MCN Motorcycle show Excel January 2009

The main attraction of this show held annually in London’s docklands is the chance to swing a leg over bikes you could never (baring lottery wins, inheritances or pension lump sum payments – see later comment on the hair colour of most punters on the BMW stand) afford to buy which I did unashamedly – well actually I was rather self conscious on the BMW stand. I discovered that unlike some fellow bikers, my feet did touch the ground when astride the highly coveted 1200GS Adventure (it was so big). Apart from motorcycles, of course, there are miles of jackets, boots, gloves and helmets supposedly at knock down prices. Sadly I wasn’t in the market for any of this kit though I was tempted by shiny new versions of slightly tired items I had at home under the bed, such are the delights of consumerism. All I did buy was a tub of beeswax for a tenner which I must remember not to search out on the net and find that I was fleeced. I did actually want some. My main foci were the BMW and Triumph stands and I felt entirely at home at the latter as of course I own one. Climbing onto the Tiger it was reassuring that I could reach the ground on this high machine and the new (shiny black) Sprint ST was rather comfortable. Maybe I could be persuaded to replace my year 2000 model with a nice new black one some day. It was beautiful and comes with hard panniers installed….. It was so shiny… I think I can hold my head up being a Triumph owner.
Going back to BMW, I was rather excited to see Charley Boreman on the stand and managed to snatch a blurred pic of him as he was about the only person nearby without white hair.
What I found very cute were the men (often not spring chickens) who persuaded their (presumably) wives to climb on the back of these touring machines and the small children who sprawled over immensely large, powerful and expensive machines.
Worth a comment finally were the numbers of people visiting on crutches and the MCN ‘babes’ who were impossibly thin (some looked like they had had their bottoms amputated) who were posing for photographs.

John Martyn dies

To be honest I hadn’t thought about him much since the late 70s early 80s when everyone I knew in Cambridge seemed to be playing his records and trying to sound like him. But now that I am listening to him singing ‘When the hurt in your heart is gone’ I am completely blown away by the power and emotion of his music. I must get hold of that album Grace and Danger and get back in touch with this genius.

Tented Up

I now have nearly everything I need for my camping expedition to Eastern and central Europe in the summer, now that my Vango Spirit 200+ tent has arrived.

As my friend Geoff says with the way the pound is moving against the Euro, camping will be all I can afford.spirit200_pine
It weighs 2.5kg is for two people and has bags of porch room – which is why I got it.

Arriving in Lithuania

I was looking out for things turning Baltic in Copenhagen airport. Moving down, after waiting for 4 hours, into the slender waiting area for our tiny and dirty plane I heard new languages and looked into the faces of the men and the dress style of the women, looking for s0mething posst-communist – or something discernably different from Danish or English. After flying for an hour I opened my eyes to find ourselves just a few feet above the runway with slushy discoloured snow piled up and mist in the air. My map of the airport downloaded from some tourist site had made the place look huge. In fact the carousel carrying in our bags just ran for a minute, then stopped; all the bags had been off loaded. Outside I sensed something ex military in the air, in the barack looking buildings in the snow under the pine trees opposite. Its chilly but not cold. We stand around a bus stop from which my guide book assures us buses leave every 20 minutes for Klaipeda. Eventually taxi drivers tell us there are no buses. Whether this is a ruse or not to get our fares, none of us hesitate to load our bags and climb in. Sitting in tthe front in silence with the driver with his leather cap on, with the others talking in the back, i am glad for the opportunity to examine the roads, how people drive, what the cars are like, what the roadside building is like. Half built, sometimes roughly built with unfinished breeze block. Its raining and dull.
Klaipeda is the same, half built, gritty as the guide book says, huge puddles in the roads, but with distinct pockets of something new; bijou hotels like this (with its free wifi) and on the short walk I take in the darkening evening, galerijas where only women seem to be inside, hairdressers and boutiques. It reminds be for a moment of Croatia, where there is a real concern with style and it is done very nicely even though Paris is hundreds of miles away.