October 4th, 2018


Småland Perfectly Formed 9: Saturday 22nd September

Sun and downpour alternated as we loaded up the bikes, setting the pattern for a day that would see us go west through Germany back to the Hook of Holland. We travelled quickly along the motorway system, skirting Hamburg and snatching a quick break at a service station (where the man on the coffee counter effortlessly upsold me a cake).

In the afternoon we cut a corner by going across the German countryside, which was filled with people doing mysterious but charming German countryside things, crossed the border to the Netherlands - marked proudly with the Dutch and EU flags - and made a petrol stop that ended up lasting an hour as we waited out the rain over coffee.

"Do you want a lekkere snacke?" asked Howard, reading the sign above a vending-machine. I did, and bought myself a hot cheese croquette.

We took the last few miles slowly, Howard because the growing darkness meant he wasn't always sure I was still behind him, I because my fuel was worryingly low (we were keen to hold off filling up again until we were back in the cheaper UK, and I ended up doing 35 miles on reserve).

By the time we'd rolled on to the overnight ferry I was too tired to do much more than eat, watch some Hanna-Barbera cartoons on the cabin telly, and sleep.

Miles: 424.3

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Småland Perfectly Formed 10: Sunday 23rd September

At a positively barbaric 6.30am (5.30am European time, let me remind you) we were thrown off the ferry into a stormy Essex morning. We filled up at Morrisons and parted ways at the A12/M25 junction. I got wetter on my journey home than I had at any point during the trip, and was grateful to arrive at my flat, drop my luggage on the floor and peel off my clothes.

We weren't sure about Småland before we set off, though we wanted to satisfy our curiosity. The distances would be vast, everything would be expensive, the roads would be unchallenging. All of this was true to a certain extent. But we also found great beauty, tasty food and, above all, kind and friendly people.

Everyone was so nice to us and so delighted we had come on our motorcycles to visit their country: Per and Haider, Gunnar James Bond Schäfer, waiters, supermarket cashiers and motorway ticket booth operators.

I couldn't always stop to photograph the scenery when I wanted to, and I'm sorry I can't show you more of what it was like, but it's all there in my head.

We explored only a tiny corner of Sweden on our ten-day trip, there's plenty more to see, and we both hope to return.

Miles: 88.3
Total miles: 2413.2
Avg mpg: 71.2




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