Monthly Archives: March 2015

Slip-sliding the Ten

Having spent the morning watching Sebastion Vettel upset the Mercedes Formula One applecart with his Ferrari out there in Malaysia as the rain came down in torrents outside my window here in D&G – I was ready for a spot of action by the afternoon.

buckets 003

Out came the Ten —

buckets 001

and we dodged the threatening rain clouds best we could as we slipped and slid our way around the backroads.

buckets 008

I had opted for ‘hard compound’ Michelin Anakees at my last tyre change with less wear per miles covered in mind.

buckets 009

So much for economy – they certainly weren’t my favourite tyre out there today.

buckets 011

No worries – we stayed shiny side up —

buckets 012

and came home in one piece 🙂

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 29, 2015 in Uncategorized



Tenere Tracks Phytophthora Ramorum

Phytophtghora Ramorum 003Phytophthora Ramorun – more than a mouthfull – and so it should be.

PR for short – is responsible for the upsurge in forestry operations in the Galloway Forest Park leading to the closure of some of the cycling trails and the general increase in heavy trucks needed to transport the cut logs to the sawmill.

There are no half measures with PR as it is the deadly fungus that has infected the majority of the larch trees in the massive Galloway Forest and the only answer appears to be to takeall the larch out.

A bridge closure had me marooned in the garden behind the Tea Room up at Carsphairn earlier today.

There being no demand for newspapers in Carsphairn – and – to help the latte go down – I picked up the 2015 free edition of the Galloway Ranger instead. All is revealed therein.

In 2014 alone there were 80,000 tonnes of larch harvested in the Forest Park.

Phytophtghora Ramorum 001

If left to do it’s nasty work the fungus causes the tree tops to dry out and they are liable to come down on the unwary.

Phytophtghora Ramorum 004

Early harvesting defeats the fungus and saves the resinous timber for a variety of uses such as chalet building and other outdoor artefacts.

Phytophtghora Ramorum 008

Apparently the sawn timber carries no risk of the diseased spores spreading but as usual the UK is lagging behind and believe it or not – China is the main beneficiary of this glut in forestry products.

Phytophtghora Ramorum 018

While we burn the needles and bark as bio-mass fuel in our power stations.

Phytophtghora Ramorum 006

Why is there no immediate re-planting? The felled areas are to be left fallow for three years to reduce the risk of re-infestation.

Phytophtghora Ramorum 014

After three years re-planting with a mix of conifer and broadleaf species will in time change the area for the better by creating a more natural looking forest for wildlife and visitors to enjoy.

Phytophtghora Ramorum 011

Happy Days ahead 🙂

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 25, 2015 in Uncategorized



Birthday Rider

Had another birthday on Saturday 21st March – the first day of Spring.

The weather played it’s part —

PP 21 Mar 003

it was too good to waste —

PP 21 Mar 005

so I headed for the coast —

PP 21 Mar 001

on the Ten —

PP 21 Mar 002

I guess that’s Port Patrick over there 🙂

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 23, 2015 in Uncategorized



Danny Long Legs Takes Ten

019I’ve got my Collithie Grannie to thank for the ‘Danny’ moniker. I stayed with her as a 2-3 year old during the war when my old man signed up to fight for King and Country.

My two older brothers were also farmed out. In their case with an aunt while my mother underwent a series of painful lumber punctures or ‘spinal taps’ at Aberdeen Infirmary.

I must have been all legs and lugs seventy years ago but thankfully I grew into them as I reached my late teens. The ‘legs’ came from my grandad but the ‘lugs’ must have come from a passing elephant.

I can laugh about them now but I took some cruel jibes for my big ears during my schooldays. ‘Taxi wi the doors open’ – was one of the kinder cuts that I remember.

No worries – for another thing my grandad passed on to me was a love of motorcycling. I still have it and as soon as the torrential rain laid off about mid-afternoon today I was kitted out and away on the bike.

The Galloway Hills are an easy reach —

003 - Copy

and the forestry isn’t much further —

011 - Copy

It’s a wonderful feeling to get out there on two wheels —


The countryside around here reminds me of the hills and forests above Gartly where my mother’s family came from —


And with the Tenere roosting by the back door it was possible to make the most of the fleeting bit of sunshine we had late this afternoon —


Magic 🙂

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 11, 2015 in Uncategorized



Scottish Pan’s Piper meets XT500

Honda ST 1100There is probably something for everyone at the Scottish Motorcycle Show taking place at Ingliston Show Ground alongside Edinburgh Airport this weekend..

There’s the noise of angry engines coming from the skidpan or whatever it is where the stuntmen operate just inside the main gate.

Hard to tell. Tall as I am it’s impossible to get a view over the crowds gathered out there despite the inclement weather.

Then there’s the main hall for dealers and more official offerings such as Carole Nash Insurance where I was pleased to find they have resurrected the ‘Rider’s Policy.’ It was such a boon to those with more than one bike when Norwich Union offered it back in the day…

XT500at the Show 002

The proof will be in the pudding when I ring the Carole Nash office next week with hopes of registering my bunch of bikes with them.

XT500at the Show 003

Lastly – unless I missed something – there’s the quiet of the Classic Bike hall with it’s club stands – one make Owner’s Groups and everything from vintage to modern modified bikes on display.

XT500at the Show 001

That’s where I stumbled across the Scottish Pan European Owner’s Club stand and after sampling a ‘welcome’ pancake and home made jam with free coffee there was nothing else for it but to Join Up!

So we are now official Pan’s Pipers 🙂

fj rebuild 008

Yes I know – my post is covered with pics from the show of one of the nicest looking bikes I’ve ever owned. The Yamaha XT500 as it was marketed in the UK back in the seventies – and the more off-road orientated TT version which was sold Stateside.

XT500at the Show 004

There were four fine examples of the bike on display and if I ever do get my FJ1100 back together and out the door this year – it could well be an XT of some kind that takes it’s place.

fj rebuild 001

But – the big FJ will do to practise on in the meantime 🙂

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 7, 2015 in Uncategorized



A Shock for FJ

Shock for FJ 005A shock for the FJ1100. In some respects it was for me too as I didn’t expect to be this far on. The bike appears to be coming together despite me – as I only put in a few hours on her now and again. Just one of the benefits of being long time retired.

This FJ has an aftermarket Hagon shock fitted. The paint on the spring is a bit shabby but I’m not too worried about that at the moment. If she works well enough when complete she can stay there for the time being as the budget on this ‘project bike’ is tighter than a gnat’s chuff.

Understandable – considering I only started it to keep me off the streets this winter.

At least the shock linkage on this thirty years old bike has plenty of grease nipples fitted as standard. We seldom see a nipple on modern bikes – unless it’s a decorative one complete with tassles at Bike Shows —

Shock for FJ 006

The shock and the swing arm went in this afternoon – and – yes – I remembered to hook the arm through the endless final drive chain before bolting the swingarm in place —

Shock for FJ 016

The bolts holding the frame parts together are not much more than finger tight so it left a bit of ‘wiggle’ room – handy when locating the long swingarm pivot bolt —

Shock for FJ 013

Things are going well —

Shock for FJ 018

Even the exhaust header pipe clamps are cleaning up nicely —

Shock for FJ 012

A pleasant surprise as I thought they were well tarnished when I took them off the bike. I simply soaked them in degreaser – left them for a few days – then got the wire brush onto them —

Shock for FJ 001

The two on the right are not exactly pristine but they will do for me at this stage 🙂


Leave a comment

Posted by on March 5, 2015 in Yamaha FJ1100



Pan Eleven Comes Home

Mr Honda's Magic Carpet 005Never thought I would see this day when a Pan Eleven would have a place in my heart.

In my shed perhaps – but in my heart – No Way!

But – when I first rode the Honda ST1100 Pan European last month through the snow covered landscape – I knew – that by hook or by crook – she would be coming to stay.

Wasn’t till I got her home that I discovered just how big she is.

On the road she feels no size at all. In fact the way she picked her path over the hilly backroads in the snow was a revelation. Her sure-footedness would have put many – much smaller bikes to shame.

It wasn’t until she came into the shed that I realised I had brought a monster into our midst.

None of my bike covers fit.

fj rebuild 008

and she has a ‘J-Lo’ butt!

fj rebuild 009

No worries – she’s a ‘keeper’ —

fj rebuild 010

More important – there IS one thing that fits and that’s ME 🙂

fj rebuild 011

It’s twenty years since I rode the BMW 1100GS in Green Spain – and – it’s twenty years since this Honda ST1100 first put rubber on the road. My BMW covered 42000mls in her first year. This bonnie Honda has covered 24000mls in twenty years!

High time she caught up 🙂


Leave a comment

Posted by on March 4, 2015 in Uncategorized



FJ 1100 – Rebuild Starts Here

Winter will soon be over so I had better make a start to putting the FJ back together. With the heavy lump of a motor already sitting on wooden blocks mating the frame to the motor wasn’t too difficult.

Simply a case of laying the main frame over the top —

fj rebuild 001

Lining up the bottom rails —

fj rebuild 002

offering up the side plates —

fj rebuild 015

and sticking a few bolts in.

fj rebuild 003

Before bolting the inlet rubbers in place and hanging the carbs on 🙂



Leave a comment

Posted by on March 3, 2015 in Yamaha FJ1100



Green Spain on the BMW 1100GS

Twenty years ago I toured Green Spain with my partner on a BMW 1100GS – her first tour on a motorcycle. The plan was to ride anti-clockwise all round the Iberian Peninsula. This is the story of our trip – it turned out to be a much better experience than it reads.

I made the mistake initially of trying to cover big mileages most days. Difficult back then when the main roads wound around every cove and headland along that northern coast. Ok for the rider but not fair on the inexperienced pillion.

Strathcarron – Wester Ross – more deer than people and don’t mention the midgies —

a deer place

The month long trip started in Srathcarron in the north-west of Scotland and our route took us south to Portsmouth to catch a ferry over to Le Havre on the north coast of France – possibly Normandy. I don’t do main toll roads on a bike if I can help it and found some ‘interesting’ roads from Le Havre down to La Rochelle and it’s beautiful sand dunes on the Bay of Biscay.

Atlantic Coast – copyright Fred Mawer —

French Atlantic Coast by Fred Mawer

We didn’t hang around in busy but expensive La Rochelle and found a small, off-the-beaten track town further south for our first night in France. We had to travel a few miles out of town for our evening meal – it proved ‘interesting’. Some unfortunate animal’s intestines stuffed with unmentionables in a sort of watery gravy with a couple of veg. Last time I had something similar was in a Mexican restaurant in Kuala Lumpur and I didn’t enjoy it then either! I thought perhaps they had forgotten to cook the meal as most of it was pretty raw! Is that what they mean by ‘al dente’

St Jean de Luc harbour —

St Jean de Luz

No worries! I knew of a beautiful town on the coast a few kilometres south of Biarritz and was sure that a relaxed lunch the following day at a pavement table by the harbour would soon have my partner smiling again. Unfortunately my response to an unforseen incident involving a favourite crash helmet that had it bouncing along the hard ground at a service stop en-route didn’t go down well and even the beautiful charms of St Jean de Luc were wasted.

Nothing else for it – get back on the bike and open the throttle. Soon we were across the border into Spain past Donostia-San Sebastian – past Bilbao to overnight at a roadside guesthouse near Laredo. Food was basic and our room was – – – just a room.

Laredo – the bay is so-o beautiful — but we didn’t stop there —

Time to make the trip more interesting. Being a ‘World Traveller’ I ‘knew’ that there was more fun to be had on the back roads away from the tourist areas on the coast. Perhaps for me – but not for my partner. She was still happy to regard herself as a tourist.

Picos de EuropaAnother downside of cutting away from the coast were the mountains. The Picos de Europa really are mountains and mountains inevitably mean rain in late September – and rain it did.

My decision to have a small brandy with my after lunch coffee to keep in step with the truckers in that roadside cafe didn’t go down well either.

If the passenger is in a bit of a mood when he or particularly she puts her helmet on then that mood is likely to be much worse when the helmet is removed a couple of hours later!

If I’d known there was an airport near Santander I would have been pleased to go there and buy her a ticket – to – anywhere!

We discussed the trip when we got round to talking – much – much later – only to discover we had both been of the same mind.

Night saw us back on the coast in the picturesqe San Vincente de la Barquera. Not very big but nice. Spanish seaside landladies don’t mess about and have voices that could strip varnish at fifty paces. We stopped in the town centre. Within minutes we were involved in a tug-of-war between two drama queens fighting over who would have the bikers to stay!

While this was going on a little Spanish guy whispered to me ‘try there’ – or words to that effect – pointing at the town centre church like building right beside us.

Santuari de Lluc Monastry – Mallorca —

Santuari de Lluc

It reminded me of a mini version of Lluc Monastry in the mountains of north-west Mallorca where I had enjoyed a stay while on a walking holiday and I thought a few quiet monks for company might be preferable to the saw-toothed landladies who were still giving it verbals.

The room proved to be clean if basic and best of all we were allowed to wrestle the big GS through the heavy oak doors and park her safely at the bottom of the stairs. I will say that all this was conducted using hand signals and grunts as my knowledge of Spanish hasn’t gone any further than a very poor ‘dos cafe con leche’.

I could see that my reputation as a seasoned World Traveller was going downhill in my partner’s estimation. The monks had obviously had enough of the competition too as they appeared to have moved on.

Onwards meant westwards and we lost a bit of time in Gijon while I found a BMW motorcycle dealer who replaced my speedo cable under warranty on the GS. The tyre fitter in Dundee hadn’t located the drive properly when I bought the pimply new tyres prior to our trip.  The result was that the inadvertent wheelie off the rough unloading ramp from the ferry in Le Havre stretched and broke the cable. Great service in Gijon BMW and all for free!

Cudillero was the next town along the coast followed by Luarca about forty kilometres later. We were to stop for a few nights in Luarca. The first night in a room with no windows. I think it was a converted garage but we found somewhere more suitable next day.

We visited nearby Cudillero. It was Fiesta time —

We like to think the Scots invented the bagpipes – so-o wrong!

A Coruna was the next major city followed about one hundred kilometres later by Cape Fisterro – the most westerly point of Spain.

Next stop New York!

The ijit pose – ‘I see no Americas!’ —

I put my shirt back on and we headed for Santiago de Compostela – the end of the Pilgrims Trail that people walk every year from somewhere in France – probably Lourdes. The Spanish beds were taking their toll on my back by this time and we found a small town on the coast to rest up for a couple of days.

Two more nights in a bed with a big dip in the middle only made my back worse so it was back on the road into the teeth of a howling gale coming off the Atlantic! The bike had to be leant into the wind at what felt like forty-five degrees! If a truck acted as a windbreak while we were overtaking we would shoot sideways in the sudden lull!

‘Sudden lull’? Can you have a sudden lull? Well we did! Lots of ’em! There’s a whole lot of trucks on that road!

After struggling with the gale force wind for many miles we turned and ran east with it at our backs all the way to Verin near the border with Portugal. First night there coincided with another fiesta. There were lots of free activities and attractions in the town square so we found a pavement table outside a bar and settled down

It was all too easy! No sooner were we finished one San Miguel than another cold one was handed out the window which was in-line with our table and the bar inside! At the end of the night when we tried to settle up no one would accept any money. It took the ‘fair one’ three days to recover from alcohol poisoning! She barely left her bed in all that time!

One fine day we mounted up and headed south into Portugal —

I was loving Portugal! Roads winding round, up and over hills covered with chestnut trees. Small farms. My kinda country. We found ourselves in Braganca – a busy small town about as far north and east as you can get in Portugal without being back in Spain.

The ‘fair one’ didn’t seem too impressed with Portugal. Perhaps it was when I gave the dog in a roadhouse a slice of ham from my sandwich and the brute spat it back onto the floor!

Time for a conflab! Things weren’t going too well! It was decided that we would head back to Luarca on the Spanish north coast and chill out for a week. No problemo. I set my mental compass for north and headed that way. It turned out there were beautiful lakes – roasting hot desert like areas where the locals lived underground in the summer and fierce mountains with ski-lifts for the winter visitors. I loved it but I wasn’t allowed to do it twice.

An overnight stop by the lakes of Sanabria had us ready for the tough stuff and it was hard going up over the mountains and through that desert. There was even coal being mined on one drab hillside and we were soon black with the slime off the wet roads at that stage making Luarca a welcome sight when we reached there after spending a night in a university town on the way. Whatever mileage you think you can do in a day it is better to half it over the winding roads of Green Spain. Especially two up with luggage!

We stayed in Luarca for a week before heading home to Scotland —

I’m pleased to say our fledgling relationship survived the trip – plus a few more adventures over the next thirteen years before life eventually had it’s way and we bid ‘adios’


Don 🙂

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 1, 2015 in Uncategorized