It's Spring! This morning my lawn is indeed lime green!! Lets see, Stonehenge is about seventy miles up the road from me, the Caucasus must be around three and a half thousand miles from me - and possibly in another continent - about the same distance as St. Johns, Newfoundland - so yes; it could be something in the water lol!!
I had to drive past Stonehenge twice last week. It stands on a chalky meadow on the southern part of Salisbury Plain overlooking the A303, the main road to the west. Grass was...well, greeny as usual
Thirty-two years ago I was at University in London. I did a spot of part time motorcycle courier work to keep the cash coming in too. In my second year I had a couple of lectures on a Thursday morning and then zilch until a tutorial on Monday afternoon.
My mum lived in Devon - about one hundred and fifty miles away - and had recently been widowed. She was struggling with this; we all were and I was the nearest and most available of her sons.
I discovered the courier firm I worked for had a job no one wanted to do - which made it a very lucrative job; pick up a wages tape from the offices of Barclays bank in west London before five o'clock on a Thursday afternoon and deliver it to a block house type building on an industrial estate just outside Exeter - in Devon - by midnight. By the most direct route this was one hundred and fifty-seven miles and you'd end up on the other side of the country late on a Thursday night with the prospect of a long and unpaid trip back to London. Thats why no one wanted to do it. However, for me it was perfect; a nice little earner and a long weekend at home with mum and seeing friends.
I had a Suzuki GS850 with shaft drive, fixed panniers, a howling Yoshimura four into one and a nice big five gallon gas tank. The worst part of the business was the trip down to west London for the pick up and out onto the M3 motorway during afternoon rush hour traffic. After a couple of weeks I discovered the bank office was manned twenty four seven by their security staff. I could ignore the afternoon deadline for pick up and scoop it up around seven p.m. and avoid the evening traffic.
As you leave the M3 motorway and join the A303 you pass a large green traffic sign that says 'The South West'. I love this sign. To me it says beaches, sunshine, rolling green hills, friends and family.
It was also the point where I really opened the taps on my big GS and settled in for my own personal TT race across southern England. These days the A303 is largely a straight piece of anonymous dual carriageway but back then it was mostly a hundred and twenty miles of sinuous two-lane black top snaking westwards across the counties of Hampshire, Wiltshire, Somerset and Devon.
Through the Spring I'd do the trip non-stop. As long as I dawdled down and out of London I had enough gas in the tank for the whole trip. If you wound the big GS up through the gears and then held it at around one hundred mph you'd get 'er down to around twenty - twenty five to the gallon!.
After the summer break I took this job up again and as autumn set in I fitted a bikini fairing from a GS1000S which surprisingly helped with fuel consumption, the small screen helped to deflect wind blast too.
I also fitted an (illegal) 85w halogen bulb into the big headlight for the onset of winter. I took to taking a thermos flask of coffee and some sandwiches with me and breaking the journey.
A GS850 is not the lightest nor most nimble of motorcycles at around 550lbs but that sheer mass gives a certain planted feel to front and rear tyres. If you know the road you can get into the groove of things...if you know what I mean. No speed cameras and no radar back then either.
Stonehenge marked the midway point on my journey. At night, and at speed you would come off that short section of dual carraigeway called the Amesbury bypass and follow that white line into a fast right-hand bend before the road briefly straightened out over the crest of a hill. Then at the moment you started to lean it into the following down hill left-hander you'd get a brief glimpse of the stones on the rising meadow a couple of hundred yards away. A minor road branching off to the right went up a gentle hill to make the northern field boundary. I ignored Stonehenge. I'd usually stop for coffee and a cigarette in a protected layby a couple of miles further up the road.
One bollock-freezing, crystal clear night in late October I came hammering westwards past Amesbury at around a hundred and twenty. There on the left was a reflection of tail lights which rapidly grew into a blue and white Rover SDI of the Wiltshire Constabulary parked up at the side of the road.
Oh shit. Sure enough, as I howled passed his lights came on and I knew he'd want to pull me. There is simply no point in trying to outrun the rozzers on a motorcycle. It can only end in pain of one sort or another.
Much better to hide! As I crested the hill I knew they'd only just got their Rover going so I went straight on up the minor road to the stones on the right, switched my lights and engine off and coasted into the Stonehenge visitor centre car park. There was no other traffic around but I got to see the headlights of a fast moving car heading west along the A303 away from me. Phew. I broke out the coffee, sarnies and had two cigarettes.
From then on I always stopped at the stones for a break. The visitor centre was surprisingly grotty and closed. If the car park was empty I'd climb over the chest high fence and have my little picnic in the dark, sitting amongst the stones and watching the occasional passing traffic below and listen to the slumbering sheep that also occupied the field.
Christmas came and with it a three week break at home. The second Thursday evening in January saw me pull up as usual in the car park. I noticed the fence now had a length of barbed wire running along the top but since it was still chest high it hardly presented an obstacle. The sheep were gone. I'd just sat down amongst the stones when I saw a pair of headlights come on directly to the south by a stand of trees. Around a half a mile away.
It was just after nine at night and I watched these lights trundle leisurely towards me along a track in the fields. They crossed the A303 and headed up the minor road and did a sweep of the car park. I thought about the new barbed wire on the fence, the absence of sheep and realised I was about to get nicked. Sure enough, the headlights belonged to a little white van marked 'Department of the Enviroment Security' from which emerged what turned out to be a nice man in uniform who escorted me off the premises. Luckily thats all he could do as he had no powers of arrest!
He also explained that when I jumped the fence I'd set off an alarm and by walking over to the stones I'd triggered two pressure pads.
Ah well, all good things must come to an end. Infact, not long afterwards the job itself came to an end when they started sending the contents of the tape down a telephone line.
Apologies for this rambling nonsense having bugger all to do with DCS.