Camping in Rutland and Derbyshire tomorrow

This year, starting in late February while I was still in Australia and soon to return, has been the awful year of Covid-19. Over a million have died of it worldwide (though a friend reminded me the other day that the average age of people dying from Covid is 84 - or thereabouts, not that different to the average age of death without Covid). Some world leaders have caught it - particularly the stupid ones. And, among other treasured activities, it has shut down travel, particularly international travel. The motorcycle travel blogs that I follow have documented one rider after another scrabling home from far flung corners, often leaving their motorcycle in storage while they managed to catch the last flight home. So Covid and travel do not mix. Early in the year I had booked another journey on the Brittany feries boats to northern Spain, after considering riding the TET across northern Germany into Poland but decided against it. This is partly to do with unpredictable weather in this part of Europe, partly I still have the wrong bike for this route, partly a realisation that campsites in Germany are not the most interesting and finally just a lack of enthusiasm for the idea. After asking myself what were the ingedients of an enjoyable trip by motorcycle and what were the ingredients of an awful trip, I realised that dry weather was pretty high on the list of positives. So I chose to go to Spain for the second year running. Why not?

But my model for short motorcycle summer trips is getting a little worn. In 12-14 days you can only get so far across Europe and so my ideas have been getting a little repetitive. On the other hand, if the weather is good and the roads are good (like the Picos in Spain) then a trip is probably not going to be boring even if it retraces some ground. And there are always new pieces of equipment to try out - large and small. But I am haunted and have been for a year or so, by the idea of a post-work long trip and Lake Baikal has been one idea not short on ambition. I've started a slow motion preparation for this trip by re-learning the Russian alphabet, storing lots of information about travelling there and saving up for a light weight bike that I can learn to service and fix myself. But more of that at some later date.

So, as a consolation prize for my lost trip to Spain , I booked two campsites in England - just to get away, away from London and away on the bike, and to try out my new lightweight tent that I intend to accompany me on future trips short and long. The first campsite, Cuckoo Farm, is near Rutland Water and the second, Dale Farm, in the Derbyshire Peak district. Both seem nice quiet sites and in one - the second - I have booked some adults only space (with memories of some lovely quiet sites in France which were only for adults) Now for a change of tense...

I leave tomorrow lunchtime and first stop will be Waitrose in Stamford where I will stock up on dinner, and hopefully cold wine which will stay cold until I need it, and breakfast - ground coffee for my expresso machine and something very sweet to go with it (a model I seemed to perfect in Denmark with some lovely choclate pastries bought from a supermarket). The weather over the weekend is set to be cool and showery.

For this trip I have really cut back and replaced stuff in order to travel lighter and I have packed for two panniers and no top box. Leaving without a topbox is a real step in the right direction. The whole kit including camping weighs 11.5 kgs - which I am really pleased with. Because the trip is short I'm not taking a laptop and charger but I would take my ageing Mac Air for a longer trip that would be worth documenting as I go. Big weight and space savers have been a much smaller packed tent, smaller waterproof gear (nice Klim stuff now not used once since I bought it a few months ago - which gives an insight into the weather this year) a very small Protools set of tools instead of an over specified load of spanners in a nice but bulky Kreiga tool roll, far lighter clothes and shoes, Kindle instead of a pile of paperbacks (shame). In fact, it has taken years to realise but in the past I have packed as if I am travelling across continents when I am really just visiting a few highly civilisated western European countries. Tankbag does carry some extra stuff.

Here is the stuff on my bedroom floor before leaving. All my clothes are in the Exped bag I think and I never used the selfie-stick. Nor the mosquito head net.

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