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Monthly Archives: August 2021

Never Return to the Scene of Your Crimes

Well that’s what they say but coming down off the Sheriffmuir t’other day I couldn’t help but take the turn into Blackford – the place where Highland Spring bottled water comes from. I lived there briefly in my mid-teens and even after leaving for pastures new at a farm outside Dunblane I would go back to Blackford for the Saturday night dancing to Jimmy Shand Jnr or something similar. Back then a modern quickstep would be followed by a Scottish country dance – it was where I learned about girls and how to dance with them.

I also learned about the demon drink – a little would loosen up the legs and feet – a lot would come back and sting you before the evening was over. Knowledge doesn’t come cheap and a few beers in the tiny Blackford Inn on the back street of two with my mate Rab Rennie had to be followed by a trip along the optics – finishing at the Glayva – it’s seductive golden syrupy colour and tangerine/almond/honey tinged with cinammon flavour sent me over to the nearby Village Hall as if walking on air.

Jimmy’s accordian was going great guns that night – the girls were birrling faster and faster – when – in the middle of a Strip the Willow I had to clap my hand over my mouth and head for the door! I just made it – sick as a pig and hungover for three days – my old man was seldom amused and he certainly wasn’t by that escapade!

I was seventeen going on an official eighteen on my last visit – now 62 years later I doubt if these legs could do the Strip the Willow or an Eightsome Reel even if I drank the whole cask of the stuff!

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2021 in out and about

 

The Battle of Sheriffmuir 1715

This yin wisnae fitba’ — it was juist anither grudge match between the Stewarts and a’ the rest that knew which side there bread wis buttered on —

The Stewarts under that big local saftie – the Earl o’ Marr and his fellow Toffs – had 12000 poorly trained and ill equipped fairmers – chancers and chanty wrastlers who were only there for the beer in his line-up while George1st – the first king of the new Britain put the Sassenach loving Duke of Argyle on the field with only 6000 trained and well sorted sojers at his disposal —

After a few hours spent throwing insults and bashing the living daylights out of one another the score read – Earl of Marr’s lot 250 dead – with the Duke of Argyle’s losses coming in nearer 750 —

The result was adjudged a draw — although it has gone down in history as one of Scotland’s great losses against the English – and that will be why that wee Yorkshire lass wi’ the Honda is the boss o’ me — go figure???

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2021 in out and about

 

Yamaha XT600E in Church Stretton

Some of my happiest biking days were spent ‘Green Laning’ on this bike – seen here parked outside my mate Brian Marshall’s bike shop in darkest Shropshire —

Brian had been Rights of Way Sec for the local branch of the TRF so there weren’t many Trails north -south – east or west that he didn’t know about and with over 100 miles under our wheels on any Sunday we certainly rode most of them back there in the late nineties —

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2021 in out and about

 

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Suzuki 1200 Bandit in Brittany

It was late 1990’s and by the look of that sheepskin I was pleased to buy from a roadside shop I was suffering with a tender derriere way back then —

There were to be many bikes and many many thousands of miles to be covered before I finally succumbed to the surgeons knife – and a lot of good that did me — it was about as much use as the sheepskin — and a lot messier lol!

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2021 in out and about

 

Heather Bells are Blooming on Ben Lawers

One of yesterday’s pics didn’t feature in my blog – so here it is in all it’s glory —

Makes me want to go back up there again today —

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2021 in out and about

 

Emergency Helicopter to the Washing Green

Was enjoying my macaroni and chips at Shutter’s in Killin earlier today when the fire engine came flying out of the Station across the road with all sirens howling and disappeared up the road at a rate of knots! Just had time to finish my roadside meal when the chopper appeared overhead and landed amongst the washing behind the restaurant —

Never did find out what it was all about for with food in the belly and sunshine overhead I was soon heading by Loch Tay for Ben Lawers and Glen Lyon —-

I never tire of the Big Scoot —

from hyway to byway —

it does it all —

and I don’t seem to mind that the first question I get from woolly headed fellow bikers is —

‘Why is there such a big space between the rear wheel and the underside of the seat?’ —

Who cares? For I don’t – she handles better than most bikes and it’s not sumthin that crosses my mind when I’m out there enjoying the ride —

I’m more concerned about what we are going to do when the water runs out – as it has done up here in the Dam on Ben Lawers —

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2021 in out and about

 

Scotland’s First Powered Flight

We had one in 1961 when I T-boned an errant Fiat 500 with my 650 BSA and flew for several yards in a Superman position before piling headfirst into a steel roadsign – leaving my spine hanging by a thread twixt 3rd and 4th vertebrae.

For the real thing we have to go all the way back to 1909 when pioneers in aviation Frank and Howard Barnwell built and flew their first plane in the shadow of the Wallace Monument at Causewayhead, Stirling.

The Yanks had the Wright Brothers while we had the Barnwell Boys who started the Grampian Engineering Company in Causewayhead in 1906 and the patterns for the wings and fuselage of their first plane were still in the machine shop loft when I joined the company fresh from the farms in 1960.

So the Wallace Monument is not the only memorial in Causwayehead – there is also one for Harold Barnwell even if he did only fly 80yds before nose-diving into a farmer’s field. I might well have beaten him for height and distance flown if it wasn’t for that steel road sign I headbutted on my way home from work at the Grampian that day —

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2021 in out and about

 

New Bridgestone for the X-ADV 750

I seem to wear the sides off my front Bridgestone in approx 3500 miles while the rear will last around 5000 —

As I understand it the Dot on the tyre wall should be fitted at the valve and that was where it was on the original tyres which needed a minimum of balance weights. Bikers come from all over to have their tyres fitted by my local tyre guy who – it would appear – doesn’t ‘do’ dots – pops the tyre on any old how and uses lots of weights to balance the thing.

I may be an old fusspot but I think I would prefer the dot fitted by the valve if it means a minimum of balance weights are needed —

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2021 in out and about

 

Chasing Blue Skies by Ben Cruachan

Playing the old game again – following the blue sky breaks in the cloud and dodging the fierce rain showers —

That will be a glimpse of Loch Awe – which will do for starters —

With Ben Cruachan just emerging from it’s cloud cover —

and Castle Sumthin at the eastern end of the loch —

A final view of Ben Cruachan as I head for home – apart from a few miles down the side of Loch Earn I managed to stay dry throughout —

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2021 in out and about

 

Quick flip to the Isle of Luing on the Honda X-ADV750

With an imminent wet spell forecast I decided to catch up with son on Luing – due to covid concerns and so-forth it appears I haven’t been back there since leaving the island for Comrie over 18 months ago. The X-ADV certainly knows the way to Oban and had me there in a jiff – she makes child’s play of road miles – but even so the mid-morning Costa coffee was very welcome.

Unlike the Calmac boats which are in disarray throughout the Hebrides at the moment – the council run ferry running between the Cuan’s was bang on time and had me over on Luing in jigtime —

All too soon my fleeting visit was over and I was heading back across the island for the mid-afternoon boat on my return leg and made it home to Comrie in time for dinner. With 180 miles under the wheels – not a bad way to spend a summer’s day —

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2021 in out and about