Category Archives: Gear

Just back from the NEC Show

No, not that one. That would have been a truly epic car park snarl up. The Camping and Caravanning Show. And while it was – perhaps unsurprisingly – mainly full of large white wobble boxes, tucked in a corner was this absolutely brilliant bike trailer. 

I hate loading bikes onto trailers and avoid doing it unless I can rope someone in to come and help me. I just have visions of losing momentum halfway up the ramp and the whole thing toppling sideways and pinning me to the tarmac.

This genius design gets round that in two ways. The tail of the trailer drops more-or-less flat to the road, and it’s a wide piece of chequerplate – you can’t fall off it, though I’m fairly certain I could still drop a bike on it. It is, after all, my special talent. 

And it folds in half for storage! 

Anyway – if you’re as impressed as I am by this almighty piece of kit, you can get one from LNB Towbars. Ask for Clare, she was lovely and very knowledgable about it. 

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Wild? I was livid.

Robens Klondike

This was my campsite last weekend.

It was supposed to be the jumping-off point for a tour of the Cornwall and Devon RBR landmarks, but the Lomax’s cylinder heads were away at Ivor Searle’s for new valve seats so Shakey and I had to go in the car. Our reward was the opportunity to wave cheerfully at a big orange H-van coming the other way on the A4. There are almost no other 2CVs out there these days – I was chatting to someone the other day about Hortense and he said the only other 2CV in our town lives in a garage and comes out on dry sunny days. I think Hortense was quietly sobbing at this point.

It may not look much like wild camping but it is, in fact, an awfully big adventure.

When I was a little girl my dearest wish was to sleep in my tent in the back garden. It was a green ridge tent, the kind you would draw in a picture, or imagine the Walker children pitching on Wild Cat Island. But this tiny taste of adventure was vetoed by my mother, who was unusually concerned about stranger danger for the 1970s. Her concern that random strangers would carry out evil acts upon my person extended to banning 16-year-old me from going to see Bon Jovi, hardly the peak of rock depravity. Sleeping outside was out of the question.

So this isn’t just Martyn and Jane’s back garden. It’s a tiny slice of belated rebellion, with a side order of wish fulfilment. It’s also a bloody nice tent.

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Filed under 2CV, camping, Gear, Round Britain Rally

Everything that dies, some day comes back.

Photo 03-08-2014 20 17 42

God bless ebay. Infested by timewasters selling broken tat, but now and then, the perfect thing that you have been missing rather terribly.

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I can see clearly now…

It’s still raining in the flatlands. I think the end of my house is falling off, failing to cope with the land on which we stand slowly becoming a kind of gritty soup.

But I can see clearly because I have finally had to shell out for a new visor.

I’ve seen the world through full-time specs since the age of about 9, and one of the things it teaches you to live with (if you are cack-handed, as I am, and prone to wiping your glasses on a corner of your jumper instead of special lens cloth, as I do) is to look through scratches and scuffs without letting them annoy you.

My lid has been getting more and more scuffed as it lives in a Metal Mule topbox during the day, and sometimes I catch it on the lock pulling it out at home time.  It creates an interesting Top of the Pops 1970’s starburst effect in the evenings, but it was endurable.

The two-inch crack that I inflicted dropping it off my seat when I was trying to find my keys in the rain felt like a step too far, though.

So I have coughed the best part of a hundred quid for a new visor and pinlock inner, and after a bit of help from the lovely chaps at BikeStop in Stevenage, the world is transformed.

Maybe I should buy some new specs too….


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Discovery of the day…

Motorcycles always go from left to right when captured into sidestand pucks.


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I have everything I need

I’m not generally a fan of moving with the times. A glance in my garage should make this rather clear. So when it comes to psalms I prefer the rolling complexity of the King’s English than the simple language of the Good News Version.

Except for Psalm 23. “I shall not want” sounds like things will be better in some uncertain future. Or a statement of determined self-denial.

As I drive my car round this UK through this snow-bound hell that is supposed to be spring, I take stock of the equipment I have loaded into the boot. I have warm clothes. I have jump leads. I have coffee. I have in-car-entertainment, though it goes into fits of randomly pausing the CD to provide moments of reflection. I have warm feet, gloves to wear and a Scottish Rugby beanie to keep my brains in my head. I have a shovel in the boot. I have a dent on the bonnet, but that is a different story.

I have everything i need. Right here, right now.

This is a good place to be. Although the car looks like it is about to be baked with a salt crust.


Filed under 2CV, Gear, Introspection

Needful things

What might a nearly-vintage car need while travelling 2/3 the length of the UK? I have packed, in the car's box, grease gun, oil, jump leads, spare points, and the Book of Lies. Perhaps I should also add some Psychological Spray. In my basket I have salt&vinegar McCoys, bananas and my new DAB radio. I haven't had one before so I'm quite excited.


Filed under 2CV, Gear, Travel

Goodbye old friends…

Goodbye to you
My trusted friends
I was never sure if you were size 9 or 10
Together we’ve crashed into cars
Bounced off asphalt stone and tar
Been to Landmarks near and far.

Goodbye my friends
It’s good to ride
When all the birds are singing in the sky;
Now that the spring is in the air
Though rain is falling ev’rywhere
I have bought another pair.

We had joy
We had fun
We bagged landmarks in the sun;
But the holes in your soles
Have been deemed beyond repair.

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Things that are going to be difficult to get home on a bike #2

Abba stand for the Triumph. I'm going to need some bigger bungee cords….

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if Fortune begin to stay still, she is no longer Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune was much beloved of medieval minds.  Blindfolded, Fortune spins her wheel. Some rise, others fall.  That’s been me, this week.

Yesterday I collected the car, complete with new MOT, from Rob at Chevronics. I’m not sure it wants to be Hortense any more. I think it wants to be Steve McQueen, and try jumping over things. But that’s not my point. It sounds a lot less rumbly now that it hasn’t got a failed wheel bearing, which is interesting (but isn’t my point either). It also sounds like a farting frog, because the exhaust is blowing. The positive turn of the wheel is that the exhaust isn’t blowing because I did a bad job replacing the silencer – it’s blowing because there’s a hole in the cross box, which I’d tried to get away without changing. So although, on the face of things, it’s bad news, it’s actually good news because I did the job well. Just not far enough up the car. And I enjoyed yesterday’s deluge an unreasonable amount, because I was sitting in a car in in appropriate shoes looking out at the rain instead of sitting out in the rain.

On the falling side of fortune’s wheel is my sat-nav. 36 hours before I leave on a tour of the more obscure roads of North Yorkshire,  the Garmin cradle has given up passing power to the unit.  The Zumo itself still charges from a PC, but unlike Boffin, I don’t have a 3-pin socket in one of my panniers so that isn’t a massive help.  Also on the down side are my army boots. The soles have split and are attempting to make a break for a new life on their own. I took them to Timpsons and the man with the apron on said “Time to buy a new pair love.”

These are the only boots I have ever had that are comfy to walk in as well as ride, and I found them by accident in Waterside Antiques in Ely  after a whole day at the NEC trying on boots in the company of the Midnight Mud Wrestler. I can’t face doing going through that again.

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Filed under 2CV, camping, Gear