The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

Odd Socks

Rumble-tumble, to and fro,

All my cloths, must now go,

If I am to get them clean,

But when they’re done,

It’s not much fun,

I languish in despair,

Clean socks a plenty now I have,

Alas not one a pair.

There is a land, far, far away,

Where naughty imps do flock,

And laugh and play throughout the day,

Until it’s dark O’clock,

And in all their impish capers,

(And I care little if you mock),

But at the bottom of their knickerbockers,

They are all wearing my lost socks.

It was some years back that an advert in the CTC magazine caught my eye an Armstrong lightweight Moth tandem. Nothing newsworthy in that, I hear you cry. However, an ‘Armstrong Moth’ was a pre-Second World War tandem so a bit more interesting. The owner lived down on the edge of the Peak District, not exactly on my doorstep, but my interest had been tickled.

When I arrived at Mr. Stone’s cottage he had given the old girl a bit of a clean down but it was a long way from being roadworthy.

Invited into the house for a cup of tea, the tandem was all but forgotten for Mr. Stone had come through to the living room with two large albums of photographs and notes that accompanied them. They covered a period from the 1930s right on to the 1960s and were not only family memories of time spent awheel but a social history of a bygone age, those halcyon days of cycling.

Mr Stone had a sibling brother, they had lived with their parents in a tied farm cottage, on a farm, not far from the village in which he now lived. To supplement a meagre wage, their father would do a bit of gardening around the area, travelling to and from his customers by bicycle, tools strapped along the crossbar. At that time only two cars were registered in the whole of the county, unfortunately, one was responsible for the demise of their father on a crossroads high upon the moor.

The widow and her two sons would have to move from their tied house so relocated to the nearby village. On leaving school both boys found work in the local mill and for the first time in their lives had Sundays off, down on the farm you don’t work nine till five. The older of the two boys suggested they join the CTC, always a good way to meet new friends, and in particular ones of the opposite sex. The older of the two brothers did marry, however within three months of their marriage the British Government, along with her allies, had a bit of a dust-up with the German Government, and her allies, they called it the Second World War.

The two boys were called up and spent the next five years fighting in Africa and Europe. Victory over Europe Day, and Mr. Stone, the younger, was demobilized however, his sibling was sent to the Far East to battle on for a further two years before he too returned home and settled down to married life, abandoning the tandem for a motorcar.

Mr. Stone, the younger, enlisted his new wife as a stocker on the tandem, their first child arrived and the tandem was fitted out with a sidecar for her convenience. A second child evicted her sibling sister from the sidecar, now elevating her onto a crossbar seat. By the time the third of his children came along a tug-a-long had been attached to the rear. The Stones family would, over time, outgrow first the sidecar, then the crossbar saddle, and finally the tug-a-long, the annual trip to the CTC Rally in York would now be in convoy. The family would sweep the board of prizes at the rally for, the largest family, the youngest riders, and the highest mileage covered by a family to the rally. It is little wonder that the family became known as the Rolling Stones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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