That's me Dave Bannister & a mate Ian Forbes from Worcester. We've done thousands of kms of European biking and been doing Sri Lanka & different parts of India for the last few years, so Cochin Fort is our base, an island just off the coast, bit like the Isle of Wight really, we know the people well now at the Homestay (part of a global network of private homes offering accommodation) we always use, they as usual lay on a cab from airport to Cochin Fort. 2 or 3 days to get over flight and adjust to the heat and off we go, back to the mainland "4 rupees single passenger for half hour boat trip about 4p in our money" Wightlink please note.

Been fending for ourselves in India every winter for the last 6 years . Pictures of us with helmets on quite rare as normally to hot for that. Tee shirt & jeans and an old pair of hiking boots, oh and a scarf across the face to keep out the fumes from the Tata trucks & the interstate buses on the bikes.

The kings of the road are any bus, local or express interstate, they come directly at you at speed, they will not deviate from their line, you will / must get out of there way, they will run you down. Tata trucks do the same but fortunately they are nearly always overloaded, so easy to overtake, Motorbikes everywhere. Tuk Tuk rickshaws are the wilder beasts and are always overtaken, but they do have a tendency to do unusual tricks in the road, so must be watched, police hotter on crashhelmets now compulsory for a rider to wear one or a 2000 rupee fine, if not wearing one.

On the car ferry pictured its 17 rupees, 17 p one way bike / rider. The guy who rents us our bikes is English and both are Enfields 500s straight out the factory at Chennai in India, mine had 137 kms on the clock and was not run in yet. The following day after the motorbike scrum for the car ferry (no booking here) we headed north to Vypeen Beach for some R&R. It's about 105 km so a lovely ride through the palm trees, just jeans & tea shirt I'm afraid but I would pass out if I had to wear m/c jacket & trousers. No crash helmet although compulsory for the driver of the bike in India, the pillion doesn't have to haveone, nor do the other 4 people on the bike. Including babes cradled in the riders arms. Few pictures of the bikes, I have since changed for a while to a Motorcycle sidecar 1972 just been rebuilt, with what looks like a Watsonian on the side, made in the slums of Mumbai but terrific build quality bit of a beast but what fun, more another day regards to all Dave

This is getting to be a habit for the last 4 years. "Strictly" finished on tele, Christmas drags by and I start thinking India & Enfield's.
Duly arrived at Cochin India 23rd January 2014.

David Banister

Ian Forbes

Our 2 Bikes

Francis Church Fort Cochin



Bike full of Pots



The gents I think, no, the grog shop

An actual road, alas no fuel

Dead Water Buffalo


Broken Bike


Recovery Truck

With a sidecar

Back on the 350cc

Am I ok

Table on Shanklin front?

Watsonian-Sidecars-100-yrs - special version

Instalment dated 12th February 2014
Ho hum. Well going up a mountain near Pormodi just outside Thiruvananthapuram when everything seized up , free wheeled to a holiday complex, had a look at the engine, called bike rental man, truck comes to pick you up 4 hrs after midnight, um 3 in the morning, maybe midday, truck arrived 2300 following day. Local police & mechanics lift bike onto truck, I climb into side car, best seat in the house, take us back to Kovolum.

Solo bike replacement arrives next day for us to continue our journey south, will return in 4 days time. The breakdown was the crank shaft bearing was put in wrongly when the engine was rebuilt a few weeks ago, this caused the piston to wobble and imbed itself into the cylinder. Big job but they have some great engineers in India hard to leave Kovolum but nice to be on the solo and be able to nip through the traffic.

Making our way South:-
Here's the bike. modelled by a French lady who rides a Kawasaki 750 at home in France & can kick start it better than me, stayed at a coastal resort called Varkala. Gotta watch it as the days go by you just chill out, swim in the warm ocean, eat fish / lobster meals, drink, what's not to like but you end up not using the bikes, so south again to Kovolum, it's a bit like Shanklin , with hot sun. Rooms 2000 rupees a night ( £20 ) meals eat well for £8 buys meal for two, with cold kingfisher beer, (it's called special tea, served in a tea pot, drunk from a mug or cup) the Indians have some really strange licensing laws, so this is how they get round it, more another time:- Dave

Instalment dated 20th February
Hi Paul. Left the m/c sidecar in Kovolum, pick up an old classic Enfield 350 to play on whilst it's having crank sorted and re-bore ( 4 days) went down to the tip of India to the temple away the end of the world, fantastic scenery, back to Kovolum pick up m/c sidecar all ready £50, on the to east coast and Pondicherry, photos prove not all India's roads are chockablock, poor old water buffalo must have been hit by a truck or an express bus, bits over 150 metres down the road poor thing, I had run out of petrol, Ian emptied our one litre water bottle and rode of to the petrol station (they will fill up a bottle with petrol) I was sat with my bike by the roadside, when this little girl got out of her grandfathers van and asked me if I was in trouble, really nice like that, she spoke perfect English. No I'm ok thank you, the picture you took for toilets is in fact the local grog shop, where Indians buy their alcohol, we buy whiskey, rum, brandy & kingfisher beer there, it's a really filthy place, they placed the metal front on it and you go through like a sheep in a sheep dip, this stops fights breaking out because of pushing in (Indians don't do queuing) all for now. Another breakdown story next time, all the best dave, ps 31 degrees here today,

Instalment dated 21st February
Well I don't know. Bike going like a dream for an oldun (1972), rode all day through mile upon mile of salt flats. Where the locals evaporate sea water to make seasalt. Huge mounds of it everywhere, then mile upon mile of flat wheat fields, then, complete loss of power and the old bike staggers to a halt. Doesn't take long to realise that now the head gasket is blown. Bugger, push bike into someone's yard and rode pillion back 12 km to last town we went through. Mechanic in town says he services Hondas Heros, not Enfields but he knows a man who does 65 kms away in the next city. He will do head gasket, if we can get bike to him, bought as bit of rope and Ian towed it, found new mechanic, who had the tank / head off before you could say jack Robinson, he sent one of the boys working at the shop to buy a new gasket (£2) replaced it, tank back on. Bit of a test, 1 hrs work, £2.50 labour and back on the road to find hotel for the night. The following day bike going like a dream onwards to Chennai and golden beach for a few days R &R.
Hope this bike is not jinxed ??? Dave


Chennal 1

Chennal 3

More Enfield Repairs


Chennal 2

Chennal Marine Beach

Honda Mechanic helps out

R&R by the pool