Thursday, June 2, 2011

Spotting Royal Enfields in Britain a bit of a challenge

Royal Enfield motorcycle spotted outside the British Museum, London.
Unspoken during our visit to the United Kingdom recently was whether or not we would see any Royal Enfield motorcycles.

My wife Bonnie had graciously offered to get us to Redditch, birthplace of Royal Enfield, during our visit. But I replied that the walking tour of Royal Enfield sites there had been so well done by Jorge Pullin in his My Royal Enfields blog that I felt as though I had already been to Redditch.

We would, apparently, content ourselves with the duty of all American tourists to make sure that the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London were still right where we had left them in 1776, and that English cooking was no better.

Standing at Westminster Bridge I was admiring our timing in ensuring that we would not hear Big Ben ring during our visit when — YES! — a Royl Enfield hove into view. Its rider, in black leather and full-face helmet, scurried between cars and around two buses.

"I've got to get a picture!" I shouted, but the light changed before I could capture a real Royal Enfield in the real Britain, with the Houses of Parliament in the background.

Things were different, later, just as we concluded our visit to the British Library one chilly day. We were there to make sure that the Magna Carta is still in force (largely no, it isn't, as it turns out; but you can see it there). Through the plate glass windows of the Library I spotted a Royal Enfield, its rider clad in — shorts.

"I guess the English don't think it's cold out," I mused, as I snapped a picture. I now had what we'd come for, I figured.

The truth was, the frenetic London traffic lent itself better to scooters, which were everywhere. None were done up like the scooters of the '60s, ridden by the Mods, festooned with lights and mirrors. But I was able to capture a picture of this one, with mannequin astride, in the window of Cool Britannia, a souvenir shop for tourists in Piccadilly.

Even the Mods would have been too cool to ride this scooter.
Phony? Yes. No worse than the sausages that came with with the "Full English Breakfast" though.

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