So, I passed my final test on Monday, 15th April. The next day was the first proper spring day of the year. Daffodils, blue sky, gambolling lambs; it was even a bit warm. My wife got home from work a bit early so she could drive me out to a shed on an industrial estate in rural Vale of Glamorgan to collect the Royal Enfield which you can see on the header bar. It’s the black one on the left.
As we stepped out of the house, me in my full motorbike outfit, we waved to our next-door neighbours before getting into my wife’s Nissan Micra. Well, gives ’em something to think about.
We arrived a bit early, about 5.20pm, This was the scrubby end of the estate where it almost crumbled away into nearby fields. All was quiet. We could hear blackbirds singing and lambs bleating. Then, the cheerful sound of an easy-going, twin-cylinder engine. Along the track came a three-wheel car that looked like a little aeroplane without wings. At the front, you could see the polished cylinder heads and cooling fins of a Citroen 2CV engine. At the wheel, wearing leather jacket and goggles, was Barry, the aircraft engineer who was about to release the motorbike into my possession.
The handover was brisk and cheery. A handshake and a wave and, within a few minutes, I was chugging along narrow, country lanes with my wife’s little red car in the rear-view mirrors. Once on the A48, we stopped at a filling station and she bought me my first tank of petrol.
And here I am, back home, safe and sound after my first ride on the Enfield. It was a glorious ride. The following day, I had to be out in the car all day so Thursday was the day
of my first real trip as a street-legal, qualified biker. There was only one possible destination – Franklin’s Cafe at Ogmore on Sea. This is where Pam the cook introduced me to Chris, the man who knew Barry who had this perfectly maintained Royal Enfield for sale. Pam was a bit of a late convert to motorcycling (but not as late as I was) and had got an Enfield as her first full-size bike. It was Pam, back in January, who said I should spend my newly-found free time and redundancy money on taking up motorcycling.
And so it was quite an occasion when I rode back into the Vale of Glamorgan and thrumbled onto the seaside cafe’s forecourt.
Fish and chips and a pot of tea, please Pam!