Monthly Archives: January 2013

Moto-Guzzi with Wine and Truffles in Motovun

I am still rebuilding my blog after decimating my posts but my time in Istria was something I enjoyed – in fact I was very close to making it my permanent base – so it’s nice to have a chance to look back through my photo galleries to see what I can rescue from the ashes.

The old town of Motovun consists of a castle (now a luxury German run hotel) built on a rock about twenty klicks from the sea with narrow cobbled streets winding through the old houses on the steep slopes.

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Any new build – schools and suchlike is restricted to the flat surrounding area and the old town is virtually pedestrianised.The local residents are allowed access with their vehicles and I spotted this interesting Triumph Spitfire during my walk around this interesting town —

Triumph Spitfire

Someone had done a tidy rebuild on the Triumph and the Wyllis Jeep parked close by showed an eye for detail too —


The shovel and pickaxe handle lent it an authentic touch but I didn’t look any further after a quick peek under the tarp showed two rifles casually dumped in the back!

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I had been wandering the old town – first on the tourist route – then – as is my habit I took to the back alleys because that’s usually where the interesting stuff is. There I was creeping down the backlane behind the townhouses – their front doors opened on to the cobbled tourist trail and the cellar doors led onto my trail. The ground on my right fell away through trees and gardens —

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Then all hell broke loose – dogs were barking – shacks were shaking ready to fall apart and I had visions of being dog food very soon so I looked for an escape route. I noticed a large metal studded oak door partially open to one of the cellars and had a squint inside.

There was a motorbike in there and as my eyes became accustomed to the gloom I noticed it had a bloke with it!

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Naturally he wasn’t best pleased at having his garage invaded especially as it housed the season’s wine in four massive wooden casks on trestles along one wall.

No worries – I soon impressed him with my biking credentials and before long we were chatting away like old friends. The donor bike was a 900cc Honda Boulder sports bike which had been imported from the USA and was well on it’s way to being turned into a chopper styled machine.

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Great stuff! We arranged to meet a few days down the line and he would introduce me to the owner of the Wyllis Jeep and Triumph Spitfire – but there was lots more!

Our second meeting was more relaxed and I got an invite to return in October for the truffle hunting season. That’s what all the dogs were for! Apparently it is done at night by torchlight and can get rough. My friend said not to worry cos he had the biggest and fiercest truffle hound! No wonder I had been scared when I thought it’s kennel was about to disintegrate!

After the ice-breaker we wandered down the hill to meet the owner of the two vehicles I had photographed on an earlier visit.


He turned out to be a very interesting character – not only did he have a rebuilt Moto-Guzzi displayed in his front room where most people have their telly — but he also shoe-horned old Guzzi motors into new custom frames.

Sacriledge to many Moto-Guzzi lovers but hey! Don’t shoot the messenger!

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There was more – much more. This guy’s workshop was an Aladdin’s cave of old Guzzi parts! I loved it!

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That’s an interesting motor. I think it’s a pre-war 500cc single but haven’t a clue what vintage.

I do like that —

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The last time I came across plunger type rear springing was on the old BSA’s from way back in the early fifties. My mate had a 350 B31 or 32 with that setup and I remember once it started bouncing on a bend it was like riding a pogo stick. It’s nice to see something different though and the standard of workmanship was top class. Yes I was impressed with my visit to Motovun and it’s friendly people!

Hotel Kastel

I still get special offers from Natasha at the Hotel Kastel so I might just go back there to hunt for truffles later this year.

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Moto-Guzzi – Wine and Truffles in Motovun

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Posted by on January 18, 2013 in Uncategorized



Laurieston Forest

So I knew I was in Laurieston Forest when I saw the sign by the roadside but the rest will remain nameless because I’ve lost my Ordnance Survey map for that bit of Scotland.

No worries – I parked up here —

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and wandered off up this snow covered track through the forest —

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I reckoned I was heading in the general direction of north so that must be the Merrick or some of it’s cohorts covered with snow in the distance —

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But I wasn’t going anywhere near them this afternoon – instead I settled for a view over this wee loch —

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and found a spot for my lunch. It’s a case of ‘any tree stump will do’ and I was spoiled for choice.

Will it be this one —

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Nah! Too cold and dark – how about here —

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I’m not too sure of that stump tho’ – she looks as if she’s on the run —

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With an all-round view I wasn’t too bothered. This was west-ish —

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and round a bit more —

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With lunch over – this could be the way home —

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I was ambushed by some hungry sheep on the way. I think they are a mixture of rare breeds.

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Possibly from the islands of Shetland and Soay —

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plus some from south of the border —

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But they were friendly enough and didn’t exactly look famished. Just as well because I seldom leave a crumb in my piece box 🙂

Laurieston Forest

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Posted by on January 15, 2013 in out and about


A Legend

By ‘Legend’ I could be referring to my first XJR1300SP for she was a bit special in my eyes —


But – I am in fact referring to the Legend Race Car —


The bike and the race car have something in common in that Legends raced in the UK are powered by 1295cc air-cooled motors culled from the XJR 1300 road bike —

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The chassis are imported from the USA and assembled complete with the XJR motor and gearbox units —

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at Scotland’s Knockhill Race Circuit in Fife —

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The motors have all been stripped – checked – and rebuilt to an identical state of tune —

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so all you have to do is pay your money and go racing —


A Legend

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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Uncategorized



Turtle Creek

I managed to ignore the sleet in the air today and went out for a walk. I thought this brook rushing down to join the Dee by Dhoon Bay might make a nice photo  —

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The turtle made me do it 🙂



Turtle Creek

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Posted by on January 13, 2013 in out and about


The Arrival of the Argonaut

Timing is everything and not only did I catch high tide when I went out for a walk today at noon but I also caught the arrival of a new boat in town making use of high water to berth at the quayside.

The Argonaut – formerly the Reseda built in the Netherlands in 1993 —

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She’s a handsome boat —

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from any angle —

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even this one —

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At a smidgeon under 24 metres in length – weighing 150 tonnes gross and powered by a 220hp Caterpillar 3412 F main engine she would appear to be in good nick for her 20 years at sea.

Here she is under power in her original guise as the Reseda —


and handling the boom rigged trawl nets catching shrimps —

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working off the Texel Islands on the Dutch coast —


I wish her well in her new surroundings and good luck to all who sail in her.

The Arrival of the Argonaut

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Posted by on January 13, 2013 in out and about


Loch Ken Nature Reserve

A walk by Loch Ken in November 2011 which I have resurrected from a spoiled post. I’ve been up there recently and there are no geese to be seen – very strange.

I made a slow start to the day and took it easy for most of it. No I didn’t go to church – I just took a photo of it on my way to Loch Ken Nature reserve.

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There are usually lots of Red Kites along here but today only a solitary one. I missed the pic when the kite crept up behind and flared above me. What a photo that would have made if I had the presence of mind to grab my camera instead of the binos! He was gone into the sun before I got my act together. Numpty!

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Cattle are easier to photograph – especially if they are bogged down amongst the mud and they think I might be bringing food.

Sheep – no problem cos they are just sheep and are also expecting food —

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Unless they are black and white sheep who find their own —

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It was lovely in the sunshine. I had spotted a highly coloured Jay while I was driving in as it flashed across the road between two woods and thought I might walk back and try for a photo. The other direction towards the hide can be pretty dull at this time of year and there is little chance to view the loch until you are in the hide.

No Jay but I did find some geese —

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and an old dingy on the bank —

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It wasn’t long before I found the perfect spot to have my picnic lunch with views back over the loch to my geese who were going through their repertoire of goose noises.

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I made myself comfortable in the sun on that second root along and listened to the songs from the geese. There was an occasional backing rip of a four cylinder sports bike on the main road across the loch as the rider geared up and down between the bends but for once I didn’t want to change places with the rider.

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The gamekeeper had also been ripping it up a bit as he charged here and there on his quad bike feeding the many pheasants and he had company with his under schoolage son perched in front of him and waving to me as they passed. There’s nothing like starting ’em young.

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So that was bikes and quads getting a mention and how about this tidy sports car parked behind the shed —

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Loch Ken Nature Reserve – a haven for petrol heads 🙂

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Posted by on January 13, 2013 in out and about


Tenere on Berneray

After spending a couple of days exploring  the Isles of Barra and Vatersay I caught the ferry at the north end of the island that took me over to South Uist with the Tenere —

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The day started out dry with bleak sunshine but it wasn’t long before I caught up with the black clouds as I followed the only road north and soon the heavens opened. The rain was of monsoon proportions and much of the single track road was flooded with whole hillsides on the move as water poured off in torrents.

I have a habit of cracking on in these conditions and ‘crack on’ I did. All the way to the northern ferry terminal at Lochmaddy hoping to get the afternoon boat to Skye thinking I might find more comfort on the mainland. Yes I’d had enough of the extreme conditions and was soaked through.

But – there was no way off the island as it transpired that the ferry was broken down over in North Uist and wouldn’t arrive in Lochmaddy till the following day at the earliest. To make things worse – every spare bed had been booked for miles around as the annual lamb sales should have been taking place that very day. The ferry breakdown left the buyers stuck over on the Isle of Skye and the unsold lambs were being removed from the pens and put on pasture till things got back to normal.

There was nothing else for it but to climb back on the bike and head out of town with the hope that I would find a bed for the night at an outlying croft. More by luck than good judgement I found myself riding over a causeway to the Island of Berneray where a roadside shop-cum-restaurant was open. The helpful chef-of-all-trades phoned his friend Gloria at her B&B over the hill and she was able to take me in. Phew – Saved!

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After a good night’s sleep the morning sun persuaded me to leave the Ten in Gloria’s big shed beside her Massey Ferguson and take a walk over the mahair to the three mile beach —

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Once on the beach there was no stopping me and I walked all the way round the island which was a deal further than I expected —

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Beautiful sand —

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with glorious views to the mountains on North and South Uist —

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Magnificent —

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I even found an old boat buried in the sand —

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I’m no great sailor but there’s something about old boats that tickle my fancy —

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I stayed three nights with Gloria before heading south again to Lochboisdale for the boat to Oban. It seemed that every time I took to the road torrential rain would greet me there and I was glad to get out of my wet clothes and under a hot shower in a hotel room soon after berthing in Oban close to midnight.

Again this is a re-write of my original post but I’m so pleased I found more photos of this beautiful island. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I would have had difficulty believing we had such a beautiful coastline in Scotland.

The Beaches of Berneray

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Posted by on January 12, 2013 in Uncategorized



Tenere at Barra Beach Airport

About forty years ago when my elder brother Jim was earning a living as a diver on civil engineering projects on the west coast of Scotland he would tell me about his escapades when towing a barge loaded with pipe out to the Isle of Barra at the most southerly end of the Outer Hebrides and laying it there.

It has taken me a long time to follow in his footsteps – reason being I’ve been kinda busy myself till now but I finally made it out there last year. I had the dubious comfort of a Calmac ferry and even that turned many of the passengers green so I can imagine there would be a touch of the Parahandy’s in that little tugboat. No doubt it would take much longer than the five and half hours that my ferry did the trip in.

But – he didn’t use the tug on every trip. His company had it’s own aircraft – a little push-me – pull-me twin engined device that may even have confused our resident Armchair Pilot.

It was something like this Cessna here —


It had one prop in the normal place in front and another between the twin tailbooms to the rear – hence my description of it as a ‘push me – pull me’ plane. Jim was the first to tell me about the hairy landings on the beach on Barra. I have no doubt that over the intervening years many thousand of people have flown safely in and out of the island – especially now that there is a daily commercial flight with Fly-Be.

The thought of landing on the beach still tickles me and I made a couple of trips there with my camera during my visit to Barra with the Tenere in August 2012 —

This is the approach road —

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and the landing ‘strip’ – but only at low tide —

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Here’s our plane coming in now —

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It all looks quite civilised and I can vouch for the tea and home made scones served up by the ladies in the airport café —

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Time to start engines —

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and off she goes —

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I didn’t need the horizontal windsock to know that she was taking off into a howling gale! I came out of the tearoom with a mug of coffee and the wind spiralled every drop out of the deep mug before I’d walked ten paces 🙂

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Ah – the otters! I spotted them chasing a fish when I called in at the deserted ferry terminal to check out sailing times as I was heading over to South Uist the following day.

Neat —

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Barra Beach Airport

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Posted by on January 11, 2013 in Uncategorized



Tenere goes over the sea to Barra

The Isle of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides – not so far away at just over 300 miles by road on the Tenere – it just feels like a long way when I include the ferry crossings! By late August last year I was tired of hearing about the brilliant summer the Western Isles were enjoying and decided to go see for myself.

My jumping off point was Oban where I was to catch the Calmac Ferry to Castlebay on the Isle of Barra and it was a ‘Drookit Don’ who turned up on the quay after battling gales and torrential rain on the 200 mile ride from my home to the port. My expensive Gore-tex lined jacket and trousers bought in the Hein Gericke closing down sale proved no match for a proper Scottish downpour!

Once again the Ten is in pole position for the ferry to the islands —

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I was joined by a Huddersfield couple. They had travelled up on ‘Sunny Sunday’ and camped overnight. With a bike each they were well kitted out.

Their bikes;

His – a Triumph Tiger in a fetching gold colour —

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And hers – a BMW ST800 twin —

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There weren’t many vehicles for the ferry and soon we were leaving the rain behind and heading up through the Sound of Mull —

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The lighthouse is just west of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull —

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Conditions got rough after we passed the Isle of Coll and there was a steady – or should I say – unsteady stream of people grabbing paper bags and staggering off to the toilets. I’m not sure why the toilets? I prefer to let it rip over the rail into the sea! but fortunately I didn’t suffer seasickness on this occasion.

The ferry had been two hours late leaving Oban due to a road closure at Tyndrum holding up a service bus and the captain had been instructed to wait for it’s arrival so it was 22.30hrs when we felt our way into Castlebay Harbour. I went in the wrong direction when I left the boat and was fortunate to find my pre-booked B&B on that dark hillside above the bay.

Next morning as I drew back the curtains about 07.00hrs this was my view from my bedroom window—

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I was looking straight across the bay onto a white sand beach on the Isle of Vatersay! It had been a photograph of this same Vatersay beach that I had come across earlier in the year that triggered my ambition to visit the Isle of Barra and it’s neighbours. Technically Vatersay is no longer a seperate island as it has been joined to Barra by a causeway and it’s possible to ride over. Later in the day I did just that and there are times when the glare from the white sandy beaches can hurt your eyes —

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The Isles of Barra and Vatersay by Tenere

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Posted by on January 10, 2013 in Uncategorized



Gixxer Glam

Winter Gixxer 002The wraps came off my gixxer today – but not for long. A quick once-over and she went back under the covers again for another month at least.

I found this PTFE based protective spray in Halfords during the Christmas break and have been waiting for a dry day to uncover my bike and givit a blast – just from the spray can unfortunately.

It will be a few weeks yet before she is on the road but we’ve had early mild weather for the past two years so I best be prepared to catch the chance of dry roads when they come.

A hospital visit put paid to my plans to run her last autumn which means it is over a year since she was on the road as the Tenere tends to take precedence. Perhaps this year will be different.

I fitted new handlebars to the Gixxer a few months back and I am hoping they will improve the riding position but it’s hard to tell without a long day in the saddle. I will give her every opportunity to impress because I like her light weight and eager performance from what is a genuine 600 sports bike motor and chassis.

OK – I’ve had her double-wrapped for freshness under two bike covers long enough —

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Let’s get ’em off and see how she is faring back there during what has been a very damp twelve months of being idle —

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M-mmm — not bad from this angle. There’s a bit of moisture here and there that a quick wipe with an old T shirt will fix —

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Then spray some of that Muck-off about her – let her sit for a bit then wipe off the excess —

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Hey! I almost forgot – there’s a barely used 190 section rear tyre in there this year courtesy of my Yorkshire mate Jaffa Cake —

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Something else to look forward to trying out. Childish I know but that’s how it is with ‘boys and their toys’ – we do like to play —

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She’s lookin good 🙂

Must remember to take it easy for the first few miles because the overspray from that Muck-off left the damp paving around the bike slippery as ice and no doubt some of it will transfer to the tyres where it will possibly have the same effect. The blurb on the can reckons all the bike will need after a ride is a quick wash to retain her shine. Magic!

I’ve also decided to splash out on a new battery for her as the old one was getting rather tired and needed to be regularly refreshed. With less than ten thousand miles on the clock in ten years including long spells off the road it’s not really the way to treat a battery. So ebay here I come.

Wraps off the Gixxer

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Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Uncategorized