Monday, December 29, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
A young work colleague of mine was watching me getting ready to ride home following a 12 hour night shift. The rain was steady and wind brisk so I was pulling waterproofs on over my normal riding kit.
"What a fuss, just to get home!" he said, waving the keys to his car at me, "Couldn't be bothered with all that."
It made me think, I had had the opportunity to use a car for travel on that particular shift, I had known the weather was going to be bleak, so why had I elected to ride?
I have decided that it is because when I don my leathers and helmet and climb aboard the Blackbird, I am temporarily no longer a 55 year old with aches and pains, grown up children......... and a grandfather to boot! I am actually that 19 year old airman, just out of training, riding his first motorcycle, which he had paid for in 'Pounds, Shillings and Pence'. Ten shillings (50p) filled the tank of my CB175 in those days!
So, as my colleague sprinted to the car park and into his 'hot hatch', I climbed aboard my Honda, fired up the 1100cc, 140bhp engine, selected first gear, which transformed my bike into a time machine, then rode off looking forward to my 20th birthday.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
He will be missed by all the family.
Mrs Robinson eventually returned and we had a lovely meal followed by an evening of dogs, cats, reminiscence and lager (in my case). Did Sarah ever find out who ate her lasagne, by the way?
Poor Sarah got home around 11pm just as us weary travellers were thinking of sleep. We had a quick chat before she left to do her night shift at the shipyard.
Robbie was guarding Jackie Bird's teeth and wig during the morning Scottish TV news and had to be away early, so it was up for photos at the crack of 9am. Sarah had finished her night shift and had popped home to collect the keys to the bulldozer she was driving at the building site that morning, before the afternoon shift at the salon. She had time to pose for a photo just before her paper round.
We got away about 10am, our destination Kinross, a week on the road behind us!
Sorry, no photos of the Frenchies who thought my motorbike was German and surrendered, also too many pixels required to upload ginger cat photo.
We elected to avoid the M6 and travel North via the A6 which runs almost parallel to the busy motorway with its lines of HGV traffic. It was a splendid decision and we sped towards Scotland at motorway speeds with hardly any other vehicles to accompany us. Highly recommended!
We did have to complete an hour or so on the M74 to the North of Carlisle, parts of which were in heavy rain, in the company of half a dozen motorcycles also heading to Scotland for the week end. We fueled with latte and unleaded at a services then left the motorway and headed west for our friends new house in Darvel, Ayrshire.
We arrived, as if by magic, just around tea time.
Driveways designed for horse and cart have three surfaces. Two outer ones for the cart wheels and an inner strata of big knobbly stones designed to give Dobbin some grip for his iron shod hooves. Naturally the outer surfaces are the ones that car tyres use and have been worn down and have traces of grippy rubber left on them. The middle knobbly bit has green algy, oil from the sumps of delivery vehicles and frog poo!
Guess which one your Macam hero chose?
The first ten metres were accomplished through sheer good luck and adrenaline! I managed to get the bike stopped half way to the house without the use of brakes! Can any other biker reading this stop a fully loaded Honda Blackbird, complete with passenger, by using only wide eyes and clenched buttocks? I think not!
"Everything okay?" A query from my pillion.
"Get off " I squeaked through the intercom.......... "Carefully!",
With Sue following, I paddled the bike to the house, switched off, put it on the stand and had a nervous breakdown (quietly).
Adrian, Suzanne and middle son Philip took us for a splendid meal to a gastro pub with a magnificent view. We returned and enjoyed a lovely evening in the billiards room, playing pool. Philip was undisputed champion, sign of a mis-spent youth, students....hah!
I went to bed wondering how I was going to get the bike down to the road without embarrassing myself and woke up thinking the same thing! However, after breakfast Adrian and I manhandled the unloaded machine to the gate with no problems.
The next leg of our journey would get us back into Scotland........... to be continued.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Lunch time found us in the famous tart town of Bakewell, we found parking with the usual ease on the main street then I just had to try a tart with my coffee. Sue, being a hater of all things almond and marzipanny, had something else.
Afterwards we had a stroll around the picturesque riverside (see Wye jokes elsewhere) large brown trout and cute ducklings did abound.
Back on the road the heavens opened and, after a while, I started to feel chilled as my leathers absorbed rain and the slipstream started to steal body heat. Sue was in a textile jacket and shielded by my magnificent Macam physique so was quite cosy on the pillion. We pulled over and I donned my over suit (photos later in the blog).
We rode through the famous town of Holmfirth but didn't see any of the cast, Norah Batty would have been my choice.
Late afternoon saw us approaching our long term friend's small bungalow in Otley. The only time I came near to dropping the bike was on their minuscule driveway. See photos.
To be continued.....
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I was hoping a passer by would ask me if I knew the name of the river so I could say:
Why aye!, Wye, why?
The great thing about visiting my brother and sister in law is that no matter how long the interval since our last meeting, (Sue tends to see them more often due to her annual pilgrimage to Crufts at the NEC, which is only 30 mins down the road) we can pick up almost instantly where we left off months or, sometimes in my case, years before. David and I do communicate quite regularly via e mail which helps I suppose.
As our arrival time had been a bit on the vague side we had elected for a take away from the excellent Chinese restaurant they sometimes frequent. This also gave David the chance to show off his new green mode of transport, a Toyota hybrid electric/petrol car. I left Sue doing things on the computer and went along with Dave and Gill for an environment-saving trip to the restaurant.
The charming young Asian lady who was serving recognised David but did not believe his claim that I was his grandfather! The meal was going to take about 25 minutes but by purest chance (my bot!) there was a pub next door!
It was the strangest of sensations when we set off on the return journey - to pull away in almost total silence! The 15 minute trip to the take away had charged the Prius's battery packs and the petrol engine was not required for a while. David said that he had to be a lot more aware of dozy pedestrians with this car, especially when parking and pulling away on electric motor power!
Many hours later we prepared for bed in the conservatory, happily replete, food had been consumed along with a modest amount of beer and wine. Although tomorrow was a relatively short hop up the road to Yorkshire and an early start not essential, I didn't want a thick head to contend with.
We were awakened by the sound of torrential rain on the conservatory roof in the early hours, "Probably sounds worse than it is" I muttered to my sleepy navigator. We looked out a few hours later.............. it didn't ................Arggg!
To be continued.....
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
We fueled on the outskirts of Frome then headed off to Wells. The "Nav" had done her homework and, following her directions, given at intervals through my headphones, we arrived and got parked, after a bit of a tour through the slightly confusing streets, just adjacent to the market square, which was in full swing. Lots of fellow tourists and interesting smells greeted us as we made our way to the Abbey.
Sue had done some research and wanted to see the famous clock tower perform its hourly display. Apparently George Lucas had based many of the Star Wars battle scenes on the spectacular antics of this ancient masterpiece! I was excited and waited impatiently with Sue under the tower, elbowing French school kids out of the way as they turned up en masse and stood in front of us at a minute to the hour, whilst we had been waiting since a quarter to !
At precisely 2 minutes past 12 ( ??? ) a whirring was heard, the clock went "Bing" once, the bloke with the spear jiggled it half heartedly and the one with the sword did nothing! We retreated to the market to the sounds of youthful French sniggers "Le clock Anglais, c'est merde n'est pas?" (excuse my Franglais). Silently agreeing, we found an impressive burger stall, Sue had a cheese burger the size of a small hat, whilst I bought an authentic Cornish pasty.
We found a picnic spot near a church gate where swans ring a bell rope when they want to be fed. Didn't see any swans but were soon besieged by pigeons, with whom we shared our lunch. It wasn't until afterwards we found the notice prohibiting such actions.............. oops!
Fleeing the wrath of the Pigeon Police, we left Wells behind and set off to Weston Super Mare, where Sue had spent some of her schooldays . The journey was uneventful and we arrived at the seaside and discovered a parking area just for motorcycles right on the prom and it was free! It was still warm but with a strong wind coming off the sea and a lot of the substantial beach seemed to be airborne and was sandblasting the holiday makers and us as we made our way along the prom for the obligatory 'pirate and fat lady in a bathing costume' photos on the doomed pier.
The day was whizzing by so, after using the public toilets and chuckling at the notice prohibiting child and foot washing in the sinks, we returned to the Blackbird crunching our (nutless) ice cream cones! Sand is probably good for the digestion.
A couple of hours later saw us entering the town of the famous playwright. One of the great things about motorcycles is you can always get parked approximately where you want. We did so, took some photos, then found a roadside cafe and ordered two lattes to sustain us on the last leg of our journey to my brother's house. I fumbled in my pocket for change, then hastily sought out my thinning wallet when asked for £6.00 !!!!!!! I thought I must have been misunderstood by the exchange student who served me and had booked bed and breakfast!
Time was against us so we were soon back on the road. Guided expertly by my pillion passenger, we arrived in Derby just in time for tea.
To be continued.....
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
By the time he returned we were on good terms with the chickens and my cramped extremities were just about back to normal. A nice , very welcome meal followed then David set off for home, his pathfinder duties complete. Thanks mate.
Cousin Graham stopped by having spent the day burning cows and a couple of hours at a gypsy funeral! ( I kid you not! ) By the time he was fed and watered we were all thinking of sleep, which for me actually occurred just before my head hit the pillow.
Morning found another biking cousin, Greg , just finished night shift, awaiting us in the sitting room . He had swapped his large capacity sports bikes for more economical transport , ( see photos ) but still had the approval and sticker to prove it , of the Hells Angels MC ..... respect!
We were on the road in continuing good weather just after 10am , the historic town of Wells and the soon to be no more, Pier , at Weston Super mare ahead of us. Then on to Shakespeare country hopefully arriving at my baby bro's house around tea time. ( Appelby Magna Derby )
To be continued:
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Our first obstacle after leaving the Nav's sister's house was negotiating a roundabout on the "Great North Road" (A1) before heading vaguely South West to pick up the Foss Way en route to Somerset. We seemed to sit in a queue for ages "giving way" as nose to tail lorries ( mostly ) trundled over the junction going North and South.
"Some people have to endure this every day of their lives" Sue commented.
The empty highland roads North of Inverness could have been on a different planet, it must have been the earliness of the hour that was making me wax Phil O'soffical, because before long we were off over the roundabout and making progress along some of the excellent English "B" roads that at times put the Scottish "A" roads to shame. Everyone down here seems to prefer the speed and convenience of dual carriage and motorway leaving these excellent routesrelatively traffic free.
As we proceeded some of the town names began stirring old memories of my early motorcycling days as a young airman, newly out of training, exploring the countryside around Brize Norton on my then "cutting edge" machine, a Honda CB 175 for which I was paying the enormous monthly hire purchase sum of £11.00 ! No test needed in those halcyon days, just a provisional licence and a set of L plates. Jeans, Levi jacket and helmet were the dress code of the day!
We received a call from Sue's cousin David to tell us he had got the afternoon off work and was heading for the RV on his Pan European, we set the Tesco car park in Stow to meet and he was to lead us to his mum's new house in Frome as neither Sue or I had visited her in the chez noueveau.
Coming to the end of the old Roman Foss way we entered the outskirts of Stow and admittedly I was dithering a bit as we came upon the superstore quicker than expected and missed the car park turn off. It was at this point the car driver felt justified in his TANGO WHISKEY ALPHA TANGO comment. After dragging him from his car and giving him a damn good thrashing ( in my mind ) we did a u turn and stopped in the car park of the store where "every little helps"
We chatted to a friendly local trolley collector who was also a member of the biking brother/sisterhood until David arrived scant minutes later, perfect timing!
We rode into the market place where parking on anything but two wheels would have been impossible and smugly reversed the bikes into a perfectly sized slot just outside a quaint "Olde Worlde" hostelery. After a quick look round we found a table out the back and refreshed ourselves with food and drink, the interior dining room being filled to capacity with a coach load of diners, dining as only OAPs can dine. ( Refer to Desmond Morris's " Life on Earth, Chapter 2, African veld, feeding frenzy ." )
Back on the road the weather was still hot, sunny and breezy. David rode with skill on roads familiar to him and I more or less kept up, well kept him in sight anyway. One fond memory is of a glorious overtake of at least ten vehicles stuck behind a tractor on a winding country road. Now who were the TWITS? ( Spelling changed to protect the innocent!)
We arrived at Aunt Lizbeths at 5.30pm, about 30 minutes ahead of our eta.
To be continued:
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Needless to say we shouldn't have been there! One wrong turn at a busy bypass roundabout had plunged us into the heaving city centre traffic, all of which knew exactly where it was going and which lane to be in!
This in stark contrast to the wilderness we had recently encountered, whilst performing possibly the slowest motorcycle crossing of the "Snake Pass" in the Peak district. The mandatory 50 mph limit, warnings of previously killed and injured bikers and my continued crap cornering technique kept us slow and safe!
We saw the bent steeple at Chesterfield, a sign for a pie shop in Melton Mowbray, got some good directions to my uncle's house from my cousin, who is an IAM observer for both bikes and cars, and spent an hour or so with them before cracking on and arriving at Corby Glen around 5pm.