Liebster Award

Way on back in the earlier days of their blog my dear bogging friend Lili, of fantastic cakes and rock climbing fame nominated me for the “Liebster Award.” I was pretty chuffed at the time (Chuffed = British slang for pleased) and duly did what was required of me and posted a response as required by the award; you can link to that here.

Fast-forward to the present and out of the blue that USA based Scottish Photographer, Blogger and International Chocolate Connoisseur, Alba has challenged me with another “Liebster.” This is of course both very cool and a bit humbling; after all it is an acknowledgment by another blogger that you must be doing something right, therefore thank you Alba!

As part of the deal with the award I have to answer a series of questions set by Alba; so here goes, this should be fun!

1. Why do you blog?
I started blogging as a way of recording some of the motorcycle tours that I do. I used to tour around and send friends emails to let them know where I was and what I was up to. It just sort of seemed the logical thing to progress to, I hate “Face-Twit” and blogging enables me to capture thoughts and moments that I can look back on and relive the moment. It has also enabled me to develop some posts into magazine articles, which is pretty cool!
The blog has developed into something more than just being about touring on motorbikes and I’m pretty pleased with that. In the not to distant future I’m looking at overhauling the site, changing a few things around and maybe going “Premium.” So I may need the considerable skills of Alba in the field of Website development!

2. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I’d like to be able to visit anywhere in the world that I wanted to and have the freedom and peace to be able to do that without the restrictions of Politics, Fanatics, Race-hate, Dictators and Wars…
…as John Lennon said “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

Broadly though, I’ve pretty much gone everywhere that I really want at the present, my only current “Itch” is to go to Nordkapp/Northcape in Norway, it’s the most Northerly point in Europe. I would naturally have to go on a motorbike.
Well, because it’s there of course!

3. Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Trek. No doubt at all.

4. Favourite Movie?
Diamonds are Forever.
Pure escapism James Bond before it all got too commercial.

5. Favourite Book.
Tricky this one.
I’ve a number of railway and engineering technical tomes that I really enjoy dipping into from time to time, but would be far too boring (and specialist) to recount here.
Fiction-wise I like Ian Fleming’s “Goldfinger” and I had a lot of fun retracing some of the route described in the book on one of my trips a few years back.

In the footsteps of James Bond.

If you click here you can read about it, there’s more than one post though!

6. Favourite Song
Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen.
“Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau,” the Welsh National Anthem – I have tears running down my face every time I sing it at a rugby international!

Do you like to Cook and what is your best dish?
Yes, I adore cooking. Best dish, well I make a pretty ace Game Pie!

My Game Pie.

8. What makes you laugh?
I’m very British when it come to my sense of humour, so I love irony and satire. I like laughing at myself too!

9. Most embarrassing moment?
With skin a thick as mine, embarrassment doesn’t come into it!

10. Singing or dancing?
With my Welsh Blood, naturally it’s singing!

11. T.Rex or Dragons?
Hmm really tricky.
I loved T.Rex in those far off Glam-Rock Days of the 1970’s; Marc Bolan was just fantastic and amazingly it was 40 years ago this year that he died in a car crash.
Dragons live in my beloved, magical, Welsh mountains…if you know where to look! The Red Dragon/Y Ddraig Goch is found on the flag of Wales.

The Welsh Dragon at Mametz Wood, The Somme.

I’ve got one on each of my bikes too, Dragons that is.
I’m going to have to say Dragons…!
Did you know that T.Rex made an album called “Futuristic Dragon”?

There you are then, I hope that answers your questions Alba.

Now at this point I’m supposed to come up with my own string of questions and pass it on in a chain letter sort of way, but ‘cos I like breaking the rules I’m just going to suggest a few sites that I follow and are well worth dropping in on!

Two Wheeled Life


Old England to New England

Finding Myself Through Writing

Louise’s World Travels

Aging Gracefully My Ass

My Ride Blog

Motorcycle Rambler

My Own Private Idaho

2 Wheel Travellers

If anyone feels like having a go themselves and linking me in on their answers here’s a few questions from me:

1. How do you decide on a subject for a blog post?

2. What has been your own favourite blog post.

3. Vinyl or digital?

4. Have you ever been surfing? (No not the internet – real surf, as in the Ocean!)

5. Where are you planning to go on your next adventure?

6. If you could go back in time to witness something in history what would it be?

7. Have you ever seen a ghost or UFO (or both)?

8. Rolling Stones or Beatles?

9. Most precious item that you possess that has no monetary value?

10. Who do you most admire and why?

11. I have a spare pillion seat on the back of my Harley, where shall we go?

Catch you soon.



I’ve been beefing about the lack of two-wheel action of late.

Yeah, I know I did get out for a few hours a couple of weekends ago, but… well it’s just a bit frustrating! My two-wheeled brothers and sisters will understand the feeling of wanting to get out there on the open road and for those of you who don’t ride, imaging sitting in a stuffy room wanting to open the window for some fresh air, but the window won’t open, that’s what it feels like!
Time therefore, for a bit of reflection.DSCF1176

I have a lot to be grateful for and loads of happy memories from rides gone by, as a dip into the blog archives will reveal. So let’s try something new. Here are some photos from previous posts, if you dear reader would like to click on the title, you will find yourself magically transported to the blog page in the archives, I hope! Please give it a go!

On Col de la Bonnette.


Heavenly Hairpins. 20120618-234730.jpg

Simplon Pass. 20130624-232419.jpg

D-Day Airfield. DSCF3394

The Great Pretender! 20130623-220022.jpg

Well there you are, a little glimpse into the archives. You can explore more by using the Archive Selector in the Right Margin on a PC, or at the bottom of the page on a mobile device. I hope you have a bit of fun dipping around in my blog’s past!

“Looking back, over my shoulder…”

Catch ya soon!

Oh yes, go here for a self-portrait!

Goldfinger: Day 4 or This Never Happened to the Other Fella!

OK, so this was originally going to be a simple report about how I have found the locations used in the 1964/5 Bond film “Goldfinger”….would that it was that simple!

This morning the central part of Switzerland was wet, very, very wet and cold too. Got on the road after a good rest in Zweisimmen, lovely hotel to boot, Sonegg Hotel Garni. It’s just reopened after a top to bottom rebuild and is run by a delightful and attentive young family who are determined to look after their guests the best they can, which is very well indeed, very comfortable room, beautifully clean, good breakfast, excellent coffee. Highly recommended, Harley even got a garage rest in too!

The run down the Simme valley was interesting, those lovely smooth Swiss roads are a tad tricky in the wet!
Quick run along the Autoroute next to Lake Thun and into Interlaken, I really wish I had some nice photos to show you, but nice it was not!

I popped into Interlaken to see if had changed much since last time I was there, about 40 years ago…not really, still a bit tacky and up-market at the same time, a peculiarly strange trait that some places seem to pull off!

Whilst there I thought it would be a good idea to put my rain suit on, cos normally it works by getting me too hot and scaring the rain away, today it failed on both counts…more rain and I got cold!

Still heading East we passed Lake Brienz, there were about five tunnels I think, really warm and humid inside causing instant visor mist up, one tunnel even had it’s own cloud of fog in the middle, weird.

After Brienz we swung South and started the climb towards the Grimsel Pass.

The weather started to get worse and colder, as we climbed we entered into the zone where snow was still laying by the road, but then there was snow in the air as well! Then visibility came down even more as mist joined in the party! My visor was covered in sticky snow, but if I opened it the stuff was like sand being thrown in my eyes.

Just as I thought about trying to find somewhere to stop and turn around, I came up behind a transit van belonging to a local business, he was going on and I figured he knew the road, so I decided to tough it out and follow him! It soon felt like a pretty stupid decision as the snow got much, much, worse and the wind was gusting savagely.

I’m normally in my element in the mountains, but then I’m normally on foot and not having to nurse a third of a tonne Harley Davidson who definitely was not in her element! I was, to be, honest bricking it!

Eventually we got to the top of the pass, 2165m (7106 ft), and had a breather. The last quarter of a mile had been grim, in places the wet snow was about four inches deep and I had been riding with feet down as outriggers! At the pass the road swings around the mountain and is comparatively sheltered, it was wet and there was some snow, but nothing like what we had just been through.

Spot the snow stuck on Harley’s screen!

Dropping down the zigzags to Gletch was fun as well, mighty slippery in places, but OK. This it what it looks like on a fine day, however I wouldn’t know cos I couldn’t see a thing!


I paused for breath in Gletch and had a think what to do. From there I could see most of the way up the Furka Pass, should I risk it? I quick word with couple of Belgian bikers settled it, if they could do it, so could I after what we had just dealt with! So up we went and it was OK as well. True there was a lot of snow next to the road and it was cold, but by the top I felt pretty good about things.


Then blow me, what should drive up and park next to Harley?
Only a bloody Aston Martin, with British plates on it, that’s what!

Wrong model, wrong colour….but an Aston Martin on the Furka Pass!!!!!!!
Cue Bond music please Moneypenny!
The car was driven by a super couple from Scotland, er wasn’t Bond from Scotland too?
They were well up on Goldfinger, hence why they were there!
I’m sure he called her M, or was it Emma? Dodgy hearing these days!
Love that anticline in the rocks behind as well…


The run down to Realp and Andermatt was fairly grim. Unfortunately two locations from the film were enveloped by cloud, I’ll do a separate post with some comparisons in due course, as time is pushing on and I’m pretty knack’d right now!

Anyway, after the Bond excitement Harley and I pushed on to our last Pass of the day the legendary Simplon on the way to the Swiss/Italian border. By Oberwald the weather had got much better, in Brig it was getting warmer and at the Pass the rain suit came off!

20130624-232009.jpgSimplon Viaduct, on the way up.

20130624-232240.jpgNeed I say more?

20130624-232419.jpgThe road to Italy.

20130624-232554.jpgStone Eagle guarding the pass.

Tonight I am in Domodossola, Italy. It’s now 23:30hrs local time and the thermometer is reading 23.4 degrees…I’ve just about warmed up!

Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dreams….

Good night.


Goldfinger: Day 2

Good evening everyone from a delightfully warm and dry Macon. Harley and I have just enjoyed a super day romping westwards across France.
The first 120 miles were largely on Autoroutes, not ideal, but hey it munches miles fairly quickly and Harley is just the job when it comes to cruising.
I’ve got to say, that regardless of my comments about Parisien drivers earlier, one of the many things I like about France is the standard of driving that one generally encounters; it’s pretty good! I really feel that it generally knocks spots off the appalling standards one frequently sees back home. For example, lane discipline on dual carriageways and motorways; in the UK lane hogging has now got so bad that a new law has just been passed to try to deal with the problem of the “Middle Lane Owners Club” and the “I’m driving in Lane 2 Because I’m far Too Important/Fast/Lazy to Pull Over Into Lane 1 Club”. Here in France the only time you see a vehicle in lanes 2 or 3 is when they are actually overtaking; oh sorry I forgot, or when an ignorant Brit in an Audi is cruising ingoring everyone else and is too pig stupid to move over, like I saw earlier! Rant over!

So, back to the trip. Chinon to Bourges, autoroute. Then D976 to Nevers. The road passes by Avord Airbase, but some very grumpy looking armed guards persuaded me not to take any photos, but in the nearby village I found this old Mirage IIIB on display.


At La Grenouille the Canal Lateral-Loire crosses the River Allier.


Harley and I then popped into Magny Cours Circuit for a nose around. There was a track day in progress for sport bike types but otherwise it all looked like a prisoner of war camp and felt about as welcoming. James Hunt was right, it is just about as far from anywhere that you can get in France!
We took the D978 and enjoyed a super ride through hills and pine forests of the Morvan National Park. The hairpins entering Chateau-Chinon were delightful, shame about the rest of the town though!
Autun is a fascinating place, quite busy with modern, ugly, French apartment blocks rubbing up alongside Roman ruins. There is also a delightful medieval quarter and an impressive cathedral as well. As an example, here is the Roman Amphitheatre, into which the cunning French have put a football pitch! Brilliant, I love it! Perhaps the Romans invented football as well?


The view over the town.


Just outside Autun is a real oddity, the remains of what is thought to be a 1st Century Pyramid. What purpose it actually served seems to be subject to some debate, there have been burials found nearby but nothing in the edifice itself. Unfortunately there’s not that much left, as most of the stone has been nicked by the resourceful locals who have used it as a help yourself quarry over the centuries. Still looks pretty awesome to me though!


Next up was Le Creusot and something I have wanted to see for a long time. Many of you know that a bit of industrial archeology is always guaranteed to get me going, especially when powered by steam. So get a load of this baby!

It’s a 100tonne steam hammer, last used about 1930 and now mounted on a traffic island on the entry to the town. By 100t, that’s not what it weighs…that’s the force that it could pound metal with! It has a five meter drop on the hammer part as well; it is said that a skilled operator could shell nuts with it, such was the control that was available. I love it! This whole area was once alive with iron works and coal mines, now nothing except a few museum pieces…Funny thing is, I once studied this area as part of my Geography A level; bit of a bugger that I didn’t come here when I was doing it, cos it makes it real and I would have been able to relate much better. Kids should go see the places that they are studying, not just watch videos or read books.
Anyway, we slipped nicely into Bourgogne, Burgundy to the Brits. Wow, it’s lovely! That’s all, lovely and mellow and lush and nice! This is Chateau Birze Le Chatel.

20130622-223836.jpg Harley liked it too!


Tonight’s billet is Chambres D’Hôtes Clos de Flace, just outside Macon.
Very nice, very traditional French and with lovely owners. Then blow me, along rolls a couple from Ebbw Vale…I ask you, South Wales! Need my mate Greg here, sorry, “year”, to translate valley speak tidy like! Je peux faire face à la langue Francais!


That’s it for today, you up for it tomorrow? Good, breakfast at eight then.

The roar of the engine I love that sound.

Goldfinger: The Start

OK, so James Bond 007 is a secret agent, but this mission isn’t, so it’s time to share the first part of the route briefing, pay attention all you ’00’ agents.

The film is initially true to Ian Fleming’s book, with Bond following super-villain Auric Goldfinger across France to Switzerland. Both Bond and Goldfinger’s cars are transported to France via air ferry from Kent, but as these days the air-link is long gone and as I live in Cornwall, we are going to have to bend the rules a bit, anyway I end up driving more miles than Bond as a result! So first up, it’s the ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff in Brittany.

Bond, in his Aston Martin DB4, follows Goldfinger across northern France to an overnight stop in Orléans;Bond Aston

“Bond had never cared for Orléans. I was a priest and myth ridden town without charm or gaiety.” Good enough advice! Harley and I will stay in my regular billet near Chinon and pick up the trail near Nevers.

From there the antagonists head south on the N7, before picking up the N79 to Macon. In the book, it is here that Bond runs into Tilly Masterson, literally! In the film we will see it is a fair bit different.gf_goldfinger_fleming_map_france_02-01a_900

Bond traversed Bourg en Bresse and passed through Pont-d’Ain then picked up the N84, which is now the D1084; we will cut the corner on the D979 and link into the old ’84 near Nantua. I’m going to take a check then how I feel about things. In the  book, Bond goes into Geneva and finds Goldfinger’s lair at Coppet on Lake Geneva; the film is different…so ride along and find out!

Catch you down the road…

Under your feet the grass is growin’!