30 years ago Giles and Annie purchased and embarked on an adventure/honeymoon with their, then new BMW GS bikes, they had a route in mind which looked and sounded like a once in a lifetime trip. What developed and how transformative the trip would turn out to be for their lives was beyond what they could have imagined. Luckily with bikes as robust as Giles and Annie chose, they’ve now found an opportunity to make the epic adventure a twice in a lifetime trip!

With help from our team at Ocean Motorrad: Falmouth, Giles and Annie are now set to embark on a trip to trace some of their original route and see how the landscape, environment and places have changed in the intervening time.

“During the planning for our ‘Watertight 2’ project, I must thank Howard Woodcock and Southwest Motorcycle Riders for putting me in touch with Ocean BMW.  When he heard about what we were planning he was really supportive and I asked him if he could recommend the best place to have the bikes prepped for the trip – without hesitation he suggested Ocean BMW in Falmouth and made the introductions and I’m so pleased he did.” (Giles)

Their original Trip was titled Operation Watertight, with the primary reason for their route being to raise awareness of the issue of Water Rights and Pollution around the Med. Leaving the UK in Sep 1992 and returning June 1993, the intention was to fully circumnavigate the entire Med Basin but a bit of politics got in the way…

The pair travelled across France, down Italy, around Sicily, over the top of Greece (Yugoslav War prevented them from doing that bit of coastline), over to Istanbul, followed the coast all the way to the Syrian Border, into Syria, over to Iraqi border, down into Jordan, over into West Bank and Israel (without bikes – left with British Consul in Amman, Jordan), back into Jordan, into Sinia Peninsula, over to Cairo, down the Nile to Abul Simbel on border with Sudan, back up the Nile to Asyut then out into the desert through Kharga, Dakhla, Farafra and Bahariya Oases before heading across the desert to Siwa Oasis. From there up to Marsa Matruh and Alexandria onto a Libyan Troop Ship to Cyprus, from there to mainland Greece, Italy, Sicily, ferry to Genova from Palermo and a final dash across France and back to UK.

Rough straight line distances below.  Each bike travelled around 19,000+ miles, a total of 38,000 miles between the two. During the course of this absolutely epic excursion the bikes suffered only ONE puncture, one!

“We chose them (BMW GS) because of their robustness and suitability for the journey – having what are, effectively, two identical bikes meant that, if needed, we could do rolling repairs to them to ensure we had one that worked and could get us back from wherever we found ourselves. As it turned out both performed impeccably over what was testing terrain for much of the trip.” (G)

Following their return to the UK, the couple started a family and so inspired by what they had seen and experienced in their journey, Giles and Annie  launched their own business;  Olives Et Al.

Now 30 years later, on the same trusty GS’s they plan to do a lot of their original route to again see how things have changed as a result of Climate Change (known 30 years ago as Global Warming). 

“The main reason is to research how climate change is affecting the olive harvests which we rely on as a business and which, in recent years, have been severely affected by changing climate conditions from floods to drought to heat waves.” (G)

Below Giles explains what is to come from their return trip to the Med, what they hope and expect to find. Also, and most importantly, why they’re embarking again – this isn’t a holiday, the project and exploration is for real world reasons and for the primary reason to raise awareness and hopefully affect peoples knowledge and understanding of the impact we’re having on the world, beyond our own horizons.

“Annie and I created Olives Et Al in October 1993 on our return from our extended honeymoon which we spent on the two bikes riding across the Med, Middle East and North Africa using the recipes and techniques we’d picked up along the way.  The intention as to circumnavigate the whole of the Med and raise the issue of water rights and pollution.  Whilst we did that we also discovered food. We are not importers – we buy ingredients from all across the globe, bring them to Dorset and add all the value here.

Our business is called Olives Et Al and, naturally enough, we specialise in all things olive.  We work with all sorts of businesses from Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, Rick Stein and 1000’s of delis, pubs and farm shops across the country from the Scillies to the Shetlands and all places in between.” (G)

The significance of their BMW GS bikes on the adventure and Giles and Annie themselves, can be best seen in the decision to include illustrations of both bikes in their company logo!

“When we got back to the UK we were flat broke and living in a bedsit in Southampton. Missing the food we had enjoyed on the trip, we started to make it for ourselves and that was the genesis of Olives Et Al. We decided that, because of their significance to us and what we had jointly experienced on them, the bikes would be the last thing we ever sold before we went to the wall.  We have even used them in our logo to great effect. Mk1 on the top and the Mk 2 flying underneath (and an olive contained in the negative space – the stalk is the gap between the mudguard and wheel of the Mk1). The business is now just over 30 years old and as part of our 30th Year we have decided that it’s time to get back on the bikes and do it all again.” (G)

A fantastic tribute to the bikes that shared the journey with them, and will again. 

Giles and Annie will be setting off on their sequel adventure in early April, and we will be following their progress closely. You’ll be able to follow too, with updates added below as the couple report on how things have changed and how they’re getting on with the bikes and the journey.