Thursday 31 December 2015

A Guid new year tae yin and awe

Well almost 2015 over, apologies for the lack of blogging in December but its not been that busy on the motorcycling front and I don't suppose you log in to hear about my shopping trips to Morrisons or my moans about the M8, Forth road bridge, extortion of fines on unsuspecting Edinburgh tram users or our Government (that's what twitter's for right?).
Motorcycling wise the weather in Scotland this year was dire, I had two sets of visitors from Europe to stay, Dan and Sara ( on part of their world tour and Tomas and Andrea from Germany on their first break for a while, we also holidayed in the outer Hebrides in the Summer and Scotland North at Easter, The scenery was spectacular as always, just that you couldn't see it most of the time due to the rain and wind, oh and it was bloody cold, thank you Scotland for living up to the cold bleak and dour reputation we have worldwide. We were though blessed with a milder Autumn and Winter so far, the massive downside being the constant storms which have devastated the lives of so many people and must be driving many to despair, of course its been a great opportunity for our politicians to get out and kiss babies and say "more must be done", bullshit!
It's been a good year though, we got through with some fun, some stories to tell and a clean bill of health. Fiona and I both mastered??? the sidecar this year, great fun and a pain in the ass at the same time, I didn't expect to spend so much time working on it , that's why I have Nortons and Moto Guzzi's, having said that its now ready for the Elefanttreffen in January in deepest Bavaria and our wee camping trip this Saturday in deepest Peeblesshire.
Next year we look forward to some better weather, some more great motorcycling, hopefully some sense in the world and less misery for the less fortunate,
We're planning a trip to Sicily in the Summer via Croatia and Bosnia in an effort to top up the tan, just so its not too much of a holiday I intend taking the V11 Guzzi which should ensure my stress levels are kept high and our local chiropractor is kept busy!
The other good news is the book of the big trip has been dusted off and I'm making steady progress, I need to get it finished before we bugger off on a biggie again.
Have a great 2016, I hope you all have good health, and lots of fun (and sunshine) Some photos to finish off 2015

Breakfast at East Fortune on the 27th, obligatory photo of the Vulocan
Thats me in the sidecar behind it, it's huge 
North Berwick, Heidenau M&S tyre fitted on the front now
Clear day, nice view of the Bass Rock
Sittin chillin, hanging around in the (cold) sun
Changing the battery on the BMW means a right pain taking the tank off, not a 5 minute job
Engineered to make sure BMW dealers get rich from servicing costs
Have a great 2016!

Sunday 6 December 2015

Lull in the Storm

After a horrendous week of rain and winds which has left hundreds of people homeless with flooding, and the closure of the Forth road bridge for the foreseeable future due to incompetence and mismanagement there was a blue sky today. The first blue sky in a while so we made the most of the day by wheeling out the sidecar and heading to see the Kelpies. We've been meaning to visit this engineering marvel for ages so today was a fine day for it. As we arrived we met Ian Ross who was with a contingent from the 2CV owners club, he is also a fellow sidecar owner who's also going to the Elephant rally in January, its a small world. The run home we went via Queensferry to take a photo of the closed bridge, The fact that the main arterial route linking the North to the South of Scotland is closed for at least the rest of the month is nothing short of a National disgrace, it is causing chaos and will continue to do so until its open again. What amazes me is that the government don't have a plan B ready for this eventuality, scurrying about now trying to come up with a plan isn't good enough, every large business should have a contingency plan for when they have a major failure, why don't the politicians and civil servants have a plan yet?
The good news is we had a great day out anyway and the plus side of the incompetence is that the Queensferry road now deprived of the bridge traffic was eerily quiet, a braw day oot.

Sunny day = happy smile
Ian took oor photo
2CV club lineup
A rainbow breaking over the Kelpies
A marvellous feat of engineering and art
One head up the other down
Selfie time
The calm after the storm
3 bridges in the distance, the only one working is the oldest and it only takes Trains

Thursday 12 November 2015

All roads lead to the Moon Hebrides tour 2015

Finally got around to uploading our July trip to the Hebrides, contains some bad language but not too much, enjoy!

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Applecross, rain, community hydro, boats and a great time

So last weekend was an Applecross weekend, called a half day Friday and left from work in Glasgow, we took the car though as the weather was not good and didn't fancy the 6am fight with the commuters to Glasgow. Arrived around 5pm after a scenic but wet run (OK in the motor, just notch the heating and wipers up) Met by myne host Judy, Donald , Phil, Ewan and Ali of fame. Joined by more as the night went on, more than copious amounts of alcohol and great food. Major discussion around the Community Hydro Scheme, here is a community trying to sustain and improve life in the Highlands and doing an impressive job, rather than explain it watch the video and get your money out, I have!
A hopeful 4% return on your investment and a 30% tax relief isn't to be sniffed at. One problem is our Government has just got into even more beds with the Chinese and are stopping the tax relief incentive soon but this scheme is already registered so still qualifies. The Tories obviously thinking Nuclear and giving cash to the Chinese is preferable to helping projects like this. A line from a Pink Floyd song just sprang to mind "If it wasn't for the Nips being so good at building ships, the yards would still be open on the Clyde" Maybe food for thought, that line was directed at Thatchers Tory policies also. Thing is The Japanese are good at building stuff, the Chinese aren't so why trust them with any part of our Industry, maybe they just supply the cash, pretty ironic we do business with the worlds largest dictatorship while bombing the shit out of everybody else so they can have "Democracy" The Chinese must be laughing though, getting their own back on their former Drug Dealer, the UK establishment kept the Chinese population out of their heads during the "Opium wars"  so that they could get rich on other peoples misery.
Enough of that nonsense, Saturday was good (not from a health point of view) Ewen has asked us to visit his boatyard to see the new ship his guys were just finishing and to give Fiona some welding lessons. Tony showed us around, Ewen did the welding, a real eye opener and great to see traditional Industry being kept alive here not to mention the good quality jobs being provided. Saturday night turned into a repeat of Friday I'm afraid and as always we met some new friends, fellow motorcyclists and Driving Instructors Dave & Sam. A great weekend despite no bike content, apologies for that, normal service will be resumed soon!


The new boat, almost ready
Tony explains the controls whilst the joiner joins
Captain Tony
Fiona the Welder
Getting instruction from Ewen
I love this scenery
Loch Carron
Another shot of the Bealach
Looking towards Skye, stunning 

Monday 26 October 2015

Mot and Nortons at Tullybannocher

A busy weekend and an early start Saturday, still dark and raining with a hint of gale force winds for the ride up to Perth's Cherrybank Garage for an MOT test on the T3 Guzzi, strarnge I wasn't looking forward to the ride, normally I hate riding in the dark but something just clicked. The Guzzi humming (or banging) away below me, light traffic (most sensible people were still in their beds it being the weekend) and some quiet contemplation in the confines of my helmet, an excellent experience. Some good banter with Hamish and Jimmy Storar whilst they checked the bike over and always a sense of relief when you get a pass. Jimmy is off soon to ride in the Macau GP so good luck to him.
Strangely the ride home not as much fun, almost certainly as other road users were now wanting to share my road, crowding towards Edinburgh to no doubt shop for stuff they don't really need and can't really afford, such is the entertainment the non motorcyclist public get up to on a weekend.
Sunday we were up early (but the clocks changed so it wasn't that early!) and up to Tullybannocher via the M9 as the Forth road bridge was closed due to "essential roadworks" again. Scotlands road system is a joke, nobody in the ivory towers of power should be allowed to use the words traffic and management in the same sentence, maybe even the same paragraph!
A good turn out for the day including all the usual suspects and some very nice bikes, encouraging to see so many lady riders there on the day, even Martin from work made the effort to come up from Glasgow on his modern Kawasaki, hopefully the seed planted is maturing into a nice classic in the future. I think that's why its important to include all at these meetings, only by answering questions and being enthusiastic about our chosen hobby will we be able to win some over from the dark side. Old bikes are fantastic fun and a complete pain in the backside at the same time but given the choice only one bike in the garage (God forbid) it would be a classic despite the number of times I've sworn at them whilst sitting at the side of the road.
People make excuses, "I'm too old" "they're not usable on modern roads" "unreliable" "My knee is playing up" "My back can't take it anymore" what they really mean is they have become boring! Now I'll finish this rant by saying because of the upward inflationary pressures on Classics not everyone can afford to have one in the garage and I understand that but how do we get more people onto them, one way we don't is by trying to sell them at inflated prices, next time you get rid of a classic bike have a think how much fun it gives you, do you want top dollar for it only for it to go to someone who won't use it and only see it as an investment or drop the price a bit and sell it to an enthusiast? You decide (and no at the moment I've none for sale!)

One of the "Rondelli" Nortons
Jake's Falcone with external flywheel conversion 
David T's Smokey Joe
Ian brought along his nice BSA outfit
Berts Indian, Laurenne's BMW and Bill's Fastback share space
Phils Ducati complementing George's 650SS
Sandy with his latest ES2
And a recent Atlas he restored
Wormit boys in full force
Gratuitous shot of Phils Ducati, being used as it should be 

Sunday 11 October 2015

Italy, no bikes

Just returned from a week in Italy, no motorcycles but the tourist way via aeroplane & hire car. Flying into Nice last Saturday with Easyjet, an easy 2 1/2 hour flight that transports you from the frozen North to the Sunny Cote Azure. I still prefer to travel by bike but when you only have a week it's a waste of time and we have to compromise to find the Sun and fantastic Italian food and vino. Lunch on the twisting mountain road just past Monaco then across the border into Italy and into Ventimiglia for a supermarket stop for toiletries (the airlines make it almost impossible to carry them)
Then up to Rocchetta Nervina where I spent some years as a child. In the restaurant Saturday night and it was 10 minutes before the owner recognised me, its a nice feeling to feel at home in several different places and be accepted. A fantastic meal during which a heavy rainstorm started, there was nothing for it but to carry on drinking wine but after the third bottle we borrowed an umbrella and headed back to our Hotel. Sunday morning I bumped into Francesca just outside the Hotel, I've known her a few years now as she came to visit me whilst studying English for a year in Glasgow (which I always thought was funny, not sure English is what's spoken there) A day to visit the cemetery and remember all those who have passed away who formed a part of my life then back to the cafe, more vino, more superb food.
Monday the run up to Monza to meet up with Barbara and Riccardo who we met on the Belgium ferry a month ago, the run was a bit scary as our hire car (Citroen C3) handled like a Jelly on the twisty and narrow Autostrada Di Fiori. Riccardo picked us up at our hotel and we went to their place for a marvellous dinner and vino, a fantastic night and I'm sure we'll meet up again soon. The run back to the Hotel was interesting as we passed some African ladies of the night touting for business just near out hotel, now we know why Riccardo took us back to the hotel, there does seem to be a bit of an issue with prostitutes and pimps here, I'm sure its just as scary for the ladies, a sad and dangerous way to make a living on the streets.
Tuesday lunch in Lecco and once again noticeable groups of North Africans hanging around the car parks trying to sell rubbish to survive, I'd never seen that so far North before and its obviously the refugee / migrant numbers landing in Italy in huge numbers making their presence felt everywhere. Italy seems to be bearing the brunt of the problem, something needs to be done but I'm not qualified to make a decision on an issue which will very soon affect all of Europe.
On to the Guzzi factory at Mandello Del Lario, waiting for the museum to open George Ogg from Edinburgh appeared with a "hello Gino", small world indeed, the obligatory museum tour and then a visit to Agostini's to buy overpriced T shirts, lucky we were limited with hand luggage otherwise I may have left several hundred Euro's poorer groaning under the weight of Guzzi spares! 
Two nights in the fantastic Bellagio where I met fellow travellers Gene and Neda from Canada on their round the world motorcycle trip (, I recognised them from their internet posts so it was weird meeting up by chance.
A return to Rocchetta for some more visiting then a night in Nice and then a flight home, a short week, plenty sunshine, plenty vino, excellent food and great company, back to reality tomorrow! 
Lunch with this backdrop, not bad!
Strange to see a namesake's name on a memorial
I've got a photo of me taken here when I was around 4 years old, I was smaller and cuter then!
The plaza has been restored nicely
Nice interior of one of the several chapels in the village
The old home town looks the same............
Wonderful hosts Barbara and Riccardo in Monza
Pretty place
Surprise meet with George outside the famous gates to the Guzzi Factory
The first bike made commercially
Used by the Finnish police, note the ski's
3 cylinder Overhead Cam racer from 1940
For the Falcone fans!
2 floors of this, excellent
V twin long before Ducati done it
Factory wind tunnel helped develop fairings
The famous V8 500 
The first one made, the bike that started it all
Arriving in Bellagio
Pretty, and pretty steep
Beer before the Antipasta
Gene and Neda
Lago Di Como, sublime
Always steps though
So one must take rest
Lightning at night saved watching TV
Next day sunny again
Back in Rocchetta with Tina & Luigi
And a surprise meeting with a lady who went to school with me here (P1)
I eat Antipasta twice just because it is so nice.........
A visit to see Bruno
Nice, very Nice 
Naked men statues abound
Not long till the plane home