Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cheque Presentation and 2010 plan

Presented the cheque for £27,000 GBP to Capability Scotland. A big thanks to all the sponsors,  all who contributed to the can collections, raffles, auctions, sales and to the folks that donated to the charity on the way round.  


Plans 2010:


·         Doing a tour of Scotland with two people that I met in the USA.

·         Heading to Horizons Unlimited in Derbyshire in June after an invitation to talk about my trip following  my talk in Colorado in August 2009. Hope some of you can make it there. (see Horizons Unlimited web site at http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/hu-travellers-meetings-uk/10th-lumb-farm-ripley-meeting-46807 ).

·         Also off to East Grinstead to attend the IPA AGM where I am invited to give them a wee talk on world motorcycle travel.  

·         Lastly I will be going to France, Germany, Poland and Czech Republic in July with the IPA MC Club….all arranged for us…no planning this time!

Photos: John Boyle, me, , Jimmy Sinclair, Alan Dickson and Davy Burdus




Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Customs Forms- Russia/Ukraine/Kazakhstan

These forms are filled in at border posts of most ex-Soviet countries. They are all the same and tend to be in Russian. It is a real pain if you cannot read them as the staff can be unhelpful on occasions but very helpful on others. From Ukraine to Russia the staff filled them in but from Kazakhstan to Russia they told me to get on with it. Take a copy with you and the answers are the same every time unless you are transporting loads of cash or drugs and firearms.

The Worlds Biggest Shot Glass

FW: Sticky World Map and HU Meeting

This sticker available from the Horizons Unlimited website and fits the BMW
GS panniers.. I picked one up in Colorado and it was really good to show
people where I had been. Wished I had it in Russia as they ALWAYS asked.
After my talk at Gunnison Colorado I have been invited to do a presentation
at the HU UK Meeting. Details below. If you can make it I will see you

Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meetings
Tenth Annual UK Travellers Meeting
Thursday June 24 - Sunday June 27, 2010
Lumb Farm
Derby Road

Stats and Reviews (Updated 9th Feb 2010)

Gear: Rated 1 – 5  (Where 1 is Crap and 5 is Awesome)




Hein Gericke Tuareg Tour Suit


Great suit and very waterproof apart from the waterproof pockets. Warm when cold but baking in heat when the waterproof lining is in. One of the seams ripped and 2 of the fasteners broke off.

Alpine Star GTX Gloves (Winter


Not waterproof as stated. Hard to get on and impossible when wet. Take ages to dry. Good protection.

BMW GS Gloves (Summer)


Great gloves- cool in summer but not waterproof. Good protection and comfortable. Dry quickly.

Alpine Star Tech 3 Boots


Comfortable after breaking in but very hot in warm weather. Excellent support and protection. Heavy boots.

Arai Tour X3 Helmet


Very good, comfortable helmet with good recesses for Autocom and music. Light and well ventilated.

Findme Spot Emergency Locator and Tracker


Great kit. Tracker/ Okay message to phones and email, Non-emergency help button and 911 button. Excellent satellite coverage. Hardy unit resistant and idiot proof.

Blackberry Storm


Biggest piece of crap to hit the phone market. Almost packed in on the first week. Bad keyboard and extortionate rates through Vodafone. So expensive remember to shut of data if you are stupid enough to take one.

Garmin Zumo 550 GPS


Excellent kit for Europe and the USA. Get as many country street maps as possible before you go. In Russia and Kazakhstan – useless on world maps. Sturdy and waterproof with great features.

BMW Aluminium Side and Top Cases


Overpriced and very leaky. Could do with a hole in the bottom to let the water out. Hinges are a joke and break easily. The good thing is they bend and protect the bike in a fall and can be un-bent with a bit of effort.

Wunderlich Tank Bag for GSA


Fiddly opening and not entirely waterproof as stated. Good capacity and secure fitting. Easy access to fuel filler cap.

Touratech Side Bags (Adv Crash Bar Fitting)


Great Bags with a good capacity. Not waterproof and adds protection. Fiddly to fit.

Laminar Lip (Windshield Extension)


Would have scored 5 but for the fasteners. The are semi- permanent and bugs get between the shield and the lip and are difficult to clean out. If you use the duster/sponge between the lip and the shield it will pop off and you have trouble re-fitting. Reactivate the glue with a hair dryer. Great to reduce wind noise and increases comfort on fast rides.

Timex Digital Compass Expedition Watch


Would have a 5 but for the leather strap. Great kit with alarm/waterproof/compass/easy to read display and indigo night light. Have contacted Timex as the strap is beginning to rot. Hopefully get a new one?

Outwell Folding Arm Chair


Brilliant and essential. Sturdy but lightweight and easily strapped to the bike. A must in remote places where sitting on the ground can be damp, uncomfortable and you share with the beast of the ground. This has the added beer /coffee holder…perfect fit for that Russian nectar…Baltica3.

Rok Straps


Chuck the bungees in the trash and get these. Easily fitted, easily adjusted. Get the gear on in minutes without risking losing an eye!



Excellent for GPS sound, music and bike to bike. Range is sufficient and the sound quality is good even at speed. Just fits under the GS seat and is better hard wired to the bike. Must use a Push-to-Talk button or else you will be driven mad by people who sing or talk to themselves whilst using the VOX setting.

IPOD Touch


Used this with a set of small speakers and when riding, the Autocom and ear bud headphones. Great on boring roads and when riding in the rain!

Water Filter


Sent this home as you can get good/bottled water anywhere on the route I took.

Cooking Stove


This used petrol from the bike and when you get the hang of lighting it and is very good in all but very windy conditions. Not much call to use it but great for a brew-up and the occasional ration meal.

Sleeping Bag Xero 350 2 Season Bag



Sleeping Bag Liner (Silk)


This is a must. Some of the hotels had bed bugs and were a bit smelly. I used this to sleep in and covered the pillow with the travel towel. Stops the itch. Also good to use as a sleeping bag in very warm temperatures.



Thanks to the lads in Gunnison, Colorado for the new travel pillow. I had to give the old one to the Vladivostok car park attendant when I exceeded the luggage allowance on the bike for the idiots in the Vlad Customs Department. Small and great comfort while camping.

Hats/Mosquito Nets


Bed nets, Head nets,  DEET and the Skin so Soft…all essentials for Siberia and your introduction to the Killer Siberian Mosquito!

VauDe Taurus 1 Tent


2 man tent for one. You need your own space and by the time you put gear in there is only room for one. Quick to erect and very waterproof. Dries quickly.

Therm-a-rest Pro Self Inflating Mat


Absolutely necessary piece of kit. Light, comfortable, packs down small and keep the cold off your back.



Nikon D80 Digital SLR with Sigma 18-200 zoom lens




This is a great camera but a bit bulky. As recording of the journey is important, I think it is worth making room for a good camera. I went as far as LA with a Panasonic Lumix compact which is good but restricts you creativity at times. I used the Nikon when doing the tourist bit and travelling on the bike and carried the wee one at all other times. Think dry-bag for this as you do not want to lose the use of either.








Advent 4211-B Notebook Laptop






A small laptop is a must. It is great for storing photos, travel documents, PDF copies of all passport, visas, driving documents, guarantees and contacts. I had a 250gb small hard disc too. I duplicated everything and backed up the photos and movies. Take a memory stick too as it is good if you need to take any paperwork for printing etc. Load Skype onto the notebook and open an account. Calls via computer are very cheap and good quality. If you are blogging this is a must and some image reduction software for reducing image sizes (Photoshop etc) is a must for uploading. Think dry-bag for this equipment. I used a neoprene cover and packed it on top of clothes in the side case. It has a standard hard drive and seemed to survive okay.





Never go anywhere without them. Get a selection of sizes. Great for holding things on after a drop or after bouncing through Russia. I lost both adjustment bolts for the wind shield and the cable-ties did the job. They also held the spotlights together and kept the license plate on. Great kit.


Hydration Bag



An absolute must especially in very warm areas. Dehydration is a real problem on a bike. You lose concentration very quickly. If you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated so keep topped-up. It is a good rule of thumb to stop every 50 miles -rest, rehydrate, relieve and ride. Make room for a bottle of water as a back-up.




Ortlieb Duffle Medium Travel Bag




Great kit. I dumped my other bag in favour of this one. Excellent, tough and very waterproof. Baggage handlers damaged a strap connector and got a replacement easily. Expandable using the roll-closed sealing system.


Sealed Plastic Space-Saver Bags



Clothes in…roll out the air and you have dry clothes and lots more space. You can even put the bags in the leaky BMW panniers without worrying. The come in various sizes and seal up easily. I used one for my camera and laptop as extra precaution against wet.


Wind-up Torch




Good emergency torch. No batteries. Wind for 30 seconds and get 10 mins light. Runs down too quickly but ideal for camping.


Head Torch




Best torch. Very small and give off good light. Great fro camping and you never lose it unless you lose your head. Batteries have good life. I connected one to the inside of the tent5 and left it as a permanent feature.








Get a good pair for private music, using on the bike (ear-buds) and for talking on Skype telephone on the notebook. Sometimes you can only get WIFI in hotel public areas and your wife telling you what she would like to do to you does not always go down well with eavesdroppers.






Bar Risers




Got these fitted and found that if you are over 6ft tall these are great for comfort on a long journey.



Seal Skin Socks (Long)




Great breathable and very waterproof. Keep the feet dry in almost any conditions. Can fry them a bit if very hot.


Lonely Planet Phrase Books




Fantastic wee books. I had Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Japanese and American…just kidding about the American. Very useful with two way dictionary.



Bank Card Security Dept




Get a hold of the numbers of your bank’s Card Fraud Dept. The RBS shut off my card on numerous occasions when using it in Russia and Kazakhstan. This is an automated system so not a lot you can do but phone them and go through the recent transactions, shout at them and wait 15 mins for reinstatement.



International Driving Permit and Vehicle Identity Document




Do not travel without these. Get a spare of each. These are the documents they want at border along with a good colour photocopy of your owner’s/title document.




Miles: 19,000 land miles

Punctures: 0

Bike Faults: Fuel Gauge, Fly Screen Bolts -2, Tyres –

2 Sets (Metzler Tourance)

Fuel: 395 Gallons

Pubs/Bars visited: 186


More tomorrow…




Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Sorry I have not updated the blog but unfortunately my mother passed away just before Christmas. I will be updating the equipment and route soon along with wee snippets of advice. The snow stopped today and I got the bike out and it started up first time. I was tempted to go out but the roads are very bad here at the moment. I am missing life on the road and planning the next adventure…………….. Don’t tell Pam! I have attached a photo I took of the Edinburgh Castle this week.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Settling in back home?

Scotland – England – Belgium – France- Luxembourg – Germany – Poland – Slovakia – Hungary – Ukraine – Russia (West) – Kazakhstan – Russia (Siberia) – Japan – USA – (Iceland) - England – Wales – Ireland – Scotland. I have had the most amazing and unforgettable journey of my life. I have been lucky to meet some fantastic people many who I hope to meet with again either in their country of here in Scotland. I have experienced generosity, helpfulness and friendliness from all but one strange individual throughout the trip and hope to have the opportunity to repay this in the future. I am now back home and still not unpacked. Lots of stuff lying about and will need to sort out all the souvenirs, badges, mementos and gifts. I will also need to get the bike cleaned up and get rid of 19,000 miles of caked on dirt. But for now I am shredding six months of mail and chilling out. I will get the stats , the totals for the charity, route and any advice together within the next week or so. I will also get an email out to as many of you as possible. Meantime can I thank Pat and Bill Beazley, The Ralph Slater Foundation, Lothian and Borders Police, and last, but not least, Dan Benedict for their recent generous donations to Capability Scotland. Update by next week.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Home in Edinburgh

Got the 0730 ferry to Cairnryan and met Dougie for breakfast and the run home to Capability Scotland HQ in Edinburgh. Thanks to all who met me and for the champagne, coffee, bacon rolls and very warm welcome. Lots of photos but as we have been out tonight I will update tomorrow.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Belfast Blog

Wandered around Belfast City centre and took a ride on the Belfast wheel. Cost £6.50 but worth the view. The rain was bad this morning and I am glad I made the move here yesterday. Forecast is good for the whole journey home tomorrow with sun in the east of Scotland. Dougie, my old colleague, fellow Adventure rider and euro tour buddy is meeting me from the ship tomorrow for ride up the road (interesting if you are an Evening News reader). If anyone else can make it I am buying breakfast and possibly lunch… unless there is more than 3 turn up! Photos: The Belfast Wheel and Belfast City Hall. See you tomorrow!

Exploring Belfast - Rain Stopped Play ?

Rain has forced me into the famous Robinsons Bar as recommended by Rod M. Good choice. More photos later.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Thursday, November 5, 2009

East to Portavogie and the Irish Sea

A pleasant journey north east to the Irish sea which completes east to west Ireland. Visited big Jimmy Kelly at Portavogie and furthest east you can get. (Photos). I have been on a few tours with Jimmy, one being to Slovenia and Italy. It was nice to see him and Maggie and a Southern Ireland tour is starting to be planned. Now  in Belfast for a look around and get my ponytail cut off and tattoo finished off. Heading  to Larne and home for Saturday. I feel happy about heading home to  the girls (and Jasper) but  sorry that the adventure is nearing an end. Still, a new job to look forward to and planning the next trip…….just kidding Pam!


Larne to Cairnryan

Outward Date/Time:      Sat 07 November 2009 at 0730

Outward Arrival:        Sat 07 November 2009 at 0915

Dougz…Cairnryan not Stranraer if you can make it.

Capability Scotland 2pm.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Castles, Loughs, Fields, Wind, Rain and Sun

I had the full Irish breakfast followed by the full Irish scenery followed by the full Irish weather. Headed north along the west coast with some stunning scenery enhanced by the Atlantic swell being thrown up by the strong winds. Soon the wind dropped and the sun came out just in time for viewing Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara. Onward to a low lying field at Athenry where I watched a small freebird fly then east toward Dublin. Took the N3 and finally halted just short of the Northern Ireland border at Cavan. Will need to use up my Euros tonight and then east and north toward Belfast.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Popped out of Cork

Met Dan  the Garda IPA motorcycle club president in Cork today. Had a good chat and now planning a visit to Cork in the spring. Thanks Dan for the coffee and T shirt and hope to catch up in the springtime. Onward on Dan’s recommendation to Spanish Point Co. Clare. This overlooks the Atlantic and marks the west point of my journey across Ireland. From here it is north east, Belfast and then home. Spanish Point has an excellent surfing spot but bathing is not safe here, particularly to the left of the Black Rock where currents are strong. It is a gale force 9 and driving rain here tonight so I decided to give the bathing a miss not because of this but because  I left my trunks in the USA. The Spanish found it unsafe, too  when they washed ashore after the Armada lost its way. Will get some photos tomorrow but meantime some more from Cobh.


In Cobh in Co Cork

Visited friends Ken and Audrey in Cobh. Ken took me round the island on his boat an I had a grandstand view of this beautiful part of the country. Fortunately the wind had died down and there was no memories of the previous day’s crossing from Wales. Ken has lived and farmed here most of his life and was an excellent guide. I had views of Cobh including their own Cathedral, St Colman’s. It is such a small town and it is amazing that there is a cathedral here. The average size of a family here is 9 so having a cathedral is obviously keeping the faithful on side! Cobh was originally Queenstown  the departure point for The Titanic. an excellent Heritage Museum  at the Quayside in Cobh giving a lot of the History. Queenstown was the departure point for the thousands of Irish who emigrated.  The Lusitania also sank about 5 miles off Kinsale - the survivors and bodies were brought ashore to Cobh. There is a mass grave for the Lusitania victims on the outskirts of Cobh. Off the coast is Spike Island which was used a prison from the time of British rule to recently. It is now abandoned. Nearby there is an operational Naval base and ferry terminal. Picture taken of the cathedral this morning showing the contrast in weather from yesterday. Thanks to Pat for the historical information and a big thanks to Audrey and Ken for their hospitality and company.




Sunday, November 1, 2009

Arrived Ireland

Arrived IRL. Worst sea crossing ever with gales and huge seas. (Photo) In hotel outside Wexford.Cork by early afternoon tomorrow.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wales - The New Swan Inn and RETURN DATE

Thanks to Gareth, Eleri, Jenna and all the staff and regulars for the hospitality shown during my stay in Ystalyfera in South Wales. This is a very biker-friendly pub with good accomodation and a safe place to keep the bike. If you are doing a course at the World of BMW, visiting Touratech or just touring, this is the place to stay. By the way...I liked the Halloween costumes. The New Swan Inn, 50 Gurnos Rd, Ystalyfera, Swansea, SA9 2HY, 01639 841 222. www.thenewswanhotel.co.uk



Friday, October 30, 2009

Bike Back on the Road

All well with the bike and everything still attached. Heading off tomorrow early for Wales. The tracker is on it’s way home and I hope to have it in the next few days. Many thanks to Dave Standley (Stan) for his hospitality while waiting for the bike to be ready.

Picking up the bike

At the shippers waiting for the bike. If all ok I will be heading to Wales tomorrow then Ireland on Monday. Will update later. The return to Edinburgh will be Sat 7th November....all going well.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Right on Kew

Spent the day at Kew Gardens. Three hundred acres of botanical delights grace Kew Gardens, which lies on the south bank of the Thames River between Richmond and Kew in the suburbs of south-west London. The gardens are "Royal" because for many years the estates that now form the gardens were owned by members of Britain's royal family. King George II and Queen Caroline lived at Ormonde Lodge, on the Richmond estate. Their son and heir, Prince Frederick, leased the neighbouring Kew estate in the 1730s. The gardens today present an enjoyable mix of landscaped lawns, formal gardens, and greenhouses. Equally important, Kew functions as a botanical research centre and maintains the largest plant collection in the world. Forget Boston in the fall….try visiting here. The rich mixture of colour in the leaves and berries make this one of the most amazing shows nature provides.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wandering in Westminster

The weather is great here in London. Yesterday visited the Metropolitan Police Major Investigation Team office and had a curry with the staff….very nice. Mike kindly made a donation to the charity….thanks. Today I ventured into central London which brought back some good memories of my time working there. It is funny but when you work in an area you often do not appreciate the surroundings. For all who have not been here I would strongly advise you to make the trip. Got news that the bike may be here by Wednesday/Thursday…..here’s hoping!  Today’s photos and yes Dave….they are all mine: Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, the Millennium Wheel, Lamp outside Buckingham Palace, Queen Vic statue outside Palace, the Wheel by night.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Richmond on the Thames

Thought I would start with Richmond where I am staying. Richmond is to the west of London and I on the River Thames. It is a very nice area and this part of the Thames is used by the pleasure boat crews and, in keeping with this area, rowing clubs. There is a small  ferry which is allowed to operate under Royal Charter from King John in 1659. It takes you across the river to Twickenham (home of English Rugby) for £1. The ferry in those days was not operated by a bloke with a mobile phone on a boat with a diesel engine. The view of the river and the area is the only place in the UK where ‘a view’ is protected by an Act of Parliament. Richmond is a small town with nice shops and pubs (so I am told). Getting over the jet lag and will head to central London tomorrow.