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Saturday, 21 March 2015

ScooterBob in NZ - the Coromandel Peninsula

I stopped blogging over a year ago, partially because I didn't want to bore people with the same old stuff and partially because of being insanely busy with IAM (Institute of Advanced Motoring) activities.  However, the sudden loss of a fellow moto-blogger, Bob Leong; in September 2014 has occasioned a post or two which hopefully adds to a fitting tribute that his fellow bloggers and riding partners have devised and supported on his website: Riding the Wet Coast

Bob Leong - moto blogger extraordinaire

Firstly, a bit of background.

Bob lived in Vancouver, owned scooters and in more recent times, A Suzuki V Strom and a BMW 1100.  On 4 wheels, he drove a very nice Corvette.  As well as blogging about his travels and the people he met, he also wrote about gadgets he bought.  In fact, it was Bob who was instrumental in getting me to buy the camera which I now own through the detailed, but easy to read account of his own experiences with that particular model.  Bob also wrote about his family and although I was never able to meet him in person, his blog and our correspondence over several years painted him as a generous-spirited, most likeable man who would have been wonderful company.  Bob was also the first person to comment on my first ever blog post and make me feel welcome in the blog-o-sphere. Tragically, he passed away whilst touring in the USA with his wife Yvonne.  Almost eerily, Jennie and I happened to be in Vancouver en route from Alaska to NZ when I learned of his passing.

A good friend of Bob's, David Masse; came up with a fitting tribute to Bob's life and dreams by sending a model wooden Vespa scooter (christened ScooterBob) which Bob had once owned, on a journey of its own.  You can read David's excellent account of how the idea came to fuition here: ScooterBob.  Suffice to say that the idea has been enthusiastically embraced by those who knew him personally and through his motorcycle blog.  The following photos and narrative are an account of ScooterBob's travels in my patch of New Zealand.  I hope that Bob is looking down and laughing his head off at ScooterBob's adventures round the world.  Perhaps Yvonne and Family will draw both comfort and pleasure from them too.  The travels certainly embrace Bob's spirit and enthusiasm for discovering new places and revisiting old ones!

The other Moto-bloggers who have helped ScooterBob in his travels have posted the most wonderful scenic photos of their corner of the world.  I hope to be able to be able to do the same but as Bob was a real "people person", I've also chosen to introduce ScooterBob to family and friends to add a human angle and hope Bob would have approved.

International traveller ScooterBob arrived in Coromandel Town from Andrew further down the North Island of NZ.  We were having breakfast on the deck when SB arrived so it was an opportune time to remove him from his travelling home, let him have some sunlight and welcome him to our neck of the woods.  As Bob loved people and valued friendships, I thought it would only be right and proper to introduce ScooterBob to some of our great friends during his stay - more on that later.

Annie welcoming ScooterBob to our home

We didn't want to wear SB out on his first day so his first outing was close to sunset when I took him down to the town wharf to let him look at the fishing boats and meet a couple of the local commercial fishermen who were enjoying a cold beer after a day out at sea.

SB checking out the local fishing fleet at sunset

Local commercial fishing identities Bunsen and Pete exchanging yarns with SB

After meeting some locals on the wharf, it was off to the lookout near our house to enjoy sunset over the islands in the Hauraki Gulf.

Sunset over the Hauraki Gulf

Unfortunately, the best-laid plans to go a little further afield were curtailed by dire warnings from the NZ MetService about the fast-approaching Tropical Cyclone Pam.  Mercifully, it passed a little further to the east than expected so some torrential rain over 24 hours or so and some boisterous winds were all we encountered.  However, it gave us the opportunity to take a couple of shots in less than tropical weather!

Cyclone Pam approaches!

With the weather packing up fast, there was just time to nip down to the end of our road to show SB the building seas.  With his shiny coat of varnish, SB scoffed at the driving rain whilst I was getting rapidly soaked.  SB was far too gracious to call me a wimp, but I'm sure that's what he was thinking.

Seas and rain building, but SB enjoying the bracing conditions

With normal weather returning, it was time to venture a little further afield and introduce SB to some close friends who live not far from us.  Paul and Julie are lovers of British classic vehicles.  Julie drives an immaculate MGB GT V8 which was in for a service when we visited.  Paul is a dedicated Norton enthusiast and Secretary of the NZ Norton Owners Club.  For everyday transport, he rides a 1951 ES2.  His ride for rallies and similar outings is a flawless Commando 750 fastback which he bought brand new when he was 19!  The other Norton is a Commando 850 racebike which owes very little to the original road-going 850 Commando and like most racing machinery, is a bottomless hole into which money is poured.  However, it is very, very fast, surprisingly reliable and Paul does extremely well in post-classic racing.

ScooterBob playing with his big English cousins

SB goes racing!

This summer has been really busy in terms of friends and relatives visiting us, both from NZ and overseas.  It was a great opportunity for ScooterBob from Canada to meet visiting English friends of ours who we hadn't seen for 42 years!  I've known Peter and Jane Miller since I was in my late teens.  Pete and I drag-raced bikes together in the UK, albeit in different capacity classes.  We moved to NZ  in the 1970's and Pete went on to enjoy ultimate accolades with an FIM-approved world record in the 500cc class over the standing start quarter mile with his supercharged, nitro-burning beast.  Pete and Jane are still motorcycle enthusiasts with a Triumph Thunderbird cruiser and a KTM trail bike in the stable.

As Bob really enjoyed his food, we thought that he would completely approve of ScooterBob being invited to a BBQ at home with Jennie, Paul and Julie and Pete and Jane.

Jennie, Jane, Julie, Peter and Paul

SB enjoying convivial company with Annie photo-bombing!

In the next instalment of ScooterBob in NZ, we venture further afield!


  1. SB is getting quite the tour of NZ! And got to hang around with some nice looking Nortons as well as a number of others. Looking forward to future adventures.

    And nice to see another great post on your site. I was just searching for your site earlier this evening. Good timing...

    1. Thanks Richard, it's an honour to be involved with the wonderful tribute to Bob. There will be another post or two before it's time to send Scooterbob on the next leg of his adventure!

  2. I thought you might want to be back in the blogger sphere for this, Geoff. Looks like SB has a great time out and about on Coromandel (I know I did...). I can't pick a favourite photo, your collection is quite eclectic. Now, should I drool over the Norton's (or over the veggie parts of your food platter...) or admire the sunset or rainbow or orphan Annie? Or the artsy shot with the mailboxes in the storm? I really can't decide... Well done, my friend.

    1. Hi Sonja!
      Yep, setting time aside for this is an absolute pleasure. Thanks for the kind words. It probably sounds kind of odd, but it's almost as if Bob's spirit lives through ScooterBob. Because of that, I talk to SB in the same way that I would have talked to Bob and take him to the same variety of places I would have taken Bob. I already have a few more photos and have a mental list of others when I hopefully take ScooterBob out on the bike next week.

  3. Some fantastic pics already Geoff! Now, you do know where Cape Reinga is don't you?

  4. Thanks Andrew. Yep, been there many times but Auckland may well be my limit due to other commitments :-)

  5. Excellent write up Geoff and it's fantastic to hear from you after so long away, I always enjoy yours posts being well written and sometimes witty.
    SB is certainly a character and he seems to be able to pull a crowd doesn't he?
    Can't wait to see you adventures with him.

    1. Hi Steve,
      Thanks for the kind words and yes, SB is certainly the centre of attention anywhere he goes. I'll probably spend a day on the road with him tomorrow and perhaps later in the week too.

  6. Awesome post Geoff. Such beautiful pictures.

    I think the one with Annie is my favorite. Bobskoot was a cat whisperer. One of the only people Basil would go near and let pet him.

    1. Hello Brandy!
      Thanks and it was interesting that you should mention Bob and cats as Annie jumped straight up on the rail to investigate as soon as I put SB there and didn't leave until I took him down. I have another nice shot with her sitting down with him.

  7. For sure Geoff, Bob's spirit lives on with this adventure. Can't wait to see where the two of you go from here.

    1. Hi Karen - long time no see :-)

      It sure does and just like Chillertek (Steve), I find myself talking to him!

  8. What a treat to read a Geoff James blog post again! I always enjoy seeing photos from your beautiful part of the world Geoff.

    Keep on blogging!

    Cheers Jules.

  9. Haha - you're far too kind but thank you Jules. It really is something I've enjoyed doing for Bob's family in conjunction with his Moto-blogging friends. I'll finish the 3rd instalment off next week with any luck, then that's it. Sorry about that!

  10. Hi Geoff - Great to see you blogging again! I love the new look, but hope you won't mind me making a little criticism - the text colour is really really hard to read against the background. I even have it on a big screen and I'm struggling. Have had to resort to just looking at the (awesome) photos. Just wondering whether anybody else is having similar issues? Cheers, Sue

  11. Hi Sue, great to hear from you! Only the 3 ScooterBob posts I'm afraid, then back into obscurity! No worries re the text and I'd like to hear from others too as it's crystal clear on my big screen - black text on a light blue-grey background. Have a look on Bobscoot's blog www.wetcoastscootin.blogspot.com as on that, it shows up as dark blue text on a white background.