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Good Bye Old Friend – Tenere Bites the Dust

I didn’t think this day would come – but – through gritted teeth –

I’ve sold the Tall Tenere —

She is still the same bike she always was – tough – dependable – would fight her way through the Frankfurt 80-100mph ‘rush hour’ with the bit between her teeth in torrential rain at the end of a 100mph/400 mile day and gallop solo or bimble two up through the endless forest roads of Dumfries & Galloway without missing a beat —

She is probably the most photographed bike I’ve ever had but no one in their right mind could declare that she doesn’t deserve to be —

Long days across Europe stretching down into the Balkans in her unforgiving saddle have caused me more pain and cost the NHS more money than I ever thought possible —

Five operations on my nether regions didn’t come cheap —

and probably account for my membership of the Ministry of Funny Walks —

Riding the bitch isn’t the problem —

but getting on —

and off —

her tall saddle —

is proving to be —

too much for my geriatric pins —

making climbing into —

and out of her tall perch —

a bit of an —

inelegant lottery —

Since buying her new in Feb 2009 —

I have had so many fun days aboard her —

and judging by the pics in my gallery —

many sunny days too —

I hope her next owner —

treats her with the same care and respect —

she has had from yours truly —

and reaps similar rewards in spades from this great bike ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2017 in Isle of Luing, Motorcycling, yamaha tenere 660z

 

Honda CRF Rally does the Five Lochs

With first service due at 700 miles the little trailie was on an early ferry yesterday morning bound for our local Honda dealer where she got a clean bill of health in the time it took me to catch up with the News and have a cappuccina with the missus in the sun at a waterfront table out front of Kronks.

Then – after a good coffee – a good chat – with good weather and a good bike under me I headed for the hills —

First a visit to Taynuilt to check something out then I crossed the A85 to follow the beautiful valley cut by the River Nant as it runs north to disperse on it’s flood plain by the banks of Loch Etive. I could have followed that river into the hills forever as it rushed over waterfalls and rocks down to the sea. It was so beautiful but all too soon the ‘B’ road swung up and over a hilltop giving me a view of Ben Cruachan for my first shot. The small lochan almost lost in scrub – heather and reeds in the mid-distance is Loch Tromlee. It didn’t look like much from the roadside but there is an island on the loch with the remains of a castle so it must have mean’t something to someone in a former lifetime.

Next port of call at the end of a mainly well-surfaced if twisty and undulating single track was Ardanaiseig Hotel —

This quiet place at the end of the road miles from anywhere and looking like it should have been in a scene from Lord of the Rings is certainly worth a visit if only to check out the 240 acres of interesting and well kept grounds planted by a former owner on the banks of Loch Awe —

I might go back one day and check it all out properly – meanwhile – twisty roads and wider vistas beckon —

This view from the approach road to the remote Ardanaiseig hotel on Loch Awe side is the only sight I’ve had of the dam in the crater of Ben Cruachan mountaintop. I do wish my poor photo showed it as I saw it with the naked eye – maybe I should get that better camera I’ve been yearning for since I started this blog all those years ago – but – it’s a poor workman who blames his tools.

Enough of the doom and gloom on the banks of Loch Awe – this one from a hilltop brings more light to the subject —

Not the one I thought it was – let’s go for another —

That’s better – the bright skies have moved east but at least the wee Honda brightens up this click down Loch Awe.

Thanks to Lachlan and his post-service power-wash she is really sparkling in this next photo taken on the hill road to Kilmelford with a not-so-gloomy Loch Avich nestling in it’s deep bowl amongst the Argyl hills behind —

One shot and one loch left – a sea loch this time – Loch Melford —

With my home on the Isle of Luing on the horizon it’s not too far as the wild goose flies but without the aid of wings the wee Honda and I have several miles of road and a ferry crossing twixt here and there and something tells me I’m cooking dinner tonight.

With first service completed and 800 miles on the clock a quick burst on my ‘private test track’ showed 80mph on the speedo and had her tracking the straights and twisties true as a die on her Bridgestone knobblies – not bad for a five grand 250cc single that runs sweet as a sweet thing come rough or smooth – long may she reign ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2017 in Honda CRF250 Rally, Motorcycling

 

Honda Gorm MSX125 meets the Big Boys

Had the Gorm off the island for the first time yesterday – her little wheels and 125cc motor did so well that I mixed it with the holiday traffic and builder’s vans and rode all the way into Oban Waterfront to park with the Big Boys.

Only to find that touring riders from Liverpool and Cardiff had nicked all the Bike Parking slots —

They were a friendly crew and were tickled pink when the tiny Gorm pulled in beside them – where – even parked up on the pavement as she was – they still looked down on her ๐Ÿ™‚

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2017 in out and about

 

The Land That Time Forgot

With Scotland full to bursting as tourists from every part of the world take advantage of the weak Brexit pound it has been difficult to find accommodation for our few days away.

The west coast in particular is under pressure so we dumped our plans to introduce Helen to the over-used NC500 route around the north of Scotland and headed north and east to The Land that Time Forgot in search of the wooden hut I was born in during a howling March snowstorm over seventy five years ago. My two older brothers have tried to find the hut and failed so I didn’t hold out much hope of stumbling across it either.

This thumbnail photo taken in 1942 with me in my father’s arms and my non-impressed older brothers – two years old Jim and four years old Charlie has the hut for a background.

The hut looked sort of ‘well worn’ back then so I doubt very much if it would have lasted the intervening seventy five years till now. The old man was on leave from his regiment in ’42 prior to being posted to the Mediterranean war zone and had a lot to go through before he would return to us unscathed in 1946.

Judging by our smart new clothes his demob pay would appear to have gone a long way and there’s a bit of ‘army discipline’ evident with our normally unruly hair brushed and bryllcreamed into submission ย —

The only bedroom to be found for our four nights away was the one with the four-poster where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert rested on the night of Sept 4th 1860 – exactly one hundred and fifty seven years ago. All good Queen Vic left behind was the bed – the wallpaper and a picture of herself looking very regal —

A quick ‘shufty’ outside showed that things hadn’t changed much in these parts either for I can remember pulling a two furrow trailing plough with one of these old Fordson tractors when I was sixteen years old —

Ah – the grey Fergie – going even further back I ‘drove’ a petrol/paraffin version of this as well —

Fortunately for me my new-found friend was steeped in tractor lore and was able to explain the starting procedure for the single cylinder Field Marshall similar to the one my dad drove in the early nineteen fifties. My memory has my dad whacking a cartridge with a hammer to start her but my new buddy tells me there was much more to it than that.—

First you turn the flywheel by hand to put the piston at top dead centre – then there was more fiddling – probably with a decompressor before inserting said cartridge – give it a good whack with the hammer and if god is in his heaven she will burst into life!

Who would have thought way back then that wee Danny Finnie would grow to a height that would make a big Field Marshall look small —

The simple little red Massey Ferguson 35 was to be the last tractor I drove before leaving the farms for a job in engineering —

They transformed the workplace on the farm and I couldn’t believe it when the whole manufacturing process was sold and moved en-bloc to the former Yugoslavia. Even to this day every small farm in Croatia has an as-new Massey Ferguson 35 working in the fields and I believe they are still produced – around Zagreb.

Still with the vintage theme – there were Morris Minors galore on the street —

An occasional Triumph —

matched with a very tidy MGA —

and so on —

and so forth —

My favourite was the Toyota Stout similar to the one I drove in Dubai a long time ago. I think it had only three speeds plus a high/low box – with very wide balloon tyres running at low pressures she was the best thing I ever came across to tackle the seventy miles of sand dunes and dry wadi beds through the inhospitable mountains between Dubai and Al Fujiera —

Helen had bumped into an old Sherpa friend from her time in the Himalayas – Nima Kanchha Sherpa to be precise —

I resorted to playing ‘tunes’ on the singing bowls to get her on her way or we would have been there all day – for I had found the impossible – a Helen sized car —

It was a surprise to find something modern – a UFO had arrived overnight from who knows where —

A three wheeler based on motorcycling principals – it tilts up to forty five degrees either side when cornering —

Didn’t I tell you – UFO – I understand they are all the rage in Jupiter —

Enough of motor cars n stuff – we had a train to catch and go find our missing wooden hut —

We were offered this beach hut but the paint looked too fresh to be the one we were looking for —

Our route took us over the heather and pine clad hills —

to Strathdon – I could tell we were getting close to my birthplace when even the village was named after me —

Here running is their thing and one passing athlete offered to take our photo while he jogged on the spot with me holding his gundog on the lead – it kept running too – oh how we laughed —

A snippet of ordnance survey map given to me by a friend many many years ago had survived under lock and key with my passports and was my secret weapon. My old buddy Ronnie was also from this area originally and had marked a spot on the map to within a few yards of where I was born —

A chance meeting with a former neighbour – ninety two years old Annie Bain put us in the right direction as she seen our old woodcutter’s hut burn down while standing at her back door. It was shortly after my mum – brothers and I had left the area and my dad had gone off to fight a war. Annie was seventeen at the time and said it had gone up in flames when a paraffin stove was accidentally kicked over by it’s new occupant who had come home from a village dance slightly worse for wear after too many drams.

The old farm steading next to the site of our old wooden shed was converted into a beautiful home by it’s current occupant Paul several years later —

and after tea and cake at his kitchen table Paul kindly showed us where this double garage now sits on the site of my birthplace —

Could have been worse I suppose —

Being born into an old woodcutter’s hut in a forest with grass growing up between the floorboards and a wild March snowstorm raging outside then seventy five years later sleeping in a queen’s four poster – can’t really complain now can I ๐Ÿ™‚

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2017 in Isle of Luing, out and about

 

Tall Ships passing Fladda Lighthouse

What a difference a touch of sunshine makes. We enjoyed it’s warmth as we waited by the North Cuan ferry ‘terminal’ for the Hotpoint truck* to arrive with promised delivery of our new appliance around lunchtime and watched the gannets dive from a height for fish.

They were so spectacular – at times they appeared to pick their prey up from under the noses of a couple of angry grey seals who would actually leap out of the water as they attempted to nab both bird and fish!. A party of about fifty shags and a variety of ducks and seabirds joined in the fun as a large shoal of fish funnelled through Cuan Sound. Even David Attenburgh would have been hard-pressed to decide what to point the binoculars at next.

Later in the afternoon with the new dishwasher safely across the Sound on the small ferry – up our rough farm track in the rear of the Yeti and now nestling happily under the draining board in the kitchen we were on our own side of the island looking west to Fladda Lighthouse when a couple of tall ships came through on the breeze —

My own photos weren’t much cop but thankfully H made a better fist of it —

They knew what they were doing and passed through the narrow navigation channel twixt Fladda Lighthouse and it’s neighbour with the unpronounceable gaelic name under full sail as if threading the eye of a needle —

Magic – especially here in the Sound of Lorne on the way up to Oban with the Isle of Mull in the background —

I did say two ships but unfortunately we were without camera when the second passed through. She carried two gaff rigged masts plus four square rigged topsails complemented with a trio of foresails all filled to perfection. A wonderful sight.

Makes me wonder why our 17ft 6ins gaff-rigged Lune Whammel gave me so much trouble to rig for the very first time t’other day —

At least I know where this bit goes even if it was hard to tell by looking at the rigging what right way round it goes —

and wee H was no help at all while she was falling about laughing ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2017 in boats, Isle of Luing

 

Bardrishaig in Bloom

Well bits of Bardrishaig are in bloom – it has been a tough task – what with the persistent roe deer on their nocturnal visits – the gales blowing from the Sound and the vagaries of the slate soil here on the Isle ofLuing but Helen and I have persisted and we have a few blooms to show for our efforts —

The blue anemonie is one of several bulbs I planted which in the main came to nought – if I knew what I did different with that particular flower I could have a garden full of them next year.

The dahlia was also a success and a surprise having forced it’s way upwards to shine above the invasive dockins.

The pink rose survived the greedy roe deer and does well in the shelter of an aster and a fuschia.

The border plant above will remain nameless but it is just one of a variety of ground cover plants Helen and I have planted in an effort to subdue the prolific weeds.

I’m particularly proud of this agapanthus having grown him from a single bloom – a gift from a friend who had connections with the artist Hornal’s famous garden in Kirkcudbright where I spent some time as a guide to visitors. It has surpassed all our expectations – having been transplanted from my previous cosy garden and survived the salt laden gales up here at Bardrishaig to produce a myriad of beautiful blooms in a fairly exposed position at it’s new home.

Yet another flowering perenial which should spread through the border by the kitchen door from it’s sheltered position by the pale pink but vigorous fuschia.

The geranium in a pot by the kitchen door is another healthy specimen with it’s lilac shade of pink flowers.

My first attempt to form a border under the downstairs bathroom window with a double row of pretty stones from the beach with lilies was a sad failure but we are hoping for better luck this time now that Helen has refreshed it with the central herbaceous primula – a creeping thyme which should form a red carpet and a ‘Red Dwarf’ dianthus to give a bit of competition.

And – when all else fails there are always the potatoes which have been a resounding success with six varieties – Marris Bard – Marris Peer – King Edwards – Home Guard – Kerr’s Pink and my favourite – the dry and crumbly Golden Wonder all doing well.

Not bad really for our first year in Bardrishaig – the state of the garden area when we arrived twelve months ago was not for the faint-hearted but Helen & I have persevered and hopefully next year will be easier – especially if we can bring our six new fruit trees through the winter safe from the maruading roe deer. We had a single puny Braeburn apple to show for this year’s efforts but at least the two gooseberry bushes that came with us from my old garden down south produced an abundance of fruit.

Who knows what the future might bring – perhaps it will be a postcard from Australia to say ‘Thank You’ to Helen for the rhubarb she planted by the kitchen wall. There is no sign of it above ground and I can only imagine it’s heading south instead of north ๐Ÿ™‚

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2017 in Gardening, Isle of Luing

 

Hi-Viz Arrives on Luing with the Kelpies

With less than ten miles of tarred road on the Isle of Luing we don’t have much call for Hi-Viz clothing – in fact the general casual approach to road safety means the Luing Ping is more prevalent. That’s the warning ping from your car dashboard when driving with the seatbelt unfastened.

Two friends came to visit last week from the world I had left behind – BMW riding John and Phil. It was great to see and ride with them again even if it did mean I had to stop on the road in order to dig my shades out of my panniers as I was being dazzled with Phil’s current hi-viz riding ensemble. Coupled with a batch of bright LED riding lights and a high viz vest that immediately inflates in the event of an unscheduled departure from the norm he really is taking safety to another level —

No worriesย – we were soon back on track again —

The lads had planned a couple of nights on the road – the first night on Luing and next in Fort Augustus after a circular tour of Loch Ness. But – having braved ten hours or so of torrential rain the nose-to-tail traffic from Ballachulish to Fort William proved too much for them. After a weak tea in Morrison’s cafe theyย cut their journey short and turned for home.

Did I mention ‘Southern Softies’ – no way – I wouldn’t be so cruel ๐Ÿ™‚

Despite the threatening clouds it hadย remained dry long enough for John to take some pics of the Falkirk Kelpies on their first day —

In fact that photo above against the grey skies really floats my boat and is one of the most stunning views of the Kelpies I’ve seen —

No doubt being an Englishman had something to do with it for John could n’t resist getting right up the Kelpies nose ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for the pics John – hope you find better weather next time you come north ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Yellow for CRF 250 Rally

Was heading out of Oban yesterday when I spotted that despite the odd blue bit in the skies above – the electronic traffic warning sign on the roadside approaching Dunbeg giving it Large with ‘YELLOW WARNING – HEAVY RAIN DUE TODAY!’ย It made a change from the usual rubbish ย – ‘Fasten Seat Belt’ – Deer Crossing Road’ – ‘Check Your Tyre Pressures’ – ‘Did You MacClean Your Teeth Today’ – ‘Don’t Pick Your Nose and Flick’ and many more useless sound bites —

So-o – it was up through the lights onto Connel Bridge – I can remember when we shared it with trains in the pre-Beeching era. Probably makes me too old to work a computer and there could be something in that as I have to click the Scroll key every time I want a capital B or N – no doubt today’s infant would know what I’m doing wrong on my old HP laptop —

No worries – being an ancient has its blessings at times – especially lunch times and I’m on my way to a Benderloch cafe cum restaurant where they do pensioner sized portions for not-a-lot of dosh —

I can only think they have n’t paid their dues to the Man above ย —

for all the rain tagged in the YELLOW WARNING appears to have fallen on the lonely CRF in their carpark while I enjoyed my mini chicken chips and salad in the dry ๐Ÿ™‚

 
 

OOps! My Favourite Vase —-

Bites the dust!

She reminded me of the wooden statuettes I bargained for at a stall on Cairo Road – Lusaka on a rare ‘away day’ from my job at the Kariba Dam back in the 1960’s —

Sadly they came a cropper along with my first marriage in the early nineties – could’ve been the same lively model for both vase and statuettes in fact as they are so alike – even down to the glass beads —

Now sadly the lovely if unusual vase I found in a junk shop cum cafe along Hadrian’s Wall a few years back is a gonner too thanks to our Seamous who can’t bear to look at the damage he caused while chasing a Danny-Long-Legs around the house —

does he look suitably contrite?

Not for long – he’s a proper tiger really —

king of the Bardrishaig jungle ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Honda CRF250 Rally to Aird Luing

Aird Luing – the high point on the southern end of the Isle of Luing – at a mere 65 metres it’s not particularly high but with sea in most directions the views are spectacular and the trail up and over is a class act.

Quite different from my Saturday ride on her down to the Green Welly at Tyndrum when I caned the lil beauty over the hundred miles or so there and back on the ‘big’ roads.

Having ‘obtained’ permission for this ride I didn’t want to blot my copybook by stampeding the famous Luing cattle that appeared to have laid claim to some of the track although many of the ‘flighty’ sheep scarpered no matter how quietly the jewel-like CRF 250 whispered past.

I guess it’s brightly coloured flanks were like something from outer space to a wooly-back on the bottom end of Luing.

And all too soon we were there —

having looked over to the dangerous Passage of the Grey Dogs twixt Scarba and Lunga and the wild Atlantic Ocean beyond on the way.

No danger on Luing – except from the Red mother cows –

but the wee Honda has a fine turn of speed when needed –

and took me down to Aird Luing and back without fuss or drama ๐Ÿ™‚