A troll around the cafes in January

It looked as if Sunday was going to be fine so I contacted Louisa to see if she wanted to link up at a cafe somewhere. We settled on the Ace with the possibility of going on to the Epping Tea Hut or perhaps the the Squadron.

I didn’t wake until gone 9 and so decided to have breakfast at the Ace. There weren’t that many bikes at the Ace at that hour but there was Toni resplendent in her finely festooned rocker jacket chatting to Linda, one of the proprietors. I said, “Hi. Ride like a Grandmother!” (Yes I’m a grandmother now) and they commented on not seeing me in ages. Toni hadn’t recognised me and said that she’d’ve taken a pic of me riding in if she had. Never mind. Food was on my mind. I went and checked out the menu and settled on a veggie full English. Would I get outside it? Ace servings tend to be large. They said that they could offer a doggie box if I couldn’t. I settle down and am joined by Toni and a friend of hers. My food arrives and I tuck in. Toni and her friend’s food arrive. She has eggs on toast. Gradually my food disappears down my gullet but I know I can’t manage the tomatoes. I offer them to Toni and she accepts and so I clear my plate aside from a slice of toast. Good Lord. Didn’t realize that I was THAT hungry!

All the time I’m keeping an eye open for Louisa. I think I see her roll up and dismount but she disappears. I go in search and eventually find her outside. She was wondering if I’ll turn up. She hadn’t clocked my bike. Soon we’re wandering around, drinking tea, chatting to complete strangers and taking photos. Louisa grapples with a selfie stick given to her for Xmas by her husband without much success. It baffles me too. I think that it’s a case of RTFM (Read the manual).

Somebody has turned up on a yellow Honda CBR 600 and Louisa gets chatting to him and his chums as she has one as well and wants to compare notes.

The guy is Polish and is there with a fairly hefty contingent of Poles, some on motorbikes, some in strange little Polish Fiats and one guy with a Polish flat bed truck with a very posed recovered CZ 250 type of thing (I stand to be corrected).

Louisa’s husband and son dropped by from their mission to Ikea and solved the puzzle of the selfie stick which Louisa then played with a lot after. I think the TFM came into play.

I noticed a smattering of 1970s bikes…For once the car park didn’t seem dominated by pocket rockets.

Here as some people studies.

A bloke doing some pointing and another preparing to leave.

…and some extreme brakes on the back wheel of a stunt bike, some extreme luggage and a tiny skeleton on a Virago trike.

Oh darn, I didn’t take a pic of Toni resplendent in her rocker jacket.

Louisa and I decided to head for the Epping Tea Hut. She asked me if I knew the way as she doesn’t. Do I know the way! Off we set but I loose her just before the A10 turn off on the North Circ. I trundle slowly waiting for her to catch up but look for somewhare to pull up. It’s tricky finding somewhere safe to pull over along there but I do eventually and stop…and wait… and or lore… and what to do… then there she is and we’re on our way and get to the Tea Hut (or should I say ORIGINAL Tea Hat?) without any further incident. Apparently she’d stalled and had to wait for her Tiger to reconfigure before it would start again. We head for the hut which is now a posh ex container and crucial cake and hot beverages are procured (Thanks Louisa) and Louisa notices Amanda at a table with some others. We join her.

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She was one of the other women who rocked up at the Squadron that day I missed Louisa by hours. She mentions that the Squadron is closed. We are shocked and I feel the need to investigate. Has it gone for good?

I take a shot of some blokes who look as if they’re waiting for a bus and a couple of extreme endurance, survival, seen better days but look well durable bikes. The stories they could tell or is it all pose! I like the usage of a piece of tyre for a seat. It looks as if it just might be comfortable. Oddly enough for me I didn’t take any notice of what the bike was. The other one is a Yamaha Diversion. I had one of these briefly in my life. It was the same version but didn’t look at all like this.

I suggest to Louisa about checking out the Squadron and she says,”Why not”. She could head back home along the A414 from there having traveled to it from that direction often but not from the Tea Hut. I lead having often traveled that way to visit Suzy. We arrive at the gate to North Weald Airfield. The barrier is down. I catch the eye of the man in the entrance office and sidle over and ask about the Squadron cafe. Apparently it’s closed for three weeks but Wings Cafe is open. I ask where it is and a map is produced. I ask for one for my friend and he says that he’ll get one for him and I say ,”Her”. “Told you so”, says his colleague. I smile. We see cars driving around and the guys say that we could do that and drive buses and lorries there too. We go in and find Wings Cafe though Louisa knew where it was already.

It’s not as quirky as the Squadron and we don’t stop. We are rather full of hot beverages! Louisa wants to make inquiries about the driving experiences and we part our ways my having called to see if Suzy is receiving brief callers. She is. I head there. Suzy is about to do that henna thing with her hair. I ask if I could have a splott or two. I can and here is the result.

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Later, back home, either Louisa or Amanda mention that there’s a decent pic of me leaving the Ace on the Ace’s FB page and here it is taken by Ian Evans. I wonder if he’s the friend Toni was with. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2144693175587265&set=a.2144688755587707&type=3&theater

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Escaping Northampton

Finding one’s way around a strange town can be an unnerving thing even with the joys of sat nav (which I consider a dark art more often that not). I’ve never used it having grown up in a map savvy family and was travelling the country and dispatch riding before the advent of it so my navigation skills are reasonably well developed. Having said that I don’t have any compunction of employing the wonders of Google Maps and Street View. My son, Lewis, introduced me to this when he was learning various routes on starting to commute by motorbike and just finding what a venue that he maybe going to looked like. Most cunning and natty.

Now if, like my mate Corinna, one has no sense of direction and maps take on the qualities of some mystical practice for divining financial success involving spaghetti and Sat nav instructions start to sound like cake recipes then life becomes somewhat terrifying.

So here is what I do using, as an example, a route she has cause to use. Let’s see if this helps her. Here is a route to escape the strange town of Northampton. Of course it’s strange. Alan Moore lives there. Here is the route. The numbers indicate the picture locations.Northamton escape numbers2

So having turned right onto Countess Road and then left onto Spencer Bridge Road turn right at the Super Sausage (on your right) Notice the Oakley garden equipment store on opposite corner. Picture 1: where I’ve indicated the turn and in the same manner elsewhere below.

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Now comes the detail map showing where confusion is highly likely. Heck, it used to confuse me!

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2: shows the start of where roads merge. The sign shows a red H for Hospital accident and emergency. The route follows these for a bit so please note them.

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3: Here is the junction. Anything other that the route shown on turning left where the bus is will land you in deep doodoo.

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4: Along St. Peter’s Way go straight on following the red H…

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5: …taking second exit at roundabout

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6: Notice Carlsburg factory on right

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7:  Carlsburg factory still on right as we approach what is essentially a giant roundabout. Sign saying all traffic has to go left. Notice half timbered building at in distance.NhamptonEsc7Carlsburg

8: This the Plough Hotel and is on the giant roundabout.

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9: The King Billy is almost opposite.

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10: You’re swinging right and right again. Notice that building that is in both pictures.

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11: Signage is obscure but having turned that corner the route goes straightish to the southern end of the roundabout but…

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12:..There is a road that cuts through the roundabout for traffic heading North and East and it is here that we cease following signs for the hospital. We are following signs for Milton Keynes and the A508.

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13: We’re approaching where we leave the roundabout where we swing left by the Latimer and Crick warehouse. Notice the little map in the bottom left hand corner which shows what’s going on. Don’t get confused by the fact that the direction appears to be opposite of the picture. We are travelling in a southerly direction and the picture shows drivers eye view…looking south.

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14: About a mile down the road is an Eleanor Cross…

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15:…and the roundabout round the corner is the Queen Eleanor Interchange and is the junction with the A45 which we’ll be joining. We need to go practically all the way round to the forth exit passing exits for the A45 for Wellingboro’, Hardingstone village and Wootton.

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16: Then we’re heading for the M1 down the A45 not that we’ll be using the motorway.

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17: A couple of miles down the road we come to a dumbbell roundabout that is basically the intersection withe the M1 though the first turning is for a business park.

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18: And we follow signs straight on for the A508 and Stony Stratford. Happy navigating.

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The learning years: 2 testing times

I took my test back in the 70s back when one could just get on any old bike up to 250 cc and with no training go and take a test, and if passed could leap onto a Kawasaki Z1 at the age of 17.

Indeed, when I was at 6th form college a lad in the year below my had one and that was the year they came out. (Oh what it is to have a rich, indulgent parent or two.) Yeah, one of these:

Apparently he gave up riding not long afterwards after a friend came to a motorcycle related sticky end. Already helmets had been made compulsory to ride motorised two wheelers as well as the moped law; both a couple of years earlier. Aside from anything else these laws may have been in response to a bit of a power/ speed race starting to manifest between the Japanese manufacturers and the rest of the world although England seemed to be the only country to pick up the gauntlet before crashing out of business to all intents and purposes.

So I had started my on road motorcycling ‘career’ with the off road Star Rider bronze course. A few months later I applied to take my test. This was up in Stoke on Trent in term time. It was postponed due to poor weather conditions. The next appointment held and I failed. Can’t remember the exact reasons although I do remember the tester indicating for me to pull in ahead of another vehicle and I did so without really checking if it was safe to do so. There may have been other issues but it was a long time ago and they are happily lost in the mists of time.

I return home having finished my degree and after a period of staring into the middle distance in a state of post degree study exhaustion I think about taking my test again. I apply but as the date looms near something is not quite right. I have a dream indicating that I’ll have a mishap. A few days before the test I go for a ride to look at some men getting very muddy on motorbikes in a field. I had no mishap. Then the following day …

So that was test date number 3 trashed. I was left a bit shaky  but happened upon the RAC/ ACU training scheme just a mile from home. I didn’t have a bike at the time while I waited for my insurance to be settled and so I probably used my push bike to get there and then had the loan of a Suzuki B120 two stroke runabout. It was fine. I was still in touch with the bike shop guy I got the bike from. He’d visited me and saw the state of my Honda and suggested that I might like to get something smaller and scooterish. I was a bit confused by this as such an option hadn’t even occurred to me. I think I must have answered with a quizzical brow furrow and glower and no words. I think the subject got changed rapidly. I know that I got the underlying sensation that he thought as I was a wee woman (only about 6 and half stone back then) that wasn’t capable of coping with a ‘proper’ bike. Even so, once I had my insurance sorted, he offered me another CB125T that had belonged to his secretary. She was giving up riding for a while due to pregnancy. This I bought and finished the RAC/ ACU course on it which ended just before Christmas.

Test date number 4 was applied for. This and number 5 were cancelled due to fog, ice, snow, deluges, cold water in general. Well it was winter. Test date number 6 hove into view on an overcast day in spring. I toddle off to the test center. The examiner is a middle aged man and he has sun glasses on. Hmm. He asks me to read a number plate of a distant vehicle that he indicates. This is the sight test. I read a number plate (correctly) but he says that its the wrong one and to read one that happens to be NEARER….?! I start to feel a bit uncomfortable. I start to wonder about his eye sight what with the shades. He tells me to make my way to a certain road where he’ll meet me.

Now these were the days of the examiner being on foot but after the days when the examiner stepped out in front of the testee for the emergency stop test. We met at the appointed place and he told me to proceed to the next turning, turn left and continue left turning round the block until he told me to stop. I headed to the top of the road and did the left turns knowing that the road at the top formed a block. I didn’t notice that there was a road before that. The examiner haled me to stop and proceeded to inform me of my mistake lengthily and in no uncertain terms for on and on and that I was wasting time. I started to furrow my brow under my helmet.

We then did the little bits and bobs of the test like slow riding and emergency stop and having done those he asked me to circuit the larger block until he told me to stop. I started this thinking it was a bit weird adding on the extra bit at this point. I came back to the point where I last saw the examiner and there was no sign of him. I did several circuits and there was still no sign of him. I started to worry. Has he had a brain hemorrhage and collapsed behind a hedge? Has he buggered off to the pub? Has he been beamed up by the Star ship Enterprise? I decide to return to the test center to report his mysterious disappearance but change my mind and return to the test course.

And there he is. He asks me where I disappeared to and before I can answer to the effect that I was wondering the same about him he says that there is no time to finish the test and that I’ll have to book a retest. I head back home with a mega deep brow furrow and have evil thoughts as I pass the cemetery and crematorium. I got the feeling that he just SO wanted to fail me for what ever feeble bigoted reason but there would’ve been questions asked. Very SERIOUS questions. I had the badge you see, the wee badge that practically guaranteed a past: the RAC/ ACU graduate badge.

The current bike tests were developed out of the RAC/ ACU and Star Rider courses.

I managed to get a retest date before my provisional licence ran out. (They were issued on a yearly basis back then.) The day was sunny. The examiner was an older man and he wasn’t wearing sun glasses. He was politeness itself and I sailed through. Lore, 7 test dates over a period of 18 months. What an aggravating mesh but I got there in the end.

Curiously my full licence story followed much the same path as the current requirements.

So the test was passed but had the learning stopped. Of course not. It never really does… now does it!

I could use motorways now which I did after a couple of months to get to my brother’s wedding. That was no biggy. I’d used dual carriageways already. Not much different.

I could get a bigger bike now but I didn’t. I didn’t see the point. The Honda was quite a poky beast and served my needs. It coped admirably with a tour of France.  I stayed with small bikes for years for the same reason and lack of cash.

I was weary of riding for a couple of days a month. I felt that I might be a bit depleted physically (It’s a woman thing) but then I went dispatch riding in London. That feeling soon went what with the commitment of work and being on the bike at least 5 days a week and contending with London traffic. I soon developed what could be termed a rider’s seat where one becomes one with one’s machine and there is that fluidity of motion as bike and rider seem to merge.

The years pass. I look into becoming an instructor but I’m not good at dealing with groups.  A child enters my life. The child grows. I teach him to ride a push bike. I use what I’d learnt on that training day. The child grows. I teach him the starting stages of how to ride a motorbike much like my father did for me. He rides the bike for a few months but the bike is a heap and he doesn’t stick with it. There are times when I don’t have a bike. One such time is when my son gets his first major job after getting his degree. The commute is 17 miles and a bit of a pain. I get him a tatty old 125. He passes his test 7 months later. It was before the silly limited bike test law came in and so he got a 250 and sat with that for a couple of years. I would join him and his girl friend on the tatty 125. Now my main means of transport around town is a push bike… And because I’d not ridden a motorbike for a while I, apparently, was riding it like a push bike. This was pointed out to me by my son. He pointed various other things out to me too like usage of the front bike when filtering makes the ride jerky and a pain for a pillion… on a journey back from the bike shop where he’d left his bike for an MOT and service and I was giving him a lift home.

And I thank him for his input. It was a bit hard to swallow at first but I’m glad of it. May I carry on learning.

One ride leads to another

So the excellent Elsa organises a meet up at a cafe. OK. Yeah OK. It’s only 120 miles away. I’ll pop down for a swift cuppa and cake. Now this was about a month ago in mid November. Temperatures are dropping and I have to leave home at some chilly hour in order to make the meet up. The dangerous trousers and rally jumper are donned. I point this out to Corinna, my most excellent event of a house mate, just by way of a fact. She asks if the dangerous trousers is all I’ll have on my legs. I furrow my brow at her, meaningfully. She comments on feeling a bit chilly in just her chinos.

So I set off, totally togged with textile trousers, jacket complete with lining, plastic bags in boots and winter gloves. The going is good but I’m thinking; do I stop before the cafe? I sail past Fleet Services on the M3 and swing onto the dear odd A303 and stop at the first services. Not the cheapest but better than motorway services and I NEED a wee.

There’s another biker there. He parks his bike to the side of the shop after filling up and I do likewise. He appears to be buying refreshments. I’ve decided I could do with a drink too: a nice cuddly hot chocolate. The other rider has gone outside and I join him. We compare notes. This ride is familiar to him as he travels it often for work reasons. We finish our drinks and I set off first as he needs to use the facilities and I’m off and along that A303 at a fair lick. The A303 is relatively clear without the usual traffic volume around Stonehenge and I quickly make it to the Cafe in the North of Dorset.

This is the venue which happens to be a bike shop with a cafe inside.

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While I’m parking up a bike making an almighty racket sails past. I bet to myself that it’s one of us ladies wot ride and sure enough it turns round and parks up. This is Kathy who I met through Elsa at the Motorbike Women’s Rally. She’d not long got the bike on the road.

Here she is, contemplating the need to do something about her pipes before we enter. I have the camera ready as we enter the cafe and snap Lavinia, Marie, Elsa, Sarah and Nikki.

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After revealing the dangerous trousers I explore the store with Lavinia and Nikki and enjoying the delights of MV’s answer to Honda’s Grom. Nikki ogles a Moto Corsa somehow making herself look tiny but delighting in the hydraulic clutch and we both get intrigued and bewildered by a modern take or 3 of a Brough Superior.

Did I go for cake? Well… I fancied a small full English breakfast and didn’t really have room for a complete portion of cake. Sarah and Nikki found that they hadn’t either. So I helped them out. Honour is retained. Cake was eaten!

We all have a pose and commandeer a random man to press the shutter on my camera before having another cuppa and eventually going our separate ways. Little shih tzus are welcome here too.

I liked this nicely tricked out 200cc Yamaha which attracted much pondering.

Eventually we all departed. I rode some of the way with Lavinia before she peeled off to the south and I to the London. I posted about this excursion and my friend, Louisa, commented that the cafe is another destination to explore and that she was out at a cafe in Biggleswade that day and off to another hidden gem at North Weald the next day. Now that would be near my friend, Suzy and not that far for me. We could meet up. I sent her a message. Trouble is it IS the next day when I find this. I try calling to no avail. I leap to the pumps and am on my way. My phone rings whilst I’m filtering round the North Circ. When I manage to pull over I find that it was Louisa and that my phone is practically out of battery. I carry on. I pass through Epping and on to the next village where I turn off for the point indicated where Google Maps had placed the postcode. I trundle around some business areas to no avail. OK. I’ll get myself onto the A414 and take it from there. Fortunately I’d been round here with Suzy and Barbara on car maintenance business and wasn’t lost. I get onto the A414, up to the next roundabout where I turn for the airfield and find my way to the main entrance. There is a sign for the cafe. There is a barrier which is raised without question and I sail through and there is indication to go to the left. And so I do. I trundle on and on past ambulances, buses, hangers and aircraft and wonder if this is right. I stop and ask some aircraft wranglers and they assure me that I am and to keep going round to over there…pointing.

On I go until I come to some Nissen huts and a line of BSA Gold Stars.

I add my bike to the line just for a laugh and set off to the cafe and to look for Louisa’s bike. No sign of it. There are nicely tricked out scooters too. The BSA and scooter guys emerge from somewhere and I tarry and take pictures.

The guy with the red scooter is telling the BSA guys to keep the noise down!

I enter the cafe. No sign of Louisa. I’m at a loss. I buy a cuppa anyway and a biking couple come in. I ask if I can join them and they hesitate as they’re expecting friends to join them but they are OK with me joining them. Soon they are joined by another biking couple and one of them recognises me from a small meet up down Southend way. Food is eaten. Freshly made scones are a speciality here. Photos are taken.

So here are Denise and Amanda and their fine husbands at the Squadron Cafe at North Weald Airfield which was the base of an RAF squadron up until comparatively recently. The cafe has much squadron memorabilia. We eventually prepare to leave only to meet some more motorbike women. I didn’t really cotton on to this as I was a bit absorbed in taking photos.

We eventually set off but I leave their company just along the road to visit Suzy and Graham. They were deployed in cat comfort services so pics had to be taken.

Trouble was I forgot to pick up my camera when I left. Ho hum. Never mind. I was visiting Suzy the next Thursday.

When I got home I found that Louisa had been and gone by the time I got there. It transpired that at least six Motorbike Women had visited the Squadron Cafe that day. Do I perceive a Motorbike Women meet up there next year?

Yesterday I was rummaging around the internet searching out the Squadron Cafe and found that I’d got the wrong postcode. Even so the right postcode put me in the middle of the airfield. I then got to wondering if it had been a Round Britain Rally Landmark. I contacted Dave and Graham there with maps and photos explaining its not so easy findability and no it hadn’t. Look forward to seeing you there guys.

I got in from the cafe and Corinna wasn’t home. She’d gone to visit her bloke in Northampton. She travels by her not exactly quick Honda cub and so doesn’t use the motorway. It was dark and some of the roads she uses are not that well lit. Time marches on and I’m concerned. I call her bloke. She’d left about about 5 ish. 3 hours later she’s still not home. Maybe she’s stopped for a cuppa and a bite. I know that she does this. Then she rocks up, knocks on the door desperate for the loo and frozen. She’d ridden non stop. Her watering hole was closed and she only had her chinos on her legs. What she like. Only she can turn a 60 mile trip in this country into an intrepid polar expedition involving great fortitude and grit… I guess. As I say she, is a most excellent event.

 

Motorbike Women Rally

And so the Motorbike Women Facebook group organize a rally in September in Gloucestershire at a remotish pub on the banks of the River Severn. I have been politely seconded as official photographer and so set off the day before it’s due to start. I’ll help with a bit of setting up and also be there in time for the first arrivals.

I’ve decided to take the motorway only as far as Oxford and then meander my way over to Tewkesbury on the A44 stopping at Chipping Norton for lunch. This is new territory for me largely though I’ve been to Chipping Norton on a number of occasions including one where I was hanging around at midnight waiting for my then partner to wake up from alcohol induced exhaustion. A policeman came up to us while said partner was prone in a car park and asked if he was alright. He responded that he was half left.

This time I’m on my own and Chipping Norton decides to thwart me with a funfair placed in the center of town. I get to see some odd corners of the town while working out how to get to the other side of the funfair. When I get to the other side I find a suitable looking cafe and partake of tea and a scone before setting off for deepest Tewksbury.

I continue up the A44 as far as Moreton- in- Marsh and then double back to Stow- on- the- Wold due to road works and then picking up the B4077 which takes me almost to Tewkebury. Oh the joy of these country roads taking in views and villages. I get to Tewksbury and lose my orientation a bit, pass through the town and see a car park and a sign for Lower Lode. This will be where I am going but I know that this is not right. Checking on Street View I notice that there is the word Ferry in small letters. The car park has a convenient map and I get back on track and am soon rolling up to the pub that is the venue.

I’m the second Motorbike Woman to arrive. The first is Elsa. We’ve not met before though we’ve messaged each other. She shows me around a bit and I set up camp next to her.

Elsa camping

Gradually other members of the set up team arrive. Here are Jo, Mandy, Lynn, and… oh no, me and names…then Victoria and Sarah before I gave up due to darkness.

We amuse ourselves with tent erection games and various other activities before retiring to the pub for a meal and a pint before retiring to our respective sleeping quarters.

The following day, after a fine breakfast in the pub, we explored the aerodynamic qualities of the Motorbike Women tent.

Soon after women started arriving in earnest and I was tethered to my camera taking shots of them arriving and extricating themselves from mightily loaded bikes. (I know the feeling.)

Then the speakers, the bands and the dancing and the ride outs and and and something silly involving revving engines and raffles and prizes and I had to be in a number of places at the same time. By the time I’d done I’d taken close to 1000 photos. What to do with so many! At some point I noticed that there were a number of mascots adorning some bikes and I went round photographing them. Some were teddy bears. So that led me to check out a certain song and ruthlessly adulterate it… and then produce a series of collages once I got home.

First though is some stuff not covered in the collages: Tewksbury Abbey that was lit up by night and by the sun on a cloudy day.

The camping area from empty to full

The pub and it’s landlady and it’d curious sculpture of a biker riding a hedge powered motorbike. The story here is of a guy who feel out of love with his wife and left home. The sculpture was his and so she turfed that out as well. He came to live at this pub and his sculpture was given a new home here.

…and some arty shots

Oh and then there were the animals. A ginger cat called Dave. A tabby cat and a lap dog,  Jackie Adams’ dogs engaging with the pub basset hound.

Then the was the mystery of the food raids. Food was stolen from mine and Elsa’s tents and the debris left strewn about. Hedgehogs had been witnessed even in tents but this looked like the work of a larger animal, maybe foxes. Then on the Sunday when clearing up I think I happened upon a highly likely suspect. Fortunately the cake had been taken out of the box.

So after a weekend of being practically glued to my camera but still engaging with folk and making new acquaintances including fellow photographer Debbs, some Essex girls who plied me with some suspiciously naughty but very nice booze and many others I made my way home.

Again I wended my way along the B4077 detouring a different way to Chipping Norton where I again stopped for a crucial cuppa, back to the motorway at Oxford but by the time I was nearing London I could feel myself tiring. I was misgauging traffic behavior and had to whack on the brakes a couple of times. When I got home I found that I’d slightly lost the power of coherent speech. Oh lore. Rallies aye!

Anyway. Here are the collages:

1 Mascots2 big surprise3 Disguises4 bear, hornet and tiger5 Because today6 Talking time7 Lovely time8 gad about9 home to bed10 smiles11 treats12 Food and drink13 Wonderful games14 Ride and ride15 that's the way

Art and Soul Camp Dorset 2. Morning campers!

So after a hiatus of 2 weeks I return to this blog. Much family business has been swirling around and I’ve been involved with the Motorbike Womens’ rally coming up this weekend. Can I recapture those thoughts and feelings of 3 weeks ago?

First morning I wake and hear noises off. I gather myself and emerge from my tent. Some of the others have gravitated to a trailer tent and are imbibing tea and similar there. Suzy hasn’t surfaced so I wander over and am offered tea which is gratefully accepted. This is Su’s abode for the week and very cozy it is too with seating for 3 or 4 inside. Eventually, once everyone is up and about we gather in a circle around the fire to discuss activities and evening meals. The activities are written on a chalk board in a rough time order. Over the course of the few days this gets adjusted and amended and nicknames are added as people get dubbed as well as words of the day. Apparently I was responsible for b*ll**ks. The board takes on a life of it’s own…

 

At some point it is noticed that I’m wielding a camera and am asked if I wouldn’t mind recording the event. Would I mind? Is the thing a wotsit! Great. I have permission.

We do our own thing for breakfast and lunch but evening meal is a collaborative affair prepared by pairs of people to be shared by all. In the event, generally, more than 2 people were involved most evenings and often there were left overs which made fine lunches the following day. All was cooked mainly using the fire.

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It were grand and all dishes were well received.

 

There was plenty of sharing of ingredients and improvisation. Suzy and I hadn’t lined up a dessert. I’d noticed an apple tree in the hedge row that had some fallen apples and suggested that we could use those. Shame I hadn’t brought any cinnamon but Lorna and Kimbo had. The night before Su was offering round blackberries and stewed apples from her garden. Not all went so it became part of our desert. I spent a large chunk of that afternoon peeling and chopping apples and getting very well acquainted with the local wasps. Suzy prepared a topping that involved her muesli and someone contributed ready made custard. A veritable feast was had.

 

And at some point Carol carved a spoon out of a carrot, used it and then ate it!

Still the learning of names daunted me even after a name learning game. There was only one thing for me to do. I asked where people had come from and located them on a map I drew somewhere but can’t find now. For some reason this helps me. I found that 8 of them were local and that the rest were from Oxfordshire or Essex. I learnt that the local people are involved in a choir. I’m fascinated by what brings people together. In the evenings there is singing and dancing and what with these singing people the singing is fine.

The first workshop is crotchet lead by Suzy. She finds herself grandly assisted by Kimbo. I opt to start carving a spoon. I wonder how I’d cope with wood carving. It was an enjoyable experience in the supportive environment provided by Jacki. I persevered and produced a passable spoon. How I’d cope on my own is another matter. Here are some of the others at their whittling.

 

That afternoon was rubber stamp making lead by Carol and, oh my word, she’s from Chipping Norton and is sometime known as Bunty. There yer go, me and names but I remember where they’re from! (Suzy got back to me later and told me that Bunty’s actual name is Ruth. Yay hey.) And the banter started. The impromptu, improv cysters were off and we’re into a world of spoof therapy and I’m practically rolling around in laughter. I realize that I don’t do this much and that I might need to do this more often. I just so appreciated their performances. Medics and health and safety officers turned up at their behest!

 

Meanwhile the workshops produced all sorts of delights and delight.

 

People wielded axes, saws, a beard, needles, a ukulele…

 

…and tried to cram as many of themselves into Suzy’s jumper.

 

Suzy painted some arms and a leg.

 

There were kettles and special fire gloves and swimming costumes forming themselves into momentary artworks

 

There was Suzy’s dragon and Sue going into a reverie of years past on my bike and sitting round in a circle like old folk in a care home. Yes, we did that one too.

 

Then it was time to pack up. We celebrated our achievements…

 

…and struck camp.

I asked Suzy what route she was taking home. Her Satnav suggested the A 303. We packed with me taking my camping kit this time and she took my art stuff and drums (Oh yes, they went down well, I accompanied somebody telling a story and others accompanied dancing and so forth along with Adrian on his guitar.) Suzy was ready a bit before me but, for some reason, I hadn’t managed to voice the suggestion of travelling with her. She’d said that she found the journey quite hard work going not being used to long distance driving. I’d thought it might be good to travel together. She pulled away but I wasn’t far behind and caught up with her after about 3 or 4 miles. She waved. I followed and we reached diversions around the Crewkerne area and she turned left instead of the expected right towards Crewkerne. I raced ahead, saw a pub with convenient parking and gestured for her to pull over. She’d wondered what her Satnav was up to as well. I took over the lead and got us onto the A303 and pulled into a lay-by after seeing a sign saying that Andover is 60 miles ahead. I suggested to Suzy that we stop at the garden center for some lunch and a crucial cuppa. She was in agreement and we set off with me leading often gesticulating about other road users for her entertainment and for me just to stretch.

We got to the garden center  and sat down to the much needed cuppa and posh sarnies and after fueling up a bit further down the road drifted apart on the M3. She got stuck in a bit of traffic on the M25 but had appreciated my company for the stretch that we did travel together. My heart glowed with laughter and the companionship for a while after those few days in the wilds of Dorset.

 

Art and Soul Camp Dorset 1: traveling there

So my mate Suzy mentions an event that I might like to attend: 6 days in a field in Dorset making stuff and things. How could I resist. Investigations are made and I book a place. Communal meals happen in the evening and so I suggest a curry involving sweet potatoes, coconut milk and spinach. The idea is accepted and I reason that some of the ingredients would be easier sourced here in London than in remotest Dorset. Also I’m asked if I can offer any arty crafty skills to share. I suggest drawing. This too is accepted and so I dig out Betty Edwards’ “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” and reread and prepare.

I’m going to have a fair amount to transport at this rate and I ask Suzy if I can travel with her. She hopes to travel a day early and visit a friend en route but I could bring some stuff to her before hand and she’ll take it in her car. I gratefully accept and do this the day before she’s due to travel taking all my camping kit, a small drum and the art equipment in an A2 portfolio. We rationalise some of it and discuss equipment needs for ourselves and the communal meal that we’ll be making. Yes we’ve been partnered on that.

Ho hum. The weather people promise rain all morning on the day of travel. The promise is kept. BHUM! Then it clears up at 1.30. I load the bike fitting in the panniers clothing for the week, ingredients for the meal and my camera. On top I strap a haversack with what I couldn’t fit in the panniers and a larger drum. Oh the wonder of the cargo net. Here is what I usually take camping and I took all of this to Suzy’s. No way could I’ve carried all that as well.

Camping Kit

I’m away by 2.30 and the weather stays clement all the way. I take the A303 route stopping off at the Wyevale Garden Center at Andover for a crucial cuppa and something to eat. It might have been cake or a scone. Then onward turning south down the A356 for Crewkerne which I navigated through easily enough but at some point further down the road all seemed wrong. I pulled up in a lay by on a remote country lane where a man happened to be doing some exercises. I consulted my cunning map I’d made earlier and asked him where I was on it. He seemed bewildered. First he thought I needed to go back the way I came and then realized I needed to continue the way I was going, to turn right at the cross roads and the left at the junction and then I’d line up with my map. And so I got back onto the right route and to my destination without too much incident!

later I tried to work out what this detour was but no. It remains a mystery. Maybe there is weird road magic afoot in deepest Dorsetshire!

I rolled onto the site, through one field that was just a field, through a gap in the hedge and in the distance there were tents. I made my way to them, espied Suzy and was directed to my allocated camping place. I parked. Suzy threatened me with tea which I eagerly accepted and set about pulling all my stuff out of her car and constructing my tent while she constructed tea. I’d been introduced to some of the others when I rolled in and I became aware that I had a bit of an audience whilst tent constructing. Were they contemplating my tent construction skills I wondered but no. They were intrigued by the comparative smallness of my tent!

Pitching completed tea was consumed and I get to meet some of the others in a more relaxed way. The evening meal is being constructed. This involves a fire.

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I’m intrigued by the fire and the stands made out of horse shoes. I’m wary of taking photos though. I wonder whether people want this to be a private affair. I also understand that we basically shut down external contact. I send a text to Lewis informing him of my arrival. He asks if I got wet as he did on his commute into work. I said No and that I’ll be shutting down to conserve battery for the homeward journey which is true.

At some point I’m given a bit of a tour of where the loos are more by pointing at them than anything. The meal is served which is a very fine Chestnut and mushroom bourguignon with potatoes. Here is Carol modelling it

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And so the sun sets as we sit around the fire. Some impromptu comedy manifests with a couple of women going into character. I’m not sure what is going on but it is hilarious. I feel slightly overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to learn everybodies’ names but I just relax into the evening and enjoy the banter. We eventually retire to our various sleeping quarters. I’d only taken 2 photos!

The learning years 1: beginnings

So I had resisted learning to ride for far too long. Heck, I had a student rail pass giving me comparatively cheap travel. I didn’t need a bike and I was frugally minded but I wanted something other than study even though that study involved filling sketch books with many sketches of bikes. I studied form and decided that Kawasaki’s Z 200 would make a nice, sensible, suitable economical choice.

I applied for a provisional license to coincide with the start of the college vacation between the final two years of my course. My father very kindly offered to teach me the basics and so we wheeled his Bantam round to the field at the back of where we lived and he set about explaining clutch control and gear shifting. Being a teacher by trade he would’ve been good at this. I set off round the field. Shit this is fast. The field was a lumpy, tussocky affair but that was OK.

First ride Bantam

The Bantam coped as did I. What a curious sensation… going faster than I could propel myself under my own steam. I made it back to where my father was standing. I hadn’t got out of first gear! I went round a second time and, at least, got into second gear. I was on my way BUT…

…my father INSISTED that I do a pre-road course before going on the road. Back then (40 years plus) there wasn’t the Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) but some bike shops were offering to deliver new bikes to new riders at a training scheme. This was the Bronze Star scheme. Apparently there were Silver and Gold Stars as well.

So there we were, me and my Dad, on the bus heading into Southend to a back street bike fixer. The Bantam had had to undergo surgery. Can’t remember what for. We departed the workshop to nip round the corner to the training scheme which was held in a college car park and therefore empty of a weekend. I noticed that the Bantam sounded different: a bit pingy of the exhaust note. We rolled up and Dad left to do some shopping and there was I with my Dad’s 1966 BSA Bantam in a row of bright new, shiny 1977 Hondas. Some of the other new riders were intrigued and thought it was cute . I think that there were 1 or 2 other girls there.

Training commenced: Getting the feel of the brakes with us taking it in turn to push and be pushed and then applying first back brake, then front brake and then both together comparing the differences. Then followed walking the bike round in a figure of 8. Quite how the session proceeded after that I can’t remember but, I guess, it was much the same with power applied with a bit of life saver and signalling which involve hands for me! It was out of this that the CBT was based.

Training finished. My father returned and I mentioned the strange sound. I think I’d mentioned it to the trainers who might’ve suggested that the exhaust gasket was missing. We returned to the workshop and this was duly fixed. After that my father took me out to some remotish Essex countryside where I would ride a few circuits of roads just gradually building up my skill and confidence.

Now I was contemplating purchasing my own bike. I was in the position to buy something brand new but before I went for it I met up with a guy I’d met at the TT races that June. He ran a bike shop about halfway between home and college (a distance of about 200 miles). Although the shop specialized in Italian bikes he had a Honda 125 twin in stock. I tried it out and liked it and decided to go for it. Good grief, from the markedly sensible Kawasaki 200 single, I’d gone for a somewhat more expensive racier Honda twin but it wasn’t a two stroke. Oh no. I wasn’t that daft. At the time Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha were having a bit of a competition at producing the fastest two stroke 250 to appeal to the learner market. This may have contributed to the decision to limit learners to restricted 125s.

I duly returned to the shop by train to make my purchase. I decided to ride the bike around a bit to get used to it and off I trundled. Yes. I could get used to this. I liked going faster than the 37 mph that the Bantam was only capable of. In fact I didn’t want to slow down. There’s a corner coming up. I don’t want to slow down. So I didn’t and put myself in a bush!

Slow down oops

Oh dear! I wasn’t far from the shop and was duly rescued but I wasn’t in any fit state to ride the 80 odd miles home. The shop decided that it was best to put me on a train with one of their staff and get me home that way. I don’t remember much about the journey except having a lark getting the bike across the tracks to the south bound platform. Presumably the guy rode me across from Euston to Liverpool Street, got me on a Southend bound train and left me to my devices to get off the train and ride the couple or so miles to home.

The statutory photo was taken.

CB125t

I started practicing and going and visiting friends and achieving the grand speed of 60 mph down Church Road; doable but it is really only a lane. I over cooked a corner coming out of Hullbridge but managed to bring the bike to a halt before it went into a ditch. This time it wasn’t because I didn’t want to slow down. It was just inexperience at reading the road properly. Both these times I’d crossed the road (they were both lefthanders) and I put a dent into each side of the tank as the front forks got pushed round taking off the steering extent blocks on the head stock. Fortunately, other road users saw me coming and took appropriate avoidance action. (Slamming on brakes.) Oh what it is to be young and full of stupidity hormones. For some barmy moment I even tried having a sexual fantasy whilst riding. That stopped as soon as it started. I could see where that would end up. Concentration on the road is required in it’s complete entirety. Oh well. That got me to focus on the road, the ride and appreciate those particular joys.

Soon I felt able and keen enough to take on a longer ride rather than sticking to the peninsular where I lived. I took a ride to Colchester and back which was about 70 miles and was completed without incident. I don’t remember anything about the ride. Heck it was a while ago. Not even Market Hill in Maldon which is bendy as well as being a hill and quite picturesque. This riding of a powered machine seems to be becoming second nature.

The new term looms and I ride the Honda half way to college leaving it at the shop for it’s 500 mile service while I continue on to Stoke on Trent by train. I return the following week and complete the journey. I believe I had a collection of maps rather than a map book by which I navigated. Being a learner I was prohibited from motorways and so it was largely the joys of the A5 and the A51. I took it all in my stride and started exploring the area quite extensively experiencing the exhilaration of not quite over cooking it going up a bendy road in Leek and not quite grounding the foot pegs, of seeing spectacular Peak District vistas, of meeting an outlaw biker known as Fester in Matlock Bath and enjoying the switch back roads out of there back to Stoke and of cruising over the Cheshire plains and nearly blowing up the engine because I was in the wrong gear. I was just going to some Honda dealership in some town to look at some crazy new Honda with 6 cylinders… and then there was the fun business of vision impairment: the gradual loss of it due to bugs in the summer and snow in the winter.

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I’d even draw my bike.

 

I also noted the in the moment psychology of riding and, who knows, driving though it seems that some drivers don’t seem to deem this as necessary. I was riding around Stoke on Trent and noted how traffic conditions would present sets of problems and once solved and resolved would present a new set. The previous set would needs be as good as forgotten in order to deal with the new set. This would create a kind of meditative state of being well and truly in the moment and, thus, quite therapeutic.

During this time the taking the test saga started.

Rain got in the way

After weeks of sizzlingly hot weather and all amounts of wild (allegedly) fires bursting out hither and thither in the northern hemisphere it looked as if the World record attempt of a gathering of women motorcyclists was set to be a stonking good turn out. I had hardly been out on my powered bike. Just TOOOO hot. I stuck to my push bike. Then there was the threat of a serious change in the weather. Hmmm. Maybe I bail on this one. I ventured out to visit Suzy and Barbara at Suzy’s house as we’d bailed on a trip to London due to the heat and train troubles. The trip was a pleasant 30 mile amble through the wilds of London and Epping going under and over motorways, not on them.

I took a picture of Suzy’s Eddy trying out my bike for size and a couple of elephants in Suzy’s garden. I made the ceramic one for her 17th birthday when we were at sixth form together. Looks like she still has a thing for elephants.

Come Friday I’m doodling around the Motorbike Women FB group and note that there is some camping going on near where the event is happening. Somebody has arrived in her car but has the monkey in the boot….? A mystery to ponder. On Saturday Katy and Louisa post saying that they’re on the way. The event is tomorrow so they’re staying over somewhere. I’ve forgotten exactly where the campers are and ask Katy and Louisa where they’re staying… in hotels, apparently.

No I’m getting a curious feeling. My gut is saying, “Go”… and I haven’t even consulted it… But then I didn’t on those previous occasions when it expressed an opinion… well more of an order. I didn’t heed it then and paid the penalty. Those times it had said, “Don’t”, but I did. This time it is saying, “Do”. Interesting.

The camping girls post about having a nice meal the previous evening and so I find out where they’re staying and set about contacting the site and making a booking, gathering my kit, loading the bike and setting off. It’s 1.00 and the weather is OK. I take it easy detouring off the M1 to pick up fuel at a cheap filling station, stopping at Newport Pagnell services for a not so cheap but crucial cuppa and a curious Starbucks take on a toasted tea cake- Toast with berries in it but no cinnamon. The weather started to loom as I was nearing the M6. Do I don the water proofs yet. I press on. Maybe I’ll make Corley services. I don’t. I detour off at junction 2 and stop under a bridge and climb into the trousers. Great. I rejoin the M6. Ah. I hadn’t put the glove bags on and the lovely new hand guards aren’t quite keeping the rain off them. I stop briefly at Corley to rectify this. The rain comes and goes but isn’t too heavy thank the heavens.

I reach Shrewsbury and stop for fuel and a few provisions. I’m not sure how the food situation will pan out. Next I take the first turning for Wem I come to but it doesn’t look quite right. Next thing I’m IN Wem. That’s not s’posed to happen. I check the map book and there’s enough detail to work it out and pull into the camp site just as a troop of biking ladies are arriving too. We great each other and sign in and I’m told where to go. That doesn’t sound quite right but never mind. I trundle past caravans and children and then to a far corner of a field where there are motorbikes and tents and llamas, sorry alpacas.

 

The alpacas are very engaging but I have a tent to erect which I do most hastily. It is raining albeit quite lightly. That done and all is stowed inside except the wet jacket I get to know the ladies present. There is a small catering set up and I ask if there’s any tea. It can’t be found so I offer to go get some from the camp shop on an excursion to the loo. That done the crucial tea is imbibed. Apparently I’m amongst a couple of groups of lesbian bikers. They did this last year at the record attempt then. Some of them have gone on a day trip touring north Wales. Others just chilled or, like me, were just turning up. I got out the camera and took some shots of the bikes including Sue’s dead Yamaha 500 (starter motor probs), a Suzuki with a menagerie and the MONKEY.

Yes that is Evil Monkey from Family Guy. Yes there is a story behind it. Yes it has been tamed! I took pictures of horse play.

 

and of spectacular leggings, Sue’s tentlette and my jacket drying in the sun in the background and a voluptuary pondering in a giant purple vulva!

 

Katy and Isabella turned up for a visit and we went and had a meal at the camp cafe. I had a very tasty red Thai veggie curry. We returned to the group where booze had been established in a kids’ paddling pool and people were relaxing into the evening. There were gales of laughter and tales of this and that. Katy and Isabella eventually left and one of the girls suggested a round circle of stories (There is probably a name for these). The subject was things nobody present knows about you. I didn’t know anybody so I could tell them anything! Stories of danger when traveling, living by wits, horrendous mothers/ mothers in laws/ partners and close shaves with criminals were told. My tale of living in Brixton in interesting times was quite homely by comparison.

The next subject was happiest time. I realized that I was having a job thinking of one. What does that say about me? Tales of being at one with nature came forth. Then a Scottish lass told of how she’d had a week of holiday and no money to speak of. She didn’t want to spend the time cooped up indoors and so made a decision. She packed a backpack and grabbed a sleeping bag and stepped out the door. There was a piece of cardboard on the floor there just the right size. She picked it up. She bought a sharpie and wrote north on it and started hitching. She met the most lovely and nurturing of people that week and got all the way to John o Groats and back and had the most fantabulose experiences. This led to comments about how one meets such people when travelling alone. This reminded me of the old man on his 350 New Imperial in Yorkshire last year. I spoke of this to the lass and a couple of others but by then people were drifting off to their tents. I too was feeling knackered and was soon asleep in my tent.

6.00. It’s raining, it’s pouring, my love life… no I don’t do that but I do need a wee. Is the rain going to abate a while? It does, I sneak out, do the deed, I sneak back in again. The rain gets heavier. I doze off. eventually there is the sound of activity. I get dressed including over trousers and plastic bags in the boots all ready for riding. I join a couple of the women under a cover. The kettle has boiling water in it and I pour some for a mug of fruit tea. It transpires that the plan is to head to the venue for breakfast. Sounds grand. Some of them are staying for another night but I’m not. Anyway the wind in the night had loosen some of the guy ropes which meant that the outer skin had touched the inner tent in places and so had wicked a bit. There was dampness there. I packed up loading damp kit (soggy tent) onto the bike, said, “See you there”, and set off but not before checking the map.

I found the place easily enough. This is Lynn’s Raven Cafe which is a truck stop during working hours and so has a lot of parking space. I clocked the sign that looked very much mike the handiwork of one Paul Sample. Hmmm, he lives round these parts I believe.

I’d arrived with a couple of the other campers and we found the others in the cafe. I ordered a small veggie breakfast that hit the spot. I thought I saw Katy but couldn’t see her in the cafe. I wandered around like a lost soul for a bit. Had the weather and the ride knocked it out of me? I was having a job getting into my photographing stride. I just couldn’t be able to see what would make a got picture. I caught sight of Louisa arriving and wandered in her direction when the purple fairy flying corps landed. I started to get my mojo back sufficiently as they quickly went from climbing out of wet weather gear to getting into the mood with me suggesting that they pose with attitude.

I caught up with Louisa and then a couple asked if I was Jenny. This was Sharon and Ren who write a travel blog. We’d communicated and I’d said to look out for the hat and purple dashiki wearing, camera brandishing loon. My description had worked. Here is her bike with her fine fun artwork.

Here is a general view with some purple fairies and a rainbow chicken.

I eventually found Katy at the Motorbike Women stand which was next to the Triumph area, not a surprise as Jackie, one of the MW admins, works for Triumph. Here she is with Elka for whom the Triumph Bobber had a strange effect.

Somebody, I can’t remember who, took some pics of me trying out a Triumph for size. Looks like I can get my feet on the ground. Maybe not.

 

There seemed to be a thing going on involving a sky blue Triumph and some bunny ears. I was really unwith it to work it out or even ask but I took some pics.

Apparently it was a bit of a gag for the Alice themed Witch way Round challenged organised by MW but mostly Jackie.

I’d noticed a poster relating to Paul Sample and his creation, Ogri dating from 1967. I wondered what this was about as Ogri first appeared in public in grand style in Bike magazine which didn’t start until 1971. I was directed to Peter, the owner of Lynn’s Raven Cafe and husband of the eponymous Lynn. He is a friend of Paul’s and regaled me with many tales of the adventures of Paul and, occasionally, himself. He had acquire original artwork in exchange for handyman work and had commissioned the sign. He said that there’s some of the artwork above the serving area. I go take a picture.

Katy is taking a well earned break from womaning the MW stall. I say good bye to her and chums Kim and Lorraine as I’m done in and the weather is going to close in.

I pull away from Lynn’s and amble down the A41 in reasonable weather. The rain doesn’t hit until late on on the M54. Apparently there are animals on the M6 but I don’t see any but there is congestion. I filter over to the outside and then between the middle lane and outside. It goes on till the M5 junction. This is tiring. I decide to stop at Corley to gather myself with a hot chocolate with a load of squirty cream on top that I find difficult to negotiate in my state. I do, then go and top up with some expensive fuel just to get me home. There is more congestion here and there on the M1. I’m usually carefully blase about filtering (Oxymoron there I know) but this time I’m having to really concentrate. The weather has something to do with it.

I get home and Lewis lets me in. All the kit is placed near the back door to be dealt with the following morn. For now I climb out of my damp gear and have a soak in the bath. Later I eat some of vitals I’d bought at Shrewbury but hadn’t touched. Just biscuits and humus plus a few other bits and bobs. think I was too exhausted to eat anything major. The following day all the clothing and sleeping bag go in the washing machine and the tent is draped around the garden. The airbed and sleeping bag follow later.

Although not screamingly hot as the previous week the weather is good enough to get things dry. The attendance at the record attempt was only in the 400s but it was still a good day. Well there is next year. Why my gut sent me on this journey I do not know but I know that it was a darned sight better mixing it with complete strangers and a few friends than staying at home staring at some screen or other.

 

Protest amble

There will be marching on Friday 13th (July 2018) in London. This was the day one President Trump of the USA was visiting this capital not that his presence was going to to be that apparent to the hoi polloi who, in general, are not overly impressed by this guy and wished to make their feelings known… and so a demonstration was arranged. I wasn’t going to go but I’d linked up with Barbara and Suzy the previous Tuesday and they said that they were going and would I like to join them. Well OK. Let’s do this.

Transport on this occasion would be the me powered bike and the FEET. So I trundle off towards central London via Regent’s Park as I usually do when heading in this direction. It’s a darned sight more salubrious than the Marylebone Road. I enter the Park at Hanover Gate and turn right onto the Outer Circle. I can’t turn left even if I want to as here is, perhaps, the only manifestation of the presence of Mr. Trump that I’m certainly likely to come across.
I moor up my bike in Bedford Square and walk down into Tottenham Court Road tube station and link up with Suzy, Barbara, her husband Malcolm plus a couple of friends who have trundled in on the Central Line. We grab some vittles from a Pret and wander off towards Broadcasting House where the march is ostensibly starting at 2.00. We hove into sight of Regent Street at about 1.00 and the march is very obviously on the move already. It is slow moving and loud.

We seep into the march. March? March really is the wrong word. There are far too many people for that to be viable. Anyway, this is a DEMONSTRATION. There are placards. There is chanting and cheering. There is banging of drums and kitchen utensils. The point is to be seen and heard.

We make a futile attempt at making an arrangement to find each other if we get split up. We don’t know the route of this demo exactly or where it’s going to end up. I ask a random demonstrator who says that it’ll end up at Parliament Square via Trafalgar Square. Try organising a rendezvous point thus. The joy of mobile phones is going to to be no joy today. They just won’t be heard in this crazy cacophony. We’ll just have to wing it. I get the camera out…

What am I seeing? It’s all a bit wood and trees being in the midst of it all. I’m seeing bystanders taking photos of us. There’s even a guy, up there, on a window ledge at Oxford Circus taking photos.

There are home made and mass produced placards. They range from the trite to witty, from the snappy to short essays.

There are the drumming and dancing people…

…and effigies…

…and ARDENT photographers.

Then there was us. At some point Malcolm and Suzy got handed placards. From then on they didn’t seem to be able to move without people wanting to snap them, especially Malcolm for some inexplicable reason. Was it his T shirt slogan?

At Piccadilly Circus I decided to break rank and see if I could get an over view of the proceedings from the steps of Eros. this was the best I could do.

Trump Piccadilly

By the time I’d done and got distracted by a man drawing flags on the floor I’d lost the gang. I got stuck in a bottleneck as the throng turned the corner into Haymarket. I was looking for Suzy’s distinctive hair or Barbara’s hat. I didn’t find them until we’s passed Trafalgar Square where there was another bottleneck. After that I could dash around the open spaces of Whitehall and eventually found them. On the way I did see a famous person taking part very quietly. Just trundling along in her chair was Silent Witness star, Liz Carr. Grand lady. I took a quick snap or two and left her to it.

So we arrive at Parliament Square. What to do? There is a stage but it’s hot and we want shade. We head for the trees. There I find women singing under the statue of Millicent Fawcett, a random queen and Gandhi with a pigeon on his head.

And yes, that is the tower of Big Ben hiding behind a load of scaffolding. Arses are put to anchor and I sight a reference to RuPaul’s Drag Race…

…before becoming aware of the Drag fest materialising around us.

Maybe the orange person is hoping to show trump how to do orange. We can only hope. At least there was the inflatable that meandered around.

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Eventually we’d had enough and made our way back up Whitehall to a pub for a much needed drink and crisps. On the way I showed Suzy the Banqueting Hall and told her how it was from here that King Charles 1 was executed. Well she did ask about the palace stuff.

So then we left the pub and found the way to Trafalgar Square made awkward by the police. We don’t know why exactly. I’d’ve like to’ve asked being a nosy cow but we turned back and took a side road down to Embankment station. The police had seemed in generally good spirits though in spite of the heat. Saw a couple of bike cops relaxing having discarded the protective gear. Damn. No photos. Glad I was not riding the motorbike with this heat.

We bade our farewells and I headed north to Bedford Square while the others descend into the Tube. The clouds gather and darken on the way home. The heat rises and eventually a storm breaks. Bliss.

So what might a suitable noun be to describe the movement of such a demonstration? Yes I know describing words are usually adjectives but I’m talking about the descriptive nature of the noun. So… a Trundle? A Meander? An Amble? Oh who knows.