18th June

I didn't know what to expect, coming here. I am now well over the Arctic circle. It's actually warmer than 400 miles south, where I started this morning. Passing small curtains of rain hanging over a field in mid air, twenty or thirty feet above ground... I nearly hit a group of reindeer ambling out onto the road, the road still wet. Heart in mouth, but plenty of room to stop. The roads suffer from the lorries and deep frosts and they have deteriorated significantly the further north I travel. Great sections of rubble, the whole road surface ripped right off, to wobble over on my un-off-road tyres. More adrenaline.

I bought some nifty gloves, a quarter of the price in London, fur lined with Thinsulate and black with white leather palms and fingertips. The petrol station stocked everything a survivalist or mass murderer might want as well, paracord, axes...

I want to head north, I had to decide whether to turn north west in to Norway or a little further and on into Finland. Norway won as it's the prettier route. It will be wetter, I am sure, another spot found to pitch my tent. This time, it's near the road and littered with loo paper. Too tired, I find a quiet spot and prepare dinner.

What did I see? Beauty? Yes, more than I can describe... I have passed by places that resembled Vermont with identical farm houses with the 120 degree roofs and places like Trumpton or Twin Peaks or like in a Pippi Longstocking story... A woman roller blades past with ski helmet, goggles and ski sticks uphill. Weird, brown, not red squirrels dash suicidally, reindeer amble across homicidally, one town full of fancy American classic cars slumber pointlessly, even a 60's cadillac towing a huge caravan rumbles past expensively. All those rushing rivers, snow capped mountains, hours of them, until it didn't matter any more. It's ten and bright as can be. The aquamarine sky glows behind the horizon for ever.

When did I first get the idea about motorcycling? Fifty years ago, in a convent. In a little back street in Kensington where I lived as a boy, down a little mews called Southend, I wandered in regularly through the little door into the convent gardens. The church was, and still is on Kensington square, my parents sometimes took me there when it was not to the Note Dame church in Leicester Place. I wandered around a lot as a child, invisible until I was older. A little Honda 50 was parked next to one of the convent dormitory buildings. The keys were still in the ignition - I kicked it over and jumped on, to my delight we sped round the gardens, behind the walls overlooking the underground lines and High St Kensington station platform. I could hear shouting behind me, an angry nun, who I can only presume was the owner of the little bike was charging behind me shaking her fists. I decided it was enough fun and left the bike for her. She didn't catch me but I was hooked.