It was mid-May and my husband and I flew to London via Icelandic Air (the cheapest way to get there) and made our way to Tooting where we took delivery of out brand new BSA 650 Thunderbolt, purchased through an export scheme which meant we didn't have to pay the tax if we took it out of the country in a certain amount of time.
Imagine the bike below with side carrier boxes over the rear wheels, a knapack on the handle bars, a duffle bag containing all our camping gear, and two people in scruffy, low tech garments. (We were so envious of the leathers the 'real' bikers wore.)
As we made our cautious way through London traffic, a rowdy bunch shouted at us "Where's your 'arley Daividson?" and asked if we were on our way to the Isle of Man.
The following three months were heavenly. We headed south toward Devon and learned about caravan camps, clotted cream, pasties, shandy, baked beans on toast, and the innumerable differences in our common language.
We walked through Stonehenge in the early morning, before the tour buses arrived; we camped at a farm where the apple blossoms fell on our tent; we stood in a bluebell wood one night while bats flittered about our heads . . .
I'd already been an Anglophile, thanks to P.G.Wodehouse, P.L. Travers, C.S.Lewis, Kenneth Graham, J.R.R. Tolkien. T.H. White, Elizabeth Goudge, and many, many other authors whose England I'd absorbed. And it would have suited me fine to spend the whole three months we'd allotted in touring my spiritual home.
But we had determined to see as much of Europe as time and budget allowed. (Yes, we had a copy of Europe on Five Dollars a Day. And by camping and eating in restaurants only rarely, we came close.)
In three months time, we managed to visit quite a few places --
Spain where the sparkling wine at an amazing 25 cents a bottle in one camp was a joy contrasted with the eerie sight of the a lone Guardia Civil with his machine gun in the middle of nowhere. And France, where I fell in love with Marie Antoinette's Petite Hameau and we lingered for days in the charming town of Loche -- home of Agnes Sorel (and her wardrobe malfunction.) Oh, the fresh baguettes! And the excellent butter and cheese! Who needed restaurants?
(For more Sepia Saturday posts from all over, go HERE.