Monthly Archives: January 2014

KTM 990 Adventure 30th Edition Dakar

I'm in LoveI know I’m fickle but this is ridiculous. I already have two bikes and can make a case for keeping them both as they are so very different. But – there I was thinking I was safe in a big Honda dealership. Couldn’t possibly be anything in their model range that would interest me since they discontinued the Africa Twin. I even thought it safe to take a stroll round the Used Bikes department.

That’s when I saw her! A hawk amongst pigeons! A stunning blue low mileage 2011 KTM Adventure 990 30th Edition Dakar! Must be the longest name in biking and my tongue was hanging out to match when I set eyes on her —


I must have ridden over a hundred bikes in my life but never a KTM apart from couple of their big singles on test rides. I did once put a deposit down on a blue Paris Dakar Replica Limited Edition to be built by the late John Deacon of Paris-Dakar fame. A last minute change to spec I didn’t agree with meant I pulled out and lost my deposit. Doh!

The Deacon bike would have been something like this —


In more recent years I have lusted after the 990 Adventure too. They are a class act with top of the range suspension – the correct wheels and everything else to match. But they usually come in KTM Orange and that is enough to put off even a colour-blind ijit like me.

But not this baby —

Ktm cockpit

Scots Blue with twin long range fuel tanks – heated grips and the wired up mount for a Garmin Sat-Nav – which being a dedicated ‘mapman’ I haven’t got. But I learned to ride a computer – sort of – so a sat-nav shouldn’t be beyond me. There’s beefy fatbars as standard plus top spec suspension – suede covered seat – engine protection and a centre stand.

Probably much more too but I’ve run out of superlatives —

KTM Poser

Yes I know the base model has been around a long time. This one to commemorate the 30th running of the Dakar is a tarted up version to help sell the end of the KTM production run for the original Adventure. The company recently replaced it with a more powerful model fitted with all the bells and whistles and a big 1190 motor that I don’t need. What this babe has is the stonking 115bhp power-plant from the ‘R’ model in place of the cookin 100 brake horse jobbie. Most new bikes of that ilk from the various manufacturers let electronics run the show in their latest guise but I still have faith in my right hand – just like the 990 Adventure I guess I’m ‘old school’

But – can I bring myself to part with the Tenere —


and the 600 gixxer —

A spire too 015

I doubt it – but a guy can dream can’t he 🙂


KTM 990 Adventure 30th Edition Dakar 🙂

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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Uncategorized



Scots Pine – Scotland’s National Tree

Lonesome PineYes I believe it’s official and contrary to the hornet’s nest that propositions for the golden eagle as Scotland’s National Bird kicked up – this one has made it on merit with the Rowan tree in second place a long way behind.

I have long been an admirer of the Scot’s Pine and it has often graced my photographs – usually standing in solitude against a blue horizon. Not that I’m claiming all of the photographs in this post are mine as I have found many of them with the help of Google. With the lack of a filing system in my own galleries it would take me too long to construct the page so I’m doing it the lazyman’s way.

The Scot’s Pine – or is it Scots Pine? I’m never sure but like I said it’s often pictured in solitary splendour against a blue backdrop —


Sometimes they come in pairs – on postcards anyway —


or even a threesome —


and if you are really lucky – a whole pine forest.

Now this is my photo —


No doubt some cleverclogs will tell me they aren’t Scot’s Pines but I don’t mind – it’s one of my favourite photos taken where Culbin Forest meets the sea and walking on a soft bed of pine needles with the smell of resin on the warm air is my kind of bliss.

Mature forests of Scots Pine are a rarity in Scotland. This is a crying shame and confirms the vandalism practised by the Forestry Commission and owners of the vast sporting estates that make up Scotland’s wild places. They have covered our hillsides with fast growing Scandinavian species of pine, spruce, fir and larch. It will take several decades but hopefully they have learned from their mistakes which to be kind were brought on by the austere post war period to provide pit-props for the coal industry.

Native birds and animals cannot exist in such a dense soulless habitat and this is seen in the dangerous decline in numbers of the capercaillie —

Wood grouse

The pine martin —


and other’s such as the Scottish crossbill —


dovetailedNot only is the Scots Pine a feast for the eyes as it grows but it can be made into handsome furniture which in true Scottish fashion is at it’s best when ‘well oiled’.

Thanks to all the photographers who have had their work pirated for this Post and if you get in touch I will ensure credit is given where it’s due.

Particularly to fellow blogger – Reena of ‘Missing Moments’ who was fortunate enough to have these thirsty crossbills visit her garden in early January —

Reena of Missing Moments

So – if you want to plant a tree in Scotland – why not plant a Scots Pine —

Scots pine cones

and watch it grow into one like this —


Pinus Silvestris – sometimes known here as the Caledonian Pine or Scot’s Pine. It can be found all across Europe and beyond to Eastern Siberia. A strange choice really as I understand it was brought here by the Romans and probably explains why I felt at home in Istria where their Legions have also left their mark. Not only did they leave the welll preserved coliseum behind in Pula —


but they also left the ancestors of the lovely pine trees on the Adriatic coast south of Porec that I was fortunate to camp amongst for a summer not so long ago —

Croatia 2008 025

Cosmopolitan Pinus Silvestris or Caledonian Pine – a fitting choice for a mongrel nation 🙂

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Posted by on January 30, 2014 in out and about


Cow Green Reservoir

Cow Green ReservoirCow Green Reservoir – I remember you well. Part concrete – part earth fill dam 2000ft up in the Northern Pennines. The coldest place I had worked up to that point in my life. It was before I discovered thermal underwear and gloves were for cissies – weren’t they?

I’m talking 1967 when I arrived to build the big concrete batching plant that was to produce all of the concrete for the dam to be built in the high reaches of the River Tees to provide water for the booming industries downriver around Middlesboro.

The batching plant, workshops and site offices were on the flat ground to the right of the road in the picture – only a few sheep graze there now —


Construction of the dam had been delayed for years by the environmentalists because of the rare flora and fauna growing in the valley that was due to be flooded. Most publicity was granted at the time to the Himalayan Orchid but I can find no mention of it now unless it has changed it’s name to the Teesdale Violet.

The Himalayan Orchid —

Himalayan Orchid

Well worth saving – and we did. They were moved to safer ground before the valley was flooded —


A part concrete and part earth fill dam isn’t the easiest thing to make watertight. I can remember the contractors were drilling and pumping grout (liquid concrete) into cracks in the rock floor downstream from the dam in an attempt to seal the leaks while the water backed up the valley beside me as I removed the batching plant on completion of the job —

Cow Green

Quite tidy even if I say so mesel – and the river downstream may look peaceful at the Cauldron’s Snout —


Until they open the floodgates at the dam – then it’s time to watch out if you are walking in the area —


But you will be OK so long as they don’t pull the plug when you are paddling by the dam —

Swimming in Cow Green

Or fishing downstream for that matter —


A lovely part of the country and with all this talk of ‘global warming’ it’s hard to imagine we had 18ft snow drifts closing the access road between Alston and Middleton on Teesdale in April/May time back then.

Cow Green Reservoir

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Posted by on January 27, 2014 in out and about


Natalie B – The New Girl in Town

Natalie B – a nice name for the new girl in town. I spotted her this morning looking smart considering she was built back in 1967 —

Natalie B 005

Beam rigged for dredging scallops with a useful 373KW Deutz marine diesel downstairs. At least that’s what’s listed but she has changed names and owners and port of registration more than once in her forty odd years so there’s every chance her motor has been changed too —

Natalie B 004

Steel hulled and weighing in at 124 tonnes for her 26metre length she certainly looks built for the job —

Natalie B 001

Although I did have to pirate a pic off the net to show her in full —

Natalie-B H1074 (q1)+

and another – probably berthed in the north-east judging by the background —

natalie b


Here she is at work —

Hull reg Natalie B

and I had to look twice at this one before I got the full picture —

Natalie B x 2

Natalie B – The New Girl in Town

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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in out and about


Tenderised by Tenere

Tenere Trumps 016 My Yamaha Tenere XTZ 660. Yes I’ve still got the Wee Ten despite partially blaming her for the sore butt I’ve been having fixed for the past sixteen months. I didn’t find the saddle was a comfortable place to be on during the long days I spent there as I traipsed across Europe.

But it wasn’t Europe that got me in the end (sic). It was a soaking wet eight – ten days tour of the Outer Hebrides so perhaps the much-maligned Tenere seat wasn’t to blame after all. There was certaiunly little respite from soggy bike suits – torrential rain and flooded roads followed by delayed ferries and long ferry journeys in damp clothes on that trip.

The run up to Oban from down here in south-west Scotland was done in torrential rain – enough to overwhelm my new Heine Gerricke Goretex lined suit and it was still damp when I made an early morning start from my overnight digs in Oban. It was a short run round the harbour to the ferry terminal and the Ten and I were soon on the Calmac boat for the long sail to the Isle of Barra —


Leaving the rain behind through the Sound of Mull —

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The view over to Vatersay from my bedroom window on Barra —

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and in close-up —

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Of course I had to check out the landing strip on the beach —

Hebrides 028

and polish the otter’s head —

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before leaving on the short ferry trip to South Uist —

Hebrides 046

South Uist passed in a water soaked blurr – whole hillsides appeared to be pouring across the single track road at some points and all I wanted was to get over to Skye and better weather. But the ferry was broken down and somehow I found my way to the beautiful Isle of Berneray —

Hebrides 063

A welcome B&B gave me a good night’s sleep and I left the Ten in the shed next to the Massey Ferguson tractor and walked the white sandy beaches under blue skies all the way round the island —

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Next day I was back to riding in torrential rain but I do treasure this rare sunset —

Hebrides 053

There had been drier trips in previous years – this time the Ten and I are on the Isle of Tiree —

Tiree 096

amongst thatched cottages —

Tiree 097

and white sandy beaches —

Tiree 168

But the white stuff isn’t always sand —


Although the Landy Lads like it up by the ski slopes —


It was just a matter of clearing the snow off the bike outside the bunkhouse in Braemar where I had spent a couple of nights then heading up to the ski slopes at Glenshee —


Another day I was in Scottish Border country not too far from Hermitage Castle where I found a trail with a ford to wet the tyres a time or two —


Time for a mug of tea while waiting for the lads to turn up on an away day to Kielder in Northumberland —


This time she is parked a tad nearer home by the Solway Firth —


She’s a bike for all roads —

Single Track 038

or no roads —

March bike 007

and sunny days too —

The Urr 010

So what brought this on? Well – after missing the joys of motorcycling for the past sixteen months while the medics did their thing in a place where I can’t keep an eye on what they are doing I think I’m sorted. So sure am I that I went to check the Tenere out at a friend’s house where she has been hibernating and found her as tidy as the day back in Feb 2009 when I bought her new —


and despite her twenty thousand hard miles she fired up on the button like a good-un —

Tenere mods 004

Where to this time? —


Maybe Berneray —

Hebrides 073

Or will it be Tiree?

Tiree walk 016

That’s the morning sun as seen from the Isle of Tiree.


Yamaha Tenere XTZ 660


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Posted by on January 18, 2014 in Uncategorized



Life in a Lighthouse?

Lighthouse 009A quick scroll through Exchange & Mart will show a few decommissioned lighthouses for sale. Some have been bought with the best of intentions and turned into restaurants – B&B’s and letting apartments. Somewhere along the way the very remoteness that appealed in the first place can come into play and the property goes back on the market.

There are a few to chose from at the moment but only for those with deep pockets. The one for sale on my doorstep is Killantringan Lighthouse just a short hop as the crow flies north of Portpatrick on the Southern Upland Long Distance Walk.

The asking price is just under half a million which is a snip compared with some further south where figures approaching one and half mil is the going rate.

Killantringan or Portpatrick Lighthouse as it is called in some sales lit —


Ireland is over there somewhere and if it’s blowing a hoolie you can always watch it in comfort from here —


But for those odd days when there’s no cold wind whistling round the tower – this hits the spot —


I could work in this kitchen and as a life-long user of Michelin tyres on my bikes it shouldn’t be difficult to pick up a few stars for my past support should I decide to branch out into the restaurant trade —


So – there are all mod-cons and comfort too in these places —


But – that was the dream – now for the reality —



Winter weather - Feb 6th


Do you still want to live in a lighthouse? 🙂

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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in out and about


All Washed Up

My larch planks are rotted – my oak ribs are sprung —

Sea Shanty 050

My rudder has gone missing – from where it hung —

Sea Shanty 032

I’ve sailed for glory – had my time in the sun —

Sea Shanty 054

Now my bolts are all rusted – my working life done 

Sea Shanty 052

‘They’ve stolen my engine’ – hear my plaintive cry —

Sea Shanty 037

Sold to the scrapman – for the price of a pie —

Sea Shanty 060

I’m done with fishing – I gave it my best —

Sea Shanty 034

I’m washed up on the shore – and here I will rest —

Sea Shanty 028


With apologies to that other great Scottish bard – Rabbie Burns 🙂

All Washed Up

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Posted by on January 11, 2014 in out and about