1 EAGLETON NOTES: SID 58 The Hippogryph

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Friday, 15 May 2020

SID 58 The Hippogryph

In February - is it really that long ago? - I posted about my first bike. 

As soon as I could have a driving licence I bought myself a Vespa 90 motor scooter. I named it The Hippogryph. I can't really remember why (after all it was 60 years ago) I gave it that name. Presumably I had visions of it being like the legendary creature which had the front half of an eagle and the hind half of a horse.

I had booked a driving test but the scooter was only delivered the night before so I took my test the next day with one evening and half a morning's practice. I passed. Then I learned to drive!

I had it until I got a car when I was nearly 21. During those years I drove it thousands of miles. I would leave the office at 5 o'clock and get onto my trusty steed and drive to London to stay with friends - a distance of nearly 200 miles. On Sunday night I would drive home. Other weekends I would drive to Wales or The Lake District to climb hills and mountains. Looking back I find it astonishing that I had the stamina to ride such distances on  a 90cc seat on two tiny wheels with virtually no weather protection.

The Hippogryph in The Lake District
The Hippogryph in The Lake District
 

39 comments:

  1. Amazing. The open road and friends are important parts of our lives.

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    1. They are indeed, Maywyn, and it gave me a huge amount of freedom to enjoy both.

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  2. We could do anything when we were that age!

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  3. we do so much and overlook so many discomforts when we are young!

    Thats a great photo, nobody would know how old it is

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    1. agreed - apart from that fabulous number plate.

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    2. Kylie, that's true we did thing's I'd never do now - nor be capable of doing!

      Tigger, the number plate really gives it away doesn't it.

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  4. The things we could do when we were young.....

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    1. Susan, we did things then we could and would never do now. On the other hand I think we have a different sort of courage when we get older. I think you are a good example of that.

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  5. I rather regret that I never learned to ride a motorbike; I couldn't fathom the gear changing. I went straight to my beloved VW Beetle; I loved that car. 323 EBP. I presume you had good mechanical knowledge of your Vespa.

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    1. Cro, the only true motorbike I have ever ridden was a Triumph 500. I nearly broke my ankle trying to kick-start it. There were none of your fancy button starts then. I think it was probably heavier than I was.

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  6. It looks great but would be even more impressive with flags on those whip aerials. Did you have a parka with a fur trimmed hood?

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    1. Adrian, of course I had a parka but unfortunately it didn't have a fur trimmed hood. I wasn't trendy then.

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  7. I learnt to drive with Dad in the family car (out at 6am on my birthday with the Provisional licence). They wouldn't let me get a scooter but advanced a loan for a new Mini when I joined the WRAF. I think it was £400. That was 1965, is there a table that shows todays equivalent price? Lesley

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    1. Lesley, my first driving experience was when I was very young driving a Ford Popular round a field in Wales. Dad set out sticks in the field and got me to drive round them.

      The British pound experienced an average inflation rate of 5.70% per year during the period from 1965 to 2018. So the real value of a pound decreased. In other words, £1 in 1965 is equivalent in purchasing power to about £18.86 in 2018. So your £400 car would cost £7544 at today's prices.

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  8. 60 years ago would have been a bit before the time of the Mods. It was not unusual to cover such long distances on 2 wheels in those days and many did it. I see that it is amazing but it was the way things were.

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    1. True, Rachel, but looking back driving 200 miles on A roads in the rain after a day's work is something I'd think twice about doing in the luxury of my quiet car these days.

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  9. It is amazing to me that it coped so well with all the punishment it must have taken, driving so many miles. Great little machine.

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    1. JayCee it was a great little machine but it was also very simple. There was virtually nothing to go wrong.

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  10. Somehow we all tend to be more carefree and hardy in our younger years, don't we. My Dad (who is more or less your age) rode from Ludwigsburg to visit relatives in Hildesheim on his bike - no motor, and for luggage only what fit into his rucksack and the bags attached to the bike. I remember him telling me how his hands started to bleed from the cold eventually; he had not thought of packing gloves as he had not expected to encounter very cold weather. The whole trip took him several days (one way), but he made it, and his parents were not even worried in spite there not being mobile phones around to stay in touch!

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    1. Meike, your Dad is obviously of a hardy breed. But then we were not brought up with central heating and modern conveniences. I can remember my hands turning blue on the way home from school and stopping off at my grandmother's before I got home (it was 3 miles to school from my house). I had huge sheepskin gauntlets too but the freezing fog got through to your bones. I was lucky. I only had to ride to school. Many worked outside all day in clothing we would laugh at now.

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  11. You certainly managed to get around on your two wheels! Great memories :)

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    1. Margaret, they really are great memories. What would we do without them?

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  12. What a great post and memories Graham. I bet the roads wouldn't be so good to drive those distances on a scooter now though. So much busier is my guess. I've got a model scooter the same colour!

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    1. Serenata, the big advantage was that the roads were very quiet particularly in the evening. A model scooter? I hope that it's not a Lambretta 😂

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  13. I know! I know! You wanted to be Gregory Peck with Audrey Hepburn as pillion, scooting around the streets of Rome! Not that I can blame you...I wanted to be Audrey Hepburn...scooting around the streets of Rome with Gregory Peck! :)

    What fun you had! Thanks for sharing your memories, Graham. :)

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    1. How wonderful would that have been, Lee. A Roman Holiday was the film I think. I must see if it's still available. I'm sure it would be worth a watch again although it must have been in the '50s so probably in B & W.

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    2. "Roman Holiday" it most certainly is. I have it recorded on one of my set top boxes, and almost watched it again yesterday. I've lost count of the times I've watched the movie...I love it...and will never tire of it. It is in B & W...but that doesn't detract anything from it.

      Mad in 1953...it was Audrey's first starring role. She deservedly received an Oscar for Best Leading Actress. When the were making the movie Gregory Peck...always the gentleman...insisted her name be put up first in the credits...declaring the movie would be hers. I loved both Peck and Hepburn...

      It is worth watching again...and again...and again! As is "Breakfast at Tiffany's", which I also have watched many times...and also have it recorded...permanently...never, same as "Roman Holiday"...to be deleted.

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    3. Lee, I have put it on my watch list. Thanks.

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  14. The things we did when we were young and bold... (even considering that I was probably never among the most daring) My driving licence still says I'm allowed to drive a motorbike, even though I never even sat on one, or even tried a moped back in my teens. (I also haven't driven a car since the 1990's, and by now I don't find it very likely I'll ever be taking that up again either.)

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    1. Looking back, Monica, I'm surprised by some of the things I did because I was never an adventurous person. I would be lost without my car although it has probably only done 30 miles in the last 59 days. Given that last year I did about 12,000 miles that's quite a reduction in my fuel bill this last few months.

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  15. I can't imagine you without some sort of wheels and getting out and about around the country. You are coping with restricted movement amazingly well. Or should I say "Amazingly, you are coping with restricted movement"? Nah, I'll stick with the first attempt. I really must find more to think about. I'll go back to planning my next road trip. Bet you are looking forward to one, too.

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    1. Pauline, the idea of having no wheels (wheels = independence, of course) is totally anathema to me. The reality is that if I live long enough that time is bound to come but I'm just not thinking about that. Good luck with your next road trip. I look forward to the photographs.

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  16. Wow! 200 mile trips to London and back on that machine. No chance to turn up the heater and change the radio channel. You were so exposed - especially in bad weather.

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    1. YP, I can recall being so cold that I had to stop and find somewhere to warm up. In the evening that usually meant finding a pub but, of course, in those days there was no coffee or hot drinks on offer so it was sometimes just hoping I could warm up and get on my way.

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  17. Yes, to be young and seemingly invincible were my exact thoughts when reading about the 200-mile round trips to London and back home again in a single weekend! Thanks for showing your trusty Hippogrpyh.

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  18. oh memories, I've never ridden a vespa or a hippogrpyh but I did have a boyfrined in the younger years who had a motorbike, such a different feeling going on road trips than going in a car.

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    1. Amy, it's a completely different experience. At that age it gave me an affordable independence though.

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