Monday, 26 April 2010


My favourite past-time, when I can't ride the bikes, is any sort of craftwork. I make all my own greetings cards, some presents, and basically, do anything anyone asks me to do. I embroider, crochet, make lace, paint - you name it. The one thing I can't do, however, is knit. Mum tried to teach me, but found it too difficult, because I suffer from being extremely left-handed - almost to the exclusion of using my right hand - or 'sinister', as the ancient Romans would have it!

If I haven't got anything better to do, I 'paint' needle portraits of my friends on their bikes..........

This is New Zealander, Adam Donovan racing in the Isle of Man TT

This one was still in progress when the picture was taken - Dennis Hobbs, BSB Privateer at Mallory Park...............

.....and friend Matt, putting his 900 Hornet around Snetterton

Each one takes me about 4 months of hard labour to complete, averaging about 70,000 stitches per picture. I've done more than this, but for obvious reasons, not many!

Blog Extra!

My hero in life -

Steve Jones

Sunday, 25 April 2010


I've had this hanging on my bedroom wall since I was about 17, and it's still as meaningful and relevant in this cruel, mixed-up world today, as it was back when I was a young thing, full of high ideals

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann

Ok, so that's the piece of prose. If you're not interested in serious commentary, then don't bother reading the rest of this post.

I was baptised into the Congregational (now known as 'United Reform') church, but Christianity has never done it for me.
So, during my 'hippy period' in the late 60s, I spent a lot of time looking at other religions, and trying to find something that echoed the way I felt, and indeed, still feel. Did I find it? Well, not completely.

All religions have something to offer, but no one religion has everything that I need, or perceive to be true.
I'm not a Christian, but I do believe in a Supreme Being - you can call him God, Allah, Jehovah, or whatever you like. As long as there's still unanswered questions in the Universe, man will always need a final solution to believe in. Who was it said, 'if God didn't exist, man would invent him'? So true.

The nearest I have ever found to echo my beliefs, is the Rada Krishna Temple. So many people dismiss them as freaks, a by-blow of the whole hippy movement. But they have a valid outlook on life, and a valid way of living it.

Desiderata - Latin for "desired things", plural of desideratum

So what do I desire out of life?

I'm a pacifist, so naturally I desire Peace On Earth. It's all too easy to trot out such platitudes, but some of us really believe in it.
Almost all wars, throughout history, have been fought in the name of this or that religion. If you think about it, war, or conflict of any kind, comes out of one person believing that they are right, and others are wrong. Whatever happened to acceptance and celebration of our differences? Why must we always seek to make others more like ourselves?

Having said that, of course, there are some things that should never be tolerated - abuse of any kind, verbal or physical, cruelty and injustice.

I enjoy the company of others. I'm gregarious by nature, to an extent, but I still need my own space, and take pleasure in my own solitude at times. So I take short trips away, on my own, to recharge my batteries, and recover my sense of self, and purpose. Much of this time away, I spend riding strange roads, discovering new places. But every now and then, I delight in finding a spot away from civilization, and just sitting, looking at the beauty of the scenery, and allowing my thoughts to wander where they will.

I'm an environmentalist. Like many people of my generation, in my youth I joined Greenpeace. My teenage years were really the first time in history that young people found their own voice. So there was always this or that organisation to join. I gave up Greenpeace when they started to forgo their pacifist ways, and used more violent scenarios to make their point.

Doesn't stop me feeling though, that mankind is bad for this planet, or that we could, and should, be doing a whole lot more to protect it. So, I do what I can, in my own small way, to help. Like adopting a tiger in India. He's called Roque. Tigers have almost been wiped out by man's greed, Some species have disappeared, and all of the others are seriously endangered. That can't be right.

The big hero for me at that time, was Dr. Martin Luther King. One thing I will never stop believing in, is equality, irrespective of race, colour, creed, gender or sexual preference. Why should one human being be preferred over another just because they're the same as you, and not something different? Sadly, after his death, his movement was run along far more militant lines, and so I droppped out.

Again, most of the organisations around that era offered something, but not everything that I related to, and most went too far. The Equal Rights for Women movement, for example. Yes, if a woman does the same job as a man, she should get equal pay, but that's as far as it goes for me.If she expects equal pay, then she must perform equal tasks. If she can't do that, whether physically, or mentally, then she must expect less.

The only organisation from that period of my life that I've stuck with, is Amnesty International.

I could go on and on about beliefs and creeeds etc., but this blog is becoming wayyyyy too long. No doubt I shall be returning to these thoughts at some point in the future

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


This is 'Warning' - a poem by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple

OK, so maybe I won't wear purple, but I WILL continue to wear my bike gear, and ride my bike. This poem really sums up my attitude to life. I REFUSE to be dictated to by other people, or by what's trendy for 'women of a certain age'

I have to wear respectable clothes for work. The dress code is 'business casual', which means I can get away with wearing trousers (of the smart plain black variety), but not a lot else.

Haha, but if you want to see rebellion, check out the fluorescent socks, which are also often odd!

Monday, 19 April 2010


I love castles.
Big ones, small ones....any size. The very word 'castle' conjures up images of knights in armour, damsels in distress, the age of chivalry etc.
Some castles (Edinburgh, Warwick, Windsor etc.) are huge and spectacular. They offer so much to the tourist. Often a whole day can be spent exploring them, and learning about their history.
Sometimes though, it is the smaller ones, even those in ruins, that seem to hold the most magical atmosphere.
I hope some of the following pictures will encourage you to explore the world of days gone by..........

This is Tintagel in Cornwall. Once the legendary home of King Arthur, in reality a castle belonging to King Mark of Cornwall, from roughly the same period.

OK, not so much to see, but the views from where it perches on its' rocky outcrop, are spectacular

Another ruin, this time Corfe Castle in Dorset

Some castles, of course, are not that old. The Victorians had a great penchant for gothic castles. Hence Durleston, also in Dorset

Whilst we're in Dorset - this is one of my favourites. Lulworth Castle. It suffered a huge fire in the early 20th. Century, when it was completely gutted. Since then, it has been reroofed and had new windows put in, but the interior has been left as a shell. This has resulted in a fascinating insight into how people lived. Because the fire started in the underground kitchens and spread upwards, you can see how the castle was built at the lower levels, right up to the 20th. Century decor at the top.

Caerphilly Castle is the second largest castle in the UK, after Windsor. The Walls are impressive beyond belief, and the whole is surrounded by huge lakes.

Also in Wales, Raglan Castle

Germany, and in particular, the Rhine Valley is full of the most wonderful fairy-tale castles. I'll ignore Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, because everybody knows that one. This is Drachenfels

Back to England, and my home county of Kent. Hever Castle was the home of Anne Boleyn, and is a truly marvellous vision.

It is surrounded by a 'medieval' village, that is entirely a 20th. Century creation, but does nothing to detract from the beauty of the setting.

Of course, probably one of the most famous castles in the world, is the Tower of London. Anyone for a beheading?

If you want remote and spectacular, then there is nowhere that fits that description more than Bamburgh, on the north east coast of Nortumberland. This is another castle with Arthurian connections, said to be the site of Sir Lancelot's Joyeuse Garde.

Probably the most photographed castle in the UK is this next one. Eilean Donan in Scotland.

Nevertheless, the most famous castle in Scotland is Edinburgh

Again, closer to home - in Sussex, this is Arundel. Aa well as being impressive on the outside, the library is one of the most remarkable rooms I've ever found in a castle. I'll let you discover it for yourselves though.

Now to Chepstow, Monmouthshire. It's built in a loop of the River Wye, right in the centre of Chepstow town. It's easy to see how the little town grew organically at the foot of the massive walls.

Also in Wales, is Penrhyn. This is another of those Victorian Gothic fake castles - a little more authentic looking than some

Back to England, and Warwick Castle. Rightly so, this has won many awards for being the best historical tourist attraction in the country. This one really does take all day. There's just so much to see and do.

Back to Wales, and little Skenfrith Castle. This is just a tiny ruin, set amidst half a dozen little cottages in the middle of nowhere. It's free to get in, because, basically, there's nothing to see. But oh, the atmosephere........

I've been to many more castles, this is just a sample. I hope it serves to whet your appetite.


For the past couple of years or so, I've been researching both mine and my husband's family tree.
At first, I was a bit half-hearted about it, but as time has gone on, I've started to get really involved. I've managed to get 2 branches back to the mid-1500's, and one branch back to 1340!

Ploughing through huge amounts of parish records, has turned up some fascinating details about both our families. For instance, quite a few of his emigrated to Australia - and not purely by choice! Whereas, some of mine were hanged for being smugglers in Kent and Susssex.

I already knew that my maternal grandmother's family were show-folk and gypsies, so there were few surprises there.

But it has been some of the finer details that have affected me most. For example, over 3 generations, three of my husband's relatives committed suicide. The strange thing was, they were all called John. I hope that's a lesson to anyone in his family who is currently expecting a baby!

But it was the baptism records for one small Kent village that had me laughing and crying alternately. comments like...........

'Baptism: George - sone of ye known Hore' (that was from the late 1500's) that one made me giggle, despite myself.

But the saddest?.............

'Baptism: twins. one a male child being called Simon, the other having no name, being called a creature'

That one had me puzzled, and left me feeling slightly disgusted. After a lot of thought, I came up with a plausible (although very sad) answer. Spina Biffida is very prevalent in my mother's family, and it has resulted in some terrible disabilities, even in my lifetime. It is possible that one twin was so severely deformed, that it could not even be sexed, let alone named.

I intend to carry on my investigations. If nothing else, it gives me an excuse to go ride my motorcycle all over the county, with the pretext of 'research' ;)

Blood Red

Sitting on the riverbank, dreaming, was something she really enjoyed doing. Especially as now, with the sun setting in a blood red sky, and the soft, warm breeze making the slightest of ripples in the dark waters.The river seemed full of roses, deep, blood red roses.
'Why all those roses?' she thought
'Do you not know?' whispered The Voice

The sighing breeze gently stirred the surface of the sluggish river, and she could see a black hearse, pulled by four black horses, the coffin covered in those same blood red roses.
'Has someone died?' she questioned wordlessly
'Do you not know?' again the whispering voice.

The sun was setting fast, and when the breeze came this time, it felt a little chill. She pulled her cardigan tighter around her shoulders, and stood up, brushing the grass from her skirt.'Time for home' she thought .......

She sat at her dressing table, idly brushing her red hair, and wondering if dinner with his boss was going to be as boring as he said it would be. Still, he said he would drive, so at least she could have a glass or two of wine, red if she was lucky.
'I bought a new shirt for tonight'
He came into the bedroom, holding up a new, blood red shirt..................................


Names........what we call people, or things. A name is unique to that person/thing, and is the easiest way of identifying someone or something.I've no doubt some of you have noticed the picture of the rear light of one of my motorcycles at the top of my blog. I know I'm not the only one, but I've always given my bikes names. I'm a great believer in inanimate objects having personalities. And if that is so, then that personality should have a distinctive name.Currently, my four bikes are the LittleInsect, Terry, PanDora and Dolly.
Well, to start with the simplest - Dolly - is a Honda Deauville. She is very definitely a 'she'; mild-mannered, reliable, trustworthy, if a little bit of a 'Plain Jane'. She's the workhorse of the family. She does housewifely things like going shopping, and being used as the family taxi.
PanDora is a Honda Pan European. We resisted the obvious name of Peter Pan, and opted for PanDora, because she's Dolly's bigger sister.
Terry - every time I get a new bike, the motorcycle forum I belong to runs a little competition to name it. For instance, the previous one was a Honda CBF600 in dark blue. For those who don't know, a CBF600 is a detuned version of the Honda Hornet. The name chosen for that one was Bluebottle (buzzy little thing with no sting in the tail). Now, Terry is a Honda CBF1000 in a blazing orange metallic.At the time I bought him (oh, yes, most certainly male), Dawn French had an advert on TV for a certain make of chocolate orange, that went 'It's not Terry's, it's mine). So the 'Nest decided my handsome orange bike should be Terry, because it's orange, and it's mine
And so we come to the LittleInsect. This one is a bit different. His name is a tribute by me, of a personal nature. When I bought him (in 1998) it was a new model that few people had seen at that point. In fact, I had the first one in the country sold to a member of the public.I took him round to show a dear friend, parking it next to his enormous BMW outside his house. He duly came out to look at it, and admire it. 'What's that?' he said. 'It's a Honda Hornet' sez I, proudly. He looked at the difference in size between the two bikes, and said 'hornet isn't really appropriate, it's really only a little insect'Shortly afterwards, he was diagnosed with the progressive form of MS, and his health is sadly now very compromised. But as long as I own the hornet, it will always be the LittleInsect, in tribute to a truly wonderful person and dear friend.
But, to get back to names - have you noticed how nobody, but nobody, ever likes their given name(s)? It occurs to me that this is because it is the one thing in our lives that we didn't choose. It's given to us by our parents, and is their choice, not ours. Of course, you have the option of calling yourself whatever you want, or indeed, changing your name by Deed Poll. But that doesn't alter the fact that you didn't choose your original given name.
My son is called Rene. On his first day at a new school, when he was about 6, the school rang me and asked me to go down and collect him, because he was in floods of tears, and they didn't know why. When I got there and talked to him, it turned out there was another child in his class with the same name, and it was a girl!. A slight touch of the Johnny Cash, Boy Named Sue, syndrome, I think. It took a lot of patience to calm him down, and explain that, although it was pronounced the same, her name was spelt Renee, and that as a big strong boy, he didn't have, or need the extra 'e' on the end of his name.
Well, he hated that name, until he became a teenager, when it all changed. He suddenly found that having an unusual name was a bonus when it came to dating, because all the girls remembered him
I do wish parents would take time to consider how giving a child an unusual, or even inappropriate name will affect them. Because it can, and does. They should also write the name down and look at the initials. (Malcolm Anthony Dean - guess what he was called at school)
Your name is the thing that readily identifies you to the world, and it is probably your most enduring and important asset. May all parents use a bit of common sense.

Update: Terry has been replaced by Arfur. Why Arfur? because he's my 'Daley' transport.

(won't mean anything to you unless you've seen 'Minder' on TV


Have you ever wondered what the Great Redeemer was on when he invented squirrels? How can something so small and fluffy be, at the same time, so cute and yet so aggravating?Anyone who has read the famous squirrel story in one of Dan Meyer's 'Life Is A Road' books will know exactly what I'm getting at.
Where I work, we have squirrels. Lots of squirrels. Mind, the building is in the middle of a nature reserve. Now, I'm not saying they eat anything, but, they eat everything.
We have a small glade where we have several bird feeders. We fill these daily with peanuts, seeds, fat compounds etc. for the delictation of our pretty little feathered friends. Except that the squiggles eat the lot.
We've tried everything to defeat them. Yes, I know you can flavour the bird food with stuff like paprika, which the birds don't mind, but the squiggles hate, but that's not the point. It has now become a battle of wills between us and them.
The first bird feeders were wire mesh. The squiggles demolished them in about 24 hours. Next, we bought one which was basically a long tubular steel cage with a ceramic top and bottom. The whole contraption was held together by a long steel rod passing through the top and bottom caps, held on with a wing nut underneath.
We kept finding this in pieces all over the ground. Then one day, we caught Squiggle hanging upside down, carefully undoing the wing nut with his paws. I swear he laughed with glee when, yet again, it all fell apart.
So, we removed the wing nut and put a locking nut in its' place. Did it work? Did it hell! I swear he broke into one of the cars and got himself a spanner, because next day it was in bits all over the floor again.
Then we saw an advert for 'squirrel-proof' bird feeders. Well, we bought a pair, one for seed and one for peanuts. Squirrel-proof my a*se! The peanut feeder consisted of a long thin mesh tube for the peanuts, surrounded by a metal cage with gaps big enough to let small birds through, but too small for fat squirrels. Now the answer to this is evidently to get the smallest squiggle you can find to ease his head through the gap and gnaw a huge hole in the peanut tube. You then get a bigger squiggle to sit on top of it and shake it till all the peanuts fall out. You then repeat the entire process with the seed feeder.
Meanwhile, the glade is also the only place on site where folk can smoke, and there's a small shelter with a huge ashtray in it. This ashtray consists of a robust, thick plastic cylinder, around 3 foot tall, with a heavy chromium steel ash tray on top. We found that the base, being empty, was the ideal place to store the bags of peanuts and seed, which we've been buying in bulk because it's cheaper that way.There's no way the squiggles can break into it, because the cylinder is too smooth and round for them to get a purchase on, and the top section is too heavy for them to lift.
Hmmmm..................... why has the cylinder now got a huge hole in the side, and where have all the nuts and seed gone? How the hell........?
We've long given up with the conventional bird feeders which hold fat balls. The balls never lasted more than a few hours. Then last week, I saw a huge plastic tub fat/seed mixture. This thing is around 6" diameter, about 4" deep, and can be suspended from a convenient tree branch by a robust plastic strap. Far too big and heavy for a squiggle to steal.
Where the hell is it? Sure, the plastic strap is still there - in pieces, on the ground, with multiple squiggle teeth marks. Of the tub, there's no sign.
When I get some time, remind me to tell you about the incident of the squiggle and the cheese sandwich....................

Random thoughts on music

I suppose, after motorcycling, I love music more than anything. All kinds of music, from medieval motets to Rap - it's all music to my ears.
Does it surprise you that I like rap? Why? Because I'm 'old'? Why does music, and indeed, the people who listen to it, have to be pigeonholed.
To me, music always has something to say. Maybe just to the composer, but more often than not, it will strike a chord with listeners. It may remind you of some place (Bax-Tintagel), some event(Crazy Cavan - The Ace Cafe Brighton Run), or somebody (Beach Boys - Tears In The Morning). It might just be an echo of how you are feeling at that moment (Eminem - The Way I Am). But music is a form of expression that is unrivalled in the world, and immediately accessible regardless of nationality or culture.
I have a collection of something over 2,000 CDs. These range from classical to rap, and include music from all over the world - from African drum beats to Buddhist chanting.
I have no time for those people who turn their noses up at what you are currently listening to. When I was at school, there was a young lass whose father was a music teacher, and he forbade her to listen to anything other than 'highbrow' classical music. To my mind, he was denying her a part of her education. I absolutely horrified him when I told him, yes, I did like classical music, but I didn't particularly like Beethoven or Schubert! Not even the knowledge that I absolutely adore Mozart appeased him.
Similarly, I hate those people who consider themselves audiophiles. A few months ago, I was in the position of finally being able to replace my ageing Technics HiFi, and with my natural thoroughness, I did a lot of research into what I wanted to replace it with.
I wanted something that would handle my extreme range of music well, and which had a warmth and depth of tone that most Japanese HiFi systems don't give you, but English ones do.
Going the rounds of the Sound specialists in Kent was quite entertaining. "Oh well, madam, this is the best you can buy. The setup is £24,000, the speakers are an extra £13,000" Yes, yes, that's all very well, but does it sound the way I want my music to sound. Actually, no, it didn't.
My hearing is not as good as it was - mostly, I suspect down to years of riding bikes without hearing protection. All I want is something that sounds good to ME - not you, or the so-called expert in this, that, or the other magazine, ME. Geddit?
Eventually, I found a nice young man called Sam, who listened to what I was trying to explain to him, grasped it, and set up 4 systems of varying prices and capabilities, letting me play a selection of my own CDs on each. I ended up buying the second cheapest (although not exactly cheap) because to my untrained ears, it sounded right.
I wish more salesmen listened to their customers, instead of constantly trying to push what they are currently earning the highest commission on.
However, I digress.
I've always loved music. Again, it was encouraged in me by my mother. She played the piano. Sadly, my parents couldn't afford for me to have music lessons.
We lived out in the country and didn't get electricity till after I'd started school. When we did, my dad bought a big old Bakelite mains radio, and my mum and I would spend every evening listening to plays and music. I developed a love of sound, because, unlike TV, which I find oppressive by being all-consuming, just using your hearing, left your hands and eyes free to do other stuff, and your mind free to wander and imagine whatever the particular piece of music sparked in your mind.
Eventually, Dad bought me a battery-powered record player for my birthday, and all my relatives gave me money, so I had enough to buy 2 LPs. The first one I bought was Elgar/Enigma Variations coupled with Vaughan-Williams/Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, conducted by Sargent.
The second one? Buddy Holly - Reminiscing of course! Thus started my ever-growing collection of diversity. In fact, I'm sitting here at work typing this with my iPod on. The Animals, followed by Jay-Z, followed by Andrea Boccelli, followed by......................
It soon became not enough for me to listen to the radio. I had to 'own' the music. I loved the feel of actually holding a record in my hands, of being able to read the sleeve notes and learn about the artist or composer. Although I have downloaded some music, I still prefer, even now, to go and buy the physical recording. To me, the possession of music is as important as the possession of books. They sum up who and what you are.

Random thoughts on motorcycling

I am, and always have been, an avid motorcyclist, or biker, or whatever you want to call me that I can deny.
BUT - just because I'm a biker, it doesn't mean I'm a second-class citizen.
I recall, a few years back, going into a well-known computer store, and being ordered to leave my crash helmet on the floor just inside the door. The reason given, was that motorcyclists steal things and conceal them in their helmets.So what about the old dear with the shopping bag? Is she any the less capable of being a thief than me? Such treatment sucks.My comment was, that if I complied, and my helmet was either damaged or stolen, would they replace it? Of course not!
There was also an instance where my husband and I went camping in Wales. We arrived around Midday, but it was gone 19:00 before we could find a camp-site that would take us. Most camp-site owners said they'd had trouble with bikers before, so they weren't going to let us in. So, if they had trouble with a couple on a Ford Fiesta, would they then ban all Ford Fiestas? FFS we were a middle-aged couple on a Honda GoldWing Aspencade - about as expensive and classy as it gets.
I appreciate that motorcycle clothing may not always be appropriate, for example having tea at the Ritz, but surely our money is as good as anyone else's?On the other hand, I've stayed in some pretty exclusive hotels, where I've turned up on my bike and been treated with the same courtesy and respect that they would extend to a visiting Prime Minister. A classic example was Wroxall Abbey, where, if I arrived back at the hotel wet and cold, they almost fell over themselves to offer me a cup of hot chocolate to warm me up etc. Nothing was too much trouble, and to me, this is the sort of thing that distinguishes good service from bad.
It shouldn't matter what form of transport a person chooses to use, how much that transport cost, or even what type of 'biker' they are. We're all people, just getting on with our lives.
All of the above makes me sound as though I'm a Rich Urban Biker, with money to burn. In fact, I'm not that at all - average job and average income. But motorcycling is my biggest expenditure in life. The posh hotels generally coming about as a result of my work, not through my personal preference, which general speaking results in B&B in a pub somewhere.
It is true, that over the years, my life style has to a large degree been dictated by my love of bikes. It influences how I dress, and to an extent, where I go and what I do. But that in itself, doesn't mean that I'm like every other rider out there. I'm still an individual - as are most motorcyclists. The only thing most of us have in common, is our love of bikes.
And what about that love? Do all riders ride for the same reasons? Definitely not. Ask any group of bikers why they ride, and you will get a myriad reasons, from 'because all my friends do' to 'it's something I've always fancied doing'But I bet, within that group sample, you will more than once hear the word 'freedom'.
For me, I grew up with bikes. My dad, his brother, my brother, all rode. It was natural then, when I became a teenager, to gravitate towards lads with bikes. When I started riding legally, in 1964, I was one of perhaps 3 women in my part of the world who rode. Now the sight of a woman on a bike is commonplace. However, I have serious doubts about the reasons some of them ride.A lot ride because their husband/partner/boyfriend rides. Often they are talked into it almost unwillingly. Others ride because they think they've got something to prove. No dear, life ain't like that. Ride bikes because you love them - what other reason is there?
You know the people I really hate? Those women riders who make a big thing about 'riding with the lads' and then ask for women only events. Do you hear men asking for men-only track days etc.? If you want to participate in a predominantly male pursuit dear, then do it on equal terms.Anyway, I feel that women only motorcycling events are self-defeating. How often I've heard women say that they want a women-only event, because they feel intimidated by the men. So you end up with a bunch of women who are only comfortable interacting with other women. Learn to do the job properly, and you'll get treated like an equal.I suffer from a bone condition, and I know my weaknesses. I'm grateful for assistance if I run into a problem because of my poor health, but I certainly wouldn't want it 'because I'm a woman'. After all, I would help a disabled biker, irrespective of gender.
So, what makes a true biker? Is it someone who does, like me, 25,000 miles a year on bikes, someone who only has a bike licence and not a car one, someone who has the latest trendy crotch rocket and matching leathers but only rides on sunny Sundays, the old boy down the road with his 1933 Rudge, or the young pizza delivery lad on his twist and go? For me, it is all of those. A biker, at the end of the day, is someone who chooses to ride a powered two wheeler, for whatever reason, whatever distance, and however he or she is dressed.
I could get started on philosophy, and books about biking, but maybe I'll leave that for another time

Random considerations of education

I'm currently reading Clive James - Cultural Amnesia. In the chapter on Gianfranco Contini, he makes the point that the art of learning by heart has all but disappeared from the British Education System. System? Don't make me laugh!Contini made the point, that if you didn't learn to recite poetry by heart, how could you possibly understand how a language should flow. He wasn't wrong.Growing up in the 50s, a lot of my schooling was learnt by repitition. Almost all of what I learnt has stayed with me throughout life. Not just poetry, but mnemonics for important stuff like math, grammar and spelling."i before e, except after c" et al.
I'm a heavy user of an internet forum, and at times the grammar and spelling are so appalling, I have trouble deciphering the meaning of some of the posts. How hard is it, to learn the difference between 'they're' 'their' and 'there'. And why, oh why, do people say 'would of' 'could of'. It's WOULD HAVE and COULD HAVE!!!
I don't consider myself particularly well-educated, but I do consider my education to have been a great deal better than it is today.
Yes, knowledge is more accessible today than it has ever been, but there's a world of difference between knowledge and understanding.
Mobile phones and the internet have a great deal to answer for. To partially gloss over mobile phones for the moment, text speak does nothing to make people conscious of either grammar or spelling.
The Internet is, I believe, harmful in a sense to understanding. How often, needing to know something, do you 'Google' for it? That's fine. The Internet is a totally brilliant way of getting instant access to all kinds of information that has previously passed you by. I use it myself, a lot.
However, most of what it gives you are facts, not understanding.For instance, look someone up, and it will tell you he did this. What it doesn't tell you is why that person did whatever. What led him to do it? Was it something in his earlier life?
Most of this sort of detail generally comes from books. An in-depth understanding of a person usually comes from a biography, not from a Wiki on the 'net.
There is also a feeling among some education specialists, that the instant availability of information is discouraging people from reading books, and further, is actually harming their ability to concentrate on a passage of prose for more than a few minutes.
Reading and a love of books was instilled in me at a very young age, by both my mother and my teachers. I still love to read, fiction, non-fiction and poetry all have me enthralled.
It will be a sadder world, if our future generations lose love for their language and for in-depth study.
A world of just facts will be a sadder place.