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Author Archives: Don

Honda 250 Rally on Wishing Tree Lane

A quiet Monday after what has gone before – time to take the covers off the CRF and go for a spin.

There’s a hill way over there I would love to cross —

But first there’s a spot of TLC to attend to – the final drive chain for instance – she looks to be on the dry side. I’m using Putoline Chain Lube on this bike – a first for me. I’m quite impressed with the flow from the aerosol and the job it does.

But – the CRF hasn’t got a centre stand and up till now it’s been a bit of a wrestling match to get the rear wheel off the deck – spin it and spray chain oil with my third hand – which I haven’t got. It’s probably why I needed a wife but they are seldom around when you need them —

No worries – a couple of wood blocks and my scissor jack did the lifting job just fine and set the 250 Honda up in the air quite safely.

Even the hill crossing turned out to be a piece of cake on the 250 Rally —

Some of the steeper parts on the far side had been torn up by tractors or four wheel drive vehicles but they were of little consequence to the CRF which just sailed up them —

I didn’t even bother switching off the ABS on the rear wheel for the long – loose surfaced downhill section with it’s occasional steep bits leading into tighter turns and cruised on down —

The wee bike is proving to be as sure-footed as a mountain goat —

The downside being that tea break arrived far too early —

and the reminder clipped to my binos was hardly necessary as I never raised a sweat on the whole ride – sorry about the picture quality —

just could n’t get ’em right today —

which is a shame —

 

as the views were out of this world ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Auld Claes n Parrich

Or ‘old clothes and porridge’ – I can still hear my mother saying it in her Aberdeenshire dialect when I had returned from doing something out of the ordinary that had no doubt cost more than was sensible. She meant I would be living frugally until there was cash back in the kitty.

Luckily my lovely and lively new wife get’s as much pleasure from the simple things in life as she does from the expensive —

Hence her undisguised joy to be back home on Luing yesterday afternoon while we walked in our wellies on the shore by the old slate quarry at Cullipool.

And Humph the horse from Calachally House has just messaged me to let me know why accommodation was in such short supply for our visit to the Isle of Mull —

It would appear that Clan McLean were holding a family gathering with bloody McLeans from all over the world attending. They had virtually Block Booked the whole of the Island of Mull.

Auld claes n parrich or not – It’s nice to be home ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2017 in Isle of Luing, out and about

 

Call the Coastguard – Act Two

Helen and I are newly-weds – legally married – something I never expected to be again in my life! Off on our honeymoon – not on a Cunard liner but something more down to earth – a Calmac ferry bound for the Isle of Mull.

OK – so this is not the actual boat – ours is even smaller – but it sets the scene.

We had tried to book a mid-summer hotel room on Mull back in January only to find the island was virtually fully booked – then Ian from the Calachally House called us back. We could have the ‘end room for one night on the 21st with a bathroom down the hall all to ourselves’.

Wonderful – that would be great!

About a forty minute drive from the Mull ferry terminal – we eventually found Calachally House hidden away under some massive beech trees.

Maybe not much to look at from outside but the interior is a once-in-a-lifetime experience – and a good one at that —

Book lined walls – even for an avid reader like me it would take the rest of my life to read but a fraction of them – and what books! Being an old Colonial family the books go well back in time and cover most parts of the world – as an old Africa hand they are right up my street – even the hallway to our room was lined with them —

 

Driving back from a nearby pub in the evening gloaming we spotted a red deer stag in the neighbouring parkland who slowly turned his massive head our way and watched our progress.

A little further on we were entertained by two beautiful horses having a ‘before bedtime’ canter around their paddock —

Did someone mention bedtime? ‘Step this way please’ said the spider to the fly —

Having a room with windows in three walls the morning was always going dawn bright and clear – but some thoughtful soul must have had their doubts as to the ability of two ancient honeymooners to make it through the night and had obviously called the coastguard —

Luckily there was no need for their assistance this time and they were soon on their way to more important issues —

By mid-morning we were also on our way- to tour the northern part of the island on it’s single-track – mainly coastal road.

A kindly photographer with a massive lens pointed out a pair of golden eagles huddling in a treetop in a roadside forest. We would never have spotted them without his help – so well hidden were they,

No photographs are available of the eagles who never stirred from their huddle —

but we did spot a resting buzzard posing by a roadside waterfall —

Next stop was at the famous Calgary Bay —

where the mahair has been nibbled almost out of existance by the local landowner’s sheep.

‘Bloody freezing’ considering it was midsummer’s day —

And it took a few cups of strong tea to bring Helen back to smiling life —

Or it may have been a coffee or two —

 

Next stop was Tobermory where we would catch an afternoon ferry to Kilchoan on Ardnamurchan.

I found us a comfy bed by the harbour while waiting for the boat —

We had a quiet crossing to the mainland made interesting by watching a small helicopter making numerous short trips while unloading supplies from a large vessel anchored offshore. It appeared to be a dangerous game carried out at ‘Bondstyle high speed but there were no mishaps. At least none while we were watching.

Bye bye Mull – for now – as Arnie says – ‘we will be back’.

We were soon on Ardnamurchan and heading down another twisting – undulating single track following the northern shores of Loch Sunart past Glenborrodale Castle and Salen Hotel on our way to Corran Ferry. A road I’ve driven and ridden many times in the past.

A chance meeting with my younger brother John and his partner Sandra over a cuppa at Strontian broke the journey.

They were on their way to their home near Glenborrodale in Ardnamurchan from our wedding the previous day and looked rather worse for wear having spent a lively evening in Oban with my son James and partner Diane. We did well to bail out of that one.

A brief crossing at Corran Ferry and a short drive to Appin had us in our lovely water’s edge room at the Pierhouse Hotel by 1800hrs giving us time to restup before dinner – and what a dinner! Having had very little to eat since the wedding lunch the previous day we went for it!

H settled for the ‘big’ salmon steak with dauphinoise potatoes. Probably doesn’t sound too adventurous but remember – we were in the recently crowned – ‘Best Seafood Restauraunt in Scotland’ and Helen described this meal as the best she has ever had – some accolade!

Against my better judgement I tackled the ‘Pierhouse Platter’.

There were no holds barred and last to go was the oyster —

Well a man needs all of his strength on his honeymoon ๐Ÿ™‚

Bye for now ::-)

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2017 in Isle of Luing, out and about

 

Call the Coastguard – Act One

‘Call the Coastguard’ – a strange title for wedded bliss – but – let’s see where we’re going with this.

We have to start somewhere – so how about we start with a bit of trepidation in the Oban Perle hotel room where the bride-to-be has been conducting her final preparations with the ‘help’ of daughter Lauren – matchmaker Wendy and best friend Tracey under the watchful eye of Diane – hairdresser extra-ordinaire.

Trepidation in spades —

No worries – with a hop and a skip Helen was soon at the Registrars office where Callum – her personal piper piped her in (try saying that round a hot choriso sandwich) —

There after a touching ceremony conducted by the Assistant Registrar Fiona she signed the register with her customary flourish —

With 135 years of life and over 60 years previous experience of marriage between us some may say we must be gluttons for punishment but love is love whether you are sixteen or sixty and we would be fools to let it pass us by.

Formalities over it was time to hit the street where we posed with piper Callum —

He had just experienced his own brush with officialdom when a young embarrassed police constable was sent from the Sherrif Court across the street with a message from the magistrate conducting a case there to ‘stop that bloody row!’ Apparently we were ‘infringing the accused’s ‘uman right’s’ as he couldn’t hear what was being said during the procceedings.

After ignoring the first missive a second request was carried to us in the form of a ‘Court Order’ so it was time for a few more photos on the steps —

Jaxson wasn’t impressed and he has probably gone off the polis for life. Time to go before we were all put in a cell for the night.

Callum had a good head of steam by this time – no doubt brought on by the unexpected intrusion of the law and set off down the street blowing fit to burst. We followed the skirling pipes acknowledging the surprised greetings of passer’s by with smiles and stately bows —

In no time at all Callum had us at the local fish and chip shop where we were to have our celebration lunch —

But not before a blushing piper got his just reward —

Ok – time for food and to meet the rest of our guests—

Orders taken – cuffs and ties undone —

Kirsty – one of our guests from the island had brought her guitar and sang our choice of song beautifully —

If you know the words of ‘Always a Woman to Me’ by Billy Joel you will know that it gave our Wedding Song some added flavour.

Main courses out of the way – flowers and favours admired —

it was time for the wedding cake which had been carefully baked and beautifully presented by our friend Mary in the Hat —

The flowers were nicked on the Isle of Luing from Jane MacLachlan’s garden – and believe it or not – they matched the stripes in my ‘Guard’s tie —

Cake cutting ceremony was accomplished with no blood being spilled —

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

coffee n cake duly demolished –

it was time to say our goodbyes and nip round the corner to the harbour for the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to the Isle of Mull for our short honeymoon.

Magic! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Thanks to Commons/Wilkipedia for the use of the Calmac ferry photo.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2017 in Isle of Luing, out and about

 

Pan Euro to get a Chance to Shine on the NC500

With that good allrounder – the Tenere XT660Z once again Sorned as a result of the CRF 250 RAL taking over local and off-road duties – the ST1100 Pan European will get another chance to shine on the serious stuff.

Who knows – it might cover itself in glory on the NC500 this summer if we can string a few dry days together.

Yes my long distance rides in any weather are probably a thing of the past.

But I haveย suggested to H that we look at heading up there this summer – should we get one – and the rider stays fit.

Shouldn’t be a problem really as I did it clockwise as far as Bettyhill back in 1995 on my BMW 1100GS.

Now there was a bike for any occasion – she could tour two-up complete with the kitchen sink on the back – plus –ย give a good account of herself while scaring punters on their new Fireblades as she scraped her pots round the Isle of Man TTย course on Mad Sunday.

I seem to remember clocking up 42000 miles in her first year including an all-time high when I galloped her down a dried up river bed in Andalucia – stood on the pegs – whooping like a wild thing with 100mph showing on the speedo. Judging by that sheepskin on the seat I was bothered with a sore butt way back then too. For once I couldn’t argue with the dealers when I tried to trade the GS in the following summer. Their standard pitch – ‘but your BMW is above average mileage sir’ had a ring of truth in it ๐Ÿ™‚

 

No worries — if there’s one thing the Pan has it’s a comfy seat —

After all – it isย why I bought her in the first place ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Honda ST1100 Pan European – leccie fault

My very low mileage 1995 ST1100 had an obscure electrical problem when I bought her two or three years ago and they have come to the fore on a few occasions since.

She looks good and generally is good but occasionally refused to recognise that I had pressed the starter button. The supplying dealer’s answer was to throw a new battery at it – and it helped – but not forever. Last time I was on the ferry with her I had to suffer the ignominy of being pushed off and bump starting her down the ramp. That was on the awkward Grey Dog where a reverse gear would have been useful.

So – it was a relief to see that our regular ferry – the drive on – drive off Belnahua was back in action after a three week sabbatical while it underwent it’s annual service. She is at the North Cuan jetty across the water but will be over in a few minutes. The little motorboat passing down the sound is our Passengers Only ferry for Sundays and evenings. Looks like it’s heading for Easdale where they have a similar ferry. They can be temperamental little things and often break down.

No worries – there was no pushing heavy Pan Euro today – my time spent on battery maintenance seemed to have done the trick – sort of. My multi-meter still showed an unexplained voltage drop when I switched the headlights on even with the battery charger connected. My friend Ali at West Coast Motorcycles in Oban had his theories and I had mine. I saw it as a cheap fix – if we could find the obscure fault – which could take hours on a Pan with so much bodywork to remove.

I thought I was dropping into WCM on a social visit with thoughts of blagging a cuppa before heading for the return ferry with my panniers laden with cat food. Before I could greet Big Ali with the magic words – ‘how’s it gawnn Big Man?’ he had the sidepanels off the Pan and was playing tunes on his own multi-meter in the wiring. Frighteners were thrown around like ‘700 quid for a new alternator’ or ’70 -90 quid for a pattern rectifier’. Hell doesn’t he know I’m getting married next week and all those fish suppers at the prosecco lunch will cost a lot.

Thankfully – after much head scratching and beard pulling the main items were passed as fit for service leaving thoughts of a wiring fault as being the culprit.

And there they were – a hidden bunch of connectors that had been subject to a botched wiring repair leading to overheating ย long before the Pan came into my life.

In the time it took me to dander round to Tesco Hole-in-the-Wall for some folding stuff Ali had renewed all the connectors and pronounced himself satisfied the job was a good ”un.

As for me – I was more than happy that the wedding will still be on without having to tell H that prosecco is off the menu as Ali’s bill for the electrical repair on the Pan was well below what I expected for the work ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

Yamaha Tenere XT660Z

My Tall Ten has seen a fair bit of competition for her place in the stable come and go since I bought her new in Feb ’09 and up until now she has remained my ‘go to’ bike when a choice had to be made ย —

No doubt her nose has been put out of joint with the arrival of the ‘bright young thing’ in the shape of the Honda CRF 250RAL – after all the Tall Ten has shared many an Adventure with me – some good – some bad.

Late winter snow on the ride home from Braemar —

It wasn’t too bad although the road over the Lecht was blocked and Landrovers were the favourite form of transport —

Cruising on the German autobahns on my way to the Balkans was restricted to 108mph til I pulled into a service station and got busy with my Swiss Army knife.

A spot of ‘fine tuning’ saw me cut through the 90 degree bend on the airbox intake allowing me to do the following couple of hundred miles at 113mph. Seemed important at the time – makes me shake my head now ๐Ÿ™‚

Long 4-500 mile days across Europe in the unforgiving saddle eventually put me in hospital — enduring 14 days torrential rain on an autumn tour of the Outer Hebrides was the last straw and the subsequent botched operation on my ass put an end to my long-distance motorcycle touring.

Daytrips became the norm with lots of time for posing —

Although somewhere along the line the Ten and I did visit the Isle of Tiree and played on the white sands —

It was the greatest feeling on earth to be setting out for an early ferry with the panniers full and very little set agenda – it appealed to the gypsy in me —

I’m supposed to be selling that big blue bike to make room for the CRF but somehow I can’t see it happening —

Horses for courses —

It will take at least two bikes to replace the Tall Tenere ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Never a Driech Day with the CRF 250RL

Driech – if there was ever a word to describe a wet June day on the west of Scotland it is that fine old Scottish word ‘driech’. Best analogy I can make for those down south is to imagine Theresa May’s face when she had the recent election results relayed to her – bet it was even worse than Nicola Sturgeon’s..

Best thing Theresa could have done was to take a few days off – summon up a CRF 250RL from somewhere and head for the wilds.

For if ever there was a bike to brighten up your day it’s the honest little CRF.

Prior to taking delivery I had my doubts if I could live with her gaudy colours but in actual fact I don’t see them from the seat. On the trail I am too busy praying I stay on the thing and picking my route while on the road I am happy that even the most myopic of drivers will see the bike.

 

Although I’m not so sure about her from head-on – it will probably send small children screaming for their mammy —

 

If all else fails I can always use the advice I received from my Nigerian driver back in the day —

‘Give him hooter Master! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

CRF 250 Rally – More Angles

Have turned up a few more – hopefully unused – pics from my foray’s on the little Honda. This first one indicates just how well made and finished the new model is —

Not in the same heavyweight league as the Connel Bridge perhaps but that was built in a different era.

The bungee fixings keep my Givi tailpack secure.

Most of the time.

If there is a part built down to a price it’s the handlebars with their welded cross-brace which is a shame because it’s the first thing you notice when you climb on the CRF. The bars don’t do the rest of the bike justice but the tidy wiring and well clipped brake hoses will stop it being a straightforward job to replace them with something that suits me better.

Not enough to condemn the whole bike tho’ I do remember spending a day hunting around Switzerland for a pair of Renthals that would make touring easier on my XJR1300 – a four thousand mile round trip is a long way to carry a crick in your neck.

On the other hand the mirrors are as good as anything I’ve had on previous bikes and if they escape damage on my off-road excursions they could be on there for a while.

Sidestands can often be a source of aggro – especially on dual purpose bikes with their long-travel suspension but it’s hard to see how this one could be any better. It just needs a watchful eye for ground levels when choosing a parking spot.

Like jeans – riders come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Oops! – Sorry missus.

Some bikes fit —

Some don’t.

But they can all make me smile ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Honda CRF 250’s First Adventure

This is her first adventure off the island if we don’t count a day trip into town to measure up her worth on the open road – where – much to my relief – she did well enough for a 250cc dual purpose bike even at this early ‘running in’ stage.

The CRF has already proven her worth on our current ferry – the Grey Dog – which measures about one car in width and three in length. Cars drive on and reverse off when they reach t’other side – some with greater difficulty than others.

Having to wrestle my tall Tenere or the heavyweight Pan European round in their own length so that I could ride off the boat was in danger of giving me a hernia – something I didn’t want with my wedding coming off in two weeks time –ย Helen would not be amused!

No worries – the lightweight CRF 250 Rally can spin around on the ferry in it’s own length and be off down the road like a whippet after a hare while the car drivers are still looking for reverse gear.

Over a coffee and breakfast bun in town this morning I was able to catch up with news in the MCN of the TT races currently running on the Isle of Man before heading north over Connel Bridge —

I remember that bridge when it carried a single lane for motor transport and a railway line along side it. The single line to Fort William is no more leaving a single lane and a safe pavement for walkers.

This is what happens to the ‘safe’ walkers when they stray into the woods on the far side. They are de-bagged – their jeans stuffed with compost and flowers planted in them. I’ve heard a few stories about the strange habits of North Connel residents but never came across this one til today.

Best keep the wheels turning – I’m gone – to quieter places. Just up the road I found a natural water feature as the burn emerged from under the road —

No doubt all that rushing water will have the same effect on you as it did on me and it was quite a relief to find a deserted spot for a break on the dirt track byย Loch Etive —

The hills in the distance are overlooking the wilderness of Rannoch Moor where I rode a 197cc Seeley Honda in trials during a previous life —

Fantastic views and the CRF does look tidy in this setting —

Not another soul around —

just hills – trees and more water tumbling down the rocky hillside as I head for Barcaldine —

Time for some wildlife to get in on the act – first off – some long-horned hieland coo’s —

Well worth another shot —-

Helen and I have been trying hard to find a cattery to take Seamus for a few days after our wedding but they are in short supply in this part of the world so when I spotted this sign on the side of a dirt road heading off into the forest I thought my luck was in —

Two cedars —

three gates —

and a stunning bunch of ponies —

later —

on the cracking cross country route – (I love you too honey) —

I pitched up at the best cattery cum kennels in the world set in the middle of the forest – only to find it completely booked for our dates.

No worries – we will sort something out for Seamus and Sid —

and in the meantime the wee Honda and I are getting on just fine ๐Ÿ™‚