In view of the recent developments

in the Ukraine, I felt it only right to show some restraint in using the blog as a platform for discussion of the terrible turn of events there, with respect for what was happening and not wishing to be dragged in to the position of a sensationalist reportage, and so I do not include any pictures of the events here, either, despite being personally very concerned and somewhat involved.

Yes, I have contacts and friends at the ‘Maidan’ in Kiev ‘on the ground and was receiving ‘live updates’ on a regular basis, thankfully all of whom are still alive and well, if exhausted. In fact, I have only just said goodnight on Skype after a lengthy talk with one of my contacts who has just returned from there today.

The reportage shewn in Europe and the USA was pitiful (almost as pitiful as their for a long time feeble responses to the events), the coverage from Russia not at all biased, of course; in the East of the Ukraine it was only possible to receive and be kept informed of what was actually going on by the Russian-influenced media, as all other stations had ‘technical problems’ with the delivery of their portion of the reportage and the main television and newspapers in Kiev were closed down.

I shall refrain from posting pictures or other material of the events, suffice to say that the last days were horrific and punctuated by sheer madness, the police and ‘other entities’ using armour-piercing and large calibre, long-range weapons (NOT police issue… which comprises short-range, lighter-calibre sniper rifles for use in urban environments).

At the moment, the situation has de-escalated somewhat, at least until the actual date of the re-election is announced, which if proposed for December, as threatened by Yanokivich’s Party of Regions, will cause the next wave of ‘unrest’… Interesting to see what happens in view of the fact that the USA and European leaders are pretty much united in the view that he (and a select band of followers) are criminally responsible under international law of crimes against humanity. How can it be tolerated that he remains in the ‘chair’ until December, if the suspicions are true? Obviously an untenable situation.That was the ‘position’ until earlier today.

Just heard while on the blower with Alya, that Yanukovich has disappeared and is nowhere to be found! He has left his mansion and simply disappeared. He was supposed to have been on the way to a meeting in Kharkiv with the remains of his party to discuss a possible annexing of the Eastern and Southern states… and just never turned up! In his absence, of course, there is now no-one in ‘power’, so elections cannot be left later than a date in May (actually now proposed for the 22nd). Apparently all his ministers have resigned or laid down their posts (mostly due to ‘sudden ill-health!) and have also ‘hopped the fence’, it would seem. Notably the interior minister has been caught trying to cross the border and has been stooped by Ukrainian border authorities. Now that the blanket censorship has been lifted, even those in the East are beginning to open their eyes to the situation in Kiev over the last weeks… The parliament is now in session with the opposition parties who are returning to the earlier constitution of 2004 (pre-Yanukovich, who ‘broadened’ his own powers without the niusance of having to go through parliament to pass laws… a bit like Henry VIII, who he obviously modeled his lifestyle on…) and to return the country to some kind of normality. I just pray that someone comes to the fore that is capable of leading the country into unity…

What I actually wanted to announce here, despite it being not specifically Velocette or MotorCycle-related, was that I intend soon to relocate. To the (Western) Ukraine, to a village called Stepanky (Степанки) about half-way between Vinnytsia and Moldova!

Although the density of prewar Velocettes in Australia was very favourable, even compared with the UK, the willingness to even consider, let alone the subsequent pricing for small-batch work was what I would call prohibitive. Most approaches to manufacturers or even small workshops were greeted with nothing less than sheer ridicule if not rather abrupt rudeness.

The problem that I have encountered in the UK is a rather more polite, but nonetheless firm reluctance to make small batches, and/or waiting lists that extend beyond my lifetime, as well as ‘uninteresting’ pricing. While I have no problem with my children inheriting what small gains (hopefully)  can be made long-term out of my interest here, I would still like to be here at least to oversee the products of my labour and to at least have sighted what goes out into the world in ‘my’ name. The cost here is also very daunting, castings and the like almost priced out of existence here at home, due to government and ecological considerations and legislation.

Whilst all very laudable, I see parallels with legislation passed last week n some states in the USA, where 85% of wood-burning stoves are now illegal and have been banned due to ’emission’ considerations. Well, Wood is a renewable resource and the wood-burning stove has seen a resurgence recently in poorer households, who cannot afford the price of heating delivered by the (we can only presume) ‘cleaner’ and environmentally more viable, predominantly oil- or electrical heating in their homes, since the recent price-hikes of services also there.

Bear in mind, that the number of home now additionally (no, not exclusively!) using slow-burners in their homes to supplement the other heating that they have, has RISEN to OVER 1% of the nation’s households!! My GOD, what a tremendous effect THAT will have on the environment! Because of the ‘new’ norms, all those 85% of old stoves (like the Agas etc) will have to be trashed (or their owners face fines or imprisonment) and be replaced with new (or alternative ‘modern’) systems, based on non-renewable resources…

OK, rant over, remains to be said that finding not only anyone that will actually PROMISE that they will do things for me and also DELIVER within my lifetime at a even an unreasonable cost are few and far between, I have to look elsewhere. The rest of mainland Europe, including Poland, has become so heavily legislated and also overly ‘aware’ of the ‘financial-gain-potential’ in the ‘classic and collector’ market, that any attempts there will be simply unaffordable, if perhaps possible.

And so my ‘defection’ to the ‘East’. For me, it means learning a new language or two + a new culture, lifestyle (very basic) and tempo, but with the possibility of meeting people who are actually glad of the work (sorry), however little. The technology is by no means in ANY way inferior to the rest of Europe (look at the rocket-technology based in Dnipropetrovsk), but it does require a local presence, at least initially, until a ‘relationship’ is built up with my production partners, who will mostly be foundries and machine-shops.

And so, having just arrived here, it is already time for me to leave, only to return at a later date, perhaps after establishing solid partners abroad. I shall be living to a large extent ‘off the grid’, in a small village halfway between Vinnytsia and Moldova, but close enough to keep my finger on the pulse. The house and workshop have electricity, but there is no water except from a well on the property… so there is still some ‘setting up’ to do and preparation for the long, cold winters there.

And so to my first pikkies, of the ‘dacha’ as it stands now from a couple of angles, taken from the internet advert for the place, so not exactly high-resolution. The workshop will have, initially, to be set up in the larger room of the main house, until I can organise a workshop proper next to the house at the back:


Viewed from the ‘street’, which is an unsurfaced track, so nice and muddy in the autumn and spring



Around the ‘front’ of the house, where the ‘summerhouse’ doubles up as the entrance, sheltering the front door from the immediate cold in the wintertime. The workshop proper will materialise ‘behind’ the end of the house to the left hand side of this picture.


This is the plan of the place, so quite adequate without a family!


Final Empty Dacha


This is the colour-scheme as I envisage it after the house is finally finished inside.

Dacha final?

The place has two-foot-thick walls and some lovely period features to the facade as well as some lovely window-framework on both the main house and the entrance, which I shall do my level best to retain, despite taking measures required for thorough insulation! There is also a cellar of unknown size (but probably more likely only big enough to use as a ‘cool-room’ and no drains nor a water-supply to the house itself, as already mentioned. I probably have a ‘wander-loo’, which will simply be uprooted, the old hole dug over and a new one dug for ‘current’ usage. We will have to see about that, once I get there.Water to the house and maybe some heating for a shower and  some drainage of the grey-water will be a priority, as well as rain-water collection and filtering to potable standards. Being so far from ‘town’ (75km), I will have to get some veg and fruit going as well, to keep the trips to the big smoke to a minimum. A 4WD for the interim months is a must as often the area sits under a blanket of snow for up to three months of the year.

Should be an adventure! I hope to be able to make myself useful to the other inhabitants of the village that are there all-year-round (about 20%) and so increase or accelerate my acceptance there and the possibility of barter in exchange for services rendered…

I hope to be traveling there to finalise the purchase in about two weeks and will report back after then! At the moment, I have to concentrate on learning Ukrainian… The Beaurocracy there is also quite as much a hurdle as the language, I am told! I am glad that I now have a couple of friends close-by who have expressed their willingness to help! 🙂


© peter gouws 2014

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