea spray but was welded to the ship's rail.

The steward came out onto the deck. "Sir,… sir… are you OK?"

I muttered a reply through a mouthful of drool and, of course, he couldn't make out my reply and so repeated his question. "Sir,… sir… are you OK sir?"

I turned to him and, mid hurl, tried again to make myself clear "Look mate, just F*** OFF and leave me alone to die. There's a good chap!"

Bill told me that, when he came back inside, the Officer asked the steward "How's the passenger on the deck?"

"I don't think he feels very well at all sir. I think he's rather ill." came the reply. Bill nearly split his sides when I told him the other side of the story later.

We stopped at Guernsey on the way which offered some respite. Then the last lap to St Malo. Back to the rail and situation normal. The steward came out again and forced a coat on me. Apparently the Captain could see me from the bridge and was concerned about hypothermia!

Then I spotted it.

" LAND HO!" I managed to mumble waving a shaky finger at the horizon. Just how must real sailors feel after weeks at sea?

Back inside to find that almost everyone had been ill. The waste bins were full of sick bags. At least I'd recycled mine to the fish. Cod anyone?

Down to the car deck on legs of jelly. I managed to get underway on the bike.

That's when it happened…..

I fell straight over on the greasy car deck. So glad I bought the Crash Bars from Price Parts! Got the bike back up and made it out of the ship, only to find that Bill was lying on his side behind me down on the car deck. They wouldn't let Henry or me back onto the boat to help him, even though we protested that he was our Granddad!

With help from the stewards he emerged with only a bent footrest to show for his trouble. Henry jumped on it several times and un-bent it. I'm so glad we brought a skilled mechanic with us!

We decided that, given the way we (I) felt, camping tonight was out of the question. Henry looked up the address of a local "Formula 1" lodge. I hooked up the Sat Nav and Ozzy Ozbourne took us "straight F…F…F***ing" there.


The plan was to make an early start. That's what I like about plans, they change! We checked the bikes over and got underway around 9.30. It was overcast and spitting with rain so Rubber Knickers were the order of the day. We made our way past Rennes and generally south via dual carriageways and Motorway standard roads. This let us keep good average speeds (for Enfields).Fuel ran low so we pulled off the main drag and searched out a filling station. Refueled, got a replacement stop and tail lamp for Henry and off we went.


That's when it happened…..
I led off from the petrol station and went back up the hill towards the dual carriageway. The look on the face of the poor little girl on her moped coming down the hill and round the bend on the same side of the road as me was epic!
Oops!A quick swerve and a look in the mirrors told me that Bill and Henry were too close for me to be able to deny that one.
'Pas de Problem!
The further south we got, the more the weather improved. Rubber Knickers were gone and we looked out a spot for lunch. We found a Spar Shop and loaded up on bread cheese and ham. We dined like Kings. Henry and Bill both crashed out on the grass and were snoring in unison!


Half an hour later, we resumed towards Angoleme and from there, turned off towards Perignac and Mike Scott's palace. We turned on the Sat Nav and, after it sent us on two wild goose chases, we ended up on the right road.
I had no actual address for Mike's place, only a picture of the village church taken from his place. So we parked the bikes in the square and revved them up for a minute or two. That soon brought Mike out. It reminded me of the Tiger Tank scene from Kelly's Heroes!


We parked the bike in one of Mike's Barns and headed for the "fsst" sound of beer being opened.Mike's place was very welcoming after a day in the saddle. I felt like crap, especially after the trip on the ferry and then the ride down to Mikes. Those who know me will know how bad I must have felt when I went to bed without eating any of the fine chilli that Mike had laid on.For anyone planning a motorcycle trip in this region, I know that Mike is looking to provide accommodation at Perignac in the near future. It comes well recommended.



248 miles from St. Malo to Perignac
343 miles in total
Average 171.5 miles per day


The next morning was a different story Mike rustled up a full English with French bangers (pork and paprika). It didn't touch the sides. Even the fried eggs were well received!
We attended to the bikes. Oil, tappets, tyre pressures etc. Only two problems turned up. Bill was now getting almost 85 m.p.g. However, he thinks if he switches to a thicker grade of oil, this figure should begin to rise a little.

There was not much that could be done about Bill’s oil consumption en route, except to keep a close eye on it to make sure it didn't run dry and to make sure that Bill rode at the back. I thought he'd left the smoke machine in Worcester?

The other problem was that Henry's bike was leaking oil from the inlet oil banjo connector. We managed to develop our first fault and it needed a copper washer which none of us had! Heads were being scratched to come up with a French translation for "copper washer".

Henry tightened things down as much as he could safely do and we all set off with Mike leading the way towards Bordeaux. This being Sunday and the fact that we were in France meant that we had almost as much chance of finding a free lunch as finding a copper washer shop. The same applies to Petrol! Strange country, France. If it's Sunday, then it's shut. Saying that, we did manage to find an unattended petrol station that had an automatic pump that took Visa.

We continued on through several sleepy towns and villages, most of which were made up of narrow streets with blocks of houses, four or five stories high that opened out right onto the narrow pavementWe were making our way through one such "Ville"......

That's when it happened.......

Bill was riding number two as we were coming up to a set of traffic lights. All of a sudden, Bill's bike let out a thunderous backfire and the whole scene in front of me disappeared in a cloud of blue / black smoke! The volume seemed to be amplified by the proximity of the buildings.

When the smoke cleared, Bill's carb was hanging like a severed head, Several people on the pavement had their hands over their hearts. One woman had her hand over her arse. An old fellow on the other side of the road was checking his fob watch. I can only assume that he thought that the noon day gun had gone off early? Two minutes later, the carb was re-attached and we were underway again.

We rode on as we had agreed, two hours or so, followed by a ten minute break. After a while, we found a converted petrol station that sold filled baguettes. That was lunch sorted. Oil levels were checked and we topped up Bill's bike, again. It had earned the nick-name "Amoco Cadiz" due to the amount of black stuff it was losing.

We rode through the French countryside with fields of sunflowers watching over us. Before we reached Bordeaux, Mike waved us off and headed back for Perignac.

We missed our turning as we approached Bordeaux and ended up riding right through the centre of the city. What a nice mistake to make. A lovely place. We hooked up the Sat Nav and we were soon winging our way out of Bordeaux, going south towards Biarritz.

The weather was getting warmer and the countryside was getting more rural. We were riding on a Motorway class road (the N10) through beautiful pine forests with mile upon mile of fragrant yellow flowered Broom.


We took a break at one of the many picnic areas that are to be found along the road. Henry sparked up his petrol primus time-bomb and we soon had a cuppa in our hands. After a leak and another check of the bikes, we started to put our coats and helmets back on.

We decided that, as time was marching on, we would ride for about another hour and then look for a camp site. As I was sorting out my Ipod, Bill started his bike and started to tootle off. Henry and I discussed the pros and cons of music and riding for a minute and then we started up and made for the slip road to find Bill.

Thats's when it happened......

Bill was nowhere to be seen. Henry and I couldn't believe that he'd just blasted off down the motorway without us? I did a quick tour of the picnic area to see if he was about. Still no Bill. So we set off blindly down the motorway to see if we could find him.
We had, up to now, kept our speeds to around 50 or so. I set off at around 75 / 80 for 20 minutes to catch him up. Still no Bill. I had passed several services and Pit-Stops and slowed down as I passed each one to have a good look out for him. After 20 minutes, I stopped on the hard shoulder, just before an exit and waited for Henry. We decided that I'd wait on the motorway bridge and Henry would retrace our steps checking each Pit-Stop and junction along the road to see if he could flush him out. I got my bike up onto the bridge and Henry set off North bound. I managed to get my bike up onto the narrow pavement on the bridge, to get it off the road and to let it act as a beacon to Bill.
Then, as I tried to dismount, I lost balance and both me and the bike were lying in the road! I managed to crawl clear and some kind soul stopped and helped me get it back upright again.
Time was passing and I had doubts that we would ever regain contact with Bill this side of home. Bill had a mobile phone but didn't have any credit on it, let alone have it configured to work in France. The only logical thing I could think that he might do is to do the E.T. thing and phone home!

I decided to call Naomi, Bill's wife, and see if he had called.
"Hello Naomi, It's Tim"
"Oh - I'm fine thanks, and you?"
“The weather, oh it’s wonderfull…”
"Oh yes, were all OK thanks........except......"
"We seem to have lost Bill,..... a little bit!"

Everything considered, I think she was very calm. She promised to call me if he called her and I told her I'd let her know when (meaning “if”) we found him. Henry returned about an hour later and we decided that there was little more we could do so we said that we would carry on down the motorway and look for a camp site. We were both glum, the three were now two.
All-in-all, it had now been some 90 minutes since we'd last seen Bill. We set off south and after about 20 minutes I saw an exit which said fuel (I was getting low) and camping. I indicated right and checked behind to make sure Henry saw it.

Then, just as I was running up the slip road, there he was. The silly old sod! Bike parked on the edge of the slip road, Bill was sat on the armco barrier like a Garden Gnome! As we came to a halt and got off, Bill proceeded to bollock us.

"Where the blazes have you two been, I've been waiting here for ages?"
I didn't know whether to hug him or just kick him off the armco and down into the ditch! We got back on our bikes and set about following the signs for "Camping Lou Payou"


The site was less than a mile from the junction and was a small family run site that was almost empty. The unforeseen problem was that they had used sand to make up the tracks on the site and the top-heavy bikes didn't like it one bit. Once we allowed for it we managed without dropping any of the bikes.
We decided that the tents could wait a bit. We set about making Bill fluent in the necessary French phrases.
Bill approached the shop / reception / cafe.

"Trois beers s'il vouz plait mamoiselle....... por favour, thank you"

Well he came back with three cold ones so - success. We were about to down in one when Bill stopped us. "Toast!" he cried.


Beer always tastes better when the sun's out. After a couple more, we set about making camp and getting some nosh underway.

We phoned Naomi and put her mind at rest. She made me promise that we would make sure that Bill was "the meat in the sandwich" from now on.


The tents went up without too much trouble and we dined on Bully Beef and Beans from our supplies with French bread from the shop along with a bottle or two of red stuff.

201 miles from Perignac to Camplig Lou Payou
544 miles in total
Average 181 miles per day


We awoke to rain on the tents. Depressing. Wet tents to put away and wet roads to ride on. But, by the time we were up and dressed, the rain had passed and the tents were dry enough after a good shake.

More beans for breakfast. That should help to keep the fuel bill down for the bikes! We packed away and paid our bill at the site and headed for the local garage to fill up.

Bugger me if Monsieur Price didn’t disappear into the garage with the French mechanic and reappear with “une rondelle de cuivre” in his hand and a big beaming smile on his face (Copper Washer to you). Ten minutes later and it was fitted. We set off for the Spanish border and the Pyrenees.


After an hour of steady riding, we turned off the N10 and headed for DAX. We began to climb into the Pyrenees. We had turned off from the main drag to cross via the mountains rather than skirt around the side. The scenery was spectacular. Little did we know that, on a scale of 1 to 10 for scenery we would see on this holiday, this would score around only 3.

We continued up into the mountains, and stopped in St. Jean Pied De Port at a small supermarket to buy some lunch. Bread, cheese, ham and a fresh cooked pizza.


We also bought some provisions for our evening meal. Henry almost emptied the charcuterie counter for tomorrow’s breakfast. They say you should never shop for food when you’re hungry. They must have had Henry in mind when they said that!

Then it was onwards and upwards after checking the bikes again. Before long we were able to send a text back to base-camp “The Three Amigos sing Viva Espana”. We crossed the border at a place called Luzaide. Typical French. No marking of the border, no sign, no nothing. Just a mad dog barking right in the middle of the road, right on the border.



We took a few photos with the “Welcome to Spain” sign in the background and sent some back to Frances at base camp. She had agreed to post pictures and daily reports on the Lonely Bob Fan Club Forum. A thankless task but apparently well received. We then carried on towards Pamplona (where they do the annual bull run). Now, if it was a Bullet Run……

We started to cut across Spain in a general south west line and stopped, late in the afternoon, in a small town to refuel. It was hot, damn hot! The bikes were glowing. Henry consulted his Camping Almanac and fond a site in a small town called Noverette. I put the town name into the Sat Nav and off we went. Half an hour later, we were in the town centre and following signs that said “Camping”. We ended up on the far side of the town with no further sign of a camp site. Henry and I had a huddle to try and make some sense of the directions in his book and the layout of the town. With that, I looked up to see Bill walking across the road to two local workmen in day-glo (or dago as Bill called it) orange overalls.

“Senior, Camping por favour?”

Now we didn’t have a clue what they said but the waving hands said “Back up the way you came and first left, old cock”

Who said Bill couldn’t speak the lingo?

Ten minutes later we were booking in and five minutes after that we were making camp. We were next to the toilet block but at least that would be a blessing at 3 a.m!


Henry went to the shop and came back with some wine. No bread, no chips! I cooked up the provisions that Henry had bought for lunch along with some Uncle Ben’s boil in the bag rice.

That’s when it happened……

I turned to tell Henry that dinner would be in about half an hour and realised he was changing from his Kevlar jeans into some shorts – in the open air! Now why he decided he had to strip of his boxers as well, I’ll never know.

Suffice to say, I now qualify for the “I’VE SEEN PRICE’S PARTS” T shirt. There are times when you would welcome a little sun blindness, this was one of them.

We sat about and enjoyed our supper and the wine. We discussed the bikes and how well they were holding up. I hoped that this wasn’t tempting fate. They were parked lose by and could clearly hear us! I’d found that the entire engine and gearbox assembly was getting so hot that I had to make sure that my boots made no contact with the alloy casing or I would get burnt – through the leather! With the higher temperatures we were experiencing, we were stopping for a cool-down break every 60 – 90 minutes. Mucho agua also.

We decided that, at the rate that Bill’s bike was using oil, there would be no need to do an oil change when we reached southern Spain. It was more like a total loss system but, apart from the expense, there was no perceived problem.

The only niggle was that Bill’s bike had developed a habit of not wanting to start for about 10 minutes when it had been stopped. We tried a new plug and that seemed to help a little.

We had an early night, or at least tried to. It turned out that the toilet block was more of a “village pump” with people congregating to “chew the cud”. I unzipped the tent and stuck my head out….. a few choice words later and silence prevailed. I knew that we would be off early in the morning and couldn’t wait to hear the three Enfields bark-up.

198 miles Camping Lou Payou - Noverette
742 miles in total
Average 186 miles per day


In the morning, we set about cooking the rations that Henry and Bill had bought in France. A dozen sausages, pork belly, beans, eggs……

Did the pre-flight checks. We were now getting into the habit of getting the tents packed away before the sun makes it much above the horizon. To do any work in under this sun was murderous.

We set off across the Spanish Plains in the direction of Castella-y-Leon, Salamanca and on towards Caceres. We stopped in a Spanish Truck stop for lunch. Now that was an experience. A combination of our lack of Spanish and the waitress’s lack of English (and patience) led to a lot of guessing and pointing. We ended up going for a plate of “Pollo” on the basis that if it was chicken then it would be edible. Jackpot. Leg of chicken (or something that once had feathers) boiled then grilled with garlic and served with a small salad and hunks of bread. We couldn’t get over the amount of beer, and harder drinks, that the Spanish lorry drivers were knocking back. We made a mental note to give them more room when they passed us at 70+ mph.


We got lost several times. We stopped at a garage in one town and Henry asked for directions for a supermarket. Henry came back and decided that the directions that he’d been given were no good so we set off the opposite way. We inevitably got lost and I took the lead trying to get us back on track. We went with the traffic flow around the town and 10 minutes later arrived at the garage again! We decided to abandon plans for the supermarket and I switched on the Sat Nav. We entered the destination town and set off. Another 10 minutes and another circuitous route of the town and, yes you guessed it, back to the garage! Third time lucky and we made it out of town. It was no coincidence that my Ipod was playing “Hotel California”.

“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave….” Cue Guitar Solo.

South of Caceres we needed to head west overland and head for a camp site that Henry had found in his “Boy’s Own book of places to camp”. The problem was that it didn’t have an address that the Sat Nav could understand. We pulled over onto the side of the road and started doing our ritual “map spinning”, to see which way up looked the most inviting. Enter the Spanish version of white van man (Hombre blanca vano?) He spoke no English. You’d think that they’d make the effort! After a lot of preamble, we managed to tell him where we wanted to go. He gestured for us to follow him and off he went. This went on for about 5 miles when he stopped at a junction. I gathered that this was where our paths parted.

I’ve never understood why some people, even though they know you don’t speak a word of their language, proceed to give you extensive directions – in their language! We might as well have started a card school. Eventually he stopped jabbering and waving his arms around and looked at me for some form of acknowledgement.

“Si seňor, muchas gracias” (I told you I was fluent). I hit the electric boot button and left him in the dust. “Hasta la vista – baby”

We stopped a little way down the road and put the village name near to the camp site into the Sat Nav and tried to follow that. Up one mountain, down another, along a valley and up another mountain….. it went on and on.

Between the Sat Nav and me, we ended up in a very quaint cobbled village.


We rounded a corner and came upon the village church where half a dozen women were sat on a stone bench outside the church, passing the time, like you do. We stopped the bikes and Bill decided to go for directions. He approached end of the rank of old girls and bowed low .

“Bounas tardes, seňoras”. They all giggled with his attempt at their tongue. He sat on the end of the row and tried to make his acquaintance with the old girl next to him. He took her arm and tried the thread it though his.


That’s when it happened…..

She upped with her walking stick and started to rain blows down on Bill as if he was the Worcester rapist! Bill made a fast exit, wishing that he’d kept his helmet on.

Despite this debacle, Henry managed to get directions and we mounted up and made a swift exit from the village before any of the men woke up. We got ourselves back onto the main road and the Sat Nav regained its marbles and soon we were back on the road to Miranda De Castena and a camp site.

We went on and on, through very mountainous but barren land with no sign of civilisation. It was getting late in the day. Soon the sun would be going down behind some of the peaks. Things were getting so bad that both Henry and I had started to eye up the hilly countryside for a flattish bit that we could pitch our tents on.

Then we saw it. A sign for a “camp site”.

We followed the signs and, a mile or two out of the hill top village we ended up at a pair of locked gates. The view beyond them was bleak! The pedestrian gate on the side was open and so, in I went.


“Si” the proprietor said, they were open and he went for the key to the gates. A worrying sign. Things went downhill from there. The proprietor’s boyfriend (seemed like a nice boy!) showed us all to our pitch, once we had passed Passport Control and Immigration. When he had decided on which pitch we could have (there was only two other parties on the entire site!) he came out with pages of typed rules for the site. Perhaps it was because we were on bikes or the fact that Henry and I hadn’t shaved since England?

I stopped paying any attention and he equally ignored me sensing that my attitude (me, attitude? as if!) wasn’t doing much for the situation.

He did however seemed to have taken rather a shine to Henry and insisted on showing him the toilet block. I offered Henry the frying pan to take with him but he assured me he would be OK. He returned 10 minutes later and didn’t seem to be walking any differently. He had had to have a demonstration on everything from “how to turn on the shower” to “which sink to use for sock washing and which sink for co** washing”. Oh, and to top it all, the bar didn’t for another two hours! That didn’t fit in with our “early to bed, early to rise” routine. Neither did the fact that the gates would not be unlocked until 9 a.m.! Thank God it was only to be one night!

I looked around for the watchtowers and guard-dog patrols. If this was Stalag 31 then there must be an escape committee?


We managed to get him to compromise and sell us some beer that we could take back to the tents and so we rustled up some supper (Fray Bentos Steak & Kidney puddings) and sat around the camp fire getting pissed. Bill serenaded us with his version of several songs sung in the fashion of a German Camp Guard. Sounds so lame now but when you outside of several bottles of beer and some wine, we were all in tears. Stupid hysterics, I suppose?

300 miles Camping Noverette – Miranda De Castena
1042 miles in total
Average 208 miles per day


We woke early – again. Broke camp and got some coffee on the go. We were soon all packed up and waiting at the gates for the curfew to end. There was no breakfast to be had on site, The best bet was to go into the local town, Miranda Del Castinar, and find somewhere.


We rode into the town were a little early for the one and only local bar / cafe. We could have had a lie in! We parked the bikes up and sat in the shade., watching the world go by.


And, before you ask, yes – the sky was that colour. Then, as we sat and waited, along came an old fella with a pack mule. It was nice to see that someone was loaded up more that I was.



The cafe opened and we went in for coffee and croisants for breakfast.


We had a long ride ahead of us and they wouldn’t involve dual carriageways so, we knew we needed to get some miles in. Henry's Camping Bible didn't show any sites between here and Ayomonte so it was a choice of slog on or camp rough and as it was just possible to make Ayomonte on the Spainish / Portugese border before nightfall, we decided to go for it. This would mean that Henry would be in the arms of his belovėd before the day ended. We agreed a route and, after finding a petrol station (down one mountain and up another) we set off. We hadn’t travelled more that 30 minutes when we reached the top of a mountain called Portillo. The scenery was breathtaking and it was a photo opportunity.





Back on the bikes and down the other side of the mountain. The hair-pins were so sharp, I swear I could have “high fived” Henry or Bill as we passed each other.


We rode on and on with a break every now and then until lunch beckoned. We stopped in a village and relieved the local shop of some bread, cheese, ham and tomatoes, followed by melon. It tasted very good, I have to say.


On we went. As the land flattened out, the roads became better and better. The surface was like a Grand Prix circuit. And the bends, well the only way I can describe it is to say that UK bend design seems to be based on a French Curve. That is to say that you never know if the bend is going to tighten up on you or open out. These bends had been drawn with a compass. Once you had set yourself for the bend, you could push yourself all the way round on the throttle. Even with all the luggage on board, I was really enjoying myself. It went on for mile after mile. It was really enjoyable.

I was leading and I thought “To hell with it, let’s have a little fun” so I began to open up a bit more and really enjoy the road. I needed to concentrate hard on the road ahead so didn’t spend much time looking behind. I knew that I had stepped up the pace a good peg or two but, there were no junctions for anyone to get lost at so, onwards! When I came to an obvious resting place I could pull over and wait there for the others to catch up.

After about 10 minutes of this, I looked in my mirror and all I could see was Smokey Bill, right up my chuff!

How the mighty are fallen! Sorry Bill, I should have known better.

We stopped for fuel again and dipped the oil. Another pint or two for Bill. Then, on we went.

We were heading south towards the coast and the coastal Motorway that goes into Portugal. We could fork off right at some point and cut the corner. We found our turning and off we went.

That’s when it really happened…..

We had about 24 miles to go to Ayomonte. Henry overtook me and flagged me down. My luggage rack had broken and everything was about to fall off! We decided that the only thing to do at this stage was off load as much as we could onto the other bikes and secure the rest up on mine as best as we could and then limp the last 24 miles.

Both of my detachable side panniers went onto Henry’s bike. My top-box and associated luggage went onto my back seat with the help of a ratchet strap (I was certainly glad I packed that!). My large bag that was on my back seat was moved to Bill’s bike.

The light was fading as we set off. I was wedged between my tank bag and the top-box, like sitting between the two humps of a camel and perched on the unsprung point of my single saddle. I still don’t know how I got on, Or off again for that matter. The fastest I felt comfortable doing was 40 m.p.h. We soon finished the “cutting of the corner” and had to join the Motorway for the last 20 miles. That was hairy. The orange sun was setting in front of us and little did we know that my bag that Bill was carrying had slipped down and was covering his back light. Anyone approaching this slow trio from behind would be blinded by the sun and could very easilly ended in disaster for us all.

But as we turned off the Motorway in Ayomonte, we saw Lesley and her friend Jan on the side of the road. They led the way to the apartment via a road with speed bumps every 50 yards. Ten minutes later we were all holding a beer as I stood waiting for the circulation to come back to my groin.



See what happens on the same day that I make fun of an overloaded donkey?

All in all, and interesting ride.

The ladies had laid on a lovely spread and lashings of beer and wine. We sat and told tales of the travels thus far, until the small hours.

No tents tonight! Bill and I rolled out our bed rolls in the lounge while Henry had a soft bed with Lesley.

350 miles Miranda De Castena - Ayomonte
1392 miles in total
Average 232 miles per day


A day off today. Plenty of phone calls and pictures sent back to Frances. I’m really jealous that Henry has Leslie here. Still, there’s lots for me to do before we can set off again. I had to get my rack repaired if I was to be able to continue.

The odd-job man for the complex gave us some vague directions to where we might get some welding done so, after a fine breakfast, Bill and I set off for the blacksmiths and the others made for the beach. We rode round and round and weren’t getting anywhere. Then, out of the blue, found ourselves stopped by the sound of an angle grinder. I popped my head in the door and found a fully functioning workshop. I approached the guy who was obviously in charge (he had clean hands) and showed him the broken rack. A bracket had broken at the weld and it needed about 3 minutes with a mig welder. If he hadn’t spoken so fast, I would now be able to tell you what the Spanish for “Sod Off, English Pig” is!

I asked him if there was anywhere else?

I think he told me to try next door. Well, not being very impressed with the level of customer insolence, I moved on up the street. Another workshop and another guy fabricating another set of gates.

In I went, with my rack and asked if he could help. He must have spent last night drinking in the same bar as the last bloke. Same speech, same hand signals. I didn’t interrupt him. I just knew that I HAD to get this rack fixed.

I put on my best “puppy dog” face and looked him smack in the eye. “Senior,” I pointed to myself and said “desperado – por favor?”. It was all I could think to say. He tutted and sighed and grabbed the rack from me. Three minutes later it was fixed, as good as new.

He shoved the rack back in my hands and I opened my wallet asking him how much? The strange thing was he wouldn’t take any money. “For a drink – beer” I gestured with my hand. He smiled and still wouldn’t take anything. Strange people. Perhaps they just like to have a heavy duty moan now and then? Not like the English, what ho?

Bill and I made several attempt to find the others on the beach but, to be honest, it was too hot to be out in the noon-day sun, even for us mad dogs. So we did the only thing that could be done, in the circumstances. We found a bar with air conditioning and had a beer. Lunch was swordfish – cooked fresh. It was scrumptious.

We made our way back to the apartment later in the afternoon and refitted the rack and luggage. It transpired that the reason that the rack had failed was that I had bracketed my panniers from the same rack meaning that it was carrying some 300% of its design load! I rearranged my luggage as best I could so that there was less weight on the back of the rack. In addition, we lashed things up with as many cable ties as we could fit on. That would have to do.

It was decided that we’d go out for dinner to a tapas bar. We ended up in more of a restaurant and dined “al fresco”



Plate after plate of food came to the table and we all tried a bit of everything. We wandered off around the town afterwards and just managed to catch an Italian style ice cream shop which we raided for desert.

Just an extra 10 miles around Ayomonte
1402 miles in total
Average 200 miles per day

FRIDAY 6th JULY 2007

After a good night’s sleep, we set off for Portugal and to meet a friend of Henry’s named Bart in Silves, Portugal. It was Bart’s birthday and we were invited to the party! A straight ride along the motorway to Silves would have been over in less than three hours so we decided to take a more circuitous route via the mountains. We soon left the motorway and started off inland, climbing up into the hills and winding our way ever higher. The scenery was nice but nothing compared to that which we had seen on the way down to Ayomonte. We knew that a break and lunch beckoned and as we rounded a bend we came across a tavern.




The only problem was that they only served beer, no food! So we had a beer, well it would have been rude not to. Topped up with yet more agua. We were getting through litres of the stuff a day. Ten minutes later, Henry woke me up and we set off down the mountain.

We came across a little village and found a shop and did our “bread, cheese, ham and fruit” trick again. All eaten, sat on a bench in the shade on the side of the road in the village. Very picturesque.

We carried on down the hills, heading for a resort named Portimao where we could achieve our goal and prime directive, to have a dinner of B-B-Q’d sardines on the beach! We had looked forward to this from the early planning stages, months ago and it had become the goal for the entire trip. As Bill had said “we won’t need a map, keep the sun on your left in the morning and on our right in the afternoon and follow the scent of the sardines”.

We made Portimao mid afternoon and looked out a café / bar on the beach.

We asked expectantly for Beer and Sardines for three and looked aghast when we were told “No sardinas”. Disaster. We settled for the beer. Bill said that, when he had been to Portimao before with Naomi, there were numerous sardine stalls on the dockside where the river disappeared inland under a lattice work steel bridge. Well, I figured that as we were on the coast on the west side of Portimao, if we headed back through the town, and kept to the coast as much as we could then we would have to find the river and we would then find the bridge.

I led the way and followed my plan. For a moment, I thought It must have looked as if I knew where we were going. Just then, around a bend and voila, there was Bill’s bridge and the quayside. We parked the bikes up and surveyed the area for the sight or smell of sardines. Nothing. Bill said that the quay used to be festooned with little stalls, all cooking sardines over charcoal. Looks like the Health and Safety twats have made it to Portugal! We decided that we hadn’t come all this way to fail. Across the road from the quay was a very quaint local restaurant / bar. We ventured in. He had one of those large tanks where you can pick your lobster or crab for lunch. Henry approached the man.

One question, one word.


“Sim” said the man, nodding his head. Another language mastered.

“One, two, three” bellowed Henry pointing to Bill, me and himself.

“Sim, sim, sim” and this time a thumbs up!

A one word language – great!

We’d already had a beer at the last place so opted for three cokes. The chef disappeared into the kitchen and returned with a bowl of bread and the back he went. He came back 5 minutes later with Octopus Salad. Now, I didn’t want to say too much about it because Henry and Bill both tucked in. I think of myself as adventurous but I couldn’t face a second fork-full.

Another 10 minutes and we had a plate of grilled sardines and potatoes to die for.



Plenty of garlic, lemon and olive oil. A bit of careful knife work and the flesh lifted clear of the bone leaving a “Tom & Jerry” style fish skeleton. No bones to pick out of your mouth. They were well worth the ride. One of the best meals we had eaten so far.



Once we had finished, we returned to the bikes. Henry phoned Bart and got directions to a camp site. We struggled a bit but, before long we were at the gates of the best site we had seen so far. Henry went to the reception to book us in. Big problem. It turned out that it was a private site for members of the International Camping Club and that Enfields were not allowed. What prejudice. We were banjaxed.

It was getting late in the day and we had no idea where we could go. Henry decided to call Bart, his friend in Portugal whom we had come to visit. Bart knew of another site and would be with us in 10 minutes. Bill found some shade and we waited. Little did Bill know that he was sat on the steps of the local “Home for the Bewildered”.

True to his word, 10 minutes later, a black BMW car swooped around the corner and out got Bart. After the pleasantries, we all followed Bart to a site, right out on the Eastern side of town. We all checked in and Bill found a basket on the reception counter full of sweets. He was just about to hand them round when he realised that they were condoms! Perhaps I should have slipped a couple in the end of his sleeping bag? That would have set the cat among the pigeons when he got home!

We pitched our tents and had a lightning change of clothes and a quick wash. Then it was into Bart’s Beemer for the party! Out through the countryside to another town called Silves. Bart lived with his charming wife, in a two story house in town with a delightful roof garden. This was where the party was to be. Bart was from the Netherlands and his wife was from Argentina. Before the night ended, the roof garden would resemble the United Nations with people from over 8 different countries. A brand new gas B.B.Q. and a keg of beer greeted us. It turned out that they were having problems with the beer as it was serving 90% head and 10% beer! I gave them my experience from my barman days and soon, good beer with a respectable head was being produced.


I talked to Bart about our experience and how far we had travelled. Bart explained that he had an Enfield but that he couldn’t use it on the road at the mome3nt as it needed registering locally and he had mislaid the paperwork. I asked him if he had bought it locally.

“Oh no, I bought it in Madras” When he explained that he had then ridden it back overland via Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Greece……… I felt very humbled. And there was me going on about a mere couple of thousand miles under my belt in civilised countryside. It made our effort seem like a walk in the park.



Soon we were joined on the terrace by Bart’s parents, his brother and girlfriend and many more friends and acquaintances. All in all, we ended up with British, Dutch, Argentine, Brazilian, French, Portugese. It ended up more like a post Eurovision party. The party went on until the early morning and then we found that despite Bart’s best efforts, there wasn’t a taxi to be had for neither love nor money! Bart came up trumps again and ferried us back to our site in his car.

If you’re reading this Bart, thanks once again!

134 miles Ayomonte - Portimao
1536 miles in total
Average 192 miles per day