Wicked Weekend with Charles!

This weekend Sam and I popped up to Suffolk to meet up with our superbly awesome biker enthusiast friend Charles.  With the BBC being all dramatic about the weather (well we are British don’t you know) and flood warnings ahoy we decide it’s not the best of ideas to take the bikes and whilst we have the luxury (and choice!) we pop up in our little car.

After arriving, we lap down a great cuppa over a lovely chin wag and are all pretty chuffed that Sam and I had left the manky weather behind in Weston! The sun was shining and the sky was blue with little puffs of cotton wool clouds bobbing about.  Charles, Sam and I have had various conversations about the odds and sods we are planning on taking on the trip and knowing Charles is stupendously well travelled and a frequent participant in adventure riding we were keen to know his tips!  With regards to the cold Charles informs us that he swears by his heated jacket and it would be something he wouldn’t go without! Considering it’s a lovely enough day he invites us to go for a bit of a bimble on his bikes to show us a few green lanes and the sights of Suffolk and to give me the opportunity to try out this awesome heated coat!

Suited and booted we head out to the garage and I plonk on Charles’ KTM 690, Sam on a KTM 990 and Charles on a Suzuki DRZ 400.  I have to admit, at this point I am bricking it as having never green laned before and only ridden a total of 16 odd times (including my tests!) I feared dropping and breaking our friends bike!  But Charles is super loooooooovely and very reassuring that all will be fine!  So with heated jacket on and at the ready, we head on out and bop down a couple of roads and then wheeeeeeeee onto a green lane!

With Charles in front already making way down the green lane and Sam behind I just squinted painfully beyond my helmet (because that will save me from the terror of muddy pot holes, gravel and sand) shake my head in a “nono nnononoo can’t quite believe I’m going to do this waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” way and follow onwards…. and after a few minutes of bouncing, squealing, blasting and wibbling I begin to laugh inanely and start thoroughly enjoying myself!  The heated jacket by that point had really kicked in and I was sweltering but there was no way in hell I was going to let go (or stop) to turn it off until I was on some kind of stable footed grounds!

When Charles eventually came to a halt and we were back on the road I think I took my first proper breath in for the past 5minutes and just beamed ear to ear!  Green laning is truly AWESOME! Ahahaaa!  I quickly flick off the jacket (truly amazing bit of kit… super impressed) and after gathering myself back up and taking heed of a few handy hints from Charles we’re off again bouncing through the countryside.

I cannot express how much fun Sam and I had that afternoon.  Bopping along I am so so desperately concentrating on the terrain I almost feel a little sad as I can see a world of beauty whizzing past in my peripheral vision, but in fear of missing a beat I keep my eyes firmly fixated forwards at the rolling lane!  We do stop off at this stunning spot which over looks the mouth of a river.  Charles pointed out the North Sea in the distance too… you wouldn’t believe how incredibly pancake flat the landscape is there!  You can see forever and a day!  Charles explains how prone the area is to flooding thus the wall works going on down the banks.  Quite a difference from the rolling hills folded through Somerset!

We take a few small roads through some divinely quaint and chocolate box villages, strewn with thatches and beautiful character cottages laced with ivy, wisterias, wild flowers and mouth watering vegetable patches all backed on to fields and wooded areas.  There are pig farms all about too and after taking a turn into a field we find ourselves riding alongside sheep, herding in bounds through thick grasses.  I cannot help but laugh and smile!  Not only that but hares duck out of the way, deer leap into the nearby thickets and bushes and a farrow of piglets come to greet us as we glide pass.  It’s truly a magical ride leaving both Sam and I flabberghasted and in awe of its beauty!

I did manage to drop the bike though – as usual when stopped!  I eased off too quickly on the throttle when going through a gate and started tipping right into a dip!  What a plank!  Other than that the whole ride went rather fantastically for my first time green laning!  Granted I stayed seated the majority of the time but did proudly brave a quick stand up when winding past the leaping lambs… however upon spotting a rather large hole ahead I couldn’t avoid decided that standing meant I had further to fall if I did so promptly plonked down again!

When we arrived back to Charles’ home we both were super grinning!  My cheeks actually hurt from smiling so much!  The bikes were washed down and exasperated with such a lovely afternoon we all headed in for an evening of much fun, chatting and a glass or two of wine and whiskey until the early hours!  Perfect!

The next morning held some lovely relaxed conversations and then after some breakky we popped out for a ride in Charles’ Unimog!  Now… this thing is a BEAST!  It’s truly mega, we didn’t have the camera with us but we’re hoping to pop up before we’re off and will be sure to take a snap when we do!  I was in the top of the Unimog and when reversing out I remember thinking “Blimey, I’m so high up I could step out to on top of the barn roof if I wanted to!”!  It’s not often you drive past at eye levels to roofs and something that amused me was the fact that the clumps of moss on tops of them often resemble a cluster of miniature curled up hedgehogs!  That made me smile!

Rumbling through these quaint villages in a unimog was hilarious though!  It made so many people smile though and wave at you!  Considering we drive a Toyota Yaris we’re not too used to people waving at us as we’re driving about so it was kind of amusing and strange (and meant I presented the locals and tourists with my awful floppy inability to wave properly back!)!  What made Sam laugh the most though was a couple of well polished and expensive cars whizzing round the corner in the middle of the country lanes only to be presented with a transformer sized monster of a unimog!  They quickly made way for us as we pummelled through!

A fantastic experience and so much fun too!  We had such a glorious time and were so super sad we had to head home!  Charles is just a superb person to be around, so incredibly lovely and an amazing rider too!  Being in his early 70’s and still participating in rallies and adventure riding he is a truly inspirational friend to have!

Big thank you again to Charles for being amazing and his wonderful hospitality!  We could have easily stayed up a few more nights chatting them away, it was such good fun!  Hope to see you in the next few weeks and again at the Dakar and in Africa!

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