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Issue 52 - Time to go north

Scotland Magazine Issue 52
August 2010


This article is 8 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Time to go north

The prospect of travel brings some interesting memories.

I have to admit I am really looking forward to riding with BBC Scotland's Tom Morton again. Since last year's Journey's Blend trip I have made several long trips on my own, the only company being other bikers you hook up with on the road. The only thing in common is you are heading in the same direction.

Anyway back to the Morton connection. He may not realise it, in fact I am sure he doesn't, but he has been tangled up in my life and friends since I started university in Glasgow in 1993.

I was told by a friend in my first year of this Scottish John Peel sort of radio show. Week days, great music and engaging chat in between.

Something the commercial stations never really got right. I had no real interest in chart music, actually still don’t, and this dj was playing interesting, new, thought provoking and foot tapping music.

Then, after discovering the alternative worship group of the Late Late Service, again an ethos and vision that I was happy with, then came the revelation of Red Guitars in Heaven.

I still have the dog-eared, spine bleached copy that went around all my friends in Glasgow. It spoke to us all of bands, music, religion and of course the fair city that supported us. Four very important ingredients for us back then, all of which still occupy part of my existence these days.

After Uni, moving away from Scotland, the connection dropped.

The next crossing point was to prove the clincher.

I found myself face to face with this voice I had grown accustomed to. The scene was the Wick Prohibition ball at Old Pulteney distillery. There he was across the table, voice so familiar. The man that unknowingly had accompanied me through the finer points of medieval Scottish Literature had become tangible.

By this point I had found his second tome, The Spirit of Adventure, which together with Ted Simon's writings was fuelling my passion for a long motorbike trip.

I thought Tom was joking when, at Whisky Live Glasgow last year after Journey’s Blend, he mentioned the prospect of following in Alfred Barnard's steps and touring Great Britain's modern distilleries. Becoming Barnards of the present day.

Of course the only form of transport suitable is the motorbike, most excitingly Triumphs again.

This time their big naked street bikes, with very little luggage space.

It's now nearly launch day. I have the beginnings of a nervous feeling in my stomach, I just want to go and do it now.

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