I will always reply to comments and always re-reply to re-replies.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


    It was a very snowy February in 1962. We had been married for about 3 years, money was short and I had sold my last bike, a Douglas Dragonfly, to cover wedding costs.

    I was desperate for another bike but they were all far out of my financial reach. A local old boy, quite a character, Percy Webb, did bike repairs in his old garage, one of a block and I was fossicking around behind it. There, almost covered in the snow from the roof was an old motorcycle! No wheels or headlamp, but otherwise looking complete. I scraped away the snow and saw the magic “Sunbeam”on the black tank – a 1937 350cc model.

    I went back when Percy was in residence (he worked when he felt like it and had not gone fishing!) and enquired if he might sell it. He sucked on the ever present pipe, said the bike worked before he had “stored” it , thought he had the wheels “somewhere” and suggested £5. I was earning about £7.00 - £8.00 a week then and we had a young child, too. It was out of my reach but he said I could pay him for it at 10 shillings (50pence) a week if I liked. That clinched it.

    A week later I went back – he had found the wheels and refitted them. The first ten shilling note changed hands and I pushed that old bike the 2 miles home through the snow-bound streets , almost sick with joy at having a bike again.

    Once home (down the back alley and into the shed of our terraced cottage) I stripped it down and repainted it with a brush and Japlac enamel. It was my first “restoration” of many since, but the most memorable. Nothing mechanical was done to it – it worked and I could not afford any outlay. But it went OK although I seem to remember some play in the front fork area.

    That little old Sunbeam gave me immense pleasure over about 2 years, when I sold it on to a young lad for his commute to work, for a whole £10 (£5 profit – those were the days!). It never let him down.

    48 bikes later and arthritis has led me to exchange my BMW R100 for a new, lighter Royal Enfield Bullet EFI (nostalgia for the 3 Bullets I had in the ‘60s), but it is always that old Sunbeam that sticks in the memory!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I have always enjoyed my cycling as much as my motorcycling, but in a different way. Most Sundays I meet up with Peter, an old cycling friend of similar age (74) for a leisurely coffee and cycle across Romney Marsh for a pub lunch together. The round trip takes in about 40 miles - unlike the 100 mile days of my youth, but still leaving my increasingly arthritic knees recognising every mile travelled on reaching home.

Peter suffers from an arthritic back and a few weeks ago arrived at our rendezvous, rather sheepishly, on an electrically assisted bicycle. The assistance can be switched on when required as steep hills appear. As he was leaving me behind on hills I fell to consideration of the advantages of such a machine to those of approaching age.

Amongst other good advice, the poem "Desiderata" exhorts us to: "Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth". I have a selection of bicycles and a web search showed that I could purchase a conversion kit for about £500, rather than a complete new electric bicycle for about £1,500, so I took the poem's advice, bought the kit and spent a couple of days converting the Claud Butler.

A revelation! One hardly realises it is fitted. The motor is in the front wheel and the battery slides horizontally between the panniers. At the press of a switch it is if a gale force tail wind has arrived to help. The act of pedalling keeps the motor assisting and in this mode the battery would last about 30 miles. However I don't use it on the flat so 70 - 80 miles would be perfectly possible in a day.

I shall still keep the other 4 bikes in the stable though!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I think that this needs sharing with you all - quite wonderful. The childrens' reactions  are an affirmation of the effect of good music.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


A while since I wrote anything here. R.R. at Tone Deaf was kind enough to enquire if my silence spelt "bad news" and I was happy to re-assure him that all is well with me.
In fact life has been pleasant. Our daughter and husband have been over for 6 weeks from Australia. I am still riding bicycles and motorcycles.
My last post mentioned using £1600 proceeds from the sale of my BMW motorcycle to buy hearing aids. Fortunately these were on a "try or return" basis. I tried, considered I can easily do without them, and returned them for a full refund.
Then, whilst browsing eBay, I saw this:
Readers of earlier posts may remember my extolling the delights of a blue one of similar make. However, this is the latest model. European emission laws mean it comes with a completely new fuel injection engine (hydraulic tappets and self adjusting primary chain). Although a 2009 model it had only managed 500 miles before the purchaser took ill and laid it up. He eventually died and it was being sold by his executor. Too good to miss, I raided the piggy bank, hired a bike trailer and took off for Leicester to buy it.
This meant that I now had two Enfields, so the blue one went on eBay and was bought by a man from Belgium who came over for the day to buy it (he was going to buy one in Germany, but Kent, UK, via the Channel Tunnel, was closer and quicker).
The sale of that, plus the proceeds from the BMW sale covered the cost of the black beauty. ("Traditional" motorcycles always look better in black/gold, I feel)
A satisfactory result all round.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I have owned my beloved BMW motorcycle for 25 years - one could say we have grown old together. One could also say that the motorcycle is in better condition these days than its owner! Encroaching arthritis has meant its weight and riding position (heavy on the wrists and hands) is becoming a nuisance, so  I came to consider that discretion is the better part of valour and reluctantly decided to sell it. After all, I still have the lighter Royal Enfield to play with and the Honda Scooter for comfort and convenience.

So I put it on eBay for £1,600 - it sold within 3 hours! A delighted new owner came to pick it up a week later - it was not the happiest day of my life owning motorcycles!

I have ridden motorcycles for 55 years and it is only in the last 20 or so that riders have become increasingly aware of the damage that wind roar can do to the hearing (akin to the sound of a jet taking off nearby) and have started wearing ear plugs when riding.

The moral of all this is that my hearing has deteriorated to the extent that it needs help. The £1,600 I got for the BMW has exactly paid for my smart new hearing aids! Ironical!

Monday, February 13, 2012


What constitutes "posh" music? There has been some discussion recently about this subject on the musical blog "Tone Deaf".

It is not, necessarily, inaccessible music and an inspired teacher can make classical music understandable to some who would never have considered it.

I always found that impenetrable character T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia), a.k.a. T.E.Shaw, fascinating. This letter he sent to Sir Edward Elgar covers the subject beautifully, I think.

Monday, February 06, 2012


Those who have honoured me by visiting this blog over the years will know that from December to March I tend towards hibernation as symptoms of SAD tend to overcome me.However the sudden heavy snows which we experienced overnight led me to poke out my nose, leave my Black Dog in the kennel and enjoy (yes!) a ramble with Rex the Dog. As he enters our woods his first act is to survey it for squirrels to run after (he never catches one), but they were not in evidence today, sensibly staying warm and cosy within their winter quarters.
"Now - where are those squirrels"
The wood was glorious in its winter coat. The snow being of a sticky rather than powdery nature meant that there was an “icing on the cake” effect

There was even a touch of “Lowry” evident!

Then home to warmth and a whisky mac – a pleasant interlude to shorten my hibernation period.