Monday, December 12, 2011


Made a mistake re Nick Clegg. He didn't turn up for the Primeminister's statement on the EU veto. An absence of political courage?


What total joy.
Wonders never ceasing.
The genius of our political masters.
The latest GREAT IDEA: to pay members of the Taliban £100 a month for not fighting. What a splendid recruiting slogan:JOIN US AND THE FOREIGNERS WILL PAY YOU!!!!!


Bronchitis is depressing - but no where near as depressing as the celebratory baying of the Tory right wing at our isolation in Europe. What relief that Clegg has been forced finally to discover his political spheroids (small though they may be).

Friday, November 18, 2011


I am off to the NEC at Birmingham tomorrow for the UK's major motorcycle show and will be there all eight days signing books on the TRAVEL-DRI stand and on TOURATECH.


I have been writing books for much of my adult life; yesterday was my first birthing experience.
Paddy Tyson of OVERLAND magazine drove me across the Welsh border to Pontypool where MWL Print Group was the midwife. Modern printing and binding machines produce with speed. Fascinating to watch books streaming out of the maw and into boxes...
And what instinct leads me to chat to the only man on the work floor who remembers fondly the Good Old Days of pre-Murdoch Fleet Street when the union ran a closed a shop?

Monday, November 14, 2011


Studying Republican contenders for the US Presidency:
Universal health care is sinful.
Water-boarding is moral.

Brit Political leaders boast of their ability to maintain the Special Relationship.

With these people?
Thank you, but I'd rather give it a miss...

Friday, November 11, 2011


Tata bought loss-making Jaguar Land Rover from Ford in 2008.
Tata immediately invested in research and new models and a new engine plant.
Losses have been transformed into a billion pound profit for 2011.
Tata are recruiting 2,500 workers, all this in the midst of a recession.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I wonder what percentage of people here in the UK believe James Murdoch is telling the truth or lying. I, of course, have no opinion....

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Conversation between President Sarkozy and President Obama.
Sarkozy says of Israeli Premier Netanyahu: I cannot stand him. He's a liar.
Obama responds: You're fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day.

Press, radio, Tv report the conversation as a gaffe.

My question: Why is a truthful interchange a gaffe?

Monday, November 07, 2011


I note, in rereading the last two posts, that I am in full rant mode.
A little rage of a morning gets the blood circulating so blame the climate: cold, damp, depressing...


Ah, Milliband, Milliband...
So tardy in preaching the immorality prevalent in today's financial sector.
Thirteen years in Government, now leader of the Labour Party.
Thirteen years overseeing a massive widening of the chasm between rich and poor.
Thirteen years overseeing a culture of grotesque bonuses and executive salaries.
And now, at last, brave Milliband declares that politicians should listen to anti-banker protesters.
In my youth, our leaders led rather than followed the whims of popular protest or the advice of a pollster. Left or Right, most were men of stature; they had achieved something before entering parliament. Conviction was their hallmark, and a desire to serve the nation.
For our present leaders, Left or Right, so young, so untested, politics is merely a career...

Thursday, November 03, 2011


Blair, Cameron, Milliband, seedlings reared in the same walled garden; such is modern politics: perhaps a short stint in PR, then special adviser to a Government minister of similar background and similar lack in experience or knowledge beyond the garden's walls. These are the leaders who dictate our foreign policy and order our military into war.
My elder brother, Antony Hornyold,is not a politician. He read history at Cambridge and has continued reading while travelling extensively, much of the time in military and Government service. He has gained a deep and extensive knowledge of that vast tract of nations stretching form the eastern Mediterranean coast to the Hindu Kush. His autobiography is published this week, Still In The Game.The book is available on Amazon. I doubt that any of our political masters will read it. More the pity. They might make fewer damn fool mistakes...

Monday, October 24, 2011


Finished checking proofs for Old Men Can't Wait. Goes to the printer next week. Copies will be available in time for the Motorcycle show at the NEC, Birmingham, next month.
I will be signing copies.

Sunday, October 09, 2011


OVERLAND is a quarterly travel magazine publishing articles by experienced travelers of all ages and of how ever many sexes there are. Ted Simon is, in heart, an adolescent; Bridi, writing on Iran, is a barely post-teenage student reading Classics at UCL; I am a nearly octogenarian granddad.
OVERLAND is a magazine to collect, to show to friends who have never experienced the freedom offered those who travel by bike; the freedom to go where we wish, stop where and when we wish and at a price we can afford.
Though we travel by bike, OVERLAND is not a biker magazine (for all that technical stuff search elsewhere).
OVERLAND is much much more: it is a paean to the liberty of the open road and the joys of meeting new people, discovering new friends, experiencing new places.
Order it on the internet.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Lt. Colonel Ian Kinnear died last week and was cremated today. He was a fine loyal vital man possessed of an extraordinary enthusiasm for life and with a great laugh always near the surface however inhospitable the place or threatening the situation. Life was for living; time was for doing; negativity and pessimism were the enemy; as for naysayers for ever pleading difficulties, Ian rammed them out of the way.
Imagine him watching from above today’s pre-breakfast hunt for cufflinks, collar stud, black tie, lace for a black shoe not worn in a while. The hunt begins with the S word and progresses speedily to Where the F, followed by F it, F it, F it, with Ian up there watching and chuckling happily
The long-retired rugby player vainly struggling to button the top trouser button before discarding the suit in a rage, the broken finger nail as he tries to button his shirt collar round a neck that has gained an inch; leaving the collar undone, trousers bridged by a safety pin and the wife saying,
“You can’t go like that. You’re a bloody disgrace, that’s what you are.”
Ah, well, that’s life – or death.
And so we bid farewell to a man who has left us with treasured memories: husband, father, Scots engineer (always the best), cup-winning rugby coach, commanding officer and, in retirement, Hanley Swan’s rival to Halliburton - not bad for a single life and small wonder that mourners flew in from half way round the world, not in sadness but in celebration of what he was.
Meanwhile St Peter will give a sigh of relief: “Ian, we’ve been waiting for you. There’s a few things here need fixing...”
Ian, with a single glance, will recognise lack of maintenance as the sin. Imagine him humphing a couple of times while rolling up his sleeves. Miracles don’t happen; they must be worked for. Such is the consolation for those Ian has left behind: by the time it’s our turn, Heaven will be a better place.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


The Wehrmacht invaded Ripley last week. Old ladies and children trembled as BMWs thundered down the lanes. Serried ranks of khaki tents enveloped Lumb Farm pasture. Leather-uniformed storm troopers searched for prey. Wild men and women in war paint pranced before midnight flames. Beer got drunk in vast vatfulls.
Bedding in the rear of a Toyota Corolla is not for the faint-hearted - yet such was my fate.
No silver tepee this year and only one brief presentation before scurrying home to Herefordshire to watch our cricket club win the regional section of the Village Knockout competition.
However, and a big however, this post is a thank-you to the Wehrmacht's Generals, Susan and Grant Johnson, for having created the biker internet community, HORIZONS UNLIMITED.
We all, BMWs and otherwise, owe the Johnsons a debt of gratitude for bringing us together and enabling us to exchange information on every detail of motorcycle travel. Through Susan and Grant, I will have the support and friendship of fellow bikers world-wide as I set off round the world in celebration of my 80th year. Thank you indeed...
And thank you fellow bikers for a great weekend, especially Bill and wife for sharing lives with coffee and butties.

Friday, June 03, 2011



A near neighbour, Bill Holden, has contacted me after reading OLD MAN ON A BIKE. He owns a Bentley identical in body and paintwork to the car my stepfather campaigned - see the Rabagliati Bentley on the web.


Gorgeous day. Am cooking lamb kidneys and mushrooms in a cream and Jerez sauce together with a risotto of baby broad beans and chives. My offal chum, Roger Gill, is coming to lunch. We shall eat in the garden.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


My study opens off the corridor by the front door. Both the door and my windows are open. I sit at my desk and breathe the scent of roses. Shade and sunlight on the trees continually shifts in the breeze. Herefordshire is heaven on such a day...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Clematis and roses surrounding my study window are a temptation to sit outside with a mug of coffee. A cold wind chases me back indoors.
Received my royalty statement from Harper Collins last week. Sold 1094 copies of Old Man On A Bike over the past six months - good considering the book has been out three years. Bad is a royalty of £0.50 per copy. Have decided to self publish the following two in the travel series as Ebooks, Kindle and audio plus a short print run. Emailing printers for quotes. Started with Thailand...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


B threatened me: get my hair cut or exile to the garden shed.
I bought a dozen red roses this morning and knelt in the doorway of Carin's salon on the Market Square in Ledbury, face hidden behind the flowers.
Carin has forgiven me.
I have an appointment this afternoon.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Seven years ago I went to the multi-sex hairdressing salon in Barnards Green. A trainee, Carin, cut my hair brilliantly. Two years later she moved to Ledbury. I followed. Now she has set up her own salon. I was to be her second client. She telephoned three days before opening to remind me. My short term memory is nil. I forgot.
That was in December.
I keep meaning to buy her a huge box of chocolates and a huge bunch of flowers. I will kneel outside the salon door and beg for forgiveness.
Then, finally, I can have my hair cut.
I need to do this soon.
Or borrow a hair net.
Because I am easily mistaken for a decrepit old tramp (rather than what?).
Jed is embarrassed - particularly when he has guests home...


Snowboard season is over. Jed has been home a week from the French Alps. He seems to grow each time that he is away.
Or am I shrinking in old age?
Maybe in height.
Not in girth.
Ah, well...


Sun shines. Roses break out of bud, Clematis in flower, scent of freshly mown lawn. B has a stand at the Spring Garden Show. She will have been standing all day, sore feet, sore back. She will probably head straight for the Malvern Spa before coming home, swim, have a sauna, chill in the meditation room.
I am so immensely fortunate to be so in love...

Monday, May 02, 2011


I find particular pleasure in this commemoration of a mission planned by my stepfather, Colonel Euan Rabagliati (see web), given a scurrilous attack on his character in a recent "biography" of a Danish agent/adventurer.
Libeling the dead is risk-free and despicable.

Dear Mr Gandolfi,
I am organizing an event to commemorate the daring operation Contact Holland, which took place in 1941. This operation was a MI6-operation and was meant to establish a radio-contact between the UK and occupied Holland. In order to do this, a Dutch secret agent, Peter Tazelaar, was brought to the Dutch coast by a Motor Gun Boat. He went ashore wearing a tuxedo (in the sixties this element was used in the 007-movie Goldfinger). This operation was lead by your stepfather Euan Rabagliati. He was highly respected by Tazelaar and his comrades.

On May 3 the son & daughter of Tazelaar and myself will leave from the harbour of Lowestoft on board of an original Motor Torpedo Boat from WWII, quite similar to the MGB used in 1941. We will cross the North Sea with destination Scheveningen. On May 5 a re-enactment of the secret landing of Tazelaar will take place on the beach of Scheveningen.
Victor Laurentius

Friday, April 08, 2011


Prime Minister Cameron recently named Ed Balls the most irritating man in British politics. Rude, yes. Boorish, yes. Conceited, certainly. But surely unpleasant rather than irritating.
My vote goes to Professor Doctor Lord Winston. Professor of Science and Society at Imperial College, Chairman of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Trust, Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London, Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Glasgow, and the Institute of Biology, Chairman of the Council at the Royal College of Music.
Add honorary doctorates from sixteen universities, member of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, patron of The Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Forgive me, Your Lordship, for any titles, positions and honours that I have failed to include.
Lesser mortals attempt to hold the moral high ground. Lord Winston is the moral high ground. He speaks with a certainty that the Pope must envy. Mere mortals fear to contradict - even when His Lordship is in error.
In error?
Forgive me, Your Lordship. The very suggestion is a sin.
I will do penance by suffering that utterly confident monotone in my dreams...

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


A Spanish biker, Alejandro Menendez-Chacon, has posted on Facebook a pic of the Bridge Of The Americas. It is a railway bridge built by United Fruit to connect their banana plantations on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica with the banana port of Almirante in Panama. Loose planks either side of the rails enable the bridge to be used by road traffic. Alejandro's pic shows the safety netting is new. This is my pic. I crossed in the rain on my ride south from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego - see pic in OLD MAN ON A BIKE. The wet planks were slippery and lengths of safety net were missing or had big holes. I lost my nerve and tipped the bike inward over the rails. A transport driver picked me up and loaded the bike into the back of his truck. See this Blog, July 8/9, 2006...

Monday, April 04, 2011


Germaine Greer is Professor Emeritus of English Literature and Comparative Studies at Warwick University. She gives me the impression of being both unpleasantly arrogant and conceited. I may be wrong.
She is often on the BBC TV Friday night art show. She seldom has anything pleasant to say concerning the reviewed works of writer, actor, composer or painter.
Last week she panned a film of war time children sent to Australia as researched "wrong" as opposed to wrongly researched. Though even the latter would have been poor English usage. Inadequate or incompetentt might be better.
Misuse of English is no big deal - unless when criticising the work of others in an intolerably superior manner.
Am I a pot calling the kettle black?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


This is a Thank You to N Green of Austin, Texas for posting the following on Amazon last week:
Love bikes? Love travel? then you will love this book.
Simon Gandolfi has a humble, gentle writing style that captures your interest and your heart on the first page. This is the best motorcycle journey I have read since ' Jupiter's Travels'. He paints such beautiful images of the people and places he encountered. The only improvement I could ask for would be lots more photographs, but they are really not necessary, his words provide all the pictures you need...

I have only posted one other review from Amazon - from a Mrs. S. M. Crawford "Suzanne Crawford" of Hampshire, England.
I bought this for my husband at his request. He was fired with enthusiasm from an article he read in The Telegraph. He is totally disappointed in this book and literally had to struggle through it. He sums it up as a description of breakfast in many places. It is therefore not recommended.

My apologies to Mr Crawford and my condolences. How tragic to suffer an antipathy to breakfast.

Friday, March 25, 2011


For lunch on Wednesday cooked squid and cHorizo with chickpeas in a tomato and basil sauce - lots of chili, lots of garlic. Washed down with a bottle of Rioja Alto. YUM!
Today glorious Spring, trees in blossom, daffodils and primroses in our woodland garden. Ate outside in the sunshine, cold trout, cheese, baby tomatoes. On such a day England is heaven.


Our eldest son, Josh, is down from Leeds for a week. He has ripped up the vile carpet in the back sitting room, disassembled and removed an equally vile sofa bed. Today he is out in the garden cutting the lawn, pruning. I wish he and Jen were here for the summer. What joy it would be to watch Josh play cricket again and have his friends dropping by of a summer evening, cold beer, good Herefordshire beef sizzling on the coals.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Visit a bike show, witness evidence of a future diabetes epidemic, invest in manufacturers of Insulin...


Thank you to all those fearless Scottish bikers who donned their snow shoes and, braving blizzard and avalanche, ploughed their way to the bike show. A special thanks to readers who sought me out and to those who bought books and contributed the extra £1 to my Round The World Petrol Fund!

Friday, March 04, 2011


I am off again next week - to Edinburgh and the Scottish Bike Show (12/13 March). Find me on the Travel-dri stand, standard dress of denim overalls and battered straw hat Big pile of books ready to be signed...!


February was a good month in the kitchen First the gnocchi were a success. I feared that the Gravlax was too salty - however I washed off the salt and the result was perfect. Tuesday I cooked a coli and prawn pie, definitely yum!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Number Two son + julia and divine granddaughter, Anna, are arriving this afternoon to stay the night. They don't eat meat. They do eat fish. Hopefully they will enjoy my first attempt at Gravlax. The salmon has been marinading in a press in the icebox for the past five days: rock salt, Demerara sugar, orange and lemon juice, English mustard and lots of dill. I unwrapped and skinned the salmon this morning. Too salty...bummer. However should be edible when accompanied by good brown bread and lots of butter.
No disaster should the salmon fail, I have a pasta sauce prepared for the main course: vine tomatoes, shallots, one stick of celery, one carrot, three cloves of garlic, plump raisins, small black Spanish olives, black pepper, one chili with seeds, basil, thyme, two glasses of red Rioja.

Monday, February 21, 2011


In these days of turmoil, let us be proud when our European and American leaders warn Arab Governments that they earn reprobation for their treatment of the innocent. For Arabs, sanctity of human life is an outlandish concept. Torture is commonplace. Police shoot unarmed protesters in Bahrain, in Lybia, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt.
Arabs may counter by protesting the innocent hundreds and thousands killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. They might mention water-boarding. But what do they know? They are only Arabs...

Friday, February 18, 2011


Definition of youth = that you can pull your socks on while standing unsupported.
Adolesence = capable of hauling your trousers on while standing.
Maturity = having to raise your foot on a step to tie your shoe laces.
Old age? I'll inform readers when I get there.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


B isn't a picky eater. However she does have her dislikes (as does Jed). Though misguided, disliking offal is understandable - however why would B dislike gnocchi? Roger Gill's partner is both picky and a vegetarian. He and I cook each other lunch week and week about, dishes unwelcome on the family menu
Thus yesterday was my first attempt at preparing gnocchi - mixing Stilton cheese into the potato, flour and egg mix; sauce of vine tomatoes, spring onion, garlic and basil.
Roger and I ate the lot.
B came home and complained that I hadn't saved her some.


Writing is OK when it goes well. I have been rewriting the opening to the second book in the biker travel trilogy, OLD MEN CAN'T WAIT. The first chapters didn't work. The tone was too flippant. Flippancy is suitable when giving a talk to bikers who've been on the beer. They are on holiday. They want humour. Readers expect more. They deserve the truth. Digging out the truth from one's experiences is often painful. Uncamouflaged, what really happened?
How scared was I on the ride north from Ushuaia?

Monday, February 14, 2011


British Charities are in uproar over Government cuts. In my youth charities were funded by charitable gifts. Financed by Government is financed by taxpayers without option or choice. Therefor no longer charities. Better call them NGOs. NGOs are a plague. Too many of them with overlapping and competing remits and hierarchies. Career structures are the norm. Waste is standard as is moral arrogance. Add hypocritical pretense of working for a Charity when they are simply Government employees by another name, then good riddance.

Friday, February 11, 2011


The police investigate pedophilia. First act to confiscate the suspect's computer.
Four years of the Metropolitan police investigating telephone hacking by News of the World journalists and the Met hasn't yet confiscated News of the World hard discs.
Or does Murdoch frighten them?
Or do they fear that the hard discs will provide evidence of police collusion?
Why does this concern me today of all days - when I should be enjoying my birthday?
On our last meeting in Mexico, Cliff Irving asked why I got so angry over matters outside of my control.
My answer: cease getting angry, why bother writing?


Thoughts when in bed this morning whilst Bernadette wrapped my birthday gifts - each gift a romantic treasure: firstly how blessed I am in Bernadette and in my four sons, my daughter, my daughters-in-law and out-of-law, my son-in-law. And how truly blessed I am in my divine grandchildren (of whom Shane is baking a chocolate birthday cake which he will eat as I am home in Herefordshire UK, and he is home in Duchess County NY).

Second thought: 78 seems so much much older than 77.
Third thought: 79 will feel old old old. However 80 will feel young again (if I make it), a new beginning. Hopefully I will be completing the final lap of a planned celebratory circumnavigation of the planet - probably on a Honda 125. So here is a Happy Birthday to me, Brmmmm Brmmmm!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Normally I would ignore the prurient Top Gear team and their attention seeking. However I have described in the past visiting high schools here and asking students for their image of a Mexican. The reply: Fat, sweaty, big hat, droopy mustache, comic accent.
Top Gear presenters pander to this conception born of Hollywood.
The result?
A Brit failure to recognise or develop markets in Mexico for British goods.


Joy and sadness to meet a Bolivian woman and her daughter at the Excel. The mother is married to a Brit on the Yamaha stand. The daughter is newly arrived in England. The daughter speaks no English. My speaking Spanish somehow emphasises to her her linguistic isolation and loss of friends. She lays her cheek against my chest. I fear that she will cry. I fear that I will cry. Unfitting behaviour at a bike show, even for an Old Toad...


A charming young Colombian woman served at a coffee shop at the entrance to the Excel.
I greeted her each morning with, "Buenas dias, La Linda."
She replied, "Buenas dias, Avuelito."
She treated me to breakfast on the last day. I remarked, "Oh that I was younger."
She laid a delicate hand on my arm, smiled sweetly and said, "Much, much, much younger."
Ah, well...


Small bikes suited me for long distance travel. The Honda I rode round India averaged 160 miles to the gallon. However something bigger might be more suitable for a final journey. Consider this Triumph...


Home from the London Bike Show. Fun to meet new people, good to meet old friends. Best is to be made welcome in a community and to discover that my travels encourage others.
However why must a section of the biker community revel in ugliness? Tattoos on shaven scalps and across rolls of fat that pass for a neck - and those massive wobbly beer bellies, especially amongst the Sunday crowd - gross. Where but at a bike show could an ancient overweight toad feel slim?

Monday, January 31, 2011


I leave for London Wednesday morning. Bernadette flies in to Heathrow from NYC Wednesday morning. She has been away a month. Her absence has left our cottage sad and empty and I have been miserable - particularly with Hamish off to fresh pastures. Happiness is being in love with your wife. I will be seventy eight this February and I am besotted by Bernadette...What am I doing? Cleaning house! And looking forward to taking Bernadette to dinner in London Wednesday evening. Where? Indian - or, possibly Chinese...Or Thai? All of which serve what has become typically English food. In my youth, typically English was fish and chips wrapped in newspaper. God is good!


MCN London Motorcycle Exhibition - 3rd-6th February. I am on Stand N94. I have prepared: books,posters,pens, LARGE cash pouch, clean clothes, polished shoes, medication. What I have forgotten? Memory will kick in midway to London...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Bernadette has been in New York three weeks. The reins are off. Hence the rants! Enough - better vacuum the house, new sheets on the beds, polish shoes and silver, tidy clean laundry into drawers.


Our Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition opened Prime Minister's Question Time today by expressing great sympathy for the victims of the Moscow airport terrorist attack. Neither man has ever opened Question Time by expressing sympathy for those killed and injured in the frequent terrorist attacks in Pakistan and Iraq. We freed Iraq from a vile dictatorship. Pakistan is central to our fighting in Afghanistan. Curious...


In my youth, most members of Parliament (and particularly members of the Government)gained wide experience before entering active politics. Many had served Britain abroad. They had gained an understanding of foreign opinions and beliefs. Today's politicians are essentially parochial. Politics is their career. Their advance is seamless: student politics, think tank, special adviser, MP, Minister. The vital service offered by the BBC World Service is foreign to them. They have never watched eager-faced tribesmen crouch round a radio or known those for whom imprisonment was the reward for listening to the BBC. They have no understanding of the respect the World Service earned for Britain even while our politicians earned contempt. And, of course, those foreigners for whom the World Service has been an information lifeline have no vote within these shores. They are unimportant.
Thus cutting 650 jobs from the World Service is a sensible retrenchment...

Monday, January 17, 2011


My anger grows. Liberal politicians are pathetic. Incapable of defending themselves. More importantly, incapable of defending the decision of voters to vote for them. The electorate voted for a hung Parliament. The Market demanded a strong Government. Liberals had one week to help form a stable Government or Stirling would have crashed. The Conservatives were the only party with sufficient seats with which the Liberals could form a Government sufficiently stable to satisfy the Market. End of story. Or would critics prefer to have the pound crash?
Ed Milliband, a dreadful little man who, as with so many of our politicians, went directly from student politics to special adviser, then MP, and has no experience whatsoever outside the political bubble, denounces the Liberals for betraying the electorate by entering in coalition with the Conservatives.
What does the youthful nincompoop suggest that Liberals should have done?
Attempt to form a weak Coalition with labour plus the small parties. Traders would have dumped Stirling. The Labour/Liberal Coalition would have fallen.
Added to which the electorate had declared their antagonism to Labour. Attempting to form a Coalition with Labour would have been a betrayal of the electorate.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


The two big front bedrooms in our cottage are our two sons' territory - big so that they can entertain (although both have left home). B and I have a small bedroom at the rear with a sloping ceiling. We sleep on two extra-wide single mattresses on the floor. Old men have to get up in the night. I crawl to the wall and heave myself upright whilst pray that my legs don't cramp. If they cramp, my yell or whimper wakes B - not popular. Bernadette is in New York for a month. Thursday my elder brother, Antony, folded the seats down in his big 4X4 and we collected a king-size bed. I assembled the bed in our bedroom yesterday. The twin mattresses were too wide. I dragged them to the left-hand front room, dragged a double mattress back and heaved it onto the bed. M oving mattresses single-handed is a struggle.This mattress is a standard double so a foot short and a foot too narrow. I shall await B's return before seeking out a king size. Meanwhile I slept in the bed last night - true, with some fear that I would suffer from vertigo. All I suffered was a bump on the head this morning when I sat up without thought for the sloping ceiling. The bed legs need shortening. Again, I shall wait B's return to decide (for her to decide) how much shorter. The bed is varnished pine. B will probably want it painted. Waiting is wise...meanwhile I have a cockerel to pluck.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Gabrielle Giffords, a fine member of the United States Congress, has been shot in the head. She was marked as in the sights of the Tea Party. Others were shot dead, amongst them a nine year old girl. Sadly the USA's reputation is formed by such tragic incidents - shootings in schools, what ever, rather than by the good works of US NGOs or US AID Projects. Americans sometimes find it difficult (even unimportant) to see themselves through foreign eyes and are angered by criticism. Yet think of the Afghan or Iraqi reading of the shooting in today's Press or watching reports on TV. This is their image of the United States, the nation with troops on their soil to spread Democracy. Imagine their thoughts...


Sad empty house. Have been double glazing windows. As for food, Roger Gill came for lunch Wednesday and brought a rabbit and two pheasant. Skinned and plucked Thursday. Roasted the pheasant breasts on a bed of vine tomatoes. Made a game soup with pheasant legs and rabbit and a great stock from the carcases. Meanwhile reading with joy The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa - tender and brilliant.

Saturday, January 08, 2011


Hamish at his new home with his favourite toy. He is reported to be delighted at having made a sound career change. I remain weepy...

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Our cottage feels very empty. Bernadette left today for New York. She will be away a month. I am happy for her. She deserves a break and loves the City. I am jealous of her because she will be seeing my daughter, Anya - and my wondrous grandson, Shane. And I am sad, of course, at her being away for a month and was even a little weepy at the station. B reminded me that I go away for six months or more at a time. True....
However there is a greater sadness because it is final. Josh left first and lives now in Leeds city center. Jed is off cheffing/snow-boarding at a hotel in the French Alps. Now Hamish has left home. He decided time had come for his own career change - that he had enjoyed enough of the country and wished to become more sophisticated. So he has moved to a home in the suburbs closer to London. English suburbanites keep cats. Hamish will have fun!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Great to get messages from readers, angry, disappointed, complimentary or kind.
Paulcf is disappointed that I wrote little concerning Argentina and Chile. OLD MAN ON A BIKE is the first of a travel trilogy and covers my journey south. Chile was not part of this journey. Chile does feature in the second MS which takes me north from Ushuaia to the USA. The second MS also includes three chapters on Argentina. As to Ming, he has joined a Buddhist monastery where I hope to visit him in the coming winter.
I sense that the vastness of the United States distances many citizens from their Government and its actions. Mine is a small country with no space for distance. The nations of Central America are equally small. United States immigration and foreign policy is intrinsic, not only to their history, but in their daily lives. It is a common subject of conversation. The same is true of Mexico.
Bush and Blair may be "old history" to us yet their decisions continue to effect opinions of both the United States and Britain. I encountered this as much on my recent journey round India as in the Americas.
Added to which, I am an obsessive. Riding long hours alone, the same chain of thought becomes my daily companion and is a natural part of my writing. For pure travel I suggest a travel guide. My own preference is FOOTPRINT.
For an overview of the trip, please be patient. You will find it in the second volume.



Review of your book

Very interesting...I have 20 years to prepare for my SA trip! I too am afraid of all the negativity the press says about SA. I suspect having your white beard and your age benefited you on your trip. I was dismayed with the latter part of your book...little to tell about Chile (and why you didn't travel in Chile except for the very end?) and nothing about what you did afterwards...did you just fly home and sell the bike in Ushuai or what? What about your rider buddy Ming? So much of your book was loaded with Mexico and Central America and so little about Argentina and Chile. Also, the ranting about Bush and Blair served no's all ancient history now, out of date and I didn't get your book to hear your rants about them, I wished you had spent more of that time/pages about the TRIP. I wanted to see/read an overview of your trip, etc but nothing at all, very strange indeed.

Monday, January 03, 2011


TED SIEROCINSKI HAS SMOKED ME OUT. Though not a rabid "Red", I must confess to being something of a Pinko.....
Pics are SUNDAY TIMES COLOUR SUPLEMENT from the Spencer Tunik Instalation at THE BIG CHILL FESTIVAL, 2010


blog 1/2/2011 Ted SierocinskiNM 87505 letter

Hello, Simon

I was born and currently live in TEXAS, USA. My fellow countryman's myopic letter is too often the norm. Of course it's everyone's right to his/her own opinion, but the letter is so typical of folks here in the USA. Yes, we each try to do good (or perhaps the best we can) but we don't do as much "good" here in the USA as we need to. Unfortunately, for the USA, "Peak Oil" will focus our policy even further away from our own borders, since we do not now have sufficient oil to power our consumer oriented post industrial revolution society. Lets hope (pray) that the struggle over oil does not cause further problems for the world and the USA.

All of your books are on my book shelf and I am looking forward to buying your next book.

The point of this letter is "Please" don't judge everyone in the USA by the tone of Ted's letter. Thanks.

Best Wishes
Bill Rose


Susan Switzer writes:


Ged Asbery writes:
Good ol' Ted must be more clever than me. I obviously missed the hidden message that "Old Man on a bike" portrayed US citizens as"selfish and disgusting people".


Joe Berk writes:
Odd, I read the book, and I did not take any of Simon's comments as US bashing. Mostly he was reporting what other people said or felt.


Re criticism of OLD MAN ON A BIKE
EUGENIO writes:
As much as I would rather be under the boot of the USA instead of say Hitler's Germany, Russia or Torrquemada's Spain, I like your comments (USA bashing) because I hate the hypocrisy. Spain never pretended to be exporting "democracy" well until now that is, neither did Hitler nor Stalin. It is precisely because USA citizens are supposed to be smarter than that that they should see beyond the USAID signs and go look at the mess they have left here...

Sunday, January 02, 2011


Letters from readers mostly fall into two catagories: thanks for enjoyment or anger.
The angry usually come from readers in the US.The following is an example:

How I enjoyed your book

Ted Sierocinski
NM 87505
I was looking forward to reading your book as I was traveling from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Guatemala on my Kawasaki KLR 650. I have been in Spanish language school here for almost 4 months. It provided many useful references and your insight into the Latin American indigenous people was informative. I am a US citizen and am about to celebrate my 60th birthday at the end of the year.
Having commuted to work over the years I have accumulated over 300,000 miles on various bikes. I share your enthusiasm for adventure and the experience of the two wheel challenge. The adventure really begins when things go wrong.
What went wrong for me with your book was about by page 266 I finally became nauseated by the bashing of the United States and its role in Latin America. Traveling thru Mexico and Guatemala I encountered many USAID projects with many USA citizens involved volunteering. Many bomberos, doctors and nurses are here! helping the Guatemalan people progress. I know that as a country we are taking our licks as a less than perfect country but never once heard a reference to Spain as they took a
lions share of the wealth form Latin America to Spain and how that Latin American within a feudal system under Spain's domination missed the Industrial Revolution. That was probably the United States fault also. Transferring the wealth out of the country in Korea is subject to the death penalty.
Having said that I am throwing your book in the trash. I can take solace in the fact that although we are a selfish and disgusting people that your wrote this book in English not in German.
Ted Sierocinski

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A few family pics, top to bottom:
Bernadette's brother, Michael
My granddaughter, Emily
Emily with mother, Sarah
Emily's brother,Charlie


A New Year's resolution: to Blog at least once a week.
What have I been doing?
Loving my wife and enjoying home life in Herefordshire, England;
drooling over my Brit grandchildren and loving their parents;
missing my US grandson and my US daughter and son-in-law;
signing books at the NEC motorcycle show;
preparing new book for publication.