Monthly Archives: May 2012

Daughters – Don’t you Just Love ’em

For various reasons I’ve had to wait forty five years to spend much quality time with my daughter and she has just given me a marvellous twenty four hours.

Last night after dinner thanks to You Tube we played all the old favourites – we Found our Thrill on Blueberry Hill – Walked to New Orleans and Were Fools to Care with Fats Domino then did the Jailhouse Rock and more with the King at his best. What a lovely old style evening – it was midnight before it was over!

Today – Sunday – we watched where the winds were coming from and they favoured the walk down Bluebell Woods on the west side of the Dee Estuary. Everyone else must have listened to the weather forecast for dire weather to come as we had the woods virtually to ourselves plus three nervous roe deer. There must have been a fawn hidden in the ferns somewhere too because we spotted tiny hoofprints on some of the soft parts of the trails.

We started the walk with rainwear and just as well because this water tap growing out of a tree trunk had to be tested and girls like their fun —

so someone had to get wet —

That set the tone for the afternoon walk and it was laughter all the way —

Rhododendruns and azelias aren’t exactly wild flowers but there they were in the forest before we reached the bluebells —

Wild garlic too – I can smell it yet —

Then onto the clifftop for a breath of air where Rainnie strikes a ‘country girl’ pose —

and dad just enjoys her company —

Hmmm – the packhorse would be a better name —

No worries – it wasn’t long before my guide found a comfy spot for lunch and took over the rucksack —

Then it was playtime as we made our way through this beautiful wood —

one of the roe deer popped out of this patch of bluebells right in front of our noses —

an action shot 🙂

We came upon a graveyard in this remote spot with lairs going way back to 1720. It’s always a shock to see virtually whole families die at a young age – from the local laird at the age of 27 to children of five years old.

A little further on we reached a pheasantry and with the weather closing in we turned back. Some photogenic weathered tree roots and trunks were next for the view-finder —

At a brief stop on a headland we spotted below us the meagre remains of the Mary B Mitchel – a schooner which was wrecked here in 1944 and the anchor can now be seen at Kirkcudbright Harbour.

The little steel there was left in the old sailing ship is lying just above the tideline about halfway up my photo —

Then it was drawing time on a deserted beach —- mermaids were in favour —

Some people post messages in a bottle – others prefer the more direct approach and post letters in the sand —

What a wonderful 24 hours —

Rainnie is driving north as I post but as long as we both survive the chicken curry I threw together before she left I’m sure she will be back before long 🙂

Footnote; The heron in the featured image – top left – is well off shore and just proves how shallow the water can be here at certain times of the tide with the only navigable channel for the bigger boats being way over next the lifeboat station on the far shore and even then only around high tide.


Leave a comment

Posted by on May 13, 2012 in out and about


Scottish Classics

With daughter’s visit now showing an ETA of around 17.30 hrs I decided to nip up to Lanark for the Scottish Classic M/C Show. I’m not really into shows as such and I find it hard to take that this is my second show this year. One every twenty years is more my thing.

The fact that the organiser is Robbie Allan who I rode trials with thirty years ago was one factor that got me there and here’s me in the early eighties picking my way out of a deep ravine near Stonehaven with both feet still on the pegs for once —

Due to the wayward life I’ve led I don’t have many bike pics from previous times so you will have to forgive me if that one pops up now and again.

This next photo doesn’t come out much though. Tis myself with my PINK Honda NC30 VFR400 in the paddock at the North West 200 twenty years ago —

The connection? Today’s guest of honour at the show was TT winner Jim Moodie and he rode my NC30 back then. So did I of course and here she is lining up for an overtake coming out of the hairpin at Knockhill with yours truly aboard — and number 80 didn’t get past me and that’s a girlie we are lapping —

I enjoyed meeting Jim again after all that time – he looks as fit as ever and still trains on his moto-crosser at speeds that put some of our current day stars to shame. I would add that the phsycadellic pink was Jim’s choice of colour. Would you guess – it stood out from the pack on television screens!

While we are name dropping here’s another one from the past and present I bumped into at the show —

Yes it’s Ian Simpson – he rode another of my VFR400’s to victory in the early nineties. No doubt he was searching through the auto-jumble for some TZ350 parts as he is still racing one of those at the front in the ICGP race series on Europe’s race circuits.

There was a decent showing of classic bikes on display but I wasn’t tempted to get my camera out till I spotted this fine fellow —

A Bultaco 250cc Trials bike from the late seventies/early eighties. A 325cc version of this was my first and probably my best trials bike. With hindsight I should have stuck with it instead of dabbling in Ossa’s and fourstroke Honda’s.

Now this single seat BMW PD 850GS BMW also rings a bell —

It was a red and equally smart version of this that I bought on American e-bay with the intention of riding across the States and north to Alaska. A ruptured pelvis put the kybosh on that idea and I shipped her home instead. She was last seen in deepest Cornwall.

For me the star of the show was outside amongst the race machinery —

Built pre-war by a Rolls Royce employee –  Mr Jones of Derby. A 500cc four cylinder horizontally opposed twostroke made in England long before our Japanese friends ruled the world with their Hondasaki’s and Yamasuki’s. This baby was supercharged and had good results at the TT as well as being ridden by Bill Lomas who went on to be World Champion.

With all this and shaftdrive too she was a work of art — mmm — I think I would re-route the R/H pair of plugleads before firing her up otherwise they will soon fry on those hot exhausts —

Footnote; Super-charging was banned on race bikes after the war.

In retrospect a nice day out but I don’t want to make a habit of going to shows – I’d much rather be riding 🙂

Scottish Classics

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 12, 2012 in Uncategorized



Tenere by Loch Doon

It was a day for playing dirty on the Tenere. My mates with their BMW1200GS and Vee-Stroms don’t like getting gravel under their wheels in any shape or form and if I want that sort of stuff I go off on my own mid-week.

So-o — it was a quick fill-up in Castle Douglas before heading off towards Ayr and Dalmellington to catch the single track lane that leads to Carrick Forest Drive —

The road runs down the side of Loch Doon where a township for 3000 servicemen was created during the war. A railway was also built on the hillside by the east bank and moving targets were used for target practise by aircraft.

The original site of Loch Doon castle was flooded for a hydro-electric scheme and the level of the loch raised in the 1930’s. The castle now sits on a rock above the road a hundred yards from a nice coffee shop where I stopped for a cream tea in the sunshine.

I understood the castle was an octagen but an article by Heritage Scotland describes it as being eleven sided. No worries – I’m sure that won’t worry the many visitors to these parts. Loch Doon holds stocks of a rarity in Scotland – the artic char. Much to the consternation of the current management the fishing rights to Loch Doon were granted to the people of Dalmellington by a previous owner. As the right to fish for free also included the right to camp on the lochside I can understand their concerns as someone has to clean up after the ‘happy campers’ have departed.

The Forestry Drive has had a lot of big gravel spread over it this winter and in some places it’s not exactly user friendly for motorcyclists —

It did occur to me that a puncture from the sharp granite stones could lead to a long warm walk out in biking gear as I didn’t meet any traffic during my ride through —

But we stayed sticky side down and enjoyed the experience —

The scenery was absolutely top drawer and I spotted a terrified red squirrel speed across my path about here —

A few miles of gravel strewn forestry track gave way to tarmac before Stinchar Falls and I found a new-to-me road that led over a high pass going west. On the forested side of the hill on my way up I spotted a big dog fox. He was reluctant to give way and even when I stopped hoping for a pic he wasn’t in a hurry to hide in the trees below the road —

I was soon over the top and just had to stop to take in the view! It doesn’t show in my pic but I could see all the way over to the mountains on the Isle of Arran and beyond to the Mull of Kintyre —

Prior to that I had glimpsed what I took to be the snow covered hills of Arrochar from my vantage point on the Galloway Hills.

This lamb didn’t seem to have a mother anywhere close and that big dog fox was just over the hill but at least it had the sense to stay that side of the armco —

Once I got down into the valley an open gate invited me to follow an eight mile cycle track only to find that the gate at the other end was locked and I had to retrace my route. No hardship because by this time the dirt roads winding through the thick forests were more to my liking. Then it was back up over the hill where the lamb had joined it’s mates and hopefully the big fox would go hungry tonight.

From there it was a crackin ride down off the hills on single tracks to Glen Trool where I joined the main road to Newton Stewart and home on the A75. A hundred miles for the day and lots of fuel left in my tank at the end of it. My ride was something different – I wouldn’t want to do it every day but once in a while I like a challenge 🙂

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Uncategorized



White Blackbird – Cupboard Love

White Blackbird – Cupboard Love

It was one of those days spent catching up with various tasks that have been on the backburner and one those was to bond with my white blackbird friend all over again.

She has been ‘flighty’ of late – dodging in and out of my garden without really laying claim to it and other birds have picked up the spoils.

Not so today – our timing was spot-on and she tucked into the mealworms as if she was feeding the ‘five thousand’ —

Over three visits she had them all and took up her position at the top of the ‘screamin tree’ as if it was her own private perch —

Cupboard love

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 8, 2012 in out and about


Spring Colours From the Trossachs

The colours were lovely around Loch Ard yesterday and I got a few pics despite the changeable weather —

and some not so good 🙂

The red squirrels are at war with the greys!

While the canoeists chat on the loch below —

and the fishermen find a space on the bank —

It’s now Monday 7th May as I post this and it feels like winter. My mother was fond of saying ‘dinnae cast a cloot till May is oot’ – how right she was 🙂

Spring Colours

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 7, 2012 in out and about


Australian Stockman Saddle

Went walking in Loch Ard forests with my daughter Lorraine and her golden retriever Lady Bella on Sunday morning. It was a funny old day – sunshine mingling with snow and hail-showers. Bella amused herself while we filled a couple of poly bags with fallen fir cones to kickstart the logburner when we got back to the house after our walk —

Being a holiday weekend there were a few people out walking – cycling and some riding over the many trails that wind their way round lochs and hills in this lovely area —

Then we found the clearing in the forest where the horse transporters were parked and were introduced to Red —

Isn’t he a beauty! I asked the guy who was busy tacking him up what breed he is. There were no easy answers from this chap and I was invited to guess. Well I got part Arab right away but the other half of his parentage eluded me. Turns out he is part Arab – part American Paint as in the ponies ridden by the native Indians. The slight markings on his belly give the game away —

Being the nosy type I asked the question ‘Where is the saddle from?’ and that started another guessing game. I was reasonably certain it would be from South America but it is in fact an Australian Stockmans saddle and my new friend does a lot of riding ‘down under’. Leathers are ridden longer than ‘long’ and coupled with the hackamore type bridle (no bit) and his easy neck-reining style the whole set up was made for a full day in the saddle on a quick horse with fantastic staying power —

After another short guessing game we established that the horse on the right is an American Quarterhorse bred through another American breed – an Appaloosa. These guys certainly looked the business and reminded me of my time in Northern Nigeria where the Al Haji King in his enormous mud palace in the nearby village would send over a different horse for me to ride through the bush on my occasional days off work. The saddles were comfy out there too with high sections front and rear that kept even a horse riding numpty like me in place when the going got rough 🙂

There was even time for my glamour girls – Lady Bella and Rainnie to pose amongst the pines and blaeberries before our walk was over —

Well not quite over – year old Bella found a ten month old Springer spaniel to race against —

and that little contest ended honours even —

They would have played all day but Rainnie intervened —

and we all went our respective ways —

after a lovely few hours in Loch Ard Forest —

Australian Stockman

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 7, 2012 in out and about


350 Velocette

Had a change of scenery this holiday weekend. I went north to visit my children in the Trossachs ( the picturesque bit of Scotland where they now live near Aberfoyle). I stopped at Abington Services where I spotted this old piece of British iron built in Birminham during the very early fifties —

It’s a 350cc Velocette Mac identical to my first road bike that I passed my riding test on fifty odd years ago and it’s still going strong. I even knew the rider who is about as long in the tooth as I am 🙂

Still on the subject of old iron and with the weather switching between sunshine and snow showers it was a pleasure to reach my destination at Gartmore and find the woodburner radiating heat and both kettle and teapot on the ‘bink’ —

I’ve a feeling that ‘the bink’ is an east coast term for the metal ledge either side of the open solid fuel fires we had in the farmworker’s cottages when I was a boy. I have never heard ‘the bink’ used outside of north-east Scotland.

Old Bonnie doesn’t care what it’s called as long as the stove is lit —

Any old iron

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Uncategorized



My Lady Burnie

I spotted the newly built Lady Burnie on the slip at MacDuff Shipyards yesterday and was intrigued. With her 2m. draft – flat bottom and triple screws I would imagine she is probably best suited for inshore work but that’s the landlubber in me coming to the fore. With modern technology she will probably roll with the best of them in a Force Eight gale 🙂

Seems there’s no secrets in the marine world for thanks to the wonders of my friends at Google the complete spec for this new workboat being built at Macduff Shipyards for Inverlussa Marine Services are laid bare with one click of the mouse.

I’ve even convinced myself that I know why she has three Doosan 4V marine deisels powering her triple screws. My theory is that with her shallow draft there isn’t depth for the bigger props normally employed in workboats of her size and the three screws of the Lady Burnie will give her the neccessary performance to fulfill her future role in servicing the growing inshore marine industry.

She will be based at Loch Spevie on the Isle of Mull and is available for general hire. Yes – if your pockets are deep enough she will come and work for you when you build your own personal off-shore wind farm. I would imagine her minimal 2m draft would be ideal for the shallow waters down here in the Solway where it’s as if we hear of new proposals for wind farms every other day. A crazy situation when the constant – twice a day tides could be harnessed to supply all our energy needs.

There was a time back in the seventies when we thought Rolls Royce deisels were market leaders but with hindsight that was a rather blinkered parochial view.

As recently as 1983 Hancok Industries in Korea built their first deisel engine and less than thirty years later they are probably the most prolific engine builder in the world. Their engines – both deisel and gas fueled are used as propulsion units in one-in-four ships as well as in power generating plants and suchlike the world over – quite a success story. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are used in this country to produce electricity on days the wind doesn’t blow in the near future.

I best sign off before I get started about the complete folly of wind turbines 😦

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 3, 2012 in out and about