Our next day took us through some very good villages where people waved lots and tractor drivers beeped at us. I think it was friendly. We went through Avignon with lots of cypress trees, and Chateau-Neuf-du-Pape where we watched farmers doing whatever it is they do to their vines.

We ended up stopping for a real French cafe experience and accidentally stumbled into a historic walled village of some sort where harrassed-looking teachers showed city kids round, and it all looked very old and pretty, except for the enormous metal grilles on the front doors.
It all started getting very southern-looking, with a bright blue sky, and slightly scrubbeir vegetation, and we decided to head for Arles. Our route took us through miles and miles of marshland, sort of wilderness-looking, and a couple of strange skeggy towns with mechanics sat around outside cafes looking mean. We came into Arles, on the coast, expecting great things, and it was about 8pm when we arrived. It was getting dark, and was similar to arriving in Birkenhead, with scallies in bad tracksuits with shaved heads looking at us menacingly. Therre was a camping sign pointing to a nasty-looking gravel carpark where the wind rushed across the marsh to hit you in the face in a not very polite manner, and some people in campervans had set up home there, possibly permanently. I had a wee in a dilapidated bus-shelter with 2 walls and broken bottles all over the floor, and we tried to stick the tent pegs into the gravelled concrete, holding the tent in one hand to stop the wind stealing it. We gave up.

After heading back across the marsh for an hour, away from the scary thugs, we ended up hiding next to a farmers field on some boggy marshland, and despite the farmer being 10 feet away managed to avoid detection. We ate our emergency pasta rations and bemoaned our fate.

And We're Off...

After getting more and more excited and nervous and a bit unreal, we finally left our caravan, with a two week stint to say goodbye to everyone in Wirral and Oxford.

In Wirral Steve attached our mascot to the front of the bike, and he has become a fixture we are fond of (the mascot, not Steve, though we are also fond of him...). We left Sue and Steve and were a bit upset, but will be seeing them in Thailand. We then had a horrendous ride down south with sidewinds and our very first attempt with all the luggage and panniers on, which left us both wondering if really this was such a good plan. Especially when we accidentally rode up on the kerb on the way out the drive. Some might say we should probably have had a trial run with the luggage...

the bike fully loaded. possibly excessively...

Anyway, we said our goodbyes to all my lot in Abingdon and had a good send-off, with a 'Bon Voyage' cake in the shape of our motorbike! Everyone waved us off and that was that, we set off on a very cold morning on the 18th April to Dover. Our crossing was very normal, with very normal tourists doing normal tourist ferry-lounging. Except that we weren't, so that was quietly exciting, and I wanted to run up and down telling strangers about it.

We headed to Picardie in Northern France where my parents little rundown cottage was empty and in need of guests. We got lost immediately in Calais, but eventually made it and weirded out the neighbours with our bike-griminess and english-speaking.

Spent a chilled out few days wandering around Le Crotoy and riding up and down very good country-side roads. Found an unexpected French boot-sale with small labradors for sale and the odd parrot, and old people who had their faces all twisted up in wrinkles selling shell trinkets. We accidentally stumbled upon a massive cross-country beach-race and watched a huge crowd of people cheering on a small wiry man crossing the finishing line in St Valery. It was all decidedly French but not very foreign, and we soon scarpered towards the more exotic south.

We headed down south using our appalling navigational skills and a bad map (GPS- pah!). We got lost for two hours around the dodgier end of Paris, which was interesting in a highly irritating way, but eventually did some funky maneouvering and were out. We followed some smaller, pleasant lose-yourself roads and ended up near Clemency in Ardennes, down a dirt-track in the middle of nowhere, following a camping sign. It being April, the campsite was shut. I tried my rubbish French on some passing kids, and they looked a bit confused and didnt really say much. Then the guy in the house opposite came to see if he could help, and they were from Kent. The passing kids were his, and spoke excellent Kentian but no French. Felt like a bit of a twit, but had a good evening drinking wine in their garden, and ate pasta straight from the pan on our phenomenally worrying petrol stove.

sunset at Le Crotoy

Adam making lunch by the side of the road.

Camped on the closed campsite next to the river, which was a very good gentle lead-in to wild camping, though the toilet was still the riverbank, and a barge went past at an inappropriate moment. Oh well.

me eating aforementioned lunch as truckers drove past.

The Big Plan

This is the very first blog post from our trip across the world. We had the idea late 2007, when we went up the Himalayas on a Royal Enfield. While we were up there, freezing in a tent at 5000m, we decided it was all a good laugh, and we'd save up and do it properly from the UK to at least Australia on a bike. So here we are, 2009, having saved up by working 3 jobs and living in a caravan on an organic farm in Tadcaster nr York for the last year and a half..
Our rough route is: France, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Bulgaria again, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, (possibly Nepal, maybe if very lucky China), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia!!
Its open to change though, depending on what happens enroute. We've saved up enough fo a year's travel to Oz. Then we run out. Unless we can wrangle some money along the way, any way possible (well, any legal way). When we get to Australia we will work for a year to save up enough to come back, at least thats the plan so far, though shipping the bike to Sth America is pretty tempting- up from Argentina and Chile through Central America to the States and up to Canada, work there for a bit and head home...