I write occasional daft emails to fellow members of my woodturning club.  As we get new members, some of them are stupid enough to ask me for some of the older emails.  As time passes and the read them, they will learn never to ask again - but meanwhile I have to dig into my email archives and find old items and then send them one by one to the unlucky recipients.

You would think they would find more useful things to do with their lives than read the sad wittering's of this old fool and try to make something of their lives - but no!  Any that appear here will do so in reverse order, there are many reasons for this, but logic is the main driver.  If there is one thing I have - it is logic.  Not much else to be fair - but I do have logic.

I have only recently worked out how to put the pictures in, so many are still missing.  I will continue to work on it.

60-Kennet Valley Rides again

Summer holiday season greetings to all my woodturning pals, and thanks for reading this rubbish – for rubbish it is – but if you continue to read I can only say that it is entirely your fault and you have been warned.


Something's been bothering me, just wondering if anyone can offer some advice.

I've been getting spammed in Messenger by a man I need to block. He is called Buster Woods, wanting to know about the best place to get orange chips and also the difference between 2 and 4 stroke motor bikes He also keeps sending me videos of songs by the '70's band The Sweet.


Does anyone know a way, there's got to be a way, to block Buster?


What have we this month is the items we need to have dealt with, so let us deal away.


  1. Next Tuesday’s monthly evening meeting on 9th June

  2. Robin Percy

  3. September social on 28th September

  4. Saturday workshop on 27th July

  5. Video Equipment

  6. New Members

  7. Bike Ride

  8. Holiday blog (which carries a health warning)


Next Tuesday’s monthly evening meeting on 9th June


It has come round fast for some of us, and not fast enough for others. This month we are blessed – blessed indeed with the welcome return of Tony Halcrow. Many of you know Tony, but as we have a lot of new members there are still people out there who are about to see him for the first time.


Tony was the chairman of the Oxford Woodturning club for many years before deciding that he wanted to spend more time turning, and less of his time trying to herd cats. (This is standard for all committee members by the way – it comes to us all)


I have to say that Tony is without doubt one of the very best amateur turners in the country – I have to say that otherwise he won’t come next week. He is also handsome, rich, well endowed and good to his wife. I also have fairies in the bottom of my garden.


Actually – Tony brings a wealth of knowledge, skill and humour to all of his demonstrations, and it is very fair to say that in my opinion he saves the very best demo’s for us.

Despite him being so well known, I thought I would have a fresh look at what the internet throws back at me when I type in “Tony Halcrow”




Google has a lot to answer for. To be honest I am scared that one month we will have a turner called “sexy housewives”, because if I type that into the search engine again my wife will still not believe me.


Anyhow I, and anyone else you speak to, will thoroughly recommend that attendance next week to see Tony will be something you will certainly not regret.


I spoke to Tony today and I know he is going to do some items that he was asked about last time he was with us.


One final point about next week in case you have not done it yet – the competition is for a pot-pourri vessel. So get busy and get creative!!


Confusing Newspaper Headlines

~ March Planned For Next August

~ Blind Bishop Appointed To See

~ Patient At Death's Door--Doctors Pull Him Through

~ Prostitutes Appeal to Pope

~ Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant

~ Killer Sentenced to Die for Second Time in 10 Years

~ Autos Killing 110 a Day--Let's Resolve to Do Better

~ If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last A While

~ Defendants Speech Ends in Long Sentence

~ Collegians are Turning to Vegetables

~ Scientists to Have Clinton's Ear


Robin Percy

I went to visit Robin this week. He has been moved to the Duchess of Kent Hospice in Reading. I want this to be a temporary thing as this guy is one of the very best.

We have plenty of club members who know Robin, and plenty who sent their very best wishes in with me when I went in. I wanted to go tomorrow as well but have to work, but I will go again as soon as I possibly can.

If you don’t know Robin – then you have missed getting to know one of the sweetest, most genuine and quick witted men who ever stepped foot on the planet. I have invited Robin to the Newbury show as my guest – I dearly hope he will be able to attend.


*Update* - Sadly we lost Robin on Thursday 4th July - his 57th Wedding anniversary. He left this world at 4.oopm, the same time he left his wedding reception. A great loss.


September social on 28th September

Although I missed the last committee meeting, I did notice from the minutes, that we are holding the social event that we should have held in June when I was away on holiday (did I mention that?) in September – on the 28th.


I need to catch up and find out what is happening, but every time I ring another committee member they always seem to be out which is odd? I must remember to switch off caller ID and try again.


Apparently we are doing a barbeque and a social event. We will mention it next Tuesday of course – but in advance – does anyone have – or have access to, a large Barbeque we could use?


Details will follow – but if you are happy to help us setup or run or contribute in some way to this all day event you will be greatly valued.


Saturday workshop on 27th July


Platters. It had to be said. Platters.

That is the theme on 27th of this month and hopefully we will have a few good demonstrations from our more experience members on how to turn one, mount one and decorate one – so be there, or be square. As I always say – it beats shopping (unless you are buying a new lathe).


Don’t forget we will also happily help you with tool sharpening, and in particular happy to help beginners to our hobby. It is good to get hands-on and have someone helping you.


Video Equipment

I left to go on holiday (I don’t like to mention it) under a cloud – that cloud being the failed video equipment. I was really annoyed – as I said – especially because we had new members with us.


Hopefully this month it will work, and hopefully we will be back to normal, however the events did shake us up and we are on the hunt for new cameras and a new way of using them. This may well also involve a new framework to go over the lathe to hold cameras, let’s wait and see.


We do have some club funds, and we might consider using them for this venture – we could also consider getting a grant.


We will keep you informed – but meanwhile keep your fingers crossed that we will be fully up and running next week. Mike Larby is checking the big camera out – let’s see what happens.


Newbury Show

Good news this week, we now have confirmation that we have been accepted – by invite, to the Newbury Show. (I know – its officially called the Royal County of Berkshire Show – but we all call it the Newbury Show)


We have the same generous stand that we had last year – 9 yards by 6 yards – and so we need lots of things to fill it, and lots of hands to man it. Those that helped last year will know it is a long weekend, and it is hard work, but goodness – what fun we had.

Let me know if you are able to help and we will start to put a rota together for the two days.


If you want to display or sell something, all items must be marked with your name, and a price. If you need help pricing then ask. This is not a show where we are selling things for a few bob so you should price your items accordingly, this is a proper jobbie where people expect to spend money – and we do take credit cards!!!!!


As a thank you for allowing us to attend – there is also a follow up event where the farmers who work hard to put on the show have their own show afterwards – it is a ploughing competition. I believe it is in on the 19th October. The farmers do not really get to see the Newbury Show – so we will be going to the ploughing competition show them what we do by way of a thank you – we will demonstrate – and perhaps sell a few things.


New Members

We have had about 5 new members recently – so welcome to you all, I probably don’t have your email addresses yet – but when I get them I will forward this to you by way of punishment for joining.


I hope you will find us a reasonable lot – and if not then let us know and we will beat the people that upset you. (We won’t – but it sounds good)


Bike Ride



Some of you know I did a charity bike ride this week, I left home at midnight on Tuesday – completed half a dozen of the relay legs and go home after lunch of Wednesday having been up and riding all night.


The relay see’s two teddy bears being carried around the country on motorbikes – sponsored on the way and covering a total of roughly 7500 before finishing on Saturday 13th July in Leeds.


I am proud to have done my bit and thoroughly enjoyed it.


If you want to join in and donate feel free to follow this link here.


My leg finished at Jane Austins House in @Hampshire – but I kept riding on four more legs after that as a support for the other riders.

It was a worthy cause – but importantly great fun as well.

I shall certainly do it next year and invite any of you who want to join in to come a long as well.


Technology News

Man who invented predictive text pissed away quietly in his sleep. His funfair will be next Monkey


The world of Information Technology was plunged into mourning today after the untimely death of one of its greatest figures.


According to his family, Brian Sturgeon, also known as Brain Surgeon, died at 6am this morning “after a shirt I’ll nest” and will be “sourly mist.”


Giants of the technology industry were quick to issue messages of condolence to the family.


Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, tweeted “Brain was once of the Finnish mines of his germination, sum one how made tack knoll or key more axe cess able to the horde in any man in the sheep.”


Similarly Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook was effusive in his praise.

“Without Brain their wood be no Fact boot,” he told his legion of followers. “He made complete ideals simple, and allowances us all to commune at gates more quickly in and even changing would.”


My sincere best dishes to his slovenly wipe


Holiday blog (which carries a health warning) – this is a long one!!


Let’s do the Highland 500 says Symptom-Ian. It seemed like a good idea at the time – it’s so easy to say yes when you are quite relaxed and halfway down a medium-skinny-wet-latte (two sugars) with sod-all else to do.

Symptom (large cappuccino – also two sugars) seemed to have it all worked out in his mind, so I went along with it thinking it would be one of those things discussed but never actioned, but bugger me – we did it.


All the more amazing as well because with Ian as the vintage rider (he has been riding on 2 wheels for about 50 years) he has always omitted one thing – he has never bothered to pass his driving test and therefore has single-handedly kept a small family run business in South Wales (the one that makes L-plates) in business all that time. The trip to and from the highlands was destined therefore to be sans-motorway, A roads and B roads all the way. (A good shout in the end – the scenery is so much better)

We were close to a lot of the scenery. I have a question, why are farmers so smelly? Also – they all smell the same – do they buy the same aftershave. As yu ride past the farms the smell is awful, and made worse by tractors spreading their aftershave all over the grass.


The problem is – 500 miles doesn’t sound that far – but in the end it was 600 to the start point – 700 miles back from the end point and about 900 in-between messing about around the extreme northern coast of Scotland.


Also, its the weather you see - I know we didn't expect sunshine and golden sand - but it's wet. Very wet.


There is another thing - two days up here talking to people, and I still had no bloody idea what they are saying to me. I keep nodding. I offer the occasional "Yes I know" or "OK then" but it's all double dutch.


Let’s discuss the myths right away. “Angry red-headed scots in kilts.” Well, having been there for 10 days I can confirm they are not all angry, not all red-heads, and some of the frocks are quite nice.


We discussed the plans during the recent nice weather, we left for Scotland on 13th June – in the rain. I had a new top-box for the bike – as well as new panniers. I didn’t have a clue what to pack, and neither did Symptom-Ian – but we managed to start the ride with well loaded bikes, a cheerful demeanour and too many clothes and maps.

It was not long before things a went a little pear-shaped at Bird-lip in Gloucestershire as we met the end of a 7 mile traffic jam queuing to get to the Air-Balloon pub. This was going to cramp our style more than some-what so I suggested to Ian that google maps find a way round for us – which it did without delay.


Hindsight being what it is, perhaps I should have been a tad more specific and said we were on loaded bikes and wanted to avoid open fields, farmland and motor-scrambling tracks. We ended up going down a very muddy single tracked road between farms. There was absolutely no room to turn around and our only option was to go forwards. At one stage I nearly dropped the bike. Luckily this was prevented by catching the bottom of the bike between the ground and my foot (my big toe on my left foot in particular). The bike was fine – by toe was black for a week. Next time I will wait at the end of the traffic jam.


It would be a lie to say it rained all the way on the first day. It stopped for half an hour just before Preston, and again about half an hour before Penrith where we were due to stay the night. We arrived wet and bedraggled to be greeted by a hotel receptionist who wondered why it was sunny outside and we were wet.


It took 10 minutes to un-hitch, un-tie, un-hook, undo and unload all the panniers etc from the bikes as well as remove the waterproof covers. An early indication that we had brought too much luggage.


Not being too sure about the native Penrithianists we padlocked our bikes to each other and also to the pillars by the reception door. Ian wandered off to his room in the annexe while I luxuriated in my room just behind reception. We were knackered but impressed with our initial day.


Day two dawned dry but threatening. It took under an hour to load the bikes, mainly because I could not find my gloves. Non-riders will not know that gloves are an important part of the uniform (see Village People YMCA video for proof) – but also safety, as the first thing you put down to save yourself when (sorry – if ) you fall off a bike is your hands. They will become messed up and well sandpapered (a-la Australian bowlers) unless you have them safely ensconced on a reasonably tough pair of leather gloves. Despite looking everywhere, mine were not to be seen and so I had to resort to my spare pair (I bought two pairs in case one pair got wet and could not be dried in time to be worn comfortably again)


290 miles to go to Fort William, our first stop in the Highlands and the real start of our adventure.


We wanted to leave early and aimed to be there for about 2:45am. Glove delays did not help. The time had already slipped to nearer a 3:15 ETA.


The B7076 had better ideas. It runs parallel to the M6 and M74 and it wonderful. It stopped being wonderful after a long straight 5-mile climb when we were 17 miles from the last junction and the road was closed for re-surfacing. We were not happy. We tried to get around the closed bit for 10 miles of back roads and failed. We re-joined the road and went back 17 miles to go a different way. This cost a lot of time and we were not pleased. On the way back we saw a guy who looked about 50 years old on a bicycle just starting the 5 mile climb – he looked very tired. We thought it best that we should tell him not to bother.


In hindsight perhaps we should have told him – poor chap.


We got back to the junction and headed to Edinburgh instead of Glasgow – ETA at Fort William now 18:00 hrs. Shops would be shut and no chance of buying new gloves.

Ian’s AirB&B and my own (both just a mile north of Fort William) were hard to find, but we managed. My one had a garage in which to put the bike to bed, Ian’s was out on the street in what can only be described as an “iffy” housing estate. Ian was a bit concerned, but as I pointed out – it was not all bad news, because mine was in a garage.





Day three dawned, wet as usual. We had planned to go to Skye, and then on to a place called Plockton to see a very dear friend of mine.

Sadly Carol Kirkwood (a fine figure of a woman as has been mentioned on previous blogs) explained that the weather on the West coast was going to be crap and central and eastern highlands were the place to be.

This proved to be the case, so we headed east.


We went to Aviemore and then decided to traverse the southern side of Loch Ness from Inverness to Fort Augustus. It was on the side of loch ness hat I tired to turn the bike around on a very very steep and very very narrow road and nearly put it down. This time it was my third finger of my right hand that saved the bike (my toe was still black and refused to join in) – and it bloody hurt. Resplendent with throbbing finger we retired to Fort William for the second night, visiting Morrisons for petrol and a sandwich.

I removed my helmet in the car park and noticed that the visor was hanging off on the right-hand side. My helmet is a flip-top visor type of helmet which needs a screw or bolt on each side on which the visor will hinge. I had two sides and one screw. One had obviously worked loose and dropped out. This had happened once before.


Toe. Finger. Helmet. I was definitely not happy. I told Ian we had to get back to our respective digs before it rained and I was not going to lose time putting wet weather gear back on, so off we went, and naturally within two minutes the heavens opened with a torrential storm and 5 minutes later when we were back at our digs we were like drowned rats. Thank you god!!!!!


It took an hour to calm down. I rung out my spare gloves, rung them out over the sink. My jacket was too heavy to ring out, and the lining was soaked. I removed the lining and attacked it with the hair dryer while trying to dream up new swear words.


Having said we should not put wet weather gear on I felt somewhat responsible and told Ian to come and find my digs and I would dry his gear with the hair dryer. It took hours but it worked. I was still miffed, and wondering if my finger was broken, even now I am not sure – but it is not as painful as it was.


So, next job was new gloves and a repair to the helmet. I hit the internet and tried to locate the nearest motorbike dealer. There was one and believe it or not – it was in Inverness, which was the next stop on our tour with a hotel booked there for the following night. A slight hitch was that the next day was Sunday – so they wold be closed, but they appeared to open on Monday morning at 8.00am. Mind you – this was “the” Motorbike dealer in the highlands – it was this or nothing else.


The plan for Sunday was to drive the tourist route up Loch Ness to Inverness. We would stop at Fort Augustus (they had no Fort?) and Drumnadrochit (they had no Drum). It was on the way into Fort Augustus that I noticed a bicycle repair shop, and it was open. I knew I needed an M5 screw for my helmet (it’s a man thing OK!) and so I went in and showed them the problem and asked if they had something suitably sized to help repair my visor. Jock (we shall call him Jock because he was Scottish and I thought they were all called Jock), mumbled something celtic and sloped off into a back room, far all I knew to get his gun or something, but no, he returned with a tupperware (very 1980’s) container full of “bits”. Jock offered me the container, waved at it, then at my crash helmet and wandered off to contemplate his haggis or whatever it is Scotsmen do. I proceeded to rifle through his odds and ends and came up with a screw that was too long, which had an Allen-key head, and to which I had to attached four washers to get it to be functional.


It worked! Genius, that's me - pure genius. Guy Martin is a beginner. Northern tart.


Where was I – Oh yes, in Jocks bicycle repair shop. I returned his box with thanks and a couple of quid and continued on the road to Inverness, resplendent in my functioning crash helmet. It was now 3pm and we realised something odd. It had not rained yet today – who had told god to turn the taps off we wondered. The roads were pretty clear – but coffee caught up with Ian and we needed a rest break. I should that I was fed up of hearing “Can you hold my helmet while I have a pee?”


Now – I shall spare the more delicate reader some of the details at this point – but suffice to say the look on Ian’s face as he relieved his bladder at the side of the road was one which probably only his dear late wife Anne would have ever seen. You see – dear reader - Ian had proceeded to wee onto an electric fence.


Just as we decided that the holiday had begun. Hotel life came at us from the blind-side.

We had booked two rooms at the Travelodge in Inverness. We got there early – after all Fort William to Inverness is only about 66 miles and no amount of staring out into the water hoping to see Nessie was going to make it a long day in the saddle. Even at a slow bimble – we ended up arriving at the hotel at 2pm. “It’s a hotel”, I said. “They have trained ninja-style housekeepers who blitz the rooms in no time at all, so we should be OK to check in”. In we went, and we buzzed the buzzer that said buzz the buzzer if reception was empty – which it was – and a rather nice looking man (if you catch my drift) came out from a back office looking very distressed at being buzzed with the buzzer that said buzz the buzzer. He put a false smile on his face that was the epitome of false smiles and said “How may I be of service” and proceeded to stare at the buzzer – seeming to be working out how to disconnect it.


Can we check in please? I enquired – pleasantly.


His smile changed – from being a false smile which was there to cover his annoyance, to a proper smile which was there to indicate real and very honest pleasure. “Sorry no sir” – he responded with obvious delight, now in full and certain knowledge that he was in a position of power. “Check in is from 4pm and not a moment sooner – I am so sorry sir”. No he wasn’t the little bugger – he was about as sorry as a person living in Not Sorry Mansions, Not-at-all Sorry Street, Not SorryVille, Scotland. He was loving it. How dare you buzz my buzzer when I am sleeping on duty.

Bastard.


We sloped off and decided to waste the start of our 2 hour wait in the garden centre next door. Wrong! £2.30p for a soft drink.


We then opted to go and find the motorcycle dealership we were due to find first thing tomorrow morning so at least we knew where it was. We did, we found it, and they had a building full of crash helmets, motorcycle gloves and motorcycles. Eventually we arrived back at the hotel at about ten minutes to four and saw Mr Buzzer checking in a leggy blonde, so we knew we had him. We’ll give him “not a second before”.


We waited patiently while the leggy blonde completed the formalities, signed, picked up his bags and trolled off to find his room (he seemed like a nice chap) and then we booked in. Our rooms were not close together. Ian was just behind reception on the ground floor.


Perfection.


Mine was on the first floor, and was not close to reception. I think it was closer to Fort William where I slept the night before.


Day four found us at the dealership and I had made a discovery. In fitting my waterproof covers to my panniers my lost gloves fell out. They had obviously got tangled up in there and lived there for two days. So at least I could save myself the £80 I was due to spend on new ones. Happy days.


Sadly not so good on the screw front. I saw a guy in the showroom and explained my issue. He was a salesman and pointed to service reception, this being populated by a tall and young blonde girl apparently called Bella who was in charge of that department. “Ask her for a screw” was his suggestion. Frankly I thought my chances would be very low indeed, but I have never been one to shirk good advice.


I pointed to the offending Frankenstein-Monster-looking bolt attached to the side of my crash helmet – explained my dilemma and asked if she had anything to cure my ills. Sadly not. Oh well, at least I had found my gloves.


While getting ready to leave in the car park we got talking to a couple of foreign guys who had just been with the lovely blonde Bella getting a radio fitted to one of their helmets. “What part of Germany are you from” I asked – detecting the accent – I am very good at accents, it’s years of practice. “Holland!” he said – looking a little put-out. I suspected he did not understand the question and therefore decided to leave it. 😊




We were free to go and find our next stop which was Wick. This was to be a reasonable drive of about 110 miles, (remember the roads are rubbish) and with no breakfast we decided to have lunch on the way, and stopped at a place called Helmsdale, and found a little takeaway Fish & Chip shop called La Mirage. We simply asked for 2 x Fish and Chips and proceeded to wait. We waited a little longer – and then we waited. After waiting some more we finally got our meals. The meal consisted of about a week’s worth of chips and these were hidden underneath the remains of two porpoises.

Each.

The meals were huge – and tasted wonderful. There was no way we could finish them, but boy – what a feast. At this point we were now at a point where it was difficult to move, but despite this we bravely managed to climb aboard and find the rest of our way to Wick.

I was due to spend the evening at the house of someone called Elenna at the Rose Cottage in the Harbour. Despite eating the outpourings of a small country at lunchtime we were pretty early, I sent Elenna message asking if I could check in early and she was very accommodating, so we found the house so that we both knew where I was in case of emergency and told Elenna we were off to find Ian’s overnight stay.


Symptom was staying with Calum in the High Street. I emailed Calum and asked if Ian cold check in early. “By all means” replied Calum, just come to check in at the Camps Bar in the High Street.


Camps Bar?



The Camps bar was a little tired, and when we met Calum, who seemed like a nice boy, we guessed where the name of the bar came from. There was nowhere for Ian to park his bike so he padlocked it firmly to the metal fence on the harbour wall. I helped Ian carry his bags round the back of the pub and up some very questionable steps and left him to settle in. At this juncture I legged it and set off to find Elenna again.


As previously described, Elenna was lovely. She was very short in stature (under 5 foot) – but boldly built, I think that is a polite way of putting it, and you should remember that I am also short and boldly built – albeit 5’6”. Elenna was shorter – possibly struggling top make the lofty heights of 5 feet.


Would you like help with your bags? She offered, at which point I pulled myself up to my full height and sucked in one of my stomachs “I’m fine” I said. “The stairs are rather steep” she said, but I ignored this sage advice and suggested that I would do my luggage in two short journeys.


I shouldered arms and followed Elenna to the foot of the stairs. “I’ll lead the way” she uttered as we approached the aforementioned obstacle. Let me say immediately they were *not* steep. I have seen steep, and there were not it.


We attained the first floor and started up the second flight. I was on top form, and wishing she would hurry up, but Elenna was not to be rushed. We turned the corner and made it to the landing.


“This is a 200 year old cottage” she told me, therefore some of it will catch you out of you are not careful. With this, she opened a door. I peered inside expecting to find a period, (and very tastefully decorated) room, perhaps with a nice little fireplace and sit down window sill.


“One more flight” she offered.


What I saw reader is best described as a ladder. The stairway was certainly not much wider than a ladder – but it was about as steep. Elenna set off, and I followed, struggling to fit inside the space and carry two bags. As I ascended the age of the house appeared to try to prove itself because someone kept turning the lights out. It was during one of these blackouts that I realised I was following Elenna a bit too closely.


She was a big girl.


It ended well I am pleased to say, after finding the room, opening the window and taking a few lungs-full of sea-air-scented oxygen, I recovered.


“I’ll get my son to bring the rest of your luggage up” said Yvonne, and I did not have the change – nor the breath in my body, to argue. The day was not improved by me stubbing my very black big toe on the bed three times that evening!!


To be fair – apart from the altitude the room was fine, and was bettered by a wonderful breakfast the following day. Elenna was also lovely. Ian was not so happy, his rather tired digs were not as impressive and he was very happy to move on.




Lairg was next on the menu – via John O’Groats, Dunnet Head and the North coast. We rode into John O’Groats in the rain, took the obligatory picture and headed out of town without delay. Dunnet head – 11 miles away was the actual most northern point, and a lot more picturesque.

Doonreay was very military and reminded us of nasty things, we hurried past. The A836, apart from this – was lovely. We covered 137 miles – much of it on the coastline and loved it.


Nothing funny happened – sorry. Although there were some interesting place names. Brawl, Swordly, Farr, BettyHill (she went to our school), Coldbackie, Tongue, Tongue Burn. You could put any one of those into your own sentence, I’ll wait until you are done.


….


….


OK – ready – here we go again.


We arrived in Lairg and decided that it was a very quiet town. Both of us were due to reside in Farms, myself at the top of a valley – and overlooking Ian’s domicile at the bottom of the hill. We opted to go to the chip shop for tea – we arrived at 7.05pm to find they closed at 7.00! Well why would you want a chip shop open in the evening anyway?


The Falls of Shin followed in the morning, along with a wonderful trip to Ullapool – which proved to be a reasonable stay – Ian staying in a house that backed on to Tesco, and myself staying in a house that looked like it came out of a showroom – it was a dream.


Dingwall, next stop – was not so dreamy. It is a dead town with one huge supermarket – the ever popular Tesco, and all of the shops which sold items that were also sold in Tesco were shut and boarded up.


What a crying shame.


This was to be the town which signalled the end of the highlands for us for several reasons. Firstly – we were still a bit damp. Secondly – we were old and had covered in excess of 1600 miles in 9 days. Thirdly – and this was important – every day when we woke up we obviously wanted clean clothes. I was fine – I still had enough of everything for another 4 days. Symptom Ian on the other hand had taken a small stock check the previous day. Clean clothes amounted to the following;

11 spare pairs of socks, enough underwear for 2 days, 3 clean pyjama tops and no clean shirts – this man cannot count!


So where were we to stay. Ian was with Margaret. Margaret lived on the side of a mountain. I however was due to spend the evening with stars.


One of two of you may remember – in black and white days – a Sunday lunchtime radio program called Round the Horne. Try this link and perhaps wonder how they got away with it on a Sunday lunchtime radio program?


Different days huh!


Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick played two ex-performing “luvvies” who get little or no work and spend their lives trying to make ends meet. Their famous catchphrase was “Ohh Eloo Mr Orne – My Name’s Julian and this is my friend Sandy”


On our final leg eve – I was due to stay with two guys who shared their lives together – fair enough I have absolutely no issue with that and why should I – but how do I expect to keep a straight face when I find out what their names are – when I am of a certain age and remember Round the Horne. One was called Julian – and the other was called Sandy – their bungalow was called “Sand Jools”


I had a pleasant night in their rather uniquely decorated pied a terre, (the bed was the very best I had slept in all week!!) and slipped out in the morning before they stirred – I needed to meet Ian for breakfast.




Ian’s evening was interesting and as well as a 1-in-3 driveway (if you stood on the pavement you looked down over the roof of the house) – it was a tiny driveway which proved a challenge when he came to turn his bike around. More interesting than that though was what Ian described as the tiniest bathroom he has ever seen. He has to close the door of his En-suite before he could sit on the loo, and there were so many doors and cupboards he wasn’t sure what was what.


Ian was sharing the B&B with another couple who were also due to stay overnight. He heard them arrive and chat to the owner – apparently the walls were paper-thin.


Ian heard every word as he sat quietly on the throne trying to be as quiet as possible as he “took his ease” – (refer to comment about paper thin walls and how sound carried). Actually – it was not the paper thin walls and sound carrying that turned out to be the problem, the issue was the door which suddenly opened from their bedroom directly into the bathroom where Ian was concentrating on the job in hand.


Double takes were duly taken – they looked at each other in surprise – Ian covered up and drew his legs close together – the woman went bright red, and as they say in the very best circles, made her excuses and left.


Ian did say it put him off the jobbie he was half-way through! 😊


And so it ended. We rode back in two days – stopping in Erskine Bridge at a hotel that had a lift that was slower than coastal erosion and invaded by a Japanese coach party – perhaps I will details this another time.


We rode home from there in one day – a mistake as it happens – but we did it anyway and reached home at 3.15am after almost 19 hours in the saddle and a blown headlamp bulb. Like I said – perhaps another time.


Equally – two bald guys in an Austin 7, Billy Donelly – an author we discovered at a roadside stop on the way down Loch Lomond who then started to follow us.


Outside of that though – two old gits – one with L-plates – did the Highland 500 and made it home afterwards. 2,332 miles.


Not too shabby.


Phew!


Don’t forget next Tuesday!!

Phil Boulter

07836 274345

01635 826009

phil.boulter@ntlworld.com

www.philboulter.com

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