Wednesday 30 September 2015

Electric Bicycle

East Ayrshire Council are about to open an "Active Travel Hub" at the railway station in Kilmarnock. Cycles will be for hire and today I was given a chance to try out an electric bicycle.

It was a Raleigh Modus with a "step through" frame. It has ten speed gears and four stage electric assistance. You select the right gear to pedal and choose the level of assistance you want. (Eco/Tour/Sport/Turbo) I mostly used Tour on the flat and Turbo for the odd hill. The assistance is unobtrusive - like a hidden hand helping you along. It was most noticeable when accelerating or going up hills. On the flat I was doing 15 mph with little effort. I did nearly 20 miles. The range is about 40 miles.  

 The start of the cycle route is a disused railway line

 On the route

 Weird stuff grows in the countryside

 Bringing in the hay

 Electric motor

 Battery pack (below bag)


 Riding a horse would be more fun here!

 There's always time to snap an interesting bridge

 I refuelled here

 "Puffers" in Irvine harbour - these ships supplied the highlands & islands from Glasgow in days past.

A carter and his horse

 Not a stitch of Lycra in sight!

   Next stop - America.

Thursday 24 September 2015

Cheap Sunglasses

I lost my shades on a trip to Yorkshire in June. It says something about the British climate that I only needed a new pair last week on the Greek island of Crete where the strong sun made them essential. I got a nice pair of Ray-Bans. I paid €5 (£3.70, $5.60) for them but I think I was ripped off - I saw them for €4 in another shop!

Featured Bike - Kawasaki Estrella 250

I spotted this bike in Crete recently. It's a Kawasaki Estrella BJ250C. This retro styled thumper was sold mostly in Japan. It appeared in 1992 and is still in production. They were sold in Europe in the late '90's but not in the UK (I think) With its round crankcases and "pea shooter" silencer it put me in mind of 60's AMC singles like the AJS Model 14.


Monday 14 September 2015

Every Picture Tells a Story #4 - The Candy Heist, August 1983.

This looks like an innocent haul of sweets but was part of an international financial scam.

Prior to a bike & camping trip to Holland & Germany in the summer of 1983 I learned that the UK 5 pence coin was the same size as the German 1 deutsche mark coin. This was worth 25 pence and so I collected a pile of 5p coins to take on the trip.

The sweets came from a vending machine in an autobahn service station. Since then the UK introduced a smaller 5p coin and Germany adopted the Euro. 


Saturday 12 September 2015

Clutha Vaults

On a stroll in the city centre yesterday I saw that a famous Glasgow pub, the Clutha Vaults, has re-opened. The Clutha was destroyed in an accident in November 2013 when a police helicopter crashed into it, killing 10 and injuring many others.

On the outside wall is a mural depicting people who played or drank in the pub over the years.

 From the internet

Here they are (as far as I can work out)

Ship "Clutha No. 9" - this was a ferry that ran up and down the River Clyde around the turn of last century. Clutha is the Gaelic name for the Clyde.

Stan Laurel, comic actor. Stan grew up in Glasgow where his father managed the nearby Metropole theatre. He started there as a music hall act before going to America and teaming up with Oliver Hardy.

Dray horse delivering beer?

Mary Barbour, political activist.

Benny Lynch, boxer. World flyweight champion 1936. Came from across the Clyde in the Gorbals.

Johnny Ramensky, safe cracker. His skills were put to use in the Commandos during world war 2. Lived in the Gorbals.

Woody Guthrie, folk singer. Was in Glasgow in 1944 when he was a merchant seaman. He sang in the nearby Scotia Bar - maybe also in the Clutha?

Women at Paddy's Market? which was around the corner from the Clutha.

Spike Milligan, comedian. Visited when touring as a jazz musician.

Billy Connolly & Jerry Rafferty (hidden) in their Humblebums days.

Alex Harvey, musician. A Glasgow native.

Frank Zappa, musician. The pub has his autograph (when playing the Apollo in the late '70s?)

Jimmy Reid, trade unionist. Led the "work in" at Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in 1971.

John Martyn, musician. We were likely at school, Shawlands Academy, at the same time.

A trio of actors, Glenda Jackson, Rupert Everett and Glasgow born David Hayman. The Citizen's Theatre is just across the river in the Gorbals and no doubt the thesps dropped in for a drink.

A striking piece of art and likely to become a city landmark. The only thing that jars is that two of those featured (Lynch & Rafferty) died as a result of drinking.  

Thursday 3 September 2015

Lakeland Passes

A run on Monday to the Lake District to ride some of the passes.

 Crumnock Water

 Honister Pass


 I work on the assumption that the more the warnings, the better the road.

 Great Langdale

 Langdale Pikes

 Wrynose Pass

 More warning signs at Hardknott Pass

 Hardknott Pass

Some hairy locals

 Looking west to the Irish Sea and the Isle of Man in the distance

 Sunshine at Allonby

 The weatherman said there might be showers - luckily this didn't come to anything.