I can’t quite believe that after about 9 months of anticipation and planning and gathering those last pieces of kit and gadgetry, that in a week’s time I will be sitting in Portsmouth with the Santander ferry leaving the next morning. I’ve been downloading and printing maps I’ll need and copying the last documents. Putting in ‘Portsmouth Travel Lodge’ (where I will be staying) into Google unfortunately brings up a barage of complaint about this hotel. The most enthusiastic say that it is what you’d expect from a budget place. But the strong theme is dirt, followed closely by delapidation. Another popular theme is constant noise. So I am prepared for a grubby sleepless night in an uncomfortable and probably broken bed – in other words a good preparation for two weeks camping. As long as Bertha is still there in the morning with all her bits then I won’t be complaining. Speaking of Bertha, she now has a year’s MOT and a new front tyre. I’m hoping to feel totally comfortable on her by the time I get back. I will be visiting Lourdes, seeking out the shrine devoted to leg-lengthening. Another two inches on my inside leg would make riding a 1200gs so much easier.