November 26, 2013

Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt!

With Roland's birthday coming up, and our employers having forced some vacation upon us we decided that another trip to London was in order. One place we (make that: I) always wanted to visit was the legendary Ace Cafe in the northwest of London, a notable venue for motorcyclists, and former 'home' of the Rockers.
So, Sunday morning at 10AM we were headed towards Stonebridge, a mere forty minutes ride on the tube. Located in an industrial area, and surrounded by major roadways the cafe looked rather inconspicuous. No Rockers to be seen, just a handful of riders braving the cold and wet weather, and amongst them: Gary France on Amelia, his custom Harley Davidson.
It had been a while since we last met, and with Gary being a busy retiree, we were happy that he managed to clear up his calendar for us  ;-)
Here, we meet again!
Gary generously offered to sit on Amelia. The seat was surprisingly smooth and comfy, but I had a hard time reaching the handlebar. The custom details on his bike are simply amazing, and the motorcycle naturally attracted a lot of attention.
Roland was seemingly uncomfortable on the bike, and was reluctant to even touch it but Gary could convince him to pose for a picture. While mounting the motorcycle a curious bystander warned Roland about mounting the bike without the owner's permission, or else… well rest assured it was all okayed by the proprietor.

There is always something going on at the Ace Cafe. This Sunday it had been the Ariel and Classic Bike Day, but due to the time of the year and the dreary weather, there was only one Ariel to be seen, and only a handful of other vintage motorcycles.
I only got it on second glance: A David Harleyson? And the Enfield below was indeed sporting a bicycle pump.

The cafe's food was a pleasant surprise. Despite the diner style of the venue, I found several vegetarian options on the menu, and I even got a full vegan breakfast.
We chatted the time away and parted several hours later with full stomachs, and T-shirts sponsored by the man. Thank you so much, Gary. We had a blast, and very much hope to see you again one fine day (maybe we can even escort one of your tours through the Black Forest…).

***

Wieder etwas abgehakt!
Da uns unser Arbeitgeber 'gezwungen' hatte, unseren Urlaub zum Jahresende abzubauen, zögerten wir nicht lange und fuhren um Rolands Geburtstag herum mal eben nach London. Hier holten wir uns mal wieder unseren kulturellen Fix (siehe hier, hier und hier) und besuchten im Rahmen unseres Weiterbildungsprogrammes das legendär Ace Café, in den 50ern und 60ern ein berüchtigter Raufplatz für die Rocker und Mods. Heute ist es mehr ein Ausflugslokal und Treffpunkt für Biker aller Couleur. Wir trafen uns dort mit Gary France, von Beruf Pensionär, Autor und Organisator für Motorradreisen, den wir im Sommer 2011 kennen und schätzen gelernt hatten. 
Auf dem Parkplatz saßen wir auf Gary's Custom Harley Amelia Probe und wurden von einem anderen Biker gewarnt, dass man sich doch nicht einfach auf fremde Motorräder setzen kann… er hatte nicht mit bekommen, dass Gary tatsächlich der Besitzer der Harley war und somit alles seine Ordnung hatte.
Im Ace Café ist immer was los, so auch an diesem kühlen unfreundlichen Novembertag: Das Treffen der Ariel Fans und anderer Vintage Motorrädern. Wir sahen unter anderem ein paar klassische Triumphs und Enfields. Das Essen war erstaunlich gut, sogar mit vegetarischen Optionen, und ohne Ei wurde sogar ein veganes englisches Frühstück daraus. Wir redeten eine Menge Benzin und tauschten unsere Reiseerfahrungen und Begegnungen aus. Gegen drei Uhr nachmittags verabschiedeten wir uns dann von Gary, der bei Nieselregen auf seiner Amelia nach Hause fuhr.

17 comments:

  1. That's certainly a nice break! What's the scoop on the veg sausages. Don't look like the usual tofu offerings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Martha, the mash up is something called bubble & squeak. A leftover dish created from potatoes and veggies.

      Delete
    2. I will never understand how the English name their foods. "Bubble and Squeak" and "Toad in a hole" indeed!

      Delete
  2. Sonja:

    I saw the T-shirts and was wondering if you had a chance to see Gary and then I saw him in photo 3. It was great that he could spare the time to be with you for a long lunch. There's nothing like meeting up with an old Friend in a legendary place such as the Ace Cafe. It would be on my list of places to visit if I ever got over there.

    I'm not sure I could reach Amelia's high handlebars either. I also liked the David Harleyson . . .

    It doesn't look that warm but at least it's not raining

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

    ReplyDelete
  3. It looks like a nice place to visit. You must have a really interesting list of places to visit. And nice that you had an opportunity to meet Amelia (and her caretaker!).

    My airhead has a bicycle pump under the seat and you really can pump up the tire with it. I guess if that's all you have then it's better than nothing….

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice you were able to meet up with Gary but too bad the Cafe wasn't busier with more vintage riders out. I'm going to have to make a point of stopping in for a t-shirt (or two) myself whenever I get back to London.

    ReplyDelete
  5. SonjaM and Roland, that's great that you guys were able to meet up with Gary....salt of the earth that guy. Amelia is looking beautiful as always, perhaps someday I'll meet her in person.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Jealous!! So cool you got to go tot the Ace and meet up with Gary again.

    Looks like Amelia fits Roland's frame a smidge better than yours.

    Good score on the shirts and full vegan breakfast!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ich hätte das Veggie-Frühstück auch genommen - mhm sieht das lecker aus! Die Enfield sieht aus wie neu - war sie es? Cooles Detail, die Fahrradluftpumpe :-D!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nee, die Enfield war alt, habe mir leider das Jahr nicht gemerkt, aber dieses Teil ist ein echter Oldtimer.

      Delete
  8. The ACE and Gary......I'm really feeling left out :) What fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, let's make sure that you can be there… next time :-)

      Delete
  9. It was terrific to see you both at the Ace Café, especially on Roland’s birthday. I really enjoyed chatting to the two of you and I think we covered many topics from Mods Vs Rockers to the politics of the European Government. If you both lived in London, we would no doubt make it a more regular Sunday morning get together. I wish good luck to you both in your new life back in Germany and one day, you might look up out of your widow and see a whole group of Harley's arriving at your door for a cup of tea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gary, believe us, the pleasure was all ours. We are looking forward to meeting you again, either on the road or back in London. Thanks again, for making the time.

      Delete
  10. An evening would have been better when all the nutters come out along the North Circular. ;)

    ReplyDelete