BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Dress shopping, and picking up some passports with Ukrainian visas.


A quick ride into Bristol today and we're now in the Ibis City Centre. 

Time to go shopping. We grabbed a taxi into the shopping area and Suzanne was off. She did well for me finding me half a dozen shirts in very short time. We ran out of time so there's more to follow tomorrow.


Today's plan was simple. Leave early and ride three hours into London to pick up our passports from the Ukrainian Embassy. Then pop over to a shopping centre to pick up a dress that Suzanne fell in love with when we were shopping a few days ago. They didn't have her size in the Cardiff or Bristol stores, but a few shops near London had ONE left. Like I said, simple. If I leave at seven, I should be back by about one pm.

I rode out into peak hour traffic at about 8.30. After a bit of stop start the traffic opened up on the motorway and I covered some ground. Riding solo is so much fun, I really wanted to take the back roads and avoid the motorway, but the old enemy time put paid to that.

I was parked outside the embassy at eleven and took my place in the queue. I must admit I did have a bit of a chuckle when an Aussie guy in front of me told the embassy guy behind the glass that he wanted a visa for "The" Ukraine (It's Ukraine people. Like Australia. It's no more THE Ukraine than it is THE Australia) and he was flying there tomorrow night. No paperwork, no photos, no travel insurance. It took us three weeks to get our visas, and we had all the correct paperwork. Good luck mate, I hope I see you there.

Back on the bike by twelve I was already falling behind my self imposed schedule. OK sat nav, take me to the Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherd's Bush. No problem and about twenty minutes later, after a few dead end streets, to sat nav directed me right to the back door of the loading docks. I had a bit of a ride around but couldn't find a way to the car park anywhere. I did see a huge pedestrian area full of hundreds of people between me and the road though. That'll do. Back on the road and into the car park. Easy.

I walked through a door way and into a lift, heading toward the shop I was looking for. I must admit that I did think it was a pretty grotty lift for a major shopping centre in London. When the doors opened I found myself in a maze of passageways that backed onto the shops. D'oh. I'd gone up in the goods lift. I couldn't find a way into the shopping area so back down I went and found the correct entrance. Bare in mind I'm wearing my full riding outfit with all the liners in place. It was like walking in my own little sauna.

I found the shop. Yahoo! I made a bee line for ladies wear and found a very helpful assistant. I had the item number and the line number off their system so it was easy for her to track down the dress. No problem, off she went. "I'm sorry sir. There is a problem with that dress. It's damaged." OK. Plan B. There's another shop in Guildford, about an hour away and they have one as well.

I'm getting low on fuel, but from experience I know that I can ride for about twenty miles even after the computer says zero mile range left. I'll pick up the dress then head to the petrol station about a mile the other side of the shop. (You know what's coming don't you?) I stopped in the main street of Guildford to look for the shop and the bike cut out. It's never done that before. I still had three miles range so it wasn't a problem, was it?

Bone dry! I parked the bike and walked to the shop (this is the fourth shop now) and found another lovely assistant. I went through the same process and she disappeared into the stock room only to come back empty handed. She smiled sweetly and apologised saying she'd be back in a minute. About ten minutes later she came back with "The Dress". She checked it over very careful to make sure it wasn't damaged. I was on a winner. Right dress, right colour, right size, and it was in perfect condition. Then she told me the price. It was marked down from 120 pounds to thirty nine pounds. At last my luck was changing.

I walked back down the main street of Guildford with my bright pink bag in hand feeling pretty damn pleased with myself.

I carefully packed my prize dress in the pannier and tried starting the bike just to see if it would magically go. No luck. I grabbed my camp stove fuel bottle and headed off around the corner to the petrol station the sat nav had shown me. No petrol station. Well, there was, but it had been converted into a shop. I started walking and tried to hitch a ride. After about fifteen minutes a young guy picked me up and drove me to a petrol station miles down the road. He even offered to drive me back to the bike but I told him I'd get a taxi.

I was at the pump ready to fill my bottle when a voice came over the PA telling me it wasn't an approved container so I couldn't fill it. OK, how much do I have to pay you for an approved container? About twenty quid later I was walking back down the road with four litres of fuel.

A bloke in a Transit van picked me up and was kind enough to drop me off right where my bike was. He had a cool Jack Russell named Buddy. Buddy was very funny and very friendly. I laughingly suggested that Buddy was his guard dog. He smiled and said "Wait until you get out of the van." It was so funny. When the van stopped Buddy went off. Barking like crazy at me. He wasn't angry, he was just barking. I guess that would make Buddy barking mad.

Around ten minutes later I was back on the Motorway and heading for Bristol. The only fun part of the Motorway ride was I found a friend to play with. He was on a VFR800 and we chased each other down the road at enjoyable speeds, taking turns in front. He pulled off at the Bristol exit with me, then took the next turn off. He gave me a big smile and a wave as he left. I'd made a friend with out even meeting him.

I walked into the hotel at about six o'clock. I'd spent about seven hours on the bike, one hour chasing petrol, and another hour in shops. I was shagged, but at least I had the dress.

Guess what? The dress doesn't fit!

All in all an ordinary day. But things were going to get worse...

Where's Rex's buff?

I don't think Vix was taking this very seriously at all.
Good one Vix  : )

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