Tag Archives: autism adventure

Planning #Canada

Planning for #Canada begins. Sadly the friend joining us has decided to hold fire, we hope she changes her mind though as the extra dynamic will be good really good for us – the good news is that we own the map now.

I’m hoping the bike can start in #newfoundlandandlabrador so we can get the best of the weather there… also they have over 22 species of #whaleand #dolphin feeding off the coast in #summer.

Sofia has absolutely no idea how big this trip is going to be and remains neutral & I am now talking to her about slowing down, that this trip will not be rushed so we can enjoy more. Whilst time constraints didn’t help us before, there was also a strong element from Sofia to keep moving, moving, moving.

This trip I hope she really starts to get the feeling of the moment and enjoying it, as opposed to driving towards some future goal for fear of loosing it and missing the present experience (her current future goal is a pet bird – which will not happen until after this trip so the challenge is on!)

#autism #autismawareness #autismparent #autistic #planning #adventure#travel #motorcycle #advlife #bikers #bikelife #motorcycles #bikergirl#bikersofinstagram #instamoto
#instahappy #instalife @autismcanada @autismspeakscanada

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Schools, Sunshine and Scotland

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!

 

We travel and I publish our travel experience on Social Media to help raise awareness for Autism, please could you help us continue this effort by making a small donation – Thank you:  https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/finalCharityHomepage.action?charityId=1005498

 

 

 

 

The Battle for #Nordkapp

When ever you watch a movie, there is always that point where the protagonists are in a house and common sense says that one would leave, but they never do, they stay and invariably the worst happens.

I wonder sometimes if Norway is our house, and we should have left at the first sign of trouble, but like those characters, we ignored all the warning signs and are now paying the price!

It started off so beautifully.  Wonderful weather, great roads, and awesome scenery.  It was on our third day, heading towards Bergen, that the first sign of trouble began.  Rain.

Not normal rain, short heavy showers, or light and long, but heavy and long, like monsoon in India.  At these degrees north it is only warm or hot when the sun is out, put some clouds in the equation, thick low, freezing clouds, and it is considerably cooler.

Day 3

So on that 3rd day, we rode the high mountain passes when the snow never fully melts at super cold temperatures and intermittent rain, and descended into monsoon lower altitudes that drove us to find proper shelter for the night.

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Day 4

I checked the forecast for Bergen, which was only another 100miles down the road, and it was heavy rain for the next 3 days, so I made decision to head back to the main road to head north towards our goal of Nordkapp.  The weather agreed with us, and we had a lovely ride in the sunshine on our 4th day, stopping at a campsite for the night after having an altercation with a truck on a hair pin bend sending my nerves in hyper drive and draining all energy from my soul to cope with finding a wild camp for the night.

Day 5

we only covered about 150 miles in large part because of traffic. July is holiday month for Norway, where 80% of the working population are on holiday (for Sweden it is August) and entire factories will close down.   The vast majority of these holiday makers have camper vans or caravans, and have to where to go quickly as they have seen it all before, Norway being their place to holiday every year.  A camper will travel at about 40-50 mph, slowing down over time, and then speeding up if there is a straight section in the road.  They have no consideration that a line of about 100 vehicles including lorries has built up behind them, and that the road is the only main road north, or rather very few showed consideration and gave opportunities for people to pass.  Throw in some really bad weather, and average speed will drop dramatically!  The weather was cold and cloudy and rained 60% of the time and again we stayed in a campsite that night.

Day 6

The following day, the heavens opened so we packed up early and set off.   We must have been on the road for about 5 hours with the rain pouring down the whole time, but only travelled about 100miles that day.  In part the weather, but also the traffic was now particularly slow and we were taking a stop about every hour to warm up with some hot chocolate.

So drenched again, we pulled into a place and got a room to dry out including all our camping kit.  In the process my jacket got oil paint on it as they decided mid-season was the best time to paint with no signs up.  They refused any compensation, and whilst ‘you can hardly’ see the paint on the jacket after they scrubbed it, it is none the less damaged and I insisted that they must take some responsibility for it.  But we don’t have time to hang around and argue about it all day so eventually we hit the road and got soaked again!

We were lucky this time to find a really cheap cabin by the side of a river, however, again the distance travelled was only about 150miles.

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Day 7

Today I had to make a decision – do we cross into Sweden or battle on with Norway.  I had been scanning wind, satellite and rain maps for the last 3 days to determine the direction of the weather systems, as I didn’t want to have the weather follow us and it was clear that the forecasters had been caught off guard as well, as the forecasts were rarely correct!

It was clear the weather would move west so we made the run for Sweden through cold wet mountain passes and once again we were utterly drenched!  However, this day was better than the rest because for the first time I had some conversations with people!   Norwegians are very closed and not prone to being interested in strangers, no matter how exotic they may be (a GB number plate is pretty exotic in these parts!), and even the foreigners vacationing are so wrapped up in their own world they are not interested in others either.  For me this was a strange as travelling people, in my experience, tend to be more open and enjoy the experience of meeting others on the road – yet even my attempts at engaging conversation seemed to fall flat on its face.

All this changed when we entered Sweden.  The Swedish loved talking to travellers!  and even the travellers seemed more open.   So after over a week of what felt like total isolation in our own experience, the world started to open up.  That night, soaked again, we stayed in a cabin.   Our costs of this trip had now officially spiralled out of control!

Day 8

The weather was splendid!  Sunny day, beautiful roads, and hardly a camper van in sight!  We covered about 450 miles and could have kept going, only I found a beautiful camping spot by a river at about 7pm despite its swarm of mosquitos and some sort of fly.  Luckily some finnish fishermen were camping near by and lent us some coils which had a magical effect!  None the less, I did not sleep well as the ‘brightness’ of the light at night started to bother me.

We passed the line for the Arctic Circle this day, and a big tick in the box of goals as Sofia wanted to go to the Arctic Circle.

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Day 9

Our final push to Nordkapp!  the weather was great, even at Nordkapp where the winds promised to be light, which was a relief after one altitude pass on the way had such a howling cross wind it was a battle to keep hold of the bike!

Turning on to the E69, the Nordkapp road, we were filled with excitement, we were finally there, and only a couple of hundred kilometers to go – the sun was shining and the winds were light!

And then disaster struck, the bike broke down!

Rescue finally arrived 4 hours later, and when I went to show the mechanic the problem (the engine cutting when there was no throttle applied) and the engine idled no problem at all.   So I drove to the garage with the truck following, thankfully in the direction of Nordkapp rather than away from it – but still, all hopes of making it to the furthest point North on the European continent were by now dashed.

The bike made it to the garage, however the vibration was really bad and the power was weak, this was not a simple fix and the mechanic advised that BMW were the best placed to deal with it – BMW whose closest dealership was in Tromso, some 600km.  So the discussions began with the insurance company, that have become more ludicrous as time has gone on which is for another post, however, just in this evening alone – they seemed more determined to pay for a Taxi to Nordkapp 35km away and bring us back the next day, than pay for our accommodation where we were even though is would be cheaper – thankfully the battery went flat on my phone before we came to any conclusion!

Once the phone had some charge, we waited for them to call – they didn’t – I called them – there was no answer.  Finally we gave up and by this time had booked into the local hostel (a shocking 80 Euros for one night is the cheapest accommodation in the area!)  only to have the garage owner offer us a car until things got sorted with the Insurance company!  What a star! So we dumped our stuff, got something to eat (we hadn’t eaten since 10am that morning) and with 30mins to spare, made it up to Nordkapp so see the midnight sun!

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After such battles, our elation was palpable – and Sofia did something she has never done before, grabbed me round the shoulders for the selfie photo with a big grin on her face!  It is the first time she has ever done that, normally she hates to be hugged and it is extremely rare that she may hug, and even then she hates being hugged in return.   So the picture of us grinning a is a particularly special one at is denotes not only a shared experience and achievement, but that she felt that experience as a shared one and expressed in an appropriate way 🙂

If you enjoy following our travels, please make a donation – We are travelling approximately 8,000 miles –  £5 will help us cover 50miles, £10 = 100miles  

We don’t know the costs for fixing the bike yet but any help towards that will be GREATLY appreciated!

Donate here:  http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/finalCharityHomepage.action?charityId=1005498

 

A huge ‘Thank You!’ to Rev’it who sponsored our riding gear!  It has done a tremedous job in the weather we have had to deal with!

Our Jackets and Jeans were the Horizon range

Our boots – Outdry Discovery

Maps, phone, GPS! what could possibly go wrong?

We set off feeling very organised, even the navigation, after all a GPS and a phone with Google Maps with a plan to get a map of Europe on the other side.  Not that our first few days were going to be hard map wise, or at least that is what I thought.

Then we arrived in Antwerp around midday on our first day and it started to rain.   All ready exhausted, I made the, perhaps not so wise decision, to exit the ring road towards Brussels, just to keep going and thinking I could turn on my phone to navigate (only to find that data wasn’t connected for Europe), or check the GPS (but the battery was flat from using it to check our route along the way and to find a campsite earlier as Sofia was struggling to stay awake) and a map of Europe that would be waiting for me at the next services (my expectation being that all highway services in Europe have a road map of Europe) only to find that they only had a Belgium map available.

That would have to do – and so the navigation by traditional map began.   It wasn’t so bad, even if irritating having to stop and check which ment Sofia having to get off the bike every time (keeping her awake) the detail being too big to have just one page showing on the tank bag, until I took a wrong turn and couldn’t stop for about 30mins to check the map!

Thankfully once correct we were not too far from where we were aiming for and around 8pm we finally rolled into a campsite.

The next day didn’t feel like a big navigation issue (we had a solid map now!), the plan was to potter around the area until about midday, getting lots of map practise as well, and then start planning our route to Cologne where we were staying with a good friend we had not seen in many years.    Luckily we stopped where a friendly local made the plan for me right up to her front door, wrote it all down, and helped me to memorise it (there was still no data on the phone – maybe just Belgium?).  It was at this point I discover that Garmin, in their desperation for money, have designed the USB cable to NOT charge the device directly from a power socket! it will however charge through the laptop (phew!) We arrived in good time in Cologne with the GPS winning the day for those final street directions, and still no data on my phone now we were in Germany.

The following day I phoned up my UK provider and it turns out that despite the 10 minute conversation about travelling in Europe for 2 months and increasing my data allowance, the customer service didn’t think that turning on data roaming was necessary!  Now turned, all was well, we had google maps, bluetooth into the helmet, a GPS fully charged.   I plugged in my destination via various stops that had been recommended and we set off in high spirits!

The thing I love about technology navigation is that all you have to do is plug in the destination, set preferences to avoid highways, and boom!  you find yourself on some amazing roads, no stopping and checking, no getting lost, nothing.  ‘Turn left in 200metres, TURN LEFT!’   is all that is needed, and if you take a wrong turn, no problem, it recalculates… no stopping and re mapping the route.

To be honest, I have no idea how people cope on motorbikes with maps.  Yes, I think one should always be handy (though I still hadn’t learnt that lesson yet), but to have all that effort removed is such a joy.   Lots of people have said they see more with a map, but what exactly?   I’m just as likely to take a wrong turn using technology (yes really!)  but at least I don’t have to stop and re plan.  And stopping for me is a mission with Sofia in the back – it has to be a place where it is safe to stop and for her to dismount the bike if she needs to.

So there we were having a wonderful ride through the German country side when the battery on phone started running low, I plugged in the charge adapter only to find it had finally given up the ghost and didn’t work at all, about the same time the phone froze so even my desperate stop at a gas station to plug it in to fast charge enough to get us out of the back roads was pointless.  And they had no maps.  I used the GPS as much as possible but again battery ran dry.

Finally I found a map, limited to the area we were in, and decided to take the fast road to our destination (we needed to start chewing up some mileage now!) picking up a new charge socket for the phone and a European map at a services.  Finally!  all bases were covered just in time to find another awesome road before arriving at the camp site.

The following day was the best ride thus far,  with blue toothed instructions to a destination, no highways, I was finally relaxing and enjoying the journey which took us up the east/west divide of Germany.  When navigation works well, it is fantastic!

I think in conclusion to the debate on what to have, all forms are good to have at the ready.  But for people who prefer to use a map on a motorbike, perhaps their destination is the journey itself?  For me, I like to have a destination and then enjoy the unexpected journey getting there, which the tech navigation takes care of.   We don’t always stay exactly where planned, those decisions happen on the road, ultimately though, direction is important to me, and not having to worry about any of the ‘getting there’ is, for me a load off my mind so I can enjoy the journey so much more.

 

If you enjoy following our travels, please make a donation – We are travelling approximately 8,000 miles –  £5 will help us cover 50miles, £10 = 100miles  

Donate here:  http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/finalCharityHomepage.action?charityId=1005498

The night before launching The Crooked Foot Adventure

Until about a week ago, I thought everything was tickidy-boo – and then we took a day out on the bike with some cameras so I could work out how I could use them more and bring you more film footage.  (our Youtube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdwRUgfgP2LG1rCokiCt4Gw)

The main problem that arose out of it was that my navigation solution was unreliable and so a new plan was put in action to buy a Garmin – sadly the blue tooth into earphones are deliberatly over priced, so settled with one without and hope that it will work out ok.  At the very least, I am hoping that with Google maps and a Garmin, I will hopefully start feeling a little bit more confident about driving through cities and major intersections with out heading off in the wrong direction!

The other issue was the charging solution for devices on the bike doesn’t seem to be very good, so as the charge socket is european I’m hoping that I can sort that out on the road.

If you had asked me after that ride how I felt about riding a motorbike, I probably wouldn’t have sounded too confident.  I was off my game that day, but to be honest, before that, I was still feeling like I wasn’t quite nailing it well enough to feel good about taking Sofia on foreign roads.   It seems a bike service, more than a ‘me’ service was the issue!   A valve adjustment, new chain, break pads and tyres, and BOOM!  I’m riding a completely different bike!   It is amazing how a bike that isn’t on top form can affect your whole experience of riding.   Returning from Mick’s (the mechanic) workshop yesterday was the best ride I’ve had so far on this bike.

Am I feeling ready for this repsonsibility of driving with my daughter as pillion? I am now!  so much so, for the first time today (after the stresses of last minute changes to my insurance provider)  I started to feel butterflies in my belly.   Even more so seeing Sofia come home from school looking how I felt – excited!  🙂

 

If you enjoy following our travels, please make a donation – We are travelling approximately 8,000 miles –  £5 will help us cover 50miles, £10 = 100miles  

Donate here:  http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/finalCharityHomepage.action?charityId=1005498