Biking and training.

I have never been so trained in my life.

The year began with learning how to make blogs like this. Then I was taught how to ride a motorcycle, then how to do Victim Support, then how to resolve conflict (the mediation training) and then how to write better poetry. Last week, I added Restorative Justice to the list. That’s a sort of upgrade from Victim Support where you bring offenders up close and personal with the victims of their crimes. It’s done in a safe environment (sometimes the offender’s prison) and by means of a guided conversation. It can result in remarkable benefits for both parties. It reduces re-offending rates better than pretty much anything else and it enables the victim to put a human face to what might previously have been the stuff of nightmares.

I have also been to Brittany on the Royal Enfield! My wife, Charlotte, and I have been to France several times but never on a motorcycle and certainly not in her 21-year-old Nissan Micra. So we took both. The little red Nissan got a GB sticker and a pair of beam-benders and I made a rather classic-looking bracket for the Enfield’s GB sticker.

Back bike

Here it is – the only bike on the ferry.

So why take two vehicles? For the strenuous luxury of it. I ride 200+ miles on the motorbike but I ride light. All the luggage is in the support vehicle. When we get there, we can choose clothing suitable for the weather that day and go out sightseeing by motorcycle with Charlotte riding pillion.

The most enjoyable ride was the one we usually do by bicycle. That’s a steady uphill slog to Finisterre’s Mont St Michel. Right at the end, there’s a really steep bit. That last half mile would be difficult at the best of times but, at the end of a sweaty, breath-stealing cycle ride, it’s a killer. But not on a motorbike.

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Ha ha! You get to the steep bit, drop a cog, twist the throttle and up you go. Magic.

In the picture, you can see James Bering-Harris, one of Charlotte’s creations who often travels on holiday with us.

In the next picture, we see Charlotte at Restaurant Aristide in Huelgoat. It’s a charming place, run by an artist bloke. It’s like the authentic version of that ‘French’ cafe chain, Cafe Rouge. Have you seen those? They’re quirky in ways thought up by a committee of accountants and marketing twerks. Non-matching lampshades and suchlike.

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But Aristide is the real thing.

Right, there’s a BBC4 documentary about the song ‘Danny Boy’ starting soon so this will be where I sign off.

Just time to recall a joke told by the comedian Just Jones as part of his stage act.

Normally, when I finish my routine, I like to sing a song. Before I leave the stage, I like to sing ‘Danny Boy’.

[Audience goes ‘ooh’ and ”ahh’.]

And last week, I told the jokes, I sang ‘Danny Boy’ and there was an old boy in the front row of the audience crying his eyes out.

I said “Oh, I’m very sorry sir. You must be Irish.”

“No,” he said. “I’m a singer.”