11:38 AM, Irish Sea just off Morecambe Bay. We’re on board the Steam Packet’s brand new ship Manxman, quietly gliding past oil platforms and wind farms on a calm sea, looking forward to an enjoyable squirt across the dales to meet friends for dinner in Harrogate, before continuing south to Hampshire on Sunday for a couple of days with family.
On Monday night we’ll take the overnight tub to Le Havre, and from then on it’s all the way down France through familiar regions from trips past; the Loire Valley, a bit of the Auvergne, over the Massif Centrale, on to the Ligurian Sea Alps, along the Cote d’azure, and over the Pyrenees. It’s the first proper road trip in five years, and much has changed.
The most immediate difference is our mode of transport, with the bike staying at home and both of us squeezing into the latest addition to our fleet, a Poly-metal Grey Mazda MX-5 GT Sport Tech 184. Hopefully we’ll think up a catchier moniker in due course, but for now it’s the closest thing we can afford to a four-wheeled motorcycle – lightweight, nippy, with cramped enough quarters and limited enough luggage to make any trip feel like an adventure. I can’t remember ever taking a road trip on more than two wheels and looking forward to the driving aspect as much as I am right now.
I’m also looking forward to revisiting the amazing sights I first glimpsed from behind the bars of a motorcycle in wide-eyed wonder; alpine cols, palm-lined mediterranean boulevards, pretty hillside villages surrounded by crackling pine forests. I haven’t experienced any of those since the so-called pandemic, and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with people from those places to see if there’s anybody there as fed up with the media-led bullshit as we’ve become.
But most of all, I’m looking forward to sharing the trip with my wife. She’s the one who gave me the biggest shove to get out on a bike more than two decades ago, and due to work commitments she’s never had the chance to enjoy a summer road trip like the one waiting for us behind Heysham, that slowly approaching port just ahead. Should be good.