Get your motor runnin’, Head out on the highway, Lookin’ for adventure, And whatever comes our way … . National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham, England

Having found the mammoths list of places to go I thought a little surprize might be in order to celebrate his birthday.

Woolly says – Happy Burpday to me, happy Burday to me, the most important day of the year had arrived once again and I’m a big fan of surprises so what could go wrong!  Jo seemed to have everything under control as we headed off for the day, my first inkling that maybe all was not as it seemed, were the motorway signs and my carer’s harsh words to the sat nav telling it that she didn’t want to go that way, Jo doesn’t like motorways and avoids them at all costs, today it appeared the sat nav was going to test her mettle as we sped onto the M6, I took a deep breathe and closed my eyes.

Cursing the sat nav and trying to keep my breathing steady we pelted along the tarmac, two junctions down and we were back onto the normal roads and being told that we had reached our destination.

Woolly says – I looked around at the retail park and wondered what I was in for, I looked at my carer who used some very bad words whilst throwing the sat nav on the floor, putting the car back into gear and setting off in a steely silence.  It appeared we were now flying blind so the chances of finding our destination was probably zero, I decided to say nothing until Jo stopped glaring.  Through the traffic lights of Birmingham we went into areas that we have never travelled before as the silence continued, just as I started to give up all hope and accept that the best that might happen would be lunch out I spotted a sign for the airport, noooooo had she really decided to take me abroad?  What about my passport and clothes? Had we enough snacks to last a flight? My head whirred with all the problems of dealing with my surprise.

Feeling slightly more confident that we were actually going to get to the place I glanced down to see my small friend grinning with glee and bouncing up and down with delight before realising that we were passing the airport and that his thoughts had obviously led him to an incorrect assumption that we would be heading that way, I just hoped that his disappointment wouldn’t be too much.

Woolly says – As we raced past the entrance to Birmingham International Airport, I tried to swallow my sadness and sniffed quietly into my coat, Jo’s health and temper seemed to have improved as we pulled into a parking area and slid into a space.  Looking around me I tried to work out where we were when I spotted a motorcycle in the entrance way, in fact as I looked I realised that there were hundreds of them, I grinned up at my friend and wondered how she knew that the National Motorcycle Museum was on my ‘places a mammoth needs to go to’ list.  Recognised as the finest and largest British motorcycle museum in the world it originally opened its doors in October 1984 with a collection of 350 motorcycles on display, today it holds well over 1000 bikes from the early 1900’s through to modern day, I skipped in delight and raced off to investigate.

It was overwhelming with the quantity of two wheels vehicles, as we passed the earliest converted cycles and turned into the first hall where all I could see was row after row of machines. 

With BSA’s, Ariel’s, Norton’s and Sunbeams my eyes started to water at the sheer amount to be looked at.

Each bike had a whole page of information regarding its manufacturing and performance criteria, way too much to read so we wandered around the displays picking our favourites and taking little regard to the written material.

Former road side assistance bikes stood next to sturdy police machines with a range of armed forces thrown in for good measure.

One of the smallest bikes on show was one that the army had used known as the Welbike, which had fitted nicely into a torpedo shell and could be dropped into war zones to help soldiers with transportation.

An old combination that had recently been out on the road to raise funds for the military personal who had survived amputation caught my eye, the story of the rider’s endeavours to ride over 800 miles to collect for their charities brought a tear to my eye.

Racing bikes filled nearly a complete hall with some that barely resembled a motorbike but had fitted the bill to be classed as the fastest bike in the world.

The collection went on and on and having finally reached the last part of the exhibition I was bike blind and flopped down near to a chocolate coloured machine which smelt uncannily like chocolate.

Possibly because it was a full-size chocolate motorbike, before he could make any inroads towards eating it suggested some lunch.

An incredible museum I have to say but not one for the faint hearted, as I set about my lunch I asked Jo why we hadn’t seen any of the bikes she had once ridden, she laughed and explained that she had only ever owned Japanese bikes and sadly never a British one, hard to image her getting her motor running and heading out on the highway as she had once done, maybe one day she’ll let me be pillion!