Sunday, 17 December 2017

Hiking in the sun

Being here in Spain for winter has its advantages - apart from the obvious of avoiding that dreaded northern European winter (recently illustrated on Sonja's blog - picturesque but oh so cold!) it means hiking every day is possible. Determined to get my fitness to a decent level I've been exploring the various paths that lead up the mountain behind Marbella.

Path starts out nice and easy

 I usually do not see another soul on these hikes, but the other day I met a lovely couple, Dolores and Danny, mother and son. Danny confided in me that it was their first walk for 6 months as Dolores was recovering from breast cancer treatment. Dolores (who I'd estimate as being roughly my age) proudly showed me her hair was now growing back. They offered to show me a nice circular route; well it may have been Dolores first walk for 6 months but she was off up the hill like a mountain goat! Nice to share a walk with someone for a change.

Still flowers here
The next day I thought I'd try and walk another route up to La Concha; unfortunately I didn't make it to the top, but that's now given me something to aim for, going to keep trying till I can make it in one go. I must admit to feeling a bit handicapped by equipment - still using the hiking sandals I've had for a couple of years wasn't ideal, so I found a little hiking shop over in Malaga where I bought a nice pair of Salomon hiking shoes, and in a nod to my advanced age, a walking pole. Much better!

New boots and walking pole
 Yesterday I set off again on yet another path up towards the white village of Ojen, nice views along the coast in both directions and some clouds to add dramatic effect to my photos (well I'm trying). I even did a bit of rock scrambling to make it look like I'm working hard!

Looking west towards Gibralter

How far?

Trying to make it look difficult

I like solitude, but these people are taking it to extreme!

Tiny as my fingernail - but beautiful
 As usual, that peak of La Concha dominated the skyline, taunting me with my inability to get up there. One day!!!!
Ultimate destination - right hand peak

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Birmingham Bike show and more

Last week I braved the elements to venture North to the Birmingham Motorbike show - mainly as I had read so much about this years new bikes, and I was eager to see them in the metal, especially the new Kawasaki Z900rs and the 650 twin Royal Enfields. The Kawasaki looked pretty good so I'll take one for a test ride when they come out.
RE 650

New Z900rs

Z900 cafe racer

Ducati Desert Sled with 1 litre engine

New Triumph Tiger with TFT dash

New Triumph small cruiser

Triumph Bobber

Norton California

Proposed new Tenere


 And there's more .... last week I decided to escape the English winter, so I've rented myself a flat in Marbella, southern Spain for a couple of months. Its warmer, but not much - currently 14 degC - but blue skies make it a bit more bearable. Went for a hike up the mountain behind Marbella yesterday, 17km straight up to Ojen, reached altitude of 1238 metres!!! Having a rest today, completely knackered.

Saturday, 23 September 2017


So I realised a couple of days ago that this coming Sunday was the Distinguished Gentleman's ride, when, worldwide, bikers wheel out their classic bikes, put on their best period clothing and ride through the streets in aid of prostate cancer. Keen to take part I registered for the London ride, only to find out that my Tiger wasn't deemed a suitable steed. No problem, I could solve that by hiring a suitable bike for the weekend; in no time I'd found and collected a Triumph Bonneville from my local friendly hire shop (Superbike rental Brentwood-highly recommended), although the first bump in the road came when Mark the friendly owner asked what I was going to wear for the ride. Well, I do have an open-face helmet with multi-colour Union flag painted on that I've never worn so that's headgear sorted; as for the rest, well I threw away all my old clothes so would have to buy something suitable immediately.

The second bump in the road came when I rode the bike home - Bonnevilles are quite small bikes and I'm quite a big chap, I felt like an Elephant riding a moped! Got home with aching knees, hips and back and started to realise I wasn't going to enjoy spending all day on that bike. Then popped down the Triumph dealer to see what suitable clothing they might have; found a great Barbour jacket, but hang on it's £350! Some soul searching later and I came up with plan B - don't buy a jacket I'll never wear again, don't ride a bike that will cause me pain for days afterwards, just donate the money to charity and spend the day riding the Tiger instead.

So yet again a failure, although when I took the bonneville back they were quite understanding, and I did ride home the long way so had a nice couple of hours on the Tiger. Got home and made the donation; at least I've got the photo I took with the bike to remind me never to think about getting a classsic bike!

Thursday, 24 August 2017


I was due to go to Hanover for my 3 month's check-up; when I went to book the flight British Airways had doubled the cost! I had a look around, and discovered I could fly to Berlin and take a train to Hanover for less than the cost of flying direct, plus I could do a bit of sightseeing in Berlin on the way. Of course I then had the additional cost of a hotel in Berlin, but I've never pretended to be logical ;)

Anyway, the Wednesday lunchtime flight went fine, I found a nice hotel near the centre, dropped my bags and went out to eat. Luckily, Happy Cow showed a vegan vietnamese restaurant one block from my hotel, where I had a delicious bowl of noodle curry soup then retired to the hotel - oh and it was a pleasant 26degC much better than the cold and rain I'd left behind in London.

Next morning was bright and sunny so I got up early and went out for a walk to explore the town. First monument was the Jewish memorial, thousands of blocks in a random pattern.

Next stop the famous Brandenberger gate. I then crossed the road and walked through a park that had some more monuments - all of them on a very large scale.

 After walking around the park for a few hours I was getting peckish, so out came the Happy Cow app to find, yes, another vegan Vietnamese restaurant not far from the Jewish monument, so it was another delicious bowl of noodle curry soup.  On the way back to the hotel I stumbled upon a massive shopping mall so wandered in and was entertained by a group of locals trying to dance the tango in the central square. I spent an hour or so amusing myself watching them, then strolled back to the hotel where I had a nice early night.

Next morning I decided to try and find Checkpoint Charlie and some history of the wall; the weather wasn't so great but a pleasant walk downtown and I found the place, complete with a couple of embarrassed German 'performance artists' pretending to be US soldiers for the tourist cameras.

Adjacent to the checkpoint was an interesting little museum that had various videos and photos  that explained the history of the division of Berlin and subsequent events - most interesting and I spent a few hours there.
Section of wall

After leaving the checkpoint area I walked up towards the river, intending to visit some museums, but admit that on the way I came across a massive Volkswagen showroom - I hadn't realised that VW own Bugatti, Ducati, Bentley, Lamborghini amongst others, so spent a good hour kicking tyres and getting in and out of high-end vehicles I could never afford. Oh and I found a perfect replacement for the ailing engine in my Jeep ;)

By now it had started to rain, as I strolled back towards the hotel I came to Alexanderplatz, a square surrounded by shopping mall but with some kind of festival going on, so I spent the evening wandering around the food stalls sampling vegan snacks and listening to music. A pleasant evening then back late to the hotel and bed.

Saturday was my last full day in Berlin so I decided to visit the island on the river that has 5 museums; unfortunately being Saturday every other tourist in Berlin had the same idea! As I'm not good with crowds I just visited the beautiful cathedral, walked up to the viewing platform for stupendous views then down and away from the area.

Luckily I had kept in contact with a young lady I had met while hiking on the Canary Islands last year; Mara lives in Berlin so we had arranged to meet up on Saturday afternoon. She and boyfriend took me out for a vegan meal then we visited a few bars. They were nice, he was a bit intense, wanting to discuss politics so after a few orange juices I made my excuses and went back to the hotel and bed.

Sunday morning and time to catch the train to Hanover. Nice train, left on time (of course!!) and I had a pleasant 2 hour ride through the countryside to my destination. I'd had a great time in Berlin, now to settle down to a week's treatment at Dr Wolf's clinic.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Infinitely adjustable means infinite wrong positions ;)

Well this started off as a fairly boring post ("Hahaha - They're all boring you silly old git") discussing the problems I'm having getting my handlebar adjustment correct, but then as I went out for a ride to check the latest minute incremental adjustment I'd made, I came across a small car & bike show in a field in Billericay. Hoping against hope that I might bump into Tricky Dickie and his Cortina ## I braved the wet grass of the car park and had a quick look round.

Higher, comfy seat (with black cat)

Front tyre not knobbly

Rear tyre not knobbly

Infinitely adjustable bars......
Unfortunately it seemed as if a lot of people had left due to the thunderstorm I'd just ridden through (!), but there were still a few little gems scattered around.
Plastic 3-wheelers

And his stereo goes up to 11

Monster truck rides

Not sure about this?
 Got chatting to a custom bike fabricator, really impressed with his work, all his bikes looked as if you could actually ride them.
Nice little custom Harley

Custom originally an Aprilia RSV - nice fabricated forks

Bandit 600 with a twist

After an hour or so I'd seen everything twice, and could see another storm heading my way so I once again braved the wet grass ( well I have just changed the tyres from knobblies to street ) and set off home through the country lanes. A pleasant and unexpected little ride-out.

## Ian Dury & the blockheads 'new boots & panties' album track 5