Biking gets better and better

Getting a motorbike was one of the best things I’ve done. Every journey becomes an enjoyable adventure. And with the fabulous summer weather, I can enjoy the sunshine with a steady, cooling breeze and smell new-mown grass and fragrant oilseed rape as I thrumble along.

PampicLast week, I went out for a ride with Pam Tod (pictured left) who inspired me to get a bike, and Chris Williams, the bloke who told me about the Enfield for sale. When it’s sunny, Wales is such a brilliant country for motorcycling.

Two milestones since the last blog have been:

1) Taking Charlotte as a pillion passenger on a proper trip. She got togged up in her very attractive black-and-olive outfit with black Arai helmet. We crossed the Severn and went to visit friends in Somerset. They didn’t know we had a motorbike so it was a surprise for them when we rumbled up their drive!

Enfield. FromeNow don’t get the idea that I rode there in brown canvas trousers. I simply took them along to wear while we had lunch. For riding, I wore proper, matching kit.

That was a great day and Charlotte enjoyed the ride. And there was that deeply satisfying moment when you get to the toll booth at the Severn bridge and you don’t have to pay!

2) The next big event was riding with my son, Joseph, over the Black Mountain to Llandovery and back, via the A40 and A470, to Bikers’ Corner at Storey Arms.

Storey Arms +2As you can see, he hired a Harley for the day and we started off with breakfast at Franklin’s Cafe at Ogmore by Sea (the place where Pam is chef de cuisine).

Lovely weather, wonderful ride, beautiful scenery and fabulous views from the mountain heights. If you have a son who can ride a motorbike, definitely do this!

Right, gotta dash!

Franklin's 13.07.13

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Yes, I’ve got a motorbike!

Redundancy acquaints a man with the back yard of his mind. This is the part of ourselves that gets scant attention when we go to work every day and always have more urgent things to bother about. But when the distractions of urgency have been removed, one can see this yard and its contents more clearly.

I once spent a week with the British Army in Northern Ireland. This was in the 1990s when the ‘Troubles’ were on and the IRA was still active. I was allowed to see inside a bunker which I shall describe only vaguely but it was a sort of co-ordination centre where there were maps and so on to show what was going on in that troubled province. It was a highly stressful environment because soldiers on the ground relied on information from that bunker. If the information was not correct, was not correctly interpreted or was not passed to the right people at the right time, that could result in people being killed who might otherwise have been saved. Everyday work in this bunker was literally a matter of life and death. In this bunker was a large poster. It did not say ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, it said:

Don’t do what’s urgent – do what’s important.

I don’t suppose they put that poster up on Day One. It will have been put there after someone had focused on immediate (and relatively trivial) issues instead of the main job and, as a consequence, lives were lost. In the civilian workplace, a total cock-up at the office rarely means anything worse than a lost contract or a tedious job having to be done all over again. This means we can ignore the ‘Do what’s important’ message for year after year without any lives being lost. Except our own.

Royal Enfield

Me and my bike.

So, in the back yard of my mind there are three things – poetry, a shed and a motorbike. The poetry survived, rather like a rose bush in my actual back garden which I discovered after removing a mass of brambles and bindweed which the previous owners had allowed to grow there. The long-term yearnings for a motorbike and a good shed were there as well, obscured by ‘urgent’ concerns.

Yes, it’s a Royal Enfield. More about my motorcycle adventure in my next post.