The Balkan Baroudeur

No French speaker, I – but I remember the SNCASE Baroudeur as a French jet fighter from days of my pre-youth. The term has re-surfaced with my present enjoyment of cycling and watching its machinations on the sports channels.  A “Baroudeur” is a battler or fighter and it’s applied by the commentators to a rider who will take the fight individually to the peleton or who is a constant thorn in the flesh by breaking away from that organised group. I was struggling for a name for this painting as I always search for alliterative names for mine (A smartarse personal foible). This was how the picture started………

Halberstadt and Caudron 001

It’s now a bit more respectable as an image although with a lot to go yet…………

Halb 003

If, unlike most “aero-artists” you don’t start with a computer-scanned and corrected image drawing and drop-in a background via Photoshop or the like, or if you don’t use a direct tracing or a three-dimensional “drawing” programme, then you can always venture into the world of drawing – as folk used to do in pre-DigiHistoric times. To paint an image this way is quite humbling as the subjects always need tweaked and adjusted from the original laying-down. But hopefully  the painter gets better at it with practice and in this case the main subject is pretty close to its true shape whilst the wee Caudrons are reasonably close to factual  and  rather “painterly” in their almost casual form. We live in hope!

The Halberstadt DII as shown here was the first successful German biplane fighter – and its quarry are two French Caudron G4s – cumbersome if well-loved observation aeroplanes. The Balkan aspect is shown as mountainous country as opposed to the gently-rolling Western Front. The Balkans were flown by those front-line machines whose times had come in the over-competitive skies of France and Belgium.


The Scottish Railway Preservation Society’s acquisition and unveiling of this Stanier 8F was keenly followed by many Bo’Ness “enthusiasts” recently.


Eight Eff

All the way from Turkey it came – although born in Glasgow. I’m not holding my breath until it’s seen running, but it IS a most impressive beast. We were at Bo’Ness yesterday too and took a trip to the new End of the Line station at Manuel and thence back, with a rather less impressive DIESEL loco. I’m not keen on them so didn’t even take a snap of it. Diesel, Schmeisell……

A bit of the Dark Satanic Mills about this area of West Lothian, where the visual highlight is the Grangemouth petro-chemical works….

Wee Bo';Ness

So out for a spin on the Fixed today as start to the Post-Christmas self-indulgence, Mighty Expanding Gut banishment regime.

We’re just a few miles south of Bo’ness here at the Union Canal, complete with its solid topping. Fairly chilly!

Fixed at Canal.


It seems like an age since I last tried a wee bloggie. And it is at least six months ago, so anything of earth-shattering significance been happening?
Well- lots of photos taken of events at “my” school, an awareness of the increasing allure of old motorcycles, a chance meeting with a boyhood hero, a return to saxophone lessons, a self-imposed reduction of one fingertip and even after much soul-searching, an awareness of how much my painting actually means to me.
This last was underlined a few days back as I turned to “December” on the Cross and Cockade calendar for 2014.


My RE7 painting from the Guild’s 2013 show. Happily sold but still with me – in print.
Next year’s calendar has another painting of mine too,
although sadly its reproduction is not in the same league as this.

So to Bicycle Maintenance. A lesson well-learned a month ago. After a complete replacement of transmission components on the Winter Fixed-wheel.
Keep inquisitive fingers clear of spinning chainwheel and chain or much pain-filled troubles will ensue. THAT buggered-up the saxophone lessons…..Ooooya! B……!

Went to the Scottish Motorcycle show with pal Peter a couple of months ago, when one Guest of the Day was a man whose exploits I grew up reading of in Motor Cycle News. The multiple Word Champion in 500cc and 350cc classes, the incomparable Giacomo Agostini.
As we knew the show’s M.C., we were imvited “backstage” for a coffee and sandwich. There, looking a bit bored and anxious to get back to his hotel – the Campionissimo himself. To cut it short, Pete and I ended up taking him for a conducted tour of Festival Edinburgh before delivering him back to that hotel.

I had to stop and pick up Ruth who had absolutely no awareness of the legend in the passengers’ seat!
I read recently that another World Champion – Phil Read – had described Ago as “Insular”.
Well, maybe to you, mate.
We found him warm, grateful, erudite and happy to talk of his exploits without any way resorting to arrogance.
Not sure if the same could be said of Read!

Gusts of Libeccio!

Winter's Fixed-wheel

Winter’s Fixed-wheel

I’ve been fairly lazy this last few weeks so to make amends I headed out west on the mudguarded Winter Fixed today. I might be a moaning bugger about the creeping rise of “Americanisms” in our language but there’s a couple of terms I really like.
Badass is one and it’s been happily adopted by cyclists, denoting those who would eschew wind and rain and all adversity to get those training miles in. Folk like legendary Belgian pro Johan Museeuw who fell in the Paris-Roubaix race – a race he’d previously won – and so badly injured his leg that it was touch and go whether it was amputated. The next year he retuned and won it again. The same man whose climb of the Kapelmuur was done in the big ring. A true Hardass – even if some of his performances were later admitted to as being chemically-enhanced.
We cyclists have plenty of examples like this to keep in our heads when we face the mere wind and rain in an attempt to be just a little Hardass.
So out into the elements today went I, and on leaving the built-up areas of town soon found the wind was quite extreme. Not just the expected steady West headwind either but a Libeccio – that’s a South-Western and in gusts so strong that I was riding along hanging off the side of the bike – which was a bit disconcerting when the gust suddenly dropped.
(Incidentally this is a pencil-drawn Caproni Libeccio in rather better conditions than today – interesting eh?)



I had planned a good long ride today but after some extremely hard slogging with rather too many deviations from a straight path I turned for home and zig-zagged my faster way back, musing on that other web-spread word and thinking there’s just a fine line between Badass and Fucktard.