Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Off to visit Mum & Dad

I'm away to Banwell for a couple of days....and I shall enjoy singing to 'Joni Mitchell' and 'Neil Diamond' along the way & back....on my own...no Gadgetgirlie to tell me to stop singing this time.
Gadgetman will have the peace and quiet of home and will have full control of the remote...No, just kidding, he'll probably get stuck in to all sorts of jobs whilst he has the chance..
The Gadgetkids return on Saturday. Teen has been 'borrowed' by the family of 'his mate' and is in France & Girlie is at her first cub camp.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Only dented pride

T’was nice weather on Sunday, Fazerman had a ride planned for us so he led for a change and I was happy to follow. We explored roads west of London this time and headed out on the A30 to Basingstoke, then meandered towards Reading, before heading back to Newlands Corner for a quick cuppa prior to heading for our respective homes.

Along the way Fazerman led me on mystery tours off the main route, through places we didn’t know existed and probably couldn’t find again.

I managed to drop my bike during one of our many ‘u’ turns. Or should I say, ‘lowered’ it gently when I realised that I wasn’t able to hold her up. I got my leg out of the way and used it as a support to ease the speed of the ‘drop’ but just couldn’t get her vertical in time with full lock on. No point in going into details but my pride was the main part damaged, with a scratched rear indicator and front brake lever the only visible reminders.

I learnt that:
· I must always ‘straighten up’ before stopping, instead of only 99% of the time.
· ‘Lowering’ gently is the preferred option in these circumstances.
· Absolutely no fuel leaked out and she started again without a fuss.
· There is a way to avoid scratches or damage to the actual paintwork.
· I cannot lift the bike up on my own. (255kg/562lbs so hardly surprising really).
. Dented pride is all that comes to those that fall in slow motion.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

A wreck in my life

This is Riduna III. She was our only home from when we left England in 1968, until 1972 in Grenada by which time Pete, who was 18 months when we left, outgrew his sleeping space, an adapted cupboard below one of the fo'csle bunks, and there was no other space suitable for him. We sold her to someone in the Islands and she eventually changed hands several times before she ended up in Bequia, long after we left the Caribbean in 1979. She was repainted and owned by a local resident who raced her in island races. She was not designed for racing, she was designed to cope with the North sea, a Clive Mort design based on a Colin Archer, using the basic shape of the North sea lifeboats of 1925, tough old girls that ventured out in the worst of weather to save vicims of the sea.

Years later my brother, Pete returned to Bequia on a bare-boat charter and found Riduna III, up on the beach and in an irreversible condition. He spent time with her owner, Hodge Taylor, someone we’d known during our years there, and caught up with Ridunas life during the years following our departure.

Petes account, which I can't seem to link to but is on the 'Pete the nomad' site in my side bar, under the 'Pete the Nomad' choice of his 3 sites, then 'Stories', then 'RIP Riduna III', still brings a tear to my eye, and dad still treasures his memento. (Sorry, I've tried and tried and couldn't get the link to work direct to the page).

It may be difficult to imagine that a boat can evoke such strong emotions and I can't imagine feeling the same way about a house. A house can be replaced with bricks and mortar. There will never be another Riduna III and no-one else will ever have the pleasure of sailing her. We would have all preferred to think of her carrying on afloat, enjoyed by another enthusiast on further voyages. Our boats were a part of us, an integral part of our cruising lifestyle, and we believed that if you look after a boat than she will look after you. A racing life just pushed her too far.

I'm off to visit Mum and Dad this coming week whilst the Gadgetkids are away on their respective activities and I hope to spend some time taking notes of our life on Riduna III. Most of my own memories are of the Caribbean and on Kim, rather than the Med and Atlantic crossing.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Boat on a reef

There was once a pretty little boat that had caught my eye. I’d seen her in Grenada for a few months, nothing like this one featured here, but the picture tells the same sad story. She was gorgeous, had lovely lines, a wooden yawl like ours and from the same American era of wooden yacht design. She needed some care in the way of varnishing and paintwork but she was lovely all the same. At the time I thought that one day, I would love to own a boat just like her.

A few months later I sailed up Islands on another boat and was sitting in the cockpit when the same boat passed by heading for an anchorage inside a dog-leg reef that could be seen from where we were anchored, about a mile away. I watched this graceful boat sail out, admiring her new varnished and painted woodwork.

Such a pretty boat.

I watched as she approached the unmarked channel for the other anchorage, oh so pretty under sail. Then I watched as she suddenly came to an abrupt halt and there was fevered activity on deck by the solo skipper. The wind filled the sails but she didn’t move, only went broadside and leant further over. I could see the skipper trying to lower the sails, difficult to lower when filled with wind. I got the binoculars out and just couldn’t believe what was happening to my dream boat. She’d gone on the reef and was being pushed further on by the wind and waves. Oh what a disaster. My skipper got on the radio and the alarm was raised. Dinghies roared over to see what they could do to help. I felt helpless and could only watch as this beautiful boat was swept further onto the reef, baring her bottom as she was swept onto her side. Nothing could be done. She was stuck hard.

I remember crying at the loss I felt for the senseless end of a beautiful boat forever. I felt each crunch inside me as she was battered by the reef, as if I was taking the physical pain for a boat with no feelings, as if I was watching someone die a painful death.

We left soon after, heading south again and I’ll never forget seeing her lying helpless on the reef, all alone out there with no hope of recovery, and a year or so later when I returned her hull was lying on the bottom of our anchorage. Don’t know how she got there. I dove down to the wreck. She was bare of masts and all her fittings, just another wreck for divers and fish to explore, still beautiful, but naked for all to see.

A reminder to all passing yachtsmen of the perils of the Caribbean sea and shores.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Cunard Days

The Cunard Princess docked weekly in St. Georges, Grenada, which is where this photo was taken, I reckon, back in the 70s, whilst we were there. Our marina was a quarter of a mile to the right of the bow of this ship.
We watched her come in and watched the tourists throwing coins over the side for the locals kids to dive for, this would go on whilst the ship was manoeuvring to moor alongside the dock, and the kids made a fortune. It was banned in later years due to an awful accident waiting to happen, happening to one of the boys.
Every Wednesday during the school holidays, my brothers and I would brazenly stroll along the dock mingling with legitimate tourists and walk aboard along the gangplank and in through a hole in the side of the ship, as if we were tourist kids with purpose and family. (Yeah, like we looked like pale and sunburnt tourist kids).
Very quickly we discovered the fresh water open-air pool on the top deck and even better, discovered that the poolside burger bar had a ‘free’ day on Wednesdays and dished out burgers, hotdogs, apples and fresh orange juice to anyone.
Surely the staff must have sussed that we weren’t tourists, especially as we would return for several weeks on the trot, but if they did then they didn’t let on.
We would stuff ourselves on these weekly treats, swim, read, sunbathe and act responsibly in the pool so that we didn’t attract attention to ourselves.
Then we wandered all over the ship, trying out the lifts up and down the decks and following the corridors just to see where they led. We’d be on the ship for hours, but also always mindful of the time, so that we could then stroll off before the ship sailed at 4pm.
I was the eldest at 10-11’ish then, and mum didn’t have a clue where we were, because as long as we were back for dinner daily, then we had total freedom to roam, well, anywhere really.
Imagine if we had judged it wrong and sailed with the ship? It doesn’t bear thinking about as a parent, but as kids we did it cos we could, and just didn’t tell mum what we got up to.
We knew the Cunard Adventurer and the Cunard Countess pretty well too.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Only Fools and Bikers

Just in case there is anyone out there who would like a weekend camping with a bunch of bikers & partying, with live Rock bands, a firework display worth seeing, a HUGE campfire, a kids entertainer, a bike show with trophies and cash prizes, the usual stalls selling food and bike stuff, and held on the lawn in front of a country mansion with a lake and woods to walk off around, and steep grassy slopes for sledging down on bits of cardboard...

No time to go any further with this today....

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Brittany 2004

Due to our last minute panic about booking a B & B near St. Malo for the end of our summer holiday this year, I am reminded of our last trip there 2 years ago, and this was us ready for departure. One year we didn't pre-book a B & B which resulted in us sleeping on the tarmac of the ferry queue!

The bikes and boards are essentials, but anything else and we'd have been overloaded.

We put up with the rain, the kids make the most of it and we sit and rain-watch happily hoping it'll stop sometime soon.

The days on the beach are such fun, spent digging holes and channels in the sand with our loony dutch friend, (in black), bodyboarding, and swimming. The rock pools are amazing here at Cap Frehel, never seen bigger, and such fun to explore, some are deep enough for deliciously warm dips.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Gadgetgirlies psychology

The results of shopping after work today when I was starving. I don't really like shopping.

.......I bought a little something naughty for later as a reward....The fifth one was superfluous to family needs so I got rid of the problem sharpish.

Then found these photos on the camera, that Gadgetgirlie decided to take, as evidence of her efforts at tidying her room this morning.

A bit later.....

"Can my friend sleep over please?"
I couldn't very well say, "Your room is a tip, and I'll need to see a tidy room to think about it, could I?

So we have two giggly girlies for the night. I wonder what time they'll get to sleep...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Testing the limits

"Mum, can I go to Kingston with my mate tomorrow?"
"Why not?"
"Because you let us down badly last week and you have to rebuild the trust that we had in you."
"Yeah but I had to weed the quiet area for a whole week for that."
"No, that was for truanting from school, not for letting us down."

He thinks about this for a minute.

"So why can't I go to Kingston then?"

I try again patiently. "Because we don't feel that we can trust you to act responsibly on your own at the moment."

More deep thought. "Well can I go to Chessington World of Adventures with my mate then?"

Oh for goodness sake!

"Why not?"
"For the same reason."

He thinks about this for a bit longer.

"So can my mate come over here or I go to his house to play base guitar then?"

Now we're getting somewhere. "Yes, if it's okay with his parents.
So you understand that we will be restricting your freedom for a while because of all that has happened?"

"Yes, I don't like it........but I understand."

He's a good lad deep down cos that was exactly what I wanted to hear....

Monday, May 15, 2006

Gadgetmans deterrent

For those of you that can put up with seeing further details of gadgetry on Gadgetmans Trike, I present the remote control for the missile firing device, fitted to deter thieving scumbags from nicking the now-replaced cd player!

The buttons are easy to use really, disarm, arm, audible warning and FIRE........

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Pleasures & Gadgets

Spent too long today hunting for a biker friendly B & B near St. Malo, on the internet but had enough of that and needed to get out for a while.

It looked like rain was looming but I didn't care, at least I wouldn't get too hot in leathers. I thought about the route from Ripley to Newlands but found myself on the road for Boxhill. The route is varied so I get to enjoy passing the slow traffic past Chessington world of Adventures, have a very quick blat along the bypass towards Leatherhead, then enjoy the bendy bits of the A24, with a final brief blat along the dual carriageway before Rykas, where a browse with a cappucino awaits.

The above photo is of a Bennelli TNT titanium belonging to Colin, who had to collect his bike direct from the factory in Italy. Note the under seat exhaust, in-built heater for hot bums? It's got a 1130 cc engine with 149 bhp and only 25 of this model exist. that's all I remember anyway.

A tall, long-white-haired & bearded wizened, toothless, wizardy-type old chap approached as soon as I drew up at Newlands Corner a little later.
Said his name was 'The Druid of Avebury', (Wiltshire), and that he had just rebuilt the gearbox on this AMF 350 cc Harley from, I think, 1976 and was out to run it in with a whole heap of miles, so popped up to one of his old haunts at Newlands. What a character he was.

Then Gadgetman and Gadgetgirlie turned up on the Trike and soon we headed back to Boxhill where the Trike got a bit of attention.

And Gadgetgirlie acquainted herself with my bike.

Well, there's the oil pressure gauge, voltmeter, fuel gauge, input manifold vacuum gauge, water temperature gauge, and fuel pressure gauge.

The blue red & green illuminated switches on the left are for the cooling fans, fog lights and hazard warning lights.

Below them are the left indicator, ignition, high beam, oil pressure warning and right indicator lights.

The dip stick is for the gearbox oil and the brackets for something missing are for the rear view camera screen, especially useful for overtaking and for use with the half-a-Renault-extra trailer, which also has a camera mounted.

'The Gadgets'? Can't imagine how any friends of ours could possibly think of such a nickname...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Filled my boots & Gadgeteens 'time'

What's a girl to do when she gets home from work and no-one is in and the sun is shining?

Attend to the laundry pile?

Tidy the house?

Not this one, got all excited at just the thought, and a hastily scribbled 'Out for a ride' note later, I was gone and so was my Harley. She gleamed and kerfuffled happily and I felt very alive, and free to roam in my thoughts for a while.

Up at Newlands Corner I recognised a biker that I remember chatting to at Boxhill 16 years ago. He had a sportster back when I had my last one. Now he's got this 'M' reg Kawasaki W650, similar in looks to the old Triumph, unusual I thought, and quite attractive. We sat in the afternoon sun and swapped experiences with a coffee for a while.

On the way back I found a country lane to bumble along, not really caring where it took me, just going with the flow and filling my boots with memories.

Gadgeteen returned home soon after I did, and as we ate I told him of my phone call with his head teacher today regarding his truanting.

"We would like your son to come in with an old set of clothes each day next week, he will have to stay behind and 'weed' the grounds for an hour. Would you support us in this?"


"No way, I'm not doing it," says Gadgeteen, "I'd rather be punched in the face."

He'll come round and do his time but I can't say he'll feel able to laugh about it for at least 10 years...

Friday, May 12, 2006

You're gonna get a letter

His shoulders were already slumped as he came in from school and flopped onto the settee.

He knew that he’d let us down.

“So what happened then?”

Well…after school I met my mate in Kingston, and you’re gonna get a letter.”

Silence ensued as we waited for more.

“Yeah and um, me and my mate went to the 99p store and nicked some chewing gum and a can of hair spray each. We were hungry.”

More silence.

“And um, we walked down the road and a man, I think he was security, took us back to the store and we gave the stuff back and um, (big sigh emanates), then a policeman came and told us to get out of Kingston and that if he saw us again then he would nick us and we got banned from the 99p store forever, so you’re gonna get a letter. I’m sorry.”

Oh my God.

Not only that but he then went on to tell us that they,

1) had pre-planned the whole day and skived off school.
2) went to the skateboard park at Kingston. (Bushy Park).
3) bought travel cards and went to the Southbank and saw some people doing graffiti.
4) then went by tube, (“we went on a tram”), to Camden Market. (“I saw this cool schoolbag mum, can I go back and get it?”).
5) tried, what I think, was Amyl Nitrate.
6) had the best day ever.
7) scrounged tap water from Macdonalds, (“ And they even gave us ice, mum”).
8) and starved all day.

Help. I don’t want to be a mum anymore, it’s too hard!

So what d' ya do?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sunny work days

This chap guards our pond and expresses exactly how I feel about the prospect of work today.

It's a lovely sunny morning and I can hear lawn mowers and strimmers nearby and the smell of freshly cut grass wafts across the gardens.

I'd rather be anywhere but at work but gotta go...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Gadget Birthday & Bury Hill

Gadgetgirlie turned 8 this week, yes, a busy week, what with the actual day followed by a VERY bouncy party on Saturday.
For my own sanity, I now need to book some electric guitar lessons for her.

Also for my sanity I’d planned a ride with my mate Fazerman so
this was the scene at the Café on Bury Hill, West Sussex, on Sunday.
Two’s company is quite apt for a ride out somewhere and we leave our bikes to wander round the other bikes discussing features and styles,

like the extended swinging arm on this one.

A mostly dry sunny day, bar a little wet stuff on the way back, nowhere near like ‘lakes in my boots’ though. We met up with Gadgetman on the Trike enroute back north up at Newlands corner for a coffee

Sunday, May 07, 2006

'The Over the Edge Rally

Our weekend away was full of good family fun and entertainment, if you enjoy swimming, dancing, drinking, riding, sleeping and playing with new friends.

Gadgetgirlie won an award for participating in the 'swimathong' silly game, and managed to blag a free breakfast by playing 'little girl lost' at the right time.

Gadgeteen was allowed some alcohol, enjoyed the 'fetish' fancy dress night tremendously, visually that is, (his eyes kept popping out on stalks), and he won two awards for winning in the silly games.

Gadgetman won an award for 'best engineering' for a car-derived Trike and got tipsy, and I won the 'Bollocks and tits' award, got tipsy and danced along with many others, on the tables in my very short leather skirt.

These silly games rely on audience participation and poor old Stan, the rally organiser, was having trouble drumming up volunteers, so The Gadgets came to the rescue and entered every one with gusto.

Gadgetgirlie and teen had to race, (Gadgetgirlie was allowed to wear her flippers), with others to the other end of the pool, and back, then climb out and put on a swimming thong. What a shame that no grownups entered, but the kids were enthusiastic and everyone got entertained anyway.

My award was for wearing HUGE white y-fronts and a 'Jordan'-sized bra, stuffed with water balloons, then running around the marquee popping balloons with a naff handbag, whilst clutching my y-fronts containing very big wobbly watery goolies within.*

Gadgetman is obviously very pleased with his award and all of us gadgets were proud to see him get called up to the stage to receive his plaque. It recognises the all the work and thought that he puts into improving the Trike.

*I was fully clothed too and did not want anything to go 'pop' and 'gush' in a very wet kind of way.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Progress is slowly being made and I'm pleased (and relieved) to announce my flickr link.
Only problem is that I've reached my free limit for the month.

Sea of seaweed

...Just been researching a way of linking photo albums. It's a bit like swimming through a sea of seaweed towing a sea anchor.....
I will end up with a flickr link...eventually, meanwhile my posts are lacking in content.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Lack of update

Apologies for anyone that has been checking in for an update and found the same old, same old.
'Been making a few changes to the contents of my blog....
I'd like family to access this blog for all our news and photos, so may start a completely new blog for anything else that I want to write that's personal.
Back soon......