Monday, 21 October 2019


Today is the anniversary of the day a village in South Wales died. I'm not going to write about it here, because if you don't already know about it, you can Google it. I'm just going to post a small poem that echoes what I remember feeling at the time, and which, for me, was another nail in the coffin of faith beliefs.

written in 1966 by local poet, Ron Cook.
Where was God that fateful day
At the place called Aberfan.
When the world stood still and the mountain
Moved through the folly of mortal man.
In the morning hush so cold and stark
And grey skys overhead.
When the mountain moved its awesome mass
To leave generations of dead.
Where was God the people cried
Their features grim and bleak.
Somewhere on their knees in prayer
And many could not speak.
The silence so still like something unreal
Hung on the morning air.
And people muttered in whisper tones
Oh God this isn’t fair.
The utter waste of childhood dreams
Of hope and aspirations.
A bitter lesson to be learnt for future generations

But where was God the people cried.
The reason none could say
For when the mountain moved its awesome mass.
God looked the other way.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Friends. friendship, and the internet

We often take it for granted, but the internet is an amazing thing. And so is making friends for a lifetime. Just sometimes, you make a good friend over the internet, from the other side of the world. You may never ever meet, but you know that person would be there for you if you were in trouble. It started with my bike forum, and has lasted almost twenty years. I've 'watched' his three daughters grow into beautiful young women, and shared the highs and lows of his job climbing telegraph poles in the outback

Over the years, I've made many friends through my love of motorcycles - shared interest and all that. But I've made many, very good friends, through using forums and social media on the internet. Strangely though, some of the closest have been with people from my husband's forums, rather than my own.

Sure, I've made a lot of long-term friendships via the Hornet's Nest, and a lot of them, I do know personally. Some, I have never met, and are never likely to. One of the sweetest people I know, is from a forum dedicated to a bike that I don't even like! Fortunately, he doesn't live too far away, so we do get to see him on a reasonably frequent basis.

Through the same forum, we made friends with a couple from Germany, who ended up coming to stay with us last summer. Complete strangers when they arrived, they left as good friends.

Then there was the gentleman from Texas. When my husband had a bad accident, and it looked for a while as though he might lose a foot, let alone never be able to ride a motorcycle again, he naturally suffered from very bad depression. This particular friend, took time out from his busy life to phone Dick in hospital - a phone call that lasted a good half hour, and completely lifted his spirits.

Friends like these are hard to come by, and should be cherished above all things. Yes, you may never meet, but they are every bit as precious as the person next door, or down the road

And infinitely more precious than some family

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Update on the rest of my garage.

Writing about my new CB650R, it occurred to me, that with the exception of Twinkle, my little CB125F, I haven't updated you on everything else.

Well, the Ole Man is currently riding a Honda VFR800X CrossRunner. Yes, after 5 years, he's finally sufficiently recovered from his injuries to ride a big bike again. Sadly though, at 72 years of age, this will probably be his last big bike, as he is finding the weight when manhandling it, is getting a bit too much, so later on, I expect him to go back to something like the CB500X. The difference this time, is that it will be his choice, not something forced on him by an inconsiderate car driver. In the meantime, this is it:

Now, I've mentioned Twinkle before - our little CB125F that we bought as a town runabout. Problem is, on sunny days, when we had nothing better to do, one or the other of us would take it out for a spin round the country lanes, and Romney Marshes. 

Problem is, there are times when it would be nice if we could both go out for a lazy ride, and only one of us could at any one time. We looked at getting another CB125F, but then Honda threw a spanner in the works by introducing the Z125 Monkey. How could we resist? So, meet Chuckles:

A tiny package of bouncing energy and tremendous fun! Now the only arguments revolve around who's riding which bike!

Moving on - upwards or backwards?

It's been a lifetime since I lasted posted, and when I last did, it was about my disappointment with the CB650F that I had bought. I thought it would give me what I've been looking for in a middleweight, and it didn't.
I wanted something that felt 'right', a bike with soul, like the Hornets, that gave me an ear-to-ear grin as soon as I wheeled it out of the garage. Instead, I ended up with a bike that has masses of performance, but which left me feeling dissatisfied and uninspired.

Well, it's gone. To be replaced with a bike from Honda's new Neo Sport Cafe range, the new CB650R. LOL, there's nothing Neo, Sport or Cafe about it. But what it is, is a complete replacement for the Hornets. It's fast, compact, and Fun. I ordered it before it was launched, having never seen one. It was a last ditch attempt to find a bike I liked, and thank Heavens, the gamble has paid off.

From the moment I sat on it, it felt right. The ergonomics are perfect for me, although I do have reservations about the handlebars. They're not quite as high and wide as I normally have, to compensate for my poorly bent wrists. But I've been resisting changing them because the bike just feels so good. The inclusion of a slipper clutch compensates a little, so for the moment, it will stay as it is.

It's fast, light, comfortable, and has soul in buckets. It pleases me.

In fact, I don't know why Honda didn't just put Hornet stickers on it, and be done.

So, meet Vincent..........................

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Getting on with my project

Thought you might like to see my latest WIP. I started it a couple of years ago, as a present for my Other Half, but it's been a bit neglected since, with so many other things to do. About time I made some more improvements to it...................

I'm not over happy with the workbench. It was made out of lollipop sticks, but it looks a bit clunky, so I might have another go. I need to make or source more supplies for the shelves too, and get some more tools. Oh well, it'll keep me busy for a while

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Improvement? or Liability?

Both bike and car manufacturers are guilty.

They 'improve' vehicles all the time, but to my mind, the vehicles are not necessarily better for it.
Take the Honda range. Honda get a good idea and produce a motorcycle that's the best there is at the time - easy to ride, great fun, and with as much power as you realistically need on today's roads.
Then they 'improve' it, and what you end up with is a bike that, yes, is superior technically, but nowhere near as much fun to ride.
They did it with the VFR750. An absolutly brilliant bike to ride. Until they turned it into the VFR800. Superior technically - and as bland as f***.
The Honda Hornet, probably my favourite bike of all time, was fast, at times a little unstable, indisputably quirky, and responsible for thousands of insane grins on riders' faces.
This is now replaced by the CB650F, which for my sins, I bought.

It certainly outperforms the old Hornet in most respects, but I find it bland and uninspiring.

But my biggest gripe is with technical advancement. They are gradually whittling away at the skills required to drive or ride these modern vehicles. It started with indicators - no longer did you have to learn how to manage a motorcycle with one hand whilst using the other to signal your intentions. Then came electric start, ABS etc. etc. Now you no longer have to know how to pull a bike back on compression and deliver that swift sharp jab to get it going, and your bike makes decisions for you as to whether you're braking too hard or not. When I started riding, if you made a mistake and fell over, you learned damned quick never to make the same mistake again, and by doing so, you gained a greater knowledge of the physics involved in riding a bike, and an acute awareness of road conditions etc.

I can hear you all now yelling safety, safety............yes, I'll grant you that but.................

We now are looking at cars that drive themselves, bikes that can't topple over, and where will it all end? My concern is, vehicles can fail mechanically, electrically, electronically and if we're all relying on our vehicles to perform for us, what happens when something goes wrong? Who will have the knowledge and skill to cope with an emergency situation?

Now the use of satnavs is set to become part of the driving test. It has been shown more than once that people rely on their satnavs at the expense of correctly reading road signs. There's an inherent danger in too much technology, it seems to me.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Book review - Company of Liars - Karen Maitland

I've been a bit lax lately with doing book reviews. It's not that I haven't been reading, quite the opposite in fact. It's more that what I've been reading would have very limited appeal to the folks who read this blog.

Enough! Back to this tome. This is a book which is hard to categorise. Set during the plague of 1349, which decimated the English population, it's part historical novel, part fantasy. It resembles, in its concept, The Canterbury Tales, in as much as it concerns a group of people thrown together by circumstance, and each with a tale to tell.

Whereas the travellers in Marlowe's book join forces with the intention of a pilgrimage to Canterbury, and they pass their time be story-telling, these nine travellers are all trying to escape the plague which is quickly working its' way up from the South of England.

As they journey on, the reasons for their travelling begin to be revealed, by the help of a fey girl who reads runes. The stories that emerge often prove that back then, people were no different to people now in a lot of respects.

The stories are sometimes gruesome, often sad. Death and sorrow stalk their journey. Told from the point of view of Camelot, a seller of holy relics, the book ends with a totally unforseen twist - unforseen, but hinted at during one encounter.

It's well written and fast paced, and to be honest, I found it difficult to put down, reading it cover to cover in just 3 days, even though it is a tome of over 500 pages.

Well worth seeking out

Saturday, 23 September 2017

This new bike of mine....

Some people will know that, for reasons beyond my control, I had to part with my last Hornet a year ago. I've spent a year riding a CB500 (actually a nice bike - for an A2 licence holder)
For the past 3 months, I've been the owner of a CB650F sure as hell ain't a Hornet

It's a good bike, it's competent, handles well, has better fuel consumption (typically 60-65 mpg). I like the why don't I like the bike?

Simply that - it ain't a Hornet.

I don't get that buzz when I push it out of the garage in the morning.
I don't get that ear-to-ear grin when I'm chucking it through the twisties.

It's a Honda, it's a brilliant bike. It's reliable. It does what it says on the tin

It's souless AND IT AIN'T A HORNET

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Book Review - The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton

In pride of place in my lounge stands a dollshouse; a beautiful 1:12 scale replica of an Art Deco house, time-frozen in 1938.
I bought this book at a discount shop, looking for some light reading and the subject matter making me believe that it would appeal to me.
My house is full of beautiful artisan-made articles, bought when money was easier, and costing many hundreds of pounds. And this book is equally full of wonderfully crafted descriptions and intrigues
I was not prepared for the sheer depth of this skillfully written story. Set in mid-17th. Century Amsterdam, at the point where the power of the Dutch East India Company was just beginning to turn, it is a story of intrigue, cruelty, and other-worldliness.
I thought it would be a book that would only appeal to like-minded people with an interest in miniatures, but I believe it will appeal to anybody who wants a good story.
It concerns a young girl from a faded genteel family, who marries a rich man who loves her, but does not want her, and his wedding present to her - a replica of their house in a cabinet, and the miniatures that she receives to furnish it,
I'm trying very hard not to give a clue as to the significense of these miniatures - to do so would be to ruin the drama, twists and turns of the story
Just go buy or borrow a copy and read it. You won't regret it

If I could give it a 6 I would, but as my top mark is 5, it must be 5/5

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The end of an era...............

Well, today, with a few twinges of sadness and regret, I watched a young lady ride away on what was my Honda Hornet, Jack. I hope she treats him well
I've lived with Hornets for the last 18 years, and for me, no motorcycle has performed consistently so well. But all good things must come to an end, and so it was, I regretably decided to part with my last Hornet.
I bought my first one, the first one in the country sold to a member of the public, on my birthday in 1998 - one of a very few Hornets to be 'R' registered.

Sadly, this was written off after only 4 months, by a stupid lady in a Porsche, who was too busy talking on her mobile to notice me at a standstill in front of her.
I'd already got a great liking for this small, but brilliant bike, so it was replaced by an identical machine.
Well, it may have been identical to start with, but it evolved into the LittleInsect, one of the most well-known Hornets in the country, and elsewhere

I won't bore you with the technicalities, but suffice it to say, that it was all carbon fibre and titanium, and tuned up to the hilt, and featured many unique one-off parts that weren't available on the open market. Even the rear light was unique.................(here pictured before the rear bodywork was remodelled in carbon)

After 14 years and 169,000 miles, it was wearing out, and so I reluctantly decided to part with it. Problem was, I couldn't stand the thought of anybody else riding it, so what to do? It was de-registered and totally taken apart and destroyed. You may consider that a waste, but I don't
Of course, after all those years, it just had to be another Hornet, and so I moved onto the latest evolution of the model.
Being me, I couldn't have just any old Hornet, could I? Nope, mine was one of only 2 to be done in the paint design for the Anniversary FireBlade. Meet Jack.........

After 4 years, and many more happy Hornet miles, my circumstances changed. Now retired and living on a pension, with health problems, I need something cheaper to run, and easier on my wrists.
I've opted for a Honda CB500F - a twin, as opposed to the four (so half the servicing costs) and a remarkable 80mpg, as opposed to 50-ish

But of course, did I settle for red or black? What do you think?