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THURSDAY 5th JULY 2007

Friday 29th June | Sunday 1st July | Tuesday 3rd July | Thursday 5th July | Sunday 8th July | Tuesday 10th July | Friday 13th July | Sunday 15th July

A day off today. Plenty of phone calls and pictures sent back to Frances. I'm really jealous that Henry has Leslie here. Still, there's lots for me to do before we can set off again. I had to get my rack repaired if I was to be able to continue.

The odd-job man for the complex gave us some vague directions to where we might get some welding done so, after a fine breakfast, Bill and I set off for the blacksmiths and the others made for the beach. We rode round and round and weren't getting anywhere. Then, out of the blue, found ourselves stopped by the sound of an angle grinder. I popped my head in the door and found a fully functioning workshop. I approached the guy who was obviously in charge (he had clean hands) and showed him the broken rack. A bracket had broken at the weld and it needed about 3 minutes with a mig welder. If he hadn't spoken so fast, I would now be able to tell you what the Spanish for Sod Off, English Pig is!

I asked him if there was anywhere else?

I think he told me to try next door. Well, not being very impressed with the level of customer insolence, I moved on up the street. Another workshop and another guy fabricating another set of gates.

In I went, with my rack and asked if he could help. He must have spent last night drinking in the same bar as the last bloke. Same speech, same hand signals. I didn’t interrupt him. I just knew that I HAD to get this rack fixed.

I put on my best puppy dog face and looked him smack in the eye. Senior, I pointed to myself and said desperado por favor?. It was all I could think to say. He tutted and sighed and grabbed the rack from me. Three minutes later it was fixed, as good as new.

He shoved the rack back in my hands and I opened my wallet asking him how much? The strange thing was he wouldn't take any money. For a drink beer I gestured with my hand. He smiled and still wouldn't take anything. Strange people. Perhaps they just like to have a heavy duty moan now and then? Not like the English, what ho?

Bill and I made several attempt to find the others on the beach but, to be honest, it was too hot to be out in the noon-day sun, even for us mad dogs. So we did the only thing that could be done, in the circumstances. We found a bar with air conditioning and had a beer. Lunch was swordfish cooked fresh. It was scrumptious.

We made our way back to the apartment later in the afternoon and refitted the rack and luggage. It transpired that the reason that the rack had failed was that I had bracketed my panniers from the same rack meaning that it was carrying some 300% of its design load! I rearranged my luggage as best I could so that there was less weight on the back of the rack. In addition, we lashed things up with as many cable ties as we could fit on. That would have to do.

It was decided that we'd go out for dinner to a tapas bar. We ended up in more of a restaurant and dined al fresco


THE LADIES

THE GENTLEMEN

Plate after plate of food came to the table and we all tried a bit of everything. We wandered off around the town afterwards and just managed to catch an Italian style ice cream shop which we raided for desert.


STATSISTICS - DAY 7;

Just an extra 10 miles around Ayomonte
1402 miles in total
Average 200 miles per day

FRIDAY 6th AUGUST 2007

After a good night's sleep, we set off for Portugal and to meet a friend of Henry's named Bart in Silves, Portugal. It was Bart's birthday and we were invited to the party! A straight ride along the motorway to Silves would have been over in less than three hours so we decided to take a more circuitous route via the mountains. We soon left the motorway and started off inland, climbing up into the hills and winding our way ever higher. The scenery was nice but nothing compared to that which we had seen on the way down to Ayomonte. We knew that a break and lunch beckoned and as we rounded a bend we came across a tavern.

TAVERNA

PLUS BEER

EQUALS SIESTA


The only problem was that they only served beer, no food! So we had a beer, well it would have been rude not to. Topped up with yet more agua. We were getting through litres of the stuff a day. Ten minutes later, Henry woke me up and we set off down the mountain
We came across a little village and found a shop and did our bread, cheese, ham and fruit trick again. All eaten, sat on a bench in the shade on the side of the road in the village. Very picturesque.

We carried on down the hills, heading for a resort named Portimao where we could achieve our goal and prime directive, to have a dinner of B-B-Q'd sardines on the beach! We had looked forward to this from the early planning stages, months ago and it had become the goal for the entire trip. As Bill had said we won't need a map, keep the sun on your left in the morning and on our right in the afternoon and follow the scent of the sardines.

We made Portimao mid afternoon and looked out a café / bar on the beach.

We asked expectantly for Beer and Sardines for three and looked aghast when we were told No sardinas. Disaster. We settled for the beer. Bill said that, when he had been to Portimao before with Naomi, there were numerous sardine stalls on the dockside where the river disappeared inland under a lattice work steel bridge. Well, I figured that as we were on the coast on the west side of Portimao, if we headed back through the town, and kept to the coast as much as we could then we would have to find the river and we would then find the bridge.

I led the way and followed my plan. For a moment, I thought It must have looked as if I knew where we were going. Just then, around a bend and voila, there was Bill's bridge and the quayside. We parked the bikes up and surveyed the area for the sight or smell of sardines. Nothing. Bill said that the quay used to be festooned with little stalls, all cooking sardines over charcoal. Looks like the Health and Safety twats have made it to Portugal! We decided that we hadn't come all this way to fail. Across the road from the quay was a very quaint local restaurant / bar. We ventured in. He had one of those large tanks where you can pick your lobster or crab for lunch. Henry approached the man.

One question, one word.

Sardinas?

Sim said the man, nodding his head. Another language mastered.

One, two, three bellowed Henry pointing to Bill, me and himself.

Sim, sim, sim and this time a thumbs up!

A one word language great!

We'd already had a beer at the last place so opted for three cokes. The chef disappeared into the kitchen and returned with a bowl of bread and the back he went. He came back 5 minutes later with Octopus Salad. Now, I didn't want to say too much about it because Henry and Bill both tucked in. I think of myself as adventurous but I couldn't face a second fork-full.

Another 10 minutes and we had a plate of grilled sardines and potatoes to die for.

SARDINAS!


Plenty of garlic, lemon and olive oil. A bit of careful knife work and the flesh lifted clear of the bone leaving a Tom & Jerry style fish skeleton. No bones to pick out of your mouth. They were well worth the ride. One of the best meals we had eaten so far.

Once we had finished, we returned to the bikes. Henry phoned Bart and got directions to a camp site. We struggled a bit but, before long we were at the gates of the best site we had seen so far. Henry went to the reception to book us in. Big problem. It turned out that it was a private site for members of the International Camping Club and that Enfields were not allowed. What prejudice. We were banjaxed.

It was getting late in the day and we had no idea where we could go. Henry decided to call Bart, his friend in Portugal whom we had come to visit. Bart knew of another site and would be with us in 10 minutes. Bill found some shade and we waited. Little did Bill know that he was sat on the steps of the local Home for the Bewildered.

True to his word, 10 minutes later, a black BMW car swooped around the corner and out got Bart. After the pleasantries, we all followed Bart to a site, right out on the Eastern side of town. We all checked in and Bill found a basket on the reception counter full of sweets. He was just about to hand them round when he realised that they were condoms! Perhaps I should have slipped a couple in the end of his sleeping bag? That would have set the cat among the pigeons when he got home!

We pitched our tents and had a lightning change of clothes and a quick wash. Then it was into Bart's Beemer for the party! Out through the countryside to another town called Silves. Bart lived with his charming wife, in a two story house in town with a delightful roof garden. This was where the party was to be. Bart was from the Netherlands and his wife was from Argentina. Before the night ended, the roof garden would resemble the United Nations with people from over 8 different countries. A brand new gas B.B.Q. and a keg of beer greeted us. It turned out that they were having problems with the beer as it was serving 90% head and 10% beer! I gave them my experience from my barman days and soon, good beer with a respectable head was being produced.


I talked to Bart about our experience and how far we had travelled. Bart explained that he had an Enfield but that he couldn't use it on the road at the mome3nt as it needed registering locally and he had mislaid the paperwork. I asked him if he had bought it locally.

Oh no, I bought it in Madras When he explained that he had then ridden it back overland via Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Greece……… I felt very humbled. And there was me going on about a mere couple of thousand miles under my belt in civilised countryside. It made our effort seem like a walk in the park.

Soon we were joined on the terrace by Bart's parents, his brother and girlfriend and many more friends and acquaintances. All in all, we ended up with British, Dutch, Argentine, Brazilian, French, Portugese. It ended up more like a post Eurovision party. The party went on until the early morning and then we found that despite Bart's best efforts, there wasn't a taxi to be had for neither love nor money! Bart came up trumps again and ferried us back to our site in his car.

If you’re reading this Bart, thanks once again!


STATSISTICS - DAY 8
;

134 miles Ayomonte - Portimao
1536 miles in total
Average 192 miles per day

SATURDAY 7th AUGUST 2007

Despite the party the night before, we were up with the skylark. We wanted to try and get as close to Gibraltar as we could before the day was through. We had a lot of miles between us and home and as we wanted to take in Gibraltar, The Millau Bridge in France and call in on Brendan then we knew we had to get the daily average up. We also didn't want to have to do all of the trip from here to Calais on motorways but a high proportion was going to be inevitable if we were going to stay on track.

We wanted to avoid having to extend the holiday into the third week, so the available time was limited.

Added to this was the fact that I really didn't fancy the ferry back from St. Malo to Poole and was thinking of trying a shorter crossing. I had phoned Frances, my wife, back in the UK and set her the task of seeing what was available on the Wonder-Web. She beavered away looking at all of the available options. It turned out that just about the best deal was the Channel Tunnel.

The added bonus was that the likelihood of seasickness via this route was reduced to zero! This appealed to me a lot. The downside was that it meant more miles and more expense. But the one for all and all for one spirit prevailed and we all agreed that this was the plan.

BACK OVER THE BORDER INTO SPAIN


Off we set along the motorway, past Faro and back towards Espania. Before long, we were on the Bridge over the Rio Guadiana, the border. From here, I would be able to see the dockside workshops where my friendly rack repairer worked!

Onwards towards Seville and then, we needed to take a different motorway towards Jerez and Cadiz and along the coast towards Gibraltar.

The temperature was getting hotter and hotter and, even though I had always said I wouldn't, I found myself riding in shorts and T shirt. I was not alone! It was now the low thirties and we climbed a long hill on the outskirts of Seville just before we had to negotiate the interchange with the motorway to Jerez.

That's when it happened.

I was leading when, all of a sudden, my bike gave a clunk and felt as if it had jumped out of gear. I dropped to fourth and let out the clutch. No power at all. Nothing. I pulled over onto the hard shoulder and Henry and Bill pulled in behind me.

I explained the symptoms and we tried the electric start. The engine seemed to be turning over faster than normal. I tried the kick start things seemed too easy. Henry whipped out the plug and confirmed the fact. No compression. The tappet cover was the next thing he removed and we discovered the exhaust push rod was adrift. Off with the tank and off with the exhaust rocker cover and we found that the exhaust valve had seized in the open position. Henry managed to get to push rod back in place by de-adjusting and re-adjusting it.

Then, as we were thinking about what to do and as the engine began to cool down a little, the valve began to creep back. Before long, we had some compression back and, hey presto, it started! It turned out (we think) that the heat, the 3 mile long up-hill pull and the fact that my oil was a little low had caused the problem. Henry said that it was a known problem with this engine and was one of the reasons that the PAV port had been placed in the head from the exhaust pipe to cool the valve slightly. The fact that I had removed and blanked off the PAV port was another matter!

We were just about to start putting things back together when, up drew the Guardia Civil (Traficō Divisiōn) [Motorway Police to the you]. Bill ran over to them before they could get out of the car. He waved two fingers at them (yes, those two fingers) and shouted We'll only be a couple of minutes chaps.

They both got out of the car, looking as menacing as could be. Gaucho moustaches, sun glasses, hats pulled low and guns on hips they swaggered over to us.

Christ I thought. Where's Clint Eastwood when you need him?

All that was missing was the Ting of spurs on their boots. They brushed Bill aside and made their way over to Henry and me at the disassembled bike.

I babbled that we had fixed the problem and were nearly finished….. The driver waved his hand as if to say silence. He looked past me and approached the bike.

Zis bike, ........... she has many, many years, si?

Bugger me if the Enfield hadn't done it again. Anyone who's ever ridden an Enfield in recent times will attest to the amount of attention that they mistakenly think is being paid to them when it is really the bike that sucks people in! I suppose it's a bit like Peter Stringfellow when he's on the beach with his missus. They couldn't have been more helpful. They even gave us directions to the nearest garage so I could top up with some oil.

We motored onwards to a campsite at a place called Conil De La Frontera. As with most of the site we had found, it was 'Hobson's Choice and this time, it seemed that we had landed in the middle of a rave. It seems that if you're a young Spaniard then the thing to do on a Saturday night is to go camping and do the music / drinking / jiggy-jiggy thing. Ah well……bless.
ANOTHER DAY - ANOTHER SITE

I went into town and got some provisions for dinner and breakfast. Chicken curry & rice and more pork and paprika bangers for breakfast. It seemed that Henry had pitched his tent in what used to be the main short-cut to the toilets and showers. He did the only thing that a Brit abroad could do, in the circumstances. He erected several garrotte lines at various heights to make sure that he didn't miss out the people that were vertically challenged! There were many shrieks and squeals that evening followed by shouts of Serves you bloody-well right and Get orf moi land!. Ray Mears would have been so proud. It's lucky Henry didn't catch someone out who was sprinting to the bog with their brown light flashing.
BILL AT WORK - NOTE THE ONE BEHIND THE TREE!

STATSISTICS - DAY 9;

245 miles Portimao Conil De La Frontera
1781 miles in total
Average 198 miles per day

 

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