Travels for Cheese – Episode 4: Bandit country.

This month’s trip took my south of the immediate borders of Norfolk and into territory the locals here seem to regard with some same trepidation as akin to an East Anglian DMZ. Not sharing in their personal beliefs, and with a strong desire for cheese I headed off…

Lock, stock and a helmet full of cheese! (Ok and Skyr)

Do I have a treat for you this time folks, 3 produced at the on site dairy and a guest cheese! Now, we love a guest cheese so when there was a deal going down for some ‘Baron Bigod’ and ‘Nettlebed’ for £5.60, I was all over it like a rash.

The haul!

The St.Helena

Yeah I proper broke out the sourdough.

This is brine washed cheese, don’t confuse this with continental varieties that normally rock up around Christmas. This has a hard mould covered outer texture and a much firmer one within. You can’t smear this remotely and it feels supple with a nutty aftertaste which begins slowly after the initial notes and the uniqueness the mould seems to provide.

The St.Jude

Cheesy goodness!

This is one of the most unusual cheese I have tasted so far. It has a soft, moist and slightly pasty texture, that builds after the initial bite. Not only can you taste that raw milk with grassy tones, but a slight floral aftertaste shortly materialises. Unlike the St.Helena above you can smear this should you decide to, it won’t ruin texture one bit.

Witheridge in hay.

The purely accidental guest cheese in this lineup, not locally produced like the others but an import from the South. I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to try this out, especially as it didn’t involve a ride to Oxfordshire to grab a slice.

This is a mature, farmhouse style cheese which punches its weight in any arena. It’s nowhere near as crumbly as you expect from this style of cheese and with the definite after notes of hay. A very impressive cheese in itself with an equally impressive firmness, this should displace all but the beat cheddar on any table.

Another cheese?

Well yes, there was an additional cheese. But, as we already reviewed it on my first trip I won’t waste your eating time.

As I’m slowly gaining skill on the bike it’s allowing me to reach further out of the area in search of great riding roads and tasty cheese. Next month I’m hoping to don some shades and head even further afield. Stay tuned for that one.

Today’s expedition.

Right, I’m really splitting today up for a good reason. Putting on my Bono voice for just a second: “With and without cheese.” Yeah, anyway after briefly moonlighting as the lead from U2 I jumped on the Meteor and got going.

Today’s loop.

After humming all the way into Norwich and doing a morning of work (allegedly), It was bike on the bike to Bandit country…. Suffolk. The usual passport jokes were washed off when coworkers remembered I was here on my ‘Provisional Northerner Visa’ anyway. I tapped the address into Tripper and it was on the way to cheesy goodness. I’m gonna deal with that separately.

How was Tripper this time?

Short answer, not great. Ok I might be slightly harsh on this but I will explain. Norwich to the outskirts of Bungay absolutely no issues at all, in fairness from Bungay all the way home was also absolutely flawless despite coming back through Wymondham. In the middle though I had losses of connectivity, despite updating every 50 metres this was a minus in local villages where several turns would appear within 50M and I’ll be honest, I got lost…… Many times, probably for a total of 20 minutes. I’m hoping not to have these issues next month as we go further afield.

Now how much of this is down to loss of mobile coverage I wonder? I can’t exactly pull over and check every single time the spinning compass starts again. I do wish Royal Enfield would update the app for UK users though. While the Trippers software is in the version 7’s currently, the app is still lounging at version 1.5 unlike my good friends in central Asia and the subcontinent.

Oooh look, a slight incline!
Another slight incline.
My eventual destination, sadly the coffee machine was broken.

South Norfolk roads Vs North Suffolk.

Honestly these couldn’t be anymore different if they had tried, quite a few times heading south I could easily have done national but the limit was strangely between 40 and 50mph. On top of that the vision is pretty good and the surface seems a lot newer and undamaged Vs other areas of East Anglia.

“Sure, you could easily go 60…but why? Just enjoy the ride.” – Suffolk road to Bungay.

South Norfolk just seemed like the limits were set-up by someone who had shares in a local funeral directors. I’ll be honest there was a few squeaky bum corners and after taking one at 40mph, I genuinely thought if I’d been 5-10mph faster I would have binned it.

“Go 60! I dare you, I double dare you motherfucker!!” – South Norfolk road.

One thing I do have to mention though is that maneuvering a small bike through tiny villages is a lot easier than driving, there’s some one way systems from hell about and I actually pitied some of the car drivers.

Anyway, enough of me for a bit… Time to eat cheese and drink coffee!

It’s gotta have soul.

Now I’ll try and keep this as far away from anything that sounds like I do a lot dancing in stone circles or sacrifice tortoises to the heathen powers…. I’m not saying it’s not going to get close at times, please bare with.

It starts with a thump.

Starting with a thump or in my case, ‘the thump’, the characteristic sound of a ‘Royal Enfield’ coming to life is enough to stir all but the most ardent EV converts. There’s something primal and strangely human about how it sounds, slightly clumsy in an age of precise engine sounds and metallic whirs. It feels a bit more human in the same way I would argue the Millennium Falcon from ‘Star Wars’ feels Vs the ‘Star Trek’ Enterprise. The Enterprise, shiny, modern, new and bristling with technology and the best people humanity could muster. The Falcon had a drug smuggler banging on the console because something wasn’t working correctly, it felt relatable.

The single engined equivalent of a ‘Harley Davidson’ ticking over next to a BMW forecourt. You can almost imagine the manager wiping down an R18 and glancing over in disgust.

I learnt the same as a lot of other people these days, especially in the area surrounding Norwich. The choice is essentially governed by which Japanese bike dealership you visit and having ridden two of them I had the same experience. The preciseness of engineering quality had also made it soulless.

I know many people love, trust and enjoy every moment of their time astride their trusty far Eastern steed. Brilliant, I’m honestly happy for you, they were great to learn on from my perspective but just never had that quality of humanity I was looking for.

When I jumped on the Meteor everything just felt right, I’m not sure I could have described why back then in relation to the thump alone, but, it was the first few miles of smiles.

Herein ironically lies the problem.

Millionaire woes.

So, against all odds and probability if I was able to win a particularly large amount of money. What bike would I immediately shoot put and purchase? (Obviously after the normal migration to a pleasant climate/tax arrangement and the business of quitting employment in style while your enemies and detractors suffer Russian falling accidents that is…..)

Moto Guzzi V7, sunset an optional extra.

The Moto Guzzi V7, one of the most beautiful motorcycles currently being made in my opinion. I don’t care about the stats, it’s all about the look and the feel here. Here’s the absolute kicker though, despite the fact that I’ve been fawning over this bike for years and it’s on my magical list of “Stuff I can only afford if I win big”, if it came down to it on the test ride and I didn’t feel as I did the first time I swung my leg over the Meteor. I wouldn’t buy it.

GS riders – how did we get here?

Before the lynch mob starts, I’m dividing riders and owners here. I’m not talking about you folk shooting around Europe having a cracking great time. No, I’m talking about the folk who just ride to their dental practice and back with the view that the more metallic pannier boxes they have, the bigger their penis will in fact become. So big in fact, that they don’t have to nod to other riders.

Penis size = GS x metal panniers.

The original accepted theory was that the GS tribe by large was cut from a slightly different cloth, had either not grown up around embedded biker culture or after signing the paperwork were inducted into some secret Bavarian order in which nodding to non-GS riders would evoke a cabal of assassin’s…..

Yeah ok, maybe I’m being a tad silly on that last one (or am I??) but really what is the deal there? I actually have a slight alternative twist on the original theory, but probably unpopular possibility here.

The origin.

Help me Obi-wan Kenobi.

Right so before my second near garroting of the day, hear me out here. I thought LWR was great, a brilliant piece of TV viewing that frankly we could do with having a lot more of. While the sequels lost something of the original rustic nature, (especially the third one) and the tried and tested format lost some of the unpredictability, it remains a great series.

That’s part of the problem though, it’s just a series and shouldn’t be taken as a definitive guide to long distance motorcycle touring. I think this is where it all falls down, people who’ve bought into the LWR shopping list.

  • Bike licence – check.
  • Full gear – check.
  • BMW GS – check.

It wasn’t to travel, it wasn’t for the love of motorcycling, it was purely to buy into a work of televised brilliance.

Here’s the real question after all this, do we continue to nod to them in the hope we can rehabilitate them? Or do you think they are a lost cause? Answers on a post card…..

Travels for Cheese – Episode 3: Rehab.

Don’t worry folks I didn’t attend some form of residential rehabilitation due to my raging cheese addiction, no what I did instead is feed my habit by attending a different kind of Priory. In this case, Binham Priory. Conveniently placed next to a small dairy shop (what’s the chance of that eh?) it is conveniently positioned in the middle of nowhere but had a surprisingly large selection of dairy goods. Despite my love of ice cream and Skyr I managed to keep my eye on the prize and managed to grab a selection of local cheese from that area of the country.

Like everything else in Norfolk, it’s literally the middle of nowhere.
The first of anything dappled in Norfolk….
View from the car park.

I took the opportunity to test the ‘Tripper’ navigation my bike comes with, I will review that separately but it certainly got me there in good time and through a variety of roads.

Today’s selection, yes I have previously purchased the Binham Blue but I couldn’t resist grabbing some while there.

First up was the ‘Copys Cloud’, this soft brie-style cheese might be styled like Brie but it’s got its own style and taste going on. It’s neither as buttery, salty, and with a milder flavour than your off the shelf Brie. There is a slight aftertaste which almost reminiscent of a Danish blue, backed up by a wafer thin rind.

Next up was the ‘Wells Alpine’, a Swiss style hard cheese which takes 6 months to fully mature. I’ve seen people compare it to Gouda, this is a massive underselling of this unique cheese and is roughly equivalent to calling Batman a ‘Bat styled hero’.

Wells Alpine.

Last but by no means the least from this selection, the ‘Norfolk Dapple’. A hard, slightly crumbly hard cheese with a slightly nutty kick to it. If I was a marketing guru (obviously I’m not) I’d call it “Rustic” & “Old fashioned”, it certainly goes with a good bit of bread better than it does crackers! There is also a smoked version of this but decided against grabbing any this time with all the other cheers I already had, and hoping for any additional cheeses from ‘Mrs Temples’ I set off there next.

The Google came up with the confusing info that I might be able to buy extra cheese from the source, sadly this was not the case in what appears to be a source of bitterness. On the plus side I think the Meteor’s charm worked, thus I got to peep at some of the cows, a trio of calves and got to peep through the window of the cheese room!

Peek at one of the cheese rooms!

I was hoping to get my mitts on some ‘Norfolk Tawney ‘, a washed cheese which had previously caught my eye but so far eluded me. Alas there was none in the dairy shop so I have another reason to sneak back at some point!

Tripper – is it actually any good?

The Google powered turn by turn navigation system being utilised on the recent Royal Enfield models certainly garnered a lot of attention and was one one my main reasons for picking up the Meteor.

Does it work though, and really how effective is it?

App interface from earlier.

What can I say really? Dump the location in, hit navigate and it plots the course. If the helmet on the left is green then it’s synched. The only bad thing is if you lock the screen, to put it into your pocket for example, it will instantly shut off and de-sync. Other than that the graphics are clear and you get an accurate indication of when to turn.

EDIT: been speaking to a few regular users of Tripper who haven’t experienced the lock screen issue. It should be noted that on the subcontinent they are quite a few versions ahead of us though. Clearly more investigation is needed on this, is it my phone set-up? Time & testing will confirm.

Route summary.

Nice little touch here, at the end of your destination you get a nice little summary of your trip.

All in all, while it certainly might not be as detailed as a full sat nav, it certainly does the job and doesn’t present too much of a distraction while riding.