Sunday 31 July 2016

Bert & Laurennes Party

That time of year again for the annual "Bert & Laurenne" party. Despite taking 2 hours to ride the 30 miles due to an accident on the bypass (we were in the sidecar so couldn't filter) the excellent hospitality and great banter from the assembled throng numbed my anger at the incompetence of the council and Police. Scotland is quickly being brought to a standstill by its under developed road system and lack of thinking by the authorities when an accident or roadworks block any artery. The powers that be would be incapable of running a piss up in a brewery never mind a country. Rant over, the party was excellent and some very tasty bikes were there (mainly Berts!) an evening spend drinking beer and talking nonsense whilst looking at bikes, whats not to like? Instead of the usual photos I've done a time lapse video of part of the evening to give you a flavour (can you smell the smoke?)

Friday 29 July 2016

Time Lapse Sicily

Thought I'd share this time lapse, first part looking over Taormina with Mt Etna smoking in the background, second sitting on the balcony at Inspector Montalbano's house in Punta Secca, enjoy

Sunday 24 July 2016

Bill's bikes in the garden & Erics Arbroath smokey classic meeting

Just recovering from the holidays and right back into the Classic/ Norton scene. First a get together of the mighty Tay Valley Norton club, a meet at the Clattering Brig cafe on the Cairn'o mount road Saturday lunchtime, no time yet to get a Norton sorted out so the Guzzi T3 was pressed into service to carry the two of us. A nice blether and small Norton gathering followed up later by the most superb hospitality from our Luthermuir member Bill Parr, we had a fantastic evening in Bill's company, the stories flowing as freely as the beer and then later the whisky, great to see everyone but unfortunately Phil & Forfar John couldn't stay the night, they still kept us company till quite late though.
A bit of a "sorry heid" this morning for those of us who had overdone the imbibing but Bills culinary skills brought us back to life. We then headed for Arbroath for Erik's wee smokey gathering, over 100 bikes at one point so not so wee and a big thanks to Erik for putting it on, great to catch up with many of my friends from the North East some of whom I haven't seen for years, too many to mention but we both thoroughly enjoyed the day. My brother John appeared with Lesley just as most people were leaving, need to get up earlier John!
The run home was fine for a bit then we got rain so headed home on the main road, the congestion coming into Edinburgh was a bit crap but didn't detract from what was a most excellent weekend!
A stop at Perth motorcycles for some great after sales service on our Interphone's (Thanks to Gareth) and gave Fi a chance to try the MV Augusta for size (again)  
Nice we spot and turnout
David and Phil captured by my on board camera woman 
Bill and Sandy going through the Royal Arck
Bill's Flat tanker, 100 years old soon 
Bill's JPN
Sandy smiling so there must be food on the go, Bill masterchef and master host also looking happy
Talking nonsense probably, the temptation of the whisky proved too much eventually
At the wee Smokey
Restored FS1E
I raced against these back in the day, evil handling when pushed
Aerial Leader
Super shiny GS
Jake's mighty Falcone!
Erik's BSA, nice!
Murray on his V11 Le Mans
Shiny Velo
Used 1931 KSS Velo
Tony's Nimbus (eagerly awaiting the unveiling of Bert's Nimbian!)
Triumph with a mix of original Patina and new parts

Monday 18 July 2016

France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland and home

So as I said previously the plan was to make steady progress home, the problem with that is as soon as you leave the South of France it gets colder, I don't like cold!
We also to begin with decided to stay in bigger cities in case my Guzzi needed to go to the Doctors. The temporary repair was holding up well and we made it to Dijon, nice municipal campsite near the town centre (walking distance in fact) The old town is nice but really just a collection of shops selling crap you don't need on a motorbike or in a tent. A meal in a city centre café was a bit more expensive than the Italian / Croatian side the petrol as well was as much as 1.56 Euro on the highways. We had a beer stop at a café obviously used by the locals, fun pub full of mainly men and all seemed half pissed, a collection of characters, no different from a Scottish pub really apart from the better suntans and they were speaking French!

Another day another service station
Dijon, another church
Nice square
Another photo to add to my exotic telephone exchanges collection
Very old methinks
We eat in a café that used to be a printers, so for all you printers out there an old Heidelberg
Don't know why?
No campfire just TUC biscuits and whisky in a tin cup
There was a weather front moving in so we played it safe and had an early night. The following day was cloudy, very cloudy, we headed up the road and then the rain started, some of the heaviest rain I've ridden in, we were down to 40mph terrified we'd get shunted as visibility was almost nil. At one point the Gendarmerie were behind us with their blue lights flashing, they followed us for miles but I wasn't stopping in that weather, they eventually passed us which is when I realised they weren't tailing us but escorting a military truck, the shame, overtaken by a wide load. We stopped to get our bearings, my Interphone F5 which we use to speak to each other on the move was doing strange things and turned out to be completely beyond repair due to the rain, bugger, more stress then as we set off my oil light came on, remember I had a split breather pipe earlier in the trip, I thought "bugger that'll be the engine knackered then!" but a stop and check it seemed to be circulating oil and the level was ok so I did what any Guzzi rider would do, I pulled the wire of the switch as I was too nervous riding with a big red oil warning in front of me. We stopped that evening in a hotel to take stock and try and fix things. The Interphone was not fixable, the oil switch I only replaced 3 months ago seemed to be faulty but I was at least confident the bike was fine. We taped up Fi's waterproofs which had melted on my exhaust earlier when her hands turned white with the wet and the cold and she was trying to use the heat of the Guzzi cylinder heads to restore feeling. Not the best day we'd had and challenging for many reasons but hey ho, that's life on the road, you can take the odd bad day as long as there's no one hurt and the sun eventually returns.
We pressed on through Luxembourg (Shite drivers) and camped in Belgium for a couple of nights at a nice campsite not far from Namur. The site had a high proportion of residential vans and was obviously an escape for people from Brussels. A day off on the Friday and we were horrified to see the news about the lunatic in Nice the previous night, we've been there often, it's such a nice place and not one you'd expect to be associated with this level of violence.
Saturday we awoke to find out about the Coup in Turkey, we were thinking the world is going mad.

Unloading the bike while I relax in the tent
Dinner Al Fresco
Clear sky it was going to be cold
Fi has been in Italy too long, speaking to our neighbour with full hand gestures
We headed to a small seaside village near Ijmuiden for the Saturday night, problem was the tunnel is closed and our Dutch is non existent so at one point we were 5 miles away from our destination but after several u turns, much swearing, a couple of laps of the town, a few rides up and down the A22 we finally made it haven done over 20 miles going round in circles, Mr Garmin can be such an arse at times!
Sunday we reluctantly took the DFDS ferry back to the UK, the usual shoddy treatment by DFDS, they are masters at pissing me off, they use cheap Filipino labour (unlike the ferries in Croatia and Italy which appear to be staffed with friendly and helpful locals) and you get the feeling the dour faced European staff don't really want to be there and probably spend their time off having meetings about how to make it more difficult for motorcyclists! I think in future we'll use the Chunnel more. We arrived home after a dry final leg, bikes away, washing machine filled up and a decent cup of tea. 4000 miles, 3 minor (but worrying) mishaps with the Guzzi, the Kawasaki as always never missed a beat although I did adjust the chain once, it also passed the 60,000 milestone so only another 40K before Fi retires it and buys a new one. Fantastic trip, nice people, nice food and I proved to myself you can easily tour on what many think is an impractical touring bike, just got to get my physio sorted and I'll be ready to do it again.

What do you mean we're lost again?
Just hanging around
Watching stuff
BMW Wasp outfit, Germans on tour of Scotland, now with a better route planned, an ignorant cyclist knocked a bit off his handguard as he cycled up his inside to get on the boat, I was too slow to boot him off, never stopped, never saw him on the ferry, I hope he suffers terrible saddle sores!
Waiting for another crap DFDS experience

Monday 11 July 2016

Italia and into France

We stayed in Palermo two days and did a lot of walking exploring the old town, there are some amazing bits of Architecture and history but I’m afraid its a bit dirty and down at heel, the heat makes some of the city’s less appealing smells more pungent. From a tourist and outsiders point of view there needs to be some education or cash put into the rubbish and graffiti problem but i suppose if you’re constantly paying the mob its difficult.
We left our digs for the ferry at 6pm with a hint of trepidation having watched the trffic insanity for two days, the ferry terminal less than a mile away, to say we got the run around was an understatement, i was beginning to think we were back in the Central American republics, when we eventually got to the ticket office to collect our boarding cards, the very fat, rude surly guy was as helpful as a dose of diarrhoea when there’s no toilet and your wearing a white suit! He started shouting at me then calmed down when I gave him a round of the guns with my best Italian abuse and actions. The Ferry queueing seemed and was chaotic but at the end of the day we were boarded with no drama and left the guys to tie the bikes down, we met some fellow UK travellers so that was good to realise Mr Fat smelly guy was universally rude.
The Ferry was huge, clean and much better than the crap we have to put up with going to Europe, it was good to find out we arrived in Genoa at 5pm and not the 9pm i thought it was. Genoa at 5pm is a stressful place to ride a motorcycle, not good at all. We arrived in Calice Liguria around 6.30 and called our host for the next two days Steva who we met at the Elefant Rally and runs a bikers B&B. He met us in the square and warned us the road to his place was a bit steep and had gravel, no kidding batman, I’ve ridden easier trials sections, but the V11 and Kawa made it with only a couple of dabs ! Martin and Sue form the UK (also Guzzi folk) were already there so we spent the next two days partying including a night in Finale Liguria watching Steva’s band and getting seriously pissed!
Saturday Martin a Sue left early to get a tyre fitted and we had a tour of the old town with Steva. When I returned to my bike there was a load of oil under it, It seemed to be coming from the breather but  couldn’t see properly, we pushed on for about 50 miles and pulled into a service station to check, it was pissing oil everywhere, further checks revealed the main engine breather had split. I took the tank off but didn’t have a long enough screwdriver to get the clamp off. An Austrian guy in a car offered tools and encouragement but had to go, meanwhile two Bulgarian truck drivers on their stop came over and got stuck in, I couldn’t get near the bike and half an hour later we had nipped the bad bit off the perished hose and got it together again. Bizarrely a Chinese guy who spoke no Italian or English appeared having ridden his GS12 from China with his young son on the back.     

We set off to my old village I lived in when i was a bambino, stayed with my cousin Bruno in his B&B for a couple of days eating, catching up with the locals, drinking and chilling. We did get a bite freaked out I admit when we encountered the snorting wild Boar on the way walking to Bruno's house with only the phone to see the way, no harm done , I think it was more scared than we were!  Today we set off and rode the route Napoleon which is outstanding normally but for now there’s mega roadworks so after a long day we quit just an hour short of Grenoble, Every time i stop i’m nervously checking the breather as it’s a very temporary repair. The plan is to make progress every day and hope it hangs out
Where are we?
Rubbish everywhere
A wedding car, seems to be the fashion
Nice though
More stuff
One of the gates into the old city
waiting for a ferry
Lets take a selfie
Steva's drive, not for the faint hearted
Old Guzzi's in the garden
Not so old Guzzi's in the garden
Steva and one of the other visitors on Friday night
Good food, good crack
Hear no evil, see no evil , speak no evil
King of the castle
Getting messy
I liked this shot
Steva in full flight
And the girls in full dance
My Bulgarian helpers
The view from Bruno's house, not too shabby
Guzzi looking into the village