(This image above from the second week of the tour added 12/06/2008)
I'm writing this at the Seascape Hotel in Whitley Bay near Newcastle, on my last night in the UK.
I waved goodbye to family and friends yesterday at two in the afternoon. Everything fits on the bike, but the weight is currently higher than it was planned to be at about 38 kilos - and that's without the precious tripod for the camera, ditched in the final hour when it was clear that more cuts had to be made.
I'm driving a hire car to get to the ferry swiftly - a large estate rented from National Car Rentals in Coventry and due to be dropped off at their Newcastle outlet tomorrow morning, £33 for the day rate plus £40 drop-off fee.
Last night was spent just off the A1 in the Yorkshire Dales town of Masham, at the very pleasant Bay Horse Inn on Silver Street, which does a good B&B for £35. Masham turned out to be a good choice for an overnight stop - quiet, dominated by fine old stone buildings around the square and churchyard, and of course by the Theakston Brewery, which I visited this morning before driving in a circular route through the Dales and back to the A1 and the road to Newcastle.
Newcastle itself is a bit too big to get my bearings in, which is why I'm staying outside the city, about fifteen minutes away from the ferry terminal. I visited the latter on arrival to scope things out, it looks like I should be able to follow the NCN 72 route from the Tyne bridge to the ferry terminal after dropping the car off tomorrow morning.
The acid test comes tomorrow when I drop the car off and ride down the Tyne to the ferry terminal - more of a test than the twenty minutes of riding with the bike fully loaded that I've done already to test the weight distribution.