Friday, April 17, 2009


I have never owned a bike in the UK. Bikes are for warm weather - preferably dry. England's summer makes a good winter. As a summer, it fails.
Not having a bike, I have never bothered with a UK bike license. Times have changed. Our youngest son, Jed, returns soon from his winter job in the French Alps. He will want to use my car. Time to buy a bike so I need to get legal. The Driving Standards Authority (DSA) is introducing a new, more difficult module to the test on April 27. Most training companies are against the module as too costly and dangerous. The biggest UK driver training company, BSM, is pulling out of the biker market. The DSA have arranged for me to ride the module today. If an old man of 76 can pass, where's the problem?
Steve from ACER Motorcycle Training brings a Honda 125 CG to the test area in Gloucester for me to ride. The Press Officer from the DSA is there. Motorcycle News (MCN) has sent a photographer. The tester is the DSA's instructor of testers.
I practice the module a few times. I'm ready. The tester is ready.
Steve asks if I'm confident of the two speed sections. Yes...
Steve's assistant, Paul, asks if I'm OK for the two speed sections. Yes...
I wish they would stop asking. Asking makes me nervous.
And I wish the track wasn't wet.
I ride the module twice for the tester: first a slalom, double figure of 8, 20 meters at walking speed and U turn. Last come the two speed sections, swerve and emergency stop. I hit the two speed gates at 54 kph for the emergency stop and 52 for the swerve. 50 is the pass speed.
The photographer asks me to ride the test a few more times.
I thank Steve and Paul from ACER and the tester from the DSA and the press officer from the DSA and the photographer from MCN - and I give cards to a few bikers watching the test. Then I drive home. Bernadette has taken Josh and Jen to the Malvern Spa. I make myself a mug of tea and collapse on the sofa. Reading demands too much energy and there is nothing of interest on TV. Hamish settles across my lap...


Our eldest son, Josh, and his girlfriend, Jen, have been visiting. Jen is brave to visit. It must be scary. All those How-do-you-dos with strangers. How awful will they be? You know? The boyfriend's folks? Are they really weird? And what do they expect? Commitment to a relationship? Planning for a fifty year future? Or, worse - conversation?
We are weird. Maybe not weird weird - but definitely unusual.
As for our cottage, romantic from the outside, great as a picture postcard. Bernadette and I love to live here. Through other eyes? Primitive, crumbling, a 300-year-old wreck...
And Hamish doesn't help. He is over enthusiastic as a greeter, jumps up at people, scrabbles at them with wet muddy paws.


I am mystified by the intimate workings of the internet and what gets listed on Google and why. The Blog entry, USELESS BORDER TERRIER, rang a Google bell. I trolled searches to the Blog and discovered Hamish as third-from-top entry in a sex search! Our eldest son, Josh, has been staying a couple of days. He has bathed and brushed Hamish as befits a porn star. Next step? Hollywood...

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Hi to my readers and a very joyous Easter/Passover to you all.


Yesterday we drove our Dutch friends to Hampton Court. On the banks of the Lugg river near Leominster, Hampton Court is a lovely Tudor castellated manor house parts of which date back to the early 15th century. We continued to Ross on Wye where the Dutch canoed on the river for a couple of hours while Bernadette and I read the Sunday papers in the gardens of the White Lion pub. We drove home on country lanes that wind through the Herefordshire hills - glorious sunny weather and the Dutch playing with buying a holiday home.