When my son, James, turned seventeen he wanted a motorbike. So my husband and I bought him a second-hand one. Without a qualm between us. It didn't occur to me to worry about my son riding on two wheels.
I was that age the first time I rode pillion – and without a crash helmet as they weren't obligatory back then. Motorcycling clothing was fairly limited then as well – a waxed Barbour jacket (and boy, did the wax ever get under your fingernails!) if you could afford it, and any old thing over a few layers of woolly jumpers if you couldn't.
There was a lot less traffic in those days. Thinking about it now I realise how brave my father was not putting up one word of opposition to me going on the back of a bike. My father had a two inch, thick and raised, scar on his cheek – legacy of a motorcycle accident in which his brother was killed leaving four small children
I'm often asked if I've ever ridden 'up front', or wanted to. The answer is no – I've always been happy to sit on the back, looking to the left or the right at the scenery. The motorcycles my husband, Roger, and I ride are all vintage so the seats are all on the same level, so I can't see over his head as pillion passengers on modern motorcycles can. We can't go as fast as modern motorcycles either, but then – as we approach our 70's – we aren't in a rush to go anywhere either!
My husband's Model 7 Norton
So where have we been? World travellers we are not. We're Devon born and bred and believe there's nowhere finer. I think my husband knows every lane in the county and the short routes to just about everywhere. But we have been to the Isle of Man for the TT races – not to take part, but to watch. We camped and rode off each day to our chosen viewing spot before the roads were closed for racing. That was pre-children and when they came along I was happy to stay at home when my husband went for a 'burn up' with his pals.
We did go to Brittany with the Kickstart Club of which my husband was Secretary for a while, the children staying with my mother. I never gave a thought to us having an accident, although my mother told me afterwards that she did, all day, every day, until we were safely back again
Our Norton Dominator-the most comfortable ride for my old bones
These days we have five motorcycles, all of them vintage which means we don't have to pay road tax – canny or what? One of them, the BSA Bantam, is small and only has one seat so that's the only one I don't go on.
In Paignton, where we live, there is a charity organisation called bMad (Bikers Make A Difference). Every Wednesday evening during the summer the road on the seafront is closed to traffic and motorcyclists pay £1 per person to park up for two or three hours. Thousands of pounds are raised for local charities and we do our bit every Wednesday, taking the motorcycles out in rotation.
There are often over a thousand motorcycles on display – and their riders from all walks of life and all ages, although I get the sneaky feeling these days that I'm just about the oldest woman pillion passenger!
At the end of July each year we go on a charity ride that raises funds for the Devon Air Ambulance. Our friend, Ken's, life was saved by a helicopter trip to Derriford Hospital- and yes, he'd been riding a motorcycle.
Our granddaughter, Emily revving up!
These days I've got all new gear – the safety padded jacket and trousers, the leather gloves, the helmet. My boots have seen better days though! A few weeks ago, after a great traffic-quiet ride on a fabulously sunny day through the beautiful South Hams, I was waxing lyrical that evening about the views, the flowers, the animals in the fields.