Friday, March 31, 2006

My Babe 'n me

The sun was shining today and it was about time I got my knees in the breeze out on The Babe. She kerfuffled and gleamed with the pleasure of being allowed out to play.

She chugged past the flow of traffic and we accelerated to speed along the bypass.

Then I learnt that a full tank of petrol to the reserve is approx. 100 miles. I ran out on the dual carriageway & had to pull over to switch to reserve, and I have not mastered the change on the move yet, especially with winter gloves on.

Oh deep joy at passing stationary traffic in a long queue at the road works.

Roads wet and muddy up the hill to Newlands, so had to be cautious.

Only one other bike in the carpark, an older man on a jap bike, “Have you got enough chrome?” He said.
I smiled, “There’s nothing you can say that I haven’t heard before,” and ordered a coffee at the hatch.

Made a point of taking myself over to the view point and gazing across typically English rolling hills into the distance, and thinking that life was good, even in the drizzle.

People sat in their cars either side of me. I felt uplifted by being out in the elements and appreciated my freedom for a bit. Then I wandered back to the open sided café and saw he was clad in waterproofs and helmet under the shelter of the canopy.

“Yeah, but I’m here, in the rain too, just have a bit more cleaning than you.”

Oh no….. I’ve got mud splatters everywhere, I’ll be sure to clean her as soon as I get home.”

He laughed and we chatted for a few minutes about our shared fun of a weekday ride out just for the sake of it.

Checkpoints and Cigarettes

The roughly thrown together barrier of rocks, boxes, and branches across the road appeared in the headlights, and so did a man with a big gun.

In the car the teenage exuberance evaporated instantly as we slowed to a stop.

“Where you goin’? Wha you doin’ out dis time of night, don’t you know dere’s a revolution?” said the man with the big gun crossly.

Oh yeah, the revolution, which meant no school, occasional shots sounding in the hills around the careenage, a blackout, a curfew, lots of men with guns, and checkpoints around the Island.

Surely it was only meant for the baddies though, not for kids like us on a night out and no threat to anyone.

Then other men with guns loomed out of the darkness at the side of the road and raised their guns towards the car.

“I kyan’t let you troo, you go haf to go back,” said the man with the gun, eyeing us all up.

Fortunately that’s when I recognised the man with the voice and the big gun as a dock-worker from our marina. Sometimes we both had day work on the same charter boats.

“Wha you doin’ wid de gun so, you train for dat?” My accent was as strong as his, and I stuck my head out of the window so that he would see me.

He relaxed and smiled. “De pay is better, just gimme a cigarette an I go let you troo dis time,” he said.

We gave him the pack.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Addled and Absent

My brain is addled and I find the natural flow of words onto paper difficult.

The reasons?

I have very little time on the computer when absolutely no-one is around. This morning I am starting work later so I have 45 minutes of peace.

Often my posts are written too late in the evening and I am knackered and ready for bed.
Any earlier and I struggle to keep the train of thought and flow due to the noisy gadgets, who seem to need my attention every few minutes, and the poxy tv, which is in the same room. Not good for concentration.

I also work full time and need to divide my time between them all at the end of the day, decide on and cook dinner more often than not, sort out squabbles, ferry gadgetgirlie to and from activities, have a bath with her every other day, and answer the phone, which of course rings because friends and family know that we are in during the evenings. Plus all the other usual mothers responsibilities.

I have very little ‘me’ time and feel guilty that I want it, just to write for my own pleasure.

Eventually I will have my own ‘office’, but for the foreseeable future it’s being used as a dumping ground whilst we convert and decorate other rooms.

So I will have to make do with what I have.

There enough said.

And I am going away this weekend without the gadgets so mustn’t grumble.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Early mist

August 2005.

730 am,
A lakeside logging campsite in the middle of nowhere,
Near Port Renfrew, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

This place was just so serene and beautiful. One of the things about camping on the Island that I really love is getting up early, before anyone else, and just sitting in front of just such a view during the calmest part of the day. Blissfully peaceful.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Too good to waste

T’was much warmer today, too good to waste, had to get out on my (clean, some oil, air in the tyres and shiny) Babe, and even dug out my old open-faced helmet, though it suffers from foam dandruff and moults its lining it’s that old.

I prefer the relative freedom of the open face, I can talk to people with it on, face to face, and be seen and heard. (yes, yes, even above the sound of the bike).

Boxhill was heaving with bikes, mainly sporty speed machines, and after a quick coffee and walk around, I headed off along the A25 to Newlands Corner. Great bends but full of Sunday car drivers, not that I want to kick the arse out of it but I like the bendy bits on an empty road.

Newlands Corner faces the afternoon sun and is protected from the chilling breeze. Fewer bikes, and the bikers that come here come to socialize with a coffee and a view.

I sat soaking up the warmth of the sun and views, and got chatting with a biker couple who have a Heritage soft-tail in Devon, a retired Chief-Superintendent on a pan European, a research scientist, (fuels of the future), and the chap who came on the cherry red Sportster 883 that was on Ebay when I was fantasizing. We had both looked at these two bikes whilst daydreaming that weekend. His is newer, with lower mileage, but it has a seat that collects rain, (buttons leave little wet circles on yer bum). She also has loads of after market chrome extras affixed, tarty bits I call them. I had in fact revisited this cherry red Sportster site several times, but opted for mine cos it’s black and a 1200 for the same price that he paid for the 2005 883, that and mine was only 4 miles away.

Got to keep the cobwebs away and the battery charged somehow.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


“There’s a crack up there.”

I finally plucked up the courage of my conviction from my prone position in the cockpit.

Novice skipper glanced up from his position at the helm. “No, must be the shadow of the rigging in the sunlight.” He gave it no more attention.

I lay there for a while longer and continued to watch the crack as we carried on out of the lee into the open water between the two Islands.

“But there isn’t any rigging in the way and the line doesn’t move in relation to the mast.”

“Let’s tighten in the jib a bit, see if we can gain a bit of ground,” he said, ignoring my voice of concern.

There was a crack. It didn’t shift from its position running vertically up from the upper crosstrees to just below the top of the mast, and as we punched to windward through the choppy seas, the gap in the crack flexed and I worried about it.

Sheherazad was a pretty little wooden 32’ sloop but she wasn’t going to win any races, and we were racing, albeit from the back of the fleet.

I’d been asked along as competent crew. Sailing was in my blood whereas he had just bought his first boat, this was his first day out on her and his uninterested wife lay below for the whole crossing.

A few hours later I was below getting lunch when I heard a crash and the sound of splintering wood.

Fortunately we were just in the lee of Martinique.

Flapping sails everywhere, rigging swinging around and the top third of the mast banging and crashing against everything else.

Novice skipper panicked and put out a mayday. We weren’t sinking and noone was hurt. Mayday? Dad would never have done that.

He calmed down as he received radioed advice from other skippers.

'I was 13 and what did I know', were the non verbals I received. I didn’t have the confidence to say anything after a while and he didn’t seem to like my suggestions or opinions.

Sherherazad bounced around in the exposed short seas as we limped slowly into water shallow enough to anchor in. I fought my way to the bouncing foredeck, through snaking shaking rigging and sails, and dropped the hook.

There was no engine so a jury rig was needed to get us going to the finishing anchorage to windward in the distance.

20-25 knots blew so the noise of unfettered sails made chaotic noises. We took stock of the mess. The inner stays held the mast firm but the mainsail flapped around uselessly. The jib and loose lines needed to be hauled out of the water and the broken section of the mast had to be secured.

Somehow we managed to get enough sail filled to carry us over the anchor line. Up with the hook and we inched along the coastline to the finish line and anchorage.

We got hooted over the line.

And got towed back to St.Lucia.

Novice skipper never did acknowledge my earlier observation.

I didn’t go sailing with him again.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Pickets remedy

"Gimme your foot an I go mek yu wak tomorrow," he said, a smile on his face and an easy way about him.

"Wha you gonna do?" I asked. I did not want to hear the word 'cut' mentioned.

The smile took over his face. "Go an tink abat it, jus gimme your foot when you check me laitaa when it dark. You'll wak on de two o' dem tomorrow again"

I limped away to consider my options, the heel of my foot throbbed with every delicate step.

Dad could take me over to the hospital on the far shore in the dinghy, but I didn't relish the thought of being poked and prodded painfully by a pompous man in white, then the was the 'lancing' word to think about. I already knew what lancing a boil meant, and that was unbearably painful, so I didn't rate this option.

I could carry on hobbling around and not be able to play properly, or swim, or climb, or have any fun.

Or I could surrender my foot to Picket and walk tomorrow. There was never any doubt in my mind that he what he said would be true.

At dusk I returned to the boat. Picket was already there, sitting with Dad in the cockpit with a rum and lime.

“Yeah okay,” I said.

“Come,” he said.

I followed him down below to the saloon, my heart pumping with concern for my well- being. I really didn’t want to believe what my brain was telling me.

He sat on the seat behind the table and got me to sit stretched out with my foot in his lap. He grabbed my foot in a vice like grip, and asked my brother to fetch a bay leaf, some margarine, an egg cup, and a razor blade.


A razor blade? What would that be for? I pondered frantically.

Struggling was pointless. He calmly rubbed the bay leaf on my heel, and coated it in marg.

The razor blade was new.

The vice like grip tightened a few turns.

The razor blade glinted as it moved.

I screamed for my life and felt instant death looming in the tunnel.
Then he was squeezing the agony out of my foot and relief beckoned.

A full egg cup of ‘infectious yuk’ later and it was all over. The throbbing was now just a stinging and the cut was barely a quarter of an inch.

“tis de only way.” He said, “You go wak tomorrow.”

Dad was still sitting where we’d left him, distraught by my pain.

He gave me a hug handed me something.

That was the first and last time I ever smoked a joint with my dad.

No throbbing and a good nights sleep.

I was walking 'on de two o' dem' the next day.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Unusual Beginnings

When I completed the application form for my current job a score and more years ago, information was required on education - 'List the names and addresses of all schools/colleges attended', it said.

I probably answered in the following fashion.

See attached appendix A

  1. A nursery school somewhere in Devon, maybe near Newton Abbott or Salcombe.
  2. Mum & Dad, whilst cruising through the French Canals on a 32' Colin Archer.
  3. A Primary school in Valletta, Malta.
  4. Mum & Dad, whilst cruising the Med
  5. Mum & Dad, during our Atlantic crossing.
  6. Westmoreland Montessori primary school in Grenada, BWI. (Left Island due to Uprising).
  7. Rustington primary school, Sussex. (1 year). (Stayed with family friends).
  8. Westmoreland primary school, in Grenada, BWI again.
  9. The Calvert Correspondence course, (1st year of high school).
  10. A secondary school in St. Lucia, BWI (1 year).
  11. Mum & I learnt Spanish together. (1 year).
  12. Evening classes studying 'o' levels in Grenada. BWI. (Not completed due to Revolution).
  13. Camosun College, Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Colombia, Canada. (1 year book-keeping and typing).

Another little gem on the application form as far as I'm concerned was:

List all previous addresses.

See attached appendix B

...and it went something like this:

  1. A caravan in a pigs field somewhere near Falmouth, Cornwall.
  2. A former Police house in Totnes, Devon.
  3. The Round House, near Newton Abbott.
  4. S/Y Riduna III, at sea, English Channel.
  5. " " " French Canals, France.
  6. " " " Malta, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Italy, Yugoslavia, (until deportation), Greece & Islands, Spain, TheBallearics, Gibralta, The Canary Islands, The Atlantic Ocean, The Cape Verde Islands, Barbados, Grenada.
  7. S/Y Kim, Grenada, The Grenadines, St. Vincent, St, Lucia.
  8. Whilst crewing on other yachts, Martinique, Dominica, Antigua,
  9. Pompano Beach, Florida, (a house), USA, (With, what turned out to be , a dope smuggler. Didn't hang around long).
  10. A Winnebago on Vancouver Island, British Colombia, Canada. (With my family).
  11. A Dodge campervan touring British Colombia, Canada. (With a boyfriend).
  12. An address in Streatham, London. (With Dad).

I wonder what the powers that be made of that?

I'm still there anyway.

Friday, March 10, 2006

My Babe

Took my Babe to work today, once again it was wet, but hey ho, she was already splattered with muddy rain from the ride earlier this week.

Oh most definately yes, yes this has been the right decision for me in my opinion but purely from a selfish point of view.

I have put this purchase off unselfishly for 9 years really. I had the money in savings back in 96, from the sale of my last Harley, but another story later and it all got used it to help support us during my 5 year career break, and since then, even though I've been back at work since 2000, there's always been a reason why I shouldn't really spend this kind of money just on the bike of my dreams.

I've got a horny bike again, and she's gonna be known as 'My Babe' to anyone I enthuse to. I did show her off a bit today. One guy at work reacted beautifully enthusiastically for me, wanted me to start her up so that he could sit on her, and asked some technical questions that I knew the answers to.

I do feel rather like an excited teenage girlie.

Can you imagine the thrill I feel when I click into gear, roar off down the road, and accelerate away? Very cautiously I may add, and with respect to others-bar sound, and even that is a consideration if I'm out late.

I like being responsible for my self and being in control of such a heavy large machine. I love the feeling of the exposure to the elements, the sound of the airflow through and around my helmet, the feel of wind pressing against my body, the sound of the rain against my helmet, no, perhaps not the rain- it's wet and slippery, and I won't go fast, I feel my body charged with physical power, resisting the pull against my hands holding firmly around the handlebar grips. The comfortable armchair-with-one-of-those-adjustable-foot- supports type position of the forward foot controls so that my legs are stretched out towards the front wheel, like I'm wrapping my lower half around the engine, the heat of which I feel against the inside of my legs....

Quite a thrill then....

Monday, March 06, 2006

She's all mine

On Friday I decided that having another Harley was essential to my well being.

That evening evening I started doing some research on the net.

Then I saw the previously posted bike photo on ebay amongst many others, and put the photo up as an example of what I wanted, not knowing that I would buy that very one. After looking the bike over in the various photos that the guy had put on, I decided to phone him up cos he was so local.

On Saturday I had 40 mins spare in my working day to dash over to have a look- see, then we agreed the price, (£5,600, less than I had anticipated). I phoned my bank on Saturday evening, got the cash and insurance this morning before 10, and the guy brought her down. I took him home and then my time was my own for a few hours.

I've just returned from my first ride out, nice sunny day too. Popped down to Box Hill and Newlands Corner, then roared back up the A3 at between 80-100mph, just to blast the cobwebs out you understand. Weird having foot pegs way out in front rather than below my feet but very comfortable. Rubber mounted engine now too, so no more numb bum on long rides.

This has all happened so quickly, I'm a bit like that though. I take a long time to come to a decision but once I do I want it now, not next week, and I'd jump rainbows to make it happen.

I've got her, she's mine now. Hang the expense and now 3 years of paying for her. She's mine. I'm over the moon and buzzing and trembling with glee.

Friday, March 03, 2006

One of my fantasies this week

I'm fantasizing again.

Happens frequently 'cos I really really want one. Had a black one for 6 years and found it was the ideal size for a titch of a bitch like me. Only one little problem... the cost ... um.. well ......good value really.... honestly...uh.. yes... the cost....around £6,500 or thereabouts. A bit of jiggley-juggley needed with the finances.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Learning the lingo

The lack of a posting here is down to:

1) Trying to get a photo accepted onto my profile page, simple you may think but not for me.

I managed to upload a photo to my blog, first acheivement. Next I tried to upload said photo to my profile from my blog, but got a rejection saying that my photo was too big and could only be 50kb . Shit, how do I make that happen then?
SB helped me out there with advice on what to try, but then it was rejected again, this time the url was too long. Oh bollocks, how do I shorten the url?

SB and I eventually got together for a 'computer only' session on Tuesday evening. He played with my photo a bit to darken my features and the back ground. Then he renamed, (shortened), the jpg. and we got it accepted at last.

2)Trying to understand how to copy the 'links' set up into my blog.

The instructions say that you copy it into the template somewhere in the sidebar. You do what? This is a foreign language to me. I have spent the last few days and weeks in between everything else going on in my life, scrolling through my template trying to understand what all the gobbledeegook meant and reading the 'help' info, which assumes more basic knowledge than I had.
I tried copying & inserting the 'link' url'in several different places on the template and previewing the insertions but nothing seemed to change.
Last night, finally, can you just imagine my euphoria when I actually made it work? As I continue to play with the template I will suss out more of language.

3) Yesterday I was finally accepted for Britblig, the 4143rd member. I'm easily pleased and perhaps overreacted a bit when I shouted, "Yes, yes, I've done it!" Followed by several leaps up and down whilst punching the air triumphantly.
You see, I was turned down when I first started blogging in January and I can only assume that my rejection was due to my site not containing enough posts to be able to be assessed for suitability and location, and not having visual little extras. (Not very good at doing this yet either).
My acceptance spurred me into fervoured fingered activity last night and the next step in developing my site was that I of course wanted to insert the britblog icon/link.
Easier said than done for a novice like me. That brings us back to understanding the content of the template, which I covered in (2) above, so I copied it to below the eblogger icon as it now is.

Can anyone relate to any of the above?

So here I am ..........a novice in blogland.