It started so simply, a conversation with my wife Debbie over a glass of fizz one Saturday night, when I said
"How about a fortnight in Italy on the bike?"
Debs thought this was a great idea but added that she loved Greece, and it was only a ferry ride across from Italy. She then mentioned she had friends in Austria and I remembered a mate in Montenegro, so on it went gathering momentum and time away until..
Here we are eight months later with only six hours to go before we set off for a grand five week tour of Europe, my innocent idea of two weeks basking in the Italian summer and sipping a glass of cool white wine has long gone in the welter of preparation for a five week play from Holland to Germany, except it's going to be the long way round via eight other countries.
We've spent £'s on travel books and many hours on the internet researching areas and hotels that may be suitable for us, both in price and the all-important secure parking!
Debs initially didn't appreciate the amount of time that all of the preparation would take, but when we got to Christmas the enormity of the task suddenly hit her and then every spare minute was spent pouring over maps, Trip Advisor, ferry booking lists and even a calculator to work out our finances.
The answer was vacuum bags - a wonderful invention and you can pack so much more in a pannier, although I smiled a little apprehensively when I read Honda's maximum recommended weight limit for the panniers, fat chance, just wind up the suspension!
Off to bed early we said - and it's now 11pm, the weather is foul with heavy rain and high winds and we're meant to be up in a couple of hours. I'm panicking as to whether the bike will start, have a flat tyre or if some other unforeseen disaster will befall us.. time will tell.
Just need it to stop raining now... Please?