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 Final Reports

Lesley's final report

Wattisfield, Suffolk, England; 19th April 2009


   We are now safely back in good old England where spring is at its finest. The trees are green with new life and the lanes and hedgerows are brimming with blossom and flowers. It's the best time of the year when things are fresh and vibrant, if not a bit on the chilly side. As for us ... Well I think we are both in a slight state of shock!!

   We left Tom’s in Almeria under a blanket of wet fog and headed towards Valencia where we stopped at a BMW bike shop and had the old girl’s fuel injection system sorted out. We are pleased to report that she is now running smoothly once again. From Valencia we headed northwest and into the snow-field area and flat, almost altiplano, scene of patchwork fields and freshly turned soil.

   Once we cleared the Pyrenees Mountains the temperature rose as we passed through the Bordeaux area. Sadly, we could see much of evidence of the strong winds that have ripped up and destroyed much of the pine forests in this area. Heading north we tried to stay off the auto routes and followed the “N” roads which passed through the pretty towns and villages, and then all too soon we were in Calais!

   I developed a twisting, grinding, churning sensation in my gut. The raised pulse and the over-active imagination that I had occasionally experienced prior to an unknown border crossing returned.

   What would we find?

   Where would we stay?

   How would we be received?

   Will it be too emotional?

   What will we do next? 

   My head was in turmoil. There were so many questions and yet very few answers. Our mantra of “Remaining flexible at all times” echoed loudly in my head.  We are so close to “Home” and yet I am scared!

   Eddie, our webmaster, had emailed to say that he was on tour in the UK in his campervan over the Easter holidays and “spookily” had booked a night’s stopover in Mildenhall, not far from our home.  This was weird, our calendar said nothing about Easter in the UK but, like a thunderbolt, we suddenly realised that if we pushed on we could make it to Mildenhall to meet him and Agnes. It seemed very appropriate that Eddie should be the first person we met in the UK as he has, in spirit, been on the trip all the way and without him we would not have our very professional website.

   The re-union was quite emotional for me and at the sight of friendly smiley faces and a bottle of sparkling champagne had me reduced to tears - That wasn't in the plan! We pitched out tent beside the van on the forested site and slept with my head spinning and being bombarded with all kinds of thoughts and fears.

   Many travellers have told us that the first few weeks after the completion of a big trip are very difficult and filled with mixed emotions.  At the moment I feel stunned. It has been wonderful catching up with Ian, Tilly and the family and we are working our way around seeing old friends but I feel as though I am in a floating bubble and just drifting in the breeze.

   Our Trek has been one of the most amazing experiences and I will cherish it forever.  We have been fortunate enough to experience so many different cultures, meet so many wonderful, kind and generous people from all walks of life, and who will remain our friends forever. Our horizons and outlooks have expanded and we have learned new things and skills everyday.

   Thoughts, priorities and expectations have all changed within us both, and with the changes, hopefully a greater understanding of what “makes us tick”. I have just been so lucky that all these wonderful experiences have been shared with my best friend, lover and husband Nick who gave me the ride of my life!

Till we meet again, Lesley.


 Nick’s Final Report

   We have been back in England three weeks now and are presently staying with Les's sister Sally. We are very comfortable in a converted shed at the bottom of her garden, and a very nice shed it is too!           Our own house is still rented out and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

   Good news travels fast and it wasn't long before the local press and radio wanted to talk to us. We completed the story with our local Easter Daily Press who'd been publishing articles on our progress around the world from time to time.

   We have also been very busy catching up with our two sons, Daniel and Ian, located in Cornwall and Norfolk. As can be expected, after nearly three years away it was great seeing them again and sample some real ale - proper beer! It was also fantastic meeting up with the rest of the family as well.  We now have to catch up with all of our friends and bore them to death with stories and thousands of pictures! Some housekeeping was also in order as we had to arrange appointments with doctors, dentist and, most importantly, the bank!

   All in all it has been a busy time of late and we haven't really had time to sit and reflect too deeply on what we have achieved, perhaps that’s a good thing?

   It was great meeting our web master and good friend, Eddie with his wife Agnes, and their granddaughter Nicole on our way back to Norfolk. Without Eddie’s web design skills we would have been very selfish and kept our two years - ten month, 89000 miles adventure to ourselves, so a big thanks Eddie, you're a star.

   On its return to British soil the bike let go of its rear bevel drive bearing again, that makes failure number four! This was closely followed by the starter motor. Mind you, the poor old girl has now 105,000 miles on the clock so it was hardly surprising.

   Kevin, Norfolk's expert BMW mechanic at KRF Motorcycles in Norwich let me use his workshop to carry out repairs. With his invaluable advice and guidance everything is okay with the old girl once again.

   We had always planned our homeward ride across Europe to be brisk. Europe is the most expensive continent and we will explore it more thoroughly another day; possibly in a camper van!

   I had already purchased insurance for the bike online in Turkey with Carol Nash but the registration worried me a bit. When we left the UK in 2006 the DVLA told me that the bike would be recorded as being permanently exported, which is normal procedure if you’re away for along time. It turns out that while we've been passing through our 28 countries, and in order to conform to international law, you have to be registered in your home country, which we weren't! I've already met up with Paul Gowen at the RAC office in Bristol. He’s been a great help to us and has dealt with the Carnet document covering the import and export of the bike into foreign countries. I returned our carnet to him and he told me that it is still a bit of a grey area with DVLA by not having a definitive answer.

   It appears one option is to SORN the bike in this country (Statute Off Road Notification) and renew that annually online. The bike then remains registered but not used in the UK. This advice I gleaned from a forum on the Horizons Unlimited website. Oh well, we'll know for next time!  I was worried when getting off the ferry in Dover that we'd be stopped by customs, but we rode through with no problems at all.

   Of course the other problem is, here we are back on British soil with a bike without tax, MOT, and registration. An email to DVLA advised me to book in for an MOT then I could ride it to that appointment.    So this arrangement got us back to Norfolk. Chris Ball, my good friend at CJ Ball Motorcycles in Norwich, sorted the MOT and, armed with the pass certificate, we filled in a form at our local DVLA office in Norwich and got our road tax and the new registration document. Thankfully I even kept my old number plate. There we are, no drama after all!

   The more I think about it, the bike did very well indeed. She covered 89,000 miles while being ridden overweight at 525 kilos on unpaved roads like dried-up river beds, and we're still running on the original BMW shocks! Miraculously our BMW metal panniers and top box, including the frame work carrying them, has remained in one piece. Okay, we had four bevel drive bearings lasting for 46k, 40k, 4k and 16000 miles, the 4000 mile one was due to a rusty bearing! We also had to replace one set of para-lever bearings on the back swing arm, oil seals on the final drive, electronic ignition and a coil.

   When I had the starter motor out I found it just needed lubrication. Kevin, at KRF, took the opportunity to look at the clutch and told me it was only half worn, and it’s still the original one having lasted 105,000 miles. Also the clutch slave cylinder was as dry as a bone, (apparently another weak point). The throttle cables are still the original ones as is the brake fluid, which I'll replace very soon anyhow!

   Other overland adventure travellers we’ve spoken to, either in 4x4's or bikes, have said that there's no vehicle that won't brake something at some point if you take the vehicle into adventurous territory, so considering all this, our bike has done really well indeed.

   We've used 28 tyres of various brands, some even being replaced ahead of schedule. Careful planning where we'd get our next tyre from meant changing tyres a little early at times, but by planning ahead there was no need to carry spares. Tyre mileage varied but 10 - 11000 miles for a rear and half again on the front was about the norm; I wasn't drag racing off the lights you understand!

   Fuel consumption was good, high 40s to high 50-miles to the gallon which with our 30-litre tank gave us plenty of range and no need for extra cans, just a bit of planning. She has run on all sorts of dodgy fuel and didn't need the special plug I had bought. This plug made adjustments to the engine management computer to counteract bad fuel. Whilst we struggled for breath at 15,000 feet in the Andes, the bike didn't miss a beat. Kevin tells me that with a few checks and renewals she will be good for another 100,000 miles before any major rebuild. She's still all ‘stickered’ with flags from countries around the world and I will keep her that way. So will I get rid of her? No I don't think so; we're family now!

   On the clothing front, our 'Hood Jeans' have been fantastic, still comfortable and wearing well after all those miles. Riding the bike or just relaxing they are a perfect choice - Thanks Chris & Julia.

Our, 'Pooleglobaltrek' has been a dream come true made even more special with a dream woman on the back, (we just celebrated our 30-years wedding anniversary)! The world is a fantastic place and, for the most part, filled with fascinating cultures, stunning countryside and friendly people. Visit any country in the world, talk to the local people, avoid the hot spots, which might be on the next block, and like us, you will have the time of your life.

   A big thank you to all the people who left messages in our guest book and sent emails of support and encouragement over the years, you made it feel like we weren't that far away. And a big thanks to all the lovely people we met on the way, we will be back one day.

   So, where next you ask? Well we have some unfinished business and I think a ride to India in 2011 will finish the job off.

   We are also planning a Pedal-cycle trek to Africa in 2010. We are so unfit so it’s time to take some exercise. A bit extreme you say? Perhaps, but that's how we like it now!!!

   Thank You And Good Night!


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