Motorcycle ramblings

So, I went to Harrogate today to pick up some Levis I had ordered from Debenhams – lovely 28mile round trip in mostly sunshine – and got to thinking about the best gear to have on myself and my bike.  I like the look of my bike as it is:


It’s got nice clean lines and is uncluttered.  I don’t want to put a windscreen on – I’m not a speed freak – I like my fairly leisurely rides.  65-70mph is my max.  I think I will put some engine bars on for protection more than anything and a little more chrome won’t hurt!  But luggage is a bit of a problem.  Today I used a rucksack but I could do with a box or something that fits on the luggage rack that is lockable but can be detached by me if I want.  I think the box would detract from the bikes good looks but would be useful.  I will have to have a look around.

I’m very happy with the Knox body armour vest which frees me to wear any jacket over the top.


And love the versatility of a flip helmet.


Next we come to the problem of security.  I have a heavy duty chain and lock and an Oxford Screamer brake lock.  If I can, I try to chain the bike to something and if i don’t want to carry my helmet around, I link it to the bike with the chain, which is not really ideal if it rains, but then I’m a fair weather biker on my Virago. 

Oh and by the way, a motorcycle can park anywhere a car can without paying!  Just don’t park in a bicycle area, you will get a ticket!!!




Today I found this  in the woods.  An explanation again from Secret Leeds 

Spackler wrote:
In 1861 the headmaster of Woodhouse Grove School agreed with Thornhill Trustees to lay a pipe from two springs in Calverley Wood so to supply pure water to the school. This agreement lasted 34 years. The small reservoir in the wood still remains.

This extract is from the wonderful ‘Guide to the Calverley Millennium Way’ which is available free in the area. I too had been trying to find out what this well/pond was after stumbling upon it. The little guide has loads on the history of the area and is a credit to those who produced it.




I have fallen in love with Calverley Woods.  A magical place where my Tolkienesque imagination abounds.  A wonderful playground for dogs and humans, with a interesting history. POWs, fireworks, quarries, stone circles and prehistoric markings.


Mighty trees arms stretched wide

Trunks gnarled and smooth

Leaves broad and small

Colours every hue of green and brown

Glades and copses

Paths that wind

Round and round

Up and down

Over roots and boulders

Tunnels of trees and bushes

Glisten in the sunlight and rain

A playground for the imagination.

Below is a small area of the woods.  Check out Secret Leeds for more fastinating history about the woods, including descriptions of the explosion at the fireworks factory from people around at the time.

Moral Tribes

I have always been interested in ideas, the way we think, how our brain works and philosophies.  My Dad taught me to question things and always think for myself , even though he didn’t always like it when I questioned him!  We had some great arguments in my teenage years, which became discussions later.  Mum didn’t always like it when they became heated and always took my side lol.

I have just finished reading a book called Moral Tribes – Emotion, Reason, And The Gap Between Us and Them, by Joshua Greene, which is so relevant today.  A brilliant, very well written book, easy to read, which answered a few questions and really made me think.  having said that, I found I had to stop after each chapter to digest what I’d read.

I wanted to put a few extracts on here to remind myself as much as anything:

The Tragedy of Common Sense Morality.

Two tribes of herders one east of the forest the other west.  The Eastern herders have a rule:  each family gets the same number of sheep and each family sends a representative to the council of elders that governs the commons.  Some families bred big sheep appropriating much of the Common, the council stopped this, one family poisoned another’s sheep and were punished.

The Western herders share a common too.  The size of the flock is decided by the size of the family.  They also have a council of elders.  One family had twelve children – some complained they were taking up too much of the commons.  A different family fell ill, loosing five of their six children in a year.  Some thought it unfair to reduce their wealth because of this.

Another tribe lived in the North.  there is no common each family has their own plot of land, surrounded by fence.  Plots vary in size because some are more industrious than others.Some have bought their neighbours land.  the less prosperous may have been unlucky, or had illness despite their best efforts.  Other herders are exceptionally luck having very fertile land because they inherited them.  The council doesn’t do much, just ensuring herders keep promises and respect each others property.  There is much strife because the the differences.

To the South, a fourth tribe shares pastures and animals.  The council of elders is very busy.  They manage the herd, the pastures, jobs and monitor work.  Everything is shared equally.  This causes much strife because some work hard, whilst others are lazy.  Most work hard, some by community spirit and some because of neighbours judgements.  the families are not as prosperous as those in the North but no-one has every died through want of food or warmth.

One day a great fire burnt the forest to the ground.  rains came and eventually where the forest was became a huge green pasture.  All the tribes moved onto it claiming it as  their own and bitter fighting ensued, causing injuries, death and feuds.  To make matter worse another tribe came claiming it for themselves, saying their god had gifted it to them.  It had been prophesied in their holy book. Another tribe claimed it as their ancestral holy land and yet another arrived with rules and customs, that to other seemed ridiculous.  Black sheep must not sleep in the same enclosure as white sheep.  Women must have their earlobes covered in public. Singing on Wednesdays is strictly forbidden.  Feuding commenced……………….

Despite this, all herders have much in common.  Each tribe wants the same, but each tribe views morality in different ways.

This is the Tragedy of Common Sense Morality.










Where to start……………………
I’ve thought a lot recently about how my Dad influenced me and what I learnt from him.

My earliest memories are of sitting on Dads knee reading my Janet and John books from school – he definitely gave me my love of reading. Until lately Dad always had a book on the go. Later on he was the one trying to get me to learn my tables. Another of my earliest memories is of using my plastic hairdressers kit to style his hair whilst he tried to watch TV. He would always come up at my bedtime and tell me stories that he made up, he had a wonderful imagination. My father always did the decorating himself and I remember him showing me how to gloss the doors correctly.
He and mum belonged to an amateur dramatic club in Romford, called Caritas. I sometimes went with them to rehearsals in the church hall. Dad was the actor, mum made the costumes. Dads mum was also into Am Dram. I went on to specialise in drama at teacher training college.
My brother and father influenced me a lot – for better or worse!
Dad loved watching the wrestling on a Saturday afternoon. Chris and I would have a bucket and a milk bottle of water in each corner of the room. I was always Jackie Palo and Chris was probably Mick Macmanus. When seconds out rang we would wrestle on the floor of the lounge – Chris always won.
I spent many a weekend afternoon under the bonnet of a car with Chris and Dad. He always did his own servicing, when cars were mechanical not computerised.
He grew vegetables in the garden, onions, potatoes, cabbage, beans, lettuce, carrots.
We played cricket in the garden, tennis at the park and had lovwoely holidays in the west country, where he took us fishing! (Tom).
When Chris and Dad started gliding I would go over to the gliding club with them and help retrieving gliders and riding in the old launch truck.
Later in my teenage years, Dad and I clashed. I remember a lot of arguments – he had strong opinions and so did I. Later on after I was married and had Alison, we got on well. I loved the way he was with Alison – playing with her, being silly and making her laugh with his awful jokes.
The last few years have been very difficult for mum and Dad. Moving out of their home that they had made their own since 1976 was a massive upheaval. Neither of them was going to be as happy as they had been there, but Hatherlow House was the next best thing. I have nothing but praise for the management and staff, who treated them with respect and consideration. I know Dad would want me to thank them. After mum died Dad was very lonely, he became less and less able to do things for himself. It was awful having to feed my proud, independent father and it broke my heart seeing him being hoisted every time he needed to move. He told me many times that it was time for him to go. Some wonderful people helped Dad along the way and I know he would want me to thank Jim and Mary who were fabulous neighbours, Lorraine and Oliver who visited Dad regularly and did shopping for him and Paul Hardman who visited Dad and took him communion.
My daughter Alison was close to her Grandpa, ,more so as she helped to look after him towards the end. they had much in common. Both hated school and left as soon as they could, both worked their way up from the bottom. I would like to finish by reading what she wrote about her Grandfather.
Today I had to say goodbye to my fourth, final and favourite grandparent. My grandpa was my hero, a proud and hard working man who always had tales to tell from the war and his RAF days. He was the one that made me laugh, played with me and slyly slipped money into my pocket or my hand when nobody was looking. He made up amazing bedtime stories off the top of his head that would leave me with the best dreams for hours on end. He always greeted me with “nice to see you” and I HAD to reply “to see you nice”. I held his hand tightly through my grandma’s funeral last year and today I held it for the last time…cheerio granpops rest in peace.




7/1/1924 – 3/1/2015



I write this for myself, so that in some way I have permanently marked my mums passing.  

Born 7/1/1924 in LiverpooL
She became the eldest daughter of Percy and Lillian Fishwick

She had two brothers Clem and John and a sister Barbara. She was the last of that generation of Fishwicks.

She attended Notre Dame school in Liverpool on Mount Pleasant.

The family lived in Tuebrook in Liverpool. The house was badly damaged by a bomb during the second world war. So the family moved to Noctorum, a then pleasant suburb of Birkenhead. As a child I, loved this house with its big garden, greenhouse, shed and fascinating extra outside toilet. I also loved Werbie the budgie that my Grandparents had. Mum however, didn’t and whenever it was let out of it’s cage she would run upstairs!

During the war my mum was evacuated to Gowerton in South Wales, with her young sister Barbara. My Grandma gave strict instructions that they were not to be separated. Whilst standing on the platform waiting to be selected for homing, Barbara was nearly snatched from my mums grasp, because she looked so cute but they didn’t want mum!! They were eventually homed together with what mum described as a lovely couple.

Mum did a secretarial course and then went on to Calder Teacher Training College in Liverpool. She specialised in Domestic Science.

She moved to London with a friend and started her teaching career in Stratford – the East End of London. Her next job was in Chadwell heath – also in the East End.
It was at this time that she met my Dad, through his sister Veronica who mum had got to know. I have photos of Dad in his RAF uniform at that time and he does cut a rather dashing figure.

Mum and Dad married in 1948 and have had a long and enduring marriage. Til death do us part.

They bought a house in Romford where Chris was born in 1953 and myself in 1957. I of course was a perfect baby, however Chris had to be left down the bottom of the garden due to his continual crying!!! Apparently the only thing to keep Chris quiet on a car journey was mum and dad singing “Blue moon”!

Mum went part time, teaching DS at Pettits Lane and Chase Cross Secondary Modern schools in Romford. As a child mum sometimes took me to school with her, which I found a little daunting. One time she subjected me to being a model for a fashion show that her needlework department was putting on. It was a bridesmaids dress with frilly knickers which i had to show off!!! Mortifying!!

When in 1978 Dads job was relocated to Southport, they bought a house in Park Road near Hesketh Park, where they lived until last year. Unfortunately Dad got called back to London and for a few years he ended up living down there during the week.

Whilst living in Southport, until she retired at 60, mum taught Business Studies at Bootle High School. I was teaching in Scotty Road Liverpool at the time and used to meet mum for lunch on Fridays at the Mons Public House. Those were the days when teachers had a proper lunch hour – long gone now.

Mum joined the Southport Townswomens Guild and the U3A where she played Bridge and learnt Spanish.

Last May, at 90 years old, Mum and Dad finally realised that they needed more support at home and with me and Chris living so far away, decided to move into the Methodist Housing Association, Hatherlow House, just round the corner from where they lived. Mum found this extremely hard but the staff and residents couldn’t have been more caring, helpful and friendly.

They say “once a teacher always a teacher” and this was definitely true of mum. She loved planning, organising and telling people what she thought they ought to do! Everything she did was always done with the best of intentions.

I will miss her phone calls and answerphone messages, her advice, her generosity, her love and most of all just knowing that she was there.IMG_0869family

Ramblings on Italy and the Amalfi Coast

Ramblings on Italy The Amalfi Coast Sorrento 2015.



Journey to sorrento 6.45 very busy. In a merc people carrier. Naples looked a dump. Many long tunnels through mountains with long queues and fumes! Saw Versuvius pouting suphurous fumes out of various vents. Rather misty out to sea. The scooters and bikes make suicidal manouvers. The road wound through the mountains this way and that-huge vertical drops to the side. Darkness fell and there appeared pinpricks of lights up mountainside and down valleys. The traffics horrendous but the drivers seem quite laid back and easy going.

Off the main road through little tree lined narrow strrets. Hundreds of scooters I reckon 99% of population have scooters. A brilliant form of transport. You can carry your child dog shopping or granny in front of you in the well! If the weather wasnt so unpredictable in britain It would help traffic flow around our towns and cities and cut traffic jams. Although in uptight safety conscious UK we wouldnt be able to drive them on the wrong side of the road,over double white lines, down one way streets without your helmet fastened or heaven forbid in shorts and t shirts without a helmet altogether! The whole thing about the traffic in southern italy is that its so laid back and calm. I only saw one altercation in a week. Nobody shouts swears name calls or does rude signs! There are many cars with scraps and bumps though and sorrento is very busy during the day. One of the things I resolve to be when I get home, is more calm and relaxed when driving.


In Sorrento, the traffic stops in the centre at night, everybody comes out to eat, meet, walk and chat. Children are out playing around the trees whilst adults sit drinking and talking. I didnt see anybody drunk lurching about the strrets shouting bawling or singing football chants which is apt to happen most weekends in leeds. The streets here are very clean but Naples is different altogether. The outside of buildings look tatty with plaster falling off.

The schools start early and finish about 1pm, when the all surge out of school all in their own brightly coloured clothes. I reallly dont get the British and their pathetic insistance on school uniform and the ridiculous instances of children being sent home for,god fobid, show an ounce of originality or i dependance of style! Absolutely bloody stupid and ignorant! Clothes maketh not the man ( or woman).
I think the Italians must laugh at some of the rules we British think raise standards!

The Italians here love their dogs too! Another tick for them. Dogs are allowed anywhere. Shops, restaurants, cafes, trains, buses and shops. Many dogs are taken to work and lay quite happily oblivious to traffic, human and mechanical. They enjoy riding on scooters too. Cats too are all around the streets and ports – all seem well cared for and content even if some may be feral. However i did spy a couple of tame crows in a tiny cage! Not good for any animal let alone such intelligent ones.

One other negative is smoking! It is allowed evrywhere and anywhere which is extremely unpleasant if you happen to be in a restaurant having a meal next to someone smoking, particularly as the tables are all very close. I remember when it was allowed in England . It was particularly bad in pubs and used to make my eyes sting. That’s a plus for my homeland.

The majority of the inhabitants of Sorrento live in high rise apartments, with a small balcony. They’re in very close proximity and have no garden. In fact there appear to be no parks just plazas with cafes and a bit of grass oh and palm trees I suppose it’s due to lack of space. I couldn’t be doing without my garden.

Theres no dawn chorus in Sorrento. I found the lack if song birds really strange. There were plenty of pigeons and a few gulls. There were plenty of crickets the loudest ones ive ever heard on Capri .

There are many lemon groves in this part of Italy. I have never seen such large lemons and the region around Sorrento is famous for its Limoncello liquor which is basically 30% alcohol with lemon.

Watch out for little bitey buggers! Never actually saw what bit me but ended up with several nasty red lumps .
One thing i absolutely hate about Italy and a lot of medditeranean countries is their horrid smelly toilets. No toilet seats! I mean whats that all about? God help you if you have bowel problems! They were fine in the hotels.




Sorrento is a busy unashamedly tourist town. Lots of paces to eat inside and out and some gorgeous patisseries , with various coffees served just right as Italians should. The ice cream in the gelateries is to die for! Every flavour you could think of and more. I had an ice cream nearly every day. Italians make the best waiters without doubt – so attentive and efficient.


The little tiny alleys that crisis cross off the main street can have you confused as they begin to look the same and you end up asking yourself if you’ve been there before. There are many souvenir shops selling products made from lemons and ceramics that are made in the area. there’s a lot of Italian linen garments in the shops and leather goods.


Public transport in this area is very reliable and cheap. We took the train from Sorrento to Herculanium. it took about 50 minutes and cost 2.80 euros. the train was a bit rickety rackety with loads of graffiti.