Devizes - Malta
Tuesday 14th July.
Awake in a house I’d not visited for over twenty years. Sense familiar, comfortable family home vibe. The family grown, the house relaxed, retaining remnants of the easy passage of time. Toy cars jostle treasured children’s books for display space on a shelf. A music room strewn with well-worn instrumentation and a tangle of pre-wireless recording devices.
A July morning in 2009 … kitchen, Tea and Toast, a bleary eyed blink, and I’m Deja-vu back in an ‘89 stylee.
Odometer at 70480. 2,149 road miles from Floriana.
Life-o-meter at 55 3/12ths years. 7305 days lived since same time 1989.
A leisurely preparation of 900 and self for the next part of the journey.
The previous evening, Sharka had made me promise not to leave today before mid-afternoon, by which time he expected to have returned from work.
Which gave Ol & I more time to shoot the breeze, and take those galumphing great ‘Puppies’ for a walk.
Sharka returns, and I’m saying a proper Manly Goodbye to the grown man, who, away back in the mid 1980’s, used to be the little boy who’d clamber high up on the gate to wave goodbye until the 900 and I were out of sight. Life … eh?
A35, diving through New Forest tree tunnels, dappled sunlight on blurred tarmac. Squeezing between stationary camper-vans stuck in endless car-jams queuing to go through Lyndhurst to the A337. North to the M27 and eastwards along its efficiently smooth, comprehensively signposted and regulated but otherwise not entirely memorable thingie, leading to the A27 … where somewhere along the Odometer had reached 70559, when I stopped for 14.6L fuel £15.00p. 2228 road miles from Floriana, before carrying on, dodging daft drivers and summer showers.
A26 from Lewes to Newhaven, a road once so very familiar and fun, has been subtly changed, with suspicious looking surveillance equipment sprouting up along the way. And yet, riding along it, the road almost misleadingly time-warp remains the same as it once was.
A259 has bends between Newhaven and Seaford that do almost exactly match my memory of how they should flow.
Accelerate up the slope into Seaford. 30mph sign remains reassuringly just where it always used to be. Into town, the road men(and women) have given some attention to the junction about the railway station … a little further on, the Off-Licence remains open for business, exactly where I remember it was … after so many years, the 900 gets parked on that familiar spot on the pavement, while I shop for fillings of the space in the Tank Bag.
Carry on eastwards towards Eastbourne and Roz & Derry, living on a farm somewhere set back away from the, busy main south coast road. Accelerate out of Seaford and down the totally unchanged, un-widened road leading to the Cuckmere valley. Yeah, there’s that gravel always on the road where a shallow right becomes a sharp left across the bridge (‘and … the Golden Galleon is still there!’), up through the gears across the flat of the valley into welcome stretch of very grippy stuff laid on the tight bends,
Wail up Exceat.
Find the turn off.
Along the single track that leads through the fields from main road to farm, pull up outside a home I’ve not visited in … seventeen years.
116 miles after Ol’s, Odometer 70596, 2265 road miles from Floriana. Arrive at R&D’s.
Quiet interrupted only by the contracting ticking-clicking’s that emanate from the 900 engine cooling.
Cluck, cluck, cluck of chickens from behind a hedge.
View of distant downland beyond. Curvaceous Sussex illuminated by passing shafts of sunlight shinning through openings between the low flying clouds.
Derry appears at a doorway, “Ah. You’ve arrived, then. Come on in and have a nice hot cup of tea and some biscuits.”
And I do.
I’ve known Derry since 1977. 1992 was when I was last at his place.
There follows the sort of seventeen years worth of catching up to be done that can only be done sitting in a sunny conservatory, munching biscuits, slurping tea and telling the tale ... during the course of which more tea is brewed, grown up children come, say a polite “Hello” (Blimey - the last time I saw these kids, they were all babes in arms!). Derry and I carry on reminiscing through the preparation of supper, Roz’s return, eating supper, a bottle of red wine, and dusk, and another bottle of red wine, and then some whiskey … until it is very late and Roz, even the grown up kids, have all gone to bed and we somewhat intoxicated auld farts should stop waffling on at each other and sensibly retire too.