« 121 Fitzwilliam Street And All That | Main | The Kitchen Table »

Spanish Secrets: Silver Dream Machine

Craig Briggs writes glowingly of his favourite island, Lanzarote. On a recent holiday there he got to ride pillion on a silver dream machine.

Some people might describe the island of Lanzarote as nothing more than a quarry. A lump of volcanic rock dumped in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

To others, myself included, it has a unique beauty. Itís been a favoured location for several film directors and provides fashion photographers with an unusual and distinctive backdrop.

On those rare occasions when clouds mask the sunís brilliance, the islandís character and appearance changes dramatically. The colourful artistís canvas is replaced with a pencil drawing; a parchment of changing shades.

At one end of this shaded spectrum is the jet-black volcanic ash. A fine yet fertile gravel which helped sustain the islandís earliest settlers. At the other end are brilliant-white clouds, struggling to cloak the intensity of the fierce sun.

On the horizon the sea and sky form an ethereal border. Slate-grey and shimmering silver, dark shadows make mysterious, constantly altering shapes.

The neighbouring isle of Fuerteventura rests to the south like an anchored ghost-ship, its volcanic peaks silhouetted against a grey sky like the full sails of a motionless yacht.

The only colours are in the tiny details, climbing bougainvillea display luxurious purple petals. Windows and doors painted a bright, moss-green colour; at one time the only colour allowed for exterior paintwork.

But on a warm sunny day, Lanzarote is surrounded by colour. A bright blue sky reflects in the cool Atlantic Ocean; breaking waves form a flickering white garland encircling the barren volcanic isle.

It was on one such sunny day that our host, Donald Macleod - not a highlander as the name might suggest but a fine Scot from the Borders - invited me to ride pillion on his silver dream machine. An invitation I excitedly accepted.

His week-old pride and joy leant casually on its highly polished side-stand, like a prized exhibit at Batterseaís Tate Modern. Its design was a combination of old and new, futuristic but with more than a hint of Sixties retro.

Nestled below a cool-grey petrol tank was 650 cubic centimetres of brute force, configured in a silver-steel V twin. Smooth voluptuous curves ran its length, adorned with brilliant chrome reflecting distorted images of its surroundings.

With the ignition pressed, a squeaking electrical current fires the beast into life. A sharp twist on the throttle sends a grumbling roar bursting out of the huge polished manifold. The rider is provided with a low-slung black leather saddle, which arcs upward to a small plateau giving the pillion an elevated perch.

Before long weíre flying effortlessly down the road, gliding smoothly over the asphalt surface. A burst of speed threatened to pull me from my shelf, a false threat as my body relaxed Ė men and machine in perfect harmony.

Suddenly the road in front opened up, giving this leashed big cat a brief chance to spring into action. The warm wind whistled past my face and blurred images flashed before my eyes.

All too quickly our race was run and we returned home. With one final roar the engine was extinguished and the beast laid to rest. A silver machine left to dream - for now at least.

email address

Copyright © 2005 Craig Briggs


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.