Day 8
May 20th, 2005
Pendeen, England

I woke up this morning and checked the date on my watch.  May 20th- my sister's birthday,  I wished to call her, but was still having phone problems.  I was getting a taste of how the world operated before cell phones.  Twenty years ago, it was no big deal not to pick up your own personal phone, and call another personal phone, from almost anywhere, reaching the next party, who also just might be in the boondocks, and have a chat.  It was no big deal, because it was SCIENCE FICTION.

None of the campers horned in on our space so I guess they survived, but Uncle Phil went out to check on them just the same.  "Those boys out there ok?"  "yeah they're striking camp now."  "Man those chaps (hang around long enough and stuff rubs off) are hardcore, it was nasty last night."

After a short packing process, I headed to the pub to see what was going on.  If you want to know what's happening in the U.K. check the pubs, they are bastions in the life of a Brit.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I was in withdrawl.  I could find bread, and jam, but no peanut butter.  None was kept it in the kitchen, and I was yet to find any in the con stores we frequented.  No one here has figured out those 2 items belong together.

Many things in life are natural.  Like firefighters and sexy women.  I can recall being summoned to the Chief's office several years ago when 2 of my guys, attending a seminar out of town, had a few charges on the city credit card they traced back to a naked bar.  "Do you know WHAT those jokers did?"  "No sir."  "They went to a naked bar at 2am in the morning, and bought 25 bucks worth of beer."  "Well gee, imagine THAT."  Both got 2 shifts off without pay.

The small store in the back of the pub didn't have any muffins, so I skipped anything to eat.
​The scene outside the North Inn on Day 8
We were loading the bikes up when I met a retired gentleman out for his morning stroll.  I blurted out to him-"Man if I had it made like YOU, I wouldn't worry."

He had the morning paper under his arm, and wore those hushpuppie kind of shoes, they looked pretty good for walking in.

"Well yeah, I can't complain."  He went on to say, "I use to ride many years ago.  I had a Norton and a BSA."  Immediately my mind went to electrical problems. 

"So how'd ya keep em runnin?"

"I parked on hills to make sure they were easy to bump start"


The sun was out when we left Pendeen to begin the short ride to Land's End, the most western point of England.  And as they say in Scotland, "a place just a wee bit closer to home."

Our route followed along the coast, and once again clouds rolled in off the water.  Weather can change by the minute or the mile here.   A part of living on the island my friends deal with.   The British Isles are located directly in the path of fronts crossing the Atlantic.  They shoot up, riding the streams over Greenland before dropping back south and breaking up over the continent.  Back home weather guessers give a 7 day forecast, but in the UK, I saw no such bravery.  Three days are the best a guy gets.  Hard to even predict one day out in the UK, let alone SEVEN.  Tim told me storms can roll in out of nowhere, and you might encounter 3 in ONE day.
I was watching a guesser on a TV in London, that said there was little chance of it raining today, and while he was talking it was rainy like mad out my window.
 ​The famous Land's End sign.  As you can see, I took the
obligatory picture to prove I was there, but I skipped the
T shirt.

After a brief ride we were working our way through Land's End.  The highway split cottages and shops as it took us to the western edge.  When we arrived at our goal we found a touristy place of shops, attractions, and restaurants.  We went through the gates and strolled to the cliff area and got a panoramic view of the ocean.  A sign pointed the way to NYC.  I looked in that direction and thought about my homeland out beyond the reaches of all that water.
​Standing at England's most western point
A lighthouse was out on the rocks to help guide ships in.

The English coast is not near as developed as their counterparts in the USA.  The entire line of the American East coast is urban sprawl.  They have been more careful with it on the west coast.  In England, much of the coastline hasn't changed in hundreds of years.

I know it sounds crazy now, but imagine what it must have been like in the day of Columbus.  Nobody really knew how far it went, or if it ever stopped.  No European had been brave enough to find out.  How would you know how much food to take?  How many ships or men?  If you do find something, what are you going to do with it? 

Now take Columbus, he goes over, discovers North America, and claims it ALL for Portugal.  Yeah, right, like NOBODY else is going to challenge.  "Hey better not go over there, PORTUGAL layed claim to it." You know that had them shaking in their man of wars.  Soon as word got back, ships from everywhere started getting ready.
All kidding aside it took great bravery to do what Columbus did.

Our cameras were busy as we documented our visit.  It was great, and a place few Americans see.  While in the parking lot 2 Gold Wings came in, they were from Holland and Pieter Huizinga conversed with his countrymen in native dialect.  Everybody has their own language in Europe.  French, Dutch, German, Italian etc, but they use English to converse with each other.  Now, I feel cheated not having a second language.

From Land's End we made a short ride over to Mintak.  An outdoor Shakespearean theatre carved in the rocks on the English coast.  A nice beach area was located down below.  Here, tourist and residents gather on warm summer evenings to watch plays and other arts.  I ambled through the briefing area that told the story of Rowena Cade.  She worked hard all her life till her dream came true.  Her work here will always be remembered. 
​Mintak Theatre
I went down the many steps, and lounged in the open amphitheatre.   The Mintak is probably the most spectacular open theater in the world.

The reserve bar was blinking on the VFR, and I asked Peter how far to the next stop.  "Not far, about 25 miles."  "Ok, I should be good till then."

I fell in formation and comforted myself if I ran out of gas there was plenty of help.  The road into Penzance (yes, the pirate place) seemed less hectic than most.  For the first time this trip I was able to sing in my helmet, and it felt good to daydream a little.  

With so much water around, I found it odd I saw very few cars pulling boats.  Then again, with water everywhere, there was no point in towing, just float over there.

Penzance does its best to capitalize on their pirate history.  Images of pirates were painted on stores and signs.
I stopped and let a right turning motorist complete his turn in the busy city, and he threw up his hand in appreciation.  The road followed the water on our right, and big houses facing the waterfront were on our left.
The Viffer was on fumes when we pulled into the gas station.  YEA! This place has pay at pump!  Only problem it rejected all 3 of my cards, I kept getting the same error message.  I hit the pay inside feature and filled up.  Then went in and used the American Express card that was rejected twice.  One thing about the UK, they are more trusting then stores in the U.S.  You can pump first, pay later.  If gas were 6 or 7 dollars a gallon home can YOU imagine what would happen if you didn't make them come in and pay first?  

They don't make you in the Heartland, or rural areas of the south, but on both coasts you better believe you're going to pay first, unless you have a credit card.   I went inside and informed the young female clerk, "dang baby, I couldn't get ANY of my cards to swipe out there." 

  "Awwww you are from Texas?"  She was too young to have ever watched "Dallas,"  but I gave her credit for being able to put Texas in the south, despite the fact the Texas accent is slightly different from the rest of the region.   "Noooooo sweetie but you're close.  "Let me swipe your card in here, the salt air plays havoc with the readers outside."

At 7 dollars a gallon there would be armed guards patrolling the parking lots, or heat seeking missiles fired at the touch of a button by the clerk inside in case you tried to bolt.  I mean, we have people putting it on the line for 2 dollars a gallon, at 6 no telling what they might do.

We left Penzance and connected several roads on our way to the Eco Dome.  About half the group broke it off, and left for South Molton and the campground.  They said they wanted to get an early start pitching their tents, but I think it was an early start at the pub that motivated them.

The domes were large greenhouses in the English countryside, and were home to several different climates.  They had domes mimicking tropical, Mediterranean, and deserts.  They were 4 stories high.
​The Cornwall Eco Domes
The 30-40 minute ride in from Penzance was chilly and damp.  Traffic picked up when we neared the complex.  The place was pretty busy, and a popular attraction.

We left Keith in the parking lot to watch the bikes and set off to explore the domes.   The first dome we went in was the tropical, and soon as I walked in I could feel the warmth and humidity.  Home!  For the first time in days I wasn't chilly.  It was 8 c and wet outside, but in here there was bliss!  They piped in humid air was just like Alabama.  Immediately folks began shucking coats and sweaters, but NOT me I left my sweatshirts on to enjoy the new found warmth.  My feet felt the best, they had been cold for the longest this morning.

I followed our group around the trails and up the stairs and ramps to the top of the dome.  It looked as though some of the locals were not going to make it to the top.  I saw an older, heavy man, sweating profusely trying to reach the apex so he could get a picture of the waterfall.  I don't know if it made it or not.

All kinds of tropical plant life was on display.  It was neat, but I didn't see any cotton.

After the tropical we went in the Mediterranean, and it felt like California.  No humidity and a perfect 75 degrees year round.  We ate lunch in one of the downstairs cafeterias, the place was huge.  I stashed a muffin for later.

I found a public phone that used a credit card and called Debbie at work.  " I'm at this bio dome thing, looking at plants."  "Do what?"  "Yeah, they had this one greenhouse that felt like home, I wanted to pitch my tent on the aisle."

Our bikes were waiting for us out in the parking lot, and Keith did a good job with security.  Everything was in order.  We mounted back up in the chilly air and made off for South Molton and the campground.

Like so many times before, the sun was hit or miss.  It came and went.  I spent most of the afternoon behind Tim and Dot.  She's a good passenger, I could tell she has spent many miles on pillion, and shares Tim's love for riding.  

I enjoyed the ride to South Molton.  We traversed Cornwall fields and villages.  It was quiet and scenic,  and the landscape was rolling hills painted dark green.  Sheep and cows were grazing in the distance.  It was nice.
​Pastures of Green.  Cornwall, England
We turned off on a very narrow road and came down a series of hills to the the campground.  The others had just completed setting up camp and looked to be having a good time.  We parked the bikes and met a few other riders joining our group for the remainder of the weekend.

After we met everyone, we followed Tim and the signs to our lodging.  The sign read 500 yards to the YEO Farm bed and breakfast.  Tim said that was kind of optimistic, should of read half mile.

When we arrived I could see Nick's police ST in the garage.  I only knew Nick from the ST forum and was looking forward to the real thing, and I was not disappointed.

We were taken upstairs for our accommodations for the next 2 nights.  It was great, a quiet bed and breakfast hidden among the fields and hills.  The owners also trained and boarded horses.  It felt good to be at Britstoc.  Phil and I both prefer the smaller, more personal gatherings as opposed to mega rallys.

I wanted to run but it was getting late, so I took a hot bath, to beat back the chill.  It felt good.  I wasn't able to dry my hair, the crazy outlest over here were not compatible with my unit, and Uncle Phil's converter couldn't carry the load, so I walked around with a wet head.

It was a nice stroll down to the Blackcock Inn.  The local pub for the valley.  Everyone was there and we had a great time.  The campground was right across the street, and those guys were hard at it, when I got there.

The bar maid/waitress for the Blackcock was a lady named Julia, this was her FIRST night on the job.  "Look here baby, I'd like some diet Coke and peanut butter and jelly." 

" I don't know if we can do that." 

"Do me a favor sweetie and check, I'll love ya for it." 

"Well, since you put it that way, how can I not?  She reported back with some bread, and YES, she knew where some peanut butter was. 

"Ok now go back and spread it the bread, you can bring the jam on the side, and I'll do the rest."  She did as instructed and came back. "Now, I spread this jam, and presto, one of the staples of the American diet has come to the UK."  She smiled and said, "That does look pretty good."  "Here, take a slice."  She popped a bite and smiled.  The peanut butter was not exactly the smooth texture of Jiffy, but none the less, it was good.

For supper I had a small steak.  The first hard core meat for me in quite a while.  I was still getting use to things in the UK.  Like, you go to the bar and place your order.  They don't come out to the table, so when I asked the guy to bring me a another diet Coke I knew why he looked at me odd.
 ​Pieter Huizinga and his BMW 1200CL
I chatted with Pieter Huizinga, a BMW rider who cruises the ST forum.  He knew a good rally when he saw one and came over from Holland to be a part of it.  He does a good impression of Johnny Cash.  He's a lot of fun, and did a good job with his BMW cruiser on our rides.  I spent time with Colin Donnely a fellow firefighter from Portsmouth.  Before I retired, we shared the same duties in our respective departments, and we both had the same number of years of service in when I hung it up.  We talked shop for a long time, we had a lot in common. 

Keith told me a little of Cornwall politics, history and how they looked at life.  They said they were proud tax money collected from them went directly to the Crown.  Americans have a hard time understanding that.  "See, in America we are citizens, not subjects."  We are wired entirely differently.  "If it were me brother, I'd tell them all to go get a job.  C'mon y'all taxed on everything to the max, and Charles is running around, pumping hands?  Not because he ever worked for it, but because of who is PARENTS are?"  "Well yeah, but he's good for tourism."  "Can't argue that, but y'all let us hang around, and things will change," we all had a good laugh.  "But I'll tell ya this, let some cowards fly a plane into Big Ben, and we'll spare no expense helping y'all hunt down those responsible, somebody will pay for it, you can write that down."
​Post ride at the Blackcock Inn
Phil and I had a great evening with our new friends, that have come to mean so much the last few days.  
I handed a Julia a 3 pound tip on the way out.  You would have thought I left her a ticket to America.  "Oh thank you, don't know how much that means." 

"Look baby, you worked your butt off tonight, and you found peanut butter, the least I could do."

Nick walked back with us to the rooms.  It was cold and the moonlight carpeted the land in a blue tint.  This little stroll was one of the things I remember most about this trip.  Nick is in big time pain with a back problem, and has been waiting a YEAR for an MRI, in the meantime they just give him pills to beat back the pain.

In our room Uncle Phil and I sat around and ate Goo Goo's (a southern candy of caramel, chocolate, peanuts and creme stuff) and talked about a lot of things.  Our conversation ran the gamut of motorcycles, places we've been, places to go, retirement, and plans for the future.  Uncle Phil told me he had planned to retire about this time, but the small company he worked for in the software business went sour and his retirement, ala Enron.  He had to virtually start over.  " Well, no point in getting all mad, nothing I can do but buckle down and start a new one."  He handled it about as well as anyone I could imagine.  

We went lights out, but for the first time Uncle Phil's propensity for snoring came to light.  So far this trip he had been pretty good, but tonight he cut loose.  I found my running shoes and threw them across the room at him, striking him in the back to get him to roll over.  That worked, but in a few minutes he started back, so I threw another, then had to get up and reload.  

Oh well, I'll get even tomorrow.