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Call the Coastguard -part one

‘Call the Coastguard’ – a strange title for wedded bliss – but – let’s see where we’re going with this.

We have to start somewhere – so how about we start with a bit of trepidation in the Oban Perle hotel room where the bride-to-be has been conducting her final preparations with the ‘help’ of daughter Lauren – matchmaker Wendy and best friend Tracey under the watchful eye of Diane – hairdresser extra-ordinaire.

Trepidation in spades —

No worries – with a hop and a skip Helen was soon at the Registrars office where Callum – her personal piper piped her in (try saying that round a hot choriso sandwich) —

There after a touching ceremony conducted by the Assistant Registrar Fiona she signed the register with her customary flourish —

With 135 years of life and over 60 years previous experience of marriage between us some may say we must be gluttons for punishment but love is love whether you are sixteen or sixty and we would be fools to let it pass us by.

Formalities over it was time to hit the street where we posed with piper Callum —

He had just experienced his own brush with officialdom when a young embarrassed police constable was sent from the Sherrif Court across the street with a message from the magistrate conducting a case there to ‘stop that bloody row!’ Apparently we were ‘infringing the accused’s ‘uman right’s’ as he couldn’t hear what was being said during the procceedings.

After ignoring the first missive a second request was carried to us in the form of a ‘Court Order’ so it was time for a few more photos on the steps —

Jaxson wasn’t impressed and he has probably gone off the polis for life. Time to go before we were all put in a cell for the night.

Callum had a good head of steam by this time – no doubt brought on by the unexpected intrusion of the law and set off down the street blowing fit to burst. We followed the skirling pipes acknowledging the surprised greetings of passer’s by with smiles and stately bows —

In no time at all Callum had us at the local fish and chip shop where we were to have our celebration lunch —

But not before a blushing piper got his just reward —

Ok – time for food and to meet the rest of our guests—

Orders taken – cuffs and ties undone —

Kirsty – one of our guests from the island had brought her guitar and sang our choice of song beautifully —

If you know the words of ‘Always a Woman to Me’ by Billy Joel you will know that it gave our Wedding Song some added flavour.

Main courses out of the way – flowers and favours admired —

it was time for the wedding cake which had been carefully baked and beautifully presented by our friend Mary in the Hat —

The flowers were nicked on the Isle of Luing from Jane MacLachlan’s garden – and believe it or not – they matched the stripes in my ‘Guard’s tie —

Cake cutting ceremony was accomplished with no blood being spilled —

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

coffee n cake duly demolished –

it was time to say our goodbyes and nip round the corner to the harbour for the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to the Isle of Mull for our short honeymoon.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2017 in Isle of Luing, out and about

 

Pan Euro to get a Chance to Shine on the NC500

With that good allrounder – the Tenere XT660Z once again Sorned as a result of the CRF 250 RAL taking over local and off-road duties – the ST1100 Pan European will get another chance to shine on the serious stuff.

Who knows – it might cover itself in glory on the NC500 this summer if we can string a few dry days together.

Yes my long distance rides in any weather are probably a thing of the past.

But I haveย suggested to H that we look at heading up there this summer – should we get one – and the rider stays fit.

Shouldn’t be a problem really as I did it clockwise as far as Bettyhill back in 1995 on my BMW 1100GS.

Now there was a bike for any occasion – she could tour two-up complete with the kitchen sink on the back – plus –ย give a good account of herself while scaring punters on their new Fireblades as she scraped her pots round the Isle of Man TTย course on Mad Sunday.

I seem to remember clocking up 42000 miles in her first year including an all-time high when I galloped her down a dried up river bed in Andalucia – stood on the pegs – whooping like a wild thing with 100mph showing on the speedo. Judging by that sheepskin on the seat I was bothered with a sore butt way back then too. For once I couldn’t argue with the dealers when I tried to trade the GS in the following summer. Their standard pitch – ‘but your BMW is above average mileage sir’ had a ring of truth in it ๐Ÿ™‚

 

No worries — if there’s one thing the Pan has it’s a comfy seat —

After all – it isย why I bought her in the first place ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Honda ST1100 Pan European – leccie fault

My very low mileage 1995 ST1100 had an obscure electrical problem when I bought her two or three years ago and they have come to the fore on a few occasions since.

She looks good and generally is good but occasionally refused to recognise that I had pressed the starter button. The supplying dealer’s answer was to throw a new battery at it – and it helped – but not forever. Last time I was on the ferry with her I had to suffer the ignominy of being pushed off and bump starting her down the ramp. That was on the awkward Grey Dog where a reverse gear would have been useful.

So – it was a relief to see that our regular ferry – the drive on – drive off Belnahua was back in action after a three week sabbatical while it underwent it’s annual service. She is at the North Cuan jetty across the water but will be over in a few minutes. The little motorboat passing down the sound is our Passengers Only ferry for Sundays and evenings. Looks like it’s heading for Easdale where they have a similar ferry. They can be temperamental little things and often break down.

No worries – there was no pushing heavy Pan Euro today – my time spent on battery maintenance seemed to have done the trick – sort of. My multi-meter still showed an unexplained voltage drop when I switched the headlights on even with the battery charger connected. My friend Ali at West Coast Motorcycles in Oban had his theories and I had mine. I saw it as a cheap fix – if we could find the obscure fault – which could take hours on a Pan with so much bodywork to remove.

I thought I was dropping into WCM on a social visit with thoughts of blagging a cuppa before heading for the return ferry with my panniers laden with cat food. Before I could greet Big Ali with the magic words – ‘how’s it gawnn Big Man?’ he had the sidepanels off the Pan and was playing tunes on his own multi-meter in the wiring. Frighteners were thrown around like ‘700 quid for a new alternator’ or ’70 -90 quid for a pattern rectifier’. Hell doesn’t he know I’m getting married next week and all those fish suppers at the prosecco lunch will cost a lot.

Thankfully – after much head scratching and beard pulling the main items were passed as fit for service leaving thoughts of a wiring fault as being the culprit.

And there they were – a hidden bunch of connectors that had been subject to a botched wiring repair leading to overheating ย long before the Pan came into my life.

In the time it took me to dander round to Tesco Hole-in-the-Wall for some folding stuff Ali had renewed all the connectors and pronounced himself satisfied the job was a good ”un.

As for me – I was more than happy that the wedding will still be on without having to tell H that prosecco is off the menu as Ali’s bill for the electrical repair on the Pan was well below what I expected for the work ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

Yamaha Tenere XT660Z

My Tall Ten has seen a fair bit of competition for her place in the stable come and go since I bought her new in Feb ’09 and up until now she has remained my ‘go to’ bike when a choice had to be made ย —

No doubt her nose has been put out of joint with the arrival of the ‘bright young thing’ in the shape of the Honda CRF 250RAL – after all the Tall Ten has shared many an Adventure with me – some good – some bad.

Late winter snow on the ride home from Braemar —

It wasn’t too bad although the road over the Lecht was blocked and Landrovers were the favourite form of transport —

Cruising on the German autobahns on my way to the Balkans was restricted to 108mph til I pulled into a service station and got busy with my Swiss Army knife.

A spot of ‘fine tuning’ saw me cut through the 90 degree bend on the airbox intake allowing me to do the following couple of hundred miles at 113mph. Seemed important at the time – makes me shake my head now ๐Ÿ™‚

Long 4-500 mile days across Europe in the unforgiving saddle eventually put me in hospital — enduring 14 days torrential rain on an autumn tour of the Outer Hebrides was the last straw and the subsequent botched operation on my ass put an end to my long-distance motorcycle touring.

Daytrips became the norm with lots of time for posing —

Although somewhere along the line the Ten and I did visit the Isle of Tiree and played on the white sands —

It was the greatest feeling on earth to be setting out for an early ferry with the panniers full and very little set agenda – it appealed to the gypsy in me —

I’m supposed to be selling that big blue bike to make room for the CRF but somehow I can’t see it happening —

Horses for courses —

It will take at least two bikes to replace the Tall Tenere ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Never a Driech Day with the CRF 250RL

Driech – if there was ever a word to describe a wet June day on the west of Scotland it is that fine old Scottish word ‘driech’. Best analogy I can make for those down south is to imagine Theresa May’s face when she had the recent election results relayed to her – bet it was even worse than Nicola Sturgeon’s..

Best thing Theresa could have done was to take a few days off – summon up a CRF 250RL from somewhere and head for the wilds.

For if ever there was a bike to brighten up your day it’s the honest little CRF.

Prior to taking delivery I had my doubts if I could live with her gaudy colours but in actual fact I don’t see them from the seat. On the trail I am too busy praying I stay on the thing and picking my route while on the road I am happy that even the most myopic of drivers will see the bike.

 

Although I’m not so sure about her from head-on – it will probably send small children screaming for their mammy —

 

If all else fails I can always use the advice I received from my Nigerian driver back in the day —

‘Give him hooter Master! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

CRF 250 Rally – More Angles

Have turned up a few more – hopefully unused – pics from my foray’s on the little Honda. This first one indicates just how well made and finished the new model is —

Not in the same heavyweight league as the Connel Bridge perhaps but that was built in a different era.

The bungee fixings keep my Givi tailpack secure.

Most of the time.

If there is a part built down to a price it’s the handlebars with their welded cross-brace which is a shame because it’s the first thing you notice when you climb on the CRF. The bars don’t do the rest of the bike justice but the tidy wiring and well clipped brake hoses will stop it being a straightforward job to replace them with something that suits me better.

Not enough to condemn the whole bike tho’ I do remember spending a day hunting around Switzerland for a pair of Renthals that would make touring easier on my XJR1300 – a four thousand mile round trip is a long way to carry a crick in your neck.

On the other hand the mirrors are as good as anything I’ve had on previous bikes and if they escape damage on my off-road excursions they could be on there for a while.

Sidestands can often be a source of aggro – especially on dual purpose bikes with their long-travel suspension but it’s hard to see how this one could be any better. It just needs a watchful eye for ground levels when choosing a parking spot.

Like jeans – riders come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Oops! – Sorry missus.

Some bikes fit —

Some don’t.

But they can all make me smile ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Honda CRF 250’s First Adventure

This is her first adventure off the island if we don’t count a day trip into town to measure up her worth on the open road – where – much to my relief – she did well enough for a 250cc dual purpose bike even at this early ‘running in’ stage.

The CRF has already proven her worth on our current ferry – the Grey Dog – which measures about one car in width and three in length. Cars drive on and reverse off when they reach t’other side – some with greater difficulty than others.

Having to wrestle my tall Tenere or the heavyweight Pan European round in their own length so that I could ride off the boat was in danger of giving me a hernia – something I didn’t want with my wedding coming off in two weeks time –ย Helen would not be amused!

No worries – the lightweight CRF 250 Rally can spin around on the ferry in it’s own length and be off down the road like a whippet after a hare while the car drivers are still looking for reverse gear.

Over a coffee and breakfast bun in town this morning I was able to catch up with news in the MCN of the TT races currently running on the Isle of Man before heading north over Connel Bridge —

I remember that bridge when it carried a single lane for motor transport and a railway line along side it. The single line to Fort William is no more leaving a single lane and a safe pavement for walkers.

This is what happens to the ‘safe’ walkers when they stray into the woods on the far side. They are de-bagged – their jeans stuffed with compost and flowers planted in them. I’ve heard a few stories about the strange habits of North Connel residents but never came across this one til today.

Best keep the wheels turning – I’m gone – to quieter places. Just up the road I found a natural water feature as the burn emerged from under the road —

No doubt all that rushing water will have the same effect on you as it did on me and it was quite a relief to find a deserted spot for a break on the dirt track byย Loch Etive —

The hills in the distance are overlooking the wilderness of Rannoch Moor where I rode a 197cc Seeley Honda in trials during a previous life —

Fantastic views and the CRF does look tidy in this setting —

Not another soul around —

just hills – trees and more water tumbling down the rocky hillside as I head for Barcaldine —

Time for some wildlife to get in on the act – first off – some long-horned hieland coo’s —

Well worth another shot —-

Helen and I have been trying hard to find a cattery to take Seamus for a few days after our wedding but they are in short supply in this part of the world so when I spotted this sign on the side of a dirt road heading off into the forest I thought my luck was in —

Two cedars —

three gates —

and a stunning bunch of ponies —

later —

on the cracking cross country route – (I love you too honey) —

I pitched up at the best cattery cum kennels in the world set in the middle of the forest – only to find it completely booked for our dates.

No worries – we will sort something out for Seamus and Sid —

and in the meantime the wee Honda and I are getting on just fine ๐Ÿ™‚

 

CRF250 Rally Get’s Wet

Doesn’t seem to make any difference to the wee bike – wet or dry she carries on regardless —

and I didn’t feel the need to ford the pond to test my theory – there’s a ferry for that sort of thing.

Besides – the biggest lobster pond in the UK is over there on the island and by all accounts it’s guarded by gentlemen who were once employed by the SAS.

Best to stay on this side and point the camera somewhere else —

That will be Isle of Mull in the distance but there’s a lot of sea between here and there and even a trip to Belnahua via Fladda Lighthouse would mean getting the feet wet. Yes the days when I thought I could walk on water are long gone —

Nice to be out and about tho’ – here we are at the other side of the island – on the quay at Toberonochy —

Looks like the wee Honda has given my dodgy knees a new lease of life. I find getting around on her much easier than hirpling over the hill with the help of two poles.

The lobster pond isn’t the only thing around here that’s well protected – back home the Bardrishaig Spuds have their own Home Guard behind the gate ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Honda CRF250 Rally Trick Bits

The recently aquired CRF250 Rally came with some good bits as standard fitments.

Her close ratio six speed box lets you make the most of the 250cc’s both on and offroad with no noticeable steps between each gear —

The wide footpegs come as standard too and the dinky little gear lever with the spring-loaded toe-piece does it’s job just fine even with size 11 riding boots.

The chunky – grippy off-road tyres came on the bike and are easy to live with both on and off-road —

Unlike most road going bikes this one has a handbook that expects you to ride offroad and actually covers that aspect.

ABS is switchable on the rear —

and the wavy discs aren’t in the least fierce overall – needing a good firm pull on the lever to haul her down from road-going speeds.

Bringing her out with this well made alloy swingarm and chain/sprocket guide shows that Honda expect this bike to be taken offroad and with the long-travel suspension demanding 40-60 mm slack in the chain the robust guide should help prevent the chain being de-railed when the rocks start flying —

I’m impressed with the suspension – the rear shock feels plush and does it’s job really well with my 15-16 stone riding weight aboard and the front end felt quite planted on the road even with the dirt biased front tyre —

The cockpit appears to be a busy place but everything falls readily to hand on the ride – lack of gear indicator is noticeable by it’s absence but she does have a digital clock to make up for it —

Radiator is tucked well out of the way where hopefully it will remain safe – and – with luck the rider will stay safe too as it’s twenty years since he spent his ‘Every Sunday’ riding the testing Welsh mountain tracks and even more water has flowed under the bridge since he was riding trials on a regular basis —

Yet – he gave into temptation yesterday and took her over the hill for a nervous spin —

But there was no sign of nerves when he took her up our rough farm track on the back wheel in places on the way home.

Magic! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Honda CRF250 Rally Owner’s Club

I got tired of looking out the window for passing ships —

and sitting under a tree at the bottom of the garden reading a magazine —

So – when the opportunity arose to get my hands on the new CRF250 Rally I was right there —

She is a little beauty – especially now that I have her singing her throaty song on the Isle of Luing —

With lots of nice touches – she is much better than I expected —

Suspension feels plush —

Her six speed box has a gear for every occasion both off and on road where 6000 rpm in 6th gear equates to 60 mph and without a motorway within 100 miles we should get along just fine —

 

Possibly first on the road in the country as the Rally has yet to be officially released for sale in the UK – she won’t have anything like the poke of the Dakar racing 400cc version she is cloned from – but she’s sweet and should suit my old bones just fine —

thank you Mr Honda ๐Ÿ™‚