This journey was much shorter and less arduous, performed in four easy hops interspersed with refreshment stops. We split into two groups, the slow team comprising cybersofa, me and Roger, our other scooterist, on his 600cc Silver Wing.
At lunchtime I bought a can of something called Panaché, assuming it to be a brand of lemonade I hadn't yet tried. It turned out to be shandy, a beverage I loathe. An important lesson there about ordering things if I'm not 100% sure what they are.
Later we paused for coffee, followed by a round of hot chocolate, at a roadside snack stand, and I had the following conversation with a couple walking their dog:
- Excuse me. It is a Malamute?
- It is a mix Malamute-Collie.
- Ah good. I ask me why the fur is so, er...
- Long, yes.
- Thank you. And the name?
- Hello, Rishka. Thank you. Goodbye.
I was very pleased with my linguistic skills.
I also talked to a man who said my scooter was beau and asked how many cubic centimetres it had (cent-vingt-cinq).
Although I missed the fun of riding in a large group, this was perhaps the best day of riding for me. I even got cocky about overtaking and nipped in front of a lorry with what felt like inches to spare between me and another lorry coming the other way. At the beginning of the week this would have given me palpitations for the next half hour, but in my new confident state I was quite pleased with myself. The pace of travel, the distance and the roads were just right, and I arrived at the B&B in a state of smugness matched only by that of cybersofa on discovering that we had beaten the 'fast group' to our destination, his sense of direction winning out over John's GPS.
One of the hallmarks of the trip was truly excellent meals, and the evening's was no exception; the mere fact of having two puddings would have swung it for me, even if the other courses hadn't been spectacular. There were also a bottle of cider and one of perry at the rowdy end of the table - this being the end I was sharing with Roger - and we enjoyed ourselves greatly. Everyone else...well, enjoyed watching us enjoy ourselves.
By discipline and science I managed to maintain that happy medium of being drunk, wherein I neither sang Queen songs nor burst into tears but probably talked quite a lot, until about 5:30 in the morning, when I may or may not have gone to sleep (I suspect not). Mixing red wine with water is actually a really sound idea, though I didn't like it as a toddler despite my parents' best efforts.
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