Tag Archives: Motorcycling

it’s a lifestyle

Island Odyssey

Here in October 2016 I am at the start of an Island Odyssey – but it’s not my first. Back in Jan 2013 when recovering from an operation that had gone horribly wrong I wrote about my first ‘Island Odyssey’. It was in 1995 – a bit different from my current situation but enjoyable in it’s own way.

Here it is – My original ‘Island Odyssey’:

When you are feeling below par what better pick-me-up than to look back to better days. My recent mistake with the WordPress Media Gallery where I inadvertently dumped 1500 photos and screwed up a large number of my posts has given me the chance to return to the mid-nineties.

I was involved in motorcycle grand prix racing and had three weeks to chill between the Malaysian and Japanese GP races. The rest of the team had gone to their respective homes in various places round the globe but I was going walk-about. A chance encounter with Giamaco Agostini as we left the hotel that last morning gave me an idea where to go. He told me instead of following the masses to the ‘fleshpots’ off the west coast such as Phuket – to go east to Khota Bahru and pick up the backpackers trail for the South China Seas. I promptly bought a rucksack on the market in KL China Town – dumped my suitcase in left-luggage at the airport and bailed out!


Redang Island was my first stop and the transport was by cigar boat. Kuala Terrengannu was the jumping off point on the mainland so I caught an internal flight up there from Kuala Lumpur. Cigar boats are long and thin with no cover, just a pile of merchandise plus wooden plank seats for possibly six passengers and two crew. A similar seating arrangement to the rowing boats on your local pond in fact. The important bits were hung on the stern – two humungous Yamaha outboard motors!

Boy could this thing go! The Malay driver pushed the boat off from the wooden jetty – aimed her at the horizon – Hawaii – the Philipines or whatever and wrung her neck!

I don’t have a pic of my more rustic twin engine boat but I have found one of a smaller boat along similar lines to set the stage —


After what seemed like a few hours of skimming across the waves Redang Island hove into view. D’ya like that word? Hove? Very nautical of me. I must have picked it up when I was learnng to sail dinghies on Loch Earn – nice to know all that money wasn’t wasted.

Anyway we ‘hoved’ into Redang right by the wooden huts that were to be my home for a few days. I didn’t meet anyone that first night – just found something to eat in the Tenko style mess hut then returned to my wooden cabin and slept like a log.

The sun rises early and so did the breakfast chef! Along with lots of smiling Malay faces – it was hard to tell who was staff and who were guests. Then Dusty introduced herself – an air stewardess from one of the former African colonies having a six month sabbatical to backpack all through the South China seas. She had been as far south as Bali and was working her way north before flying home from Singapore in three weeks time.

We explored the island together – snorkelled over the coral reef and in the evenings after dinner joined everyone in the karaoke hut. It was just so much fun!

South China Seas Dusty on dive tree

The pic shows a ‘me Jane – you Tarzan’ moment in the jungle. Yes being a sporty type she dived beautifully off that branch into the pool. Things didn’t stop there – she refused to come out until I had followed her in.

Coward that I am – I didn’t trust the branch to carry my fourteen stones but I got out there. My next challenge was to release my strangler’s grip on the limb and dive in! Not easy! I’ve survived one broken kneck in my life and diving headfirst into that dark pool could easily leave me with another. Cpn Sensible wasn’t with me that day and eventually I let go the branch – closed my eyes and went for it!

I must have passed some sort of test – maybe it was my singing at karaoke as Dusty suggested we team up to visit our next port-of-call – the Parenthian Islands.

A kiss of life for the fish – Dusty style —

grand prix days (2)

A few days were sufficient on Redang – it wasn’t primitive enough. It had running water and electricity. So it was back to the mainland then up the coast by mini-bus to Kota Bahrur to catch a cigar boat ride to the Parenthians. They were well out in the ocean and it was dark when we arrived and were dropped off on the beach – and that’s where we stayed till morning.

Get any romantic thoughts out of your head – this was hardcore roughing it. We pulled every bit of clothing we possessed over our heads and lay down on the pitch black beach to sleep.

I think this is an everyday situation for tough-as-teak girls like Dusty and soon she was snoring softly. I on the other hand flinched everytime I felt movement under me! In the morning we were soaking in the cold heavy dew and learned that the movement under us had been sand crabs. They spend the hot days in their burrows and come out onto the beach in the cool of the night. Yes we had been lying on the entrances to their burrows! Better that than with snakes in the jungle!

I’m not sure of the spelling but I think this small jungle clad island was called something like Wee or Wie. There was only one place to stay and this was it. Fortunately some of the backpackers were moving on next day and Dusty was able to share a shack with a posh girl from the home counties while I got the lovely hut just above the beach.

grand prix days

There were no doors – no windows and you’ve guessed it- no toilets. You either risked going for bush or used the latrine pit Tenko style. Oddly enough I never felt alone – at least not after I found my first snake slithering in through the walls!

I was invited by the Malay owner to return later that year after the GP season was over to help develop his operation but something else came up and I went to Spain instead. Another ‘What if’ in my life but you can’t do everything and I often wondered how those low lying islands fared when the Tsunami roared through a few years later.

The proprietors family had what we would class as an idyllic lifestyle – he lived in the big hut on the right and we all ate on the open deck of the lower hut with a few more guest houses dotted around the jungle above the beach —

grand prix days 002

We all ate at a big plank table on the communal mess deck attached to the owners family hut and if you wanted a shower you filled the overhead bucket if there was water in the well – soaped up then tipped it over you. Mostly we washed in the sea! The days were spent swimming or snorkelling over the coral reef and walking the beach. The adventurous climbed palm trees for coconuts and there was an occasional boat trip to a neighbouring island which was slightly more civilised than ours.

The view from my hut —

grand prix days 003

There was no karaoke on Wei or at least no karaoke machine. We lit a fire on the beach at night and talked or sang. With backpackers from all over, songs were sung in a few languages but anything by the Beatles was guaranteed to have everyone join in. Out at sea the bright lights of the squid fishing boats lit up the night as they scooped everything from the shallow depths and tore up the coral reefs. It takes man but an instant to destroy what nature has taken years to build.

After the second week we returned to Kota Barhu up near the Thai border on the mainland. Dusty caught a flight to Singapore for her last week of freedom before heading home to Zimbabwe and I got on the Jungle Train to Kuala Lipis right in the centre of Malaysia. I could have gone all the way south to Singapore by train cos that’s what the Japs did to surprise the British forces in the last war. The Brits were expecting to be invaded from the sea and prepared their defences accordingly. The Nips came down on the jungle train and sneaked in the back door! Like taking candy from a baby!

Like I said I only went halfway but that was an eye-opener. Through mountains – across rivers – past logging camps and native villages – it was a wonderful journey. I still had a week to myself before flying on to Japan for the next Grand Prix and I was going to make the most of it.


From Kuala Lipis I caught a long-distance bus to Kuantun on the east coast then another one south to Mersing where I took a boat out to Pula Tioman for a few nights – the island where South Pacific was filmed. It was nice enough but too civilised – not a patch on the rustic Parenthian Islands and I guess I was missing Dusty. She had been great company with never a dull moment when she was around!


I spent a couple of days back in KL before my flight to Japan – most of it in Chinatown. One night in the YMCA hostel and my last night in the comfort of the Swiss Hotel.

Island Odyssey


and what became of the delightful Dusty? Well we kept in touch for a few years – as you do – then life intervened and regular correspondence took a back seat. The last I heard from her she had been selected as a crew member of the Presidential jet on a State visit to Brasil – yup – there’s never a dull moment when that girl is around 🙂

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Posted by on October 8, 2016 in Uncategorized



FJ1100 Luing Scrambler

FJ1100 Luing Scrambler? That’s the plan anyway. If Ducati – Triumph plus Uncle Tom Coblers and all can build a scrambler out of what is basically a road bike then surely I can build one too —


My MSX 125 runabout keeking through the curtains looks unimpressed – or does she? I reckon the little sweetie looks pretty scared as well she might once that 4cyl 1100cc beast comes back to life! Even the Tall Tenere who seldom backs off from a photo-shoot has taken to the shadows on this occasion —


No worries – not a lot more can be done to the FJ till H brings our new shed home —


My fault it’s running late really for I’ve prevaricated over the rebuild for almost a year since I got to the stage where I would have had to cover up all that lovely metal with her original plastics and couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Now here she is anxious to be completed and out there – but – unfortunately two hundred miles from our new home —


Who is the Daddy 🙂



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Posted by on October 3, 2016 in Yamaha FJ1100


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Little Bike for a Little Island – Honda MSX 125

Winding the clock back here – with H away putting her two wee grand daughters on the plane to Japan my empty head swings to motorbikes. Little motorbikes. Back in the late sixties – early seventies I lived at Siavonga on the shores of Lake Kariba with my friends Jack and Beryl Canty —


Now Jack was a big burly fella with a crewcut – shorts n flipflops while Beryl was a wee slim thing who lived in her swimsuit – easily done in such a balmy climate where life revolved around the swimming pool. Honda Monkey bikes were in their infancy back then and my abiding memory of Jack was of him riding his tiny 50cc Monkey Bike around his property out on the peninsula —


There she is – the little 50cc fourstroke. I’ve no idea how Jack got it to Central Africa – no doubt the crate was labelled motor spares or machine parts but he managed it.

One thing I spot right away is the comfy seat for there is no such thing fitted to my modern 125cc version —


A flat plank of timber would be just as comfortable – but – with less than ten miles of road on the island and the ferry just a long mile away she might just be the wee beastie I need around here —


Time will tell — hell I reckon I could reach Oban from here on this lil beautie —


Initially I had my concerns about the two n half litre fuel tank —


but that was before she clocked up her first 100 miles without the need for a top-up —


Oban is only sixteen miles from my new home and unlike the A75 – where convoys of high speed Belfast bound McBurney lorries terrorise everything in their way – with a few exceptions the traffic around here is quite accomodating and the wee 125cc Honda has slightly more oomph than Jack’s 50cc Monkey Bike from days of yore 🙂

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Posted by on September 12, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Honda Pan European ST1100 1995 For Sale

pan My 1995 Honda Pan Euro ST1100 is for sale. Designed and built as the ultimate bolide to whisk two people in comfort from one side of europe to the other Mr Honda used lots of plastic to save the riders from a battering in the wind – added a comfy seat and fitted two nice panniers to hold a respectable amount of luggage.

There is shaft drive so no oily chains to be lubricated every night on arrival at your hotel – rear view mirrors that actually work and if the plod tails you and hits you with a roadside fine for speeding – as they can do in many parts of europe – then it is your own fault for not paying attention.

My first ride on this big fella was two n half years ago. I was finding my tall – lean and narrow seated Tenere a bit of a pain in the derriere. An op to cure a simple problem had gone wrong and four subsequent ops including skin grafts failed to rectify matters.


Regular four/five hundred mile days with an occasional six over a number of years with the Ten had taken their toll and one particular twelve day soaking in the outer Hebrides was the final straw. No sooner had I returned home than I was whisked off to the local General with blue lights flashing. A monumental cock-up in the surgery changed my life completely and despite the best efforts of one of our top surgeons over the following two years to sort things out – sitting is one of my least favourite occupations.

So-o — when I saw the Pan at my local Honda dealer with it’s comfy looking seat and only 21000 miles on the clock I soon had her out for a test ride —


snow or no snow —


I loved her at first sight —


She handled the changing road surfaces like the thoroughbred she is —


and 9000 miles later she is still one of the best around —


if not THE best with her after-market Nitron rear shock —


new Bridgestone tyres —


and my two and half years of pampering —


Her well serviced 1100cc V4 motor is a stonker —


and I would be sad to see her go – but –


Having recently moved to an island that measures only ten miles by two I don’t have a lot of call for this bonnie mile-muncher and it would be a real shame to bring her up here and see her deteriorate in the salt air —


She is MOT’d till March 2017 and my most recent aquisition for her was a couple of rare waterproof pannier liners. No need to unhook the panniers now – just lift out the smart inner bags and carry your dry pj’s up to your room.


I have lots more pics available for a seriously interested party to peruse at their leisure — the price is £2250 ono — just call 01852 314187 or email


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Posted by on September 9, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Tenere Does It

It was that sort of day – brilliant sunshine from start to finish but still a nip in the air leading me to overdress as usual.

I set out on the Ten around noon with thoughts of heading by Sam-y-ling Tibetan Monastry to St Mary’s Loch but the thought of spending a few miles on busy trunk routes over to Lockerbie before things would get interesting didn’t appeal.

A circuit in Dumfries & Galloway got the nod and my first stop was by the church in St John’s Town of Dalry —


A park bench in the sun down the tree lined approach lane was no hardship and I soon removed the winter lining from my jacket —


as I took in the view across the valley where the flood banks were being rebuilt after serious flooding earlier this year—


A fine run over the hills on the Ayr road took me to Dalmellington where I hung a left onto the hill road to the picturesque little village of Straiton to find the fiesty local population are still fighting a tough battle against the ‘powers that be’ and the current penchant for Wind Farms on every bit of surrounding hillside that will catch a breeze.

No worries – the Buck cafe is still holding out and I was more than ready for tea and a scone at the pavement table in the sun when I reached there —


Suitably primed I caught the thirty mile hill road down to GlenTrool —


where I picked up the main Girvan road to Newton Stewart for a splash of gas —


A lovely way to spend a few hours on a special spring afternoon 🙂





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Posted by on April 20, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Michelin Anakee 3’s

Michelin tyres have usually been my first choice no matter which bike I have been riding and their Anakee 3 hoops are currently fitted to my ’09 660 Tenere —

Tyred 1

I have tried other makes and been impressed with the Metzler Tourance but the wear pattern on the Metzler doesn’t rock my boat so last time round I fitted Anakee’s front and rear —

tyred 3

My friends at Oponeo offered me a choice of ‘soft’ or ‘hard’. Being a tightwad I decided to sacrifice some grip in favour of better wear. That front has had a bit of hammer on our grippy sou-west roads over the past two years and – unlike some – it is still wearing evenly.

tyred 2

It’s fairly easy to get out to the tyre walls front and rear and both have been known to let go at times when on her side.

tyred 4

Just little buttock clinchers so far – nothing too dramatic – unless we get on to the slimy stuff like we did today where the cleats fill up with mud and things can get a bit ‘iffy’ —

tyred 18

She stayed sticky side down on wet/dry and gravel washed roads as we ran up by Loch Ken and over to Clatteringshaws —

tyred 16

with occasional blinks of blue skies and sunshine helping to lift the mood —

tyred 15

but there was the occasional grey cloud threatening —

tyred 13

Thankfully the rain stayed away and some rock strewn forest roads took the Ten and I over to the picnic spot I was hoping to check out on the lochside in brilliant sunshine —

tyred 12

Don’t be fooled by the grass underfoot.for she was very greasy on top of the ground as we slid in there and mild enough to bud the catkins on the willows by the lochside —

tyred 8

All too soon a glimpse of darker skies to the north —

tyred 5

was enough to see this lightweight saddle up once more and haul ass out of there 🙂


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Posted by on April 5, 2016 in Uncategorized


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North Harbour – Ayr

Ayr 6What do u do on a wet Easter Saturday?

Slip across the road to the fair in the church hall — or —

jump in the sardine can and make a rare expedition over the hills to Ayr.

To be more specific – to North Harbour Motorcycles the Honda dealer.

We were not alone for when we arrived there we found —

Ayr 16

the NHS Emergency Rider Volunteer Service bikes which as the name suggests provide with their riders an emergency medical transport service in Scotland —

Ayr 5

The local Fire Service were in attendance too —

Ayr 2

likewise the polis —

Ayr 4

Thought ‘at least be a national emergency’ but there were no newsmen with TV cameras in tow -so —

I had a butchers at the new Africa Twin —


while H raided the clothing mall — ‘does my bum look big in this’ —

Ayr 11

and became a naturlised Scot so she could wear this bonnie lid —

Ayr 17

a steal at £79.99. The paint job alone could cost three times as much on an Aria.

Then the MSX125 got a test ride around the mall —

Ayr 9

While I made my getaway in the Knockhill Racing Circuit ‘Q’ car —

Ayr 3

H held the plod at bay with her cannon —

Ary 1

then set ‘Chum’ onto a harmless passing hoodie —


before spending the rest of the afternoon wishing she had a roof on her garret —


Well – what did you do on a wet Easter Saturday 🙂



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Posted by on March 26, 2016 in out and about


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Honda MSX125

A motorcycle in miniature —

MSX 16

but a thing of beauty —


whichever way you look at her —

MSX 15

She may only be knee high to a grasshopper —

MSX 125

but someone has to ride her —


whether delivering pizza’s —


or heading off to the beach with a picnic —

MX125 at Carrick

she’s a whole lot of fun 🙂

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Posted by on March 23, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Can Am Spyder

Three wheels on my wagon and we keep rollin along —

Can am 3

The Can Am Spyder first released by Bombardier Recreational Products in 2007 certainly looks like a wonderful piece of kit —-

Can am 1

but I don’t know if I’d spend best part of twenty grand on one —

Can am 2

especially when they don’t even give you a front brake lever with it 🙂

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Posted by on March 20, 2016 in out and about



Honda Pan European ST1100

Pan 1Its that time again – the Pan has been sitting under dust covers all winter.

She’s a big heavy bike – I’ve got a birthday coming up this weekend that declares me another year older.

Perceived wisdom says ‘sell the brute’ – you know it makes sense.

But when did ‘sense’ play a part in motorcycling decisions where the heart invariably rules the head.

No worries – she’s gotta go!

The sun is shining – the river bank by the workshop door should give a scenic backdrop.

The Samsung will take a decent photo when everything is in it’s favour.

So – blow the dust off her and get on out there.

Full frontal in the thumbnail for starters and nary a blemish.

Front discs look set for a few years yet —

Pan 6

Clean enough to eat off —

Pan 5

Not a scuff nor oil leak to be seen down the near side —

Pan 3

Mmmm — lookin good —

Pan 2

Nothing that a good polish and clean duster won’t bring up good as new —

Pan 7

After all – she’s only just come of age —

Pan 22

Yup —

Pan 24

She’s got the key of the door —

Pan 22

never been twenty one before —

Pan 33

Original cases —

Pan 23

all lock with the same key —

Pan 32

and ofcourse there’s two original keys and toolkit with the bike —

Pan 9

Never been raced or rallied Sir —

Pan 11

and at under thirty thousand miles she’s barely run in —

Pan 12

Why am I selling ???

Pan 14

Y’know —

Pan 13

the more I look at her —

Pan 17

from every angle —

Pan 30

The more I ask myself —

Pan 35

that self- same question —

Pan 21

It would be hard to find another like her —

Pan 16

best put her back in the shed then Danny Boy 🙂

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Posted by on March 16, 2016 in Uncategorized


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