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Thread: Round 3: Ramble around Iberia

  1. #33
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    Pola de Somiedo to Villar Del Buey

    Leaving the campsite we're treated to wonderful scenery for a relaxed ride. The plan is to cut across in to Portugal, and then maybe loop back in to Spain.

    Local traffic jams in the Somiedo National Park..



    We leave the park and work our way across towards the border. Coffee. Pop quiz, what country are we in then? Come on, come on...



    The standards at Paradors have really dropped, haven't they?



    Crossing in to Portugal is a wholly unremarkable affair. There's nothing aside from a stone with a little plaque on it and I don't see it clearly as we rumble past. The road surface changes, there are different shaped lines, and yellow coloured bend markers. And for now that's it- no sign with speed limits or even anything saying you're in Portugal.

    We stop at the first town we hit, Fontes. There's almost nothing here, and there's no-one here that's for sure. We stop and have a snack by the roadside. In the twenty minutes we're stopped we see only a single car pass- a pick up truck driven by a little old guy who has the look of Hans Moleman.

    We work our way in to Braganca, but it isn't easy going. The road is finished and well surfaced, but there is no kerb- just gravel and sand, and where there is a bend cars have cut across the gravel and sand and dragged it on to the road. In fact, some corners are so sandy I'm surprised I don’t see sun loungers, umbrellas and deck chairs.. It needs careful riding. All of the electronics are messed up on the bike what with the speed sensor being off, so we get lots of disco light show from the yellow triangle, which is distracting, but the thing still rides fine so all ok. Electronics? Grumble grumble. Just something else to go wrong, isn't it. Give me an airhead any day.
    Jeez, I'm starting to sound like my grandad.

    We see hardly a soul until we hit the edge of town. Not a glorious ride by any means, so I'm glad for the break. Braganca is a pretty little place. I learn quickly that cobbles are the order of the day in Portugal's towns and soon enough they're playing havoc with my Johnny Giles. We make our way up to the castle, and the going is quite precarious, with steep cobbled inclines with dodgy junctions to navigate. But worth going, mind.



    Oooh, a retro Transit. Last time I saw one of these it was on ITV3 and John Thaw and Dennis Waterman were having a scrap up against it. Note the dog themed mud-flaps.



    Braganca is bid goodbye to, and we head back across the border a short distance south in a national park with an impressive hydro-electric dam. We check out camping, which is closed, so we loop back to a hotel I spied, 'Agro Turismo'. A deal is done for a room.

    Dinner is first class. An innovative coat stand, which I think tells you everything about how the menu shapes up..



    No prizes for guessing eh..



    Lamb which was just ace..



    Perfecto.

  2. #34
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    What the feck am I doing here, alternatively sat at a 'puter and deep cleaning the bathroom

    Looks perfect - enjoy

    Andres
    Doris doesn't give a fuck...be more like Doris!



  3. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roberto View Post
    Lamb was just ace..

    Oooh... Chuletas de cordero, my all-time favourite

    ballistic

  4. #36
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    Villar Del Buey to Trujillo

    An early breakfast.. And we're to the road. Ah, reminders of watching some of the happy hammers' more woeful displays over at good old Upton Park a few seasons back. 'When the ball hits your head and you're sat in Row Z, that's Zamora…'



    We head directly South from the Hotel and we're most definitely off of the beaten track. The road is bumpy but we go fairly well (well I thought so despite complaints from those seated in business class). We pass through tiny villages, single track roads, gravel, churches in the middle of nowhere. Proper Fistful of Dollars sets, great stuff.

    Sad to see the sunflowers going..



    Another little reminder of where we are, not that it was really needed mind..



    We hit a point to the south where there's no option but to head South West. The mountains are in the way, and there's no way over, so it's time for the AutoVia. Forty minutes of rapid going and we're then crossing the Monfraque Park, with a small stop for a Panaceta Bocadillo.. Sounds a little more exotic than 'Bacon Sandwich', that

    Back to the road, and the gauge hits 37 degrees..



    Toasty Indeed. We reach Trujillo and look for accommodation. First thought is for camping, but here it seems sparse, certainly according to Garmin anyway. The only site appears to be about 5km outside town. We go to check it out, but stop short as we can see it unfolding. 'I am not camping with the cows in the desert' was the directive voiced from directly behind me. A most reasonable view, I felt. So, a little mobile internet sources the NH Palace Hotel at a very reasonable £48. I do like the NH chain, so it isn't hard to be persuaded, and the hotel turns out to be very nice indeed, if not a little complicated to find your way around. Whilst unloading the bike and a German lady approaches and asks what the 'WTF' sticker means. I tell her I can't tell her, because its rude. She is highly amused by this response 'as zis makes no sense' and therefore I 'vill be going off to google it zen'

    Out for a walk and an Ice Cream, back to the hotel, dip in the pool. Trujillo is a gem..



    .. What a splendid little town



    Somehow I've lost quite a few decent photos of the place which is a real shame as it was just lovely. Technology again.. harumph

  5. #37
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    Trujillo to Albufeira

    We leave Trujillo to hit the AutoVia. The request is for a few days at the beach, so we're going to hit the Algarve.

    Breakfast is courtesy of Repsol, little packets of Vanilla Croissants that turn out to be quite nice. Bull sticker purchased and applied. We kill off 100 or so easy miles and then head off towards Huelva, back on to the interesting tarmac. Good riding is had, all is well with the world.

    A coffee in the little castle town of Fregenal de la Sierra. Clearly they don't see many visitors here, and it's what I'd term as 'very Spain'.



    I set to order a coffee with milk. 'OK' says the waiter cheerily. 'Don't worry, be happy', he smiles. He comes back to chat but it happens that the only English he's got is 'Don't worry, be happy'. But we get by and have a good non-language based chat. He looks at the map; I show him where we're going, towards Huelva. He points at the bike, assumes a biking pose and sways from side so side and sticks his thumbs up. That's promising.

    Kinda liked the sign of the shop next door..



    Back to the road. Our guy isn't wrong; it is excellent going and flowing twisties, just right for the bike too when loaded up so much.
    After an hour or so of fun we stop for a great tapas lunch sat under roadside lime trees.. So we grab a couple off the branches. Now, where can I find that vodka and lemonade tree then?



    General Tapas Nicey-ness..



    Soon enough we're just outside Huelva, and on the road to Portugal..



    We cross the border over the bridge at Castro Marim. On the Portugese side the motorway has recently become a toll road. There are hi-viz clad young attendants along a slip road marked for 'Strangers'. I guess strange describes us alright, so that's where we go. The system reads number plates, so you put your card in at special bike lane and then you're charged for relevant sections that you pass. The 50km run to Faro is 5 Euros, so I guess getting around Portugal in haste could very well turn to be expensive.

    We jump off at Tavira. We look at a couple of campsites on the POI database on the Zumo. One was across a non-existent bridge to an island, so that was a no-no, and the second just turned out to be a gravel patch where there was a gathering of local plod gathered having a good giggle.

    The GS doing what it says on the screen..



    So we rejoined the A22 to head down the coast a little where; the next town is Albufeira. A quick look on the phone and we've got a hotel on the cheap, so that'll be it.

    Unusual tour bus seen on the road. That tour might be interesting..



    We saw more groups of local Police, two cars again with a giggling ensemble gathered underneath the motorway bridge. They must be the happiest rozzers on the planet.

    And so it is to the Hotel, which is conveniently or inconveniently, depending on how you see it, located close to 'The Strip'. But Super Bock beckons, and it's very reasonably priced, and the atmosphere is very fun and friendly. Can't go wrong, so this boring old fart on a GS is partying it up good and proper..



    Late on for nibbles and a nightcap. Nope, I'm not Pat Jennings, and I haven't got a Saturday job in the Sellafield Visitor Centre. They really do small beers..



    Cool place!


  6. #38
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    as ever,top marks on another good read

  7. #39
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    Stationary in the Algarve

    And we're back. Well, time to start scribbling drivel again eh.

    The next few days are really busy doing little with me passing my 100th consecutive day of doing not a great deal with a celebratory Super Bok or three. I'll spare you the beach photos and other general food piccies for now.

    We've docked at Albefuira which is pretty much a tourist spot, probably sniggered at by elbow patched jacketed Guardian Travel Supplement page readers. It's a little out of season, which probably helps, but I'm gobsmacked on how genuinely friendly the natives are, and how polite and excellent the service is, and even in the face of a couple of colourful fellow countrymen that on one occasion that I saw.

    It did feature my first try of Piri-Piri chicken which works very well, and soon enough we see that the sports channel on the TV is actually showing the bullfight. As was pointed out to me (Cheers Chris) cheering for the bull is not the done thing, as is giggling and pointing when the matador gets clumped. I blame the Super Bock.

    Otherwise I do a bit of shopping. Now, what to buy?



    Not much else to mention, aside the apartment next door balcony neighbour that looks staggeringly like a particular guise of George Dawes, also sporting a tracksuit. I just have the urge to shout 'Peanuts' whenever I see him. Must resist.



    So not many updates, but Wi-Fi is like the lost ark here. Nothing at the apartment. You can stop at a bar. They'll give you the password, which doesn't work. Then you'll find one where the password works, and the internet doesn't. Then you'll find a place where it all works, but drops out after a couple of minutes. So don't expect to be well connected round these parts..

    The bike hasn't done a lot aside be shoe-horned into a very small space for a few days. Credit to the apartment people though, better than being outside the place. Now permit me to think the worst of my well oiled fellow countrymen with my bike stuck in the street..

  8. #40
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    Albufeira to Nazare

    Not much to talk of from a riding perspective. We're up early for an hour or two on the beach. As you do. Packed quickly, out stop for a breakfast in town and on the Motorway within about ten minutes of getting away from the coast.

    Aside from a squabble at a toll booth with a machine that won't accept cash, card, barter or nowt not a lot to mention. After a day in the sun pootling along we hitch up at Nazare. Cheap hotel found and out we go. A beautiful sunset plays out over the Atlantic; we watch the fiery star crashing into the sea whilst the fishermen work..



    Then a stroll on the front looking for a restaurant. Most are pretty empty, so we decide to go for the back streets and find a locals place packed solid.

    Fresh as you like.. Still wiggling..



    They fit us in and we sit snugly watching Benfica play on the TV with an old couple and are soon served with a Mixed Grilled Fish Platter..



    Get the hell away from my fish..



    A great day

  9. #41
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    Nazare to Vana do Castelo

    Not much sleep to be had last night, and not for any good reasons either

    A visit to the seafront for a cheering up stroll. There's a lifeguard on a quad bike going up to folks on the beach and telling them to get back from the sea. Evidently this is one some of the worlds most liveliest coast and one of the most dangerous beaches, off which featured the highest ever recorded surfed wave some time back and there have been recent cases of folk swept away.



    And so to a walk around the local market. On the way to said Market..



    Locals at market. I thought Les Dawson was deed?



    A whole load of fish going on..



    So back to the hotel and tempers are a bit short for once. We load up and faff about a lot, and it's far from the slick operation that's developed over the past days together on the bike.
    If I can offer some words of advice, the ideal way to motivate a female pillion to embark is not to use the words 'Oh just shut up and get on the back you silly tart' as this could be said to have a negative effect, resulting in folded arms and mutterings of disapproval. Eventually we negotiate a set off and some heavier than normal braking results in a thump in the back (well, a thump in the back protector that is. I like motorcycle gear )

    We navigate through Oporto's crazy traffic..



    And pop out the other side back to the fast roads. Evidently it's not only Spain that is suffering with fires at the moment..



    We reach Vana De Castelo and everything has mellowed out again, quelled by the scenery. Probably using bribery of a white chocolate magnum helped as well.

    The few days of Motorway on the older tyre have left it badly squared off, as square as a very square thing. Going to need to sort that one out fairly sharpish.

    We sourced a cheap stop over hotel at 45 Euros via t'internet and headed in. What a very strange place; the reception was straight out of the seventies, all it was short of was the reception guy having platforms and crushed strawberry velvet loons; however when we got the rooms everything was ultra modern, superb comfortable bed, Home Cinema size Sony Flatscreen TV on the wall. Most odd. I've been to many hotels where the opposite was the case, but this was different. We approve, mind.

    Fancy a bit, love?



    Dinner was in form of a very nice Portuguese restaurant, The Three Potes. Mixed Fried Pork and Oven Roasted Kid Goat, featuring a Garden Salad the size of Welwyn Garden City.

    'Hmmm.. Now, if I can just find a tyre dealer..'


  10. #42
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    Vana do Costelo to Baiona

    The reception gent this morning was a 1200GS owner. We chat bikes for a bit and its good stuff. A really helpful and good guy. He's off for his holidays to the South next week, so we wish him the best.

    Soon enough we're road bound.

    Today's ride was a mere 40 miles, a fantastic 40 miles though. Since we'd killed off much of the traverse North, we were free to dob about as we wished, and we agreed that if we found something nice between the off and Santiago we'd knock off and call it a day.

    We decide to take the little ferry across the river to Spain.

    Tosser on Ferry with not much better to do..



    My bike, developing into quite a little mobile tat shop, and co-pilot on said ferry..



    We thought this odd as we crossed.. So considered it the border



    Put your watches an hour forward after a ten minute ferry crossing..

    En route to Baiona we catch up with a Goldwing rider. We hang back and observe the silky smooth skills of the pilot.. Some real riding flair and a pleasure to watch.



    We de-camp in Baiona and with help of the free seafront internet get a hotel a minute away. Parking is on the road, but the good lady of the hotel says that It is no problem and safe- and it is all true to her word, which is cool.

    Out for refreshments then.. Estrella Galaicia shows 'The Way'…



    A lovely evening. Baiona is a cracker.



    Lovely..



    And then.. quality dinner..


    ..

  11. #43
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    Baiona to La Coruna

    We leave Baiona and the sweet little budget Carabela La Pinta hotel. It's mostly Autovia- my old Zumo is now completely knackered so it's manual map reading.

    Crossing the bridge at Vigo..



    Aside a detour through Santiago, which isn't very kind to drive-by sightseeing from tourists with no proper map, it's to La Coruna. We stop for coffee and cake and have a look around the gift shop.

    Jarvis, eh. Just fancy that..



    Through good fortune we more or less drive straight in to La Coruna and to the Hotel, the Hotel Sol. Now time to pack and reorganise ready for the departure of the good lady. Opening one of the panniers, the camping pannier on the exhaust side, there's an immediate aroma. Not good. It is then that I make a gruesome discovery..



    Bloody hell that wasn’t funny at all. That's been there since we got to Spain 12 days ago, in a pannier that got so hot down in the Algarve it almost burned. I'll leave it to you to conjur up that scent.
    Anyway, one I'd fished out my new cheesy zumo, with the aid of a decent internet connection I can download the maps to it that I successfully ruined pre-trip. No more Nanette Newman fairy liquid screen treatment for the old one, that'll be going back to Garmin for a repair at long last. Fingers crossed this thing does it then, eh..



    Out for a walk in the city.



    There's nothing I like better than getting back to the old country for a Guinness, to be (un)sure..



    Galicia's new digital generation..



    Drool..



    We came across this fabulous little group on the wander..



    Tapa tapa tapa…



    Thankfully, by time we're back to the hotel the new Zumo is all set. We like that

    And so for an early night as much to do tomorrow.

  12. #44
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    La Coruna to Pennaronda

    I was woken at 5am by the good lady of the trip. Nudge… nudge.. Shove. 'What', is, of course, the male stock response. 'I think there is some sort of protest or something outside' she said. I go on to the balcony and there is indeed some sort of a commotion, but it's just the bars and the drinking out onto the streets.. still seriously lively at 5am. Gotta love Spain.

    And so, today is the day to say goodbye to her. Despite the early morning wake-up call it was going to be sad; we'd got into a George and Mildred style curmudgeonly preparation groove, and everything once on the move had been so easy. I'd also gotten used to having an on-board photographer, getting very welcome on-the-road shoulder massages (from a trained masseuse by the way) and other miscellaneous benefits such as being fed Fox's glacier fruits from time to time on what seemed to be developing into a telepathic request basis. She'd also developed into a highly proficient pillion, previously only having a couple of day trips and overnighter out, managing to float effortlessly on and off such a loaded bike without so much as a wobble, and putting up with all that gear crowded around her (admittedly most of it was hers anyway..)

    So it was sad indeed that we toddled off to the airport. It was quiet there, so we just parked on the pavement a short distance from the terminal and went in for croissants and Orange Juice. We said our goodbyes and then I was off to head East.

    So, off I go today then. Ho hum; nowhere to go, and no time to get there by.

    Time for some Music. Rolling hills, sunshine and pleasant clouds, a fresh breeze, 25 degrees. Pink Floyd's 'Live at Pompeii'* accompanied the plodding climbing and descending of the AutoVia away from La Coruna; Other good highlights were Radiohead's 'Codex'; Husky Rescue 'City Lights'; Future Loop Foundations' 'Homegrown Dynamic' and quite appropriately today I suppose, Mario Basanov's 'Lonely Days'. A real chill out to accompany some really gentle 60mph riding. Peaceful music, a beautifully peaceful day.

    They're still building AutoVia's around here.. Some of them up in the skies. Wow. You've got to marvel, without getting all Daily Mail, just one of these sections must cost mega £££££.. How's that getting paid for now!? And they're still putting stuff up all over the place, incredible



    Soon enough it's about 4pm. I cross the bridge at Ribadeo and decide to have a wander off. Soon enough I'm by a beautiful beach, watching the surfers knock about. There's an adjacent camp site, and I'm 14 Euro lighter with a tent up about 45 minutes later.



    Funnily there were some Germans who had turned their patio chairs from their camp around to watch me put my tent up, I guess sensing some sort of theatre with this lumbering clumsy biker sod. I reckon that I proper pished on their parade by having the tent up and being sorted in ten minutes flat

    Tent up double quick. In your face, Dusseldorf



    Quick spot of dinner outdoors..



    I felt a tad solemn what with being on my Jack Jones again, so I watched some Auf Wiedersehen Pet early episodes on the Laptop. A while back when I wasn't so well I watched them many times. They always cheer me up- here's to better times getting better.



    * If you click on the Live at Pompeii link bear with it, it's a cracker
    ..

  13. #45
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    Pennaronda to Potes

    A very appealing little ride along the North Coast today. I woke just before 8 and had the padding down the lane for a whizz at the facilities to deal with, and by the time I got back I couldn't be bothered to pot-hole back into the tent, so I just got set and headed off. A nice ride combining the new Autovia with some of the back roads, switching from one to the other, the odd stop at Asturias' fabulous coastline..



    After a decent morning of riding I head South for a bit and skirt along the edge of the Picos de Europa park. And very good it is too. Starting to see a few bikes now..



    Poo.



    And after a decent bit of two-wheeled good fun I'm near Potes, following a provided set of coordinates for a rendezvous. However, these coordinates are a bit odd: Up paved roads, into tracks and then on.



    I follow the track for a while, it gets more difficult and narrow. To a point where I decide to stop and walk for a bit onwards as it looks decidedly dodgy- about half a km from the supposed destination. I'm glad I did- the track narrows to a very slim width on a ledge, lord only knows what traverses this, only maybe a quad bike at best. So, that leaves me a bloody awkward 30m back pedal on the bike to turn around, but I manage it with a fair bit of huff and puff.



    Best learned lesson from the BMW off road skills course- to turn the bike around on a downhill incline to waggle the bars left to right bloody good tip that was I tell you.

    Eventually, back on tarmac, and after summoning up the destination from Google Maps an Android Smart Phone, which turns out to be as not smart at all, I'm sent back up in the tracks in the hills. Garmin and Google totally disagree with the destination and even the bloody road layout. How's your luck!
    At another suspected destination in the hills, following up a tricky track I again leave the bike to walk up further. I return to find a lady leaning over a bottom closed farm door looking curiously at the bike outside her door to which I left it. She's smiley and friendly. I ask for directions, she gives a knowing 'not another lost person looking for this place' style look. She has no English, but is very helpful... bless her dearly.

    Alas I'm still no closer, and after asking about again I'm ready to give up after an hour and twenty of bollocks.

    Back on the main road and I send a text saying I'm lost. Thirty seconds later I spy a parked 1200 Adventure.. and lo, I am found. By jove, It's Ballistic of this parish! Beers had.. And a plot to cover more of Spain in the immediate short term



    Lamb chops for dinner. Ace

  14. #46
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    Potes to Nava

    So Brian, aka Ballistic, and his pal Ted have travelled down yesterday on the ferry over to Santander. I'm going to link in and have a ride with Brian for a few days whilst Ted visits his newly born Grand Daughter and family over here. Ballistic is a veteran in this part of the world, so I'm looking forward to some entertaining roads and scenery.

    And then there were two..



    Destination Picos..



    Overnight the weather has closed in and it is overcast with low cloud. We're off, and within a few KM's were up in the clouds and its raining. We spend a good fifteen minutes or so tailgaiting a Dutch registered Volvo in the fog, until the mist clears momentarily and we can zip past.

    The weather changes. Up the mountain, rain, fog, cold. Down the mountain, Sun, warmth. Brian had more costume changes than a bleedin' Madonna concert. Summer outfit, winter outfit, waterproofs on, waterproofs off. Ah, here's one of those roadside pauses..



    Picking up the pace is a bit of a shock to the system for me. I've become all too used to just pootling and of late have been progressively vegetised by Vinho Verde and Super Bock. I'm not used to all this riding in rain and fog, plus chasing after a seriously smooth and rapid bod in Ballistic.
    To add to the fun my Kenneth Connor Hengist Pod square wheel trail attack is on my mind, plus with all the silly stuff going on with the bike the dashboard its lit up like Selwyn Froggit's 'Road up Disco'. Never mind. We'll manage.

    All said though, a great little morning, very interesting, and for all of those misty vistas, well I'll just have to come back again another time to have a look, eh.

    We have lunch. A bottle of Amstel, a large coffee and a plate of meat for two for five Euros. Very nice too..



    After lunch, where it is bright and sunny, we head off. 15minutes later we're in thick fog and rain. Here it comes again then..



    We descend 1000 or so metres following a tanker truck in the fog and rain. Slow painstaking going, conditions bloody horrible.

    Wet/Fog aside It's another great afternoon of riding though; great varieties of roads, surfaces, hills, conditions. Really enjoyable. We roll up in Nava around 4.30pm to be greeted by Ted and a cup of tea.
    Ted is on the case for my tyre quest. His son in law Matthew has a Spanish speaking 'fixer', who is doing research for a small fee. Evidently tyres are just not easy to come by; bikes are not big in the region here and GS's particularly rare as they're so expensive. Matthew should know as he runs a bike tour enterprise here and thus knows all things biking rather well.
    Ah, that's not so good; I mean, we'll get a tyre alright, but would prefer to not wait days for it to come.

    A short time later we get a call back from the fixer. A rear trail attack is coming overnight from Madrid to a tyre place some 20km away, so its down there then first thing tomorrow

    Over to the hotel in Nava. All things Asturias..



    THE WAY to pour Cider, or Sidre from the region, well demonstrated by our happy bar lass..



    Interesting Dinner Menu, featuring such items as 'ESPECIAL PLATE HUSHPUPPIES' and 'CLAMS IN A SEAMAN LIKE WAY'. The mind boggles



    We eventually settle for Steak, which we initially sent back as it was still moo-ing, and we settle in to watch Real Madrid beat Man City on the telly.

    A very good night indeed




  15. #47
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    that was well worth the wait

  16. #48
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    Click here to find out how to remove these ads

    ballistic moo lmao

    les dawson WTF!!?!

    shame about the fog

    cider lady - WOW

    why do i get the feeling the tyre might not be a bargain.............

    seeing as you watched the inferior team last night will you be watching the team in red tonight ?

    enjoy

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