Friday, 3 December 2010

A simpler life...

The ex-wife chose the perfect time to ask for more money to keep her in the manner to which she has become accustomed; just as I lose (well resign) my job and become homeless. Not to worry, I’ve sold the car and the bike and some odds-and-ends on e-bay and am living in a rented hovel so she’s satisfied - for now. Then I’m rescued from a life of dull boredom by my local council – over-60’s get a free bus pass! So now I can explore wherever I want and my meagre funds will last longer – today I caught the first bus that loomed out of the blizzard * and ended-up in Kingston-on-Thames; found a greasy spoon cafe with steamed-up windows and settled down at a table by the window with a mug of tea, good honest English tea, thick enough to stand your teaspoon up in, none of this Freetrade cappuccino and an organic brie-and-sundried tomatoes Panini’s no I want white bread and processed cheese if you don’t mind.

And the four young beautiful friendly Polish waitresses stand and chat in foreign tongue while I read this week’s MotorCycle News front-to-back and then a chapter from my latest discovery from that chest I found in my 90 year-old well 89 ½ Mum’s attic, me and my dear departed brother Dave stashed all our hot-rod books and magazines up there sometime in the ‘70’s when we got sidetracked by families from building cars, and I rediscovered the box a couple of months ago so today I’m reading ’32 Ford the Deuce by Tony Thacker and marvelling at Henry Ford’s vision. After a few hours I slide on icy paths back to the bus stop and make my way slowly home, i-pod earphones concealed under woolly hat ‘cos I’m sure over-60’s probably aren’t allowed to listen to 70’s subversive songs ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ and ‘Street fightin’ man’ while on free transport, back to the hovel where I fall asleep after listening to ‘in the arms of the angel’ that still makes the hair on my arms stand on end and dreaming of the Bonneville with big engine and polished ally guards that I’ll maybe build when I ever get a job again........ah, the simple life.

*Earlist snowfall for 20 years, Britain at standstill.

Friday, 8 October 2010

On the road again.....

Aparently, the whole of Britain is basking in an Indian summer this weekend, apart from the NE of Scotland which is buried under a layer of cold damp fog. I'm too busy packing my belongings into my car and getting ready to leave to mind about it. I've booked a transport company to collect the bike and take it down to London while I drive the car with all my wordly goods in it. I resigned from my job without another one to go to, or anywhere to live - El D you must be crazy I hear you say - well I love Scotland and the beautiful biking roads up here but I got bored just working and living alone. El D junior has kindly offered his spare bedroom for a short time while I decide on the next move, and I remember there are some nice winding lanes in Surrey suitable for biking we go again.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

A wee joke just for HWL and Nikos


Police in Manchester last night announced the discovery of an arms cache of 2,000 semi-automatic rifles with 250,000 rounds of ammunition, 10 anti-tank missiles, 4 grenade launchers, 20 tonnes of heroin, £50 million in forged UK banknotes and 25 trafficked Ukrainian prostitutes, all in a semi-detached house behind the Public Library in Moss Side. Local residents were stunned.
A community spokesman said: "We're deeply shocked. We never knew we had a library!"

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Unrequited love finally....err....requited

As an eleven-year old schoolboy I fell in love with the new E-type Jaguar. Over the years I lusted after one, but somehow it never happened. Now, 50 years later, I finally admitted that I'm never going to buy one so I decided to treat myself and hired one for a long weekend. I persuaded a lady friend to accompany me with the promise of a tour of the leafy lanes of the south of England and a couple of nights away in historic old hotels. Friday we collected the car, a 1969 series 2 convertible in red, from central London under blue skies and unseasonable warmth. Unfortunately for us the Pope had decided to visit London that day so the whole of central London was gridlocked - it took 2 hours to travel the length of Euston road and Baker street. This did however give us a taste of things to come - virtually every other car driver and most pedestrians looked, waved and shouted approval as we crept past them, top down in the sun. I felt like a millionaire pop star; men admired me, women desired me, children wanted to be me. Of course LF reminded me it wasn't my car and burst that little fantasy bubble, but the grin didn't leave my face for the whole four days.

Friday night we stayed at an old coaching inn in Farnham in Surrey, having spent a very pleasant afternoon cruising around the Surrey country lanes.Saturday morning we set off early with no particular plan in mind.

We gradually noticed an unusual number of classic cars seemed to be heading south, so we tagged along. We then realised it was the weekend of the Goodwood revival, held at the old Goodwood racing circuit. Old racing cars and a retro theme to the weeknd meant thousands of classic cars, bikes, and buses with many of the owners dressed appropriate to the age of their vehicle in that way only middle-class English can. Unfortunately I'd left my flares and cuban heels back home, so we parked in the public car park then spent the day admiring the show.

Saturday night we stayed in Salisbury in a nice 4 star hotel, had a great Thai meal in the evening then a hearty full English breakfast the next day before setting off. Driving the E-type was pretty much how I imagined it, loads of smooth power in a rattly old body - it still looked stunning though; every time I got out I had to stop and admire her. LF had made me promise to take her to some 'sacred sites' as part of the deal of accompanying and old man and his fantasy, so Sunday saw us wend our way across to Stonehenge, the visit to which was quickly despatched as the public are no longer allowed near the stones in case they get damaged - a bit different from my first trip there in the 60's with a bunch of hippies celebrating the summer solstice...lots of prancing around and smoking big spliffs as I distantly recall...

Quickly on to Avebury, which is a whole lot more impressive in scale.There was even a bunch of hippies, or New Agers or whatever they call themselves drumming and hugging the stones - groovy, man.

A nice lunch then spent the whole afternoon happily driving across to Glastonbury. I still had the stupid grin on my face, although LF was flagging a little with being windswept and deafened; she actually asked why I hadn't put the radio on all weekend which gave me the no-excuse-needed opportunity to change down and blip the throttle yet again and say " why do we need the radio when we have that lovely noise?" I'm not sure but I think I heard the word 'childish'  float away in the deafening roar of the engine and wind. We had a quick whisk around the town then a huge vegan macrobiotic meal in a hippy-dippy cafe. Monday was spent driving back to London, top-down in the sun.

So that was it, a long-held childhood fantasy finally realised - which was pretty good, as my other fantasies were to go to bed with Marilyn Monroe and spent a night out drinking with James Hunt neither of which could happen anyway. So, as Meatloaf could have sung, 'one out of three ain't bad'.
Next week - walking on the moon with Buzz Aldrin and partying in a French chateau with Keith Richard.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Just a perfect day.....

I had just the best day - flew to Paris to get a couple of fingers straightened (damn this Dupytrens disease) landed to warmth 23 degC clear blue sky Man this is better than Aberdeen! Took the Metro to the restaurant where an old friend Frank from Valencia is working as a chef had a fabulous meal sitting at a sidewalk table in the sun, then left and strolled down towards Bastille Metro and entered MAN HEAVEN, first there's a little shop with a custom chopper in the window next to a 70's Triumph Bonneville and a BSA Lightening all for sale, then I realised almost every shop was selling bikes, everything from Honda through Harley to Triumph. It took me nearly an hour to visit them all then just when I'd finished, here's a row of secondhand camera shops full of black anodised shiny lenses and camera bodies and all the time there's bikes cruising up and down the boulevard, pretty pillion passengers flashing brown legs in the sun.....

Finally made it to Place D'Italie, still a bit early so I sat in front of the fountain in the sun chilled out read a classic bike magazine and joined in with the people-watching, drank a coffee that didn't taste like dishwater and just wished the day could last forever. But it didn't. And I got home and realised I'd been so excited I forgot to take and photos except these two, so you'll have to imagine the rest. Sorry.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Best laid plans.....

Funny how plans go wrong - I had the weekend all planned-out; Saturday I was going to ride down to Edinburgh, visit the Harley dealer then catch a couple of comedy acts at the fringe, maybe stay in a nice I set off from Aberdeen in the rain, sat bored on the dual-carriageway down to Dundee avoiding the tourist caravans and spotting speed cameras - 10 fixed, 2 mobile vans and SIX police motorbikes in a 60 mile stretch seemed excessive. I stopped at the BMW dealer there to examine the range, but he only had 4 different bikes, so I went and got a cup of coffee, watched the rain chucking it down and decided to go home instead.

Sunday morning dawned dry, if cloudy, so, refreshed from 14 hours sleep I rode up north, across the Grampians to the north coast at Forres. On the way I spotted a sign for a vintage vehicle rally at Brodie castle, so after a quick lunch break at Findhorn village I made my way there.. Brilliant...the sun was shining, crowds of people quietly enjoying themselves and some cracking cars and bikes.

There were plenty of old British sports cars, and loads of 50's and 60's MGB's, Bristols, AC's, Jaguars etc. I also spotted an orange Sunbeam Rapier Holbay, probably the only one not rusted away; and 2 Hillman Avenger Tigers, again probably the only 2 left!

Lots of nice bikes - I've added a few photos; especially liked the vintage cycle with the engine attached on its own little wheel.

After spending a pleasant few hours I rode back home at an utterly ridiculous speed, got home knackered but very happy, and glad that plans don't always work out as I had the MOST enjoyable day today!!!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Nice screen.....

This photo shows the recent mods I've made to the bike. Most obvious is the MRA screen, the little aeorofoil on the top can be adjusted to divert windblast over the riders head; unfortunately due to this riders abnormal body shape the windblast now hits smack on the bottom of my crash helmet, still, thats better than the original screen which put the blast on my chest and gave me a permanent sore throat. Then there's the handguards which do well at protecting my arthritic fingers from chilly early-morning windblast; and finally you may see the bar risers I fitted to give me a more upright riding position, thus relieving my permanent back-ache. Result!

I'm also celebrating today as I heard that I've finally obtained the University degree I've been studying for part-time for the last 7 years. I'm off tomorrow to buy a white lab-coat, some test tubes and a bunsen burner to start experiments in the garage; meantime I did consider going to the local drinking establishment and getting well oiled, but as that would probably lead to months of binge drinking and pain I decided instead to sit in and watch a re-run of American Chopper with a 12" pizza and a carton of - it says here on the box - truly irresistable triple chocolate cookies coated in indulgent Belgian chocolate with milk, dark and white chocolate chunks. Yummy.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Front-wheel drive bike spotted near pink castle

Spotted some different stuff while out riding yesterday.

Not sure how this handles round bends
Freshly-painted pink castle

Not sure when the invasion started

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Touring envy

I had a great ride into work this morning - at 6.30 am on a Saturday there were no cars bumbling along the country lanes at 40 mph...heaven. To add to the enjoyment it was a beautiful morning, the sun was shining, mist on the fields, just one of those days when it was all perfect. It only took 20 mins to do the 25 mile ride from Banchory into the city so it was a contented El D that arrived at the office to find no-one else was working today! Excellent; I spent the early morning catching up on all the other bike-related blogs, especially enjoying the photos from foreign parts. I really am envious of all the bikers who seem to think nothing of setting off on days or weeks of touring - a two hours ride and I'm knackered. Maybe one the meantime I've got a valve schedule to finish today (yawn) before I get to ride the long way home.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Keep control of those thoughts or you'll fall off......

I popped round to see Derek after work today; his R1 is in bits in the garage due to a siezed exhaust valve and the track bike looks like it exploded, so there were lots of pieces of metal to pick up and examine closely while exclaiming bloody hell and suchlike.. As we were chatting, he noticed my bike still had the removable baffle in the Scorpion can, so quicker than I could say anything he had the baffle out and the bike revving its nuts off. During the ride home I realised that it was now possibly much, much faster but definitely much louder. I was trying to come up with a comparison for the noise, you know, WWII airplane or something mechanical when it dawned on me that it sounded like a big fat lady who'd had baked beans for breakfast letting off a fart just as she was getting out of a wetsuit.

I spent the whole ride home wobbling about as I kept laughing at that mental picture which of course got more and more ridiculous with each mile. 

Monday, 12 July 2010

Essex girls

I'd been checking the weather forecast for the weekend - there was a 30 deg heatwave! forecast for London and the south-east of England, gales and heavy rain for the north-east of Scotland; seemed like a perfect time to pay a long-overdue visit to my 89 year-old Mum.A quick phone call to her  to make arrangements elicited the response that she was going to a "celebration of Essex Girls "on the Saturday. Now here I must declare that I don't understand the fuss made regarding  the sexist stereotype of Essex girls as promoted by comedians and the gutter press - they are portrayed as blonde bimbos with fake tans, large breasts and an easy attitude to sex. Having spent some of my teenage years living in Essex, I certainly never met anyone like that...unfortunately!

So I hatched a plan to fly down to London Friday night, hire a car and spend time with the Essex girls.I managed to find an internet deal on accomodation; Friday night found me relaxing in a Sheraton 4 star hotel for the princely sum of £44 - result! I picked up the car, a mercedes AMG sport which cost several times more than the hotel room, but had excellent air-conditioning and a fancy flappy-paddle gearbox controlled from the steering wheel. Not that it mattered how quickly the thing changed gear, I spent most of the weekend creeping around in traffic bloody hell it was murder no matter where I went.

First thing Saturday morning I headed for Jack Lilley's Triumph dealership, they do custom Triumph bikes and I was curious to see what they had, At the entrance was a huge Rocket 3 in black with all sorts of extra bits on it, it looked EVIL but extremely HUGE. They also had a custom Thunderbird, but not unfortunately the Steve Mcqueen great escape Scrambler. Next stop was to be the Victory showroom, but some time spent in traffic jams and 30 degree heat made me decide to turn around , head for the M25 motorway and zip round to South London to see my daughter - unfortunately the Blackwall tunnel was closed for repair, so the whole south-east corner of London, Kent and Essex was at a standstill! So I aborted that idea and headed straight to Chelmsford in deepest Essex.

The Essex Girl celebration was taking place in Hylands house, a stately home set in parkland. First suprise was how brown and scorched everything looked, it looked more like Arizona than Essex, and felt just as hot.The celebration was intended to show that Essex women did not conform to their stereotype, but were capable intelligent women. My Mum was there because in 1932 she joined a band called the Dagenham Girl Pipers, an all-girl bagpipe band that travelled the country entertaining; they also travelled to the USA early in WWII, Sweden in the 50's. Of course now the band members are all in their 70's & 80's, but were a sprightly bunch.

I wandered around the grounds enjoying the heat and sunshine, visiting the various stalls set up to demonstrate the capabilities of Essex girls. Thats where I met my first female Police motorcyclist - we had a chat and I must admit to being stricken...arrest me, arrest me!...but was politely rebuffed and wandered away, disconsolate. Spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the sun and chilling out with 3 Essex girls in their 80's, Mum and two Aunties. Sweet.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A walk up the hill...what, with those legs?

For some reason that now escapes me, I agreed to walk up Ben Nevis; not for charity, just for a walk. It wasn't too bad going up, took about 31/2 hours. It was a bit foggy and cold up top, then while we were tucking into our sandwiches the cloud cleared and we got some amazing views.

Coming back down knackered my old knees even more; the guys in the office tell me I look quite comical trying to lift my leg over the bike. Good day out though.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Bugger, that was embarrasing.....

.......and painful too. I pulled up outside my flat, kicked the sidestand down, swung my leg over and off the bike and watched in amazement as my new bike toppled ever-so-slowly off the stand and on to my foot. I couldn't get my foot out as it was trapped between the bike and the kerb, and I couldn't lift it up as I was (a) twisted at a funny angle and (b) lacked the strength to pick it up. As I gazed around I was hoping that none of the neighbours had seen me, but also hoped someone would walk by and help me with the bike.

Luckily my new/old ladyfriend is visiting at the moment, and after an agonislingly long time (funny how time slows down when you're in an embarrasing situation) she glanced out of the window and saw me. Another few minutes passed while we exchanged gestures (!) until she came out and helped me pick it up. So now I'm in the situation where she thinks I'm incapable of riding my bike, my foot hurts so I am incapable of riding my bike plus I daren't talk to any of my neighbours in case they saw what happened and take the piss out of me. Ah, the life of an elderly biker!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

A historical weekend......

I've just spent a few non-biking days in the south of England. I flew down to London on Thursday to see Eric Clapton in concert with Steve Winwood.  I wasn't too sure how the concert would go, not being a great fan of Steve Winwood; a first glance around the audience revealed more nose and ear-hair than flowing locks.... so thats an average age of 60 then - but as usual Ol' Slowhand managed to lift every song with a guitar solo in the middle;and  the whole band excelled themselves with a version of Voodoo Child with the volume turned up to eleven - a good evening!

I was staying with number one son, but he flew off to Florida on a golfing holiday so that was me at a bit of a loose end on the hottest weekend of the year (so far). Luckily I bumped into an old lady friend, who mentioned that she'd never been to Kent (!). A quick glance at the atlas showed it was just a short train ride away, so off we went to

First stop was Rochester to explore the cathedral built in 604AD which seems pretty old, then the adjoining castle which looks a bit second-hand after King John tried to knock it down just after signing the Magna Carta.

That's the great thing about exploring England, everything is so old we talk about it as if it just happened last week, must be the influence of all the old Hollywood movies. Anyway, for some reason which now escapes me, we decided to walk to Canterbury cathedral along the Pilgrims way. As it was 45 miles away I had a suspicion we wouldn't make it, but who's going to argue with a woman? After a few miles we came upon an ancient burial tomb approximately 4000 years old called Kits Coty; it was once inside a burial mound but sometime in the past had been uncovered. 4000 years old and no-one had stolen the fence!

We carried on in the glorious blazing sun through the picturesque Kent countryside for the rest of the afternoon, but by the time we reached Maidstone, which is only 10 miles from Rochester, it was pretty clear we weren't going to make Canterbury any time in the next few days, plus my feet were killing me! So we stopped the night in an old coaching inn - which sounds quite romantic, except they had a 70's disco that night with a very average DJ and what must have been a huge bank of speakers 'cos it was louder than Eric and Steve the other night.

After a sleepless night we abandoned any idea of walking, and caught a train and bus through more quaint villages to Canterbury. Another glorious sunny day spent wandering around the old medieval cathedral and town - it really is amazing how many ancient buildings are still standing there.

Then to round off a perfect day, we came across a student concert in the park, lots of trance music and illegal substances in evidence - great stuff! Eventually we floated away and caught a train back to London tired, dirty but happy. I then spent Monday sunbathing in Richmond park before flying back to Aberdeen today, refreshed, sunburnt and ready to put some miles on that new bike.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

not another impulse buy......?

....'fraid so. Collected it this morning from my friendly motorcycle shop; they took the BMW in part-exchange, and everyone there told me I must be crazy. I decided to ride for a bit to get some miles on her (ooh, slip of the tongue there - must be careful, I'll be naming, so I did  my usual circuit along Royal Deeside to Ballater, up over the Grampian mountains to Grantown-on-spey, on up to the North-east coast with a stop for coffee and cake at Findhorn, back via Dufftown and Tarland. 250 miles seemed enough to scrub in the tyres and run her in a bit. It was also enough time for me to reflect on my biking. Is it the bike that's important, or is it the journey?

Well this bike is certainly more uncomfortable than the BMW; I've got aching wrists and knees and 'man's parts', but I've also got a grin a mile wide I can't wipe off my face.For me, there's something about smooth, instant power as soon as I twist the throttle that makes up for all the disadvantages - call me immature if you wish, but it's the buzz that makes me happy. Oh don't get the idea this is some kind of superbike and I like to emulate a racer - at my age and with my failing eyesight a moped would probably be fast enough - but I  manage to go fast enough to scare myself!

Monday, 10 May 2010

another slice please

I stopped eating cooked food when my pal Del died; it wasn't really a concious decision, I just couldn't be bothered cooking. So I just ate fruit. That was 5 weeks ago. I lost 2 stone, a couple of chins and a considerable number of inches off my waistline with no apparent bad effects. No hunger pangs, no cravings. Then yesterday while out riding I stopped in a cafe and had a coffee and a slice of chocolate cake. Since then I haven't stopped eating - cakes, crisps, sandwiches, a couple of chocolate bars and now I'm sitting down to a light snack of a 12" pizza and a plate of potatoes finished off with a chocolate brownie. Guess I was hungry after all!

By the way, it's the 10th May, and it's been snowing all day today. How did we get conned into believing that global warming crap? More like a new ice-age beginning.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

A Classic sunny Sunday

Meeting at 10am at the Feughside Inn, south Deeside, saw a nice collection of classic bikes set off for a ride through the countryside. Warm and sunny, the sight, sound and smells of these classic bikes being used was a perfect antidote to woes and worries of this modern life.