Sunday 28 June 2015

Warm showers and sun, sidecarring along

Spent some time on Saturday checking the bikes out, more maintenance and of course getting organised for the great escape to the Outer Hebrides next Saturday (if the good people at Cali Macbrayne don't strike again) A run down to the tea shop in Gullane this morning on the wee B Emm's, really enjoyed it, no rain and for some reason a high percentage of courteous drivers moving over to allow us to make good progress and enjoy the bends, most excellent. Gullane is gearing up for the Open which I believe is a competition where guys wearing one glove (although not Michael Jackson impersonators) hit a small white ball with a stick, the object I believe is to hit it the least number of times with the stick, what will they think of next! This spectacle is beamed worldwide to devotees of the game of golf, just think all over the world people who like hitting balls with sticks will get to see the magnificent Scottish scenery if they look beyond the overpaid Prima Donna's walking about the course with questionable attire and hats.
A shower of rain rolled over but we didn't get wet, time for a walk along the beach avoiding the dog shit and then along to swap our bikes for our outfit at Fi's parents. An uneventful run back until Fiona ordered me into the sidecar so she could see what it was like to ride the thing with a mega ton quivering wreck alongside. To be honest after the initial shock I settled down and it was fine, Fiona proving once again she's better than I am at being pilot, no bins were harmed at all! Hopefully manage some updates as we wobble around Scotlands Islands soon, stay tuned!
Rain and we avoided it, woo hoo
Nature, a bee goes about its propagation duties
Glorious once the sun came out
Rain disappearing to the East
Fi sets off apace
Oh no what have I done
Actually not to bad
View from the bobsleigh
Home safe and happy
What I thought i'd be like!

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Bimbling along

I’m afraid there’s been little in the way of adventures the last couple of weeks hence the silence on the blog however things have been happening. We have had visitors, Dan and Sara joined us again for their last weekend in Scotland before heading to Europe to continue on their worldwide ride and we had a visit from our German friends Tomas and Andrea who are in Scotland for their motorcycle adventure also.
First thing is they both had terrible weather, cold and wet, not great for motorcycle touring, where the hell is global warming when you need it? All those scientists rambling on about environmental change, mostly bollocks, state sponsored nonsense to further en-richen the rich and make the poor pay. If the Ice cap is disappearing then I for one am pretty sure I know where it’s gone, right here in my back yard!
Secondly the Canadians and the Germans commented (more than once) on how expensive it is here, not just for one item but for everything, the Canadian dollar is around 2:1 and yet the prices here are the same in pounds a they are in Dollars. I feel this myself, I am a proud Scot (ok and a bit Italian) but have noticed we all live here in a big hype, stunning countryside, great roads to ride but a huge rip off mostly. Our roads have also over the last 5-10 years become busier with the modern curse of motorhome and caravans (mostly an increase in gargantuan motorhomes driven by the same numpties who can barely drive a car) I also have to point out small camper vans are exempt from this rant being no bigger than most large cars really. Large amounts of huge European registered motorhomes packed to the roof with supermarket goods bought in their home countries stalk and congest our roads stealing our views and history and contributing hee haw to our economy. Of course I am being selfish, I want the roads to myself and five star accommodation, great beer and food at Eastern European prices, it’s not going to happen. There are a handful of places that offer great value for money (you know who you are)  that’s all I ask for is value for money, how many UK tourist establishments can genuinely offer that?

Motorcycling activity has in the main been limited to repairs I'm afraid, (probably why I'm grumpy)  fixing the damage to Fi’s Norton after the great P&O disaster, new head bearings in her BMW, a right PITA, actually I videoed the job so if I can string along enough instructional video without expletives I may upload it to youtube. Hey ho, roll on the summer man!!     

Taking the tourists to Bass rock
The girls playing
Concorde cabin, cool, more dials than a Norton Commando that's for sure
In the sheeps heid
Fellow Germans staying in the same hotel as Tomas touring on these
Tomas reckoned 30mph top whack
Fair play
OK so one day it was sunny and warm.....two great examples of good engineering (no jokes, the lampost isn't one of them!!

Wednesday 3 June 2015

International Norton Rally, Wicklow, Ireland

Well that was a busy week, off to Ireland on Wednesday to get the P&O ferry from Cairnryan to Larne for this years Norton Owners Club International rally. Fiona and myself on the Norton's and Alex on the Triumph. Cold but dryish run down, only really fun for the last few miles, when your time constrained there’s no good way to get from the East to West of Scotland in the Central belt. Ferry was ok but deposited us in a very wet Larne, roadworks most of the way to Belfast and then rush hour in Belfast was painfully slow, literally painful as my wrist was aching slipping the clutch so much. We crossed into Southern Ireland and  had a reasonable run around Dublin arriving into Wicklow about 5 hours after we left Larne (which is ridiculous) First thing that we saw was the Garage our Wicklow correspondent Kevin Sheane works in with a huge "Wicklow welcomes the Norton 2015 International Rally", very nice. A bit of banter with Kevin and the owner Padraig and then off to the Grand Hotel to claim our room for the night. Glad to get a Guinness after the journey. Kevin joined us for a few beers but tiredness claimed us early.
Thursday up to the rugby club to set up our tent and prepare for the onslaught of Norton riders, to be honest the onslaught never came but we ended with 161 booked in over the next couple of days which was ok and kept us busy enough in the booking in tent. Highlights of the weekend were the great nights in the bar with the staff and members of the club working tirelessly to keep us happy. The catering was excellent throughout the weekend and many paid a compliment on the food. The run on Saturday when we all parked in the “wrong” car park at the city Gaol and then caused chaos as we shifted in excess of 100 bikes was typically farcical and we all had a good laugh. Most people enjoyed the run led by Colm O’Shea and our sweeper Mark Oliver Saturday night was fantastic with great music and a bit of banter during the prize giving (apologies to any who I might have offended)
Sunday was a strange day as people started panicking about the expected Armageddon which was forecast for the next day, ferries were already being cancelled due to the strengthening wind which was to turn to gales and the heavy rain forecast, I'm sure somebody also mentioned a plague of locusts!
Sunday night was good to get the banter and mingle, I even spent some time with Ian Verrinder and his large London crew not swapping insults, we must be going soft!
A huge thanks to Kevin Sheane for his enthusiasm and help with the setting up of the meeting, to Martin Connachy for liaising with the guys at the Irish end and the most excellent T shirts (and the ambulance service), Colm O'Shea for the run and for the band (he was visibly relieved after the first 3 songs) . Fiona for working hard and keeping me sober during the day, the staff and officials at the Rugby club, particularly Ann who I negotiated with, and her husband Larry, and the caterers for ensuring we had a great time.
Specifically thanks to the large Dutch contingent who supported us and swelled the numbers (and of course the English, French, Belgians, Germans, Czech and Swedish crew not forgetting the Welsh and Scottish chaps and of course John & Peter all the way from the USA)
We had a windy and cold but mainly dry run back up to Larne joined for the run by Johan and Wopkee from the Dutch branch but then the heavens opened and we got soaked trying to book into our by now cancelled ferry. We got on the next one but that meant about another 40 miles in atrocious weather. Fiona's Norton was lying on its side against mines when we got to the car deck, the guys wouldn't let us lift it until the first officer took photos, then he announced they would take no responsibility, Thanks to P&O for nothing, use Stena the next time. Alex's Triumph was also damaged so we spent 40 minutes sorting them out so they were ridable and cracked home. We got back at 10.15 pm which was ok, very cold, wet but with great memories of a great International

Welcome to Wicklow
Alex, Kevin and I enjoying a pre rally pint
In town for lunch
Did you hear about the 2 Irish, 2 Americans and the Scotsman trying to put up a tent...funny
Andrea, Martin & Agnes Connachy, helpers and T shirt aficionados 
Part of the team
View from my office most of the weekend
1929 Model 18 ridden all the way from the Isle of Wight, great effort by Jeff
Dave Allen, am I in the right place?
Waiting for the off, oldest rider (ridden to event) our former Chairman Peter Cocks standing Centre
Youngest rider on a Norton Toon from Belgium asking Davie what polish he uses
On your marks
Colm and I prepare to lead the guys to the Gaol
NEVER give me a microphone, Tim Harrison our chairman to my left wondering what I'll say next!!
Let the party begin
Priase for Kevin & Colm
Getting messy
Top team, thanks!!
Barman thanks me for my praise
Always happy to serve
Kevin in for a pose 
Ortmund, Guy and Fi 
getting messier
Part of our large Dutch contingent
Top bar team
I feel sick.........
Needed this hassle like a hole in the head