Monthly Archives: March 2012

Armchair Pilot goes Red

Your Armchair Pilot goes Red tonight in more ways than one.

I’ve been preparing my pots on the roof deck for a planting of potatoes and I’m sure my face has gone red in the gorgeous sunshine we’ve had today. I did forget to put my sunscreen on and I reckon the older I get the more sensitive my skin becomes.

I haven’t planted any red potatoes although I was tempted. Instead I’ve put in a few Marr’s Piper for main crop and Arran Pilot for a second early.

This is the first time I’ve tried growing potatoes up on the roof deck in pots but it should work providing they get plenty of water and a hose pipe ban here in the wet sou-west of Scotland is virtually unheard of.

OK – we’ve established I’ve gone red of face but they don’t come any more red than the two bi-planes I’m about to highlight as they are both from the USSR.

The Anatov P2 hails from 1947 – too late to join the war effort but it has gained credit for being one of the best Bush planes ever built. Loved by cropdusters and commerciak pilots the world over —

My second featured plane is also from behind the Iron Curtain – the Polikarpov Po-2

There were over 40.000 Polikarpov Po-2s built between 1928 and 1953 making it one of the most successful planes ever and definitely the most numerous bi-plane. She was nicknamed ‘The Mule’ by opposing Nato forces and would turn her hand to night time bombing runs to de-stabilise enemy ground troops as well as for liason and reconnaisance. In times of peace she saw service as a cropduster and numerous other light commercial aviation activities – a very versatile aircraft.

Thanks again to Wilkipedia for photos.

Armchair Pilot goes Red

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Posted by on March 29, 2012 in out and about


Tenere Plays Young Lochinvar

Tenere Plays Young Lochinvar

Oh Young Lochinvar has come out of the West, through all the wide Border his steed was the Best.

Save his good broadsword he weapons had none, he came all unarmed and he came all alone.

So faithfull in Love and so dauntless in War, There never was knight like the Young Lochinvar.

It’s good to see all that education hard won at Berwickshire High School many years ago hasn’t been entirely wasted. Young Lochinvar by Borders Poet Sir Walter Scott was one of my favourites. It tells the story of young Lochinvar’s travel from his castle in the wilds above St John’s Town of Dalry here in the west to court the fair Ellen Graeme at her home in the east.

And here we are at the site of the original castle —

Or as close as we are going to be without getting our feet wet! Trust the idiot cooncil to have a dam built across the river half a mile away and flood the valley! What happened to ‘Romance?’

Young Lochinvar I ain’t but I’ll put a bit of romance before running water out of a tap anyday and I’ve certainly got the ‘best steed’ around here today 🙂

I had a good run up after stopping to chat to a Hells Angel type standing by his three month old broken down Harley by the side of the A75. He was happy just to wait for the Rescue Services to get him home so I left him to it.

First photo stop was by Loch Ken —

The Red Kites were loving the sunshine and hung on the thermals above the road. Roadkill is a regular source of food for these fellas.

Then it was by Cloud Cuckoo Lodge and over the hills towards Lochinvar but I was forced to stop on the way and admire these old pine trees by a stone bridge across the river on the bend —

I do like our native trees. Being in a mellow sort of mood and slowly recovering from my bout of manflu I settled down in the ruins of a former school and caught up with BSB and MotoGP in the Motorcycle News I picked up on my way out of town. I see Ducati have still got a lot to do to make Rossi smile again —

Corseglass school where I am reading my comic closed for good in May 1929 as the families had left the hill pastures for the industrial north but prior to that in 1880 there were 18 pupils being taught here in this remote corner of Dumfries and Galloway.

Then it was onwards and upwards to Lochinvar Loch where I chatted to two old bird watchers who gave me the low down on the flooded ruins of the castle. After that it was a case of taking the Long Way Home and giving right of way to these rather splendid fellows who were out for a stroll —

There were seven rams in total but I’ve only got a wee camera so you will have to take my word for it. I even stopped to admire this view but again my poor photo doesn’t do it justice. There was just so much happening there to the naked eye —

I recognised this bit further down – I had been here three years ago when the Tenere was brand new —

Hey! Gimme my camera back! Bl**dy sheep! They will eat anything 🙂

Well there you have my afternoon in the sun. Not bad considering I’d self-diagnosed an escalation in my Manflu to a full-blown bout of Viral Pneumonia only 24 hours beforehand. I checked out the symptoms on Google yesterday afternoon and I had every one of ’em! Was planning to visit my doc this morning and tell him the sad news but decided to go riding instead.

Out on the bike on a day like this – there’s no better medicine. They should fund it on the National Health 🙂

Thanks to all for coming along on my ride – at least you won’t catch my manflu from-a-distance 🙂

Young Lochinvar

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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Uncategorized



XJR1300 Float Valve Assemblies

Postie got me out of bed to sign for my new float valve assemblies this morning. My excuse for lateness is I’m still suffering with this bl**dy Manflu thing – it had me up half the night and I can’t seem to shake it off.

No worries – brilliant sunshine out there so I did my Mr Cool routine – on with the shades to hide my puffy eyes and strolled round for my morning paper and to catch a latte at Mulberries.

Wandered home the long way – putting off the carb re-build. Found fresh buds bursting in the Stewartry Museum garden —

Is it a Laburnum tree/bush? Don’t know.

OK – I’ve put today’s job off long enough. Open the jiffy bag to check what’s been sent – four complete float valve assemblies with the fragile taper needle valve dangly bits all protected in plastic condoms.

Just a minute – make that three complete assemblies and one minus the ‘O’ ring on the slug! Bugga!

Footnote; I bought the XJR late last summer. Twelve years old with a little over one thousand miles on the clock. Trouble was that having spent most of it’s life sitting around, the original unleaded fuel had evaporated and the residue had gummed up the carbs. After much work I had her running right and a flooding float bowl had been sorted.

Temporarily it seems. I drained the carbs over winter hoping to prevent a repeat of the evaporating fuel problems only to find when I ran fuel through her this spring the float bowl flooded again and my precious petrol was being dumped on the floor. Bad news but I suspected last year that the tapered rubber seal portion of the needle valves had gone brittle and I was lucky to find a fix at the time.

OK – I bit the bullet cashwise and order new float valve assemblies last Friday. You know the rest 🙂

A quick phone call to Allen’s Performance in Nottingham this morning and it would appear they are sending me a whole new assembly to replace the missing part!

I’ve put the job off long enough. Let’s get out there and see what I can do today.

Quick Edit;

That was a very worthwhile couple of hours spent with the carbs from the XJR. Found an ‘O’ ring from a set I bought last year and the black baby is all back together and running so sweet! No floatbowls flooding – no missing a beat just purring like a cat and answering to the throttle when called for. Magic! 🙂

Wish I could treat my ‘manflu’ the same way.

Float valve assemblies

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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Uncategorized



Tenere XT660Z Front Tyre and Cush Drive

I fitted a new front Anakee on the Tenere last week. What a difference it made to the handling! I could lean her into the bends at the weekend instead of having to wrench her in using the wide bars. The old tyre was almost worn out anyway and it definitely didn’t match the recently fitted rear performancewise.

I had the rear wheel out intending to renew the cush drive rubbers last week too. The replacements had arrived so I thought I would go for it. But – after inspection tightfisted me decided the old ones would do for a few trips yet so I just trimmed my pucka plastic shims to a better fit and stuck it all back together again. I’ll try for another five thousand miles out of them.

This week’s project is to get the XJR on the road for April. I’m still not hundred per cent happy with the carbs so I have them apart at the mo’ and new parts due tomorrow. Let’s hope the sun hangs around for a few more hours cos I’m doing the work outside 🙂


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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Uncategorized



Tenere Goes Back to the Croft

I saddled up the Tenere and went back to the croft for a break.

The dogs were pleased to see me —

all seven are Wieneramas who co-exist with four cats —

The old blind duch herself got really excited – I’m over here Rosa!

but these cool dudes were done for the day —

So I went out to feed the chooks —

including Greta Garbo chook —

and the boss himself along with his current flame —

I got a bit more action from the hounds this morning when it was time for ‘walkies’ round the bay.

Heather swam —

While the gang played ‘catch that stone’ —

‘Can I have a go’ —

Back to the Croft

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Posted by on March 25, 2012 in Uncategorized



XJR1300s – Where Are They Now

I know many of us wonder where our old bikes that we lavished tender loving care over ended up but what about the riders? I’ve had two mates from the old days pop into this blog – guys who would turn up at a pre-arranged by internet meeting place many miles from home just to chat – ride together awhile and head for our seperate homes again. Sometimes we even went on holiday together as Bainzie and I did to visit the lonesum Javier who at that time was probably the only XJR owner in Spain. The common denominator was the XJR1300 and most of us had a love affair with that big air-cooled four

I will put up a few photos from rides and meets we did nine -ten – eleven years ago and ask the question;

Where are they now?

The remains of the group at Bala after we had scattered Gary & Co between the Ponderosa and Barmouth 🙂

The Elan Valley run led by Andy – shortly after we moved on from this fagbreak we rode past some farm buildings and a Red Kite attacked Huw’s helmet just a few yards in front of me. Must have thought it was a chicken 🙂

Tan Hill – the highest pub in England —

Gary’s bobsleigh team at Barmouth —

The Horseshoe at Oakham when we went down to greet the new licensees —

An early Broadway meet when we would park the bikes tidy and most ran standard cans 🙂

Another from Broadway —

even more — Big Azza – what a man!

Back to Barmouth with Huw – Mr Bassman & Co – that must have been the hottest day of any year – we were cooked in our biker gear — all except Mr Cool who ambled along listening to the Archers on his earphones 🙂

and even more from Barmouth —

Yes I know – the late Huw Evans (our Meatloaf lookalike) pops up in many of the pics and rightly so. Huw was an ever-present on most of my rides and no matter what part of the country we were riding he would turn up from Haerford West – do the ride and get home the same day. He was one lovely fella and is sadly missed

Another star from the past was Flo – he is on the tri-cloured XJR with the frame mounted fairing in the second of the Horseshoe pub pics. Another good guy – he was held in high regard by all who met him and the XJR Owner’s Club hold a ride in his memory every year.

OK – I know where Huw and Flo are and also this guy here – at his best marshalling the bikes into line at Broadway —

And last I heard from Mark-of-the-Lakes he had left Barrow in Furness and was de-commissioning nuclear subs under the nom-de-plume of Mark-of-the-Lochs at Coulport or sumwhere close. Which reminds me – I have a standing invitation to visit but have lost your address Mark so if you ever cruise past my blog say hello. 🙂

Where are they now?

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Posted by on March 22, 2012 in Uncategorized



XJR1300 SP

Got lots of Birthday Wishes from the XJR Owners Club today – never thought I would reach seventy so I’ll look for a few photos from the XJRs I have owned and ridden over the past twelve years —

My first XJR1300SP – bought new from Stumpy & Grumpy in Church Stretton in 2000 —

We were waiting for the boys on an early Elan Valley Run down in mid-Wales.

With the same bike the year before outside Javier’s house in Madrid.

I prefer the ‘playing the fool pic’ —

OK – here’s Javier and Bainzie on the King’s Chair – the rock the king sat on while his palace was being built in the distance —

Then there was this serious pic on the bank at Ravenglass when Mad Mick and I were planning the route for Oli’s Memorial run —

There had been three of us the year before but young Oli Mills was killed when a motorists ‘didn’t see him’ and pulled out on him a couple of days after this next pic was taken —

That had been a happy day. We met near Skipton and rode over the Fells to Lancaster then by Kendal and Ambleside before doing the Wrynose and Hardknott Passes on the way to Ravenglass for lunch.

Sorry – didn’t mean to go back there but there’s lots of memories in my libraries.

Including these from the KrKra National Park near Skradin in Croatia on my Alps, Adriatic and Alcohol ride —

XJR1300 SP

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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Uncategorized



Gixxer 6 Streetfighter

I’m grounded at the mo’ with this rotten cold – or is it the dreaded manflu?

Nothing else for it but to go through my picture libraries and put up a collage of Gixxer six pics.

Starting down at Hermitage Castle in Steve Hislop country —

this one is further afield in Croatia —

From St Mary’s Loch up past Meggat Dam and over the hill to the next one —

posing at Ballantrae —

a handy little whatsit under her chin —

Back in Istria —

Just up the road at Parton —

and taking a break by Wigtown Harbour —

She’s a wee cracker of a bike – a joy to ride but with two bikes too many sumthin has to go and she’s for sale 🙂

Gixxer Six

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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Uncategorized



Tenere in Stranraer and District

In the past few months Stranraer has lost the StenaLine Ferry terminal to Cairnryan which to some indicates the death knell for the town but in other respects it might bring it new life as a holiday resort. The town sits at the southern end of Loch Ryan and there aren’t too many sheltered anchorages or safe sailing areas for junior and inter standard sailors down in this neck of the woods so I’m pretty sure it won’t be long before an enterprising company extends the marina here.

I took this photo from the old road above the town that runs down to Portpatrick —

Will pop in a few more photos from yesterday’s ride in this lovely part of Scotland.

I couldn’t resist showing that one of the hotel again 🙂

Here’s a shot or two taken last year in the hills above Cairnryan to the east to make up for it 🙂

Stranraer and District


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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Uncategorized



Portpatrick Lifeboat – RNLB John Buchanan Barr – with Tenere

No bike trip in the Mull of Galloway direction is complete without a visit to Portpatrick and my ride west yesterday was no exception.

Not only did I see a new addition to the ‘curio’ shop display opposite the harbour entrance —

Yes the old boy by the door got new a ewe and a lamb and across the road in the harbour Portpatrick has one of the most technically advanced lifeboats in the RNLI.

The RNLB John Buchanan Barr —

I was  fortunate to see her go out yesterday at what was very low water and she did seem to have very little clearance from the recently dredged harbour bottom —

She needed much carefull manouevering which entailed timely bursts of revs from her glorious ‘throaty’ sounding engines and noisy bow thrusters with lot’s of mud being churned up from the harbour bottom —

At £2.7 million she is an expensive boat and great care was taken by the cox’n to line her up with what must have been a narrow exit channel close to the rocks guarding the harbour entrance. Conditions couldn’t have been calmer but I still held my breath and forgot to sip my ‘latte to go’ from the new machine at the shop round the corner as he jockeyed her out of there from his seat uptop on the ‘Flying Bridge’ and disappeared into the brilliant afternoon sunshine..

The RLNB John Buchannan Barr was bequeathed to Portpatrick by the widow of a Glasgow doctor of that name. Doctor Barr had saved many lives during the last war and the boat was to be named in his memory.

She is an impressive sight and I felt fortunate to see her in operation in what appeared to be an unhurried practise run. Good luck to her and her crew in whatever the future has in store for them.

The chill March sunshine had brought quite a few bikers out and the recognised parking area was full but I managed to find space for the Tenere closer to the harbour amongst the cars. That reminds me – I must change that front tyre this week – she was handling like a mangey ol’ dog yesterday 🙂

Portpatrick Lifeboat -RNLB John Buchannan Barr

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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Uncategorized