Two wheels good, music good too

Happy New Year!!!

It didn’t rain today. In fact the sun shone. So I got the Bandit out, gave it a little polish, checked the levels (ordered a refill for the chain oiler), checked the tyre pressures and had a little two-wheeled ‘just for fun’ run, around the immediate area.

There is still a lot of surface water out in the sticks, after the horrendous flooding we’ve had lately, so I kept to the vicinity of Witney, made a few stops (Costa, etc), but just enjoyed being on two wheels in bright sunshine, and also enjoyed riding at the speed limit, but not being in much of a hurry to be anywhere.

It was lovely.

It’s now 9pm so I’m about to head off upstairs to bed with a hot chocolate, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and a couple of Jaffa Cakes.

4.45am alarm tomorrow.

So that was my New Year’s Day. How was yours?

Oh yes, and the first show of 2013 for the music podcast This Reality Podcast ‘hit the air’ today.

Nice to know I can still remember how to operate the sliders and faders. Mind you, I’m not saying anything about the quality of the show. Just that it’s out there.

Trip: done

as usual, if you click on each image and, when it’s loaded, click on it again, you’ll get the full-screen option

Mid-morning on Saturday, despite the -2c, I sat on the Bandit in the freezing sunshine and pointed it westwards.

I chose to avoid the motorways and as many main roads as possible.

Conditions were really not that bad, despite the chills.

The run through the Forest of Dean was brilliant, I do love that road. I used to ride an old BSA Bantam over that route, as a schoolboy.

I stopped in Monmouth for a medicinal Pain au Raison and an equally medicinal hot chocolate.

And then continued westwards until I saw the sight of – bizarrely – what I consider to be home:











I found a pub doing B&B, checked in, and went for a bit of a hooley through a piece of the Black Mountains that I know so well from my youth.

Painful long-dead memories were reawakened. Emotions ran high. And also, I managed to get my right knee down (intentionally!) on a brilliantly sharp mountain pass bend that I have been aching to try that on for decades.

The bend, if you’re interested, is here: 51.815885,-3.05399 (I can’t even begin to describe the uphill gradient that road is on. It’s amazingly steep, like looking up a mountain. Oh. It is!)

On top of the mountain I stopped at Keepers Pond for a view-check:









I then rode the bike over to the other side of the mountain for a look at the view there:











Back at the pub I put the Bandit to bed (the pub owner very kindly offered me a garage space) and went walkabout and foraged for food.

Much later, about 9pm, I went for a drink.

I left that pub after midnight, slightly well-oiled, and having flirted somewhat with one or two girls on Twitter.

I can’t help that. It’s in my genes. Jeans?

The next morning I had a semi-full Welsh breakfast, then headed more or less back the way I’d come in to Wales, out through the Forest of Dean.

I stopped en-route for a coffee at Rich and Dawn’s house and admired their new addition (it’s a human, this time, not another racing car).

And then I trundled home.

The poor old Bandit, after two days of thrashing around the Black Mountains in winter, was a state:











The quick application of two runs of warm soapy water and a wipe down soon had her looking like this:











And then I went to Sainsbury’s and bought food.

What did you do this weekend?


Contemplating a trip

The forecast for this weekend is for two cold but very bright and sunny days.

So I’m thinking of taking a little trip out on the Bandit.

Maybe, my head says, head westwards on Saturday? Perhaps, it says, head across country in to Wales? How about, find a pub doing B&B, stay the night, have a few beers?

And then, says my head, the next morning (after the full Welsh/English or similar), head up to the Black Mountains on the bike and have a bit of a hooley on those lovely mountain roads?

Then head home, getting back for tea on Sunday?

Yes, this is the trip I’m contemplating.

Unless my plans change.

Ride out! (best laid plans, etc)

Today I met up with some of the Oxford-based motorcycle group that I hooked up with via the internet.

The plan was for the half-dozen of us to meet at the Pear Tree services just outside Oxford, then head to a cafe on the edge of Salisbury Plain.

We didn’t make it.

Just south of Hungerford one of the bikes picked up a nail in the rear tyre; instant flat.

We limped back in to Hungerford. One of the guys went off and got some of that emergency puncture repair compound and the flat was reinflated.

We made lots of phone calls to find a motorcycle tyre specialist who could fit one today.

You won’t believe how many motorcycle tyre fitters don’t actually carry stock. It seems most of them order stock in for ‘next day fitting’.

I managed to get hold of Probike in Newbury who said they had a stock and they could fit a replacement right away.

Because we didn’t know where in Newbury Probike was (and also didn’t know our way around Newbury), I fired up the SatNav on my phone, plugged it in to my ears and – cautiously – off we set.

The SatNav did the trick and we arrived at Probike within 20 minutes.

While the tyre was being fitted we found a place for a drink and a sandwich. There was talk and good-natured piss-taking.

Because all the faff had taken so long, we abandoned the original plan and headed back to Oxfordshire, across country, and stopped at H Cafe for more drinks.

While we were there we met a guy who described his pillion passenger as a total bitch.

Here is a photograph of her:



I left the others at the cafe, and cut back home on the A415 via Abingdon.

The standard of driving – you know, appalling and getting worse – is even more dire when your view is from two wheels.

There are people out there, people controlling motorised vehicles, people who should not be in charge of a pencil sharpener, let alone in charge of a two-ton killing machine.

Can we have compulsory retests please? Every five years?


Teething troubles and motorycling madness

This week I have had two massive dental surgery encounters. They have been a combination of repair (from when I got kicked in the jaw by a mareish mare some years ago) and cosmetic surgery.

So now I have a better smile with straighter, cleaner, whiter teeth.

It’s been a long painful process, but it’s good to have it finally finished. Unfortunately I’m still sore, but this should wear off in a day or three.

Meanwhile, in other news…

Despite the pretty rubbish Autumn weather, the Bandit has continued to get some healthy use.

I’m not fussed about the drop in temperature, but motorcycling around the lanes of Oxfordshire in driving rain isn’t something I want to get too much of.

I seem to have joined an Oxford-based motorbike meet-up group.

Because this is the kind of thing I’d do, as we slide from Autumn in to Winter, obv.

Yeah, a bit bonkers.


I find I’m getting hooked in to things.

I have been fascinated by the now-finished book ‘Unmastered’.

The content is, frankly, bland (especially if one is used to, ahem, more direct fayre), but the style in which the content is delivered is very readable.

As a piece of writing, Unmastered puts Fifty Shades well and truly in the shade.


In the shade!

See what I did there?

Oh, you did?


But Unmastered as a piece of erotica?


Delta of Venus did it much better.

Anyway, Unmastered has been well and truly mastered.

I have other preoccupations.

I am preoccupied by a girl (woman?).

I think of her and I smile.

I feel excited.

I am, obviously, a teenager trapped in someone else’s body.

It might come to nothing, but still I smile.

Still I think of her.

Still I get excited.

I am also very toey.

At work there is a touch of mild flirting with a doe-eyed girl.

And the leggy redhead from HR is back.


And work, despite the completion of the last two weekends, continues to occupy.

Oh yes, and some daft bugger keeps calling my mobile – from a ‘not disclosed’ number – but rings off and doesn’t leave a message.

What’s that about?

Either leave a message or leave a number or email me, for crying out loud.

It’s like some people are just out to play games. I don’t play games.

So that’s another preoccupation. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

I rode Vin this evening; he makes me laugh so much.

In many ways he is like a big excitable puppy.

Daughter made me laugh this evening too.

She is, though, still no nearer to being out of the teen-girl/goth/emo phase that she has so recently assumed.

The week – and the weekend – stretch ahead.

Dinner in London tomorrow.

No social activities planned for the weekend.

Ride Vin?

Ride the Bandit?

Have a mini adventure?

Maybe go to a six-band gig that is on in Oxford on Saturday?

All of these?

Some of these?

Something else?

Who knows.

Bit tired/not sleepy

Saturday I did as planned; worked until 1pm then went in to London for Ash’s excellent film premiere.

Drank quite a bit.

Stayed over in a local hostelry.

Went to Ace Cafe this morning for breakfast.

Came home and worked some more.

And saw this phase of the project to its conclusion.

I’m relieved, so relieved.

And tired.

But not sleepy.

I might go out for dinner.

But going out for dinner on your own is as attractive as cooking for one.

Still, at least I wouldn’t have to cook.


ps. The Bandit behaved brilliantly on the way in to, through, and through again and on the way out of London.

I took a minor detour yesterday, to ride past the first flat I ever owned.

But I wish Londoners would learn to drive.

Because they obviously don’t know how to.

It’s a mini adventure!

One of these weeks I’m going to get a weekend that is peaceful, relaxing and, you know, involves doing absolutely nothing…

I’m working. I’ve been awake since 4.30am and up since 4.45am.

It’s a Very Big Weekend workwise, with stuff going on 24/7 from Friday evening up until Sunday afternoon.

Stress and sleep don’t fit together too well.

Anyway enough about that.

This evening I’m going to the premiere of ‘Shift’, a film made by the uber-talented Ash. Yes, I have work-related reporting milestones this evening too, but I’m confident I can juggle.

But, due to a couple of factors (1. the fantastic weather forecast for the weekend and 2. the film premiere being in that London), I have, at this late stage, decided to turn the weekend in to a mini-adventure.

Later today I shall pack my rucksack, jump on the Bandit and wend my way to London – on the backroads, not on the motorway.

After a couple of hours, I shall pitch up in the general area where the film is being shown.

I’ve booked a room at a nearby hostelry, so I may have a glass or two of lemonade this evening.

And tomorrow morning, head clear and fresh, I shall potter my way back to last Sunday morning’s venue – the Ace Cafe in north London – for another gargantuan All Day Breakfast.

Then get back home to crack on with the work stuff.

This is my plan.

I shall try to make it so.

Days like these

My weekend hasn’t really happened; there has been much work-related stuff but, as ever, I’ll not go in to detail about that here

I did snatch a few hours off, today, and managed to put that time to Great Use!

I washed a Barbour and a Drizabone riding coat.

And also washed last week’s work-shirts and various socks and underwear.

Soz, bordering on the TMI there.

And rode the Bandit in to Norf Landahn’s Ace Cafe where I met the redoubtable Mr Masher and his brother-in-law (Graham).

And we did partake of the All Day Breakfasts and Lo, we did Eat Heartily.

At Ace today was a meeting of the BSA Bantam Society (or similar).

The first motorbike I ever (knowingly) touched was a BSA Bantam.

It belonged to Forgotten Firstname Griffiths who lived a couple of miles down the lane at Llansabadd Farm.

We mucked about with that Bantam; it was the first time I learned to take things apart and put them back together again. Successfully.

We rode it around the fields, crashed it in to trees and ditches and – when that happened – we learned to rebuild it.

It was weird looking at the familiar-yet-alien-by-today’s-design-standards Bantams. They seemed very ‘other worldly’.

I also saw a Laverda Jota, the 1,000cc little brother to the 1,200cc Laverda Mirage I owned when I lived in Germany.

What a stunning bike that was.

It had superbike acceleration. And the brakes of a supertanker.

Ah, the many many scares I gave myself on that monster.

I changed my route home from Ace Cafe; instead of hoofing it up the A40/M40/A40, I went cross-country.

The cross-country route was much more fun than travelling at *cough* 70mph with all the nutters on the motorway. And much prettier too.

The ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads were such fun; I do love the way the Bandit throws itself around twisty-turny lanes.

I got back home about 2.15pm and tucked straight in to work stuff.

Between 5pm – 7pm I took a break, tidied, put a load of washing in, put the rubbish out, drank tea, had a brief visit from a friend.

The usual.

And now, at rapidly approaching 9pm I’ve just sent my last work email of the day, and I’m winding up on my last work phone call of the day.

So all things considered, even with the work distractions, it has been a pretty good day really.

Sorry luv, Granada’s off

Because of tremendous pressures at work, nipping over to Spain this weekend isn’t going to happen. Work-based things need my attention over the weekend. That’s all I can say.


The forecast for Sunday, as pointed out by the redoubtable Sir Masher of Englandshire, is reasonable.

So I’m going to trip in to that London on Sunday morning, on the Bandit.

And in that London, on that Sunday morning, I shall be hitting that Ace Cafe for one of their gargantuan All Day Breakfasts, which shall be washed down by several gallons of Best Quality Builders Tea.

Sir Masher of Englandshire has strongly hinted that he will consider sitting astride his Mighty Triumph, and will point it at another gargantuan All Day Breakfast of the Ace Cafe.


Do you fancy joining us?

Motorbikes optional, obv.

In other news…

I did ride the Bandit to work today, so in your face doubting Thomas and doubting Thomasina.

In. Your. Face!

I had a bucket of fun.

I wouldn’t like to ride the Bandit that distance – esp that route – every day.

Not every week.

Maybe once a month, and just for fun.

I am in bed.

It is 9.45pm.

I really need to switch my brain off, stop fretting about work-related things, and get a solid night’s sleep.

That’ll be tonight.


So, what’s new with you?