Day 100+ - Back to Reality and Charlotte's Demise

Trip Start Aug 07, 2007
Trip End Nov 07, 2007

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

I hired a car, which is much more civilised mode of transport to use at the start of a British winter, and headed up to Leeds, then Scotland, down to Teesside, and back to Manchester in a whistle-stop week of catching up with friends, relative and new arrivals.  Then I said goodbye to Charlotte, for what I did not realise would be the last time, and headed back down to London.  More catchings-up, a little work even (9 days in 6 months is not half bad), and a month-long trip to Carriacou and Grenada where my wonderful girlfriend was working.  I convinced her to come and live with me in London and secured myself another month's contract when I returned.  Things were coming together.  I'd had a fantastic couple of months and all I needed was a place to live then I'd feel settled.  That was when I heard the news.

Stockport Express - 19th December 2007  
Charles in dark over theft of special bike, Alex Scapens
AN ADVENTUROUS charity worker faces Christmas heartbreak after the motorbike he used to drive unscathed through the lawless badlands of Africa was stolen by opportunist thieves when he returned to Stockport.
Charles Clark, 29, used his Honda LX250 to drive almost 5,000 miles home from Tanzania following a two-year teaching stint.
After three months riding through countries containing local militia, armies fighting a civil war and zealous border officials Charles thought his bike would be safe left covered up in his sister Claire Clark“s backyard on Bower Street, Reddish.
But it was stolen some time between Friday, December 14, at 6.30pm and 11am on Sunday December 16th and Charles is unaware of the theft as he out of the country for a reunion with his girlfriend.
Claire is now appealing for the bike, which has enormous sentimental value, to be returned before she makes contact with her brother to give him the news that will ruin his Christmas.
Claire, 30, said: "He will be devastated as he has been through so much with the bike, if I can get it back it will be brilliant.
"It“s ironic Charles went through so many countries on it and it was only when it was in Reddish that it was stolen.
"He bought it for around £200 in Tanzania so whoever took it isn“t going to make much money - it was senseless to steal it. But the bike has massive sentimental value to him."
Charles had spent two years teaching physics in a school in Mwanza, Tanzania, and decided to ride home rather than take a plane.
He travelled through Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Italy, France, often staying in small villages with welcoming locals.
Even when the motorbike disappeared in Kenya, it had been taken by traffic wardens and Charles was able to get it back.
Claire added: "It wouldn“t be the best news to give him before Christmas, I“ve tried calling him but I can“t get through.
"Hopefully by the time I do I can tell him it was stolen but that it has been returned safely."
Charles is currently in Greneda, in the Caribbean. Claire has tried to phone him but has been unable to get through.
A police spokesman confirmed they had received a report about the theft and were making inquiries.

Quality reporting.  "Almost 5,000 miles" cheeky sods!  Apparently the quotes are completely ficticous as well!  The story was picked up by the Sun too.

The Sun - 20th December 2007  
It really is a jungle out there
A BRIT who rode 5,000 miles through Africa and Europe“s roughest towns had his motorbike stolen - back in Stockport.
Charles Clark, 29, braved civil wars and local militias as he rode home from Tanzania on his Honda LX250.
But it was taken over the weekend from his sister Claire“s back yard in Reddish. And teacher Charles doesn“t yet know - as he is in the Caribbean with his girlfriend.
Claire said: "He“ll be devastated. I tried calling but can“t get through." 

In a way it is better that I was uninsured.  I would have felt bad getting cash for Charlotte.  Every time I pass a Honda I think of her and how much fun it would be to be zipping around London with her, Tanzanian number plate setting her aside from all the other motorbikes and me being able to feel special once again, rather than just melting into the background of anonymity that is the huge conurbation of London Town.
It is over.  People have stopped asking me about it and what it is like to be back.  Back to normality.  I am very, very, glad I did it.
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