A lovely tribute

So we met at the crematorium and paid our respects to a legend that the world is worse off without.

Soon after we gathered in a near by pub. Lots of photos showed and stories shared. One thing is for sure, John was very much loved. He touched the heart and souls of those that knew him best.

I would give so much to be able to give him a hug right now. Hopefully the love shared today will reach him in some way. I know he was not one for sentinel nonsense, however he would be so honoured to have seen the love and respect that he received today. He bought together people that had not seen each other for a long time and that in it’s self is a lovely thing.

Pat, John’s Mum, paid for the first round and TW gave a beautiful speech that had me fighting back the tears (which I saved for when I was I at home).

I sat with Hannah, John’s niece, who was 4 years old, when John passed, and talked her through many photos and stories and she laughed with so much joy in her heart. An uncle she never really had. However , she clearly had inherited John’s love of chaos and adventure.

Dave, John’s brother, was also intrigued, by some of the many stories that were shared.

It is difficult to imagine anyone who would attract so much love after being gone 20 years. John was that man. I an absolute legend in so many ways.

I have privately sobbed today. More than once. However, what an absolute privilege it was to know John and his friends. I often feel that I need to move on from the level of grief that I have. However, on reflection why the fuck should I? Grief is just love that you can no longer transmit to those that are no longer here. I am content to break down and hold my head in my hands and sob every now an again.

Hold those that matter most very close to your hearts and let them know how much they mean to you.
It is not the most masculine of things to do on traditional values, however it is about fucking time that we forgot those ridiculous stereotypes and openly showed our love.

Peace out x

30 and 20 years ago … and a rant

30 years ago today (5th December), I crashed an Austin Mini, which I had rebuilt from the chassis up, into a telegraph pole.

I spent all summer welding, repairing, engine refurbishment, modifying, painting etc. Then, on route to my first official date, with a girl I would marry and have 3 wonderful children, I skidded on black ice, losing control, although I thought I had saved it, hit the kerb, went airborne and bang.

I recall a friend at the time, the passenger, shouting me. I looked up through a seemingly crystal clear windscreen. The iced up windscreen seconds before was no longer intact. My head had gone through it. Blood covered my left eye. I panicked thinking it would catch fire as I couldn’t get out.

The passenger was incredibly lucky that he got thrown clear. His legs would’ve been crushed if not. The passenger side door pillar now residing where the gear stick was.

I remember kicking at the door, swearing. Then I was in the ambulance. No other memory.

A passerby who was going to the pub we were meeting in saw my car. The rumours spread that I was dead. After getting stitched up at A&E and getting home, John arrived (escorting my date and her friend to my house – he was a gentleman). First thing he did was rustle my hair. A cherished sign of physical tenderness. I yelped, I had numerous cuts from the windscreen beneath my ridiculous Manchester style mop top.

Next week it will be 20 years since John passed away. We, a few close friends, are marking the occasion. Gonna be a tough day, but looking forward to seeing my friends. Been way too long.

20 years is a long time. Time heals, however I am still troubled by John’s passing. Firstly, I did not give him the support that I should have. I was living away and had started a family. It is a shit excuse. I should have made more time. I have beaten myself up for leaving such a troubled young man to fight his issues without the support that he needed. It was cowardly of me.

Secondly, he died a tragic death. Jumping in front of a HGV, surviving short term on life support. That is a truly horrendous way to depart the planet, where he felt he could no longer exist. What were his inner most thoughts? He was a tortured soul. Was he seeking peace or angry at his situation.

We cannot change the past. We can only move forward and learn the hard lessons that will hopefully shape us and make us better people.

Society conspires against us being better however.

We (generalising) strive for material wealth. Show our success, our blessed life, on social media to massage our egos. Utter bollocks.

People are dying crossing the channel for a better life and some people see this as an invasion. Vile bastards trying to stop the RNLI from rescuing them. Open our arms and welcome these poor folk who have seen more tragedy than we hopefully ever will.

People sleeping on the streets whilst we worry we won’t get the nicest food in Tesco for our Christmas dinner, which we will scrape a significant proportion into the bin.

People are taking their last breath because others are bored of covid and convinced that a vaccine is there to steal their liberty. Boys died in the trenches to give them the freedom they enjoy now.

Lots of people idolise celebrities. Some who have done nothing besides being gifted a ‘perfect body’ (defined by media) and managed to get a place on a reality TV show.

People’s bodies should not adhere to some bullshit stereotype. Beautiful bodies include those that have endured child birth, cancer … Scars of lived experiences, sacrifices, heroic or traumatic events etc.

We should idolise the people that save/change lives, firemen, medical/care staff, compassionate leaders. Not egotistical attention seekers

Life is an odds game. The lottery of birth being the first hand you are dealt. How you look, your chances of a good education, a healthy and safe upbringing.

What the hell has this got to do with John? He understood the world and had lots of compassion. He didn’t worship celebrity … Recalling when we saw Robbie Williams in a local night club and John casually spat beer towards him as said wannabe pop star was seeking the attention for an ego boost. It sounds horrible of John in hindsight. It really wasn’t. 😁

John rarely wasted his time in front of the TV. He wanted to be out, doing stuff.

I am not pretending that I am some kind of saint. Christ no. I am however saying I have, like many others, got so much room for improvement. Navigating this capitalist centric world is tough. Mental health, providing, the need to be perceived as doing well etc.

We measure ‘doing well’ on mostly material things … House, cars etc. On that scale I am far from doing well, although my salary/job title would perhaps say otherwise. We should be measuring doing well on our ability to make a difference and our happiness levels.

On that note, my grand daughter is visiting for the first time this morning and I have lots to do (my house not been remotely suitable for visitors. One room is almost habitable… Almost and I have 2 hours!!!) These are the moments I must and will cherish.

I promise I will cover bike related shenanigans soon!!

Europe part 2

We meandered through eastern Europe, if memory serves, next stop was Bucharest.

We found a small holiday park with cheap apartments which had a swimming pool. We got food on the site and had a few beers.

I remember having a tantrum over something and grabbed the train timetable book and said to John and TW that I would go the rest of the way (When I say ‘way’, we had no route planned at all) on my own. After about 5 minutes of swearing at each other we resolved our differences and drank more beer.

What are 3 boys supposed to do there after? A swim in the darkness and skinny dipping obviously. The locals thought we were all a bit mad. Yup, they were not wrong.

After that we headed for Sofia. Arriving at the station I was desperate for a sit down on the toilet. I barged through crowds of locals asking for dollars/pounds to exchange on the black market, to find the toilets. Stand-up style toilets with saloon doors … great. I had just started squatting and some local stuck his head over the top of the doors, “Dollars?”. I am usually very polite, however I was really looking forward to my much needed poo in peace and so replied with a simple, “Fuck off, I am trying to shit!!”. My face may have looked angry given the rear end struggle and he left.

I don’t recall much about Sofia, eastern Europe all merged into one for me. Beautiful buildings, people struggling to earn a crust and the most natural looking females. No make-up, no bling, just an air of coolness and style.

From Sofia, we headed to Istanbul. My god!! I felt like Indiana Jones. It was amazing. Mosques lined the sky line. We found somewhere to sleep and headed off exploring. We went into one mosque and took off our trainers at the door, being totally respectful. Seconds later I spun on my heals as some kids were attempting to steal my adidas running shoes. They dropped them and ran.

We decided to get a ferry to Bandirma and then a coach to Cesme, a local holiday resort. We found some cheap accommodation and dropped our rucksacks. A short walk into the town, some food and bottle of Raki. As we wondered the streets and harbour drinking neat raki from the bottle (I remain this classy even today), the locals were advising us to drink the raki with water. We knew best obviously. Once that was gone we found a bar on the beach, drank some more and danced on the sand. I imagine that Club Tropicana was a similar experience.

On leaving we figured that going over a large hill/small mountain between us and the hotel was shorter route than walking around it. Up and over we went. Blind drunk, we met a guy with donkey and TW asked him for directions. John and I laughed and carried on.

TW hit the hay and John and I took my tape player and got on to the flat roof of the hotel. Looking at the stars, listening to the Doors I would imagine, we passed out. I woke with a jump. My legs were over the edge of the roof and a fall far enough to do some very serious damage was below. I sobered up fast, woke John and we got back to the room. The hangover the following day was crucifying. The locals smiling at as if to say, “we knew best!!”

We got back to Istanbul. I was here that I called home to find out my A-levels results. Not bad for 2 years of having a good time and winging it.

We then headed across the Greek coast to Thessaloniki. I had some serious bowel issues by this stage. White, cold sweats, red hot sun, carrying a very heavy rucksack and diarrhoea. Stand-up style toilets and a jug of water as the flush was not a great experience. Death seemed unlikely, however I was not in good shape. I had to last what seemed like hours on a bus to a coastal resort without letting my bum cheeks relax. I made it.

We camped (the only time used the tent that we carried around for a month) on a site a few strides away from a glorious beach and spent about 4 days chilling, we needed it. We got healthy sun tans, swam in the sea and enjoyed the views. Although I have no idea where my photographs are, I recall one of John, sat on the sand in his shorts, with his scrotum hanging out, blissfully unaware.

I decided to try my hand at windsurfing and water-skiing. The latter was hard, however because my Dad used to water-ski I thought it would be much easier … wrong. The former took me a while to get going, but once I got the sail in the right place I was making good progress. After a few minutes I turned to see where I was. Oh shit!!! I could not even work out which beach I had come from I was that far out. I dropped the sail and sat on the board.

About 5 minutes later the windsurfing guy and a young lad came out on a pedalo. I jumped on the pedalo and the young lad effortlessly took the windsurfer back to the shore. I have never attempted to try that again. John and TW thought it was hilarious, obviously. I had watched Jaws as a youngster and knew I was probably minutes from being eaten.

We ventured back through Yugoslavia and got robbed again on the train by some Italians who, with the help of a some Scandinavians, we tried to apprehend them. We were chasing them down the train when the emergency brakes were deployed and they jumped off the train and legged it.

Next stop the Alps!!! We stopped in Geneva, spent our entire daily budget buying a sandwich and a can of coke for lunch. We did not hang around. As beautiful and as important as Geneva is internationally, it was not within our price range. Chamonix the next target.

We decided that we would get a small train part way up Mont Blanc. We got off the train and walked further, until reaching the base camp at early evening. It was full of bearded men in Berghaus jackets, who looked at us as if we were not worthy. Trainers, shorts and t-shirt might not be ideal for climbing Europe’s highest mountain, however it was a last minute decision, so cut us some slack guys. We asked if they had any beds and they didn’t. We skipped back down the mountain a little and found a goat hut. It was shelter to some extent.

It was terribly cold, however John and I had big bulky 3-4 season sleeping bags and TW had his thin green rectangular sleeping bag which he claimed had been designed by NASA and reminded John and I often as we stuffed our bulky sleeping bags away every morning. I awoke to the sound of TW shuffling around. I looked up from my warm sleeping bag and saw TW rummaging around putting on every item of clothing that he could, he was freezing. I laughed a lot!!!

We got to Calais and slept in a park if I recall. We had no clean clothes and looked a bit road worn. We thought we deserved a treat. Finding a swanky restaurant we went inside. The waiters tried their best to ignore us. Rudely so in fact. John hated snobbery with a passion. He got out a load of notes from his bag and waved them in the air and sure enough a waiter came running over, only to be told, “You can fuck off, we are going where we feel welcome”, or words to that effect.

We headed back to England, into my home town of stoke and went straight to the pub (before going home). Had a good night out and a certain AW, brother of TW, got his manhood out in a chip shop. He was drunk and had clearly missed me more than I had appreciated.

Life was never quite the same after that summer. Travelling, sleeping rough, living life.

Europe part 1

Sometimes you meet people who change you. They might not play a life long role, however they shape your thinking, create memories or make you feel alive. Sometimes all 3. Nothing wrong with being vanilla, however triple choc chip with popping candy and amphetamines makes for a more exciting experience.

John had the ability to create unexpected utter chaos where there was calm. His sense of adventure led him to suggest that he, another close friend (TW) and I went inter-railing around Europe in the summer of 1991.

I sold my gold mk3 escort (even back then I oozed automotive style!!!) and emptied my bank account prior, however I was informed at very short notice, whilst working on a roof as joiners mate, that I needed to go and buy my ticket as we were departing in a matter of hours.

Packed some stuff in an army issue rucksack (friend in the military) without much thought. The rucksack was massive and adorned with a union flag I had cut from a navy flag.

Stoke Station at something past midnight so we didn’t waste even a few hours by setting off at a normal time.

We trekked across London in the early hours not realising that a train ticket to Dover allows use of the tube trains. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing.

Ferry to France and 1st stop Paris. The plan was to avoid main tourist areas after Paris and Amsterdam. Night train to Amsterdam. Traveling and sleeping on trains saves on accommodation costs … £10 per day to cover everything was not a lot of cash, even in 1991.

“Hi, I have just taken over Texas. Do you want to come and see the cosmos?” said a guy dressed in a toga outside the main station in Amsterdam. Whatever dude. Another time. We are not on the same trip.

We find a hostel bang in the middle of the red light district. Cheap … For a reason. Drop our bags and go on an adventure.

John had purchased a VHS video camera. It was the size of a small family car. He dropped it in carrier bag, ripped the corner off to expose the lens and filmed various ladies in door ways (who demand no photography) whilst giggling like 3 teenage boys who had never seen much of the adult world.

A few bars later and TW went back to the hostel. John and I returned a few hours later after a few more beers. Whilst getting ready to get into our bunks in the unisex hostel 2 Scandinavian girls came back and we made polite conversation. Whilst talking away one of the girls stripped down to just just her pants exposing her boobs before getting into her bed. Holy crap!!! John and I lay in bed giggling away like the children we were.

John had always maintained that we should carry US dollars and not bother with visas etc. as you can just bribe the officials, apparently… Via Berlin (flying visit – need to return) we reached Frankfurt an der Oder on the border of Germany and Poland. The train stopped and the officials came on board. “Passports and visas!!”. With a irreverent attitude John passed his passport with dollar notes inside. They looked confused. “Visa!!”. “We don’t have a visa but we are happy to pay for entry to Poland”, John said with a cheeky grin. They were very upset and our continued attempts to persuade them led the Guard to pull out a hand gun and point it in our direction as he ordered us off the train. It was late. We decided to sleep in a subway in the station and wait for a train in the opposite direction the following morning.

We started sleeping when a policeman with a big German Shepperd woke me by prodding me with an automatic rifle …
“Passport!”. I fumbled around … He stopped me, “I don’t need it. Hide it, you will be robbed for it”. Needless to say I put my passport between arse cheeks and didn’t sleep a wink thereafter.

The sequence of events are a little vague however I think we got to Prague next. We got to the town centre (not very commercial compared to when I visited just 6 years later) and I bought 3 hotdogs after changing our £10 each into the local currency. £3 quid each … no 30p each … wait 3p each!!!. We found a hotel that was about 3 quid for a 4 bed room with ensuite.

John had wet his jeans getting washed and it looked like he had pissed himself. He stood on the sink and tried to dry them on the lightbulb above … The sink came off the wall and smashed on the floor. Shit!!! Completely unfazed by this John grabbed the big book of train timetables and bashed his foot into a big red swollen mess. He sent TW to the hotel reception to tell him the sink had fallen on to John’s foot … He came and inspected and gave us another room after many apologies …

So out we went. First bar was like a shop with school tables. Pints were 9p and huge choice of one type of beer. Chalky but great. Spirits had similar variety and were about 4p for a big measure. Needless to say were getting our money worth. Then on to a club type place that served food. We were apparently supposed to keep what I thought were receipts. When we were due to leave they demanded these bits of paper. We ended up just giving them way more money than we probably had to but it was still next to nothing. I say all this but I was literally blind drunk.

Back to the hotel and John was no longer limping. He had forgot about his need to act injured. I remember getting back into the room and the video camera came out to do some early tech vlogging … I was basically naked and my excitement of the evening events was clear to see and committed to celluloid.

The following day we were went to spend the remainder of our cash before leaving. We came out the supper market with bags of food. Insane how cheap it was.

Somewhere on our way to Yugoslavia (not sure if this was the return leg or not) and we got robbed. I woke up in the night to pee and found my passport and bits other in the sink of the toilet. I gathered everything together. I had wrapped my bum bag thing around the arm of the seat where I had put my head. Someone had slashed thought the strap and cut into the seat. Some cash (other cash was hidden in various other places) and all my travellers cheques had gone.

We found a place that would reissue the travellers cheques but we needed a police report. Sounds easy enough. We find a bus and get a bit lost. A lady who spoke good English asked us if we were ok. We explained and she escorted us to where we needed to be going way out of her way. She had a very sick daughter and English Doctors had saved her life. She was passing on her gratitude. The kindness of stangers!!

We found police HQ and joined a queue. A very militant guy interviewed us and asked us what was stolen and we told him. He said without anything physical (e.g. a camera) being stolen, then he could not issue a report. We were in deep shit. John was not having this. He spied where others who had left the interview rooms were going. So we went that way. Joined another queue. We were asked by another person what was stolen. This time the list included a 35mm camera. A report was typed up and passed to us. Jesus that was easy. As we went to leave John decided to let militant dude know we had beat the stupid system … In he marched waving the report. The cop pulled out a hand gun and pointed it as us and started shouting, “English Bastards!!”. We ran like hell. Out of the station and on to the street. John howling like a crazy man, TW and I nervously laughing.

In memory of …

In the article included in the previous blog it mentions the purchase of an RD200DX which I purchased from an absolute legend and very good friend, sadly no longer with us, who I will simply refer to as John.

Although I got into bikes before I knew John, he was a fellow bike lover. I met John aged 16 at sixth form college.

John went to the same school where my mum worked as secretary for a while. I asked her if she knew him. Her eye roll and delayed grin summed him up. The maddest person I have ever met, yet most people could not help but love him.

Over the first year of college I got to know John, amongst others (who remain to this day my best friends) really well. College parties and drunken antics. They were plentiful.

The following year at start of college we were no longer the newbies and that had an injection of confidence.

The first week saw John and I holding ice-skating style score cards up as the new females walked passed. I seriously cringe about this now, it was truly shocking, however it was never meant to offend anyone (if it did I sincerely apologise, you were all worthy of a 10 😉).

Then came red nose day. A few pints before lunch and John tore a large red nose off a car grill and hung it over his … Man bits whilst dropping his trousers in the middle of the common room. Just because it was funny.

As part of the red nose day there was a jelly eating competition that we entered at the last minute, organised unexpecting college teachers. The whistle went and John just started throwing as much jelly as he could until it was just chaos. His infectious hysterics were magical. Teaching staff far from impressed.

John was a big fan of the band The Doors and introduced me to them. Around this time Oliver Stone did a film about said band. The college was gifted a very large film poster of the doors in the common room. John wanted it.

During the day he put wet toilet paper in the window locks of the common room. That night, I drove him up a dirt track at the rear of the college. He opened the windows, unscrewed the perspex holding the poster and made his way back to my car, with the caretaker in hot pursuit. He dived in and I sped off at stupid speeds in a cloud of dust. That poster adorned his bedroom wall thereafter.

The chronological order of these events eludes me, however we went on a trip to Liverpool university to get an idea about university life.

Let’s just say John was not sober. During our wanderings around the city John, who had longish hair went into a barbers, grabbed a fistful of hair on top of his head, and asked the barber to clipper around it.

Not content with a number 1 John asked us, a group of teenagers, to shave around his new Hari Krishna style long hair bit with BIC razors … Of course we did.

The following day at college he was reprimanded and forced to wear a wig until it grew back and some normality was resumed.

The day we left he decided he was going to car surf on my car roof. Covering the number plates with paper, John climbed on the boot/roof and off I went … Across the rugby pitch. Applying the handbrake whilst turning ensured John got off the roof before we got to the main road 🤣

That summer, John, another close friend and I headed off traveling. Insane times were had. I will leave that to another day as I am struggling to stop laughing and hold the tears back in equal measure.

A long time ago …

I was reminded the other day, whilst chatting to a good friend, that I once wrote an article for small motorcycle publication. Over 19 years ago apparently.

I was a regular reader of such magazines as it was just ordinary people talking about their motorcycling shenanigans. A welcome change from the journalist with the latest bikes at their disposal.

What an awful job those guys had … Forced to ride around on say an RC30 or 916, in exotic locations, get photographed doing mad stuff and then writing about it. I hope they were paid handsomely for enduring such a torturous job.

Obviously I kept said magazine so I could reminisce in years to come … Like now

You will have to zoom in to read the words due to my poor editing skills. Or just scroll down a bit …

Anyway, what’s been going on?

Sunny days and the Honda has been scratching around the Peaks and Wales. I mostly end up at Matlock Bath eating chips. Motorcycling gladiators need a modern diet to keep on top of their game.

The weather has turned wet and grey so the excitement has been now curtailed in the main it seems. If only I had a house load of DIY to do and a demanding slave like job to keep me occupied.

Editing skills perfected …

Until another time. Take care. The sun will shine again. When it does, make the most of every bit that you can.

Work life balance …

The term work life balance has been used for a long time to describe how much of your life you give to work. Looking back over most of my career my life was dominated by work. 

Why ?

The need to provide all the things that we are led to believe make us happy, the feeling to make people proud, ambition are all very much typical responses, however fear plays a huge part in my view. Fear of failing, fear of disappointing people, fear of not confirming to the norm, fear of judgement, fear of not having enough money to survive or give dependants a stable environment, fear of letting others down. 

Some of the happiest people I know work a 40 week and once they finish they are done. No more thinking/worrying about work, their mind free to do what they want to. Hobbies, interests and quality time with loved ones. 

I see people who work less, earn less, have fulfilling lives due to outside work activity. 

I have worked in start-ups, with the dangling carrot of “doing well” if the company gets sold. Giving up the now for a promise of a “better”, more secure, future. The “doing well”, “being successful” typically measured in how much you earn, not how happy you are.

 Making yourself ill, missing out on your life, to achieve the status of “doing well” is utterly ridiculous. 

I want to ride and rebuild motorcycles. Travel. Go to gigs. Meet interesting people. I want to be able to speak Spanish, play guitar, learn to weld, build stuff, read lots of books, listen to loads of music while focusing on the music not thinking about work. 

I find very little time to do the things that I really want to do. 

We have had two resignations in the last 4 weeks from very senior roles. Reasons given, burn out and mental exhaustion. I don’t blame either of them. One is wealthy enough not to have to work. There other is a cornerstone in the company. Multi talented, mega smart and exceedingly hard working. 

 There is nothing wrong in wanting to do well, have an interesting job etc. however it is about balance. I have learnt this hard way. I am exhausted by work and find very little joy in it. 

I am the only person who can change this, either by changing jobs or by changing how I view it. 

Almost 3 months …

My new life, living on my own for the first time ever, is almost 3 months old. Initial impression is, it will be OK. When I started this blog I had no idea the title ‘Lone’ Rider would have such depth. Good days and bad days … Just have to roll with them I guess.

It seems way longer than 3 months; When your perception of time slows down it is an indication that you are more in the moment. Typically you are more in the moment when lots of things change as you are viewing things for the first time. Yet we all fear change to some extent.

So what’s new?

I have now moved out of the family home into a “doer-upper” that requires a shed load of work. More work than I had hoped but all I could afford. Subconsciously, at the time of purchase, I was scared of being lonely and lots of DIY was a long-term distraction. Also, I am rarely proud of what I do, yet I was of all the work I did transforming my previous house.

I currently have a chair and a small table to sit at and a TV in a big box as the lounge is not fit to inhabit yet. I am not in any rush, however it would be nice to slump on a sofa watching a film and have visitors round for a brew. 

The MOST exciting News (for a very long time) is that I am now a granddad!!!

Darcie Lou was born a month early in early June. My Daughter and partner have coped amazingly well, my wife has been great too supporting them as much as possible (living in the same house).

Darcie is the most beautiful and content baby I have seen since my children were babies. Although I am not naturally paternal (which saddens me), I find it amazingly therapeutic sitting and just looking at her in absolute awe at how fantastic mother nature is.

I cannot wait to watch her grow and for her to start talking etc. Amazing. Truly amazing.

A bittersweet situation as I am visitor in the home I was integral too and where my granddaughter now lives, and just dropping in is not easy given covid etc. It can be gut wrenching leaving after a visit. That drive home to an empty, currently unwelcoming house. That will change, I know it will.

With regards to motorbikes I have managed to get a few miles in thanks to sunny days. Many difficulties motivation wise, however a good ride is always brings benefit in the form of smiles and a mental reset.

Riding feels different now. Those Sunday morning rides to get away from it all … … and returning to somewhere that is currently a house but not yet a home.

I have built a large shed which more than adequate for weather protection and security. I had hoped to make one from wood but covid and brexit has hit timber supplies and cost. So a metal one, lined in plywood so limit condensation. Time will tell.

My project bike is not going to happen as time is short and motivation is very low. As a winter hack a road worthy bike is a better bet. As a project bike a more desirable bike is better starting point.  When time allows and I have the documents (lost) it can be sold on.

Hope anyone reading this is keeping well and safe.

A week to go …

In one weeks time I will, hopefully, be in my new home. A 1950s 2.5 bed semi. Lots to do on the DIY front, slightly overwhelming but all manageable, time and cash permitting

The biggest issue is the lack of garage, needed to house my my motorcycle and tools etc.

In my simple mind a large shed would suffice in the short term. Little did I know until a few days ago that there is a national shed shortage. Many people having office sheds or leaving commercial property to set up shop in a cheaper alternative, having increased demand. Even the materials to build your own are in short supply.

A garage build seems like a long way off, so I think the only sensible thing to do, if a DIY shed build is proving difficult,  is to remove the dining room window, put patio doors in its place and use that as a garage. Not ideal, however a viable option. I suspect house insurance will not cover for such shenanigans.

This is the scariest adventure for as long as I can remember. A path taken out necessity rather than desire. The great unknown, no turning back, not a temporary experience. Need to get my big boys pants on and suck it up. Nobody is going to come and rescue me.

Me, a pile of books (I intend to start reading), clothes, tools and my bike. I even bought tires and grips (old one disintegrated) for my mountain bike as I intend on pedalling to keep me occupied.

Although, when money allows, I will buy a TV, I am not planning on getting a license. The reasoning is not just political (Biased BBC is managed by significant Tory donor), but that if I cannot watch live TV (licence does not just apply to BBC channels!) I won’t use it much and do something more constructive instead. I am not convinced of my own will power on this yet.

I spent more time buying a weekly food shop in the supermarket than I did looking at this house and it is by far the biggest purchase I have ever made. I am sure there are lots of things to do that I am currently unaware of. Needs a new roof too.

I have no idea how people get by in other parts of the country where housing is significantly more expensive. I can easily imagine mortgage/rent being at least half someone’s take home pay.

So the next chapter is a mere page turn away. Eek!!!

What a difference a year makes …

12 months almost to the day that I bought a my new bike ready for my mini adventure to Espanol. I have never been overly attached to anything material. The experience and adventure of riding has always been the ‘Thing’ not the bike itself (Same with most other things – I much prefer the experience of the journey and destination over the stars above the door of the hotel, the quality of the media over the size of the screen or speakers). However I do really love my Honda. I really miss her at the moment too. Lock down and sub zero temperatures have limited any excursions.

The day that I bought it I was in a rush to get home as it was my good friends 50th B’day party that night up in Liverpool. I rode it home thinking the different riding position felt very weird and I almost had reservations. Will I get used to it? etc.

That night my family and I (less the eldest one as he was working at a music venue – remember them?) headed to Liverpool. I had a few beers to ‘relax’ (reduce my social anxieties that I hide very well). I met my friend’s sister in-law, his wife’s sister, for the first time and only time (I may have met her at the wedding, however booze gives rise to bleary memories). Loud, seemingly care free and full of energy, and a really good laugh. Unbeknown to me she had just got the all clear from cancer. I learnt this week that she had passed away from another cancer aged only 54. Life can be so frigging cruel!!! I feel so sorry for all the family and friends.

For myself, the last 12 months have been turbulent. Giving up booze was in hindsight the best and most well timed decision that I have made in a long while. I am actually quite impressed with myself (I do mention it more than I should and probably bore people to death. I am sure a drunken me was way more annoying however). Covid and lockdowns have been the backdrop to almost everything. My mental health suffered big time (still far from great, however manageable mostly). Family issues and the breakdown of my 23 year marriage have been so very difficult. Devastating in fact. Money and work stresses. However …

My daughter is going to be Mummy!! Which inevitably means that I will become a Grandad!!! All very strange to even imagine but a magical thought.

I have found a house that I am trying to buy. It is not my dream home by any stretch (no picturesque cosy rural pad with a babbling stream and a large barnlike workshop or a house with sea views), however I am sure with a bit of extreme DIY that I can make it my own. I have never before lived on my own for any length of time so I am very nervous and anxious. However, for all the sadness that precedes such an event it is will hopefully be the start of happier times for everyone.

One thing that it does not have is a garage. So I will have to build something for my bike and numerous tools as a priority. As for the other stuff like something to sit on, sleep on etc. I will have to rough it for a while. Minimalist shabby chic, not to be confused with a crack den, will be the unintentional styling. I have plenty of pictures that invoke happy thoughts and memories for the wall which will hopefully influence my mood in a positive way.

I am not superstitious, however the house number is 8, which is considered good luck in some cultures and is also a positive in many religions. The last 3 characters of the postal are the same as a house we have previously lived in. The road opposite has the same name as a US state I once lived in and an adjoining road has the same street name as where I live now (for almost 20 years). All very coincidental but fun to think that the forces that we do not understand are at work 😉 .

So much change, good and bad, happy and sad. Completely unpredictable. I never would have thought that I would be writing a blog about my musings. It really helps however. Anonymous as it is, it does feel like that I am getting stuff off my chest and able to rationalise these crazy times that we find ourselves in.

Take care. Enjoy the now.