The research trips made by Henry to keep this website focussed.
7th January 2017
Me and my mate Nigel are what y’call ‘year round biker’s’. We go out every week and only Ice, Fog and Heavy rain will keep the bikes in their respective garages. If I’m ill, he’ll go out on his own as I would if he were ill instead.
But, now we must add more default reasons for not biking.
1. We are both ill at the same time, this past week we both are still suffering from the dreaded ‘Man-Flu’.
2. One of us comes a cropper off his bike. Nigel came off his Honda on the Isle-of-man circuit on a patch of diesel on a sharp corner. There are more details to this story, but to save Nigel’s bitter memory of it I will not mention it.
3. Any old age related skeletal aches and pains that would hinder pulling the heavy machines out of the garage without the thing falling over and killing the rider before he even gets on it.
So, my meticulously cleaned Bonneville, waxed and polished, oiled and greased, tyres at perfect pressure and chain covered with dry wax spray, will have to sit alone looking at the inside of the closed door of the garage, the charger still blinking, the alarm still watching over it. But alas no rider.
Tears running down the ‘proper glass’ headlight then over the polished front mudguard to roll around the tyre and down to the concrete floor. This being the only evidence of how heart broken the air-cooled twin has become these desperate days.
30th July 2016
Well I did say the motorhome was a bit underused, but suddenly its on great demand by us and the rest of the family. With the trailer on the back and the Bonneville securely strapped down under the rain cover we set off for a four night, five-day stint in the middle of nowhere, six miles northwest into farming country from Malton in North Yorkshire.
Next week the ‘van is at the seaside for a week then a two-week trip around Wales, then the seaside again. The Bonneville is the best transport from campsite to shops or tourist attractions as it incurs no parking costs and can be left in tight fitting places whilst we wander around looking for trinkets or food.
Slingsby is a beautiful village with expensive, yellow stone cottages lining it’s only main street named Railway Road. There is no railway anymore as the campsite is now built on it. The old station house is now residential and doubles as a wonderful bakery producing cakes and bread. The smell from the ovens in the morning is in the air as you wander over to the shower block.
One pub only in the village centre, which is always full and requires its dining tables to be booked for a meal due to demand. Then there is one corner shop built inside an old stable/cowshed. The guy serving in the shop was well in his eighties though seemed a bit glum so I tried to cheer him up with “Great village, so traditional and so clean.” He didn’t smile but replied, ‘Can’t compare as I’ve lived here all my life, was born here in this building. Lots of weekender’s bringing their own food, not many kids around these days. Just bloody tourists.’
Hmm! Being a tourist I didn’t try to argue I just smiled at the comments thinking, “poor man, must be living a boring existence and set in his ways.” Not so, this man made the best pork pies I have ever eaten, they sell in all the posh venues and he just sold me two, still hot from the oven wow!
‘Can’t make them quick enough’, ‘the pressure is overwhelming’, ‘run off my feet with the demand.’ These were the next statements as he wrapped the pies for me. I must say, they are magnificent pies. Then I replied trying to console the man, ‘can you tell me why the pork pies in the shops are pink inside?’ Stupid question!
“Should be pink to grey for the best pork, a bright pink centre is crammed with additives to make them last longer on the bloody shelf. ‘My pies only have salt and pepper that’s why they’re only slightly pinkish.’
Nodding I paid the man and then headed for the door to stop the intrusion of his domain. He followed and stood looking at the Bonneville. ‘Nice bike fella. Used to have one myself when I was younger, got me out of this hell hole, but nowadays I’m stuck here making bloody pies.’ Thankfully my crash helmet hid my scowl as I waved, started the engine and trundled off back to the campsite and the friendly, tented neighbours.
Great pies, great scenery, shame about the poor local pie maker. There are lots of things to see from Slingsby but you certainly do need transport of an independent form as the local bus is every two hours!
Places to view besides chickens and sheep.
Malton a great market town.
The Prisoner of war camp museum.
Scarborough, Filey and Whitby are all within an hour away.
But! If you want to go off grid, no wifi, no internet or phone signal then go to Slingsby and try to cheer up the pie maker. There is a play area for the odd kid or two, an old tyre tied to a weeping willow tree for swinging over a stream, there won’t be a queue.
26th June 2016
Nearly copped it the other day when riding the Bonneville to buy some fresh fish at Fleetwood Dockside. Nothing to do with the bike, the road nor the rest of the traffic. It was on a long stretch of road leaving Fleetwood past the Fisherman’s friend factory, cruising along at 40mph with my mate on his Honda behind, a van behind him and absolutely nothing in front of me.
Suddenly in the corner of my left eye I saw a large bush move in a deep swaying motion and a full sized Deer jumped out into the road and straight in front of me. The immediate reaction was to dive my foot onto the rear brake and then the front hand operated one knowing the rear should come on milliseconds before the front in an emergency to avoid a front wheel skid.
The bike dipped and stopped with only about one inch spare from the front shoulder of the startled Deer. I kid you not, one inch as the Deer turned to look at me and touched the wheel doing it. It then turned the opposite way and jumped back into the bush as if nothing had happened. My mate on his Honda stopped close to my bike as did the van behind him. Three similar stories to take home and tell in the pub or at their dining tables.
I was pleasantly surprised how calm I was, no heart pounding, no need to get off the machine and puke, I just waved back behind me and set off again. But I know can recognize all the bushes from Fleetwood to Ribchester. Now being the first time we could talk about the event, we just made jokes about, “choice of Salmon or Venison for tea” or “Nearly got Rudolf.” But in the end I consider I was just lucky, lucky also that I was not in my car as it cannot stop as quick as the Bonneville nor is it a short vehicle as the connect would have hit the Deer.
Sure, the animal was a wild one, but why was it in Fleetwood? I mean Fleetwood! There’s little forestation, few fields towards the estuary. I think it was cold and needed some Fisherman’s Friends from over the road.
15th March 2016
Y’know, I get the odd sarcastic comment about riding a Motorbike at my age, usually from folk who haven’t a clue about diplomacy, nor how to ‘live their dream’. Sure enough bike riders get killed, usually by dosey car drivers who cannot handle their vehicles. Sure there are 30M cars on the UK roads of which 15% shouldn’t be behind the wheel and these are aiming at you.
But, if you have a passion for mechanical vehicles on two wheels, the managing of the gyroscopic effect of the wheels, the power-to-weight ratio of a super car, but most of all being part of the machine and the environment not the passenger behind the wheel. Then why not?
Today I rode 140 miles on my Triumph Bonneville, I went to pick up my mate on his Honda, then up through Preston to Lancaster before passing through Morecambe to a secluded beach at Bolton le Sands where a farm has a successful café called Archers.
On to Silverdale and Arnside before heading inland to North Yorkshire to ride through the Dales and part of the Trough of Bowland.
All in the sun, at legal speeds and virtually no real traffic. It was heaven to me, a memory worth keeping. Definitely not the same drive in a car, missing the wind, the temperature changes and the smells of the countryside and the road texture.
Just watch how some folk park their cars, watch how close they follow, see how little they use their indicators, how they change lanes on the last minute, use their phones and eat food at the wheel. See how they speed to junctions and brake heavily, jump queues and bang over speed humps, how close they pass cyclists. These 15% folk are dangerous.
So, to the sarcastic commentators of life passing by, do I sound like I care what you think?
Well I don’t, because nobody will ever stop me living my dream.
14th February 2016
Boy do I love gadgets, my office is full of them, the RV is full of them and the Bonneville is becoming full of them. It’s like an obsession, to the extent that I nearly bought a badge-making machine when I ran the theatre company, the excuse being to make and sell King Henry badges. Ok, it’s a feeble excuse so I didn’t.
But recently the road surfaces around my hometown have become rough, the top layer is coming off thanks to the bad weather, ridges, grooves and pot holes abound. The Bonneville is a heavy beast and easily road-steered by any groove like imperfection. The solution? I fit a steering damper, to iron out the line and hold the corners.
It only took ten minutes to find one on the internet, two days to arrive at my house and another fifteen minutes to fit it. What a revelation, the steering has been tamed, the ride is graceful and without fear of cat’s eyes trying to topple me. But the greatest thing about it, is that it’s a gadget.
Now it’s impossible for me to go to a biker bits type website and only by what I came for. So a tool roll arrived too, plus a pair of Indian Motorcycle anti-glare sunglasses.
Gullible is the word.
4th February 2016.
The first time the Bonnie has failed to run.
It needed a headline like this because the bike is coming up to six years old in May and has covered 14,000 miles.
Okay I’ve spent money on it, show me a biker who doesn’t, maybe not a commuter on a 125cc scooter twist and go. A real biker buys stuff.
There were the tyres changed to cure the wrong tread mix, then the seat to cure the aching bum. Boxes and carrier, backrest and screen, then an alarm to make them all secure. It all adds up, but it was to improve the machine.
The bike was serviced regularly, cleaned after every trip, waxed, polished and purred over.
So why did it not start?
The side stand safety switch got stuck in. So the bike thought the stand was out and wouldn’t let the bike continue running when the gear was selected. Cause? The switch is underneath the bike, a place I rarely go. Muck had stopped the switched from freely moving that’s all.
A thorough cleaning and spray with WD40, a wiped wit a greasy cloth and the plunger switch began to respond in kind. Now hopefully it will continue to operate but I will carry a pair of long nose pliers with me in one of the boxes, the perfect tool to pull the plunger our manually.
Will it change my opinion of the bike?
Thing is, the bike is mainly steel, the switch is not micro-electronic, it’s electro-mechanical and therefore mendable by the rider. So no, it enhances the image of a tough machine.
8th December 2015. A new nickname for my mate.
Fair enough, it had been raining heavily, but the sun was out, the distant dark clouds had passed and so a motorbike ride was on the cards. With just a slight sprinkling of rain, my mate on his 650 Honda, and me on the Bonneville set off for a long awaited roll around the hills of the Pennines, north of Bolton and West of Blackburn.
But, I didn’t reckon on his bikes tendency to ‘Rooster-tail’ dirty road surface water up into the air and back thirty yards. At first I thought the specks of black rain on my tank were similar to the Saharan-sand filled showers we get in the spring. I thought maybe it’s the pollution from China’s coal fired power-stations, or worst still, the plane passing overhead at 35 thousand feet was opening its toilet release too early.
But no it was much simpler than that, it was my mate’s rooster tail, it was showering me and the Bonnie with Belmont’s winter road surface.
I passed him to allow my visor chance to be transparent again and the dirty shower stopped. When we eventually stopped for lunch, was he sad about my dirty bike? Did he acknowledge the effect of his shortened rear mudguard on the poor biker’s behind him? Would he help to clean the machine as a small recompense for the unfriendly interference with my over-waxed petrol tank shine. Nope, he found it highly amusing.
So if you have a mate with a CBR 650 Honda, do not ride behind on a wet day. Be warned.
Oh and the nickname, gotta be ‘Rooster’.
By Henry Tudor
A coloured wonder of the Union Jack
But no bloody mudguard on the back.
So beware rider’s of softer power
Rooster will coat you in a muddy shower.
See him coming in right-hand glass
Speed up, escape, don’t let him pass.
Honda’s cockerel best left behind
‘cos the rooster’s tail is so unkind.
5th December 2015. The Corgi folding bike, chapter one.
The Corgi (Indian Papoose in America)
A small. 98cc two stroke bike with no gears, folding handle bars and telescopic seat.
Be honest, what do you see when you look at this picture?
A Kid’s bike? What about a dangerous bike? The sceptic amongst you may see a joke.
But maybe you’re missing the point.
This bike was made about 67 years ago, it’s probably older than you and it still works. It folds down to fit in a car boot or the back of a truck or on another parachute behind the paratrooper.
The question you should be asking, ‘was it fit for purpose?’
Not really, the ground clearance was too small for muddy fields, the wheels too small for good gyroscopic handling, the speed too slow with no gears, the rider’s knees stuck out like a butterfly’s wings. It soon became a novelty.
But wait a minute, was it before it’s time? Would it have been developed to remove the faults if the second world war had continued? Probably. But it didn’t.
I mean look at this modern one from the internet.
Many thanks to FMB Inc.
I could see a modern day bike like this working well now that technology has moved on. An aluminium frame, very small four stroke petrol engine with accurate timing and fuel injection, maybe battery electric. Narrow depth tubeless tyres on alloy wheels and a suspension. It would have to be electric to be allowed in a car boot though.
So maybe they were ahead of their time but just a bit late for their potential market.
Production began in 1948 and ended in 1954 with 27,050 bikes being built for a worldwide market, so maybe they are a collector’s machine these days. There are a number of problems though, the army version for paratroopers to ride once they had landed needed a road as the clearance under the chassis is so small it would have easily been bogged down in a muddy field. Also the war had finished, so not many paratrooper’s in action then.
I do think they are cute, they look like the predecessor of motorized skate boards, or folding electric scooters. But in engineering terms they were quite crude.
They have no gears, maybe that was a good point to keep the speed low, they have no suspension except for two coil springs under the seat which would have impressed Indian and maybe Harley rider's, but definitely not the Brits.
The footbrake for the rear wheel is on the left hand side, like old English bikes which were designed to allow the rider’s left foot to be the last one on the floor when putting the bike into gear, if it had one. The wheels are too small, the brakes are small, the handle bars look long enough to flex with the trembling of the rider at top speed.
But pushing this criticism to one side, it was cute, would fit in a car’s boot when folded and nowadays command a high price under the gavel.
There are two sliding latches to release the front folding mechanism, then it re-locks in the folded position to allow the bars to become the carrying handle. There is the two stroke mixture of 20 parts petrol to one of oil, I like that but how would the owner know whilst on the road?
I realize that the fins around the engine are mainly for cooling and usually go around the cylinder to combat the stresses of the fuel explosion. But lying the engine down thus and not being in the line of the air flow is not a good way to efficiently cool the block.
So maybe the designer used an engine from another machine. Y’know, shoestring designing in a time of economic difficulty.
The main thing is that it exists, and it fell foul of global peace, the Americans added it to the rang of Indian Motorcycles, Chief, Brave, Papoose so it did find a limited market and now it's a collector's target.
Did I mention the name Indian Brave, well that was also built in the same factory in Southport, But that’s the next chapter.
3rd December 2015. NEC Motorcycle Show.
It felt strange being amongst the commuter traffic jams on the M6, each one beginning and ending half a mile either side of adjoining motorway slip roads. After leaving the ‘Theatrical road of Henry’ two years ago I had forgotten the misery the commuters faced every working day. But, to get to the NEC for not much after opening time, my mate and I had to head out early then jump on the Toll road to bypass Birmingham, even then we were in the fourth car park which was filling fast. Standing room only on the connect bus.
£14 for retired folk was music to my ears but the insult of not being asked to prove it spoilt the gain, the Motorcycle Show was on. Saying it attracts certain types of people is not far from the truth as the majority of visitors were middle-aged/senior-aged men. But worst of all I’d say about half were balding and wore beards. Like me, so I kept my hat on.
Harley Davidson ship's anchor.
I know what you’re thinking, these guys have high disposable incomes and are trying to relive their youth, they remember fondly either Peter Fonda’s chopper or the Who soundtrack with Leslie Ash’s character. Not so, the display stands which seemed to attract the most queues to sit on an actual bike were Adventure bike makers.
So the male population having retired, still reasonably fit, were looking for adventure and fun not to repeat their youth of leaking sumps, kick starters banging the back of their legs nor taking corners slowly on crossply tyres. They wanted sophistication in the form of a better balanced, highly perched, alloy machine which has fly by wire and stability control. Their cars were the same I expect.
Must say I fit into the same category, I headed for Adventure bikes after trying out the new range of Triumphs T120’s and Thruxtons. Not much different to look at than my own 2010 Bonneville, but definitely up there in the technology high class. Trouble is the simplicity of my bike is what I like the most.
Triumph Bonneville 1200
I had my picture taken on a Harley, the biggest I could find there. Not for any other reason than to show my mate Ed in Philadelphia who loves to polish his when he’s bored. It was heavy, awkward to sit on and felt it would be slow just because of all the metal and lack of clearance in cornering.
I loved the perch on the Kawasaki Versys 1000 and 650, great feeling of being part of the machine and not stuck on top like a seagull on a lamppost. Then a KTM 1290 Super Adventure, which felt it could be top heavy and the rider scared of trying anything risky when it was nearly 17 grand on the road.
KTM 1290 Super Adventure.
Time for a hotdog and a bottle of water in the corner of the main hall. The girl at the till stared at each of us but her wandering eyes told me she was laughing at the old men in their leathers with their bowed legs and carrier bags. I stared back at her with my eyes saying ‘hey kid, you’re the one flogging sausages in a caravan, we’re the ones with debit cards that don’t reject immediately because there’s funds there for fun.’ The hotdog was however expensive and average so maybe her boss was having the last laugh.
Now for BMW, supposedly the best Adventure bike on the planet, I didn’t believe it as we searched for their stand, but the queue waiting to sit on one told me that ‘maybe I was being presumptuous.’ I was.
BMW F800 GS
I sat on the top of the range GS 1200, then the F 800 GS, then the boxer engined road bike R range. Got to say, they were great, they felt the right balance, their materials were top end and the cockpit welcomed me to be part of the whole machine. Shucks, here’s when I thought the Kawasaki Versys range was for me, here comes the old timer of Europe and it dazzles me. I will let you into my secret love of bikes, I've never owned a bike with more than two cylinders, I love twin engines. The Kawasaki 650, Triumph T120 and the BMW F800 GS come into this category. Low revs with high torque my idea of heaven.
Gotta buy something, money burning a hole in my pocket, so a black pair of heavy duty braces went into my carrier bag along with the free Oxford catalogue, the brochures for the new Triumphs, Kawasaki’s and BMW’s.
It took this trip to make me decide just what my biking “Future’s” were to be. I did write “Future’s” as a plural because I always splinter off into many directions but a bike will be part of all of them. I will keep the Bonneville now it’s not trying to kill me or give me piles. I will buy a bike to be the Bonnie’s stable mate. Probably the BMW G800 for the odd adventure if the nurse lets me out for the day from the ‘easy rider’ nursing home for sad old bikers still polishing their crash helmets.
C'mon, let's catch the bus to the car park before the crowd, get to the Birmingham junction before the queue, then the Bridge at Warrington before the rain. Great day out.
25th November. The Birth of a story. More to follow.
Outside a factory in Southport UK, not just any old factory.
Y’know how it is in reality, I cannot just sit at this computer and dream up a story. I need some sort of prompt, an idea or event which grabs my attention and develops into an outpouring of words.
So let me try to explain how this story started, or have I already done that?
End of September 2015, I was in Philadelphia, precisely a town called ‘King of Prussia’. I kid you not. There in a large mall is a café for aging bikers, called ‘Ruby’s’. I was in the US to research details for two books, my fourth “Starfish” now complete, and my latest brain wrecker “Highwater” which is about 30% complete. Both have ‘King of Prussia’ in their storyline as the actual place is most interesting and fits well.
Sorry, I divert!
Well the café was not in the story, but I was told that it had wonderful rebuilt ancient bikes on show as ornaments. The food is definitely unique, being 1950’s style at 2015 prices, if not more just for the atmosphere. There I was sitting under a red Indian Chief, no this is not sitting bull, but a real Indian classic bike in red and black. Then a picture was taken. That’s when it started, I decided to write a few lines and post the picture on my website www.henrytudor.co.uk.
It seems I’m not a biker, I’m a motorcyclist in the eyes of current riders who use the bike in preference to a car and not just on a Sunday if it’s not raining. I’ll agree to that as ‘biker’ conjours up overweight, bald guy with a beard on a Harley. I don’t ride a Harley but the rest is true.
Many thanks to Norman Tidd, the owner of this Corgi (Indian Papoose in US.)
In conversation with another Bike enthusiast, he informed me that Indian bikes were once built in Southport UK, the very place we were stood at the time. Obviously my ears pricked up and the storyline of the Red Indian began to grow in my head. Now the factory is relevant.
Now it’s the end of November, and the story is getting out of control. I think I could easily write a full book with the information I have received from strange sources. Yes he was correct, the Indian Papoose (Corgi in UK) and the Indian Brave were built in Southport, but then so were the veteran car Vulcan, a bus, a van and army tanks. Come on, what the heck’s going on? I only went in the café for a latte. They don’t sell latte’s, you have to ask for a milky coffee, 1950’s retro remember!
Okay, I give in. Now with the story unfolding I must keep a record of it on the website, so I have divided it into three, maybe four chapters. See that! I still think it may continue to grow. The ex-teacher in me recognizes the attention span problem of long, detailed stories. So this is long enough for even me.
Look out for the next installments:
Chapter one. The Papoose.
Chapter two. The Brave.
Chapter three. The Vulcan.
Chapter four. Who know’s? Hopefully a Vulcan bus when Leyland Vehicle Museum open again for 2016 in April.
How can a museum close for the end of holiday season? Surely a museum is a place to go when it’s raining or snowing! Bonkers!
PS. The waitresses in Ruby's are nothing like the picture on the menu.
21st November 2915.
It's arrived at last, now away with the stock saddle which nobody likes on a Bonneville. In with the new curved, harder and higher seat.
Bonny (Boney) Saddle.
By Ray Irving
After five long, hard riding years of pain
I dumped the bike’s ironing-board
At last with no more financial constrain
An apt name for the saddle, for the record.
Fitted from new, by careless designer
The hard, boring, flat saddle design
A few more tweaks could have been finer.
Ever heard of cool, sophisticated, refine?
Now with the culprit seat in the bin
My new, Gel filled, curved luxury perch
Distance no object, no bowed legs, lowered chin
See what I’ve got, after considerable search.
Advise to all Bonny fanciers, just delete
With the ironing board saddle, comfort is sparse.
Don’t accept any excuses, dismiss the stock seat
Tell the dealer you’ve got a fat a**e.
!st November 2015.
Having had a late night out and meal least night, I was in no mood for breakfast and so set off for my Sunday ride out needing something to sharpen my attention. Then the windy ten-mile road to Southport was filled with horse riders followed by hoards of cyclists in stretchy lycra then the crawling traffic of family cars, then me on the Bonnie. The ten miles took over thirty minutes as we also entered 20 MPH zones too. Then the fog came down, first fog for me in decades and definitely first fog on the bonnie ever.
At my mates we decided to ride back the way I had travelled, then up to Anglezark, Rivington, Belmont, Blackburn road to Houghton Tower, Samlesbury, then up the ring road to the Rocket centre bike store. A slow walk around the biker store, then the ride back tracking to KFC for lunch and home for a pot of tea. Total ride out of 70 miles, but what an experience and what a strange looking sky. But still a great ride.
KFC’s new double queue system is rubbish, fast food it is not, clean tables they are not and over-crammed waste bins they are.
Foggy view of the road.
By Henry Tudor
My misting visor blinding me
Could just bump car in front
Could hide then hit overhanging tree.
Yellow rider following me.
Wiping plastic window too
Staying slow, in low the vital cue
Holding up traffic, can’t go fast
This ride-out’s turned scary
Could well be my last.
Soon yellow clad rider takes the lead
Delivering blood we all could need.
At last fog is lifting on the hill
Sunlight filtered, silence, air is still.
24th October 2015
I have just returned from a three week trip to Philadelphia to research details for my next novel.
Here are some two wheelers I saw of interest.
1. A vintage Triumph
2. A vintage Indian
3. A vintage Harley
4. An Amish Scooter, remember they do not use any engine in any vehicle.
5. Had to insert this car.
27th September 2015
In two days time I’ll be on a plane over the Atlantic moaning about the hard seat and lack of leg room as Newfoundland passes by five miles below and my plastic dinner set is being dropped into a bin bag on the Flight Attendant’s trolley. Thus knowing I will miss the Bonnie ride out every week, I decided to use today as an extra ride.
So today my mate, on his brand new Honda rice burner and I have been on a tour of Morecambe Bay on our bikes, before I clean and oil the Bonnie and store it for a while.
Stood watching the morning tidal surge, I was now moaning about the hard ‘ironing board’ Bonnie seat and my feet were overheating after my poor choice of winter bike boot was beginning to fight back and poach my toes in the beautiful autumnal heat of Northern England.
Here’s the route, not really planned, more like accidently occurred.
Chorley to the Green Frog at Preston Docks to meet up with the Honda. Then the old A6 up to and past Lancaster to Carnforth, turn left past the famous railway station then over the hill at Warton to Arnside and the wonderful view you see here through the screen.
Not wanting to end up too far away, we decided to head back slowly and divert a few times. So we headed back to Lancaster via the Morecambe route, getting caught up in the usual midday Lancaster jam at the river Lune crossing, before escaping up the on-ramp of the M6 south.
Opening up the Bonnie (compared to the Honda alongside me, mine’s a rice boil-in-a-bag), for a glorious stage to the Forton Services for lunch sat in the sun. Hot Greggs pies and coffee what could be better? We then left the motorway at the Tickled Trout and headed for Ribchester up the A59 past the BAe works.
Ribchester is not the haunt of the fast bike set, they go to Devil’s Bridge or Rivington upper barn. Ribchester is the haunt of the steady rider on pristine machines where the rider can sit in peace and quiet and eat an ice cream or smoke his old twist in an old pipe. The Pipe smoker was riding a 1,000 Honda which took my mate away into his own world of fast revving, low bar biking. Thankfully another Bonnie turned up, brand spanking new in Red and Black. All of us middle aged escapee’s from the family house of responsibility.
The ride back was yet another diversion, definitely not a short cut, to again mount the M6 south and head for home at last for the Sunday dinner.
One hundred and twenty miles and a great day out. I could have done more, but I was worried about making the flight more painful on tuesday than it should actually be.
Now let me see, what was the name of the gel filled replacement seat for the ironing board?
Over in the States a mate of mine has a Harley in his garage. Red and Cream and lots of chrome, topped with layers of wax polish and tucked up each night with a ‘good-night’ story. Well he’s threatened to take me as pillion for a ride out into the hills during my stay.
What’s the first question I'll be asking him?
Does it have a gel seat?
Ride out. 30th June 2015.
The thought of the Green Frog’s sausage and bacon barm cake beckoned from their trailer take away at Preston Docks. Having forgone my breakfast on purpose and set off ten minutes early to meet my mate for the weekly ride out. So sitting there on the dockside chatting with another biker was a pleasurable start to a day up in the North Yorkshire Dales.
Into the car-park he came on his brand new Honda CBR 650, the first long distance ride to take his mileage up to the 600 mile first service. The plan was easy, up to Blackpool road, then under the M6 and ride up to the A59 to turn left and head for Skipton.
The worst case of loose gravel topped roads I have ever encountered, still covered in wet tar and hitting our bikes and legs like a machine gun. Two miles of hell.
These were stuck under the Honda with wet tar and took 3 hours to pick out.
Turn left at the Skipton round-about and head for Grassington for lunch, a great pie in a tray and a cold bottle of coke, sitting in the village cobbled square guarding our bikes from masked bike snatchers.
Now a dash for a pee in the public toilets half a mile out of the village, then up the hills east and sharp bends to Pately Bridge. The car park in Pately Bridge has a bike parking zone and my mate's Honda was the elephant in the room surrounded by Triumphs of all types and sizes. Now doubling back to experience the best ride ever over the hills with spectacular views, we heads for Kettlewell where they filmed ‘Calendar Girls’ years ago.
In Kettlewell we met the only licensed taxi that was a motorcycle trike, the rider and owner of the business told us how well he was doing taking folk around the Dales on the three seats behind his. A Billy Connolly outfit if I ever saw one.
Deciding not to retrace our footsteps and ride over the loose surface again, we chose to head for Colne instead and take the M65 down to the West Blackburn off ramp, then back home after a backside easing short stretch in a layby. The total mileage 150, the heat nearly unbearable, the loose stones unforgiving, the fast food brilliant, the scenery as Henry Cole often says ‘unbelievable’ and the bikes brilliant.
My mates thinking about building a miniature rockery with the stones.
3rd June 2015.
I left my bike for less than an hour on the front drive of my daughter's house on its side stand. Normally I used the centre stand but I was feeling a bit lazy. Then she noticed a drop of oil under it. I therefore kept an eye on it for two weeks, but always on the centre stand, no oil drops, one day on the side stand and another drop.
So in conclusion the bike has an oil leak in the sump on one side when the oil goes deeper whilst leaning over slightly. In it's service, the culprit was a nick in the sump gasket. How can a gasket get a nick? Well it's either by accident whilst fitting or being pressed down in its seating by a screwdriver. Who knows which it was, 'cos I don't.
Another Triumph for the cack-handed.
Let me see where's my list, oh here it is.
1. Rusting chromed wheels.
2. Rusting sissy bar, I was too kind then with that description. Peeling off chrome on the sissy bar. That's more accurate.
3. Front tyre which didn't like counter-steering and was cross ply working with a radial rear.
4. Canvas Pannier bags which wanted to swing into the spoked rear wheel and were not water proof.
5. Now a leaking engine if the side stand was used, or you turned left slowly because of the front tyre.
I do hope these past five years of trouble is the end of all this frustrating evidence that the bike wasn't fully British made, and here's me looking at their Tiger 800 adventure bikes, must be bonkers.
My conclusion about this Bonneville now I've managed to sort it all out.
Great bike to ride, hog to own.
4th May 2015. All change.
By Henry Tudor
Paintwork gleaming, white sparkling tank
United Kingdom colours of Union Jack.
Just two miles on speedo, petrol in tank
Glorious alloy wheels in subtle jet-black.
Seat leather uncrushed, waiting for rider to sit
Moulding pips still on tyres, wanting to bank.
This new bike a real beauty, full of top kit
Just needs to be out there, Honda to thank.
Fast and still friendly, smooth and still keen
Engine still revvy, four cylinder flier.
Not a replacement for Orange old Repsol
An extension, an advancement, an exciting rung higher.
A fond memory now, let her be enjoyed by another.
“It’s just a bike!” I hear you all shout.
No it’s not, it’s more. It’s a partnership
That’s what biking is all about.
30th April 2015.
My mates Honda CBR 125 Repsol is being traded in for the big brother Honda 650. Do we bikers have affection for our old machines? Of course we do.
I still miss my old blue Vespa PX200 Disc, even today some five years later.
So here's a lament for the poor guy as he see's his machine leave on the truck that's brought his new beast.
By Henry Tudor
Goodbye Bonnie Blue
It’s been fun following you.
Up and down those high hills
Those windy lanes of thrills.
I always knew I’d be swapped for another
At least it’s my big brother.
He’s Red, White and Blue, 650 too!
He’ll easily beat you!
28th April 2015. Empty car-park.
Sefton Council, do they understand economics?
Do they know we’re just emerging from a recession?
Are they really paying a guy to sit at an empty car park, just for the fun of it?
I like to visit various places on my Bonneville, just to weigh up whether my motorhome will fit and be able to park. So yesterday, Monday 27th April, my mate and myself, on his orange Honda decided to re-visit Formby Point. A place where there’s nothing, but sand dunes and wild life. No toilets, nothing.
Now I’m not a tight wad. I don’t mind paying up to a fiver to park my RV, much like it costs in St. Annes over the estuary, and then overnight for another £3. But when I read the sign at the entrance to this particular car park on Lifeboat road, I was flabbergasted.
Minibuses £10.00, which would include my RV. Ten quid to park! Not even overnight!
The lonely guy at the gate saw us looking at the sign, knowing we could just turn around and leave. He waved us in, without paying. There was no charge for motorbikes it seems. One thing a biker needs at our age, a toilet, maybe a vendor with hot tea and a seat to sit on to discuss heated grips on a cold day. Nothing like that here. You see, bikers in their armoured, tight fitting leather, carrying helmets and wearing boots cannot walk up hills made of soft sand.
So we were alone. The once crowded car park where hundreds of visitors once came to this desolate spot, to get the feeling of calm, was even more desolate.
Well done Sefton Council! You made your visitor’s site, overpriced and out of reach to the family man.
The cynic in me though has another view. This place is where the super rich live, the houses just back up Lifeboat road are worth millions. Maybe they didn’t like us townies clogging up their little enclave. Our kids running wild in the sand or the forest, where the residents take their dogs for a morning stroll.
Maybe the council wants to protect the rich environment for the rich.
In the endgame, the council are paying a wage to a guy sat on his own, the visitors are turning around and heading to some other venue.
But then there’s St.Annes on Sea, so vote with your wheels. You can also park for five hours for free in Southport, at the front near the pier, a camera catches your license plate number as you enter, then if you stay more than five hours it’ll fine you. Five hours! Plenty of time to walk the pier, get some chips, spend your money then go home.
Formby Point, leave it to the wealthy, it’ll devalue their property as it’s infra-structure declines, thanks to the nature of socio-economics, a course the council should send the guy on at the empty car park. He could be doing his homework.
All this picture needs to look even more desolate, is a couple of rolling tumble-weeds in the background. Maybe next year when they’ve naturally formed by the swirling cold wind of change, this place will become a tourist attraction or a film set for post apocalyptic film-makers and recover it’s charm to become active again.
No, that’s too optimistic a view. Get real!
8th April 2015. Parbold Hill.
Spring at last and more ride outs without the need to dress multilayer and carry waterproofs in the panniers.
Firstly a ride up to the Pennines and up the windy, Belmont to Rivington road, calling at a KFC in Chorley to sooth my mates desire for the crispy fried product.
The weather being still hot and sunny, we carried on past the Frederick’s ice-cream parlour up the A6 then turn right, past Standish and over the M6 to Parbold hill, where we could get a great view of the Lancashire to Merseyside plains.
The sea around the UK was only 8 degrees C, whilst the air was up to 18 degrees. This brought science into the equation, as cold air rises to the heat and water droplets rise with it, to form new clouds. The coastline was covered in sea-mist and much colder. The decision to head for the hills after watching the weather forecast was a good one.
We were joined at Parbold by a number of other bikers, enjoying the weather and their machines. See the picture below, the bike on your left is my mate’s Honda, then there’s my Bonneville and then there’s a classic Bonneville 650 built by a guy who runs a big Yamaha too. We could hear the Harley coming up the hill from about a quarter of a mile away, the rider got off to stop shaking from the engine.
All in all, a great day out, only about 60 miles but gorgeous scenery and great company. That’s what biking is all about. You’re not sat in a car viewing the scenery through the windows, you are part of your machine in the scenery. Magic.
Now I must clean the bike yet again, all the other’s were spotless and polished, mine looked like it had just done the Paris-Dakar.
Many thanks to N.L. for the picture.
21st February 2015.
Have you noticed lately how dirty the roads are? How many roadworks there are?
My mate and I went on a 60 mile ride out, along Lancashire country lanes, we came back on filthy bikes, our clothing needed a wash down too. I put it down to councils using up repair funding, as the new financial year is nearly here.
After nearly an hour on my knees, the Bonny is clean again.
Here's a great ride: Chorley - Southport - Parbold hill - Standish - Haigh - Blackrod - Rivington - Belmont - Abbey Village - Brinscall - Chorley. Virtually all on B roads.
4th February 2015.
As you’ve seen of late, the UK Motorbike scene has naffed me off. The prices are well within my means, but the thought of a UK mark-up to fit within a range that matches others, well it stinks of a cartel.
I really object to being told the model is good value for money, when the very same model is 20 odd percent lower, three thousand miles away.
Good old British stiff upper chin, “We don’t care, we’ll buy it anyhow, we’re not just biker’s, we’re British biker’s.” Well we made our bed by allowing it to happen and so we deserve the title Rip Of Britain, which is ROB in short.
Talking about Rob, he sold me the Bonneville, it was just like an Omen wasn’t it? (Oh Man!). Come on do I have to explain it?
I should have noticed, but I was not the only one blinded by the chrome and the shiny engine, under the Triumph Badge. It took me back to my youth when the brand treated its customers with dignity and respect and didn’t let the accountants loose to use the name, as a cash cow.
It’ll take me a while to trust any manufacturer selling its bikes in the UK, but today in discussion at Blackpool Honda, they went someway to help. I always respect the view of any person who obviously knows what they are talking about, not the sales talk, not the glossy bits in the brochure, but the whole market strategy. I understand about subsidizing a range to enter a new market and build up a share, so the low prices in America could be explained that way only if it had a small share. But Honda’s are everywhere, because they are good value for money, there.
My first Honda was a C50 walk through, four stroke, I was 17yrs old so that was fifty years ago. So why are their bikes 22% dearer than the USA? They’ve taken all this time to gain their market share. The real reason in my view, is that the British accept the retail pricing on the naïve assumption it wasn’t a wet finger in the wind calculation of placing a model in a multi-maker range for competitive positioning.
Doing this actually strengthens the cartel.
What happened to Manufacturing cost + Indirect overheads + Profit margin common across the ranges + Shipping cost = Selling price?
This way, British made bikes will be cheaper here, than selling them cheaper in the USA.
So why are the British subsidizing the Yanks?
I’m still naffed off, but at least I had my say. A new bike? Only if they are honest about the term “good value for money.”
“Hey past customer, why not come and see our new Triumph Tiger? It’s only 24% more expensive here than in the USA which is only 3,000 miles away and we make it here, for them?” I mean this is honest, so why wouldn’t it sell?
Shhh! Mustn’t upset the apple cartel.
That’s it now, I’ve moved on
On a separate note and nothing to do with bikes.
Today I met a Hoodie Designer. No not a Designer in a Hoodie, but a Designer of the Hoodie and I’ve never met one before. Just like the wearer, shy.
By Henry Tudor
Hiding from the wind, the sun, your Mum
Uniformity in a gang, common brand.
Statement made of opting out, silent shout
Keep it secret, what’s that all about?
Logo small, discreet not all, some bawl
Many call out to belong, message strong
Designing for such a narrow band
Got to be accepted onto sacred land.
Must be an insider
To be a Hoodie designer.
2nd February 2015. King Of Prussia.
King of Prussia.
What does the average European think if you mentioned King of Prussia?
“Oh no! A boring history lesson.”
What does the average Philadelphian think if you asked the same question?
“Great shops, all the best makes, great atmosphere and a huge dining hall, Oh and the house prices are too dear.”
King of Prussia is a place in Pennsylvania, a town which a huge shopping mall, many times bigger than you can imagine. If you live in Manchester and have ever been to the famous Trafford Centre, then treble the size in your head, the one at Sheffield is only a quarter of Prussia. In shopping area it is bigger than the whole of Chorley’s shopping precinct.
So now you know, It’s for rich shoppers who like Macy's and such, and it’s big.
So, as our women folk were stuck in the throe’s of buying jewellery at the mall's Pandora, ( all that shine's definitely isn't, in my male view ) , my Son-in-law and myself wandered off to find some food. Why not? Well it’s all we mere men could afford.
After sitting in an electric car, the Vectra and playing with Lego, I noticed a vintage Harley Davidson in the reflection of a Rolex shop, whilst wondering why would I buy a timepiece to wear that looks so heavy.
I looked around and saw Ruby’s Diner.
Yes of course I took some pictures, no self confessed biker would not. But we had to meet the women at the Five Guys Burger’s n Fries in the dining hall, so all I got were the pictures from the front doorway as I saw a waitress heading towards us to seat us down.
This one is an Indian
This one a Harley Davidson.
Both were in the restaurant for anybody to sit around and touch.
I am due back in Philly in the Autumn, so definitely a burger to be had.
Go to this webpage to see the diner.
Oh! The Five Guys burger’s, still the best up to now, but still looking.
Mustn't let them get complacent.
After yesterdays storyline it prompted me to do a little research.
Question. What's the difference between the price of Bikes in the UK and USA.
Considering that only Harley Davidson are home grown builders in the USA and Triumph are supposed to build them here in the UK. "Thailand! Does it cost a lot to import to UK and USA?"
So I've been digging deep on official websites and the following chart will either make you smile If you are an American or make you feel ripped off if you live in Rip off Britain.
Click here to download this file
Prices calculated from $1.48 to £1.00
Don't ask for my comment, I never swear on this website.
24th January 2015.
I’m really sad today. Triumph have done it again. They’ve destroyed any esteem I ever held in their robust name.
Knocked off their high horse by two actions that I cannot dismiss as being acceptable.
Knock one. I rode my Bonneville for four years from new, could never trust the cornering at any great angle. Sometimes good, then sometimes dangerous. I had no confidence what so ever in my ability to ride this machine fast round any corner, and I’ve been riding all my life. Then a bike expert told me the bike had a radial on the back and a cross-ply on the front, should have been ok but the roll angles were different.
So I changed the front one to a radial and walla the bike corners on rails.
Trouble is the cross-ply was fitted at the factory. I forgave them eventually, as the wheel is a steel spoked one and the larger radials are very expensive.
Knock two. I now became a returned friend of the brand again and so considered changing the Bonneville for a Tiger xcx after Triumph sent me an email advertising it.
I thought I should go look at their website and study the new machine. Trouble is there are two websites, one for the USA and one for the UK. I accidently clicked the USA and found the bike was $13,000 on the road. So I got out my calculator and worked out the cost un the UK, it came to £8,500 near enough.
Now I closed the website and noticed the UK one under the listing of the US one. So I went into the Uk version to read it again. This time the cost of the same bike was £10,000.
£1,500 more to buy an English bike in England than it is if it was bought thousands of miles away in America!
Who’s getting screwed?
So I dug deep and found the email address of the perpetrator. I wont comment on his answer, I’ll just let you consider your feelings.
Here it is.
Thank you for taking the time to write to Triumph Motorcycles (America) Ltd. We appreciate all interested customers.
The MSRP’s that are assigned to Triumph motorcycle’s are established using the relative pricing for each market as compared to the MSRP’s of other similar motorcycles sold in that market. We do not price our motorcycles based upon other market areas.
Thanks again for the communication, and feel free to contact us if you have any other questions.
Peter J. Carleo
Customer Relations Manager
Triumph Motorcycles (America) Limited
100 Heartsfield Centre Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30354
P. (678) 854-2010
So how come our bikes are so much dearer in the UK?
Because we let them do it to us!
Triumph? Great name, shame about the attitude.
Now let me see, KTM, website? Surely they don't take advantage of their customer base?
17th January 2015.
How frustrating can it get?
I have just spent a wonderful three weeks in the Northern hills above Philadelphia. USA. Christmas and New Year in the land of plenty, surrounded by the best windy, biker’s roads I have ever seen. I drove down them in a large Honda Odyssey, insulated from the cold and the wind, when I wished I was on my Bonneville. It was really too cold for any bike so I didn’t ever see one. But this landscape was made for biking. It was surreal.
It left me wondering how to obtain a bike for my next visit in October when the weather is often mild, where the heck could I find a bike has ingrained into my brain.
Then by chance I was introduced to a great bloke, Ed’. He is a retired IT specialist who lives across the street from the house where I was staying. Was told he is a biker too, “some sort of He-Machine” was the description I received. It turned out that Ed’ has a glorious red and cream Harley Davidson, his pride and joy. Polished, oiled and always ready to go when the snow and the ice have gone.
Now my plan has a focal point. The best way to find a bike to hire, is to ask a local biker where to go. So Ed’ I’m about to break the ice, I want to hire a bike for a week or so in October, those roads are going to be mine.
Not sure about a Harley, they look too big for me and being a visitor used to riding on the left, they may be dangerous in my hands just turning left. So I will spend some time on the biker’s web looking for say a 500 or 600 to hire. Maybe a Honda CB 600 at only about 180 Kg sounds about my scale of ride.
Now back home in the UK, the snow has followed me here from the States, the cold is coming too this weekend, so it’s now too cold and too slippery to consider a ride out on the bonnie.
One hour later.
Hang on! After searching the web I have found that Harley’s are better value than small mill imports.
Kawasaki Ninja 250 works out at $280/three days with a limited mileage of 200 per day. This is $653 for a full week.
A Harley Sportster, is $600 for a full week, no mileage limit.
I can put up with the vibrations, the weight, the fuel consumption. Then ride the iconic machine where it was produced as part of the experience.
31st October 2014.
Yea I know it’s Halloween and my grandchildren are dressing up to wander around the streets collecting tricks or treats. But I’m a bit of a killjoy when it comes to daft marketing events. I don’t appreciate even chocolate Easter eggs, I think of Easter as a holy time. The supermarkets are rubbing their hands watching their stocks of fancy dress, masks, hats and pumpkins flowing out of the door, with parents counting the cost from their weekly budgets.
The fake Christmas trees are appearing on the supermarket entrances. Tinsel and Santa cards are being placed on the shelves. The first time I hear that screeching voice from Slade I am turning round and heading for home.
So today I let the brood go off on their Halloween journey whilst I took out the Bonnie, cleaned it then set of with my camera in a random direction. I ended in a car park in the forest. Then I began taking pictures of the Autumnal colours, so beautiful these days. Then I saw the spookiest tree ever. So bent in random directions itself.
This is the best I could get with my amateur skills, but it is so eerie it become beautiful. Now that’s what I call Halloween.
I don’t care if folk think of me as a killjoy, don’t forget there are a lot like me who see through this ridiculous event. The silent minority.
18th October 2014.
An object that most folk walk past and never notice. The loading and unloading drawbridge at Preston Docks.
Manually operated by means of a worm and wheel, then counter-balanced to carry the weight. It still stands proud at the dockside where large coal bearing ships used to be handled. Now it's just another piece of lost heritage, pretending to be art.
Here's the winder, a glorious piece of engineering design to help man exert a huge force manually.
By Henry Tudor
Ships of different height
Docked in silence overnight
Coal for Preston’s mighty taste
Unload it all, no sign of waste.
Worm and wheel, counter-weight
Grease the bearings, perfect state.
Down it goes to bridge the gap
Strength in arms, man under cap.
Unload the coal, barrow and truck
Dirt in lungs, air full of muck.
Nothing left of this industrial power
Except this ignored, lonely tower.
If you want to see how it works, download this small file.
Click here to download this file
12th October 2014.
Southport Pier, Sunday, Sunny day, next to the Carousel. What should I see?
Maybe 200 powerful Motorbikes being patted on their tanks by middle-aged riders in expensive leathers.
But today only about fifty bikers. Instead there was about 200 scooters, all in perfect condition and lovingly kept by their middle-aged riders. (Motor-bikers don't call scooterists, "Bikers". They call them riders. Just to clear a point of order.)
Maybe the Bikers felt a tad intimidated or had gone home for their tea.
By Henry Tudor
What’s long and green with a furry collar?
Has dark shiny eyes, and lots the same to folla’.
Riding smokey, customized, clanking, tin shells
With flags on high masts. Two-stroke oily smells.
Waves back to the crowd as it all stutters by
Twanga, Twanga, Twanga, the herd’s, sorry nerd’s random cry.
What’s got many shiny mirrors to clean and review?
Live in comfortable warm homes, many parts to renew.
What brings back memories of campaigns past?
The Mods and the Rockers, now so type-cast.
Middle aged, middle class, rider’s of style.
Quadrophenia, similarities again for a while.
A wonderful sight, a pleasure attack
A wonder-day by the seaside, the scooter rally is back.
8th October 2014.
Somehow something grabs my attention, most folk pass, most folk miss.
Up on the Bonnie riding the rough track on the Rivington Moors, I came across a rusty post with a small plaque. Must stop and read it, must find out why it was there in the middle of nowhere.
It turned out to be the account of an unsolved crime.
Lamenting the Death of George Henderson.
Time: Noonday, November 9th, 1838
Place: Scotsman’s Stump, Winter Hill on Rivington Moor.
Victim: George Henderson a travelling salesman of cloth.
Here is the story in verse.
by Henry Tudor.
Searching for a place to hide,
a relief of bladder in countryside.
Down into crag on top of moor,
poor Scottish Georgie, heard a shot afore.
Stay down young George your head in sight,
but the hunter quickly turns, to shoot in spite.
Not any prey, no rabbit and not a deer,
poor Georgie fatally shot in eye, I fear,
Shooting party blindly carries on,
as if nothing really tragic done.
But lying in ditch, is someone's son.
Killed by a stranger's lethal gun.
Needing someone to blame for such a crime,
along came James, so that’s just fine.
The assizes full to witness re-trial,
but defense knew a trick all the while.
The lead-shot not the same from head and gun,
the real killer must have shot, then run.
James now cleared of dreadful crime,
still no one caught in all that time.
Cannot say who made the shot,
work it out yourself to clear the blot.
Now just a rusting post to mark his life,
just twenty years, no children, no wife.
A sad demise for such a hard working man,
we salute you, young George Henderson.
On 9 November 1838 George Henderson, a Scottish traveller walking over the hills from Bolton to Blackburn, was murdered by gunshot along the road directly opposite where the television station now stands. James Whittle, a 22-year-old collier from Belmont was brought to court and found guilty of murder.
However, he was found not guilty at a second trial in Lancaster. There is an iron post with a plaque on the hill in memory of the victim, erected in 1912, replacing a tree that was earlier planted opposite the television station. This is known as Scotsman's Stump.
There was a hunting party in the vicinity at the time of the shooting.
The plaque reads-
“In memory of George Henderson traveller native of Annan Dumfrieshire,
who was barbarously murdered on Rivington Moor at noonday
November 9th, 1838 in the 20th year of his age.”
All pictures taken from open files on the internet, many thanks.
3rd October 2014.
Call me fickle, I don’t care. But I’m getting bored with the consistent Bonnie.
It has served me well for these past four years, taken me across Scottish Islands, highlands and down coastal roads. It has taken me across Holland then over the great Dam. Down to Germany and down the deep, windy, Mozel Valley. Then there was a tour of Cornwall, Wales, Yorkshire. Not forgetting my weekly trips out, of at least eighty miles each time to visit historical and food based venues.
Never once, has it hick-upped, or let me down, or failed to be noticed by the elder, retired ex-biker of the sixties who believes it to be an original.
It has annoyed me though, by the factory fitted crossply front tyre, with a radial at the back!
So many corners and roundabouts nervously taken have made me look like Mr. Bean. Last week I found a large radial replacement and now the bike has been transformed into what it should have always been, a trusty hog.
But, now I’m wanting a bit more fun. Something with character, but utilising ultra modern tech’ like fly-by-wire, Stability and ABS. When I, a Technologist, think of these attributes much like the Queen thinks of her Kingdom, I purr.
Okay, I am fickle. I once used to be a keen car driver, with my past history of Beemer, Landy, Merc, VW’s and even MG and a lovely blue Vee 8 Jag. But the traffic density and attitude, has spoilt that scenario.
Sadly with over 35,000,000 vehicles on the UK’s potholed roads, 6% of them driven by total idiots following the usual national population distribution of 94% sensible, 6% plonkers. I have fell out with cars. I now hate the thought of driving any distance knowing there will be huge traffic jams and an Audi right on my tail being driven by a Latte drinking plonker who thinks they can stop if I pull up in an emergency. Or the newspaper reading, white van passenger adjusting his feet on the dashboard and smirking as he passes at ninety, causing a vacuum behind the slab he is riding in which is sucking the Fiat 500 along.
Only when driving my three and a half tonne RV, am I immune from the rigors of the road. When I drive overnight, the 6% are scared of running into me as it would pulp their plastic collapsing nosecones without even scratching my bumper. I rarely see a slow moving traffic queue from my driver’s seat, unless of course I am looking in my reversing camera.
I can stop in a layby when any sign of congestion appears out of the blue, there I can cook a meal, watch the TV, relieve myself and even have a comfortable sleep.
So you see, cars out, bikes in.
My field of vision has narrowed and the new bikes out there are seemingly so exciting. I’m a big kid again, studying brochures until the staples fall out with metal fatigue, comparing performances, banking angles and biker opinions. It has surely become a wonderful exercise.
Decision made then, when the Triumph becomes five years old, next June’ish, I will be finding a new ride. The short list at the moment is only one bike, a bike with the most sophisticated of controls.
A KTM Adventure 1190 R. Those in the know will be nodding now, the other’s will be either scratching their heads or swearing under their breath with coarse, jealous undertones.
Picture straight off the internet, but not making any money out of it, so that's ok then.
“What about the Bonnie?” I hear you say.
Well, I didn’t say it would be leaving the stable did I?
My Bonnie will always be just that, my Bonnie. I have decided that due to the fact that my insurance is only for me and that I cannot ride two bikes at the same time, I will keep both. The RV will pull the usual trailer for extra long hauls, the bike on the trailer will be chosen from destination factors.
The car on the drive, well that can wait and still be loved by my wife, when it needs changing then she can go and pick a new one. Hope she doesn’t go for the same again, zzzzzzzzzzz. Honda Jazzzzzzzzzzzz.
Just one problem on the horizon, KTM have just announced a new 2015 model, the KTM Super Adventure 1290 R. Now what if I don’t like it as much? What if Triumph eventually discover the silicon chip? All these things to think about.
25th August 2014. Barrow Bridge.
Barrow Bridge was a regular venue when I was a kid, of about eleven. That was so long ago, it’s embarrassing to think about it.
I would ride there with my mates on our bikes, pedal bikes I might add, a total distance of about fourteen miles each way. That was a full day out to a bunch of kids with no money for the bus, nor a puncture repair outfit between us. One day we had to walk all the way home with one bike’s front wheel in the air.
It was the famous stone steps that would tell us we had arrived. But things have changed. Having just revisited my youth on the Triumph Bonneville with my mate on his Honda, I find time has not been easy on the scene.
1. The boating lake has gone.
2. The gift shop and post office has gone.
3. The steps are nearly overgrown with weeds.
4. The lower path, where we once had to be there early to get a space for a picnic, now it’s overgrown.
5. The clean, fast flowing river with the stone waterfalls. Rusty steel girders have been dumped and have collected weeds.
6. The windy road from the steps, usually our departure route is now mossy and slippery from lack of constant use.
Barrow Bridge is returning back to an unseen valley, robbing Bolton of its once little gem, nestling in the mill town.
The only cheerful thing to report, is that it is still a great bike ride.
6th August 2014. Centre of my world.
The Centre of Britain.
By Henry Tudor.
I tried in vain to miss the Scottish Debate between Alex and Alistair, two men with no real answers. But! After many attempts to find a channel not talking about who won, I found that even the internet was full of seesawing comments, all concluding that no real answers were given to the crucial questions of money and lifestyles.
Well ok then, I give up and ask this question, nobody has dared ask before, this is the only time it will be asked, believe me. I have even answered this difficult question to ease your mind and allow sleep to return on these sweaty, humid evenings, only six weeks from the actual referendum.
If Scotland leaves the UK, does it mean that Dunsop Bridge in Lancashire stops being the exact centre of the land. The experts at Ordnance Survey must have calculated by Moments of Area's, all the inland mainland bits and the 401 principal off-shore Islands. Their grid reference of SD63770 56550 has gone into history as the centre of our Country on this Earth, with which the Post Office at Dunsop Bridge has milked the tourist card ever since it came to the notice of the geek world trying to find something to do in the village.
But! If the whole of Scotland leaves the UK, and takes away their Moments of Area, will it effect the balance?
Will England, Wales and Northern Ireland tip into the Channel?
How can 5 million voters decide whether the other 50 million non-voters need to buy life rafts or simple life belts to saved them from ending up on a Brittany beach, seeking asylum. It just does not seem right.
So, dear readers, I just had to answer this difficult question by visiting the Centre of Britain.
Forget searching the internet for rubber boats and arm bands, I have found that the Centre of our Land's are nothing to do with the political United Kingdom, the UK. The terms of reference that the People at Ordnance Survey used was to measure the Centre of Great Britain, not the UK.
So, even if the Scots decide to leave us, they are still part of the Great Britain we all love. Unless of course, Alex wins and decides to pull the Scottish land further up North with mighty big tugs and heads for the oil fields to reduce the cost of piping it so far south to a foreign country now looking for other sources. Knowing his luck, the land will crack horizontally at Loch Ness and create two new countries, North Scotland and South Scotland. They then could argue and shake their battered Mars bars at each other on the Ness Border.
Just as a matter of information, Our joint Queen is the Duke of Lancaster and has a home at Dunsop Bridge, the exact centre of Great Britain.
So why would you want to move it anyhow?
So Alex and Alistair, stop arguing whose the most macho, and tell the people the truth of what will happen and what cannot happen if Scotland becomes a foreign country with a land border.
Above a picture of the famous Dunsop Bridge, Mallard duck population, who don’t give a quack about the referendum, they just want to be fed and feel safe living in a prosperous Britain.
Like we all do.
2nd July 2014. The Good Mother.
It’s been a strange day.
It’s been a rewarding day.
It’s been an inspiring day.
Plus, I had a great hotdog, so it’s been a great day.
The Green Frog canteen wagon on Preston Dockside is a great meeting place for biker trips. So after yesterdays great ride out to St. Annes on Sea, we decided to repeat the starting place and go somewhere else today. So after a coffee and a ‘jumbo Hotdog’, my mate and I headed off for a visit to a glassworks, art workshop in Singleton, on the Fleetwood road.
A walk around their shop, then wait to watch a craftsman make a fluted jug shaped product.
I have seen glass blowing many times before, I even did glass blowing in my early days as a Technology Teacher in a very large High school of 2,000 on roll.
I remember as if it was yesterday, taking a glass rod and heating it up to almost liquid, then pulling it apart to form glass fibres. The fibres were so storng you could virtually tie knots in them and they would not break. We would cut them into bunches then pass light down them to create our very own optic fibres.
This is what children are learning in our High Schools. Not just how to use Technology but how to create it!
Never though, were my skills close to these guys in the John Ditchfield workshops, they are true artists and should be applauded for producing such imaginative work. To make a glass cone look like it has a jelly fish inside it, magic!
You may well know from this website, that I have a leaning towards high-end crafts, I even travelled over to Antwerp just to follow the life story of Galyon Hone, the greatest Glazier ever, in my view.
He gave his name to the constant strive for perfection, ‘To Hone something perfect.”
So this trip was something special for me. It certainly did not disappoint.
Another little story occurred as we were watching the craftsman spinning his steel pipe and shaping his red hot glass blank.
A Swallow chick had fell from its nest in the workshop rafters, it had landed on a soft glass blower's glove on a steel cabinet right next to me. I thought it was dying, but suddenly the Mother came flying down from the nest and fed the chick where it lay.
The furnaces were all fired up, the workers were all busy, and some watchers were standing behind the barriers. The Mother did not bother about us humans, it kept on swooping down and feeding its chick. Suddenly it flew out of the workshop doors. I thought it had given up the cause, but then it flew back inside to feed more fresh food to the chick. Swooping around the humans and then resting back on the overhead beam to watch over her baby.
The Lady from the shop told us about the chick, it appears to happen often, the gloves are always left there, the nest is always there, so maybe the fledgling route is the glove.
We rode back through one of my favourite villages in the Northwest of England, Great Eccleston, where the best ever Fish n Chips shop has its thriving business, but also where there are great family sized pies in the local bakery.
I cannot pass without either the chippy visited or the pie shop. The pie won.
What a great day.
1st July 2014.
Seafarers Restaurant, St. Anne’s on Sea, The Fylde.
By Henry Tudor
It was my turn to chose a route for an afternoon’s ride out on my Triumph Bonneville along with my mates Honda. So I planned joining up about the same distance from both our houses, at the dockside of Preston. Then continue for a chip-shop lunch in Lytham St. Annes, actually the latter of the two.
I’ve been here many times, as I visit St. Anne’s and Lytham as a regular day out in either my car, my motorhome or the best of the three, my motorbike. The two towns of Lytham and St. Anne’s are virtually connected with only a short bend in the coastal walk between the two.
It is directly across the River Ribble estuary, from my other regular haunt of Southport, where my mate on his Honda 125 comes from. Strangely though, he had to ride nearly thirty miles to cross the Ribble, just to arrive only 3 miles or so from his starting point. So you can actually see the white marble Church on the St. Anne’s border, from the start of his ride in Hesketh Banks, near Southport. That must be so frustrating.
We had met up at the famous Green Frog sandwich truck on the cleaned up, Preston Dockland. The man-made concrete Islands are now well populated with the nesting of gulls and a couple of swan nests.
Riding past a new BAe building next to the military airstrip of Warton, we took the short excursion to visit the scene of the terrible air-crash of 1943, when a doomed, lightning hit USA bomber cartwheeled into the village primary school of Freckleton and 61 people died, half of which were very young children. The memorial in the village cemetery will always bring a tear to the eyes of a visitor. I have written about this before in detail on my website www.henrytudor.co.uk, under the page heading of Triumphant Entry.
Then on with the journey through the expanding town of Lytham, calling in the Lowther Gardens for a chat with a couple of keen sports-car enthusiasts and then off for the last leg to St. Anne’s and the thought of a great chip shop meal at the forefront on my mind.
Both of us are quite down to earth in our choice of food, we both like Fish and Chips, but then we both like Steak Pudding and Chips. So it was a toss up which we ordered in the Seafarers Restaurant, which is sited on the corner of the main shopping street right next door to a famous large chain sandwich shop. Must say the chip shop seems to do better trade.
The Seafarers Restaurant hasn’t changed for years, I remember going there when my kids were young, now they’re all grown up and left the nest, (though sometimes not far enough). I’m not alone when I say that the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’, with its lack of interest rates and even a repayment system, still exists these days, even when the kids are in their forties. Maybe we are doomed to become the ‘Bank of Grandma and Granddad’.
Many of you out there will be sighing now, though pleased in some weird way, that you’re not alone. So go out and don’t tell ‘em where you are. Switch your phone off. The Bank is shut.
Anyhow I digress, back in the restaurant we both swayed to the Steak Pudding special with mushy peas, gravy and a pot of coffee with a slice of bread. All this for £6.35, no wonder the place was full and the sandwich shop next door was near enough empty. There was even a patio seating area and that was full too, diners sunning themselves, as the drivers at the traffic signals sighed as they smelt the boiling vinegar of personal hunger.
The food was quickly served by an efficient and smiling staff, who actually called me Sir, a title I hadn’t heard of since I left teaching in schools then ten years of theatre in schools. It sure did take me back somewhat.
The food was very fresh, a case of everything is sold before it is made. The puddings were ok, not Holland’s, but close in quality. The chips and the peas were perfect.
A good rule to look for is whether the plate has been warmed before the food was placed on it. This was the case, so the food stayed hot through the meal.
Lots to choose from on the menu, from boiled or baked potatoes, through the usual fish and chip medley which included the biggest fish I’ve ever seen. They jokingly call it the “whale” and have an extra large plate to hold it. Then there are the cakes and puddings. Another diner on the table next to us ordered a glass of wine and got it! I have never seen a chip shop with a license before, a first for me.
So what level of grades would I give this restaurant?
Position in town, a definitely 5 out of 5.
Service at the table, a full 5 out of 5.
The decoration may be in need of an end of season repaint, so a 4.5 out of 5.
The food available range, a definite five out of five.
The food presented and tasted, another 4.5 out of 5.
So a total of 19/20.
I began to think that I had been a little harsh, but the pudding was just too much pud’ and not enough ‘ding.
So, go try it.
Just to satisfy my curiosity, we travelled back the same route and stopped again at the Green Frog on the Docklands of Preston, now a City. A coffee and a chat with a guy who was actually lost, on his brand new Moto Guzzi 750. Tyre kicking and power comparisons later, we all split up to go our own merry ways, back to our own nests and family banking systems.
The Bank, regrettably, is open again.
26th June 2014.
Out on the Triumph on the hunt for a famous name in our History. Here are some picture clues and some handy descriptions to help you.
Where am I?
Likes to be high to be able to see a long way.
Dead straight, and even carries on in a field.
Still dead straight.
Hey there’s a quarry, where did the stones go?
What! A stone with two fruit trees growing over it.
Flat faced off stones for maybe a villa or a Bath house or a…
Oh! Before I tell you, there’s an old Iron Age Fort nearby, so somebody came and conquered.
I'm on Watling Street Roman Road above Delamere in Cheshire, there was once a Villa there and the quarry was used to build it. They grew fruit and took over the land from the incumbent villagers.
It's there, you just need to work it out and have a good map.
June 4th 2014.
Just had a great weekend in Shropshire, the RV dragging the Triumph on the Moto-Tug trailer for local transportation.
Only twenty miles to the Cosford RAF Museum, a must for the likes of me.
But, not only the planes to keep my attention for most of the day, but also one of my most desired classic cars, An Orange Beetle. To my mind the best colour ever for this epic car.
By Henry Tudor
As far as Icon’s go
That flat four, rear engine Beetle
Makes classic hunter’s glow.
Hear them coming up the street
Slow and cumbersome
But what a treat.
Inside lane, they wallow slow
Let all other cars pass
Four adults and no luggage, they swallow.
But Iconic in their special class.
Orange stove enamel
Flat screened and bulbous caps
Basic inside and out
The Peoples car for chaps.
18th May 2014.
It's not always a good idea to publish a story before the pictures have been taken. But here I am breaking all the rules with a tale about a wonderful woman that millions in Britain have never heard of. Hetty King. I have planned to ride the Bonneville with my mate on his Honda through the Mersey Tunnel and get some pictures of the beach at New Brighton. This is where Hetty's father and his troupe performed from their horse drawn theatre, and where Hetty was born. Here's my story in rhyme. Pictures to follow.
Here they are:
Triumph and Honda
Beach where theatre was performing.
Most unexpected thrill of the day was the Mersey Tunnel on a Bonneville, must do it again.
By Henry Tudor
“Bring her out”, the audience did sing
New baby born backstage, no midwife bring.
Dear Winifred Emms now Hetty King.
Billy’s Minstrels, their bells did ring.
The ship sailed by the Mersey sand
They heard the cheers of Billy’s Dixie band.
The Captain pulled the horn so hard
The streets filled from local house and yard.
A glorious day to all concerned
Hetty now on stage, her act she learned.
Followed her dad to London light
Faced packed houses every night.
Dressed as a man in posh plus four
She sang for the troops, in two world war.
A trooper herself with talent galore.
She’s gone now, the stage empty once more.
(Winifred Emms, alias Hetty King. 1883-1972)
Born on the road in New Brighton, Merseyside.
Father Will King and his troupe “Uncle Billy’s Minstrels” Performing on the sands in their horse-drawn mobile Theatre.
Hetty King became a world famous male impersonator on the variety stage.
“History forgets the good stuff.”
Henry Tudor 2014.
24th April 2014.
Nowadays I plan my bike rides after viewing my weather forecast App on my smart phone. It usually is accurate but sometimes I glance out of my house window to see the rain and the App says it’s sunny, one of those conundrums.
Today, Thursday, 24th I’m off on an exploratory ride to get a good shot of Liverpool bay and maybe if I’m lucky a close up of one of the statues on the beach at Crosby.
I am a big fan of the Gormley artwork on the beach, it brings the sand to life and welcomes the ships as they enter the old Port.
My mind goes like this, I have a tale about being stranded in the back seat of a Microlite plane, then I have another tale about how to land a plane on the beach. So I have amalgamated both tales into a short story.
Now I need to see and record the details of the potential venue for such a fictional story to be based.
Formby Point and Crosby, both overlooking the Bay and the wind generator off-shore farm came to mind some time ago. No words have been written down yet, so the story need to be imagined first on site, then I must hurry back to my iMac and start punching keys.
I have talked my mate into making the same journey on his Orange Honda with a famous South African Oil emblazoned across it. I must say it looks beautiful and makes my Blue on Blue Bonneville seem a bit dull and boring.
Brash against Blue.
Crosby, Stills and Brash! Sorry couldn't help that joke.
The trip through the countryside of west Lancashire was beautiful, through the new 20mph zones and over high pitched humpback bridges, hens walking out of hedge bottoms not caring about the traffic.
Now meeting my buddy outside the new Booth’s at Hesketh Banks, next door to the old steam railway siding and facing the chippy inside an old bank. It was a good day already. The Steam Railway has inspired a new idea for a story, so I will return.
Down the long, empty river road with the ploughed farmlands and the cabbages was me just getting used to being in a short convoy, a matching of speed and technique.
Through the coastal outskirts of Southport with the undulations of the marine drive and the many road islands, it was sunny and so it was full of early retired folk. Like us. Down past the sand dunes, the road edged with logs and heaps of sand, the road was smooth and without pot holes, unlike the village where I live.
Now ten minutes later, heading down towards Lifeboat road in Formby, to the beach car park. I noticed they are now charging to park, gone is the last refuge for the family looking for a cheap day out, and now it is empty.
Well done you greedy National Trust. Another victory in your quest to keep visitors away. Next I expect they’ll fit gates, which only open a third of the year and a quarter of each day, just to keep in line with all their other properties.
Please don’t think this to be criticism. IT IS.
The best picture of the day was taken here, connecting my point and shoot camera onto the eyepiece of my binoculars created a great eye view of Liverpool Bay.
Meeting an interesting couple from their weekend Mobile Home just up the coastline, we set off for the Gormley free beach exhibition. Only about four miles from Formby, the road to Crosby is simple, then it complicated as the signage take the driver around the centre to the beach front. Parking for bikers is free, but not for cars. Ice cream and a Burger van cater for the visitor well and the locally born day trippers very friendly.
The picture of the statue up close and personal was duly taken and the glorious view of the City, down the Mersey estuary a bonus snap.
Did the trip fulfill my plan?
More than could be expected.
I covered a round trip total of 72 miles, the ride was perfect, the weather glorious and the story came alive. I rushed up stairs to my office sanctuary and tapped it all down.
It’s on the last page of this website “Once in a Blue Moon” Go see.
Now I must plan the steam train story.
16th April 2014
The last time it went to Glasson Dock, North of Preston, was to study the dock itself as my latest book, “Driftwood” is based there for a short time within the story development.
The Docks are opposite the estuary of the Lune and the first ever cotton bale from the slave trade was landed over the water at Sunderland Point.
It was whilst studying the grave of the cabin boy, Samboo, that I saw the Glasson Dock from a seafarer’s point of view and decided there and then that it would become part of my storyline.
All well and good you might say, but one visit is definitely not enough to provide details of descriptive text. The season and the tides must be seen at exactly the same times as the book describes. The loading and unloading of a ship in my book never mentions as yet, the height it sits at the dockside, and just where is the crane? You have got to be accurate, no making it all up.
Last time I came it was Autumn and low tide, today I checked the tide tables and found that 13.03 hrs, the tide is the highest at 6.1 metres. I had to see the place again. So here I am on my trusty Triumph looking for the crane, which somebody has hidden, and where exactly does a ship get unloaded.
Today was I lucky, the tide was huge, I could see the top of the jib over the harbour pub, so just a short stroll around the corner and there was a cargo ship being unloaded. Perfect.
So now my research tells me, the sailors step down to the dockside at high tide, and climb up 18ft. on rusty steel hoops in the stonewall at low tide. The crane is on rails and can reach over a small ship to unload two at a time which could be berthed side by side.
To any biker out there, Glasson Dock is a magnet, the burgers in the carpark are heaven, the views are stunning and the locals curious as they stare at the middle aged, bearded born again riders leaning on their bikes.
Did I get something new out of the trip? Well, the character in my book is rebuilding an old damaged boat, I never figured out where he got the spares from. Then today I was walking along the small boats and came upon a sunken wreck. So he would nick bits off it!
This is artistic license to steal!
17th March 2014.
By Henry Tudor
Poor old General Custer, went down in history ignoring advice and getting his troops surrounded by the North American Indians, himself and his men fighting to a last man standing.
I have visited Southport on the Northwest coast twice in five days, only because it is so beautiful, so different to any other town and rising above the dreaded recession like a diamond being uncovered on the beach by the wind. And! There is a lot of wind at Southport.
Being a Monday, which is my self appointed day off from my office, I drove to the resort today on my trusty Triumph Bonneville, knowing that I would be parking alone as it is normally Sunday that the bikers throng to the pier and the carousel parking. I went alone to visit one of my favourite chip shops. I had a hankering for well done freshly fried chips and steak pudding in savoury gravy. Okay, you frequent restaurant diners out there, I know you are outwardly cringing, but inside how can such a mid week meal like this one, not inspire memories of your youth? When chippies knew how to cook and Holland’s pie sign dangled over the half painted window.
The trouble today is that too many amateur “cooks” are buying the old chippy and hoping to make a small fortune quickly. That was once true, with a newsagents a close second. But today there are many more fast food premises down the high street and the completion for the passerby trade. Here in Southport it is so crowded with eateries that some are surrounded, just like General Custer.
Here’s such a last stand, Jacksons Traditional Fish and Chips down the road from the pier. It has a competitor on the same block and another directly across the road. Apart from these chip shops there are three restaurants within a two-minute walk and two pubs with pub grub.
So why is Jacksons always full? Why do people wait for a table when there are many empty tables surrounding this establishment in competitor premises?
Because it is very good. Sorry, it is great.
The food is standard traditional chip shop faire, but it is prepared well and expertly proportioned. The staff are the same as us, they like serving us with their products. They don’t ever rush us to free up a table and are quick to respond to our particular likes. At the table next to mine, a couple had a bowl of “scratchings” from the batter as an extra, at no cost. I can remember asking for “scratchings” when I was a kid and eating them myself as I walked home with the family meal.
So when they call themselves Traditional, they really mean it.
All alone with my biker coat, helmet and heavy gloves I saw my lunch arriving, the Hollands pudding steaming and the chips piping hot and crunchy. I was in heaven, that couple next to me raised an eyebrow or two when I took the photograph of the meal. I just shrugged a shoulder and carried on to eat it.
10 out of 10 for a perfect, simple meal made with skill and care. And it being the café’s special it was only £6.00 with mushy peas, buttered bread and a cup of tea. I could not have managed the Fish n Chip special, as my biker clothing is already tight enough.
The history is now rewritten. The surrounding Indians decided they couldn’t match Custer’s skill and popularity and so left them alone to filter feed off their passing trade.
Jacksons Traditional Fish and Chip café, Southport across the road from the pier:
Quality of food: 10/10
Quality of service: 10/10
Does it remind you of the days when British Fish and Chips were always great: 10/10
Advice from one who knows.
To visit this establishment and order the large Cod, Chips, Mushy peas and bread with a pot of tea, first of all don’t have a heavy breakfast and don’t take anything out of the freezer for dinner later on. Take a leisurely walk down the pier, past yet another chippy, then sit and watch the sea trying to come in. A great day of past memories.
27th August 2013.
By Henry Tudor
Hold on I’m going as fast as I dare
Let the traffic pass, I don’t care.
Two more gears left, but not using them
20 fast enough, though the limit another 10.
It never mentioned the problem in brochure
Nobody referred to the exposure.
The Island seemed like paradise to me
So went there for a biker’s spree.
NOT SO FAST
The crosswinds on the Outer Hebrides Island
Were fierce and horizontal to the bike stand.
Couldn’t stand up, could sit up, so gave up, mate
Worn my tyres to a chamfer, just going straight!
Locals were waving out of the low cloud
We could hear them laughing out loud.
Just to get back, felt ever so proud
Campers gathered around in a crowd.
MAINLAND AT LAST
Nobody rides in this wind unless mental
The brochure just marketing incidental.
Should have noticed the smirks on the boat
“It’ll be easier to ride a wild goat!”
So if you’re thinking of biking up North
Check charts for wind arrows of force.
Encounter crosswinds you’ve never seen
Consult your pillion if she’s called Eileen!
What seemed a great idea from a wonderful experience a couple of years ago when I rode the Bonneville all over the Ornkey's gave me a wrong notion when I booked the ferry this year for the Outer Hebrides. It is a wonderful place, the scenery is spectacular on the coast and smooth roads across the centre, BUT, the cross winds of fifty miles per hour are dangerous for a two wheeler. Never went out of third and my wife clinging on for her dear life on the pillion. I only ever saw two other bikes in the whole four days and they were Germans on two Harley's. The first thing they said in their perfect English "gee it's windy over here". Most of the touring was then done in my RV and I left the Bike on the campsite. The couple of trips I braved at slow speed were enough to notice that the locals didn't have bikes, they even stared in amazement as we passed, the only one I saw was chained to a tree and it was an off-roader track bike.
Back on the Mainland and with two weeks to go before I needed to head home, we ended up for a couple of days near Elgin in the rain. A motorcar museum begged and offered a dry visit off the bike. The visit was superb, the guy at the desk was the mechanic too, he knew his stuff and showed me one of the most rare bikes ever. An Hesketh in perfect order, the very one James Hunt sat on to advertise it when he drove GP cars for Lord Hesketh.
For some reason the website is not accepting pictures, will try again later.
23rd April 2013.
A quick ride over to Lancaster to see the site of the "Jigsaw Murders" of 1935 in which the infamous Doctor Buck Ruxton murdered his common law wife and their house maid.
Click here for a short ebook account of the story.
Click here to download this file
7th August 2012. Down to the Mozel
In the Mozel Valley whilst the 2012 Olympics are on (on my telly).
Two years ago this town was bursting under the weight of thousands of Bikers. Now the Olympics are on these streets are much quieter. Of course Cochem will attract the sun seeker, the wine enthusiast, the scenery lover and the hairy bikers and their wives, so we still parked the Triumph next to a large range of machines all being watched and guarded from the cafe opposite where the riders were sitting. Ice-cream, cakes, coffee and bikes do make a pleasant environment so we sat there with them for an hour. Having been to Cochem before I was not about to rupture myself climbing to see the wonderful castle on the hill, so I went to the Lutheran Church instead, the stained glass being modern are a wonderful bit of technology and must be seen.
Off back to the RV and a cuppa, then we decided to ride up the near vertical zigzag road behind a winery. Steep is not the word for it, I would put the angle at 1:3 and even the Triumph was needing 2nd gear with two on it. I took a picture from a quarter of the way up showing my RV, then three quarters of the way up showing the Mosel. Could not be bothered to do the last bit as it went into a mossy infested forest, which blocked the scenery anyhow.
Here’s how steep it is, you cannot stop and get off your bike because if you are pointing up the hill the bike rests too far back and you cannot get it off the stand, if you are pointing down the hill it keeps on trying to come off the stand, if you are sideways to the hill, it wants to fall over. The corners are so tight, the bike is on full lock and still drifts over to the opposite side. Going downhill is a second gear compression ride and you dare not consider third as the corners come so quick and the spiralled inside edge can catch your peg.
I’ve said it numerous time to other bikers when we gather for a Sunday afternoon hour’s tyre kicking at Southport’s pier or Rivington Barn, The best ever Bike riding is definitely the Mosel valley, OR, the Orkneys. Narrow windy roads with no walls, lots of scenery and low density traffic, but best of all the locals love us.
5th August 2012. Still in Europe.
I always know where I’m going on my Triumph, so to be in a Foriegn country, with no satnav, on the “wrong” side of the road, on a Sunday when there’s few about and am so lost. I’m near Osnabruck and looking for a Motor Bike Museum in a town called Ibbenburen, a coal mining community and surrounded by high cornfields which all look the same to me. I took three garage attendants to get me to the town and another two to get me to the museum, which a majority of their own citizens didn’t even know it existed. I even had a guy in a BMW at the traffic lights explain to me the correct way, he was in the garage queue and noticed I was heading the wrong way again. The car pulled up next to me in the traffic queue, the blackened window went down and the driver in perfect English enquired “wrong way fella, turn left and follow me.” A bit startled was an understatement, and my wife the pillion kept on asking how did he know where we were looking for!
He took us to the museum and honked his horn, the window went down again and he shouted as he sped off, “I’ve got a Street Triple, see ya!”
Pillion and I had expected a small concern with maybe 50 bikes but were pleasantly surprised to find 400 perfectly restored bike from the early 1900’s to about 1980. Perfect was the word I’d use, as they looked in better condition than many on the roads today.
It brought back a great memory of me and my mate Bob wandering around the Somerset/Wiltshire borders and coming upon the premises of the home car mechanics bible, Haynes Museum. Upon entry to see 1,000 vehicles they have used for their books we noticed straight away that they were all red, the same red. Upon enquiring about this unusual view, we were told that red looks good in black and white books, so we paint all our cars the same red. We didn’t know that! In this workshop inspired museum each bike had another extra bit, could have been a cutaway engine of the same model, or bits painted the same and mounted for people to play with. Change gear by hand, see a gas lit headlight light up, watch a rotary engine rotating. This is wonderland to the dedicated Biker.
I can’t put up all the pictures I took in this museum, so here’s a collage to give you a flavour. Definitely worth a visit, but get a satnav first. I saw many a pushbike with a small engine mounted to run on the tyres, one was only 18cc and was capable of a huge speed of 25 KPH, in 1920 this was fast especially as it still had normal calliper brakes and no suspension. Sounds like an eBike.
3rd August 2012.
Groningen in Northern Holland.
Day three of a tour of Europe with my RV and the Triumph Bonneville on the trailer. The van will cover 2000 miles, the bike another 1000. Well that’s the plan anyhow.
Having crossed the great dam 60 miles north of Amsterdam, I headed for a small village about 25 miles from the city of Groningen in North Netherlands. Sleep was needed as I was fairly tired and after a brisk walk to the supermarket I was completely turned off. The next day I had planned about 100 of motorcycling which I call my day trips.
Day 4. My day trip on the Bonneville.
This day trip was to be a morning in Groningen and lunch on the market square wooden steps, then a ride over to the north and the sea to visit Lauwersoog harbour. Here’s a couple of compilations for the day.
It was a lucky thing being at the harbour that day as two clubs were meeting, club one seemed to be wooden hulled sailing barges with side keels, then a club of Mercedes classic SL cars turned up for a coffee in the cafe where I was sitting.
The ride was great, the scenery stunning and the people charming. Could not have been better.
28th May 2012.
Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire.
I saw this great 3-D carpet on the floor of The Children’s Museum in Sudbury, Derbyshire, just think of it lying on your office floor and the kids too scared to enter the room! Yea!
Ride on the Electric car from the carpark and see this great house.
Carry on and see the giant JCB factory and Academy, this country needs more John Bamford's.
27th May 2012.
Here in the sunshine of Derbyshire, the Bonneville fits in beautifully with the hills and the rivers.
By Henry Tudor
Just a pun on words.
Here I am with the RV and the Bonneville grabbing a short break in a very hectic May 2012, the hottest day this year so far with the RV’s gauge showing a magnificent 32 degrees C. Camping on a farm on the border of Stafford and Derbyshire with the market town of Ashbourne just 5 miles down the road and a micro-light airfield next door. My initial research for something historical about Asbourne came up with Mrs Booth the Mother of the Salvation Army was born there, but more interesting to my own memory the Nestle company used to make Carnation Milk there. My Mother always used Carnation milk on the tinned fruit after the Sunday Dinner, she also used it in tea when the bottled milk ran out, must say I hated the stuff, so sickly and sweet. But one day whilst watching Lenny Henry portray a chef called Blackstock, he poured Carnation Evaporated Milk into a pint glass and then filled it with draught Guinness creating a cold milky brown drink. Being a curious soul and never one to miss the opportunity to find a new foodstuff, I copied his concoction, to find it was quite nice, bit sweet but definitely unique in taste and definitely only one pint to satisfy one’s thirst and curiosity.
So off we go on the Bonneville to suss out the Carnation milk storyline with a twist. It takes a good eye to see a great picture, but not add a bit of luck and a wonderful picture emerges which tells the story on its own. See this picture, at sunset on the hills approaching the old factory position, a farm in the foreground with cows on a hillock overlooking the industrial scene. Reincarnation!
Then just to add a finale to the story, on the way back to the campsite the sound of approaching micro-lights and so we raced to the line of flight to get some pictures. Magic!
See what can happen! I left the RV on the bike with nothing, I came back with a great story and some fantastic pictures, this is as good as it gets.
2nd May 2012.
It doesn’t take much to move my opinion about a product, it may be iconic this Blue Triumph Bonneville of mine, it may look good with a certain class about it, but rust curling off the chrome on the sissy bar makes me cringe. Now only 22 months old, why should a bike go rusty that quick, it isn’t that I haven’t cleaned it or waxed it or oiled it, it isn’t that I have failed to love it, it isn’t. So off to the Triumph dealer over six weeks ago I went, and the replacement from the Triumph factory has only just delivered a replacement free of rust. Six weeks to fester, six weeks to annoy all my family and six weeks to talk to other Triumph Bonneville owners only to find they had rust too pitting their chromed wheels.
Watching hairy bikers tour Europe on brand new KTM Adventure Bikes caused me to research this brand as a possible next bike in the future, I could call it “King’s Trusty Machine, KTM!” and carry on with this column under a new name. But I do love the Bonneville and I will eventually forgive the “couldn’t careless” attitude towards past customers by the makers because this bike is mine and I’ve always wanted one. It will always be on my mind though and I will be constantly searching for the yellow speck on the polished chrome. I still like the KTM though.
At last they have the replacement sissy bar.
15th April 2012.
110 mile each way from home to the venue, well planned for the journey as I’m on the Triumph and sore backside and aching back will need regular stops and stretches. Keele services on the M6 on the way there and on the way back will cut each leg in half to about one hour riding per sector. If I went in the car or the RV this planning would be simple, straight there and straight back no stopping. Then there is the potential rain shower, so waterproof clothing, armoured pants and coat, waterproof rucksack and extra hat for wearing at the venue. Now read the map as I have not bike mounted satnav (yet!), carefully time the journey as I have a ticket for 1.45pm for a show at the venue, make sure I have my wallet secure, cash for food and parking and finally money in the bank in case I see something I need, sorry want badly. So where am I going on my own-some, a venue where not even my wife wants to come, my kids shrug their shoulders when offered the chance of giving me a companion and the grandchildren.
The NEC and this year’s Gadget Show Live! Yea.
Did it all go to plan? Nope.
The car-parking is too expensive, the food is outrageously expensive (One cheese salad sandwich and a small bottle of water is £6.40), the noise is overbearing, the games hall is over-crowded with all the noises adding together to form an arcade type thunder, the queues too long and no bargains. Then I went with a target of finding out from experts just what physical format I should sell video’s on and nobody knew what I was talking about, as the staffing tee shirts were disguising non-experts to look like experts. Now in the actual live show, the stage was too far away for good photographs and the screens were pixelated digital with a flash rate slower than my camera and so could not be photographed without the pixels showing. The toilets where spaced too far apart for a 63 years old to run between and finally when I eventually found my way back to the car-park I needed the loo again and the only one nearby was around the car-park and over the road. The ride back was disrupted only by the NEC-traffic-going-home-jam and I was too skint to afford motorway food.
So did I enjoy the day?
It was brilliant!!!!! I got to see my Gadget hero’s from the TV show, they are as physically fit as I had suspected and great actors and presenters. The gadgets in the halls were just like a large superstore, the gadgets in the live show were brilliant and well executed, the whole audience loved it.
I still haven’t found out what technology to offer schools with my new video when I goes on sale in September, definitely not a DVD as I never saw a single disc in the entire show, maybe a shaped memory stick or card, maybe a download in fractioned segments or even a password to a space in an eCloud! Now I knew that before I went to the Gadget show, and nobody knew what I was talking about. Looks like I will have to sort it out for myself or scan the internet for advice.
Back home now reflecting on the trip, sat on the soft cushion with more cushions supporting my back I feel the trip of 220 miles was a great event with a Triumphant outcome.
10th April 2012.
Been a while, but the weather is back and I'm off to explore again.
Something looks wrong.
A friend of mine has a dyslexic son who can see patterns in normal objects, I have taught children in my teaching career who can read backwards mirror fashion, my own Brother is dyslexic and his skill is he can see lost history. Traces of old Iron age forts, the ditches (last ditch attempts) and the courses now overgrown of fish farms, sewers etc. He also notices misalignments in seemingly perfect buildings and slopes in floors so small water will not run down them, but today whilst on our Easter biking holiday he noticed Elton John carved on a Cathedral. No not the real Elton John but definitely hidden amongst many stone carvings he saw it. He also worked out the reason for the odd circular Southern window of St. David’s Cathedral.
He’s done stuff like this before, whilst in a large nameless manor house in Derbyshire, he noticed wrong brushstrokes on an old oil painting, he declared out loud during the house tour that the painting must have been painted over an older picture. He was right, the inner picture was worth millions more than the latter one, leaving the manor house smiling. Did he get the accolade for the discovery, no chance.
So where’s was Elton John carved? The carving is a modern face, in a dark grey stone and fitted into a medieval drainage Grotesque on the corner of the Cathedral, it is invisible to the tourist and cannot be seen even if you are staging directly at it, but focus your camera and there it is. He saw it from 100 yards away and walked right up to it! Here’s a picture showing you the whole scene, then a bit closer then a close up, I have red ringed the face to help you.
Well first of all it does appear to be a likeness of Elton John, but I think it is more likely to be a religious or benefactor’s image who looks like the singer. How he saw it I don’t know, see how it looked from his distance and viewpoint. Sorry Reg, but it does look like you.
26th November 2011.
took this picture whilst in Texas last month, lost it and found it again. I call it "Dangerous Car" see if you agree.
20th November 2011.
It takes more than the sight of a dead bird to rattle my cage, or so I thought. Whilst walking round the huge chimney at India Mill in Darwen, Lancashire I decided to take a near vertical photograph showing the top disappearing into the morning mist. However, as I studied the view vertically before setting up my camera I noticed a spiralling object falling towards me from the top of the chimney some 91 metres up. Expecting to be flattened by a brick or something just as dangerous, I did a near perfect Olympic backwards jump nearly knocking over the Triumph in the process. I know Newton’s apple told us that all objects fall at the same speed in a vacuum, and I expected the fall to be about 5 seconds, but no it took 15 seconds as it was spiralling and trying to fly. What landed only a couple of feet from me was no stone or brick, but half a bird, a large pigeon in fact, still bleeding and minus its head, upper body and legs. All that remained were the feathery wings, and the lower half of the body with some organs showing and no sign of decay, actually the blood was still flowing. I had to investigate further, this old mill and chimney were originally on my plan for the day as living proof of the transition from water power to atmospheric engine to full blown steam engine, but what I got as well was proof of the inhabitants at the top.
Peregrine Falcons live that the top of this chimney and feed upon the poor unsuspecting passing pigeons, they have been seen for many years since 1989 but never photographed. Now here they are dropping their leftovers over the edge and onto the top of my head, nearly that is. I was almost a privilege. Here’s the story I was after and some pictures including the half pigeon.
India Mill Chimney.
The cotton King of Lancashire created many mills up and down the rivers using the water power to drive their waterwheels and turn the axles of many a loom and spinning machine. It was the ascending half of the cotton trade graph and smaller mills were beginning to be phased out for the more mechanised large mills. However their position at the bottom of valleys where the flowing rivers accumulate the volume necessary soon became a problem, as steam driven atmospheric engines soon came on the scene to lift the water into reservoirs with potential energy stored in their position above the mills. The onset of reciprocating steam engines not only began powered transportation, it also created a more reliable on-off power system for the mills, but caused the problem of fuel emissions from t he burning of coal fired fire boxes. This smoking environment created black stone walls on churches, houses and blackened the lungs of the people to an even earlier grave than they had previously suffered. So tagged onto the end of the larger mills the engine room was built and a chimney erected to take the smoke up into the sky and away from the locality. However if the mill is in a town at the bottom of a narrow but deep valley, the chimney had to be high enough to clear the tops and reach the passing air currents. A town with this problem is Darwen in Lancashire. The India Mill had need of a very tall chimney and the owners decided to make it look good too, so they chose the eminent architects Ernest Bates of Manchester who followed instructions and designed the chimney around Italian proportions as seen on the 10th century tower of St Marks Campanile in Venice. It would take 53 men one year to build it, finishing December 1868 with a party, some say at the top but actually in the local pub the Crown Inn. There was however a great problem of financing the project and the owners soon realised that the chimney build would soon bankrupt them unless a solution could be found. It came in the form of a business deal with a local man who funded the rest of the chimney and registered it as a separate business. This meant the mill was invoiced for smoke passing up the chimey!
The need for cast iron and safety caused the top cast iron crown to be removed in 1943 thus reducing the structure by 20 feet to its present height of 279 feet and a home to nesting peregrine falcons.
By Henry Tudor
To clear the hills and spread the filth afar
A great height to build towards the star.
Darwen’s wealth needs steam to raise
But dirty smoke will kill not praise.
Ninety yards up into the air
Creating magnificence for all to stare.
But cost high too and cannot pay
Until a fellow claims build, now here today.
He’ll finish stack and rent the hole
Now steam can raise with help of coal.
King of thread now gone from town
The Mill is dead, the stack the crown.
Known to all as Darwen’s best
Now a Peregrine family’s nest.
20th November 2011.
7th November 2011.
Freckleton’s Broken Heart.
By Henry Tudor
Needless to say that due to Wartime security, the secret of Freckleton’s Air Disaster has remained within the confines of the Village and the hearts of the local population. There is a mass grave in the cemetery and a plague at the scene of the crash, but the buildings have been rebuilt in other formats and the locals have tried to carry on with their lives carrying the memory in their broken hearts. I met two gentlemen who clearly were local experts in their village history, even as children going to the school at the centre of the disaster, they were emotional having grown up in a village which had lost so many of their generation. Even survivors of the crash were affected by the catastrophic events of 23th August 1944, suffering stress induced illnesses. Here’s the story and I thank “Knackered Sailor” and his mate for bringing it alive again for me.
Backing up D-day with waves of bombers was the secret plan which cloaked the incident, a long row of ready-to-go American Bombers were lined up on the American airbase Depot 2, near Lytham, now called Warton BAe. Two refurbished B-24 Liberators took off to test their airworthiness. A violent storm came in from the Irish sea causing flash floods in Southport and St.Annes, the controllers at the airfield radioed the two bombers to return to base as soon as possible. Heavy with fuel they turned and headed back East to turn and approach runway 08 in formation. The pilot of B-24H-20CF Liberator “Classy Chassis II” Lt. John Bloemendal radioed that he was aborting the landing and would go round again. A bolt of lightning hit the plane and the plane dropped close to the ground, still trying to stay in the air the plane’s wings now nearly vertical and very close to the ground hit a tree with the wing tip. This lowered the fuselage and it then hit the roofs of three houses and cut through a wooden cafe called “Sad Sack Snack Bar”, a place where American servicemen gathered for recreational free time. The wing was ripped off and burst into flames, the fuselage skidded across the road and ploughed into Freckleton Holy Trinity Primary School, demolishing the Infants wing and bursting into flames fuelled by the full tanks. The scene was one from hell, the heat burnt faces of witnesses, the children inside with their teacher never stood a chance and died instantly or due to horrific burns.
In one of the two classrooms, the clock stopped at 10.47, this is the time the villagers hearts were broken. The roll of the dead was so shocking for this ancient Romanesque village as it lost its heart, a generation of children disappeared, teachers, local key people disappeared too and the country did not hear them cry as the whole tragedy was kept secret to preserve both morale and the plan for D-day bombing.
38 children died, along with their 2 teachers and staff. 14 were killed in the snack bar of which 7 were Americans, 4 were British Airmen and 3 civilians. The 3 man crew of the bomber died after trying so hard with the impossible task of missing the village from so low an altitude and lack of airspeed. 61 people died that dreadful day, a village still in mourning.
The official report stated that the exact cause of the crash was unknown but concluded that the American pilot was unaware of the possible violent nature of an incoming storm in Britain from the sea and so decided to train all airmen to be aware of the danger in the future.
Three survivors from the infant school rooms, badly burnt and being treated in hospital were visited by Bing Crosby who had heard of the tragedy and wanted to help in some way. He was so broken hearted and emotional at the sight in the ward he could only sing to them all from the corridor.
“One day not long after the disaster we were told to expect a special visitor, and then in walked Bing Crosby......” Ruby Currell.
Thanks to BBC Inside Out, HM Gov and the two Gentlemen of Freckleton.
A collection of pictures from the internet, words cannot express these scenes.
18th October 2011, Somewhere in Texas.
Henry’s Opinion of Battery Cars.
Not to put too big a dampener on it, but Electric cars are not green.
Before you fall off your critics armchair, let me tell you that my pre-Henry-pre-Teacher careers I was a designer for a major battery company and I worked directly on the future of Electric vehicles. Here are the problems that nobody seems to understand and tend to ignore.
1. One battery costs more carbon dioxide to build than a petrol engine can generate in half its lifetime.
2. The environment is poisoned more by the production of the battery and the use of exotic metals than by the burning of the fuel and its extraction from the oil wells.
3. There are 20 million cars in Britain, now imagine the number of new power stations needed to charge them all if they were battery electric.
4. Now what kind of trip would you consider by battery electric car with a 4 hour charge mid journey and problems getting up the long hills in between.
5. Now whose going to buy your three year old car with a half used battery knowing it’s going to cost the earth the replace it.
6. How many pedestrians are going to get knocked down by the silent approaching heavy weight battery car.
7. How many extra cars are going to get stolen just for their battery on a new-battery black market.
Please don’t think I am a lover of the internal combustion engine, I’m not. But, I want a green car that is a true green car, one that separates water into its two elements then joins them together again to power the car and exhausts the water again. The Hydrogen fuel cell seems to me the way to go, mass production would surely reduce the running costs, increase the refueling stations and take the place of the convenient fossil fuelled car as we know it today.
OR why not allow small windmills and solar cell charging at home with set up costs to be tax free or connected to the grid and offset costs by selling tax free the power not used. Then the car could be reversed hybrid where there is a small 100cc engine for emergency recharging on the road whilst the most power source is the battery made from easy to get materials.
What’s wrong with a highly geared diesel mini-sized car with stop-start ignition and delivering 90 mpg from a gallon of recycled chip cooking oil. Sounds like common sense to me.
Here are some pictures of the Nissan Leaf, using the notion that leaves are green, well now it’s Autumnal so that means it’s turning brown.
16th August 2011, one week off line.
By Henry Tudor
Work hard and show respect, your Laird MacKay does expect
Pay your share, keep his land well, run to Kirk do not dwell.
The Clan chief is your King whose praise you must now sing
Do as you are told or you will not grow old, retaliation ten fold.
The enforcer will call if you are slack, one warning then he’ll come back
Donald MacLeod a name to fear, hide somewhere when he comes near.
Nineteen have disappeared over devil falls, Smoo cave hidden walls
Crushed under water force, this is how MacLeod his power enforce.
He is regarded with great esteem, he is the leader of the punishment team
Nobody can claim malcontent, your life is theirs your freedom spent.
Bow as MacLeod passes by, take off your cap respect you imply
MacKay will know if you dissent, gossip rules, kowtow and so prevent.
One day MacLeod will be dead, then you can sleep soundly in your bed
As long as you take flowers to his stone grave, respect the man you deprave.
Life is hard in these highland Clan land, rules by the hardest of hand
Accept your lot, keep what you have got, MacLeod a friend not.
Mickeyland, Northwest coast of Scotland.
Anybody who has seen any of Jack Dee’s comedy acts, knows what a miserable man is. But I have come across a real “Jack Dee” misery guts of a man who serves up the most expensive fuel on the British mainland, £1.57 for a litre of petrol and £1.61 for a litre of diesel, hey that’s £7.41 per gallon you miserable so and so. Why he isn’t laughing at the poor suckers who pay it, I do not know. So I asked him. Place Mickey’s garage, Mickeyland. Watch out for the number of Mickeys’s, they are all over the place and fill the ancient cemetery too.
“Why is this fuel so expensive?” The next garage is thirty miles away was the miserable answer.
“Do I put it in the tank or do you?” Oh dear god don’t ask me to do it I only get moaned at for spilling any.
“No wonder at this price, spillage must be worth something!” Not if it’s spilled.
“Is this the centre of the village?” Twice today I’ve been asked that question, don’t you bikers talk to each other, mind you he was a German and going the other way. I think it is the centre, but I’ve never measured it. Who cares anyhow.
“The bill’s £12.49p, here’s £12.50p, keep the change.” Mmm, thanks you miserable so and so.
With that finalisation of the fuel deal I powered up the Bonneville and headed out of the miserable village, away from Mickey’s garage, past Mickey’s hotel and the tiny Ivy infested church full of Mickey’s from the past.
I am not taking the Mickey, the real names have been changed to protect the guilty, a sort of Clan-destine type of reporting.
15th August 2011. Been off the grid for a week now in the far north of Scotland and the Isles. Wifi!!!!
7th August 2011
By Henry Tudor
Having now been submerged in books and visitor centre technology for two days in the search of the story of the Battle of Culloden, I have come to the conclusion that both sides had secret agenda’s as well as the most popular known one of the Jacobites trying to get rid of the Hanover monarchy and put the Stuarts back on the throne. But there was more to the fight for than that.
First of all it was not a fight between the Scottish and the English and not solely about Protestantism and Catholicism though that was a spark to ignite the calm cloud of change into a raging storm. The facts speak clearly for themselves. The British elected Parliament of the day, decided that only Protestant rulers need apply for any forthcoming vacancy because of the chaos and death that changing back and forth from Catholic to Protestant had caused in the recent past. We even lost our Kingdom title when Oliver Cromwell created the Republic. Moving on, when Queen Anne died without issue, her second cousin George of Hanover was the nearest Royal Protestant and so it began.
If King George had spent the proceeds of our successful Empire more wisely and included Scottish highland clans in the prosperity, then maybe they would not have wanted a King James Stuart back, hence the name Jacobite and a new rebel factor was born.
With the son of James II, James III living the easy life in Italy and not welcome back in his own country he seemed to have settled down to a more conducive lifestyle and not be bothered to fight for the throne. However his Italian born son Charles Edward Stuart didn’t see that as his option and wanted to be King one day and even to be referred as Prince of Wales with his father on the throne. Impatient was Charles, this would turn out to be one of his greater characteristics which would cause big problems in a slow moving world.
Let us look at Charles, not big in stature, pale faced, powdered and sporting an Italian/English accent. Oh sure he was good looking, some say Bonnie, but definitely not the rough, tough and ready, strongman the clans wanted as their ultimate leader of leaders.
Now let us look at the Scottish clan system. It has been said before in this website that the clan system of man management got in the way in the Battle of Flodden Hill, where the clansmen only took orders from their clan chief. The clan chief was consulted by the King and then the chief decided what to instruct his clan. It is an obvious fault in the system of fighting battles. The northern clans were jealous of the lowland clan’s wealth and prosperity under the new Hanoverian regime and would undertake risings against the crown, making incursions into Royalist regions to steal their wealth. Scotland was a real mixture of loyalties, so the more isolated the clan the more it tended towards the Stuart way, unless they were so far isolated that it didn’t matter who was on the throne as they ruled their little clan-dom with complete authority.
Impatient Charles decided to go it alone and set sail for Scotland to raise an army and take back Britain for his family the Stuarts, mainly for himself really. An encounter with a British ship caused both one of his two ships and the British ship to limp back to the nearest safe haven for repairs. Charles should now have waited for the repair of the ship and the rest of his men, but true to character he carried on regardless and landed on the island of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides. This was one of those remote places and their clan chief told him to go away. Charles could not believe that he would be treated this way, after-all he was a Stuart, but look at this from the Clan Chief’s viewpoint. Here comes a softly spoken, gentleman from Italy and asks for help to invade the British mainland and fight to put him on the throne 600 miles south, would you have risked the way of life you have managed for your people? I think not.
Charles, let’s call him Charlie to give him a Scottish friendly name, a sort of propaganda for the clans to endear to this stranger bearing the promise of ridding the monarchy and pledging a brighter future to his followers. Sorry! Drifted off somewhat from the plot.
Charles then left without support and headed for the upper highlands where clans are closer together and were happy to see him though disappointed that he only turned up with a few men instead of the promised two thousand. He would have blamed that on the British navy for attacking his two ships in the channel, but in reality the other ship only had less than 100 men also.
Momentum gathers speed thanks to Charlie’s charisma and impatience, the clan leaders also rushed to keep in good stead with their potential new King. They rose and started the march south to London. They took all cities in their way though they moved West when they heard the British army was marching north from the East, speed was the key factor with Charlie, the element of surprise and to fight unguarded enemies, hoping to gain recruits they did not ruin much nor kill many, but recruits were thin on the ground. Again that old status quo thing happened, “Why help a pretender when we are doing alright with the ones we have?” Not much in the way of real loyalty, more like accepting the monarch as a stabilising factor and benefactor. The fact that they were from Hanover meant nothing to a citizen who read about Romans, Danish, Germans and Normans, then the Scottish ones who messed it all up.
All the way down to Derby which is only 150 miles from the gates of London and at their speed of marching a mere only one week away from victory and the throne of Britain. But, as there was no instant news nor telecommunications, to decide how many would be in the defence of the city relied upon hearsay, and hearsay said there would be a substantial army to meet them with no short way back home. The clan leaders were adamant that they should now stop and return to their own soil now they have bloodied the British nose, except of course Charlie who wanted to do the final thing and take London. The clan leaders ignored this pretender and the decision was made to return, not retreat but to leave now they had left their message of intent hoping that King George would view their place in society higher than previously. Except Charlie of course.
On October 1st 1745 King George II ordered an 11,000 strong army of cavalry and infantry to march towards Scotland and encamp in Newcastle on the East coast. A further 10,700 men were sent to Chester to block any westerly approaching Jacobite threat. The King then appointed his son, William Augustus the Duke of Cumberland to take command. Cumberland was seen as a decisive man with the energy and foresight to rid Britain of the Jacobite threat once and for all, he also had a grudge to repay because he was trounced at the battle of Fontenoy and needed to get his reputation back on track. Remember everything moves very slowly in the mid 1700’s especially if thousands of soldiers are involved who are on foot and need food and clothing, so it was December that the Jacobites were marching back home just ahead of the British who were marching to war. Here is proof of the movement, a small garrison of Jacobites were left in Carlisle to provide a base for the eventual return back south, only 10 days later the British captured this garrison after a siege. This is short term in Georgian days. By 20th December Charlie’s army had crossed their border and it was a Christmas in Glasgow for the rebels after which they decided to besiege the impenetrable Stirling Castle, another clan bad decision. This siege brought new recruits to the rebel cause and their numbers grew up to nearly 9,000 strong. The Government forces still moving north began to recruit from the lowlands and also from the highlands. The two armies met at Falkirk, just south of Stirling Castle from where the rebels had been encamped in the siege. The rebels won the battle but their enemy leaders escaped and retreated to Edinburgh where they regrouped. Now the success was under their belt the clan chiefs met again and decided to return home, regroup and return for a full invasion of England in the spring, Charlie was of course ignored as he pleaded to chase the British and finish them off.
Charlie had organised a fresh set of supplies and money by sending his only ship “Le Prince Charles” back to France but upon on its return voyage back up to Inverness it was taken again by the British Navy and sacked. This left Charlie and his Jacobite troops with very little money, weaponry and food. At this stage the Jacobites decided to print their own money and issue Stuart notes to their people, these were credit notes and when in power they promised to pay the bearer etc, etc. (I bet these notes are worth a lot of money these days to a collector!)
Now up in Inverness a tired Jacobite army took up their battle position on Drummossie Moor at Culloden, the British with Cumberland in command entered the port town of Nairn and set up camp. It was 15th April and the Jacobite army took up battle position in two lines with their blue flags. But the British did not turn up, they were still in Nairn! Now all you history lovers, let us look at the birthday of the King’s son The Duke of Cumberland, born 15th April 1721, and the expected battle date being 15th April 1746. The King’s son was having a birthday party and did not want to fight!
The inpatient Charlie talked his clan leaders into marching overnight to Nairn and killing the British as they slept with their hangovers, this they agreed. So all the rebel army marched overnight to Nairn, but Cumberland was not a stupid man, only is generals were at his party and his men were getting a good night sleep ready for a battle the following day, the rebels made no surprise attack and when they saw that their army was tired and the British were not they turned around and virtually ran back to Culloden.
At Culloden therefore were two completely different armies.
1. The Jacobites, tired after marching all night and morning, controlled by a haphazard chain of clan command for a leader with no fighting ability.
2. The British were well trained and disciplined, with battle strategy and more resources, some of which were taken from the enemy’s ship.
Then there was the important forgery note made by the British to look like it was from the Rebel leadership, in simple language “take no prisoners” this was passed around the British to incite a bloody revenge in the aftermath of any victory. Cumberland well deserves his terrible nickname “The Butcher”.
700 Rebels died in the one hour battle, another 700 died in the bloody reprisal aftermath by bayonet and scabbard. Only 50 British died in the battle. It was a slaughter not forgotten after all these years, but definitely not a battle between the English and the Scots. The Scots were 2 two thirds Upper highland clansmen, plus lowlanders and English a few French and Irish. The British were English, Scottish and Welsh. It was really a civil war battle.
The victor Cumberland, returned to London a hero until his tactics were found out and then he was hated by all as the Butcher of Culloden.
Charlie escaped back to the North Western Islands where the famous lady Flora MacDonald smuggled him, disguised as a woman called Betty Burke, “over the sea to Skye” and then he escaped back to his home in Rome having given up all hope of sitting on the British throne for ever.
Energetic reprisals were undertaken by the Monarchy, led of course by Cumberland, executions, imprisonments and even slavery in the West Indies, many Scots on the run left Britain for America and this could be seen as the great Scottish world “peppering” of our colonies. Cumberland died young at 44 years, trying most of his later life trying shake off the “Butcher” title he had earned.
3rd August 2011.
J.M.Barrie. Playwright, Author, Journalist and Story teller.
I love to listen to a good story teller, because I empathise with their skill. To capture an audience with a tale and keep their attention with their participation is what a great teacher is made of. I have watched many great teachers in my past career and have learnt how to develop my own “verbal act”, but writing a book or play that will capture a much larger audience remotely can only be described as genius. J.M. Barrie was a genius, he captured London in a short time as author, playwright, public speaker, this simple man from a family of linen weavers with 10 children in a two up two down terraced house in Angus, Scotland will live forever in his tales. Peter Pan has enthralled, scared and captured children’s imaginations for nearly 100 years and will go on doing so.
Today it was a privilege to visit J.M. Barrie’s little birthplace in Kirriemuir, Angus, to see his shared bedroom, living room, scullery, garden and workshop shed. Then to visit his donated Cricket pavilion with a central Camera Obscurer for “...people who don’t like cricket.” Then to visit his grave in the adjoining church cemetery, to see just how many Barrie’s are buried there, remember 10 children produce a lot of family tree. I must say from a casual note that people up here in this cemetery seem to have lived longer than the ones I saw a few weeks ago in Slaidburn, Lancashire. Must be the clean air and better local food in the last couple of centuries.
Here’s a collage of my pictures, I do recommend a visit to this place.
2nd August 2011.
2nd August 2011
Ticking the Smokey Box.
Just how many folk out there love watching that great documentary series “Coast”? I keep on meeting them in conversations of "..why have you come here to this isolated cliff or unknown to the tourist harbour." There must be millions who have planned their holidays around Neil Oliver’s unscripted dialogue. Well, I’m a victim too, but not about seeing the sights, more about eating the fish.
In a third repeated viewing of the series, I always wait for Neil to get to Staiths in Yorkshire, because I love the little steep road and the scenery, but lately I have been transfixed with Arbroath and the smokehouse. When he ate that white fleshed Smokey I knew I had to have one, and suddenly it was added to my tick-boxes as something to do before I snuff it. I’m not being morbid, but when you reach 60 you notice that in only 20 years you’ll be 80, and 20 years is nothing. Get your tick-boxes sorted now is the message I tell everyone.
In this tour of Scotland I decided to drive up the East coastal road and visit Arbroath and buy a freshly smoked herring, the Arboath Smokey. But finding a campsite became impossible and I ended up in Forfar, not far, but far enough, sorry no more farfar jokes. Then it started raining. This morning the pitch on which the RV was camped was flooded and so I paddled to the office to change pitches, still raining. The move was successful but left me soaked, and then the fuse blew in the RV due to my use of too many appliances whilst cooking my English breakfast in Scotland. Frustration crept in, so I put on my waterproofs and walked around the Forfar “loch” which was an hour of lovely sights, smells and wild flowers. Feeling much better I decided to keep the waterproofs on and ride the Bonneville over to Arbroath to buy and eat a Smokey.
Would you believe it! As I pulled up outside the first smokehouse I found, the owner came out and locked up to go home. Must say, they do seem to close early here in Scotland and 4pm seems a little early to me, but then what do I know? Round the corner my dream came true, there was another smoke-house and the lights were still on, I could see them cleaning the counters, so I rushed it to find a stack of fresh Smokeys being put ready for the next day. The un-Scottish Polish lady served me with a pair of fish tied at the tail end so they can be hung over the racks in the smoker. I took the package and carefully placed them in the bike's pannier, still raining and the ride back to the RV in Forfar was quit far, but not so far as to stink the pannier from the smoked fish. Sorry, far far too much.
Now here is the conclusion for you now you’ve got this far!
The Arbroath Smokey is superb, I cannot eat two, everything smells smoky, but they are a fish lover’s dream taste. I do recommend that you add it to your tick-boxes. But be warned, every burp reminds you of the taste.
Tomorrow I plan to go to J M Barries birthplace and a Camera Obscurer, not too far!
I can still smell the fish.
"It's a lot harder to photograph a flying seagull than a dead fish!"
Henry Tudor 2011.
31st July 2011.
Everywhere we go a Triumph fan stops and talks, usually ex-riders from the 1960/70's and not all men either.
Stories to come.
First stop Northumbria.
I knew Alnwick Castle held a great secret antiquity regarding Tudor history. Evidence of why Anne Boleyn hated Cardinal Wolsey with such a passion.
Anne was in love with her betrothed from the house of Percy, still young and very precocious she saw herself as a future Percy high on the hill in their Northumbrian Castle of Alnwick. Young Percy also loved Anne Boleyn and her parents agreed to the match. However, with the Percy’s being of such high blood and the greatest power in the North East, Henry was advised by Wolsey that this match is too low for the Percy’s and it would bring a Howard relative into the already powerful family. Northumberland held back the Scots, and acted like a small country of its own, even one of their expert historians on site call it a Mafia-like rule.
Wolsey forbade the marriage and Anne never forgave him to his death. Poor old Percy too lost his love and was forced to marry the choice offered by the council chaired by Wolsey himself.
And what is the evidence I hear you say, locked away from public view?
It was Anne Boleyn’s Book of Prayer, leather bound, encased in a carved box. She gave it to her lost love to remember her by. Today, only very special people get a private viewing, no touching and only the resident historian can hold it with white gloves. It is very good condition even at 500 years old. I think there must be secret messages in that book from Anne to her lost love.
Then there was Preston Tower.
If you want to see inside a real lifestyle medieval castle tower, then this is a must. Also see the inside of a weight clock.
10th July 2011.
By Henry Tudor
I rode out on the Triumph in a dull and cloudy sky, passed through a storm and flooded A59 then up the hills of Bowland to end up in a sunny Slaidburn and a great meal at the riverside cafe where the older end of the biker world seem to meet. The walk up the hill to the village centre was to walk off the food and search for a story to tell, I found three story themes although two were about the dead. The third was a lucky find, a wall in the air with virtually no support, waiting to fall.
To gain knowledge of how long people lived the best place to find it is an old church and go read the gravestones. But be prepared for a sad reflection of life in the past, because they were burying lots of children. In the church graveyard of Slaidburn, Forest of Bowland, Lancashire you will find not a single grave without a young person amongst the family interred there. Then there are the “infant” titles for children who had died before being christened, as well as whole families of young children listed. One couple had nine children, seven died 15 years or younger, whilst the surviving two never got past forty. The era of this part of the graveyard is 1800 to 1900, so the industrial revolution was at its height, but Slaidburn is in the middle of farming land and nine miles from the town of Clitheroe which itself cannot be called industrialised. So why was the life expectancy of this community so low? The answer is easy. Hard work, poor health care, no money and no access to medicine and with no emergency help within two hours of travel. Children caught colds which Developed into flu, then into pneumonia then they died.
Then there was the problem of community isolation!
If we are healthy we have internal immunity to various bugs such as Flu, this is developed over our lifetime from being exposed to a high variety of bug strains and we are still ill but we recover. Unless of course we are already sick or getting on a bit in age. How many bug do are children encounter from a nursery school! But 150 years ago the communities were only resistant to their own village strain an when they came into contact with another variant of the bug they succumbed to it easily. A fine example of this ws the travels of Captain Cooke in the south seas. His ships company took their bugs with them and finished off many an islander without knowing, and they also encountered the islanders strains and died.
So the answer to that niggling question “why did they died so young?” is that they were poor and isolated without medical care.
The memorial to the fallen in World War One in the middle of Slaidburn shows twenty two deaths in the conflict. From the millions who died, twenty two does not seem a lot, but the population of this village is so small it actually is a great number, now consider that farming communities were required to keep the first born boy at home to farm the land and only sons from the second onward were drafted into the army, this number is frighteningly high.
An arch with a central keystone is part of all historical masonry where an opening occurs in the design. But what if nature takes its toll and the stones begin to fall, what happens to the structures integrity? See this picture of the floating stone!
The Forest of Bowland is the favourite of our Queen Elizabeth II, who has spoken of wanting to live there in her latter years, I can see why because this place is glorious.
I did get into conversation with a local who pointed out that most of the village houses were leased from one family, not kept in good order and repairs were mostly botched! Not the same impression a visitor gets, but then one should not take too much notice of first impressions should one.
Love the cat waiting for the birds on their table.
4th July 2011.
By Henry Tudor
But Mum! I want to work just like my Dad
Diggin’ tin from hard rock lode.
He is the strongest man around
Admired and respected, so I’m told.
Just wait and see ‘cos when you’re eight
You’ll follow him through that mine gate.
Be his help in that deep hole
Drill for the blast, ‘cos that’s your fate.
Now son it’s time for you to work
Being eight means your old enough.
Lose some of that puppy fat and grow strong
Build up your muscles, means getting tough.
Dad, sometimes cannot hear
Especially his turn to buy the beer.
He says “It’s just being stone deaf”
Stone deaf! Now that’s my new fear.
Day one, child eight, team three
Drill the stone for blasting that’s me.
Steel chisel held tight my eyes closed
Dad slams the top, one two, three
The ringing in my ears of those fearsome blows
Brought streams of snot down my nose.
My eyes went blurred, my skin turned white
I hear a ringing from inside with fright.
Don’t worry son it will soon pass
After a while the sound gets less.
Just burp a bit and pass some gas
That’s why they call it “stone deaf” I guess.
Geevor Tin Mine, Cornwall.
By Henry Tudor
The ride from St.Mawes to that glorious road from St. Ives to St. Just was made much better by riding the Bonneville on one of the sunniest hot days of the year so far. The planned route was to eat a pasty lunch in front of the Tate gallery overlooking the beach of St. Ives. Then, climb out of the resort and head for the Tin mines of Geevor and Levant, though Levant being National Trust I expected it to be either late opening or shut. A hint of sarcasm, sorry.
Not only did I get that pasty, I also managed to park the Bonneville right in front of the Tate gallery, plan working so far, but too early to judge.
I passed the Geevor gates to see Levant first as Geevor has a mine tour and so I wanted to leave more time for it. Levant was shut, should I say something? Say no more. Mind you, I bumped into a lovely couple with Aussie accents and it turned out the lady’s grandfather had worked at the mine.
Back tracking a couple of miles to Geevor I was taken by the splendid condition of the toilets and car parking, these two items always set the tone of any visit. The lady in reception took care of my biker gear and fitted me with a hard hat for the duration of the visit. I do have a big head but she was diplomatic in guiding me to the blues ones. I thought it was going to be a mock up, pictures and video’s and a cluster of old rusty engineering remnants. It was at first, but it also had the real working mine there too and staffed by impressive people who not only know what they were talking about but oozed enthusiasm for their subject. I always remember my maths teacher from fifty years ago, Henry Shuker, he enthused maths into my brain and I thank him to this day for giving me the same mind sight. The shaking tables, where ore rich granules are separated from the rest, were all in great condition and a gentleman was there to show me how they worked, panning the crushed ore to release the tin rich heavy dark mud which when refined produced the tin on a 24/6.5 working week. He knew his stuff, it was music to my ears and the disappointment of the NT mine was soon forgotten.
Next shed we were now in six in number we were dressed in colour coded working dust jackets, red being the boss’s colour, mine black being the fattest. The mine at Geevor is flooded and cannot be entered safely, but right next door is Wheal Mexico, which means a place of work called Mexico, I did ask why and the answer was simple. Mexico was known as a place of rich metals, so we called it the Mexico mine, sounds okay to me. Only to a depth of about 50 feet, but I must have knocked that safety helmet at least once per foot, I must say this tour is outstanding because the guide is outstanding. I have been on mine tours in South Africa (Welcome Platts) Platinum, Knickers Grove lead mine in Derbyshire and even the old coal mine in Warrington before it closed down. All were real, all were fascinating, but only Geevor tells you the way it was. “This land is poisoned because of this mine working, arsenic, lead, tin, copper and iron have left their mark and the land will never recover. But, it fed the people of Cornwall and was a major player in the wealth of this country.” My nod was obvious.
I was the only biker on this route something that really surprised me considering how wonderful the roads are and how breathtaking the scenery is. Hopefully some biker readers will want to try it themselves. My advice to you all is go to Geevor Tin Mine, spend the afternoon there, listen to these enthusiastic people and you will come away a much better person knowing you don’t have to work in the Tine mine to survive, but thank God someone did for you.
By Henry Tudor
Just mixing Tin with Copper yield
Made swords of Bronze, to win the field.
To cast in stone a sword so long
Needed Tin to thin the smelt so strong.
The dark ages shine on the Cornish Tin mine
Arthur knows well the Romans did tell.
With Copper, and Tin, with Iron within
With Romans now gone, he’d be the one.
Take over the land with metals and sand
Cornwall he did view his plan soon came true.
From Wales he did sail, Camelot his tale
Sword from the stone, miner become.
Gone now today, to mine tin far away
Leaving old stacks for tourists and hacks.
One day maybe, a new tin mine to see
The cost of this Tin, danger within.
27th June 2011
I let our family’s National Trust membership drop a couple of years ago because it annoyed me that as a member, these houses are shut more days than they are open and then only for up to 4 hours can I get access to the inside of the house. Why?
So in a forgiving mood I renewed the membership as a long Scottish trip is in the near future and they let English members into their houses.
Yesterday, I thought I would visit a local National Trust house, Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire, on my Triumph and take some pictures and write about their treasures. But it was shut. Opening at 1pm until 4pm brought back memories of frustration. I decided as it was 11.15 am that I will wait but in the comfort of their restaurant/café and have an early lunch. But it was shut until 12.30pm. How can the gates be open, the teahouse be shut and the house shut, why do they treat the public like this?
So, I took pictures of the house from the outside, difficult as the Porche owners club were filling the front and showing off their overpriced dream cars. Then I left convinced that I had made a mistake in renewing the membership.
National Trust please read this.
Why are you not open all the year round from 10.00am to 5.00pm especially on a Sunday?
Why do you provide volunteer guides who do not know the history and who work for a bowl of soup? Pay them and train them so the quality rises.
Why are camera’s banned which have no flash and so sell overpriced guide books to members?
In these days of austerity, where membership fees are high and people want value for money, why are you sitting on your high horses, sheltered from reality and ignoring the market? Mmmmm!
Now then there’s the English Heritage, what a welcomed relief that someone out there considers the public high on their agenda. High quality service and knowledgeable staff, camera’s allowed.
I will use this new NT card for the Scottish trip, as they are a separate group and welcome visitors without a “putting up with them” attitude. But renewal is not going to happen.
Now to the rest of the day. Again I rode off to Slaidburn in the Bowland Forest for the best bacon barm cake in the North and to meet up with a few of my Biker buddies. To site next to the flowing river in the most wonderful scenery with a hot barmcake and large mug of coffee is approaching heaven for me.
The trip back home over the hills past Newton and Waddington was fantastic as was calling at Pendle View Trout farm where I purchased three large rainbow trout for supper.
A frustrating day turned upside down to become a memorable outing.
19th June 2011.
Call me a sucker for punishment, but in my quest of the perfect report I bought a bullet video camera to be fitted to the indicator stem of the Bonneville. So I could upload video's as well as stills, or so I thought. I even read the handbook! I tested the gadget in the house and it was perfect, I went out last night to test for vibration control on the running bike, again perfect. So I rode out today for Sawley Abbey in Lancashire (even this is a sore point because it was in Yorkshire until being squeezed into Lancshire by a boundary change). In fact the old Yorkshire sign is still there in the hedge by the road.
Next Friday I am the guest speaker at the Abbey on their open day. So I thought the I'd kill two birds with one stone and visit for a fact finding tour plus make a video on the bullet-cam.
But! I've got this page in simple mode and the video won't run unless it's in creative mode! Now I've given myself yet another job to do to convert it all. Rats.
You'll have to wait for the video.
Now as you will have become aware I seem to notice unusual things and ask radical questions. Not that this is a bad thing, but it can be awkward especially if these awkward questions are asked to the audience of locals near the Abbey who consider themselves to be local historians too. But not being a shy, retiring person I will mention them here and see what happens.
AQ1 (Awkward question 1):
If the Abbey was built in a low flood plain next to the River Ribble on purpose, why did the Abbott moan about the swamp and lack of growing land?
AQ2: If the old archway was in the way when Sawley got a road, why did they not bend the road around the archway?
AQ3: If the decision to move the archway and rebuild it was a sound one, why did they not keep the direction the same and put the stones back in the right order?
AQ4: If locals were upset at Henry dissolving their Abbey, why did they buy the best stones and build them into their property?
4th June 2011.
Ravenscar in the fog
By Henry Tudor on tour of East Yorkshire 2011.
How can one day be so different from the day before? Yesterday I was sunburnt on all exposed skin whilst riding the Triumph Bonneville, my wrists, my neck and even the open patch on my head when walking with a baseball cap. I am definitely not a sun worshipper because of ginger hair and freckles I tend to head for the shadows or hide under long sleeves and hats with big brims. Now twenty four hours later it’s raining, foggy and cold. Britain at its confusing best.
I had already planned the day on the bike, picture of the Abbey at Whitby from an angle and position not possible in a car thanks to restricted access, then off to Robin Hoods Bay to find some Red Shale as used by the Tudors to make Alum in the next seaside town of Ravenscar, which was going to be the last port of call before heading back for the Lancashire Hotpot I had prepared earlier in the slow cooker. Good plan if the weather was clear and warm, but it wasn’t.
The Abbey picture was lucky as the fog had cleared for a short while and I managed to take two great shots before the tour bus driver moaned at me for blocking his way, the passengers were more interested in the Triumph than the Abbey anyhow. Then off to Robin Hood Bay and forced parking with the other tourist at the top of the twisting 200 foot hill. Down at the foot of the hill I earmarked the cafe where lunch would be purchased but only after taking successful shots of the Red layers. Is it not true that nothing stays the same, not even beaches. Five years ago I found the outcrop of Red Shale and so I assumed I could walk straight up to it today. Not so. Sand has been added to the stony beach, the soft cliffs have eroded still further and seaweed has returned to cover up the rest. I wandered about, zig-zagging for about twenty minutes, but I was successful by finding the outcrop in totally different places I had imagined they would be. See the picture of the red shale lying over the black shale, a clear indication of extended heat and pressure in the prehistoric times. As you will know from my files about Alum production, it was the red shale and the seaweed plus the stale urine which became Henry’s crowning glory in the new industrial landscape still in the seeds before erupting in the Industrial revolution. Lunch was great, the 200 feet walk up the hill was not.
At the top of the hill the bike was surrounded by old classic Honda C50’s, everybody had one in the 1970’s, me too.
Fog had descended again but this time with rain, not to be beated I headed the 5 miles to Ravenscar along the cliff top roads. Cold, wet and slow is the best description of the journey. Soon the National Trust Visitors centre at Ravenscar appeared in the mist and I parked the steaming Triumph on the roadside before jumping the verge and clambering across the wet grass to the welcoming front door.
King Henry VIII’s picture welcomed me in, a rusting cast iron Tudor cannon and an enthusiastic gentleman behind the desk who turned out to have run a pub not two miles from my house, small world eh. He was a most knowledgeable historian and we talked about the Alum days of the site, the access to the sea for the “urine” barrels, the railway cutting into the rocks for the mules and trucks and the seaweed collecting for the potassium. Could not see any of these things as the fog now had come in thick and fast, not going to wander off down five hundred feet cliff in a fog, do I sound stupid?
Got some pictures and had a warming cup of coffee, shook my new friend’s hand and we parted. Now being twenty miles from the RV, in a cold, windy, wet fog this will take a while, and it certainly did, nearly one hour in third gear to be precise. All worth it as I not have a great record of the Alum works of Henry. Plus a bonus, yesterday I happened upon the potash mine near Staithes and found out that though still operating, it became prominent because of depletion of the seaweed in the Potassium making process. As you know Potash is Potassium and a natural source as well as from hardwood fire embers.
All in all a great day and more understanding of the world of Henry.
Now, what was that cannon for?
Answer: To keep the pier where loading and unloading of Urine, seaweed, potassium and finally the precious Alum Flour (Aluminium Sulphate), safe. Away from those nasty papists.
1st May 2011.
Wroxeter the Roman City, Shropshire. 83 miles from my base.
The potential cross winds today caused some cautious reduction in Bike speed, especially on the M6 motorway whilst crossing the ship canal on Baton Bridge. I was virtually leaning over to go straight, and still HGV’s and cars past me!
By the time I reached the A49 off the M56, I was exhausted and need to rest my aching arms. The rest of the journey through Cheshire and Shropshire to find the Roman City of Wroxeter near Shrewsbury was wonderful, no side winds and no rain. I did however become part of a huge swarm of bikers in their leathers upon fast race bikes heading for Oulton Park of a May day race. But suddenly alone again as I passed the entrance road to the track the ride became mine again. Lunch at the Two Henries pub in Shrewsbury and then off to the Roman excavations about a further ten miles.
A great day out for the Triumph, weather good by mid day and lots of great Shropshire roads.
Here is a collage of the Roman Ruins.
Much was learnt about drainage, brickwork and roofing. Clever these Roman’s.
Here are some pictures of how the city could have been like in the Roman period, then a collage of how it is today.
A must see for all history lovers, and a great bike ride.
12th April 2011.
Anybody with a modern digital camera will fire away at anything with interest, then dump to keep the best ones. I’m just the same but I always try over and over to get perfect sunset pictures. Here is my favourite one, taken on the beach at Harlech in West Wales two evenings ago. Beautiful.
The Triumph has been working hard lately, taking me around all the places I’ve marked on my research map, some are hard to find and most are hard to park near, so the bike was a perfect vehicle of choice.
So you may have noticed that I’ve been away again, some may say holidaying, some may say gadding-about, but I have been on a research tour planned to discover new facts and stories to tell. Things happen by chance, but most things should be planned and then chance can add value.
Here’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to these past two weeks.
1. See the reality of news reports about the Cumbrian Floods.
2. Find a Boulder stone rolled down from Scotland by the Glaciers.
3. Find dry stone walling with small inherited fields.
4. How a portcullis, double/triple gateway works.
5. How ships were built on the bed of a river between spring tides.
6. How the sea has diminished and left castles high and dry.
7. How ink was made from iron impregnated wood fossils.
8. How iron was made and the tools used.
9. How slates were mined and cut for house roofs.
10. How copper was extracted from its ore in Tudor days.
Then there were the website pictures for effect.
11. How to take a picture of a castle to look like the paintings.
12. Boat building on the river bed.
13. Catching a flag in the wind.
Then there are the lucky chances because you were there at the right time.
14. The end of a Dolphin’s life.
15. Crows on the Castle tower.
16. Looks great at night, but this is the latrines lit up by lights!
Latrines at night
Latrines by day.
It was a comment from a fellow photographer next to me in the lit up evening. "How does the stone colour so well at night?"
It was all I could to to stop laughing, "It's not the stone Sir, it's the Medieval S---". Hehehe. I love my job.
30th March 2011.
Hurray! Success at last with the transporting of the Triumph behind the RV. The MotoLug folding trailer is a huge success.
I had a great two days in Cumbria last week with the Triumph to take me locally to the places withing my research plan.
1. Find out more about Tudor Copper production
2. Find out about Slate dressing
3. Find a glacier boulder
4. See how Cumbria has survived the terrible floods.
Firstly the floods.
Rest to follow
22nd March 2011.
Always looking for an interesting ride on the Bonnie, I was taken by the sheer lack of real news on our local evening BBC offering. The theme of a long drawn out article about nothing was "where is Morecambe's centre?" Mind you with all the horrible news these days at least this ten minutes of nothing would take my mind of the normal tears and heartbreak of modern living. And it did.
I decided to test the theory and ride up to Morecambe to find the Centre. It took more than the journey time to actually discover that there is no actual town centre, but there is definately a spiritual one, not religious spirit I might add, but a spirit of hope.
The town has been upgraded on the sea-front, a wonderful piece of engingeering has built a sea defence which attracts people by the thousand to walk the walk and view the view.
Halfway down the walk and view, there is a bronze statue in its own little garden, overlooking the bay and Cumbria. This statue brings in many people just to smile and have there picture taken next to it, in fact I had to queue up just to take my picture. No other thing in Morecambe centres all the visitors like this statue. So I declare that Morecambe does have a centre, Not a town centre, but a centre of hope.
Eric, Eric Morecambe.
So here's a poem wot I wrote!
By Henry Tudor
My God! It’s true, Morecambe is without a real centre
This media marvel has brought in a vast crowd
Searching up close as soon as they enter
Not found, not there, they all shout aloud.
Don’t count the market within its hidden clad shell
Don’t count the white Midland, again a hotel
Don’t count the front shops with their candy floss smell
Don’t count the new beach as each tide tries to swell.
It’s not the new jetty with glorious sea view
It’s not the new lifeboat to save me and you
It’s not the bird sculptures aloft the stone block
It’s not the fresh gardens where visitors flock.
Not even the tower in green Polo attire
Not even the church with middling spire
Not even the bowling could cause me to yen
Not even the old station, now eat two for ten.
I found it! Not hidden, not disguised, not submerged
I needed a solution, a new view here was urged
Think lateral, think straight, think where could it be?
This elusive town centre was straight in front of me.
A centre of gravity need not be a middle
A centre of hope need not be in stone
A centre of past joy need only be in thought
He stands there to greet you, stands there alone.
One leg in prone position to bring on the smile
His glasses so crooked, it’s him by a mile
He left us too early, but back with a trick
Our bronze new town centre, our beloved Eric.
25th February 2011
It seems I’m reminiscing to a slowly reducing audience as my age group seem to be “passing on” as I have heard about two deaths of my past workmates and it makes me feel fairly vunerable, noticing the aches and pains of age, leaving the golf course at the 14th to reduce the backache etc.
Back to reminiscing, can you oldies out there remember your Meccano set? How many of you became Engineers from the background knowledge gained from those small square nuts and brass screws? Well I certainly was one, and not alone too. I can remember being 10 years old and saving up my pocket money to get the number 38 red bus into Manchester, head directly for the basement of Lewis’s store and purr over there sales collection of Meccano specials. Specials like universal joints, large blue three-spoke steering wheels and extra long angled iron beams. I was not alone, there was always a large crowd of boys and men, never any females. I spent all my money on Meccano.
Eventually the Beatles and girls took all my money, but Meccano has stayed in my brain, lost in practice but savoured in memory.
Now when searching for a Motorbike trailer with special effects, I came across the Motolug folding trailer, as made in Bacup and described in the previous article. It arrived today in three boxes, heavy and unassuming, a mystery to my wife and a fresh back ache when I shifted them to my side patio for inspection.
Getting all the necessary tools together was easy, meccano sets train the user to keep all tools separate from bits and separate bits into sections. This trailer was a giant meccano set, I cancelled my planned day out, and set about assembling this masterpiece of engineering out in the cool damp air with just a kneeling cushion to protect my aching limbs from the hard brick drive.
I rarely read instructions as a meccano brain can see the assembly in their heads, it seemed easy at first until I had to disassemble in order to fit bits I hade forgotten. Now came out the instructions. Start again.
Two hours later the trailer was complete. Once assembled it can be stripped into two halves, the axle assembly and the main chassis assembly to allow easy storage in both my brick garage and the RV rear garage. Reassembly is now just about 10 minutes.
Here are a few pictures taken whilst having recovery breather’s.
But I hope you all agree, what a great trailer, how it hold the Triumph, how it folds and hides in the garage, must have been an ex-meccano “designer” who thought this one up. I wonder if he was in the crowd at Lewis’s.
If you want the details of the trailer go see www.motolug.com
4th February 2011.
Don't mention trailers.
Ok, we all make mistakes and trailers are now haunting me.
Y'see, the bike does fit into the RV garage but no space is left for holiday parafinalia, like table, chairs, BBQ etc. And boy have I been reminded of it. So in a couple of weeks I'm having a towbar fitted and viewing a new folding bike trailer. The cost I'l whisper £xxxxx, shhh!
But hopefully now this year's travelling holiday will be so fabulous that all will be forgotten.Here's a little ditty which explains how much fun I'm having with the Triumph.
By Henry Tudor
Kick back the side stand, the weight now all mine
Lift up the clear visor, the air to refine.
Turn on the ignition, press the final tab
Fire up the engine, give gearbox a jab.
Look in all four directions, now let out the clutch
Rev up the power, but never too much.
Balanced now and moving, the air drifting in
Close down the front visor, protecting my chin.
Speed up now to second, third, fourth then to top
Fast now, but not speeding, no intention to stop.
Corner now appearing, must lean well and bank
Tighten knee grip and shoulders, grab polished fuel tank.
Down gear then go back up, to correct the past curve
Reduced my speed slightly, from slight loss of nerve.
It’s all quite exciting, just riding this bike
Back now to the old days, to transport I most like.
My Triumph I called Bonnie, has brightened my life
“Will cost you a fortune”, soon tutted my wife.
Not really, not actually, not plainly a joke
Don’t smoke nor drink gallons, a quite boring bloke.
Need something to fight for, now family have all gone
That gleaming new model, I knew was the one.
I could not resist it, the thought of new two wheel
My deposit secured it, the excitement so real.
I waited for ages for my prize bike to come
And now that I have got it, we’ve morphed into one.
So when you see us passing, out for a spin
Under that sealed-off clear visor, there’s a huge stupid grin.
I will never moan out loud about reversing the RV with a trailer hidden behind it, why supply ammunition?
20th August 2010.
Back again in England after 15 glorious days around Holland and Germany.
With castles on the agenda anything else would be an extra bonus, such as the greatest collection of motorbikes I have ever seen on the road and the largest bike ever!
Here it is with some of the smaller ones. It's a Honda by the way.
A visit to Cochem Castle revealed a medieval faire and these pictures of a blacksmith at work. I bought four nails for the theatre set.
By Henry Tudor
Holding the world together brings problems close to hand
Keeping the wheel a turning from axle and rim, to the land.
The Blacksmith solves these worries, he creates things made of steel
From horse-shoes up to armour, what he makes is hard and real.
His fire is made of charcoal, ignited then blown with air
He raises the metal up gently, to red heat and beyond, don’t stare.
He pounds the now hot, soft target, to the shape he see’s in his mind
Sparks and scales fly out wildly, too close and then you are blind.
He forms the basic of products, which everyone uses without fail
To hold together their household possessions he makes the square tapered nail.
But nails were so expensive, they would be used over and over again
Except in doors of large sizes, when deformed to stop movement of stem.
This would annoy the user if products, as nails should never be lost
But bent, crushed old door fastenings is a one-off purchasing cost.
The stress and strain in the metal would cause the old iron to fail
So, throw away the old forgings, they’re as dead as a door nail.
18th July 2010.
Yes it is true, Britain is changing away from its Engineering roots and grasping at service industries with worldwide sourcing of mechanical parts. It’s rare these days to actually meet an Engineer when not that long ago we were all over the place. This saddens me greatly, apprenticeships of more than ten minutes, “Bloggs and Son” now with sellable non person names and if successful the son has gone into property sales or banking. Passing on your Engineering business to your children is now not the norm, the kids want their own way away from the parents. So when I meet my parallel self over the motorbike park it is refreshing to find the old world again where design is by knowledge and skill without the exactness of computer files. New ideas, lateral thinking and human beings solving small household problems without a trolley at B&Q. Parallel world it certainly was, this biker had a unique four/three wheeler mid engine, chain driven, carbon fibre bodied machine. He also ran a Bonneville from his stable of motoring icons. Lifting his lateral car into its storage place is by electric winches, much the same as my system to load the bike into the RV. He is a retired Design Engineer, like me. He became a manager of an Engineering concern, like me. He even became a teacher, like me. Both in our sixties we had never met before yet we worked parallel in Bolton with the same kids. Now it’s getting spooky, I sent the kids in my school system to the skill centre he was director of, we never knew each other as our paths were parallel until we both broke the route and rode to Rivington barn this wet rainy morning where we crossed paths. He saw my Bonnie, I saw his strange car/bike. Funny old world.
The rain did not put me off, keeping the new bike clean is not on my agenda, it is there to ride and if I wear my waterproofs then the rain will definitely not stop me. It gave me the opportunity to test my new fly screen angle and see if the rain would be flung over my head from about 50 MPH, it did. So off I headed for the sun, seen over the coast from the hill of the Pennines and Southport became my day out. Only two Triumphs amongst a flurry of Harley’s at the Pier, same friendly faces, same coffee and same interesting conversations. The 11 year old Triumph Sprint was a credit to its owner, it looked new and the all black paintwork made it look very modern, it felt an honour to park the Bonnie next to his machine. This biker has an old Norton at home and that was the love of his bike world, another guy with a stable! I wonder if I should get a second bike and grow a stable, hmm that would be pushing my luck with Mrs biker.
Learned a couple of things today.
1. Get a lockable fuel tank cap as sugar will kill an engine if a spiteful person wants to cause you ill.
2. Fit a bar across your machine to stop side scratches if you fall off, or some idiot motorist pops out unexpectedly.
Gave out a bit of info.
1. Small fly-screens do work and do not create steering wobble. They can be adjusted to suit the speed when turbulence becomes annoying. Also can be had for an astonishing £22 from the internet, see www.getgeared.co.uk/Motorcycle_Parts/Motorcycle_Screens
And it works, I did expect as flimsy bit of perspex but was delighted to receive a well moulded, strong product in polycarbonate or maybe SAN. Definitely a good buy.
2. Auto chain oilers do work and are reasonably easy to fit for the Engineer. Triumph Bonneville mechanics told me to turn the central rear wheel bolt round to stop the feeder nozzle interfering. Listen to Engineers they solve problems.
16th July 2010.
Stone the Crows it costs £5 to drive in Tatton Park on a motorbike!
Stone the Crows.
By Henry Tudor
Crows were an acceptable meal in my day. But there were laws of ownership for their nesting places. If the nest was in your land they belonged to you, if you rented the land they belonged to the landlord. The high trees on the edge of a wood or forest is the favourite place for a crow to build a nest, it give them access to crops in the adjoining fields and any predator birds cannot swoop easily with open sides and a cluster of taller trees on the opposite side. So the positioning is quite clever and ends up as on the outer edges of woods or down tree lined roads. Catching the crows is the expertise of poachers who would smear glue on the branches whilst the birds are out hunting, catching them as they get stuck on their return. Getting them down would be the act of throwing stones or using a slingshot so as not to be seen in the act of stealing the Manor’s crows.
On the other negative side, the Crows devastated crops such as corn and various designs of scarecrow were developed by each Manor to keep their losses to a minimum. Here are some scarecrow designs. Can you make a modern technology scarecrow?
By Henry Tudor
Get out of my field you pesky Crow
Back to your tree for a stone to throw.
Leave this corn for my master’s meal
It is for him to eat, not for you to steal.
I would chase you if not made of wood
Old cloth draped, carrot face not really good.
Try to scare you, to keep you away
Windy days flap and you are at bay.
But sunny and calm I’m totally still
Now you come in and eat ‘til to your fill.
My master’s view is I’m not pulling my weight
Another scarecrow replaces me, sorry too late.
Having a toxic eye for detail, what is wrong about these scarecrows from a Tudor period point of view?
1. No red, too expensive a pigment and no fixing agent.
2. A Scottish cap? No way Jimmy.
3. Cotton? not yet on the market!
4. The clothes are clean, better than what the peasants wear, they would get stolen.
5. Buttons! What is a button?
As the Crow meat was favoured, the use of a scarecrow wold be rare, more like a trap to catch them would be used such as criss-crossing string over the crops to tangle the swooping bird.
See how deep you have to look to see the truth!
12th July 2010.
By Henry Tudor
A nod's as good as a wink! Rubbish.
You wink at a stranger in my part of the world, there is one of two outcomes about to come your way. Either a black eye or a date, no orientation unaccounted for.
But in my world, there is a nod for motor-homer’s and a nod for motor-biker’s. Both are different and depend which side of the road your country drives on.
Motor-homers come in three categories, they begin with caravanettes with rising roofs, moving to built on chassis with original cab front, then ending up with A-class machines built from the chassis up with no identity of motor-van shown. The acknowledgement to passing motor-homes in the opposite direction is the wave of the fingers from the top of the steering wheel usually followed by a large hand wave from their wife in the next seat. “Hey look we spent all our money as well”, “Like you we don’t care about causing traffic jams”, “On the road again, not working, not caring”. These are the unheard thoughts between the two drivers, OR “why did he not reply to my wave”, “I’m not a saddo. So don’t expect a wave”
It’s a sort of club, a member of the same clique, fellow followers.
Biker’s are different. Bikes are available for all kinds of riders, I never stop wandering how all bikes look different and have been added to, changed and adapted to the style of the owner, it really is a true world of individualism. Now one cannot wave as letting go of the handlebar is quite dangerous, nodding up and down with an aerodynamic helmet on looks stupid, so there is a standard nod for passing bikers. In left hand side roads we nod with a right slant towards the oncoming biker, left if in right-hand roads systems. This nod is significant it is saying only one thing and cannot be misinterpreted. “I love biking and it’s worth the risk”, a thought in all the heads of the avid rider. BUT, beware bikers out there, nod at a scooter, a small moped and you will not get a reply except maybe a hand signal. Now here’s a problem, what if there is a party of biker’s passing, do you nod at all of them or will the first initial nod be enough to satisfy the party? A world level problem if ever there was one. Nod at the first biker, a slow middle nod to spread amongst the group then nod at the last biker but don’t be upset if some miss nodding back as they don’t know who you are nodding at.
Now, when not to nod. Whatever you do on the road changes dramatically when in a biker showroom. A nod in there buys you something. For example, I took the Bonnie in for its 500 mile first free service. The salesman saw me coming, “what about a Scott Oiler for that chain maintenance, I nodded.” What about a central stand for added stability in the garage.” Again I nodded. Lastly, “What about a diagnostic system to look after the bikes electronics.” Mmmm I thought nodding approval.
Three hours later the bike’s oil changed, timing adjusted and all the nodded accessories added I rode home after paying £450 for the free service, too skint to nod to oncoming biker’s who seemed to understand. Too scared of asking how much a fly screen would cost and allowing the wind to buffet me instead.
Now today, I told my story to my new mates in the biker world whilst watching new bikes ride into the Rivington barn carpark, they nodded as they remembered their last visit to a bike dealer and still stroke the carrier, the back rest in their minds. Like them this is the path we chose and intend to ride it to the end, nodding all the way.
My nod to myself whilst riding, is the empty country lane, sunny day, no rush and the bike purring. The forward view has lower boundary of speedo and rev counter clocks with a shiny chrome headlight top. There is no greater feeling of freedom and I cannot stop a mental nod, “This is what it’s all about.”
5th June 2010.
Today it begins in earnest, Triumphant Entry Blog. My historical research recorded in diary format.
Here is the collection and first trail run of the new Triumph Bonneville 60. Enjoy.
The first ever ride out was planned for many weeks, must be the cafe on the beginning of Southport Pier, the North of England's Ace Cafe.
I parks gingerly next to another Bonneville T100 and met its rider, a great bloke from nearby Ainsdale. You would never believe his name was Henry, another History buff!
Here are the two Bonneville Buddies.
Pre-delivery of new Triumph Bonneville
The following articles summed up my 3 months of frustrating wait for the delivery of my new motorbike, still had to work but not on the wheels of choice.
A Triumphant beginning
History is all around us here in the UK, houses, castles, factories, mines and even Roman leftovers from their prompt departure back to defend their crumbling Empire. We forget and ignore our heritage in our normal run of the mill working lives, how many times have you looked out the car or bus window and thought “....my that’s an old house I really must try and go and see how it was built and figure out what kind of people lived there?” Nobody. Well that’s not really true there are the History buffs out there who are always on the lookout for a new gem to bore everyone with when they get to work or home, anoraks and I am definitely proud to be one of them.
However I’m not boring because I live history, I am King Henry VIII in the disguise of a 60 year old in 2010. I have purchased a motorcycle specifically aimed at the transport for me to engage in history hunting. Not just any old bike, but a limited edition retro Triumph Bonneville 900 which is designated the Bonneville 60 after the 1969 model it is designed around. Grey and blue, piped leather seating and wire wheels set this bike off from the modern variety of speed machine. Not being a fast bike but a very powerfully torque tuned cruiser, just the ticket for a sad old man to wander the lanes with his camera and netbook to produce a weekly commentary for the King website, www.Henrytudor.co.uk
Issue 1. Goodbye Vespa, hello Bonnie.
I have owned my Vespa for 9 years now, loved it to bits and kept it in the most immaculate condition in a dry garage. I’ve taken it all over Europe and the UK in the back of my RV to provide transport for trips out from caravan sites. Sad to see it go but looking forward to the new Triumph 60. The new bike has not been made yet, Triumph are numbering each sale in brass on the headstock out of a total 120 machines, very limited really and so I expect it to keep its value if I keep it in great condition. This has happened to the Vespa, keeping its purchase value for 9 years is something you never see, lots of interest in the sale on Ebay and offers already making it a sale in another 8 days time.
Here is my plan for this new column:
A new idea in travel documentation and research. I have always been a good researcher and look for depth in all I view, stories of old lives are much easier to find by being there and recreating scenes in ones mind. This sort of knowledge is indispensible when delivering a talk or answering a history question from a personal angle with accurate feelings. I intend to use the bike, take video and still pictures and have the bike in the foreground to give the whole column a themed style.
Triumph Entry is a pun on King Henry VIII entering his Palaces but actually will mean a report from the saddle of the Triumph Bonneville 60.
Not due to be delivered until April, this new column will begin next with the collection of the bike, to be named for the purpose of story lines, “Maggie” after Henry’s grandmother Margaret Beaufort who carried the Tudors into power with her charm and charisma but most of all with her strong low down negotiations, talk (torque).
Here’s the pictures of the outgoing and the incoming bikes.
Vespa PX 200
Truimph Bonneville 60 Limited edition.
Keep watching this space.
My planned 10 research areas for this year. Not in any order.
1. Margaret Beaufort, her plans and her successes.
2. Katherine Parr, Kendal Castle
3. Waterwheels in Tudor times.
4. Shepherd sticks, Tudor timekeeping and monastery technologists.
5. Hunting birds.
6. Paper making.
7. Mordants, Yorkshire.
8. Ink production, Norfolk.
9. Building methods, Cumbria.
10. Propaganda from Arthur Pendragon to Arthur Tudor, via Merlin’s Bridge.
11. Another visit to the Castle of Kleves in Germany
12. House construction. Various smaller visits.
Issue 2. Goodbye Vespa.
The Vespa has left the building.
Thanks to Ebay and the enthusiastic Vespa world out there the blue PX 200 which has been my mistress for the past nine years has moved on. I delivered the Vespa to its new owner, Chris, in Bradford yesterday. This man loves Vespa’s so I know this bike will live for many years yet if not decades, he lives scooters and is a member of the Vespa club, so I will keep an eye on their website for the old girl.
Now please don’t laugh. Stop thinking “get a life”, keeping a bit of your youth alive and kicking is a good thing, it is somewhere to return to when the modern world gets a bit hectic. I would get on the Vespa is a stressed mood, tired and frustrated with life in general. I would get off the bike an hour later, with a broad grin, no stress in my head and ready to give the old machine a clean and polish, my way of thanking the bike for the privilege of the journey.
I never had a journey on the Vespa, it was always an adventure.
It wasn’t you Vespa, it was me! I fell for the charms of a Triumph rebirth.
Sad eh! Well wouldn't you too? Come in Number 1 your time is just beginning.
Now it’s time to move on and I will decide today just what accessories the new bike will have.
Ideas so far:
Not a rear rack nor a rear box and this will lengthen the bike too much to get it into the RV, so side panniers. Not solid, plastic lockable panniers as they look too modern on a retro bike. So leather with two buckles and Triumph emblazoned on their sides.
Now if you remember my little thought some months ago when the idea of a new bike was swilling around my head, the notion of getting it passed “her in the Palace” came up. I now have to convince the Queen to ride the new bike and not be scared off by the shape or size of the machine. So, a backrest (Triumph called them "sissy bars") fitted especially for her as she claims they make her feel there is something behind her for protection. Mind you there are two to choose from Triumph, a low and a high one. The high one will look ridiculous when riding solo so I will make sure it’s the low one as the compromise.
I have weighed the bike by trying to get the dealers demonstration Bonneville into the RV. It is 100 Lbs heavier than the Vespa which was difficult enough at 400 Lbs to push up the ramp into the on-board garage. Now a 500 Lb machine will break my back and roll backwards over my body leaving a great looking tyre tread up my face. So I need a solution to this problem for the future success of this enterprise. To this end I have already ordered a new folding ramp which is longer and wider than the one I already have. The existing ramp will be fixed to the garage floor as a guide to take the bike to the end without someone holding the handle bars. Clever eh! Then here comes the lateral thinking, I will buy and fix a 12 volt winch on the RV garage ceiling to pull the bike in whilst I hold it upright at the back. Up the ramp and up to the end wall. Starting and stopping the winch will be solved by buying one with a remote control.
Drums roll, trumpets blast, the dream is created, the past is past.
Now must get to work converting the RV ready for April.
Issue 3. Winch me up before you go go.
It’s one of those Good news and Bad news moments.
I have ordered both the cissy-bar with backrest and the side panniers for the new Triumph. I ordered and received the very next day the 2,000 lbs capacity winch and found the cleverest device ever for such an enterprise, a jumpstarter.
The jumpstarter is a self contained 17ah battery, with charger which can be charged from both the mains or the cigar lighter in the RV, connect the red and black crocodile clips to the winch’s remote control and wallah the winch works. This is a huge bonus because the unit is actuall cheaper than buying the 17ah battery on its own! It can also be used for powering the computers via its 12volt output socket and to start the RV if the vehicle battery is flat. All this for £35 bargain. The winch was £54 with delivery so the cost is within my original thinking of about £200 for the whole job. Bought some wire and connection box now to fit the design.
One always has a change of direction when the design becomes a reality, I hade planned originally to mount the winch at ceiling level, but this will raise the front suspension when pulling the bike in, now mounting the winch at the floor will lower the front spring when pulling the bike in, this will aid the clearance of the brake handles upon entry from the doorway top.
Now for the bad news: The delivery of all these 120 limited edition Bonnevilles is June not April. JUNE, how will I cope without a bike, nothing to polish, purr over!
It took me a total of two hours to sort out the winch and fit it all together into the garage of the RV. Here is a picture of the final installation, boy am I pleased with the outcome and the low cost overall, £110 in total, bargain. It makes a great engineering noise when operating and will pull the 500 lb bike easily into place. Now the next design is the holding of the bike in situ whilst driving the RV. Have some ideas but am favouring the use of hinged tubes holding the handle bars horizontally and the old ramp to be screwed in place to the garage floor to guide the bike the distance unaided.
Great project, as I love gadgets.
Adding to the list of research targets this year, I am going back to Kleves in Germany this August and have decided to extend the trip to include a trip through the mountains to Colditz Castle and a tour around the WW2 prisoner's quarter, also visiting the town of the Pied Piper of Hamling. Should some great stories for the website.
Not wanting to undertake any of the research trips without the new bike, I really cannot wait until June before new sections are written, so I have decided to undertake the Kendal Castle topic by car. First in the agenda being just where was Katherine Parr born, was it Kendal Castle or Blackfriars in London. We will see.
Issue 4. Astley Hall Gatehouse construction. Chorley, Lancashire.
Many stories in this Hall, but wander down the grounds away from the actual hall and you will find a lovely timber framed gatehouse. Renovated due to a flooding many years ago from the fast flowing stream in its front garden, this house shows how the Tudor builders overcame problems of strength and heat dissipation. A timber assembly needs adjustment in the design of jointing, cold winters, hot summers will loosen a mortise and tennon joint and so a wedge system is needed to allow a tightening with a hammer blow. Then there is the problem of chimneys overheating from open wood fires. Whilst it was a sign of wealth to actually have a chimney in the first place, it was also a problem to stop brick cracking under intense heat. The solution was to pattern the chimney which showed off the wealth even more but mainly provided an increase in surface area for heat transfer into the atmosphere. Here are the pictures taken on this expedition, alas without the Bonneville which is still in the manufacturing state in the factory, see the stream, see the chimney and see the jointing wedges. I have drawn a section to show how the wedges tighten the joints.
Other things to notice about this house are the roofing stones, the smallish wattle panels and the positioning on the stream which indicated that this house was rich.
More to follow.
Next week I have found some valuable time off calendar and on the road to the Lake District. Targeting Kendal castle and Dove Cottage in Grasmere. The Castle hopefully will convince me of the actual birthplace of Katherine Parr, Dove cottage to find one of the first fridges.
Fridge? Well not exactly a big white box with Freon racing around transferring heat from the storage, but an earlier version of the technology. The food storage room was built over a fast flowing stream, stone slabs were used for the floor and the effect was to produce a cold room. Is that fascinating? Not today in 2010, but now go back to the days of the owner, William Wordsworth and you are describing the top end technology of a very rich man. To keep your food cool has always been the technology of the super rich, from Tudor Ice houses next to lakes to moving water under buildings. Super cool!
Mind you, Wordsworth did cut costs a bit with his woodwork, he had pitch pine coloured with pigs blood to resemble mahogany!
Pictures and story to follow by next Friday.
How many motorists believe that if you are driving a Honda Jazz, you must be old and senile? Well stop flashing your headlights or using your horn when I’m driving my wife’s Jazz. Just because you live your life at 100 mph does not mean other people would like to smell the roses too as they travel. Nonses. I passed the speeding black sports car as the driver was being booked by a motorway cop, the grin on my face was hurting and my cheeks nearly enveloped my entire head as I nodded approval. My wife, silently nodding and telepathically letting me know her disapproval at my childish antics, did not spoil the moment for me as I drove to Grasmere in Cumbria to visit Dove cottage. The sole intention of my visit was to understand the engineering involved in building a house with a cold room nearly three hundred years ago. No camera’s allowed in the house makes my blood curdle as I know from experience that the new digital flashes do no damage the pigments in paintings and the window in the room is more potent. But never mind they obviously want to sell a guide book and a camera without flash must not be in their minds.
Boy am I grumpy today!
Here is the technology for the cold room, though it did have a serious downside. It also cooled down the bedroom above the Buttery and Mrs Wordsworth papered the walls withhold copies of the Times to try and warm it up. I can hear William now, “must keep the ale cold, wrap up warm kids.”
Yes Butter would have been stored in the Buttery, Butt, sorry But it was named after the storage of Butts of Ale.
A one hour delay on the M6 on the return trip was in fact due to an unmanned road works and an unmanned bridge not being painted. Must be in England eh!
The International Motorbike Show G-Mex in Manchester.
I did most of my courting some 45 years ago on the saddle of my powder blue Vespa 150. My girlfriend, now my wife, put up with this machine as it was all the rage then and I didn’t have a car. Her poor knee’s were bright red after a trip on the pillion, cold wet and wind strewn, she hung on to dear life to be with me. For this I love her dearly. Then came the marriage, the mortgage and the kids which transformed the motoring into mass movement of objects and children with their accompanying prams and push chairs. You can never get the motorbike out of your system, the simple fact that a small frame with an engine strapped in between two wheels is the nearest a person can get to a Knight in shining armour on his or her horse. So then various commuter bikes entered my life as soon as my wife got her driving licence, the best excuse ever to buy a new bike is to tell her, “It’s so you can have the car dear!”
I cannot use that excuse these days as I drive around in the RV to and from gigs all over the UK and parts of Europe. But buying an RV with a large “garage” was a clear inspiration as it gave the opportunity to plant a bike in it for local transport from campsites. This has worked well and my wife, now a granny 6 times over, and I love buzzing around the country in far flung places without the need to actually ride there and find a tent. The ultimate bike of my dreams has always been a Triumph Bonneville and I have had to wait these 45 years from the day I got my licence, to be able to afford one and justify it to myself. Not a “born again biker”, just an “always been a biker but had to wait for the best”. I know there’s BMW and Harley fans out there who are now jumping up and down about their two wheel love affairs, but simple and powerful, strong and safe is how I look at my bikes. 68 BHP with lots of torque, smooth and steady with thick steel and leather, now that’s what I call heaven.
Here we both are, after a terrible sardine trip on a dirty train from town to city to visit the international Bike show at G-Mex in Manchester, I knew the shop where I ordered my bike would be there so I was going to remind them that June delivery was screwing with my head and could they try to speed it up. The show was great, clothing at half price so a pair of gloves and a tee shirt entered my carrier bag and a warm wet burger fed us both thanks to the water to help get it digested. How can a rider put a bike on the top of a van with one jump, then spin round on the front wheel and jump off again? The skills of the display rider Steve Colley are so high they are an art form. I’m just happy I can hold a bike upright at the traffic lights, this guy could do it without putting his foot down. Brilliant.
We rode back home, sat down separately on a full but not bursting, dirty train, high with enthusiasm about the thought that the Bonnie I sat on at the show fit me perfectly and we were going to have one in June. So you see, June is still the date. Here are some pictures taken before the camera battery drained, thanks to forgetting to charge it before we left home that morning. Still got some excellent shots though, but the memory of just sitting there on the display stand, a green and gold Bonnie T100 between my knees and that beautiful view of tank, clocks and chromed levers in front will stay with me forever.
Did the day inspire the usual corny poetry in my head? Sure did.
Re-Enter My World
By Henry Tudor
She’s been here before in youthful day
We married and loved, together we stay.
We rode our blue bike to places away
Until family ties, made our direction sway.
Now with age and position we live out our life
Grandad and Nanna, the man and his wife.
Their home is now big for two people to dwell
The family have left to find their own well.
We relive out our past life on bike after bike
It’s the freedom of self, the power we like.
She cuddles up close as the wind rushes by
My pillion granny with wind tears, now dry.
I care not what you think about us on two wheel
Not born again, but forever, this bike makes us feel.
We are young again when riding, together always
My wife is my best friend, real love always stays.
New machine on show.
Old machines still in their glory.
A great place for a day out on your motorbike/car is Carsington lake in Derbyshire. Great facilities and art, take the 8.5 mile stroll around and see the woodwork!
Met another RV biker today, he was about 70 years old and had a trials converted Triumph Tiger Cub in the back of his van. He and his wife travel over the UK for competitions and were on their way back from Scotland. My kind of people, living their dream and quietly getting on with it. Brrm.