After the shower of bollocks that was yesterday, I decided that I deserved something nice today.
“Something nice” it turned out was a run up to Harrogate on the bike to buy buttons. I went for the straight shot on the way out, up the A61, which was beautiful – garlanded with copper beeches in autumn colours and with red kites hovering every few miles. Up nearer to harrogate, the trees thinned out a little, and there was ever more wildlife – Two cranes (or possibly herons) in-flight, a herd of deer, blissfully oblivious to the traffic, a hare darting along the grass verge. One of the lovely things about the bike, as opposed to a car (Which I am increasingly thinking of as roadcages), is the smell. Today, it was a mixture of autumn leaves, muckspreading, woodsmoke and curing bacon at nearly every farm, inn, or isolated cottage I passed, and, upon reaching Harrogate, coffee and baking cakes.
My first stop was a rather lovely independent wine shop where I asked for directions, and made a serious mental note to come back when I had more saddlebags and knew what I was buying.
I parked in Prince’s Square, after four circuits of the one way system (Really, Harrogate, you don’t need a one-way system), stuck the parking ticket to the handlebars with a fervent prayer that nobody would steal it, then ambled off to Duttons, wherein I spent enough money on buttons that it was frankly a bit shameful. On the other hand, I did get buttons for my upcoming red suit (Silver, with a red and green enamel heart design on them), my navy blue waistcoat (Square silver piercework ones, similar to the gold ones on my cream waistcoat), my grey double-breasted waistcoat (Fairly plain brass rope-twists) and a small bag of black concealed buttons for Best Friend. So I’m basically set for quite a long time, and don’t nee to buy any more, especially considering the plain fly-buttons and the extra silver piercework buttons that’re on their way from Ebay.
After that, I returned to Prince’s square, sat down outside a coffeeshop in the basement of an expensive tailors’ workshop from which I could see my bike, ordered a bucketful of frothy coffee, and phoned my grandparents. For context – My grandmother was a biker, and rode well into her sixties until her bike gave up the ghost, and she’s been really excited about me carrying on the family tradition (She was a biker, her son -my Uncle- was a biker, I believe her Dad was a biker, rumour was that his Dad was a despatch rider in the Great War…) since this generation so far lacked anyone taking up the mantle. She’s midway down the route of dementia now, but we can still have proper conversations about basically three topics – Dogs, motorbikes, and the Labour Party.
Whilst on the phone, I saw someone get within three inches of reversing into the front of my bike, so sadly the conversation was curtailed as I got up to hoick the bike out of the path of the reversing people-carrier. I then noticed that, if I wanted to get home before sunset, I’d have to get a bit of a move on.
Not willing to get too much of a move on, I got back on the A61 northbound, then turned onto the B6161 at Killinghall and took the long way home over the moors, where there was an impressive array of livestock, all looking rather picturesque under the low, pearly clouds and setting sun. I definitely spotted charolais, limousin, angus, belted galloway and holstein (or friesian) cattle, and cheviot, herdwick and what might well have been whitefaced woodland sheep, though all the whitefaced sheep breeds look really similar when viewed at sixty-odd miles an hour through a midgey-splattered visor.
That road has some exciting curves, and exciting hills, and occassionally both at the same time. Some of them I took in a knee-down-optimum-line-accelerate-through fashion, and some I slowed down to twenty and crawled through. I also found out that at much above a 16% hill, the Marauder really struggles to climb unless it’s in a low gear. And also that it really makes up for it’s lack of acceleration beyond forty by having huge amounts of torque at the bottom end. It’s just a lovely, responsive, happy little bike. And, for some reason, the speedometer sporadically stopped working for about fifteen miles in the middle, and there’s no way of knowing how many miles it’s really done, since the odometer skips both hundreds and thousands when it goes over a bump too fast.
On the other hand, I know that it’s done a hundred and fifty miles with me, seventy of them today.
Here’s to more nice little runs out.