We did it!!!

Yes, we did it and it feels great!! Our 2nd round the world trip on the same motorcycles, Streak and Storm, in 6 months this time, from east to west, is now complete: 30,300kms or 19,000 miles plus 2 flights, 5 ferry rides and 2 truck rides, 22 countries visited on this trip, 11 new countries, making it 95 countries in total for us over the years. And we celebrated a couple of milestones on the road: 43 years since we met and my 60th birthday.

We did it!!!

Why did we do this trip again?! Well, it was a choice between painting the house or going on another bike trip. There was no hesitation on our part. After Anthony drew up 3 routes of varying length and duration, we both picked the same one: the longest one, another round the world. There were friends in a number of countries we made on our last round the world trip who we dearly wanted to see again. It was also the most challenging route, for the timeframe – can we go around the world during a northern hemisphere summer? and for the terrain – crossing Mongolia with its renowned stunning scenery but difficult roads. Why so fast? We didn’t want to be away another 15 months – 6 months seemed to be about right and we saw it like an endurance challenge, a marathon, or ultra-marathon if you will, one that would challenge us both physically and mentally. Well, the timeframe challenge ended up forcing two major route changes along the way. Right at the start of the trip, we had to abandon our plan to ride to Alaska due to a long late winter. We spent a couple of months basically seeking less freezing weather and heading further and further south in the US. Then we gave up the indefinite wait in Kazakhstan to hear whether Turkmenistan would grant us a transit visa which meant we could not return to Iran to visit the many friends we made last time. That was gutting. And the terrain proved to be more challenging, hence one pickup ride in Mongolia, and the timeframe too, due to visa constraints, hence the 2nd pickup ride. Yes, the ride was at times physically and mentally tough but also so much fun and so rewarding!!! Renewing friendships and making new ones a huge part of that enjoyment. So we made it around the world from east to west in 6 months as we had hoped!!! And safely!! And we feel good.

Both bikes performed fantastically well overall: Streak’s four problems got fixed in Tajikistan and is still running with a secret ‘Tajik fix’ and both Streak and Storm got a new battery in Turkey. Heidenau Scout K60 tyres were fitted in Vancouver and lasted 20,000 kms.

As for us, we have enjoyed the whole journey, loved the people we met and new friendships made, saw some fantastic places, experienced so many unforgettable moments, discovered places we’d love to return to, supported each other during the tougher parts, learned more about ourselves, and best of all, can confirm once again that based on our experience, the world over, the vast majority of people are good, kind, generous and helpful.

As we close this chapter, we know how we would like to travel next!!! While we had a fantastic trip, we were so often sorry to have to move on. Too often, we ran out of time to spend a couple of more days somewhere to catch up with friends on the road – that was disappointing. 6 months was too short really. But at least we know where we’d love to return to such as the Caucasus. And while we saw stunning scenery and many fabulous ancient sites, as always, it is the time we spent with people that stays with us. We would love to spend longer in one place, wandering the smaller lanes and smaller villages with lesser known sights, at a much slower pace and at a time of the year that isn’t either too boiling hot or freezing to camp – I may have to work on Anthony for the camping part though!! Our pace will change radically. But for now, Streeak and Storm return to their storage place in southern UK.

Feeling good – we have just completed our 2nd Round trip on motorcycles!


Thank you to our numerous Gardian Angels and to all our followers for your comments and private messages and encouragement, it always meant so much to us, our connection back to home, family and friends. It is time we did that painting at home now!

– Anne

So what does it feel like to be home?

Being home after over 2 years was always going to be a new adventure, full of unknowns and new experiences!! As we approached Brisbane and our Qantas plane was getting ready for its final approach, we could see Manly where we live, its boat harbour, we could guess where our home was. The butterflies are tickling my stomach with sudden excitement. Being met at the airport by friends was wonderful. Walking through our front door and into our home felt great: we have completed our motorcycle trip and are now home safely.

What took us 4 months to get to Dubai is now taking us 5 hours... I know where I would rather be...

What took us 4 months to get to Dubai is now taking us 5 hours… I know where I would rather be…


We are nearly home!

We are nearly home!

We have been home over 5 weeks now and the one question everyone has asked us is: so what is it like being home? Such a huge question disguised in that tiny sentence! That question is still followed by an awkward joint “hmmm” as Anthony and I look at each other. How do we respond. So many thoughts and feelings rushing through our heads. “Great, it feels great”. Another pause. “It still feels strange”. That’s the best way we can answer this innocuous yet huge question.

The luxury of sleeping in the same bed every night, of knowing where the bathroom is in the middle of the night, of recognising everything in the supermarket, of being able to cook and eat what we feel like, of being able to talk and catch up with friends, of having a washing machine to do all the washing, of being able to make a cup of tea whenever we feel like, these all still feel like luxuries one month on. We are enjoying our routine of daily morning and afternoon walks.

We got home in time to see the glorious flame trees still in bloom

We got home in time to see the glorious flame trees still in bloom

So what have we been doing with our time since we got home? Maintenance!!! Everything is over 2 years older than when we left. And many home appliances either broke down or needed a good service, like the garage door, air conditioning, car, motorbike, bicycles. And our bodies too apparently. It was a lot easier just being on the road and getting on with our adventure! Our routine annual blood tests sent us to see various specialists to get suspicious results investigated but we are all good for another year. What a relief. I just need to get suspicious moles re-cut out with bigger margins – a common occurrence here and the price I pay for having fair skin and living in Queensland. The good news is that Anthony is not longer itchy and scratchy and his blisters have nearly all healed.

Anthony has been working on getting our old telephone line recommissioned for our internet and is now having to convince the main telco that although their records states we are in unit 1 as per their documentation, we are actually unit C as per council plans. What fun…

After the joy of seeing friends again, the luxury of having a home, the enjoyment of our daily walks, we have been getting great satisfaction from decluttering. When we first left our home 27 months ago, we got a tenant for an initial period of 6 months and emptied all our cupboards. Not knowing at the time that we were going to be away for that long, everything was placed in storage downstairs but not particularly well labelled. So while home was familiar, it still feels like we are in a hotel as all the cupboards are still empty. Why?! Because we are determined not to get back to our old habits and having cupboards that would nearly spill out as you opened them, like a jack in a box. One month on, we are proud not to have succumbed to the temptation of simply storing everything back where it used to be. Every item is evaluated: keep as definitely required, give away as not necessary and still in good condition, or recycle/throw out. It is a slow process. While it is a great feeling taking bags and bags to the local charity shop, it is embarrassing to see how wasteful we were in the past, buying useless or duplicate items…

What was I thinking when I bought this outrageously frivolous avocado cutter, stoner and slicer – so embarrassing…

What was I thinking when I bought this stupid avocado slicer?!

What was I thinking when I bought this stupid avocado slicer?!

Even grocery shopping is getting the ‘do we really need this’ treatment as the after a big weekly shop photo shows:

Our fridge after a full weekly shop one month after our return

Our fridge after a full weekly shop one month after our return

It is great to feel so detached from possessions which once seemed so necessary or valuable. It is very freeing. It seems to leave more room for what is important in life. We are still pathologically sentimental about things at times, so we are taking photos of items for memory sake and thanking them before giving them away. It seems perfect. We don’t need them and someone else can enjoy them.

Why had I kept this jewellery bag an old boyfriend gave me while I was still at school?!

Why did I keep this jewellery bag a boyfriend gave me 41 years ago?

Why did I keep this jewellery bag a boyfriend gave me 41 years ago?

We have also enjoyed seeing our friends again. We catch up as if we had never been away, with no change in our relationship. That feels great. Most had read our blog which was lovely to find out as they were not all official followers, and we enjoy hearing what they enjoyed or what touched them. And it has been really interesting to find out of acquaintances who had kept up with our blog while some friends had read nothing. Because people read as much or as little as they were interested in, there has not been much discussion about our trip. Life is about now. It is grounding us.

It doesn’t take much for Anthony and I to talk about our next trip though… The sound of a passing motorcycle, the feel of the breeze on our faces while we walk, the sound of rustling leaves in the trees, yes, we miss the open road, but being home, for now, is very comfortable. We even dressed up recently to go to the ballet, courtesy of generous friends who could no longer go for health reasons.

Until next time we blog, have a very merry Christmas and a very happy new year. May 2016 bring you all much happiness, joy, success, good health and all younwish for and may we see more tolerance in the world…

Our beloved 35 year old Christmas tree with miniature mementoes of our travels

Our beloved 35 year old Christmas tree with miniature mementoes of our travels

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

– Anne

2 months in Europe

We always expected the completion of our Round The World motorcycle trip to bring a rollercoaster of emotions. How will we adjust to no longer being on the road, will we miss the freedom and exhilaration of the unknown, will we miss the excitement of the road, of making our plans as we go, of discovering new places, of meeting new people? As we were nearing the end of the trip, knowing we could celebrate an achievement we would never have dreamed of before the idea of making such a trip came to us out of the blue about 2 years ago, we knew we were no longer the same people and our outlook on life had changed. We were looking forward to seeing family and friends again, looking forward to reminiscing on some aspects of the trip as we found out the areas that interested people. We did expect to feed off the high of our achievement for a while as we readjusted to a new chapter in our lives. This was not to be!!

Coming back to ‘normal’ life happened for us with a thud. It was a bit brutal to say the least. The biggest change was completely unexpected: an undiagnosed and untreated illness that started hitting Anthony 2 months before the end of the trip and continued for another 2 months. What started as an irritating itch, turned into bursting blisters appearing on his back, backside, under his arms, his fingers and eventually all over his body, except his face. His skin itches all over his body all the time. The most difficult time for him is 15′ after waking up at around 5am and continues for about 6 hours. It eventually calms down and becomes more bearable. To say that this period has been extremely stressful and distressing is no exaggeration. Whenever I think of Anthony’s state, my stomach churns and my heart cries quietly. I try not to worry about his condition too much, as I watch him scratch silently, or I lather his body throughout the day with more anti-itch or steroid cream, find new blisters and cover individual burst blisters with antiseptic ointment. His blisters range from 1cm in diameter to 5cm. Some patches of skin are red raw. His days consist of scratching or napping during the day giving his body some much needed rest… It has been all consuming for the past couple of months. The experts we saw warned us of it most likely being an auto immune disease. Anthony resigned himself to having to manage his condition for the rest of his life. At least the first biopsy determined that his condition was not contagious and we would finally be able to visit family together. Having visited a few doctors, emergency departments, 3 dermatologists, had one inconclusive biopsy done, we pinned our hopes on getting a diagnosis on 2nd November from the Saint-Louis hospital in Paris where the 2nd biopsy was done. This hospital is reputed for being one of the very best for dermatology and hematology in Europe.

We had wondered how we would cope returning to ‘normal life!?!? Ha, we have come down from any high we might have had alright!!! We were in a holding pattern until 2nd November, one month after his 2nd biopsy. The surgeon in Paris warned us that if Anthony’s skin condition worsened, there was a risk that his whole skin could peel off. Not reassuring to say the least!

We are relieved to report we have a diagnosis on Anthony’s skin problem, it is easily cured and it is not an auto immune disease. An enormous relief, which has not quite sunk in yet. But…. we are embarrassed to report that it is contagious and we have potentially passed it onto anyone we have seen and hugged over the past few months. We have scabies – la gale!!! Yes, both of us. Anthony got a bullous impetigo, staphylococcus, from scratching, and continued infecting himself. His blisters masked the original scabies problem. Because my condition only manifested itself with tiny spots or red patches here and there and itching, albeit severe especially at night, I put it down to a gluten intolerance and just put up with it. Ha!! SlowSpeeds indeed!!!!

What a come back to earth!! Our RTW trip seems like a lifetime away, as the past 8 weeks have been all consuming with itching and worry and trying desperately and in vain to get our travel insurance to help us. We finally decided to return home as soon as possible after our 2nd visit to Saint-Louis in Paris. We have left Streak and Storm in storage for now, with all our riding gear and travel equipment for ??? Not sure how long, that will depend on Anthony’s health…

Our time in Europe has not been all bad of course, because we did manage to see our immediate family a few times each. Precious, precious moments. And we were thoroughly spoilt. After a month visiting family, we did feel the need to reconnect with nature and went to Yorkshire and Scotland for a week. It reminded us that one does not have to travel the world to find beauty. It is all around us. (Unfortunately, I only had my old iPhone to capture these sights as my camera batteries decided they would no longer recharge)

Reeth, Yorkshire

Reeth, Yorkshire

Yorkshire Dales national park

Yorkshire Dales national park

Loch Iubhair

Loch Iubhair

Loch Tulla, Scotland

Loch Tulla, Scotland

Loch na h-Achlaise, Scotland

Loch na h-Achlaise, Scotland

Scotland

Scotland


Loch Lomond, Scotland

Loch Lomond, Scotland

Urquhart castle on Loch Ness

Urquhart castle on Loch Ness


Whisky & Wine store in Edinburgh

Whisky & Wine store in Edinburgh

Trying 3 new single malts in the Bow Bar

Trying 3 new single malts in the Bow Bar


Durham cathedral

Durham cathedral

Inside Durham cathedral

Inside Durham cathedral


We have both taken our scabies treatment, are no longer contagious and are good to go (although itching will take another couple of weeks to subside as our anti bodies continue to fight). We leave Europe on Sunday 8th November, Anthony’s birthday!! We have now said our goodbyes to our family, until next time… Streak and Storm are resting in a climate controlled storage place, until next time… In a couple of days, we will be home, over 2 years since we left. How odd that after driving our hire cars for the past few weeks with my mobile recharging in it, only today, the day we said our final goodbyes before returning to Australia, does my mobile suddenly decide to play Gurrumul Yunupingu’s album – it feels like a sign, it is time, home is calling…!! I suddenly feel homesick, I miss the bush… It will be lovely to be home and catch up with friends.

While traveling around Europe for 2 months, all we had with us was one small on-board wheelie bag each. What is all this stuff that fill our cupboards back home and what were we thinking when we brought all this stuff over with us 2 years ago?! One thing we are certain of, we are no longer attached to ‘things’ and our first priority, after getting our phones and internet reconnected at home, is to declutter.

We have a busy time ahead and an exciting new stage in our lives awaits us …

– Anne

Our RTW is complete!!!

After we dropped the bikes off at Air Canada cargo and being separated from Streak and Storm, we feel like we have lost control of our destiny, in limbo. We have not quite finished the trip, yet this is another milestone – we can’t even work out how we feel. It is a strange time.

We get back to the UK on the 12th September after an overnight flight from Montreal, via Halifax. Clearing the bikes from Air Canada at Heathrow is quick and painless (except for an additional unexpected charge – from customs or Air Canada, not sure as each one claimed it was for the other…). It was still a very good deal overall, so no complaint, especially considering it was all done in 15′ and after a sleepless flight, we appreciate being reunited with Streak and Storm so quickly. We are lucky with the weather, clear blue skies, and we are able to repack in no time, even earning a congratulation from a truck driver who has been watching us from his cab. This friendly guy even offered me the use of his cab to change from as he saw I was about to take my jeans off. That is the least of my concerns, decline and I am back in my riding pants in no time.

Our first port of call is BMW Oxford, where we bought our demo bikes from. We thought they’d like to see the bikes after their round the world tour as the had commented when we left that it was nice to see that their bikes were going to be used for what they had been designed. We also wanted them to complete the bikes’ 36,000 miles service (we had already done the oil change and cleaned the re-usable K&N air filters).

A few hours later, we head for our hotel half way to Anthony’s sister Tansy in Dorset. We are exhausted, thought we would not be much company after an overnight flight, we didn’t want to ride too far and needed a long sleep before seeing family again.

I sleep for 11 hours and wake up refreshed – not so lucky for Anthony with his itchy skin. It looks like our last leg will be done in the rain. We rug up as it is cool too.

One last leg and the trip is complete

One last leg and the trip is complete

I recall how I had thought how long and boring the motorway journey to Dover nearly 15 months ago had felt – and it was our first day only – how will I cope with riding all around the world?!?! It seemed like such a massive task ahead of us. And we felt so green and inexperienced: we hadn’t even finished the beginner’s off road course and our motorcycle maintenance experience was next to nothing! Now, on our last day, the trip seems like it happened so fast and easily and it is just about over. Although it is raining, I am savouring these last couple of hours.

Welcome back to the UK!

Welcome back to the UK!


Approaching Verwood, Dorset where we started from

Approaching Verwood, Dorset where we started from


We approach Tansy’s home, the sun is out, the butterflies have reappeared, we see Tansy on the doorstep looking out for us, spotting us in the distance and waiving. What a sight. What a feeling. One last turn right, onto the gravel driveway, stop, the poppers and streamers go off, engines off. Wow. We have made it!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, the 2 Slow Speeds have just gone around the world on motorcycles and made it back with Streak and Storm, the 4 of us relatively unscathed. Our grateful thanks to our trusted companions, Streak and Storm, and our many guardian angels who can take a well deserved rest now.

We have made it!!

We have made it!!

Storm and Streak have made it back!!

Storm and Streak have made it back!!


What a great welcome back

What a great welcome back

Awwww

Awwww



I saw a little saying yesterday “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”. It made me wonder what I would do. I am so glad the YouTube videos of roads in Russia, Kazakhstan, India and Myanmar didn’t put me off – they terrified me, the videos that is and I dreaded riding in those places. But the experience was different, they made me feel alive. The people we met, the numerous generous actions of strangers, the friends we made – worth absolutely everything. And the whole trip was so easy really. We were never threatened, never robbed and never felt unsafe. I am so glad my fears didn’t end building barriers to a most amazing experience.

We finish our trip being so much richer than when we left, with our brains full of memories, hearts bursting with the kindness of people the world over and looking forward to seeing family again. We will be coming out of our retirement when we return, having spent a lot more than planned because we didn’t camp as much as originally planned and stayed in better hotels. But one thing is certain, we have absolutely no regrets.

What next is a big question mark. The result of Anthony’s skin biopsy this week (and 4 stitches) will determine what we do in the short term. But we have changed our plans for the next few months, and forfeited travel bookings in Europe to return to Australia next month. It will be easier for Anthony to be in one place over the next few months at least while his treatment is fine tuned. Sadly, it does mean that we will not be able to catch with many friends and family members in Europe as we had planned to. But the last couple of months have been quite horrid for Anthony (without counting his crushed ankle) and he has been incredibly brave to continue as he has. It is more than time to concentrate wholly on his health now.

We are grateful to you too, our followers, for your support during our trip – if we hadn’t written the blog, for you initially, if you hadn’t let us know you were following us, commented and encouraged us for more posts, it would have been easy, tempting even, to stop writing and we would have had no way of remembering all we have seen and done and the names of the wonderful people we have met along the way. After some months, we ended up writing the blog for ourselves too. So, so long, and thanks for all the memories…..

Anne for the 2SlowSpeeds