Friday, 28 December 2012

Gerry Anderson RIP

This week saw the death of a childhood hero of mine, Gerry Anderson, at the age of 83. He made numerous children's TV shows from the late '50's to the '90's. But it is the puppet space shows of the '60's that were my era. Supercar, Fireball XL5, Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons (I didn't like Stingray). And of course the greatest of them all - Thunderbirds. High production values, colourful, an array of space ships & other futuristic vehicles, always lots of massive explosions and a great theme tune.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Featured Bike - Norton Wulf 500cc Prototype 1975

I was interested in this bike because it reminded me of my old Suzuki GT500 I rode ages ago. It is also a 500cc two stroke twin but the engine uses an unusual "stepped piston" design where the lower chamber pumps the mixture to the opposite cylinder rather than through the crankcase thus lowering emissions because the crankshaft does not need to be lubricated by the mixture.

The bike never reached production because of the state of the British bike industry at the time and the era of the two stroke was coming to an end.

Photographed at the National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham in 2009.

How it works

Lost in Translation

Strange menu item from the Spanish Canary Island of Fuerteventura this week.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Out in the Cold

I've not been far on the bike over the last couple of weeks due to persistent freezing conditions. But today it was sunny so I decided to wrap up warm (thermals, mitts, balaclava, multiple layers of clothing etc) and take a short run down to the coast. The roads were mostly clear but any untreated surfaces were solid with ice.

         Port Glasgow

"Ginger" by sculptor Andy Scott in Greenock. Ginger was a local dray horse who sadly fell into the harbour & drowned in 1889. Not one of Andy's best I think. The head & neck don't match the body.

The Pole Star is a lightship supply vessel that was built locally.

 The great Scottish Engineer James Watt was from Greenock

 Me at Gourock in my winter gear.

Memorial to Free French Navy that operated from Greenock during the war.

 View of the Firth of Clyde from the memorial

 Nymph statue, also by Andy Scott, Greenock

Our horse Fritz, like me, wrapped up against the cold.

Well I stayed warm & comfortable during the short run and had a very enjoyable afternoon out.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Featured Bike - Kawasaki W650

I recently saw one of these parked in Helensburgh and thought that it looked like a neat retro. The bike is an accurate modern reproduction of the trad British twin of the '60s. Although it could also be said to be an updating of Kawasaki's own W1/2/3. These were based on the 500cc BSA A7 and produced from 1967-75. Yes, amazingly, Kawasaki were building a pushrod non-unit engine in the mid '70s along side the Z1 & two stroke triples. Not imported to the UK I'm pretty sure. The W650 was build from 1999-07 and replaced with the W800 from 2011. The bike has all the period details - spoked wheels, peashooter silencers and even a kickstarter. The engine is an eight valve single overhead cam twin strangely with a bevel drive to the cam.

It's a good looking bike and no doubt appeals to those wanting the classic bike experience without the hassle of an old Brit. I'm maybe still too young for one and anyway they are expensive - price from £3,000 on Biketrader.  

Bevel drive can be seen in cutaway
'60s W1
'70s W3

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Landmarks Challenge 2012

Way back in February "mr combo" set us a Landmarks Challenge . It's taken all year, but here's mine.

No.1 - Castle - One of Scotland's best known: Eilean Donan

No.2 - Telephone Box - Cowal Peninsular

No. 3 - Mail Box  - South Queensferry

No. 4 - Flag - Eyemouth

No 5 - Animal - Highland Coo, Glen Douglas
No. 6 - Bridge - Tay Rail Bridge, Dundee

No. 7 - Body of Water - Firth of Forth at Burntisland, Fife
No 8 - Church - Kilfinan Parish Church

No. 9 -  Barbers - Shawlands, Glasgow
No. 10 - Scrap yard - Gartocharn. This was the hardest to find. The old fashioned scrap yard with junk piled high is a thing of the past - in the West of Scotland anyway. Planning rules mean they are screened from public view. This vehicle recycler is the nearest I could get. 

No. 11 - Station - Maxwell Park, Glasgow
No. 12 - Stadium - St James, Newcastle

No. 13 - Ship - Inverarary

No. 14 - Graffiti - Or is it art?, St Andrews

No. 15 - Statue - Ayr

No. 16 - Rust - FJ disc after winter lay-up
No. 17 - Rain - CBF filler cap

No. 18 - Petrol Pump - Old pump at Portinnisherrich on Loch Awe

No. 19 - Road Sign - At the start of the Bealach na Ba, Wester Ross

No. 20 - Memorial - War memorial, Sandbank, Dunoon on the Holy Loch

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Solway Coast Run - Part 3

For the final part of our journey we cross the border into England.

Burgh by Sands to St Bees Head

The River Esk flows into the Solway just south of the border

King Edward I monument, Burgh by Sands. He died here in 1307 on the way to fight the Scots.

Salt marshes outside Burgh by Sands

Radio station at Anthorn. This is a NATO facility for submarine communications using very low frequency transmitters

Seafront at Silloth

Ice Cream at Silloth

The harbour at Maryport

The FJ at the marina at Whitehaven. In the past this was a major port exporting coal but has been redeveloped.

The end of the journey - St Bees Head.

Well that's the journey completed. I really enjoyed touring this area that is, especially on the Scottish side, quiet and undeveloped and not full of tourists even in high summer. The route was about 250 miles and took a bit of planning since, in general, the main roads in Scotland are remote from the coast. I did this trip in three journeys from home covering over 800 miles in total.

Solway Coast Run - Part 2

Part#2 - Kirkcudbright to Annan

 Fishing Boats in Kirkcudbright

 Dundrennan Abbey

Wickerman near Dalbeattie. I think human sacrifice may still be practiced in this area.

Hestan Island

Orchardson Tower - a unique 15C round house near Dalbeattie


Southerness Lighthouse - the second oldest in Scotland completed 1749


Glencaple - south of Dumfries the River Nith flows into the Solway.

Bankend - Lochar Water swollen from recent rains with the ruins of Isle Tower in the distance.

The harbour at Annan - I've never seen water in it but the boats must have got there somehow.