I just about managed to get back from visiting an elderly friend today when a sudden shower of hail turned things white.
Monday, 23 February 2015
I was clearing out a drawer when I found this old photograph. It shows my good lady, Gwen, and her Kawasaki GT550 wrapped up well against the elements in a bleak looking location. On the back it said "Islay, Sept '86".
The road sign "Kentraw 3, B8018" allowed me to locate the position exactly. It is in the west of the island of Islay, the southmost of the Hebribes. In the distance (although hard to see) is Loch Gorm.
|On Google Maps - and it's sunny!|
Unlike most of the Hebrides, Islay has many flat areas and is pretty desolate especially in dull weather which is a lot of the time. I'd say the only reason to visit is if you're interested in malt whisky. The island is a major producing area with many famous distilleries. These are flavoured with the peat that most of the island is made of.
I remember a couple of things about the trip. I forgot to pack a pair of shoes. I though "I'll buy a cheap pair when I get there". But the lack of shoe shops (and just about any other kind of shop) meant that I spent the weekend clumping about in boots. Also Saturday night in the hotel in Port Ellen was like a Wild West saloon. Not only do they produce booze, the locals like to consume it.
In the photograph Gwen is wearing her Rukka jacket. From Finland these were the best wet weather gear you could get at the time. Her bike is the touring version of the GPz550 with the same 4 cylinder engine but with shaft drive.
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Here's the gear I worn through this winter.
Hein Gericke textile jacket. It has a Cordura outer with a Gore Tex membrane. It is reasonably warm, waterpoof & windproof. It is comfortable and has a removable liner that I don't use. Its best feature is a detachable neck & chin protector.
Bib & braces fabric trousers with a warm fleece lining by Hein Gericke. These are baggy enough to wear trousers under so were handy when I commuted to work.
I seldom wear motorcycling boots. I usually wear a pair of "Cripsi" leather walking boots or "V12" leather work boots. If its particularly cold & wet I wear rigger boots
I mostly wear a pair of leather "Duchinni" gloves. These are pretty warm when used with heated grips. If it's wet I wear a pair of fabric mitts with pair of thermal inners if it's cold. The mitts are made by "Extremities" for hikers.
Sunday, 15 February 2015
Over the weekend I did about 300 miles on the FJ. The weather was bright(ish), dry and just about warm enough for riding for a couple of hours (8C/45F) I wrapped up well and had the heated grips on. This isn't spring, of course, but the days are getting longer. The back roads were pretty mucky and, surprisingly for Scotland, could do with some rain to clear things up. Winter here can have a nasty sting in its tail but the end is in sight.
|Out in the wilds near Moniaive, Dumfries & Galloway|
Friday, 13 February 2015
I visit the city centre by bike most Fridays to have lunch with former colleagues. Today, while leaving my usual parking place on the FJ, there was a loud bang and the FJ was on its side and I was rolling about on the ground. What the f….? A helpful citizen helped me get the FJ back on its wheels and I discovered I'd taken off with the U lock still attached to the front wheel.
My excuse is that I don't generally use the lock unless I'm up the town…. but I go most Fridays for the last three years so….maybe the onset of senility?
Anyway no damage done to me or the bike. The FJ has a plastic cover to protect the fairing against such an event and this can be restored using sandpaper. My take off was brisk enough to bend the U lock - but it bent back ok.
|after a little rub & some satin paint|
Monday, 2 February 2015
Today was cold but bright so I fired up the FJ and took a run over to the east to see progress on the Queensferry Crossing. It is over two years since I last blogged on the bridge. As with many bridges a lot of work has gone on under ground (and under water) but the towers of the cable stayed bridge are now taking shape.
The new bridge is to replace the existing road bridge and will join the famous rail bridge crossing the River Forth.
|North tower with existing road bridge behind|
|Centre and south towers and approach viaduct in distance|
|North Tower - I think about half final height|
|Panorama of the three bridges|
|The rail bridge is always worth a photo|
|The FJ makes a rare winter appearance|