Sunday 11.6.2017 43km Total:1580km #4 127km Total:899km 7.81km Total:97.53km
The last day on the Island.
We meet up at the caste in Castletown at half past nine, some perkier then others but I had expected it to be a lot worse.
After assembly march down and into Isle of mans old parliament building Old House of keys where we for the next hour get to sit as (rather corrupt) politicians while making the decisions for some of the key points in Manx history.
Our host for the day assumed a role as assistant to the speaker and played his part like he was born to do it, it was both entertaining and educational.
After the show had ended Fredde takes on a nice country lane to a place called The Tea Barn who as it happens was a gluten free cafe.
It's the first time in a long while I've had any cake with my tea so that was very nice (and delicious).
Now we split up again as the main part of the group return to Douglas but Nisse and I go to Peel Castle via the mountain.
Because of my bouts with migraine and cold and the racing I hadn't had a chance to see the Joey Dunlop statue and that wasn't something I was going to miss.
I also hade a plan to do a last lap of the entire course but the winds on the mountain where completely ridiculous so that plan went out the window.
We regretfully get lunch at the Tynwald Inn and it's definitely not because of the food that I write regretfully.
Like I wrote, the winds are pretty high today but until now it hasn't been anything spectacular but unfortunately that would change.
While we're eating a man comes in to the restaurant and asks if the owner of a black enduro bike is present because it just toppled over into a car.
Quick out to survey the damage, the throttle handle and rear view has gone down into the front fender of the car and the right pannier has dented the rear fender.
Just to make a bad thing worse it's a classic, a Datsun 280Z from 1982 and (until now) pretty much mint condition.
After respectfully rejecting the suggestion from the local lush to just get on the bike and ride off I get hold of the owner.
He takes matters in their stride and is a real gentleman about the whole thing so we sit down in the pub to trade insurance info.
After re-parking the bike (away from the wind) and adjusting the mirror which seemingly was the only damage done to the Tiger after landing in soft Japanese steel we get back to the restaurant and finish what will probably be the most expensive meal of my life.¹
We head on to Peel.
It's not just my mood that's turned a bit bleak, the weather is a bit on the sour side as well but we manage to take almost the full tour of the castle before the heavens open up and we take refuge in a pub.
The café culture don't seem all that established here and the few that exist have very strange opening hours so the safest bet to get a cup of tea or coffee is usually a pub.
After the worst of the rain has passed we get back on the bikes and head back to Douglas to start packing and get ready for departure.
After a final meal in Douglas at the Hong Kong Chinese restaurant we load the gear on the bikes and ride to the assembly point at the TT grandstand.
We have loads of time at our disposal as the assembly is at 9.15PM and the ferry is supposed to sail at 11.45PM.
The margin is even greater as the ferry has been delayed 90 minutes but we still ride down to the port and the check-in.
Unlike Liverpool there's at least a terminal building with a café here so we don't have to wait outside.
Which is lucky since we an hour later get the message that the boat is delayed another 45 minutes.
The ferry that was supposed to leave at 11.45 is now scheduled to depart at 2AM.
All of us is now probably counting down the minutes of what was supposed to be a short nights rest at best in Liverpool but as it's looking now it will already be morning until we're there.
That's also what happens, after a very wild boat ride where people sat around vomiting all over the place we arrive at the hotel in Liverpool at 6AM and get told that we need to be checked out at 11.30AM.
After a quick negotiation with Nisse we decide that we'll sacrifice breakfast (that they stop serving at 10AM) for more sleep we set our clocks to 10.45AM.
¹ The last I've heard was the insurance companies have determined that the bike being knocked over by the wind was an act of god, so thus far I haven't paid any damages at all.
Monday 12.6.2017 403km Total:1983km Total:441km 1.83km Total:99.36km
Trying to sleep mid day in central Liverpool beside a heavily trafficked road is about as easy as it sound.
I think I at least got a couple of hours total.
Nisse got fed up with it before I did and is already packed and ready to leave at a quarter to eleven.
I'll try and trick my body into thinking it's new day by taking a shower before I load up my gear so I bid farewell to Nisse and the rest of the gang.
When I get to the parking there's still a quartet of people left from the group who waves goodbye as they leave for Harwich.
I need to sort out the business with the Datsun I totalled on the Isle of man with my insurance company before I head of but they we're efficient about the whole thing so it wasn't long before I could hit the road.
I want to get straight to Scotland so I head towards Edinburg on some scenic routes... or at least so I thought.
I'm so tired it's a miracle I get out of Liverpool in one piece and almost mechanically just doing what the GPS is telling me to do. That's a mistake.
I seems that the small difference of the map in Basecamp being just a year older than the one in the unit is enough to screw up the route completely.
I've at least been going in roughly the right direction but apart from that I'm completely of my intended course.
After filling up on energy with a readymeal somewhere along the way I redo the route in the unit so at least get the A68 across the Scottish border.
It was a great bit of road but I'm surprised that the slight difference in altitude makes such a big difference on the weather.
Up at the border it was cloudy, drizzling rain, windy and cold but once I started riding downhill it was just fifteen minutes until the clouds dispersed and it was sunshine.
Pretty weird but very nice.
I stop in Jedburgh because I can see the majestic ruin of Jedburgh Abbey from the road.
Even though it was closed for the day it was a pretty good view from the wrong side of the fence as well.
With the lack of sleep I wasn't sure I would make it to Edinburgh so I still haven't booked any accommodation.
But with just 75kms to go it's time to sort it so I get a pot of tea at a pub across the street from the Abbey and start looking for somewhere to stay.
Since I won't be doing anything after arrival than sleep and I have great expectations of Edinburgh I booked three nights at MW Guesthouse just outside old town.
A bit wasteful considering that my days are after all pretty limited but I need to sort out a definite route before I continue on so I'll make constructive use of the time.
After check-in and a warm shower I'm so tired I'm almost crying, it was a long time since it felt this good to lie down.
Tuesday 13.6.2017 0km Total:1983km Total:441km 20.7km Total:120.06km
Breakfast wasn't included and since I hauled plenty of readymeals along I might as well get one of those for breakfast.
The kettle belonging to the room was large enough to fit one so how big of a difference can there be between a heater bag and a kettle, hot water is hot water after all?
Success! The bag is so warm I can barely hold on to it and probably contains a more nutritious breakfast than I've had in a long time.
I knew lugging all this food along would pay off.
I winder off to Old Town with my trusty guidebook, my destination is what's called the the royal mile with the castle being the first stop of the day.
I feel a bit cheap but £17 might be the most I've ever paid to get into a tourist attraction.
But still it didn't deter me and not many others either it seemed because the line to the ticket booths was twenty minutes long.
I'm glad I booked the extra night because otherwise I might have been tempted to skip this considering the queue but in retrospect it was worth both the time and the money.
There where so many things to look at that I spent more than two hours in the castle.
In the gift shop there was a whiskey-tasting in progress and who can resist that? Freeeeeeeeeeeeee dram!
One of the more memorably things in the castle apart from the building itself was Mons Meg a canon built in 1449 and the largest ever fired in anger in Britain.
The calibre is 510mm (more than half a meter!) and the shot ways 175kgs a piece!
Another canon-related curiosity is that they still fire a gun at the castle at 1PM every day in accordance with a tradition dating all the way back to 1861 and the glory days of Edinburgh port and was used for the ship crew to calibrate their timepieces.
Originally a canon was used for this but nowadays it's a 105mm artillery piece doing the honours.
After viewing everything the castle had to offer I move along to St Giles Cathedral.
It's said that the oldest part of the church can be dated back to the year 1124 but there little to no evidence of that so the official dating is "just" the year 1385.
Luckily there where hosts inside the church and one of them pointed out a carved angel playing the bagpipes in the Thistle chapel, until otherwise convinced I'll assume that's pretty unique.
I mosey along the mile in Old town and go into John Knox house, the oldest preserved settlement in all of Edinburgh dating back to 1490.
John Knox is recognized as the man who led the reformation founder of the Presbyterian church of Scotland.
I hurry along to the very end of the mile and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queens official residence in Scotland and home to Scottish royalty since the 1500:s.
It was a place I definitely didn't want to miss and I make final admission with only minutes to spare.
As usual I was less impressed with contents and more so with the building but I did get a bit curios about some of the carpets.
Some of them are so large they'd be able to cover an entire village in the countryside.
I would love to know how they where made and how long it took to make them.
I'm a complete sucker for weird names so a pub/restaurant called the World's End is something I just can't just walk by.
The name of the pub comes from the time in the 16th century when Edinburgh was a walled city.
The gates to the city were situated outside the pub and as far as the people of Edinburgh were concerned, the world outside these gates was no longer theirs, hence this was the World's end.
I'm obviously not the only one to fall into this tourist trap so I settle for a Guinness while I wait to be seated and once I get a table I order a Balmoral chicken, chicken with haggis stuffing.
It was really good, and that goes for the stuffing as well although that particular part is better enjoyed without overanalysing the contents.
While I was waiting to be seated I booked myself on a walking tour called the Edinburgh literary pub tour.
It's two hour walk along the literary world of Edinburgh and the inspiration thereto.
The tour starts with a young male host rambling on about (in a very thich Scottish accent) how the main inspiration of the great authors was nothing more than whoring and alcohol (which in my personal opinion is probably pretty close to the truth) while a female member of the group interrupts and in the Queens English says that this is completely slanderous and all lies.
This shouting-match continues back and forth for a while until the host gives up and invites the woman to co-host the tour so they can settle once and for all who's right.
It obviously all part of the routine and the hosts aren't really just guides but rather (very talented) actors who delivers a well rehearsed play.
The fact that we get to moisten our throats at every stop on the tour of course also contribute to everyone having a pretty good time.
Even as mostly oblivious to the works of the classic Scottish authors and thus had my work cut of for me trying to keep up this was without a doubt the best guided tour I've ever been on.
Knowledge, warmth and humour delivered in high spirits with a beer or a wee dram in hand it was all in all a spectacular way to spend an evening.
So in a great mood and more than a slight bit intoxicated I wander back to my hotel.
Since it was something they talked about on the tour I noticed the Elephant House café on the way back which apparently is the literary birthplace of Harry Potter since it was there JK Rowling wrote a large part of the series.
And just a little farther down the road I found the statue of Greyfriars Bobby.
The new One o'clock Gun
St. Giles cathedral
The ceiling of the Thistle Chapel in St. Giles, a Scottish order of nights who have taken the national symbol as theirs.
Here's a reasonable explanation to why the Scots choose the thistle as a national symbol.