Monday 31 October 2016

In the News - Justin Bieber samples Scottish Cuisine

From the Daily Mail

Canadian pop person Justin Bieber was playing in Glasgow recently and after a pub crawl dined in a traditional chip shop. His choice of meal was haggis and chips washed down with Irn Bru (a local rust-coloured fizzy drink) The chip shop version of this Scottish delicacy is battered and deep fried. 

A haggis supper (ie haggis & chips) - probably best consumed whilst inebriated.        Haggis is banned in the USA because it contains sheep lungs.

Scotland's other national drink

Saturday 29 October 2016

A Bit of Cheap Insurance

On a recent run to the Borders I had a slow puncture. I carry a tubeless repair kit but I was unwilling to use it while the tyre was still partially inflated. I bought a foot pump and that saved the day. 

link to borders post 

link to tubeless repair post 

Today in a bargain store I found a compact cycle pump for the price of £1.99!

The pump fits under the pillion seat. I taped on a pressure gauge. It might come in handy at some point in the future.

Thursday 27 October 2016

Every Picture Tells a Story #9 - Heading for a Rally, July 1996

This photograph is of a group of us on MZ two strokes on our way to a motorcycle rally at Bonchester Bridge in the Scottish Borders. The photograph was taken at Meggat Reservoir. My brother, Norman, is wearing the silver suit. 

My bike is the black ETZ251 Saxon at the rear. I had recently acquired the bike and hadn't had time to fit any luggage. So I carried my camping gear in a large sack strapped to the rear seat.

Shortly after this photograph there was a bit of drama. My brother & I stopped here for a good view of the Southern Uplands. After this the road drops down into the town of Hawick. I suggested we have a "no engine" freewheel race down the hill. I paddled off and rode down the hill with my head on the tank to reduce wind resistance. When the road flattened out I put the bike into 2nd gear and dropped the clutch to bump-start it. Norman did the same but unfortunately his engine blew up! Well, the teeth stripped off the primary drive gear.

To get to the rally I used a pair of elastic luggage straps to tow him. This was fairly easy except when negotiating a roundabout in Hawick. There is a tendency to drag the towed bike over on tight corners. Anyway we made it to the campsite. For his efforts Norman was presented with a special award from the rally organisers. I think a photograph of us appeared in the MZ club magazine. 

Ron came on his beautiful 1956 Velocette MSS 500cc. I was amazed than one pannier was given over to tools & spare parts. He explained that this was necessary when riding a 40 year (as it was then) bike.

Malcolm is bald but with a little help from Alistair's impressive beard he re-lives the hirsute days of his youth. A bit sad because Alistair is no longer with us.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Guzzle Buddy

Do you like drinking wine but can't be bothered with the tiresome business of re-filling your glass? Here's the thing for you - the Guzzle Buddy. A glass that screws into a wine bottle. The prefect Christmas gift for the solitary drinker in your life. The tagline is "plug it and chug it - pouring is boring".

Sunday 16 October 2016

In the News - Pink Plastic Pigs Stop Play

Today's League One football match between Charlton Athletic and Coventry City was delayed shortly after kick-off after fans threw thousands of plastic pigs onto the pitch. Both teams' fans were protesting against their club's owners.

Story & video

Friday 14 October 2016

Portugal Lés-a-Lés

More Portugal but nothing to do with me.

Portuguese Vlogger "CagerOnTwoWheels" takes part in an end to end bike tour of Portugal. He travels from his home near Lisbon to the Algarve on the south coast to start the tour. This is a  great way of seeing the beautiful Portuguese scenery. (Mostly) in English.

Monday 10 October 2016

Insurance Company Woes

I insure my bikes with Aviva (formerly Norwich Union) I'm happy enough with them. The price seems ok and I've got a group policy for all my bikes. I haven't made a claim in many years so I can't really say how good they are. Once a year I phone them up, pay, and get my certificates in the post.

A couple of years ago I did this and no certificates were sent. I paid again (they not having taken the cash from my account) and they sent the certificates immediately as pdf files in an email.

This year it took three attempts to pay. Every time I paid (or thought I did) no certificates were sent. Only when I asked for the documents to be emailed did they appear.

In June this year I bought the SV650. I called and paid a small fee to have the bike added and asked for a pdf that was duly sent. Today (4 months later) I got a letter demanding the fee and saying my insurance would be cancelled unless I paid. I checked my on-line account and sure enough the cash hadn't gone through.

I called up and paid again. I asked the guy why Aviva were so bad at taking money from me and was this a common problem. He didn't say, but have the feeling we'll be talking again.

Anyone else had a problem with a company that refused to accept your money even when you try very hard to give it to them? 

Sunday 9 October 2016

Oban & Argyll Coast

Another day, another run. We are enjoying a spell of fine weather (courtesy of a blocking high over Scandinavia, apparently) and, at this time of year, I take every opportunity to get out knowing that there is a lot of nastiness on the way.

Today I head for Oban in the West Highlands.
I've featured it before but the Connel Bridge (once rail now road) makes for a grand photo.

And it's worth taking a walk across the bridge for the views up and down Loch Etive.

Looking west to the sea. As you can see there is a large flow as the tide goes out and the water from the loch rushes through the narrows

Looking east

I tend to avoid Oban in summer as it's choked with tourists but things have quietened down now.

Here's a house with a splendid view of Asknish Bay and the islands of Shuna and Luing

I head down a minor road along the Craignish peninsular. Here is something old even by Scottish standards. The Old Parish church dates from about 1200.

Some ancient stone coffins

Coffin lids with carvings of swords

Further on I know I'm on the real back roads when I meet a gate.

The road ends here with great views to the Isle of Jura. The twin hills in the distance being the Paps (breasts) of Jura    

An old jetty

Wednesday 5 October 2016

Run to Berwick upon Tweed

A run to the beautiful Borders on Monday with an ecclesiastical flavour and a minor drama.

It was cool but bright start that warmed up nicely. My usual route to the borders these days is on a back road through the village of Carmichael in Lanarkshire. Just after the village is this impressive view.

At Lilliesleaf I came across this autumn scene, a field of cut hay.

Lilliesleaf Kirk - is it weird hanging about in graveyards?

The village of Ancrum.

It was near Ancrum that I had a problem. The immaculate handling of the SV became a bit wobbly. This could only mean one thing - a puncture. Actually a very slow puncture caused by a tiny piece of metal. The tyre was still ok to ride on. 

At Kelso I tried Lidl and bought a tyre sealer. I already got one of these…in the garage…doh! I didn't use it but kept it as insurance for later.

At Coldstream with is this magnificent bridge over the River Tweed. Here river forms the border between Scotland and England.

I hadn't noticed it before but there's a marriage house at the north end of the bridge. In times past (and, to an extend still) Scotland had a lower marriage age and young lovers would head north to wed.

The Tweed, here I'm straddling the border.

Another country, another church. Cornhill-on-Tweed in England. Maybe I could seek Devine help to get me home…nah, I know what I'm doing.

I got this cheap pump in the Tesco store in Berwick. The tyre was at 15 psi - low but not silly. I re-inflated it and it got me home ok. It's a sign of the times that an mini electric pump was cheaper. I should fit a power socket under the seat and carry one of these.


The cliffs on the coast north of Berwick

In the Lammermuir Hills, south of Edinburgh on the way home.  

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Portugal - Faro

At the end of our trip we spent a day in the regional capital of Faro. A charming little city that is a joy to stroll around.

The marina

Igreja do Carmo

The cathedral

An artwork by Gilbert & George is an incongruous sight in the public car park

The train we used to see the Algrave

It's a long way from Britain but if you're going to ride down here this is the bike for it. A British registered BMW K1600.