I’ve been riding around Britain and Ireland for the past nearly three weeks, and for the first time today, I encountered an asshat. Not once, but twice he rode up behind me and lurked, and then when I decided to overtake the car in front of me, passed me in the same lane as me. Anyway, I came to no harm, because one of us knows how to drive. And that one of us muttered a string of expletives inside my helmet and then did my best to let it go.
I think that was just before I reached Chester, so I’d probably left Wales. It’s funny. When you enter Scotland or Wales, they put up signs. The English, well, they think the whole thing is theirs, so why bother.
It was still fairly cool when I set out this morning. My weather app said 11 C, and predicted only a few degrees better in Scotland, so I dressed appropriately. The thermometer on the motorcycle told me it was 14.5 C when I set off, and I worried I’d dressed too warmly, but once on the highway, going 70 mph, I was fine. At least for the first while. Eventually, I stopped to get coffee and delayer, as the bike’s display screen told me it was 19 C, and not even noon.
It was mostly M road again today. In these last days, there’s more of a sense of urgency about getting to places. Still, when I got to the turnoff for the Lake District, I took it, and I’m glad I did. While the towns (especially Windermere, the former home of Beatrix Potter) are chock-a-block with tourists, there are long stretches of winding mountain road with relatively few other vehicles on them. They were a very welcome diversion. Sadly there were very few places to stop along the way where a decent picture could be taken, although I did get a couple.
All good things come to an end, though, and soon I was back on the M6 heading north. On the plus side, I was heading back to Scotland for the night, before taking the ferry back to Belfast and returning the bike tomorrow. And while I was riding up the M6, with signs starting to announce that SCOTLAND (their emphasis) lay ahead, I looked up and – no word of a lie – two long, thin streams of high cloud were crossed in the mostly clear blue sky, making it look like a Scottish flag.
And so now I am in Moffat. Because I have two friends named Moffat, and Valerie told me I had to come here, and I had to bring her some Moffat Toffee. (I have no idea what’s special about it, other than it shares her name. Maybe that’s it. What more do you need? If there was a Milner whisky, I’d probably buy it.)
Moffat is a small place. Not really much more than a village. It has more than its share of B&Bs and Guesthouses, one of which I’m staying in, as well as a Best Western hotel, it’s own police station, a “general surgery”, and of course a shop that sells nothing but toffee. There are other things, too. A church whose tower dwarfs every other building in town, a handful of pubs, a couple of gas stations, grocery stores, etc. It’s a nice enough place to spend the night.
They’re having a classic car show here this weekend. I’ve seen Rovers, MGs, Jags, Singers, sadly not a Morgan. The pubs and restaurants are full of the English. The pub I ate dinner in was full of Manchunians watching football, shooting pool, playing the jukebox too loud.
Now I’m back at the B&B. To say the WiFi is dodgy is an understatement. I’ve had a lot of dodgy connections on this trip. Half the time here, though, I cant find it at all, no matter where I stand in my room. Luckily I have lots of unused data on my Irish SIM card.
Tomorrow I’ll say goodbye to Scotland for the last time on this trip. I’ll have a last few days in Ireland, and then I’ll fly home. I’ll be bringing a lot of good memories home with me. Oh, and some toffee, of course.