This picture shows you one of the main reasons I'm really liking Australia. The first reason is, of course, that it seems to be full of really, really lovely people. I'm open to the idea that it's just the ones I've met, but so far it's pretty much a 100% success rate.
The other reason is that it's very bike-friendly. This is a tourist brochure for Australia's South West, where I'm going on the bike tomorrow. If you look carefully there are 2 bikers in the photos, just doing tourist things and clearly being seen as the kind of people you might like to have visiting your region.
This just wouldn't happen in the UK.
Anyway, that small spot of politics aside, Happy New Year. It is warm and sunny here, and I am about to lard on the factor 30 and go hunt some koala bears.
Saturday, 31 December 2011
These are my new wheels. The GS had a problem which made it surge like a rocking horse. Also the "Service Due" indicator was showing. If I'd paid a bargain price I'd have settled for a knackered old shed but this was top dollar. So after a short breakdown last night, this morning saw me and Woody The Sweeper returning the GS before heading up the coast for a coffee and to await a call from Colin of Sunset Motorcycle Hire, who opened up specially for me on New Year's Eve so that I could take possession of a rather nice 1200 Bandit. I was very happy on the GS, because I know how to ride a Gnarly Thing, while the Bandit is an unknown quantity and has no GPS. I will have to rely on paper mapping and following people.
Posted by Highwaylass at 14:01 PERMALINK
Friday, 30 December 2011
Things have not been going marvellously. Hence the absence of photos of me riding bikes and having a fantastic time. I had a brilliant ride out on Wednesday with an amazing bunch of guys called the Blue Knights and I will write more about that; and today the very lovely @sharemyoyster took me up the Swan Valley (which is a place, not a Carry On title) for coffee and ice cream. Tomorrow I have to swop a decrepit rental GS for something that I actually trust to ride roads that don't see a passing car for a day. Wish me luck.
Posted by Highwaylass at 16:04 PERMALINK
Thursday, 29 December 2011
Tuesday, 27 December 2011
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Monday, 26 December 2011
Sunday, 25 December 2011
I'd like to say the flight was uneventful but it actually involved my own personal oxygen tank so that would be a big fat lie. It turns out that when you find a member of cabin crew, explain that you are having an allergy problem with something on the plane (I think it was to the cheap seats, the first leg was fine!), are having problems breathing and wondered if they had an antihistamine available they take it very seriously. Or possibly they were bored and wanted to practice using all the kit. So the first half of the journey was very lovely and the second half very miserable. I guess that averages out!
Posted by Highwaylass at 21:33 PERMALINK
Saturday, 24 December 2011
Friday, 23 December 2011
It's the day before Christmas Eve. Or, in my personal festive itinerary, the day before I fly to Australia. The last time I was this impatient to get to Christmas my brother made me sort his plastic soldiers into Germans (pale blue, if I remember correctly); Brits (olive green); and Yanks (beige), to make it simpler for him to line them up in the sandpit before he shot them with his air pistol. Happy days...!
In the absence of small soldiers or big brothers, I am whiling the day away in one of my favourite places on earth (no, not the front row of a Lee Mead gig, that was last night) - Trafalgar Square. I have a rather watery coffee, a window seat and a very heavy bag. If I didn't have the bag I could go and have a look at the National Portrait Gallery, which I also love. When I was 17 a Frenchman offered to take me home from there and paint my portrait. I felt this was a rather long-term prospect and I had a date with Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes in the Wyndham Theatre that evening so I declined, as politely as possible, wondering what he saw in a hefty teenager from Macclesfield.
Maybe I will trust the bag to left luggage....i've got my passport & my bike licence in my pocket, that's all I really need for a successful trip.
I left London to make someone else happy (it didn't work). One of my resolutions for next year is to base decisions on what will make me happy. Even writing that down makes me feel selfish. But I think it's a healthy selfishness. Like the rule with oxygen masks - in the event of cabin depressurisation, put your own on before helping anyone else. You're not going to be helpful if you're blue with oxygen deprivation. Or unhappiness.
In 24 hours I will have been in the air for 2 hours. If I see Santa up there I will ask him to bring you peace, happiness and good friends. Because if you've got those, you'll have everything you really need for a successful year.
Happy Chrismas Eve Eve. I love you all xx
Posted by Highwaylass at 11:37 PERMALINK
Tuesday, 20 December 2011
I pack more than this for a weekend in Hayfield. Though the fact the bag is mostly full of dinky sundresses wholly inadequate for a British campside in July has helped to save a lot of space.
I find packing incredibly difficult. This is my first solo long-haul trip since - well, ever. It's not like I didn't make all the travel arrangements when I had an other half, and I am going to a place where most things that I may have forgotten can be obtained with a credit card - not sure what the position is on size 10 ladies shoes, but other than that I reckon I should be fine - it's just becoming harder every time I do it.
The situation is not helped by massive work stress. I live in a happy rose-tinted world where the fact that you were hired to do a job matches up with the fact that it needs doing, you do it well, and everyone is happy. What I can't cope with is having to fight for the opportunity to get off the starting blocks - after being hired to do the job in the first place. This is my problem not theirs, it must be because the same difficulty has followed me round in my various employments. I have to manage another day and a half before I get to leave it all behind, if only for a little while. First I head to London to celebrate Christmas with Lee Mead and some very fine lady friends, and then it will be about another 24 hours before check-in. I was worried about the plane journey but after this week even a screaming baby in the next seat will be a welcome relief.
Posted by Highwaylass at 21:59 PERMALINK
Friday, 16 December 2011
Yesterday was our works Christmas do, which involved a Secret Santa with a £5 budget*. I had to buy my Secret Santee 2 bottles of beer, because though he's a lovely bloke, his hobby is MC-ing and there's not much in the way of equipment for that you can buy for less than a fiver. Which slightly disproves my theory about hobbies making you easier to buy for. Though the fact that my Secret Santa bought me Red Tape and White Knuckles suggests it may still be true for bikers.
When she decloaked at the end of the karaoke I realised why we'd been having quite such an intense conversation over the turkey about who writes the best motorcycle travel books. I always feel slightly aggrieved that Lois stole my life - bright red hair? Yep. Also does music? Yep. Rides bikes and writes witty self-deprecating stories about the experience? Well, I like to think so. Hopefully this globe will be big enough for the both of us!
In other news, because I was a dirty stop-out (missed my bus home) last night I had to go and buy something to change into (party dress not really the thing for dress-down Friday!) and am Very Happy that these jeans are 2 sizes smaller than the previous ones.
* it also involved a 12-hour drinking session and karaoke. We take our fun seriously in the FlatLands.
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
It has been an expensive day. 2Moos has new tyres, I have a new haircut and my bank balance has £450 less in it than was there this morning.
Neither of these items could be postponed. The tyres are both flat and bald, leading to some very squirrely white line moments on these cold greasy mornings; and though my hair might not be bald it is certainly grey in parts it should not be, especially with a works party tomorrow and a holiday coming up.
After entrusting 2Moos to Phil at Cambridge Motorcycles I folded myself onto the tiny Suzuki and had an equally diminutive espresso from Christina to kickstart the day - but when I went back to the Suzuki a few hours later for the return journey to collect a freshly reshod Africa Twin, the battery gave the engine one limp spin and died.
Not really good news on a freezing cold night and with a pressing appointment for a new coat of dye.
So I called Phil, and he said give me five minutes and I'll come round in the van. I lurked on the street corner, fortunately not reciving any offers, until the van arrived and Phil opened the back doors to reveal....a rather small moped. Which didn't seem a fair swop for an Africa Twin, even if one of the heated grips isn't working and the high beam switch keeps getting stuck on.
One short van ride later and a brief pause to admire the Cambridge Motorcycles tree, I was back where I am supposed to be - on a large Gnarly Thing, which feels at least 2 inches taller on new rubber.
Back to the office, grab stuff, run to Toni & Guy for what is a really rather splendid retouch, then to the Hungry Horse to catch up with some biker friends. One of whom was the wronged party in this case, which is on my mind these dark evenings when cyclists ride with no lights and then write to the Cambridge News claiming that the only person they are endangering is themselves. Not so.
And now I'm shivering next to my hot water bottle and consoling myself with the thought that in 10 days I will be on a plane, migrating south.
Monday, 12 December 2011
I am a feminist. I disapprove of the time and effort modern culture requires to be expended in depilation to make adult women resemble Thai ladyboys. However, I am also vain. Being 6 ft tall and fond of comfortable shoes, I fear that arriving in a Hot Nation with furry thighs and a swimsuit will leave no doubt as to which end of the Oval I bowl from. So I have invested in the instrument of torture known as the Epilator. The last two hours have revealed two useful facts. The first is that pain isn't what it used to be. The first time I tried one of these I had to give up after 20 minutes and take it back to the shop. All that falling on my head has at least been good for something. The second is that I have a *lot* of scars on my legs. I'm really bad at shaving. Thank god dowager beard-dom remains some years away. The third is that "perfect results in minutes" is either a lie or is based on a test subject with significantly shorter legs than me.
Posted by Highwaylass at 21:25 PERMALINK
Friday, 9 December 2011
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Monday, 5 December 2011
The past few days there's been frost on the car in the mornings, which makes me feel bad because I know I have to put it in the garage but there's not room. And then I start to feel anxious about the arrival of winter. I'm not a fair weather rider by any means and I'm a very happy bike commuter but this is the first year that I've had to ride to work with no real alternative. When I lived in London I could ride, or take the bus, or take the tube or even the train. When I worked in Coventry it was take the bike, with an option of a fairly straightforward car journey with a guaranteed parking space outside the office, because it was on a barren industrial estate next to the world's ugliest hotel. Now I live in the boonies and my village has no public transport. I could theoretically drive to work, if by driving you meant sitting in a queue for at least 45 minutes and having nowhere to park at the end of the interminable wait. So I really don't know what I'm going to do in January and February when the snow and ice arrive. Last year I was working from home, which was lonely and expensive on the central heating, but did mean that getting to work was a straightforward affair. Maybe I need to find temporary winter quarters in the centre of town.
Thursday, 1 December 2011
Not only is it the 1st of December, it's Happy New (Old) Trousers day. While I am loathe to prove that, at the root of everything, ladies are indeed obsessed with matters of weight and body image, I am very excited to report that today was the first day I got back into my Belstaff winter trousers. I had to retire them last year in favour of a special pair of Fat Bastard-sized Hein Gericke ones owing to an unfortunate tendency to comfort eat when unhappy. While there is some way to go before, to quote acam@cix's excellent gender-neutral weight loss goal, "I'm fucking Kate Moss," it is a source of significant joy that I am at least making progress.
Posted by Highwaylass at 07:35 PERMALINK