The tension and pressure of the court hearing for Sofia’s school placement reached its pitch on the 25th June where the hearing turned into a non-event. The Local Authority really hadn’t prepared a case and by the time they had realised that there was a case to answer, it was too late for them and eventually they conceded that Sofia would start at the school of our choice in September but as yet have not conceeded that she needs a residential placement and we are now waiting for the judge’s decision (yes still!)
All the time the sun has roared above since our return from Dubai and as the weeks have ticked by my feet became increasingly itchy and it seems mine weren’t the only ones. Sofia, who has been generally negative about biking this year, was only to happy to jump on the bike and head up to Scotland with only a few days notice.
If only it was to be so easy.
The only thing that the bike really needed was a new battery. I had no idea there was such a thing as a dud battery, but now I do. So at the last-minute I was phoning around to find a new one, and racing off to get it, praying is wasn’t another dud. This put a kink in our plans time wise and time had suddenly become important on this trip the day before setting off. Leaving on the Saturday, we had to be back by the following Sunday so Sofia could spend time at her new school on Monday to help her mentally prepare becoming a student there (the transition).
We set off on Saturday half a day late and stopped by Mick the mechanic on our way north for a chain check and the leaky fork seal to be fixed and then pushed on for another couple of hours, stopping the night in a field just next to the Peak District. Wonderful to think we would be driving through in the morning, this trip was looking good already and I was glad for our minor delay.
Until the next morning, when I discover the adaptor for the bike to charge the phone wasn’t working. So the morning was instead spent finding a garage, and waiting for the phone (which was now only 2% charged) to give us enough charge to find our next stop. We didn’t hit the road until midday, by which point there was only one thing left to do, ride directly to our destination for the night, counsins’ who live in the Boarders of Scotland.
It had been a long time since I last saw them and it was lovely to reconnect and catch up and Sofia got to make a new friend (a cousin 3 times removed perhaps? I’m still not 100% on the nomenclature of cousins, but effectively my cousin’s, wife’s niece) who had exactly the same interests as Sofia it was no nice to see her hitting it off with someone so well, it really doesn’t happen often, certainly not to that degree!
We spent some time pouring over maps and it became clear that a full trip may not be possible in the time frame. What I was certain of was that I didn’t want to race around anymore and already it was starting to feel that way with the big push up to Scotland that day seeing nothing along the way.
So we set off Monday with a carefree attitude of what will be will be, but to start heading south again on Wednesday, and to meet up with a group of lady adventurers on the Saturday camping in the Yorshire Dales. This Monday night though, we were meeting up with Salla.
We met Salla last year at a bike meet in Estonia. She was part of a Finnish contingent who we hung out with. She was now touring the UK and had stayed with us several weeks before on her way to Ireland. Now we were going to meet up in Scotland for a night of wild camping before parting ways once more.
It was such a lovely day of driving. No rush, no big decisions, just wonderful weather, wonderful roads and wonderful scenery. We met with Salla, and as happens with the universe is agreeing with your actions, we found the perfect wild camping spot next to a river in about 10 minutes! Finding wild camping spots are usually a lot more challenging. After setting up camp Salla and Sofia went for a wild swim in the lovely warm water of the river whilst I went through the discovery of realising that my wonderful Optimus cooking stove was not going to work and the spare part I needed wasn’t in the spare parts pack! Why was this important? Haggis of course!
Yes, I decided that we should cook a Scottish bonanza that night and had bought a small haggis earlier in the day.
Thankfully Salla had her kit and in the late evening sunshine we watched eagerly as the pot steamed wanting to see the results. I was warned by the butcher that the bag would pop if it was too hot for too long, but simmering is a subjective measurement we discovered, and sure enough the bag had popped! we were too hungry to care, and most of the haggis still in its bag seemed fine. We woofed it down. Not the best haggis I’ve had, but glad we gave it a go, and glad Sofia tried some too.
Tuesday morning, the sun high in the sky once more, we headed North to see how far we would get. Inverness it would seem. I had run out of chain oil and needed to get some as well as getting the chain tightened (again! – we riding heavy it seems :D) Whilst this was taking place the phone, the centre of navigation and communication, was dropped, never to rise again.
I can’t tell you the pain I went through to reach a decision! There we were, in Scotland and the sun was shining! But the bottom line was, despite a group of guys who were also on a riding visit tempting me with news of the amazing roads they had been riding, I would not enjoy Scotland if I tried to stay without automated navigation, not with a deadline to be home by Sunday night.
So that afternoon we headed south again. It was hard going when it was hot, but as the air cooled in the late evening, with no traffic and the Northumberland NP for scenery, I have to say it was not a wasted day at all. We stopped in Newcastle for the night and the following day we were home by late afternoon. It was almost like we had woken up from a dream. Such good memories in such a short space of time so far away.
I’m already planning a return trip at the end of July early August – hopefully the weather will be with us again!
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