Monday, June 29, 2009

Rideout to Wirksworth

My son, Daniel, not being able to make Father’s Day, suggested a bit of family history outing to Wirksworth, Derbyshire. This would give me an “excuse” for a ride out on my Burgman and Daniel could celebrate his Father’s Day and we could do some family “digging” into our relative Eliza Ann Moore (My great grandmother).

We arranged to meet up at the retail park at Ashbourne, roughly half way between Macclesfield and Kegworth on Tuesday, 23 June 2009. So at nine forty five, in fairly good weather I set out for Ashbourne. With not too much traffic on the road I made fair progress through Leek, Bradnop, Winkhill, and Waterhouses, on the A523 to Ashbourne. The road has rider problems with the so called “safety” cameras between Leek and Ashbourne. They seem to be sited in each village, safety or revenue raising?

Arrived in Ashbourne about 10:30. Daniel had already arrived, his trip included thirty odd miles along the A50, a two lane “motorway”.

After a brief “confab” we decided to head for Green Hill, Wirksworth, following the B5035, passing by Carsington Waters. Green Hill is one of the locations, we found out from the census information on the t’internet, where our ancestor had lived. Setting our satnavs off we went in sunny, warm weather. Glad I was on my bike, nice and cool. Shortly we arrived at Wirksworth and Green Hill. Riding along Green Hill was like riding to heaven, steep, oh so steep! Probably the steepest road I had ever ridden on. A single lane road with old cottages and new builds. After about half a mile we decided to turn round and return to more level country. Daniel performed twenty three-point turn, so tight and narrow. I climbed into someone’s drive, less steep and slowly paddled the bike round. Then a very slow descent into the middle of Wirksworth. Reminder: must check my brake pads. We managed to find parking spaces quite close to St. Mary the Virgin’s church.

Daniel at the remains of a medieval wall, Wirksworth.

By now the weather was really fine, bright sunshine and hot. We walked round to St. Mary’s. A very peaceful setting, with neat gardens surrounding the church. There is welcome to enter note on the church’s door. Inside the church it was cool but not too well lit – all the windows were leaded with coloured glass scenes, extremely clean, after the fashion of churches in France. We looked all over the church but didn’t find anything connected to our ancestors. The same result with the church graveyard but this was expected.

We returned to our vehicles and then to a the local Spencers cake shop and tea rooms. After a cup of tea and a snack, Daniel presented me with a Father’s Day card and present. A beautiful card and a mini vidcam/voice recorder. Much appreciated present from Daniel and his wife Sara.

St. Mary the Virgin Church, Wirksworth

Daniel outside St. Mary's Church, Wigglesworth

We returned to our vehicles and then to a the local Spencers cake shop and tea rooms. After a cup of tea and a snack, Daniel presented me with a Father’s Day card and present. A beautiful card and a mini vidcam/voice recorder. Much appreciated present from Daniel and his wife Sara.

Back on the street we decided to visit Gorsey Bank, another home site of our ancestors. Easy to find and we arrived at the end of the tarmac with a signpost informing us that the road/track was “Unsuitable for motor vehicles”. Just then a cross country motorcycle zoomed out of the brush up the gravel track.

Turning round we headed for the local cemetery. Quite close, about a five minute ride. A small but neat cemetery. We walked round looking for the headstones we had inscriptions for. Well, Daniel did most of the walking while recuperated on a park bench. We had reference numbers, from the parish records, but there were no references on the ground. We found some headstones with names we recognised from the parish records but were not too sure.

We then left Wirksworth, stopping at a pub in Knockersdown. Pub welcomes bikers by the way. Also has camping facilities. We had a little debrief and concluded maybe we needed a little more research, especially on the monumental inscriptions.

After spending a good day with Daniel, we went our separate ways. Mine a ride through the Peak District Park, along the A5012, A512 to Buxton then up to the Cat and Fiddle and down to Macclesfield on the A537.

Though not a great mileage – eighty miles, I arrived home at four o’clock.

A good day, good weather and good company.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Lord Butler has today told it as it is......

A private enquiry is Gordon Brown's attempt to put his and Labour's political interest ahead of the national interest.

It is also a diversionary manoevre by Brown to cover his precarious, current, weak position in the Labour government. He'll jump on any bandwaggon at the moment.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Gordon Brown Smokescreen....

So Flash Gordon announces a private, independent enquiry into the Iraq "War".

Any British subject can be called to face the enquiry - cue Tony Bliar to become an American!

Any evidence the enquiry do not want to be revealed will be classified as 'secret' to protect our security. (Guffaw, guffaw!)

We already know the Government are responsible for this calamity - they had all the security information to make the decision to take us into this United States driven nightmare. (As Rafa Benitez would say, "It's a FACT.")

Apparently all Sadam Hussein had was a pair of slippers to throw at us. WMF indeed!!

And finally, a little touch of Mandelson - the 'enquiry' will take a year to complete. By that time Flash Gordon and Mandy will be o'er the hill and far away to the Job Centre presenting their P45s, grabbing more of our taxpayers money.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Trip to Mont Blanc

Tuesday 12/05/09: Macclesfield – Calais Coquelles

Well the day for the start of our continental ride had arrived. As usual, John setting out from his home in Ipswich and me setting out from Macclesfield. I left Macclesfield at 09:00 in fair weather. So across to Leek and down to Ashbourne to the A50. Along the dual carriageway to Kegworth and the M1. A little way down the M1 I stopped at Northampton for fuel and sent a John a text message on my progress.

I continued on the M1 to Junction 6a to exit onto the M25. By now the weather had changed to become quite windy which gave me a few concerns about the Dartford Bridge crossing. Reaching the bridge I rode along lee side of an ‘artic’. On top of the bridge I could hardly feel the effects of the wind, plus the crossing is free to motorcyclists. Leaving the M25 for the M20 I felt the wind again. With time in hand I stopped at Maidstone services for fuel and a quick snack.

Back on the road I had a gentle ride down to Eurotunnel, arriving at 14:30 and logging in for the 15:20 train. Found John’s bike on the car park and John wandering around the Eurotunnel cafes and shops. After enquiries at the Eurotunnel Information desk we boarded the 14:50 train. We had a whole carriage to ourselves.

During the journey two Jewish gentlemen, from the next carriage passed through our carriage showing interest in our scooters, destination and our age. After a long chat they seemed quite impressed with our past and future rides.

On arrival at Coquelles we refuelled and checked into the Etap Hotel. After a short rest we had our evening meal at Le Dragon, Cite Europe.

During the day the weather was dry but cool.

Our Coquelles pit stop.

Daily Mileage 0 – 254 = 254 miles.

Wednesday 13/05/09: Coquelles – Troyes

As we departed, Calais was enveloped in very low, damp mist, it was quite cool. Soon it began to rain. I am sure John is a rain god, John put on his yellow waterproof suit, I had my waterproof trousers.

As noon approached the sun came out. John’s satnav was not working properly and then it fell off his screen mount. So the rain god is not the gadget god. We followed autoroutes: A26, A4, A26, A5. Part way through the morning my “Change Oil” light illuminated. At one of the many ‘aires’ we stopped to check my oil level. Oil check – OK.

We arrived at Troyes at 1230. Parking up on the roof, we found out there is only a part time reception at the Etap, Hotel, Troyes. Next door to the hotel there is a mini mall which has a café. After chatting to the café owner, in our best Franglais, John went off to find someone to check out his satnav power cable, I stayed at the café watching our coats and kit. Quite warm now. Sank quite a few cafés au lait!

About one hour later John returned. He had enquired at wind screen replacement shop about electric testing. A young man, having his windscreen repaired, offered to help John in his quest. He drove John all over Troyes searching for somebody to check John’s satnav power lead. This was decent of the chap, especially as John discovered he was unemployed. Eventually they found an electrician who tested the lead. Apparently a fuse in the plug had blown. Fuse replaced, lead tested ok and John was a happy chappy again. John suitably rewarded his new found friend and returned to the café.

Back to the hotel we tried to book in using the Etap automatic reservation machine. The machine displayed our reservations, accepted my card code but wouldn’t take payment. Five times we tried. Other potential hotel guests tried to register but failed. I would advise people who use Etap Hotels to check the reception times of the hotel. This is the second time we have had problems with a part time reception. The previous occasion was last year in Orleans. Eventually at 1700 we able to check in.

We ate at another Chinese meal, just along the street – “Palais”. John ruined his new shirt. I told him he needed a bib!

Daily Mileage 254 – 514 = 260 miles.

Thursday 14/05/09 Troyes – Archamps

Left Troyes in good weather conditions but at 1000 rain started. John’s satnav played up. He jury rigged the fuse with some copper wire. Later stopping at an “aire” to check with John, he braked at a roundabout and toppled off. Scratched his bike and banged his shoulder. Satnav sent us on the scenic route – lots of bends and hairpins.
Arrived at 1430. Tough day had a couple of beers. (Expensive €5.50 – 50cl)

Daily Mileage 514 – 755 = 241 miles.

Friday 15/05/09 Archamps

Me over the A40 with the hotel in the background.

No riding – no mileage.

Explored the Gaumont complex across the motorway, opposite Hotel Ibix.

Saturday 16/05/09. Chamonix Mont Blanc

Today rode along the A40 to Chamonix Mt Blanc.
Best weather of the day. Stopped at “aire” before Chamonix with a beautiful view of Mont Blanc which had a cloud covered summit. Here we both took pictures of all the nearby mountains and some Swiss/French type houses.

Me silhouetted against Mont Blanc

We moved on to Chamonix which was crowded with vehicles and people. It was the weekly market day. John wandered around taking photos while guarded the bikes. Without a real stop in the town we then made our way returning down the A40.

Still early we made our way to Annecy. The weather continued to be fine. We arrived in Annecy about 1300 and parked up, along with other bikers, outside the local town hall. Again another stroll around with more photo taking, especially of the old buildings and charming water feature outside the town hall.

After a while we made our way back to Archamps. We soon ran into trouble – road works and diversions. Not so easy. A new bridge was being constructed across a deep, wide valley. The diversion wasn’t well marked so we called in the local garage, re-fuelled and the owner gave John a tip. “Walk your bikes across the old bridge slowly.” I don’t know how old the bridge is but it is flanked at either end by two castle type features to give it a medieval look. And there must be a reason they are replacing it. John the Brave went first. Did we push our bikes across? Have you felt the weight of our bikes? Of course not! John rode straight across. Gingerly I followed. Looking down I saw a valley about two hundred feet below the decking of the bridge. Carefully I rode across, didn’t want the bridge disappearing from beneath my wheels. Slowly the far bank approached, safe at last.

OK bring on the next challenge! Yeah, as soon as I stopped quaking on we rode. After that a pretty tame ride back to the hotel.

Daily Mileage 755 – 896 = 141 miles

Sunday 17/05/09 Archamps - Troyes

Left Archamps at 09:00, a little later than usual as we didn’t want to arrive in Troyes too early. We shouldn’t have bothered – the road riding gods conspired against us. For some reason the A40 west had been closed for maintenance. No signs just cones. We saw a lorry receiving directions on the deviation from a workman. We followed the lorry for miles, he knew where he was going. After many miles he pulled over to let the build up of traffic to pass. Not long after we took a pit stop and reset our satnavs. Not long after, approximately 11:00, we connected with the A40 again. We made progress after taking two hours to ride 40+ miles. John has realised he has left his hip flask in the hotel at Archamps. Oh dear, a present from his wife, Marie. In fine weather, lots of sun, of course I was wearing my waterproofs, never rains when I wear them. We made good progress but with judicious managed to reach Etap Hotel Troyes bang on the evening opening time. John tried to make contact with Archamps but it sounded a bit garbled.

So off to the Chinese restaurant at the end of the street. A pleasant meal, a chat with a couple of expats returning to Leeds on a family visit. A free saki from the restaurant owner and a free souvenir of the saki cups, which when full a naked lady can be seen in the bottom of the cup.

Daily Mileage 896 – 1180 = 284 miles

Monday 18/05/09 Troyes – Coquelles, Calais
We left Troyes at 0815, a fairly bright day but very windy.

Poulet de Bresson

After a good ride arrived at Coquelles at 1230. No reception problems here, open all day.

After a quick shower we walked over to Cite Europe for a bit of shopping for SWMBO. A watch with an expanding bracelet. Now these aren’t the current vogue or fashion. There are about half a dozen watch/jewellery shops in the malls. Not one had this animal. However walking out of the last shop, John espied the exact thing in a showcase. This after being told by the shopkeeper he had sold his last one. I bought it immediately. John replaced his lost whisky at Tescos duty free store.

At 1530 we had an early dinner at the Le Dragon. Then a few preparations for the trip home on the morrow.

Daily Mileage 1180 – 1429 = 249 miles.

Tuesday 19/05/09 Coquelles, Calais – Macclesfield.

We left Coquelles on the 0820 train and arrived in Folkestone at 0720, all times local of course as we have not mastered time travelling yet.

As John had his satnav set-up, he led the way. Nearing the M25 John signalled me to lead. Navigating by overhead gantry motorway signs. I misread a sign for the M25 and ended on the A20. Unusual exit as it exited RIGHT. Probably I should have bared left to follow the M25 but the overhead sign confused me. John, satnav alive zoomed past following the correct route and that was the last I saw of him on the ride out.
I stopped at the first roundabout on the A20. Fortunately I was able to pull into a B&Q car park. Unpacking my rear bag and suit case I found my satnav buried under many layers of clothing. Repacking and finding my way back to the M25 took me twenty minutes, not bad considering it was rush hour.

Refuelled at Toddington on the M1. (Last refuel Coquelles.) I had a trouble free pootle up to Kegworth, to my son’s, Daniel, house in good weather, arriving at 11:15. Daniel had texted me for a pit stop for a brew and a buttie.

After leaving Kegworth ran into very heavy rain, which lasted until I reached Leek. Absolutely soaked I arrived home, Macclesfield at 13:15.

Daily Mileage 1429 – 1698 = 269 miles.

Total Mileage – 1698 miles.

Our bikes!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

LIke Gordon Brown....

Lord Mandelson, like Gordon Brown, is unelected! In fact he was given a barony and appointed by Gordon Brown.

Yesterday he urged MPs to back Gordon Brown.

'Scratching', 'your' and 'backs' come to mind. As a previous Brown opponent the Machiavellian Mandelson is a political survivor.

The unelected support the unelected.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Update on D-Day.......

President Obama has found out the Queen has not been invited to the celebrations. So the Americans are taking the initiative and intend to invite her.

Sod Gordon Brown and his cronies - too busy thinking about their wallets and survival.

Gordon Brown to carry on.....

"Mr Brown rejected calls to quit, saying he was the man to tackle the recession and the expenses scandal."

I've heard it all now! He's the man to tackle the problems he helped create. What a load of twaddle. He's just trying to hang on to his job.

Is he he tackling the problem by giving bankers outrageous pensions when they should have been sacked and possibly imprisoned.

Is he tackling the problem by giving millions of the tax payers funds to failed business' - banks. Resurecting the companies and situations that landed us in the brown sticky stuff originally.

Reluctant to punish MPs for the disgraceful way they dipped their butties in the tax payers funds, allowing them to retire at the next election thus ripping off the taxpayers again by taking their "standing down allowances - sixty thou here, eighty thou there!!! And now he is supporting his Darling. The country's treasurer has ripped us off.

He is just buying support from the commercial sector and currently serving, thieving MPs.