Tuesday, 28 June 2011

E-bay, my friend

Ever since I got my driving licence, I've been mad about cars and bikes. My first love will always be hotrods/customs, followed by bikes. The idea of taking a car that you like the shape of, then fitting a modern powerful engine, uprating the brakes and suspension, re-doing the bodywork and paint until you end up with (hopefully) your perfect car has always seemed the ultimate combination of back-yard engineering (I can make a better car in my shed than a car manufacturer) and personal aesthetics (my colour scheme is better than the factory's). Of course there's always more failures than successes, witness small front-wheel drive hatchbacks fitted with giant wheels and lurid paintjobs, but that's down to experience and capability.

Anyway, one of the things that attracted me back to biking was the perception that it was much cheaper to modify or create a motorbike that more closely matched my ideals than it was with a car - a perception that has gradually turned into a misconception. Each bike I've owned has had (expensive) bits bolted to it and minor modifications made to try and make it a better fit to my needs. The latest bike is a perfect example - an e-bay "bargain", I knew it needed a couple of faults fixing. The brakes were the first problem to deal with; I bit the bullet and ordered an expensive brake upgrade kit, unfortunately they were out of stock, so I found an e-bay bike breaker who had a low-mileage Thunderbird. I bought  master cylinders and calipers front and back from them; fitted them and now the brakes work a bit better. I then fitted new fork seals, chain and sprockets, got new tyres, fitted another e-bay purchase of (newer) stainless exhaust down pipes, a chrome water pipe and a nice polished ally backrest.

So after a considerable outlay I now have...a standard bike. In fact, for the total amount I've spent, I could have bought an 'overpriced' perfect condition low-mileage model. Mind you, that probably says more about my naivety in buying off e-bay than anything else. Anyway, as I sent off payment for yet another shiny piece of metal today I realised...

Answers on a postcard, please.

                                                              Nice backrest
                                               New exhausts going blue already!
                         Lovely polished stainless dash plate - now I can see the warning lights.
Serengeti or Richmond park?

Health and Safety, wot 'ealth an' safety?

Thursday, 23 June 2011


Me and LF went to Hammersmith Apollo last night to a brilliant concert by Juan Luis Guerra, the place was heaving, it seemed as if every ex-pat South American in London was there. As soon as he played his first song, I got a terrific sense of deja vu (again) - the first song I learned the words to in Spanish was Burbujas De Amor  when I was working in the Venezuelan oilfields and wanted to impress the lovely brown-eyed waitress at the little shack we used for lunch down in Campo Boscan. Turns out I was a rich Gringo and only had to open my wallet for her to be impressed, but I was young(ish) and hadn't fathomed out why beautiful young women would want to be with ugly old men.

Anyway, back to the present and I have to say not only was it a great concert but there were more beautiful Latin women in Hammersmith last night - including of course LF in case she should read this - than I have seen for a long time (Mrs ex-El D No. 2 may even have been there, as she was also a fiery Latina with flashing brown eyes, if they had a seating area for psychotic manic-depressives).

Everyone was up dancing, and stayed that way all night. The years fell away, and I gyrated with LF, singing away at the top of my voice. This morning I woke up with a buzzing in my ears, both knees hurting like hell and a sore throat.....still got those memories though.

Monday, 13 June 2011


LF persuaded me to accompany her to Bulgaria to visit Perperikon, the "Macchu Pichu" Europe, allegedly. We saw trams and big buildings in Sofia; a big pile of rocks...sorry, an important Megalithic monument in Perperikon; some decidedly run-down houses in rural areas; and generally had an interesting 8 days driving around. Here's some snaps.

Oh, best sight in Sofia - leather-clad biker on Repsol-liveried Fireblade, no crash helmet, talking on mobile phone while one-handed weaving between traffic AND negotiating tramlines...respect!