By TTR to Cape Agulhas - with Good Hope

"The cast of this travelogue are: Ken (aka 'Rambling' Rustus McCrankpin), his daughter Caroline, and her husband Beau.

Ken was born within the sound of Bow Bells a long time ago, started work on 14th September 1964 and is now retired, no longer knowing how on earth he ever had the time to go to work anyway, as things are sooooo busy with this journey looming.

Caroline was born in Essex, if that still has any significance these days, has lived in London, southern Spain and Canada, and is working like fury as a teacher to pay for the trip.

Beau was born in Canada, met Caroline in Toronto, now lives in England, teaches English, music and percussion like fury to pay for this trip, and is aiming to work on his PhD in music along the way.

Here they are with special guest, grandson Oliver, the baby son of Richard (Ken's son) and his partner Sam.


A confident Beau announces his plan to be the first human to cross the Sahara riding a drum kit.

Oliver tells Grandad an off-road push chair will be much more fun.


And the significance of 14th September? The career that Ken started with the GPO (remember them?) on that date was pretty successful, so the trip to Cape Town also starts on 14th September (2009). We all hope the date will work twice."

Here's how to join us - how to ride this website:

Click on one of the latest snippets listed at the bottom.

Or on the right hand side you'll find a list of countries, click on one of those for all the stories and pictures.

Or click on one of these:

Lights to list all the headings, newest at the top, oldest at the bottom. Then click on a heading to go to that posting.

First Gear to go straight to the first entry.

Lets hope that all the stars line up and all the gears engage for the middle of September, so we can start reporting some real travelling.

Update - Movember 2012

In April 2010, all three travellers arrived in Nairobi, Kenya. Caroline and Beau returned home to continue work.

Ken continued on his own through Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana

and Namibia to South Africa, arriving at Cape Agulhas in October 2010, and Cape Town a little later.

Since returning home with his bike, by air, in November 2010, he has been in the midst of new adventures.

Click here for the 'Journey's End' collection of postings (newest at the top, oldest at the bottom), or here for 'Rambling Around Back Home'.

April 02, 2012 GMT
Musical Compilation - Uganda

For the four weeks or so I was in Uganda, the World Cup was on every TV. No one was tuned to music channels. But you could still hear a bit in the urban streets and cafes.
Which reminds me of an incident that shows how Africans always seem to look after each other and everyone else.
(I'm pleased to see there's an Australia-to-Germany trip report on this forum saying the same thing).

Posted by Ken Thomas at 06:20 PM GMT
April 03, 2012 GMT
Musical Compilation - Rwanda

I only stayed in one place in Rwanda - Solace Ministries Guest House in Kigali.
I thought I'd only stay 2 days, enough to find a cash machine if one existed, but on the second day I decided that wasn't enough and stayed about a week.
There's something about the place that took hold of me and kept me there. It's a support and refuge centre for those traumatised by the Genocide. So it's set up to be very welcoming and accepting of anyone who arrives.
Including paying visitors like me, who can stay in a first-rate guest house and take part in anything going on that they wish, more or less. The income from visitors makes a significant contribution to the running of the centre.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 03:25 PM GMT
June 05, 2012 GMT
The Thundersprint and Loch Ness - A ride in the freezer.

Have been on a journey to the Arctic Circle. It had been temporarily moved right down to Stoke-on-Trent, and my first destination was Northwich. Which is sufficiently further north to almost qualify as the North Pole. I took clothes for May.....

Posted by Ken Thomas at 03:45 PM GMT
June 07, 2012 GMT
The Transit Of Venus And Other Journeys

Yesterday was the Transit of Venus, earlier today was the Transit of East Surrey.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 07:08 PM GMT
August 14, 2012 GMT
Musical Compilation - Tanzania

Most of the music that I heard in the streets and the bars and cafes of Tanzania, I was told, is Congolese in origin.
And some Kenyan as well.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 08:09 PM GMT
September 07, 2012 GMT
HU Camping Weekends.

A few events over the past few weeks. Starting with a brilliant Horizons Unlimited get-together in Hampshire.
Small and perfectly formed, about eighteen of us there.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 09:11 PM GMT
September 19, 2012 GMT
The Walking Cure - Off-road Adventure On Two Feet

It's a well-established bit of advice. The best exercise to minimise any after-effects of prostate treatment - radiotherapy or surgery - is walking.
So I do quite a bit now.
Which takes up a lot of time, so other things have to take second place.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 09:20 PM GMT
October 05, 2012 GMT
Adventures On Eighteen Wheels

The final part of the test was to park the 40-tonner as close to the pedestrian as possible without touching him. Or without him even realising I was there in the huge articulated lorry.
This test checks that you're able to use the front-view mirror to see if anyone is loitering on the crossing in the blind-spot right in front of the bumper, and to manouvre right up close. Without this mirror the pedestrian is completely hidden from the driver's view - that is - my view. So I have to show I can use it properly and keep out-of-sight pedestrians safe.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 08:53 AM GMT
October 06, 2012 GMT
The Perfect Antidote

- to the past week.
It's not far from Manchester to a huge jolly tourist attraction in the Pennines.
Just across the border in West Yorkshire.
No passport or photo ID required.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 09:15 AM GMT
October 12, 2012 GMT
On Being Hung

Back in the 1960s, having left school and started out in the world, one of the first discoveries that I made was about Art, and going to college for it.
I went to a modern College of Art and Technology in East London. These were fashionable in those days and could eventually lead to a degree in Engineering or Art, if you'd otherwise opted out of 'A' levels as I had. The 'art' at these colleges was slanted very much towards the commercial end of the subject, art for design, advertising, theatre and so on.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 02:25 PM GMT
October 14, 2012 GMT
Return To The South

When the Student is ready, the Teacher will appear.
One of the most fundamental proverbs of human existence.
I first saw this in a book by the 'notorious' Indian guru, Osho. (Notorious because he died rich and famous, having gained a place in the Guinness Book of Records for owning the greatest number of Rolls Royce cars of anyone living).

Well, never mind, because in the ten years or so since I discovered this quotation, I've found it to be the truest of them all.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 10:16 AM GMT
October 22, 2012 GMT
A Family Affair

My visit to Ireland is a four-handed affair.
The first was the family history bit in County Mayo, over the past few days.
Much work on this has already been done over many years by relatives, which led me to the Culnacleha Crossroads.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 08:48 PM GMT
October 24, 2012 GMT
The Clancy Centenary Ride

One hundred years ago this week, an Irish American, Carl Stearns Clancy, set off from Philadelphia with his riding companion Walter Storey, on a pair of 4-cylinder Henderson motorcycles, with a map that would guide them right round the world.
Clancy's friend pulled out in Paris, but Clancy himself completed the journey and is now considered to be the first motorcyclist to ever ride around the world.
For the Irish leg, he started in Dublin on 23rd October 1912 and rode to Donegal, and onwards to Belfast the following day. So on 23rd Oct 2012 a bunch of riders started out to retrace his steps.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 10:53 PM GMT
November 02, 2012 GMT
The Ernest Shackleton Autumn School

It seems a little incongruous to be taking wine with the President of Ireland. Surely it should be Guinness?
He is a poet and writer after all.

But the wine was good, and the good President got the event off to an excellent Irish start in the small town of Athy.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 08:32 PM GMT
November 03, 2012 GMT
Return To The South Pole

The last time I was here in Annascaul, I didn't quite find the house where Tom Crean was born. I found what I thought was the location, but the track was impassable with churned-up mud. My single pair of shoes had to last me the rest of the visit and RyanAir back to Gatwick.
Substantial wellington boots were needed.
On this visit I still had no boots, but Mike was with me.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 08:47 PM GMT
November 05, 2012 GMT
Reflections On A Little Irish Adventure - Part 1

To cram Family History Research, The Clancy Centenary Ride, the Shackleton Autumn School, and a pilgrimage to the South Pole Inn, all into one little trip to Ireland resulted in what felt like a real epic voyage.
So there are some reflections and contemplations to be mulled over.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 09:02 PM GMT
November 06, 2012 GMT
Reflections On A Little Irish Adventure - Part 2

Heading south from Dublin, the road to Athy passes near to Mondello Park, a motor racing track that hosts some major Irish motorcycle events. But alas, on the day I was passing, a track-day for cars was in progress. Almost a waste of good tarmac.
So some photos for my son Richard who's strictly a 4-wheel man, not two.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 07:48 AM GMT
November 14, 2012 GMT
Antarctica in Cambridge, And Gliders in Whyteleafe

Continuing the Antarctic theme for now.
November heralds the start of the Antarctic summer.
So a new programme of events gets underway, starting with the AGM of the Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute.
In Cambridge.
Where it's winter.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 08:30 PM GMT
June 04, 2013 GMT
Melbourne To Donington Bicycle Epic

It's been a while since the previous entry.
Well, Melbourne to Donington is a long way.
There may be a glut of postings now, playing catch-up.
(You wait weeks for a bus then four hundred and seven arrive at once.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 03:56 PM GMT
June 06, 2013 GMT
Piano Rag

Did anyone see this back in February?

Posted by Ken Thomas at 07:30 PM GMT
June 08, 2013 GMT
Hanging Around Again

Like a lot of good things, the wonderful art class at the Fountain Centre in Guildford came to an end at Easter. The teacher had done a great job not only of guiding us over a year or more in producing pieces both amazing and strange, but also in having our work exhibited in a small art show in Guildford's Royal Surrey Hospital.
But as one door closes another opens.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 10:06 PM GMT
June 10, 2013 GMT
Men Wanted For Hazardous Journey

"Low wages, bitter cold,
long hours of complete darkness.
Safe return doubtful.
Honour and recognition in event of success."

Posted by Ken Thomas at 12:10 PM GMT
June 24, 2013 GMT
Africa, Antarctica, Ireland

A bit of a bagatelle from the Emerald Isle. My visit over the last couple of weeks.
I never expected to find an elephant in the bush in southern Ireland. But they're there if you look.
Some photos from Jungle City Clonakilty

Posted by Ken Thomas at 02:21 PM GMT
June 28, 2013 GMT
Shopfronts And A Far-Flung Town

From bagatelle to picture book.
In Kilkenny, on the way to Athy, tea was called for.
Something else was calling me as well, not sure what.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 08:16 PM GMT
July 21, 2013 GMT

It seems, the older the bike, the greater the excuse to celebrate when it passes an MOT.
My little Yamaha of Cape Town fame still waits hopefully - for when I can get body and soul together for the messy job of changing the front brake hose. Soon, soon.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 08:14 PM GMT
August 18, 2013 GMT
A Day At The Races

This weekend was the Bemsee-MRO Championships at Brands Hatch.
(Click to open the PDF if you're asked).
And fellow ex-Wimbledon Club member Pete had a spare ticket that he kindly slipped into my pocket.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 08:46 AM GMT
A Day At The Airfield

I hope things have been better today at Brands Hatch than yesterday. And Pete has had some proper fun on the Rudge in the parade laps.
I've not been there today because I've been here.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 07:30 PM GMT
September 06, 2013 GMT
Musical Compilation - Malawi

Well, it's been a long time since the previous look at music along the way. That was Tanzania.
So here's a selection of Youtubes from Malawi.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 12:57 PM GMT
Two-Wheel Camping In Hampshire

Last year, Steve arranged the first Hampshire HU mini-meet at a very well-appointed golf club out in the rolling countryside.

Such a pleasant little event it was, that Steve laid on a re-run last weekend.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 03:10 PM GMT
September 21, 2013 GMT
Eighty-Eight Wheels And The Queen Of The Hebrides

I'm sure this qualifies to be in a blog about motorcycle travel.
You definitely lean into all the bends throughout the 800-mile round trip. Almost needing knee-sliders, would you believe?
Not only that, but there's a poem about the journey that I learnt at school while helping my Dad service and repair his 1950s 600cc Panther sidecar outfit.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 12:32 PM GMT

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