Monday 7 August 2023

Cropredy Convention 2023

 I'll be leaving on Thursday for this year's Cropredy Convention.

Interesting lineup, some of whom I've seen before, and some 'new' acts I'm looking forward to seeing. 

This year I'll be heading straight to the Convention then heading home afterwards, so as it's a particularly boring route I'll go in the car.

Weather for the weekend looks good with only a small chance of rain on Saturday (we'll see how that works out!)

 As It's a sunny day today I dug my tent out and put it up in the garden. It hadn't been out of its bag since last year, so needed an air and I wanted to check everything was OK. This tent is about 40 years old so it has held up well. 

Following on from my problems on the Retirement Trip, I've bought a new camera and a new phone, so I should have plenty of photos for you.

Thursday 6 July 2023

Retirement trip - Day 38

Left Limerick in (guess what?) light drizzle and made my way to the motorway. Since the first day of the trip where I used motorways to get from my house to Portsmouth, I had managed to avoid motorways and and travelled only on back roads. However, this was my last day and I wanted to get to the ferry terminal in Belfast in time to get the boat back to Scotland.

Not much to report about the trip, the road was fairly empty and free flowing until I got close to Dublin where it got a bit busier and was fairly stop/start getting onto the ring road. After that it quietened, and was very clear up until I got close to Belfast. At some point I crossed the border, but as it's not marked, I only realised when I saw a sign referring to the road as the A1 rather than the N1, and the town names were in English only.

I had booked onto the 19:30 sailing, but arrived at the ferry terminal at around 14:00 and managed to change my sailing to the one at 15:30. I rode out of the ferry terminal to fill up with petrol and returned to take my place in the queue to get on the boat. We were soon told to board the ferry and our bikes safely tied down for the two hour crossing.

The crossing was very smooth and is long enough for you to get a couple of cups of coffee, walk around the deck, and have a look at things in the shop. Eventually we were called down to the car deck, bikes unstrapped, and we waited for the doors to open.

However, a crew member told us all to make our way back up to the restaurant and await further instructions. When we got there the crew counted all of the passengers and informed us that a man had ended his life by jumping from the ship into the sea as the boat docked. 

We had to wait as the emergency services retrieved the man from the sea, a helicopter took him away, and the Police interviewed witnesses to the incident. It was about two hours before we were allowed to leave and they informed us that we would disembark slowly as the Police wanted to question each passenger. Luckily, motorcyclists were allowed to leave the boat first, I was the third person off the bot, I was asked some questions by the Police and allowed to go on my way. The ride back from Cairnryan was uneventful, just taking place in varying levels of rain! Just after Ayr, when the rain was particularly heavy, my bike stuttered and cut out. It took me a few minutes to get it restarted and it ran OK all the way home. I assume this was caused by water getting into the electrics, possibly those that had loosened earlier in the trip, something I will look at later.

After about two and a half hours I made it back to my house. 38 days, 6 countries, 3 ferries, 6700 miles/10,800 km and a lot of memories. It was an amazing trip, visited lots of interesting places, rode on some amazing roads, and the bike (mostly) behaved itself. The Bonneville showed itself to be a very competent touring bike, and one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone.

I'll write an article soon about what I learned on the trip, what I would have done differently, etc, etc.

Wednesday 5 July 2023

Retirement trip - Day 37

 Went back into the city centre in the morning, but it rained fairly heavily so I made my way back to where I was staying and rearranged my luggage and had a sleep in the afternoon.

In the evening I made my way back to King John's Castle for the second concert I had come to see.

They put on a great concert and, despite the rain now and again, the crowd really enjoyed it.

Went back to my accommodation after the concert and got ready for heading back on the road tomorrow. 

Tuesday 4 July 2023

Retirement trip - Day 36

 Had a day off the bike exploring Limerick. It's a very nice city with plenty to see and a friendly 'small town' atmosphere about it. The city centre is laid out in a grid so is very easy to navigate.

I visited two museums, Limerick Museum and The Hunt Museum, which gave a lot of information on the history of the city.

Limerick Museum is the plain fronted building, the building with the columns is a church.

There is also a small art gallery in a very pleasant park.

I visited King John's Castle and the interpretative centre has a very good display about its history.

Wandering around the city I saw statues commemorating actor Richard Harris,

television and radio presenter Terry Wogan,

and a sculpture commemorating the work of dockers at the city's quays. 

I also saw this interesting entrance to an auctioneer's yard.

I posted this photo on Facebook and my friend Sean replied with a period newspaper cutting.

Monday 3 July 2023

Retirement trip - Day 35

 Left Killorglin on a slightly drizzly morning and rode to my first destination of the day, the Lartigue Monorail at Listowel, Co Kerry. This is a truly bizarre raiway with a raised monorail built by French engineer Charles Lartigue. I believe the raised centre rail was to allow the railway to be built in the Sahara desert where conventional rails would be covered in sand. Why it was built in the west or Ireland and not Morocco or Algeria is a bit of a mystery. Unfortunately, it was still morning when I arrived and it doesn't open until the afternoon, so I could only make a video standing outside! Website

Undaunted by that disappointment I headed to my next destination, the Flying Boat Museum at Foynes, Co. Limerick. However, when I arrived I found that it was partly closed due to refurbishment! However, the control tower and restored flying boat were open and they were showing videos in the cafe.

I carried on and saw signs for the town of Adare. I had heard this referred to as 'the prettiest town in Ireland', so went for a look. The pretty part is certainly true, but it also appears to be 'the busiest town in Ireland' with the main street being a two way, slow moving traffic jam! I also totally failed to find anywhere to park the bike, so had to leave without stopping.

I headed on to wards my destination for tonight, the city of Limerick. I had rented a room in a large house for three days, but when I arrived I found the gates locked. I managed to contact the owner and they texted me the code for the gate, the front door, and which room I should take. The room was very nice and I carried my luggage in, got changed, hung my wet clothes out to dry and wandered into the city centre. I made my way to King John's Castle and managed to sneak in and take a look at the stage that had been erected for the concert I was attending tonight.

I had a wander around the city centre, got something to eat then headed back to my accommodation, a short 15 minute walk away.
At the accommodation there was another bike parked, a British registered Royal Enfield 350. I didn't see the owner and it left the following morning.

Back to the castle and remember the hassle I had over tickets I mentioned yesterday? About half the people in the queue had printed their tickets onto a piece of paper, and those that had bought their tickets from the local promoter had paper tickets and they all got in OK. So what was all that panic about having to use the new app all about?

We all got in and I managed to stand at the barrier at the front. The band were Kraftwerk and they put on a fantastic set. Unfortunately, I forgot to put a new battery in my camera and it ran out very quickly!

Took another bit of video using my phone, so quality is a bit poor.

Approximate map of today's journey.

Tuesday 27 June 2023

Retirement trip - Day 34

 Left Glengarriff in drizzly weather with a clear plan - I would ride the Ring of Beara in the morning and the Ring of Kerry in the afternoon. These are routes around peninsulas on the west coast and are famed for their scenery.

I started round the Ring of Beara and took a side road to see the unique cable car that connects Dursey Island to the mainland. I had seen a YouTube video about this which mentioned tht it would be closed for a year for maintenance. At the end of the road there was a sign saying the cable car was closed to the public and was only running for testing. When I arrived the cable car office was locked up and nothing was moving.

At this point my still camera completely stopped working and I think it's not dead. I took a couple of photos on my phone, but as it adds a yellow cast to the pictures I have to convert them to black and white.

I was speaking to some people there and the locals seemed to think that the cable car would be running that afternoon. There were people queuing at the island side, so it looks like they thought the same thing.

I carried on round the Beara peninsula and passed through some beautiful villages and spectacular scenery - sadly the rain was getting heavier and visibility was poor at parts.

The road on the north side of the peninsula was much narrower and winding with poor visibility, so speed was down to crawling at some points. I realised the ride was taking much longer than expected and that a ride round the Ring of Kerry wouldn't be possible in the time I had. Looking for something else to fill the day, I decided to ride over the Healy Pass. This was a very good road, but the heavy rain made visibility a bit difficult.

See, it's not all riding around in glorious sunshine!

 I had taken other videos but they were so poor due to poor visibility, rain on lens, etc that I couldn't use it.

The pass took me back to Glengarriff and I actually rode past the place I had stayed. The rain wasn't getting any better, so I rode n to my destination for tonight, the small town of Killorglin, Co Kerry. The place i was staying said I couldn't book in until 18:00, so I rode fairly gently and stopped at a cafe for about an hour to use up time.

One of the reasons I'm in Ireland is to go to concerts tomorrow night and Friday night. I'd bought the tickets through Ticketmaster ages ago and today got an e-mail from them saying they had changed the way you can show your tickets. You can now only use a 'live' system on your phone and they won't accept a screenshot. You also have to download a new version of Ticketmaster's Irish app for it to work. I tried downloading the new Ticketmaster Ireland app but as I've got a British phone I got a 'not available in your country' message. Ticketmaster UK couldn't find my tickets as they are at a venue outside the UK, so I had to spend ages loading and reloading apps to get it to work. I then had to download the Google Wallet app to store the tickets. All in, this took me 3 hours, but I think I got it to work. Nice of them to do this the day before a concert!

All reactions

Monday 26 June 2023

Retirement trip - Days 32 and 33

Day 32 

A fairly short ride from Saint-Malo to Chebourg on lovely sunny, warm country roads. I had almost run out of clean clothes so stopped at a coin operated launderette and gave everything I wasn't wearing a wash and dry. Cherbourg was a bit difficult to navigate due to a lot of roadworks and blocked streets, but I made it to my destination, the ferry terminal.

At the terminal there was the usual lengthy wait to get through all of the ticketing and passport checks. At least here motorcyclists are directed to wait at a proper waiting room with seats, vending machines, toilets, and a very welcome (and free) water cooler. I got into conversation with a Croatian rider who lives in Ireland and was returning from a two month trip to Croatia and Serbia via France and Italy.

I have travelled by Irish Ferries before and know how extortionate their charge for Internet use was (other ferry companies are free), so no report tonight.

So there will be an overnight sea border crossing and a return to riding on the left hand side of the road.

Approximate map.

Day 33

Had a really good sleep in my cabin, but nearly died when I saw the price of a cup of coffee and a croissant for breakfast! Always take your own food when travelling by ferry!

Ireland coming into view.

Berthing at Dublin Port

Ferry arrived at Dublin Port and did that amusing thing of rotating round and backing into the jetty, (so vehicles can drive straight off). Clearing passport control went fairly quickly, and it was out into the streets of Dublin. Unfortunately, the route out is through the city centre, so I took me over an hour to clear the city, and it started pouring with rain!  I used a short amount of motorway to get away, then it was back onto my usual habit of taking back roads. The rain was off and on all afternoon, so I didn't stop and take any photos. Had the weather been good, one place I would of stopped and photoed is the Rock of Cashel, it looks really impressive.

Pic stolen from Wikipedia

I carried on on increasingly beautiful scenery until I arrived at my destination for tonight, the very pretty town of Glengarriff, Co, Cork.

One thing I like about Ireland is how people paint their houses bold colours

I've got some plans for tomorrow, but they will depend on the weather.

Update: This is a map of today's journey from Dublin to Glengarriff, not my plans for tomorrow. Sorry for any confusion.

Saturday 24 June 2023

Retirement trip - Day 31

 I left Les Sables-d'Olonne and headed a short distance out of town to Musée Auto de Vendée. I hadn't heard of this museum before, I just drove past it yesterday and decided to visit this morning. It has a very good collection of very early cars plus a good selection of 50s and 60s cars, the vast majority being French built so unfamiliar to me. The older cars are particularly well restored, something which must be a mammoth task as parts must be unavailable. In addition to the cars there are a few motorbikes, some carts and bicycles, toys and household items. Entry was 16 Euros and it is well worth visiting if you are in the area. Website.

The day was very hot and sunny and I saw 34C at one point, making this the joint hottest day of the trip so far. Most of today's ride wasn't very interesting, just through flat agricultural land with the occasional village. I stopped at one of my favourite French towns, the seaside resort of Dinard. I've visited it at least twice before and it's truly exquisite. It was very popular in the late 19th century with wealthy British visitors, but started to go out of fashion by the 1930s. I really like the town and would consider coming here for a holiday.

The town has a British Film Festival each September, and there's a statue of Alfred Hitchcock, being attacked by birds, on the promenade. Website.

I particularly like The Gallic Hotel. It's in a narrow street near the beach so hard to photograph. Sadly, it wasn't very successful as a hotel and the French Government took it over as a military hospital during WW2. Later it was occupied by the German Army, and after the war it was sold off as individual apartments. It was declared a 'historic monument' by the French government to protect it, but as the building has 75 co-owners it has been difficult to coordinate its preservation. However, it is possible to rent some of the apartments, although they are understandably not cheap!

I rode on to my destination for tonight, Saint Malo. I had a problem with my booking as sent me a message yesterday saying the bank card I had booked with had been declined!  They asked me to rebook using a different card, but I only have one. I contacted the hotel in English and French saying I didn't know why it had been declined, but would sort it out when I arrived. I checked the card was working by buying food in a supermarket, petrol in a service station and took out cash from an ATM at a bank. When I arrived at the hotel my card worked in their card reader, so I've no idea what the problem was.