Home.

After a mad dash across Italy and France, I can finally stop and draw breath.

The problem was that, as ever, there was not enough time. There never is. Every place we travelled through, we went slower, stayed longer than we had time for. And it still wasn’t slow enough or long enough. Such is life. So what happened is that by having such a great time everywhere, we ran out of time to explore the Balkans – where I’d really been wanting to explore.

The good news about this is that I have an excellent reason to go back – to go and see all the places I missed this time.

Views of north Albania
Views of north Albania

We ran out of time because we’d got a ferry ticket booked back to the UK from Le Havre in France. It had taken us more than three months to get to where we were going. Since we wanted to stay in the Balkans as long as possible, we rushed back across Europe in less than a week. That is very quick on a little bike, trust me.

Having reach Le Havre with a day to spare, we got an earlier ferry back. It arrived at 10.30pm, an inconvenient time. Our options were, 1. wild camp near Portsmouth and ride back home to Norfolk the next day, or 2. ride home through the night, get a bed to sleep in and have a lie-in. We chose option 2.

The flaw with option 2… what do you do when you arrive home at four in the morning and find the door locked, the key nowhere to be found and no other obvious methods of entry, having rung the bell and shouted loudly to wake up the parents? I think we woke up half the village. But even revving the engines and beeping the horn outside the bedroom window failed to rouse my parents. So at four in the morning, we pitched our tent one last time. Our ‘wild’ camping spot in the middle of the garden, was everything you could wish for when wild camping. Too bad we were frozen cold and in stinking clothes when we climbed into our sleeping bags.

Still, when morning came, mum opened the door and we got a lovely cup of proper English tea from the pot. See, everything turns out alright in the end!

Trail riding Albania
Trail riding Albania

You may be wondering why the rush to get back to the UK… November is hardly the best month for British weather and well-being. The trees have already shed most their leaves leaving a mulch decaying material to squelch through in the ever muddying countryside. The clocks have changed and the days are short and the dark nights long.

The reason we’ve rushed back to the UK is because we’re soon leaving again. We’ve got a week to fix up the bikes ready for the next part of this ongoing adventure by motorbike. In a week’s time, the bikes are being taken to a shipping company when they’ll be sent to Cape Town.

Yeah, I’m heading back to Africa! It’s close to five years ago since I cycled into Cape Town at the end of a long ride across the continent. And now it’s time to return.

Wild camping Albania
Wild camping Albania

Well, more on the next adventure shortly. For now, I wanted to share with you some photos from our short time in Albania. In the week we had to explore the Balkans, it rained almost all the time, except for two days. On those two days, in Albania, we finally managed to get off the tarmac and onto real trails… it’s the best off-road riding (indeed all riding) I’ve ever done (during my extensive 18 months of riding a motorbike).

So here you are: Photos of Albania.