Thursday, March 1, 2018

Travels with a Royal Enfield Ensign

A F Tschiffely with his Royal Enfield Ensign, companion for
his four month tour of Spain in 1951.

Many thanks to Ken Bryant who got in touch and introduced me to Round and About Spain. I'm a bit of a buff of old motorcycling travelogues but had never heard of this one before. Aimé Félix Tschiffely (1895 - 1954) was a Swiss borne Argentine adventurer, academic and writer. Tschiffely led a colourful life and wrote extensively of his travels; a well known and successful writer during his career (thirties, forties and fifties), most of his adventures were on horseback.

For his journey around Spain Tschiffely however chose a different mode of transport, a Royal Enfield Ensign. The motorcycle is very much secondary to the story and it is all about the culture and people rather than the bike for Tschiffely certainly was not a motorcyclist at heart.

The brand of Royal Enfield is apparently not mentioned in the book, one wonders why? Perhaps it is that the conveyance is so secondary to the story that it does not warrant a mention. In the introduction Tschiffely describes visiting the Royal Enfield factory to choose a machine, reading between the lines he was perhaps given a bike or at least bought it on very favourable terms.

From the introduction.....

I was thinking over the matter of transportation when a friend of mine came to my rescue with a brilliant idea. "Use a motor-cycle," said the one who, years ago, had been a famous motor-cycle racer, and who continues to ride one of these machines for amusement. Enthusiastically he continued, "I have a friend who is a director of a famous firm of motor-cycle manufacturers. I shall write to him at once, and I'm sure he will be delighted to supply you with a really reliable machine."

And so it came about that a few days later I found myself in a huge factory in the Midlands, where one of the directors showed me their latest model of a powerful machine. One look at it was sufficient for me. "Heavens," I exclaimed, "I don't want to travel jet-propelled! Please remember that I haven't ridden a motor-cycle for some thirty years." Catching sight of a much smaller - and therefore less speedy looking - machine and pointing at it I said, "That's the type of mount I fancy."

Round and About Spain front cover.

Round and About Spain rear cover.

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