Sunday, 29 July 2018

Applecross Norton weekend

This year we changed the dates to accomodate Ian Loram who was riding a 1929 Norton model 18 from Devon up around the North of Scotland and back to our wee event at Applecross. For a variety of reasons we haven't been to Applecross so much in the last year but it was great to be back and catch up with everyone, strangely it wasn't crazy busy so that made it all the more enjoyable. Alex, myself and Fiona set off Friday morning, after a 2 month spell of scorching weather our departure was in the pissing rain which is bloody typical, sad to say we were not Norton mounted but on our Moto Guzzi's (no time to prepare the Nortons sadly but that will be rectified for next year)
It rained most of the way which made dealing with the bloody motorhomes and caravans more challenging than usual. Funnily we met most of the attendee's at various times on the run up but all having different, tea, coffee, pee break needs we kept to our little groups. We met Liz (also on her Guzzi) at the waterside in Lochcarron and had a pretty bleak run over the Bealach in heavy mist, that and the stupidity of some drivers of overly large motorhomes made the run over not as good as it should have been. The rain stopped and tents were erected, nonsense talked then a trip to the Walled Garden via the Applecross Inn for dinner. The weekend passed far too quickly and it was excellent to meet up with the locals who I consider friends, there have been a couple of tragedies locally recently but life has to go on, wonderful to travel 200 miles North and find a place which is as welcoming, just like the old signature song from Cheers, "a bar where everybody knows your name".
Ian Loram put in an impressive 1500 miles plus on his 1929 bike and that was impressive, we left on the Sunday in the rain and mist to head back to the Riviera like conditions in Perth. A fine weekend amongst friends, never mind the rain, its was excellent.

Fiona feeding the Ducks at Dalwhinnie
Smiling despite the rain
A bit of sun for Bert, Laurenne, Lesley, Liz and Fi to enjoy some Prosecco
Ian Heading for his dinner
His buddy joined him for part of the trip on this 35 Model 18
A dark and brooding Applecross bay
Have we stepped back in time?
David and Ian passing over a book which we will actually get in 4 years time (long and complicated story)
Stag night
Oi, what you looking at!
The Inn, a hostelry of the finest order
Our Guzzi's at rest
Local man Billy Youngson's mint Commando
Paul plodding through
Bob & Ginneta's Commando, Northumbria branch's sole representatives
the 1929 ES2 back up bike
Performing deer
And again
The mountains of Skye across Applecross bay
Only 1 careful owner.......
Pretty landscape

Sunday, 8 July 2018

A short trip to Islay & Jura

The good weather lately has been amazing, in an effort to take advantage we decided on a break to the Islands of Islay and Jura off Scotland's West coast, it was a welcome break from work in Fionas case and workshop building in mines. Wednesday Lunchtime we set off for Oban, up past Loch Earn, looking stunning in the sun, the temperatures had dropped a bit and dropped steadily as we headed west, no complaints though (although I did have to contend with a soft tyre before Crieff). A fuel stop just outside Oban then into the Caledonian McBraynes ticket office, we had booked as being the tourist season you never know, boats aren't that frequent for the 4 hour crossing to Islay so best to think ahead. Caley Mcbrains are often the brunt of jokes, the staff are friendly and helpful but sometimes I think the timetables are just a guide, not neccesarily to be adhered to! As it happened our boat was 45 minutes late in coming in so we assumed that meant at least an hour late into Islay, originally we were to have landed at 8.30pm and we had hoped to find a campsite and be pitched by 9.30, the delay meant it might be well after 10 before we pitched, the wind was getting up and there was a threat of rain so we took the easy way out and booked a B&B, cheapest we could find available was £135 for the night, bloody ridiculous and although it was very nice it was just a bed we needed, we made sure we made breakfast the following day! The landlady informed us it was normally £170 but she reduced the price as she'd had a party cancelled, probably couldn't get a mortgage for the stay! On the Thursday we headed to Jura, the short ferry trip was exciting to say the least, holding onto the bike and anchoring myself to a post office van as the little boat rolled in the choppy sea, one of the longest 15 minutes on a boat ever.
We camped at the front of the Jura Hotel which is next to the Jura distillery (£5 per tent and nice toilets) after a bit of wandering around we went to the bar and passed time in the normal fashion. I had a bit of an incident with a retarded local (who seemingly has mental health issues) and that soured my stay on Jura a bit, a bit of advice to bartenders, if you know someone is mental, don't serve then drink! If I return (which is doubtful) I'd head to Jura in the morning and get back off to Islay in the evening.
Friday a tour of Islay passing the myriad of top malt whisky distilleries but not going in for the tour, it was a bit like riding along the top shelf of a well stocked whisky bar. The locals were friendly and I heard from more than one that the prices on the Island meant the locals are being priced out, if they want to go out for a meal for example they pay the highly inflated tourist prices, one hotel we passed had rooms for £280 a night, although it looked ok I'd suggest £100 was a reasonable price, eventually greed will be Scotland's tourist industry's downfall.
We found a great campsite near Port Ellen overlooking the sea, a tad windy but stunning with great facilities as well. We left the Island on Saturday and stayed in a hotel (more reasoanbly priced) near Kennacraig and on Sunday got the ferry from Tarbet to Portavadie, a short run around the peninsula on a stunning day, it was quiet and peaceful, it seems its a bit off the tourist trail so for me its perfect. I was taking in the view at the side of the road overlooking the Island of Bute when a car stopped, a short conversation ensued and I found out I was speaking to Jim Currie, former TT racer and British 125 champion,  He had been giving a talk at the Glasgow Triumph owners club meeting and was having a day out sight seeing, small world indeed.
The ride home on Monday was excellent until the main road at the Rest and be Thankful, hell from Tarbet to Crainlarich mainly thanks to a German tour bus that really is far too big for this road, Crainlarich back to Perth was excellent despite the plague of motorhomes and caravans!
Pictures as always tell the story.
Pumping up the back tyre (I know now I have a slow puncture)
The ship coming in (late)
Passing distilleries in the late sun
The paps of Jura (I think)
getting ready to disembark
Islay airport and sheep sanctuary it would seem
Church in Bowmore
Pretty town Bowmore
Idyllic to ride in this scenery
Another Distillery
It looked like this guy was walking on water until we got closer
The name says it
Nice campsite
with a nice view
preparing food time
Swans looking after their young
I wonder what the story is behind this wheel
We spoke to a few yacht guys, interesting
Still not that warm
Guess where this bar is?
Heading back to the ferry
Setting camp near Port Ellen
Port Ellen
Just like reading a whisky menu
makeshift shelter worked well
studying the map
Night time, as dark as it gets
awaiting the ferry to the mainland
old boat
Boat graveyard
Look, Bowmore, Ardbeg
Short ferry from Tarbet
Lunch, not too unpleasant
The view to Bute 
Stunning day
2 ex TT riders on a hill looking at a view
Another excellent adventure