I want to learn to ride and I'm in the unusual (for me) position of having the cash to do it, but I know fuck all about how one goes about it.
What's the order of events? What do you buy before you start? Do you read up on the highway code first? I know nothing - fill me with knowledge.
This link is pretty good at explaining what is required:
Basically, you need a provisional or full (car) license, to take a theory test, and then to take your CBT, which will allow you to ride a 125cc (for two years).
If you then want to go onto a bigger bike, you'll need to do either the A1 test (which means staying on a 125), Accelerated Access training - which is the full training & test on a bike less than 46bhp but after two years, you can move onto a bigger machine, or the Direct Access training, which is the same as A2 but on a 46+ bhp machine and you can immediately ride a big bike once passed.
Probably worth looking on the links at the bottom for local testing centres. Some do packages where they provide everything, others will require you to have some of your own gear (helmet and so on). That will usually affect the cost of courses.
Rode from Bristol to Hitchin, cross country, this weekend for the BMF show in Peterborough. Had an ace time, got about 500 miles in over 3 days and got some really nice bargains at the show, too. Mate got a set of brand new Draggins for £30. Mine cost £130 a year ago. Git.