The Hairy Bikers’ latest show, “Go West,” is a captivating and enchanting journey back to their beloved open road.
In December, the Hairy Bikers returned home for the holiday season, marking their first show since Dave Myers was diagnosed with cancer nearly two years ago. While their previous shows have focused on more than just food, delving into topics like travel, community, and their close bond, their Christmas special truly stood out. It was heartwarming to witness the deep connection between them. Now, with The Hairy Bikers Go West, they are hitting the road once again for a new series. It is truly enchanting.
Their goal is to casually travel along the western coast of the United Kingdom, beginning in their beloved destination, the Isle of Bute in Scotland’s Firth of Clyde. Si King shares that they initially visited 30 years ago, but at that time, there wasn’t as much activity. Now, it has transformed into a hub for locally sourced cuisine and this episode will likely attract many hungry tourists.
The bikers make a stop at a deli in Rothesay, which is so upscale that it even sells crisps flavored like grouse. This causes great amusement among the bikers, who also purchase cheese, smoked trout and salmon from the island, locally-sourced lamb, and delicious-looking pies. After gathering supplies, they pause for a picnic. These casual conversations have gained a new level of importance; it is not surprising that Dave has become more introspective and philosophical since his diagnosis. It is heartwarming to witness these men openly discussing their emotions and thoughts with each other, and I believe it can also be incredibly impactful for others to see.
On the island, there are many other places to visit. One of them is a Syrian bakery that is known for its award-winning apple tarts. Here, Dave and Si encounter a 20-year-old student who is studying both baking and mechanical engineering. He shares his story of coming to Scotland from Syria at the age of 12. He explains that during his first year of school, he had trouble communicating with his peers. However, he now has a distinct Scottish accent, as he proudly puts the finishing touches on his delicious tarts. The two also stop by a family-owned butcher shop that has been passed down for generations. They are introduced to “blaggis,” a unique combination of black pudding and haggis. Lastly, they meet a scientist who is working on growing truffles by planting oak and hazel trees, which are essential for these delicacies to thrive.
Watching the show while hungry is not recommended, as vicarious eating is a major aspect. The bikers utilize their findings to create multiple dishes that are visually appealing, but not necessarily vegetarian-friendly. However, they do offer a suggestion to substitute lamb with aubergine, showing consideration. I am a fan of these programs and have even rewatched previous episodes. The exposure given to producers and eateries can greatly benefit small businesses. I have attempted to search for some of the enticing dishes featured on the show, but have found myself on a waitlist.
However, it offers more than just tantalizing taste buds. The Bikers visit a six-acre market garden with a focus on two core values: sustainability and community. The garden specializes in locally grown and seasonal produce, and also provides job training for apprentices and trainees. Additionally, they utilize unused land to grow crops that are available for anyone to take. Their selection includes various preserves and a unique vegan honey derived from dandelion flowers. This program is incredibly inviting and optimistic, capable of warming the hearts and filling the stomachs of even the most cynical individuals.
From time to time, Dave takes a moment to contemplate his past and present. He and his partner go fishing, something that Dave never thought possible when he was very sick. “I used to yearn for it,” he recalls. The show strikes a perfect balance between seriousness and humor. Although they are unsuccessful in catching fish while preparing salmon en croûte, they simply go to the store instead. In the beginning of the episode, Dave shares that he didn’t believe he would ever ride a motorcycle again. Despite still undergoing cancer treatment, he has worked hard and undergone physical therapy in order to be able to ride again. And now that they are on the road, he says, “I’m savoring it like a man who has been in the desert.”