Overland motorcycle travel author, strong desires and infinite dreams


I thought I’d better break the silence and let you know I was still alive; I’m sure you’ve been worried. Before Christmas I came off Facebook like I do every year and that escalated into a total social media shut down. Like the drug that it is, the first few days I was a bit antsy, fidgeting from withdrawal, and then followed the liberation, the freedom. After nearly 3 months off of all mediums I felt like I've been on some kind of retreat from the virtual world. It’s possibly not something to brag about, but I know nothing at all that has happened internationally this year, in fact, if it didn’t happen outside of my window in my little Bulgarian village or on the way to Lidl, I'm oblivious to it, and happily so.

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This withdrawal has come with an epiphany or two. Most of us, I think, recall what it was like to take the time to write a letter, buy a stamp and walk to the letter box. Come home to check the messages on the answer machine, alerting us to how popular we were and how in demand we’d been in our absence - the equivalent of ‘likes’ and ‘followers’. We paid bills by cheque, played music by removing vinyl from at least two sleeves, three if you cared about the cover, bought insurance by repeatedly divulging all our details to individual companies, navigated by maps, bought and sold from anonymous adverts in the back pages of printed publications often without photos and never with feedback. And we had to go to the video shop to rent a movie and wait for it to rewind before making the return trip. So, now we have all these time-saving devices and no bloody time, where is it? Well, I've discovered where; it’s all been wasted scrolling through social media. I've been given the gift of time by taking the networks off the hook. It’s great for focus and mental health, but, I have to be honest, it comes at a price, for me at least, and the cost is book sales. Still, you can't have it all, where would you put it? My gift of time has not been wasted and hence the point of this mail.

Last year I wrote my fourth book Near Varna, it was well received and, as stated on the cover, it was ‘Part 1’. It was eagerly consumed by my readers who had been waiting five years for something new from me, as many of the reviews mentioned the book was often read in less than a week and then the greedy bastards demanded more. However, the promoting broke the flow of writing and it took eight months to fix it. I can now happily announce, and this is rare, for only the fifth time in my life, that, my next book Near Varna part 2 is over half way to completion. I’m somewhat superstitious of announcing a project that is unfinished, much like telling the destination of a planned trip. So much can go wrong on the way and if you have read Eureka you will know that in the past my plans were abandoned,  even if for the right reasons and the right results ensued. But the presumption of completion, be it book or journey, is something I'm very wary of. However, I feel I'm on the home straight now and with spring the fruits of my labour are coming to err… fruition.

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Without the distractions of planetary events, my thoughts may not have been pure, but certainly not polluted, and I've been able to focus clearly on the writing. There has been a lot of laptop time and it’s not been easy. The story covers some traumatic times, which were hard to recall and harder to write about in a balanced and diplomatic way, when I just wanted to scream hatred at some fuckers. But, what do you know, I managed to apply some life learnt wisdom. As you probably know, I've been keeping a daily diary for over 30 years and this has many benefits. Reading back through that time, I've spotted patterns in behaviours and actions which inevitably brought about recurring consequences. It has been quite enlightening to make these observations, a learning experience, I’m still growing apparently. It’s not a self-help book, but it’s been insightful, I seem to have become more philosophical about misunderstandings, miscommunications, and misjudgments. There is a clarity, a perspective of time and distance viewing a situation so thoroughly described in a diary from 5 years ago. Although I'm not entirely convinced that there aren’t a few fuckers it wouldn’t hurt to yell at. Spiritual growth and forgiveness are a work in progress, after all. It is of course not all soul-searching introspective bollocks, there are the inevitable road tips, the escapism and excitement of a new location, new love, and unveiling the mysteries of my new life. Reliving that time made me even more appreciative of the present not least because this section of the story takes place in the dismal late autumn months of 2015 and when I glance up from the screen out of the window I see spring, feels like I've just bypassed the winter.

It’s not all been writing, there are a couple of other things I want to tell you about: It has been a bit slow to get off the ground, but my videos for Adventure Bike TV are now beginning to air on their YouTube channel. Views from the Shed is a vlog, me basically talking bollocks to the camera, saying what, for the previous two years, was written as a column on their website and Reviews from the Shed, which, as the title suggests, reviews motorcycle related products that The Adventure Bike Shop have sent me.

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The thing is, I've become the person I so loved to take the piss out of. I've bought (all used off of eBay) a new camera, wireless mics, gimbal and tripod, finding myself with all the gear and no idea. I've watched polished instructional videos on YouTube to learn the capabilities of my new purchases and then produced something so amateur I'm embarrassed by it. However, Tom, the producer, gave me a wonderful pep talk telling me that ABTV is meant to be rough around the edges, as is adventure biking. It’s not meant to be all polished and perfect, corporate and sleek. So, even though  I'd love to have those cool panning camera shots, special effects, CGIs and explosive graphics, what you get is, as with the books, honest, open, and definitely not refined, although I do have a smoking hot Bulgarian babe for an assistant and she’s easy on the lens.

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I still hope to improve upon my offerings but if you look carefully at the light levels you will see how the sun moved round the sky from start to finish of the 5-minute review because the multiple takes took all bloody day to film.

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I've also been doing something I’m more experienced in - podcasting, where I'm close to one hit wonderful. I've definitely got the look for radio. There is about to be a sequence of shows with host Ted Kettler of Motorcycle Men podcast..  In each show he covers mine and other motorcyclist’s audio books, first we introduce the book, talk a little about what the trip entailed, a few anecdotes and an explanation of what you are about to hear before he plays the chapter in full. It’s a great way to listen for free so you can decide  if the audio version of the tale appeals to you.

So, there we have it, a new book, Near Varna part two on the way, some fortnightly visuals, courtesy of ABTV, and some audio via Motorcycle Men podcast. I have been off the radar, but I'm back. Now I've just got to regulate my dosage of social media as I have reduced tolerance, keeping a watchful eye on my drip feed to see what application aids withdrawal and prevents addiction. It’s a tightrope, I'll try and keep a balance.

That’s it, happy spring and I'll let you know when the much-anticipated part two is ready for your perusal.



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The full size of the rock is now evident. 

Last week I left the Adventure Rider Radio RAW show, the split is due to time differences.

For a while now I have been struggling to record the show so late at night and into the following day. Drunk, sober or in my sleep, I've never had anything very useful to say in the middle of the night. I felt my tired contributions didn’t reflect well on me or the show.

However, sometimes if you jump you will find a net and I've been caught, saved and employed by Adventure Bike TV. I've been writing a column for them for the last 2 years and I don’t think they will mind me telling you that, like for many of us, 2020 has been a hard year for them. But next year promises to be a good year, quite literally, as Dunlop have just commissioned a whole season Adventure Bike television AND a new show, Motorcycle TV. The real bonus is that unlike last season, now, if you are not signed up for Amazon Prime you will still be able to see the shows as they will be accessible for free via the Dunlop website.

So now with a bigger budget and enthusiastic sponsor the show moves forward into its eighth season and this is where I come in. The ABTV website is likely to get a revamp and my columns/articles are no longer going to be written word but videos. ‘Views from the Shed’ will be sponsored by ‘The Adventure Bike Shop.’ Yes, I know, there are a lot of ‘Adventure’ companies here but that seems to be the world I revolve around. The Adventure Bike Shop will also be sending products from their extensive range for me to review.

So if you are a bit confused here is the shortened version:

Here are a selection of reviews and opinions on my new book, good and bad. There are still a few stickers left and you will get one free when you order a copy from this site. 

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Three months of writing, two more in the production, publishing and printing process, then fly back to the UK to meet a pallet of books and co-ordinate my two weeks of quarantine with a virtual book launch.

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This basically involved helping the dispatch department send out the pre-orders and T-shirt sticker panier box combos.

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 After three weeks of that I decided I'd had enough screen time for one year, time for a ride.

The next house purchase decision was made predominantly due to the garage. The corridor of a bungalow wouldn’t win any design awards but at one end it had a single up and over door, and when it was up, I couldn’t get over what was revealed. It was not your usual single car space, so narrow that you have to do the Dukes of Hazard through the window exit technique. If this garage had been a photo on a phone, someone had parted their thumb and finger across the screen and enlarged it in all directions. The expanded space was easily 2 cars deep with a flat roof extension, and extra wide, albeit at the expense of the lounge which was the other side of the internal garage wall. The rest of the house was horrid but that didn’t really matter.

However in the 7 years I lived there, although I remodelled and modernised the house, the garage never really fulfilled its potential. It was dark and cold, the vaulted roof took all the heat out and the inadequate window didn’t let the light in. I tried my best to brighten and warm it up. When I replaced the kitchen, the old one became bench and storage cupboards, but not having the best of memories I discovered that I was more of a shelving kind of guy. I needed visuals, I could never remember what was hidden behind the doors of the relocated kitchen cabinets and consequently all cupboards were opened to find that elusive can of hammarite or bottle of fork oil.

I was self-isolating before there was a term for it, it got me thinking of how my shed life has evolved.

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This is taken from the last day of a 6 day sailing trip around some Greek Islands. 

I've got a place to go, and spend the afternoon with a wine bottle. Those same tempting cliff-hugging roads reappear, this time on the starboard side. My mind goes back to motorbikes and then the upcoming nine-day motorcycle show in the UK. Last year, one of the authors put his books in brown cardboard boxes as a gift package, thereby selling two books in one go. I should do that for my trilogy, but I want a theme printed on the box, something that will encourage someone to pick it up, that will look good on a bookshelf. I can't really use the planet, it’s the wrong shape. What else is associated with motorcycle travel? A pannier, a pannier, a fucking pannier, oh my god. A replica of my beaten-up, sticker-festooned pannier, scaled down to contain the three books. I've just had an epiphany, I can sell the books for less than their individual cost and … and, wait, if I get sponsorship from various companies to have their stickers on my three-book boxset pannier that will pay for the production of it. This is truly a Eureka moment, if I get nothing else from this trip it was still worth it. That only took six days at sea, followed by half a bottle of wine; a necessity, an inkling, a concept, a solution, the invention, all in the space of ten minutes, bam bam bam bam. My work here is done, take me to the horizon, I've got a plan to implement.

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Ted Kettel and I share the same birthday, as well as a liking for Rock Music and Motorbikes, it's no surprise that two longhairs who have never spoken before had an instant connection (thanks Skype) and the conversation flowed like a split beer. Listen to the interview here

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Delayed gratification is, I think, a good strategy in life to apply, whether it’s the incentive of a drink after the completion of a sensitive email. Or ordering those CNC brake levers I’ve been watching on eBay after I've painted the skirting in the extension. Then there’s the practice of saving hard, working long hours for the bike I desire instead of signing an HP agreement and riding it out of the shop on the day I first saw it.

Well I've got one. I go into a studio for a week to record my third audio book, sounds so glamorous, doesn’t it? The reality is staying in a noisy and uncomfortable falsely advertised Air B&B where I wake at 5 am and read my script. Walk into town and try and find something half-healthy to eat and then sit on a stall for 8 hours in a booth the size of a telephone box. My concentration makes me hot and sweaty as I read aloud into a microphone, the progression of my journey into the wild, alone and unsupported.

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One of the biggest bonuses of independent travel is when you come face to face with the real world.

I think we can get numbed by repeated images on TV news about international crises , tragic though they are, ultimately, they are just another image that streams across our vision and even if it does stir something in us, moments later another story or image produces another sensation and the semiconscious reactions amount to little.

I recently rode to an abandoned airbase just inside Croatia, right on the border of Bosnia, so close in fact that my phone wouldn’t let me use the free European data entitlement of Croatia, instead finding an expensive Bosnia signal. This doesn’t matter but I only mention it to show just how close I was to the dividing line between the countries.

I arrived late in the evening, it was almost dark. There is a tunnel with a plane shaped entry that goes deep inside the mountain, how deep? I’m not sure, more about that later.

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When my first book came out, I went to my first bike show as a trader as opposed to a punter. It was the (now defunct) BMF show in Peterborough. I put a bit of plywood over my Black and Decker Work Mate, covered it with a bed sheet and set up my very limited display. Behind me were a stack of 400 books under a blanket, ready to rapidly replenish supplies. I later learned a tenth of that would have been adequate but it shows the level of optimism I had.

By pure luck, because where my optimism fails my luck remains, the stand next to me was occupied by two guys who did a show every weekend all over the country and had been doing so for years. They sold a product that stopped your glasses from misting up. Their technique was to stop every spectacle wearing passer-by and offer to treat their lens for free with their unique formula. They then held the glasses over a steam machine and behold, the treated lens remains clear whilst the untreated one was opaque with condensation. Their clincher was, to get the other lens done you had to buy the special potion. They were such smooth operators, there wasn’t a comment, negative or otherwise that they hadn’t heard a thousand times and had a sure-fire direct hit retort to.

Over the weekend they took me under their wing and taught me a lot, they even went so far as to say to their customers of undistorted vision ‘now you have such clarity of sight you can take a look at this lad’s book’. It was a spectacular introduction to the show circuit, which, over the next five years,became my life, my income, and my social scene. I lived in my van every weekend, sleeping between stock and rapidly thawing precooked frozen meals, which doubled as refrigeration for my evening beverages.

It takes a while to learn what works at a show and what doesn’t. I think the most frustrating thing is a bad pitch at a good show, you leave your lonely stand for a toilet break to find the isles are heaving but no one has ventured to your solitary, off the main drag, gazebo of inspiration.

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From our pocket instamatics containing a 110-film cartridge until the arrival of the first digital compacts, cameras were there recording what felt worth the cost of a photograph. Film and development fees were always a consideration to bear in mind, it limited frivolous clicking. That’s not to say there wasn’t the possibility of taking 24 photos of the same cloud, whilst laying on the grass at a festival or bike show as the intensity of the acid heightened.

But generally, there was a value to a photo that wasn’t just sentiment alone. Digital took the development cost away and with it to a degree, the value of the photo too.

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I used to say (as a solo traveller) that the hardest part of any journey is getting to the point where you are actually ready to leave. From the initial concept of the plan, to the obtaining of the visas, carnets, ferry tickets, the packing, route planning, climate research, bike preparation and pannier packing. Life pre-trip is an endless list of things to do, preoccupied and paralysed by contradictory information and opinions.

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Travel Influencers: It was a new terminology to me, I had no idea there was this breed of professional ‘travellers’ on Instagram, who post photoshopped pictures of their beautiful selves, their backs to various exotic sites. This is done in order that their multitude of followers actually follow them to the picture-perfect place to replicate their glorified and influencing photo. The influencers make a living by doing this. I have, in the last 12 months become shockingly aware of just how narcissist the smart phone generation have become. The point of travel for the selfie obsessed generation seems solely to get ‘likes’ by standing in front of a ‘likable’ site. Thus, reassuring themselves that their vacuous existence has worth, purpose and meaning.


You know when you get those equatorial types and the inhabitants of states of permanent sunshine taunting you with their year round t-shirt temperatures as they sit outside watching their sunset (which only rose 12 hours ago)? Knowing full well you will be scraping the ice from you windscreen to leave your house before dawn only to return from work to see it once again in darkness, as the bitter wind rips at your inadequate clothing as numb fingers fumble with the front door key.

It’s that time of year when our attention is drawn to love. Among calendar dictated events, this is perhaps one of the saddest of the year. Even if you are happily single, on Valentine’s Day a hint of sadness or loneliness can be brought to the surface by the omnipresent emphasis of the expectations of the day. A day when the perfectly happy and confident couple feel almost guilted into having to say something that would have so much more sincerity on any other day of the year. The truly obedient buy into the chocolate and flower racket, leaving the most gullible and insecure to join the procession to the trough of the VD dinner. To be charged more than usual for less than average, surrounded by crowds of doe-eyed diners, separated by flickering flame reflections, glistening in the condensation of obligatory all inclusive fizz. But then I am just a cynic, although to be fair, a cynic in love, with one girl, several countries, hundreds of albums and quite a few bikes. It’s the latter I want to talk about.


Generally, when we travel we slow our pace, we find time to watch sunsets.

I’ve gained quite a lot of travel experience over the years, here are some of the things I've remembered and relearned, the tips and tricks I wished I known before I left. This are my hard wisdom based of firsthand experiences and predicaments.

b&w portraitI would describe the extended bike journey as an independent overland trip, it doesn’t become an adventure until an event occurs beyond my plans. However I generally don't have much of a plan, just a destination. I do have a pretty good idea of what I don't want to experience. I don't want to be sitting at boarders for ages, enduring fines and body searches. I don't want terminal break downs in uninhabited areas; I don't want hunger, dehydration, frost bite or heat exhaustion. I don't want to pay out hard earned travel money to rip-off merchants who prey on my desperate circumstance. It’s not unavoidable but there are certain steps that can prevent this from being a regular occurrence. So in no particular order of importance. What follows are my and this is important, only my hard earned top tips.

It went like this:

'I'm seeing yellow, aren't you?' Said Paddy Tyson as we brain stormed a cover. We had just looked at about 20 other motorcycle travel book covers and discussed and analyzed them.

'Ureka, it's an epiphany, a flash of brilliance a ray of light, we need light' he said

'So it won't be black then? Like, how black can it be?'

Mount Ararat'Yellow, and a lot of the journey was centred around Mount Ararat so let's have that on cover, Eastern Turkey, Armenian, the Iran aspect of the book. Plus it’s the place when Noah's Ark supposedly came to land when the floods subsided so that's significant, land is essential  in an overland journey.'

This seems to be one mans visions and I'm not about to interrupt him, he's on a roll.

What happened

I really was unsure, should I keep this personal, it is after all quite invasive surgery, my Bulgarian teacher said ‘your books are very personal perhaps you should share this too.’

Sam Manicom suggested posting on my behalf, I was reluctant, I’m not a fan of sympathy seeking posts “hugs hon, thinking of ya’’ I do remember when I posted a photo of myself hooked up to a drip last year with kidney stones the response was overwhelming I could see how someone could get addicted to such things.

Wheelie GoodFor my 50th birthday, Adventure Bike TV surprised me by taking me to Wheelie School. I learned that at 50 I could get it up on the back wheel.

An extract from Ureka

The streets are lined with pavement cafes endless tables of mostly older gentlemen drinking chai whilst indulging in their weekly catch up. I see a phone shop, I bet I can get a new memory card there; I pull up and weave my way through the maze of tables on the pavement. I can’t quite explain what I need so I go back to my bike to get an example, all be it 4 times the size. An elderly Muslim gentlemen calls out to me

‘Monsieur we would be honoured if you would drink chai with us’

Ang on, I’m in the middle on a transaction here.

‘One moment sir, I’ll be right back’ I continue with my quest, he looks at my memory card, understands exactly what I need and confirms he hasn’t got anything like that at all. I go and sit with the chai drinkers.

day 20Having just finished Ureka, my talented, witty and modest friend Bob Staunch, felt inspired to write this song. He sampled my voice, edited it and took my ramblings out of context, making for a funny but incredibly catchy little ditty.

Warning it's a bit of an ear worm.

Different Natures and different covers, hundreds of the bloody things.

There I was riding through Central America when I was hit by a divine flash of inspiration, it’s not unusual, some of my clearest thoughts and dearest wisdoms have come to me through an open visor. However this particular inspired thought was simply wrong. I'm a writer not an artist or a graphic designer. I’m quite good at creating content to go between the covers but it’s the covers that people judge the content by, and all you would surmise from my first attempts at cover design is, the book is shite.

Little m PressWhat can Little m Press do for you?

As I have journeyed into the world of publishing I have inevitably and inadvertently discovered many things. It’s been a steep learning curve on a hard road, rampant with highway robbery and pitfalls to extort cash from the inexperienced and unsuspecting author.

Deal or No DealForty-five minutes of fame, (although that was a by-product) and the money was a bonus. I accidentally got obsessed with the game over a winter of too little work and too much spare time. I got fed up with lying awake, considering what combinations and offers I would deal on and what would be worth a gamble. There was only one remedy, I just had to go on the show myself, to get it out of my system.


‘And after the break you’ll going to find out something else about this gentleman, he wants to make a long journey, on a motorbike. Have a think about where he might like to go; if you can come up with it we will give you… congratulations.’ Said Noel Edmonds before the commercials started for the viewing public, and for me the makeup lady waited with her brush poised to apply yet another layer of crud to my face. The sound man came and fiddled with my microphone and the motivational production crew told me to be more appreciative and give more consideration to the money that the banker was offering me. ‘It’s a lot of money to some people who watch, don’t disregard it’

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