Bird Sh** and Sunday Dinner

So I said in my opening post that my duties running the boys around were complete. I was wrong. Saturday was spent at another wet and (very) muddy rugby club with the youngest, although I do really enjoy watching him play. He has just started playing adult rugby as he now qualifies being 17 years old and has managed to work his way up from the 5th team to the 2nd team in the short few months he’s been playing. Saturday was his debut for the 2’s and they were playing at an unfamiliar club to him so I was asked to be dads taxi again. The weather was so awful Saturday that I wouldn’t have got the bike out anyway but I could’ve got on with some jobs indoors which would save me earache on Sunday when I did get the bike out.

Glad I wasn’t playing in that!

Sunday’s weather was a little improved. It was grey and overcast with quite a strong southwesterly wind blowing which made for some interesting moments on the more exposed stretches of road but soon enough I got used to the gusts and just rode into them a little. My mood wasn’t improved though as when I took the bike out of the garage and put it onto its stand on the driveway to return to shut the garage door a seagull decided to deposit it’s breakfast right down the side of the nice shiny petrol tank.

As I came off the island on the old Kingsferry Bridge road I performed my first A road overtake since getting the bike. A car was doing 40ish in the 50 limit so with nothing coming I gave it a bit of right wrist and shot past him when the road was clear. I’m obviously getting a little braver. The whistle of the triple is a pleasure to hear when you open the throttle so with the noise and the thrill over the overtake I settled in for an enjoyable ride.

I had no plan in mind as to where I was going, just a rough direction to head and see where the mood took me as I want to explore some of the towns and villages of Kent and surrounding areas that I’ve never been too.  So I headed towards Faversham down the A2 before joining the A251 down as far as Challock and then turned left infront of the Halfway House and onto the road towards Canterbury.

I turned off at the picturesque village of Chilham before then heading for Wye where I figured I’d have a refreshments stop. 

I stopped at a lovely pub called the Flying Horse in the middle of Wye  with Sunday dinner service in full swing but I didn’t partake, I’d stuffed myself full of bacon, sausange, beans and tomoatos before leaving the island, plus I’d have felt like a right Norman No Mates sitting there eating Sunday lunch on my own when everyone else was out with their family. It did smell good none the less and will most likely return at some point with an empty stomach and no doubt the wife and at least one boy in tow as they never turn down a decent meal.

The New Flying Horse at Wye

I’d taken my camera with me intending to get some nice photos but the sky had turned much greyer and was threatening a downpour so I never actually took it out but there some nice places around Chilham and Wye, the River Stour runs right through, which I’ll revisit on a better day to get some photos to replace the stock images that the wonderful world of Google has helped me out with here.

The beer garden at the New Flying Horse on a sunnier day!

From Wye I headed for Ashford where I knew I could pick up the A251 again to head home via a quick picture stop at Eastwell Manor. I tried my best not to get in the way of the wedding that was on so only had time for a quick snap and on my way again.

I enjoyed the ride back up the A251. It’s a decent length rouad with plenty of twists and turns although my cornering at the moment is tentative at best. I could sense the guy in the VW golf behind me thinking what’s he doing as I slowed for the bends and then accelarated away from him again as the road straightened out.

My route for the day

It was then back up the A2 and home (with another overtake thrown in, it’s becoming a bit of a buzz now) and a stop to refuel before putting the bike away. I averaged 69mpg which I thought was OK for the trip and covered around 65 miles. I forgot to zero the trip so will have to trust Google on that one.

The Journey Begins

It all started after a big argument with my wife. I’m 49 years old, have a lovely wife and two boys one of which is away at university and the other one is just finishing his A levels. I live in a nice house in Minster on the coast of Kent and work for myself as an IT contractor. Our argument made me realise that the once happy go lucky, do anything for a laugh, get up and out person I was in my youth and twenties had disappeared. That person had been replaced by a crushing bore who’s only purpose in life was to work, pay bills, do work around the house and ferry the boys to and fro.

However, the boys are now both driving. As mentioned previously the eldest is away at uni so we don’t see him much as he’s loving life down in Sussex. The youngest is now driving too so I’ve been made redundant from part of my perceived role in life.

A few days later my wife sent me a photo of the four of us at a Saracens rugby game (I love rugby, probably more of that later) where the three of them had big cheesy grins on their faces and I looked decidedly down in the dumps.

Our argument made me realise that I’d lost my smile.

Then came the epiphany.

I had to do something. I had to get off my backside. I had to get out and find my smile again. But what to do? In my youth I played a reasonable level of football and coached my eldests sons team up until he was 15. When I moved south I played rugby for the club down the road from our house and absolutely loved that, I enjoyed it far more than the football as the social side is much better and there’s nothing like putting in a decent tackle to releive the weeks work stresses. But I’m 49 years old. I’m too old for contact sports. I was playing semi regularly up until around three years ago but too many injuries started taking too long to heal so not a good idea to make a comeback.

For the eighteen years we’ve lived in Minster I’ve wanted to buy myself a motorbike. I used to own bikes when I lived up north but not owned one for the 25 years I’ve been down south. There were several reasons why I’ve never done anything about this in those 18 years. Amongst them the wife’s dislike of motorbikes, my need to give all spare cash to the family and a lack of time are all contribute to the fact that I haven’t done anything about scratching that particular itch. Until now that is.

I’ve been “window shopping” for quite some time on the likes of Autotrader and MCN but that’s as far as it went. The realisation that I was stuck in a rut and had lost my smile finally gave me that kick up the backside. For once in my life I was going to be extremely selfish and just go and do it. You only live once after all.

So what to buy? My previous bike history started back in the 1980’s with a DT125. Back then just about everyone seemed to learn on the little Yamaha trailie. After a good while of hooning around on that (it only had two speed, full throttle and stop) I managed to blow up the engine. I then moved onto a RD125 before getting a Honda CBR600. Again the ubiqutous choice at the time. I was at the time working for a company formally owned by Robert Maxwell in Derby. It was taken over after he went for an unplanned swim in the middle of the night but things didn’t go to plan and I was made redundant. That lead me to move south and start working for myself. I moved to central London and used the tube as my form of transport so that was the end of my biking days, no way was I riding a bike through the crazy streets of the capital. I then met the wife had some good times, moved first to Bexley and then down to Minster. The kids arived and you know the rest.

I decided that I wanted a bit of a do it all bike. I’m far too old for a tupperware rocket. I don’t think I’d be able to move for days after being hunched over the petrol tank. I wanted something that would work for a Sunday blast, commute to the station on, something I could potentially do some serious miles on, just to get out and go somewhere for a weekend or longer, so the ability to carry luggage, decent range and a comfortable riding position were big considerations.

I loved the idea of getting a Triumph, just for the brand. And for a long time I was hankering after a Sprint GT. But the fact that it’s a litre bike put me off a little after so long away from riding and the fact that they’ve stopped making them now made me concerned about the availability of parts and accessories should I feel a need for them.

Sticking to the idea of Triumph I got chatting to a guy who owned a Tiger 800. He was so evangelical about it that I decided that I should take a look. I found one for sale in a Honda dealership in Southend, which Autotrader said was the closest one available to me being only 7 miles away. What Autotrader doesn’t realise is that there’s rather a large expanse of the Thames Estuary getting in the way and rather than a few minutes Southend is a good hour and a half away from home.

However the bike looked perfect, 2 years old, 6 thousand miles on the clock. Full Triumph luggage and even a Sat Nav thrown in. After a conversation with the dealership I managed to get a £500 discount off their price which paid for my clothing and helmet. Happy days, I was now the owner of a lovely shiny blue Tiger.

Through this blog I plan to share my search for my smile. My motorcycling adventures and hopefully a bit of fun along the way. Be nice to have you along for the ride.

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