The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Horizons Unlimited Meeting near Derby, England

Hi Everyone.

The last time I posted to this blog I was at a beautiful campground in Luxemburg. They have a strange idea of camping here: they pack tents next to tents so tightly you can hear the person in the next tent turn over. The more people, the more money they can collect, I guess.

But the campground in Luxemburg was not like that at all. Each tent "pitch" was surrounded by a privet hedge, and there were nice showers and very few people. I suppose that is the joy of traveling when no one else is on vacation.
It was a good night's sleep -- dry for a change. About 5:30 the local rooster woke up and decided everyone in the neighborhood should be up too.  He must have been a French rooster, because he couldn't say "cock - a - doodle - doo". It was more "cluck - coo - cluck - coo". Very loud, he was. And he kept it up until 7:30 when I got up myself. And, the instant I got up, he quit. I guess he felt like he had done his morning chore and could go back to bed.
Europe is super clean these days. They have passed very strict anti-littering laws, and you never see a scrap of paper blowing around. One thing that helps them on this is that there are hardly any fast food places. As a side benefit, there are tons of inns and restaurants. Also, because Walmart has not put all the mom and pop stores out of business here, there are lots and lots of shops.
To show you how serious they are on keeping things clean, have a look at this guy vacuuming a parking lot.

From Calais, France, I had to decide how to get to England. I could go by ferry (four hours) or by tunnel train (The "Chunnel"). I chose the train. It was interesting. I followed the car in front of me; we pulled in through doors in the side of the rear of the train; and drove through the train until we finally caught up with the cars in front of us.  A nice young lady showed me how to park, and asked me to stand by my bike during the trip.  Zip -- Zap, and I was in Jolly Ole England.
Driving on the left is exciting at first, especially in the rain. Each time a car comes around a curve toward you, it is a startling experience. Kept my heart beating, I can tell you. 
I drove into Canterbury, the same one as in Chaucer's Tales, and found a campground. Very expensive place.
These Guinea "chickens" were all over the cathedral grounds. They were quite well behaved, and didn't seem to mind the constant, drizzly rain.
You know you are England when you see houses built like this one. Do you know why they built it this way? To save on taxes. They are taxed on the size of the ground floor, but they built each additional floor larger and larger.
I trusted my GPS to get me up to my Horizon Unlimited meeting in Darby. I knew it was going to be a challenge getting by London. So what did my stupid GPS do? Took me right through the heart of London.  It was hours of stop and go traffic: big lories, and double decker buses, and motorcycles zipping by everywhere. Nerve wracking!!!!
It rained all day long. I was riding on the M1, a major highway, and doing about 65 miles an hour in the rain, and I started thinking about how cold I was and how much I did not want to set my tent up and sleep cold all night. I spotted this place, The Old Palace Lodge, and pulled in to check it out. I thought it would be too expensive for my budget (I am a tight wad -- just ask my wife if you don't believe me), and I was just starting to leave when I met another motorcycle rider, a man from the Yorkshire Dales. We got to talking, and he suggested he knew the owner and could get me a good price. Sure enough, the price was about half normal. Thanks Alan.
And here he is, along with his friend Alan, in the dining room where I got a good Shepherd's Pie.
Young Alan, on the right, is a music major and has his own band. They play Scottish/Celtic music along with other things, and they have invited me to come up to the Lake District when my Horizon's Unlimited meeting is over and enjoy their band when they do a gig in the Lake District. There is even the possibility, if things work out, of doing some fly fishing. I might just take them up on that offer.


I was buzzing along a country lane this morning when I spotted this houseboat going through a set of locks on a canal. I just had to turn around, go back, and check it out.
When the water was at the right level, these kids pushed on those big beams to open the doors. It took a lot of kids to do that; some on each side of the lock.

I got to the Horizon's Unlimited meeting about 1:30 in the afternoon, just after the drizzle stopped. There are something like 700 people here. It is much bigger than the one I went to in North Carolina.
The people are very interesting. As I type this, I am talking with a couple from Sweden who are just starting on their two bikes to ride around the world. And another couple, she is from California and he is from Ireland, are headed out to Cape Town, South Africa.
Speaking of Africa, what do you think of these Masai dancers?  Why are they here? I don't have a clue, but they sure could sing and dance.
I've only been to one presentation so far. It was interesting. It was a man from the UK who has been to Iran several times and was telling us about getting visas and about traveling there. He had some good pictures.
There is another presentation starting in a few minutes. I think I will catch it, and then head for bed. I am tired, the rain has stopped, and there will be tons more presentations tomorrow.
More later,