Just bought this 2016 Kawa 250 twin for riding out from Keswick. This is the lowest cc bike I’ve owned since 1978 and it’s turned out pretty well. It’s not a green laner, but just one ride out on it has already taken me along a couple of country roads I’d never have explored by car and they’re too far out from Keswick for a comfortable ride on a push bike. Anyhow, you could easily pay more for a new mountain trail bike or e-bike than the price of a 2016 250cc motorcycle.
It’s a pretty good ride on the little roads round the Lakes and Fells, much more fun than being in a tin-top though doesn’t have the grunt to pass them. Probably safer not to try anyhow. Maybe a set of “crossover” type tyres would be better for my use on country lanes with bits of gravel and grass. Very much more customisation than that doesn’t look worth it, that would be time to get the CRF300 or other trail bike. The stock suspension gives a rather firm ride on normal tarmac and holds well enough on the corners and in the braking zone but we’re not talking a specialist bike here.
Kawasaki’s 250 twin gives smooth power delivery as you wind it up, it’s worth buzzing up the revs with max power at 11,000 revs (red line higher) but happy enough around 5 or 6 000 revs for normal use. Penrith Motorcycles fitted new sintered pads on the front brakes as part of the pre-sales check in the workshop, they’re good news. Screen is a tiny LCD but good enough.
All in all, I’m thinking it’s proving the proposition that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get mobile and have a bit of safe fun staying local.
Thanks to Barry of Penrith Motorcycles.
Lucky enough to book a test ride and on a brilliant morning, I took the bike once round Richmond Park. The CRF300 Rally was fun right out of the dealer’s parking. Firm and sure when filtering in London traffic. A joy to aim straight at Richmond’s many speed ramps and just let the ample suspension and the spoked wheels take the bump. And as it will do that on just road bumps, what will it do on big stuff? So playing a bit in a rocky car park (ABS off) got the dust flying and started to show the CRF300’s potential off the tarmac.
Late Spring Bank Holiday Week in the Lake District, England’s first holiday weekend since the third lockdown. Traditional landscape photography avoids people but I’ve deliberately featured holidaymakers in this set. After many long weeks of lockdown and deserted streets: it’s been heartening to see people enjoying themselves with a responsible degree of bustle and busyness. And there are precedents on including people in “landscapes”: you need look no further than John Constable’s “The Hay Wain” (1821), one of the most popular paintings in London’s National Gallery.
Today’s partial solar eclipse, seen from my home in west London. The clouds cleared just enough to snap this photo at 1115, just two minutes after the maximum.
Always a moment of awe and wonder, though not as dramatic as the partial eclipse of 2015 which I saw from Kendal in Cumbria.
Wasdale in the south-west of the Lake District is one of the least developed of the classic valleys with lakes. Gable, the peaks of Green and Great Gable, is at the head of the valley with Scafell and Scafell Pikes off to the right. All are over 800 m. altitude and were swathed in cloud when we arrived, though this was clearing through the day of our hike. The Screes, which dip in to Wast Water, reminded me of the much vaster Hvalfjörður (fjord) that I visited in in Iceland, though without the Puffins.
Wasdale Hall, with its fine Lakeland gables mixed with mock-Tudor half-timbering, is now a youth hostel; my hiking mate Samuel was at school with the children of the family of the then YHA warden and so has followed the fortunes of Wasdale Hall over many years.
Further along our route, Lund Bridge is a fine old bridge that hasn’t been improved for road traffic, then the roofs of Woodhow farm remind me of Beatrix Potter’s classic description of a Lakeland farm far below.
Lucie scrambled up the hill as fast as her short legs would carry her; she ran along a steep path-way—up and up—until Little-town was right away down below—she could have dropped a pebble down the chimney!
Beatrix Potter, “The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle” (1905)
Our hike was followed by the most colourful sunset I have yet seen from Keswick, more than half the sky lit red by the setting sun.
Spot How Gill copper mine in Eskdale was worked from around 1850 for about fifty years and, at its peak, was the workplace of up to fifty miners. The copper ore they were seeking shows as a green-blue trace on the rock, a colour familiar to anyone who has seen Copper Sulphate in a school chemistry lab. The mine has long since been abandoned but the levels are accessible with reasonable care, and some wooden staging is still in place in the upper levels.
We returned via the picturesque Jubilee Bridge over Hardknott Gill and then Wahouse Bridge over the River Esk. Ordinarily these woods and valley would justify a hike in themselves.
I’ve not been underground and out of daylight for many years (except to tourist mines and caves) so this was a rare treat - thanks to Samuel for being my guide.
Château Beau-Site, St Estèphe, 2000. Cru bourgeois exceptionnel.
Syrupy is the first word which came to mind on tasting this wine. Nothing wrong, a fine aged claret from the village of Saint-Estèphe on the banks on the Gironde estuary, but it was a little unexciting and now maybe slightly past its peak, now nearly-too-old. Château Beau-Site is a distinct appelation in the Médoc area, so more specific than a Médoc. Château Beau-Site is one of several vineyards in the area owned by the Castéja family, long-time négotiants of Bordeaux.
The wine had a pleasing complexity but oxidised fairly rapidly in half an hour or so after drawing the cork (which had split), but by then this fine claret had been a worthy accompaniment to the leg of lamb which I had roasted for our Easter Sunday dinner and some Stilton cheese.