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.


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.


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


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 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 125.

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 like going faster than the 37 mph that the Bantam was only capable of. In fact I don’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.


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 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.


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.


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.




Cake eating in Stevenage

Why would I travel to Stevenage to eat cake one may ask…because somebody created an event on the Motorbike Women Facebook group. Louisa and Cathryn were meeting up at Tesco’s in Hatfield with anybody who cared to join them to take a non motorway, meandery way there. I chose to join them. First, dressed in floaty green frock (Green for Grenfell which is only a couple of miles from me it being the 1st anniversary of that dreadful fire), my bright red tartan DMs and  my Dad’s gardening hat (it was warm and sunny) I caught the bus to where my bike had been serviced. Soon I had done a quick change and was on my way to Hatfield. I’d meet Louise there before and so plonked myself at Costa’s with a cuppa and a sandwich. There’s something strange about Costa cups. They don’t seem to fit my mouth and I ran the risk of spillage a lot. Maybe I have a weird mouth? The rendezvous time arrived and nobody was around. I called Louisa. Apparently they’re meeting over by Tesco’s and so I trundle over there. There is Cathryn and her Harley fresh from traveling Pyrenees, Lisa in a pink jacket and Sarah, a fellow Gladius rider. They were chatting to some chap who transpired to be Louisa’s husband though he hadn’t let on this fact and kept up a mysterious facade for a while. He was found out eventually to the amusement of all. Louisa hadn’t rocked up yet. She did shortly afterwards when her husband was in the shop. He materialised later and was press ganged into photography duties which he entered into with gusto and climbed a sign for the purpose. I suggested that we all pose with attitude…


We set off with Cathryn leading and Lisa, highly visible in pink tail ending. We used the line of vision method of keeping together where one makes sure the following rider is visible. This worked well as we meandered, back and forth under the motorway arriving at the Bike Stop shop in Stevenage High Street. This is part of the original town and is relatively picturesque in a Georgian sort of a way with any newer buildings doing their best to fit in. It got designated the United Kingdom’s first New Town under the New Towns Act in 1946 and eventually developed as a London over spill town back in the 1960s if I remember rightly. There were already a number of bikes there and we wiggled our way into various gaps and parked up.

I’d not been here before. The Bike Stop shop is basically a clothing shop that looks tiny but is a bit of a Tardis with an upper floor extending into most of the next building. There is also a wee cafe that is part of it and on this particular evening they were having a Ladies Evening with free food and that included the CAKE. First of all we mingled a bit. There was already a fair number of bikes there. I found somewhere to dump my biking baggage, grabbed my camera and a crucial cuppa and that set about figuring out what’s what. It did seem such a tiny shop and yet there was quite an amount going on. There was a gazebo with a police presence promoting Bike Safe courses and similar.

I wandered over to the cafe counter to check out the cakes and they had prices on them. An assistant assured me that they were free so I just had to have some and chose a red affair that allegedly involved cream cheese and chocolate. Once I’d illuminated the fact that the cake was free there seemed to be quite a run on it.

Apparently the cake beat some people…

…but these cakes were complete and unstarted even earlier in the evening.


I think the caking eating face of womankind (and some chaps) was saved.

So here we are posing and posturing grandly. Here is Cathryn, Lisa, Sarah, Lousa and Nimi and various others whose names I didn’t catch or they didn’t stick.

There was general chit chat and phone activity…

…and trying various motor bikes for size.

There was the odd person taking pictures of bikes.

Here are a couple of ladies with their bikes. One of them is a fellow SV owner who also finds the standard seat a bit hard and gone for the woolly sheepskin option.

Eventually the shop wanted a group photo and so I participated including their photographer as well.

I think my bike might have photo bombed some of their shots!

I chatted with a number of women fairly new to motorcycling and they expressed lack of confidence and or feeling a bit overwhelmed by the scene. I thought back to when I was a newbie and looked on with a degree of awe at chaps handling bikes with aplomb and ease. I was vastly on my own as a learner like one was back 40 years ago. I was lucky then as my father who was a teacher taught me the basics of bike control with his Bantam on the field out the back and then insisting I did the Bronze course (that the current CBT was based on) before I went on the road. Later I did the RAC/ ACU before taking my test. Then there was the year’s dispatch riding…(another story that.)

The parking area outside the shop is on a camber up towards it and the road is on a slight camber down thus making it tricky getting parked or back onto the road. I offered to wheel one lady’s bike onto the road for her and she gladly accepted. Golly, am I one of those aplomb and ease people now? People are dispersing now and there is an older lady sat at one of the cafe tables outside. I ask if she is reminiscing about riding of times gone by. Not quite. She only ever rode pillion. Her husband still rides though and he then materialised and he asked what I was riding and asked if I needed help getting it back on the road. I didn’t and thanked him for the offer. He went on to help a young lass who had mounted her bike and got stuck in the dip.

So I wheeled my bike back with aplomb and ease and rode off home in a similar manner. What a splendid, cake filled, evening.


Breakfast in Brighton

We gradually emerge from our respective beds. We have slept well, even Ruth who was on the settee in the living room. She stated that it was one of the most comfortable settees that she’s slept on and that she was hardly disturbed by the many nocturnal toilet visits. Crucial cuppas are imbibed before gathering our selves to leave. The plan is to meet up for breakfast with Martin and Mary who were at the concert and their son at a cafe for Breakfast near the Dome. I take my over night stuff to my bike while Graham goes to fetch the car which is parked some way away.

I return to the billet and start to explore the garden with Ruth. I have my camera with me and I’m fascinated by the fact that the garden is essentially ABOVE the flat. I take shots looking down into the window wells. The view of fire escapes and plumbing entertains me as well.

Graham has returned and starts loading up the car. Suzy checks out the garden as well and a plant discussion ensues. I notice that there is some Mind your own Business growing round one of the window wells and point it out to Ruth and Suzy. Then Graham comes along and we have a Mind your own Business moment…

Mind your own business.jpg

I put my jacket, helmet and gloves into the boot and we set off along the front. I take some shots of Brighton’s pierlettes and associated buildings (look, I come from Southend where the pier is a mile long) from the car window.

We wander through Brighton’s answer to Camden High Street meeting Martin and Mary on the way and make our way to a splendid vegetarian cafe. Most of us had a full English breakfast of some sort. I think we needed to make up for the lack of a substantial meal the previous night!

When we were done we ambled back down Camden High Streetette. Suzy and I indulged in some ice cream. We bade our farewells to Martin and family and to Ruth who was heading off to the station. Graham ran me back to my bike but I changed into my riding gear in his car first before leaving them. We bade our farewells and I headed back the way I came… to Box Hill. Well why not! The day was sunny. The A roads are a more relaxed option than the motorway. Apparently Suzy and Graham got stuck in traffic.

I rolled into Ryka’s car park, parked up, noticed a woman with long white hair sat on her motorbike and thought “No it can’t be”. No it wasn’t Patti Smith but another biking chum name of Toni. She’d decided to get away from her usual haunt of the Ace Cafe and do some photography. So there’s the 2 of us comparing notes and clicking away and drinking crucial cuppas.

There were a couple of exotic swoopy Victorys and at the other end of the spectrum this ratty Yamaha.

Tidy Suzuki and Harley customs.

I assume a husband and wife with these over the top V8 powered bike and trike…

A BMW trike in pseudo wood and brass…

There was some serious Harley caressing…

There was mud, a skullish headlamp shroud and standing up.

There was shiny…bling even…

There was old…

A lady with cat ear attachments to her helmet that don’t show up that well because of the foliage, baggy leathers and a green thing

There was a nicely turned out Suzuki 500 twin in a racing frame that attracted the interest of even pedal cyclists…

and then there’ motorbike women… One of them was riding the wee maroon BSA 250

Somehow I didn’t get a shot of Toni. Eventually we all drifted away.



Good Grief! I went to a Patti Smith concert

So sometime in the distant past earlier this year Suzy asked me if I wanted to go to a Patti Smith concert. Now there’s a name from somewhere in my student years but, for some reason, couldn’t place any songs of her’s. Suzy mentioned ‘Gloria’. Ah. OK. Apparently it was clashing with the Red Rooster festival that we went to last year and I combined with some Landmark gathering. Nope. One or t’other for me. It would all be a bit of a burn out otherwise. Suzy was going to do a couple of days at the Rooster and then bail on the Saturday morning to head to Brighton.

So two weeks ago I’m taking it easy and heading to Ryka’s at Box Hill for lunch. There maybe some interesting machinery and maybe some motorbike women. Saturday tends not to be a fraught as Sunday there and for some reason there is a small number of nicely turned out ’70s Honda classics including a CB750 and a CM 500.

Also there was a wonderfully outrageous trike, somebody with a woolly helmet cover and many patriotic flags a very angular Honda scooter and a couple of tidy current Triumphs.

The most intriguing vehicle for me though was this:

What a magnificent example of home spun, custom bike workmanship, crafted to an individual’s tastes and needs this is. I’d clocked the Norton Commando engine (an unusual choice of engine for a chop) and the Suzuki wheels and the fettling of various caps and covers. I get chatting to the rider. He’d had it in his life for many a year and it started life as a Triumph. What of it is still Triumph I wondered what with a Suzuki swing arm and what looked more like a BSA frame than Triumph. Well, apparently Triumph DID produce a few duplex frames and the original bike had one though it has been modified way beyond original… and it has a very dandy electric starter fitted. The guy’s knees just aren’t up to kick starting these days!

After a crucial baked potato and a couple of crucial cups of tea I depart and amble down the A 24 and A 283 and eventually onto the sea front Kingsway to Hove. I find the billet for the night and explore. It is a flat in a big Victorian house on a wide road with parking on both sides and in the middle just up from the sea front. I’m looking for flat B with a plant pot in a particular place. I find flats up the front steps and one underneath them and possibly one or two to the left but no flat B let alone plant pots. That just leaves to the right and that involves going across pebbles. Surely not… or well, all in the spirit of adventure. I go along the side ally through a gate that is open. It has FLAT B on it which was not apparent because it was open. I find some steps that go down to a door. There is a plant pot and there is a key box. I’m IN.

I discard my helmet and jacket and return to the bike to unload it and on my return there is a bemused lady peering at the flat under the steps that lead to the front of the house. I point at her and suggest that she might be looking for flat B. She is. This is Suzy’s friend Ruth who is joining us for the night. I return to the bike to park it up for the night. There is a parking ticket machine I can’t fathom and whilst I’m flustering about this a nice local gentleman comes over to tell me where there is bike parking (a short ride up the road). He is a biker too.

I return to the flat to pick up my helmet when Suzy and her husband, Graham, rock up. They too have had fun locating the flat. I park up the bike and we all settle down for cups of tea, coffee etc and fight over beds and appraise our abode for the night. This is an AirBnB billet where people let out rooms in their own homes to lodgers. In this case we have usage of the whole flat and the owner isn’t present. It is very modishly decked out and has an interesting array of lighting. I can’t resist taking pictures.

Many lights 2

Eventually we head off on foot for the concert with the hope of grabbing a meal on the way. I fear that we are running out of time and that we’re best off grabbing sandwiches from a supermarket and this is indeed what we do. I notice that Suzy had bought water and I had to dive into a second supermarket for some myself. This could be crucial. We are hoving near the venue which is in Brighton, not Hove, and are hoping to link up with some friends of Suzy’s who are local. They are in the queue already and so go join them. Oh the joy of mobiles. The venue is the Dome…? What is this place? Is it in any way linked to the Pavilion- that wondrous aberration that was the brain child of ‘Prinny’. (George the Prince Regent who became George IV.) I don’t know.

We link up with said friends and gain access to the venue quite quickly. I have chosen not to bring my camera as it is somewhat bulky which I kind of regret. The building is grandiose and there are bits of information about it written on the walls. One states that it was constructed during the first decade of the 19th century. Ah! Prinny time. I ask one of the attendants and apparently it was his stable block and is next to the Pavilion. My, what extravagance.

We hang around and are joined by Fraser and Tracey; more of Suzy’s friends before we eventually enter the auditorium. It’s round and grand and we are entering the foreground area with NO SEATS. WILL I COPE? I’m not good with standing. I’ll just have to develop concert Ti Chi… well I do Tube Ti Chi. And so this is what I do. It involves a lot of moving in time to the music and consuming all the bottle of water.

Eventually the band come on stage and it is wondrous. Patti is resplendent in understated suit jacket, waist coat, T shirt and a set of intriguing variegated trousers with her long flowing, grey white hair turning blue now and then and, boy, did she belt out her numbers with all the gusto and passion of one who has lived a life to the full. Apparently she was making mistakes all over the place and apologised for this but I didn’t notice. I was just reveling in this 71 year old, no nonsense lady having a grand old time.

People were taking pictures on their mobiles…of course. I want to take shots myself and asked Fraser if I got borrow his phone. Tracey kindly sent a whole bunch to me later. I made a couple of composite pictures

Patti multiple 1Patti multiple 2a


I took shots of Graham and Fraser as well and Tracey took one of me earlier brandishing my steam powered Nokia

And Patti took one of us…

Patti's picture

I’m behind that record sleeve (bum).

The concert finishes. We wend our way out. We find a pub. Drinks are bought. I gather chairs. We sit DOWN (Arrrh) and sup. Then we amble our way back along the sea front to the billet which is about 1.6 miles away. It’s a pleasant night but Suzy has a knee injury that gives her jipp. We are all glad to get in and settle into our respective beds.


Old classics at Blackmore

So there I am, twiddling my thumbs yesterday, browsing round the Motorbike Women group on Facebook when somebody posts that they’re going to this:

Blackmore poster

It’s on a thread about meeting up in Essex and so I investigate and decide to go. Let’s go via country lanes I think and so investigate routes on Google Maps, settle on a route and note it down on a post it and put it in the window pocket on the sleeve of my bike jacket. I haven’t made that thorough a job of it as I want to leave NOW. OH well. I leave the familiar territory of the A12 near Romford and find myself riding ‘by the seat of my pants’ picking my route largely from the images of junctions I just checked on Street View. Then I feel unsure after turning left at some point and check my road atlas. It’s not quite detailed enough but I think I’m on the right track and press on. Are yes. Brentwood Golf Course. I remember noting that. Then another turning. Brentwood or Ongar are my options. Surely Ongar is the wrong direction and I turn for Brentwood. Wrong. What was that big road I just went over? Has to be the A12 and suddenly I’m heading into Brentwood. I turn round. I’m still unsure and faff around again upsetting an SUV driver in the process but I eventually sight signs for Blackmore and find a small village green that I’d noted on Street View with not much happening there. I get talking to a couple who have just arrived on a Harley and are settling in at a tea shop. They say that there’s a large green with many more bikes there. Ah! I bid my farewell and make haste.

I’d been wondering if I missed it as I’d seen a couple of ancient bikes heading in the opposite direction but no. I park up, place camera around my neck, and set off, rubber necking like crazy at the assembled ancientness but also casting around for the crucial CUPPA. Isn’t that the orange Matisse I saw last Saturday along with that day time only Goldie

That stall looks as if it might serve TEA.


It does. The white house next to it is also a tea shop and antique emporium which I sample later for more tea and a warm scone.Tea sorted I wander.

I start off with a starting up escapade: An old classic with a 350cc Panther. Panther were more well know for their larger sloping single cylinder bikes.

A matchless single arriving.

A very tasty Velocette from 1966 having starting issues too.

There’s the close scrutiny, pointing and ardent discussion… and fixing.

The spidery loveliness of large British singles…

And the more chunky twins all of them BSAs here with, first, an A65 engine and then… ,ah, that’s a Triumph engine making it a Tribsa and finally an A10 engined one being used as a clothes horse.

Then there were some 2 stroke bikes. Here is a Velocette Leader and a BSA Bantam and an extremely ancient looking Autobik, a product of Excelsior.

There was some Japanese classics around too. This Honda Rebel caught my eye for some unknown reason but the CB 400 I thought was rather lovely.

Then there are the motorbike Women Jane, Louise and Zena and a Curvy Rider:

The green is emptying and I don’t quite feel like heading home yet. Then I espied a chap checking out a map attached to his tank. Oh joy, Old school. No satnav here- like me. We get talking and it transpires that he’s planning to head off to Finchingfield with a couple of chums. I ask if I could join them and he says yes. This is David and his mates Alan and, oh no, I’ve forgotten his name. I really must take notes.

So off we poddle after a false start involving an oiled up spark plug on the BSA. David leads taking us through the gentle Essex country side through Fyfield, some of the Rodings, Great Dunmow and Great Bardfield at a wonderfully sedate pace rarely exceeding 40 miles an hour. Finchingfield tends to be a gathering point for motorcyclists of a sunny Sunday. There were a number of bikes there but not the hoards that I expected much to my relief. We park up surrounding a natty blue trike. Apparently it has a Ford Focus engine.


David very kindly buys us all tea and cake. We all choose the coffee and walnut option. Stories are told. I tell of my 40 mile an hour trundle across the North York Moors behind a New Imperial 350. David talks of how he used to cycle here in his youth from Barking. The James owner talks of how he’s never owned a 4 stroke motorcycle though he has ridden them. They talk with the cafe proprietor about silly plans to wreck Finchingfield’s famous beauty spot look with a sensible bridge on the grounds that the existing one is weak which it probably isn’t.

DSC_0598 A lad is riding around on a two stroke Kawasaki. He goes hither and thither as if he is trying to escape Finchingfield but Finchingfield won’t let him. He parks up eventually next to the James. I have to take a shot just for the juxtaposition of an old slow British 2 stroke 200 single next to a speedy Japanese 2 stroke twin in racing trim. Apparently he’s a local lad and was trying to suss a gearing issue.


I take a few shot of the general ambiance before we depart.

We are going to go our separate ways. David suggests I head towards Saffron Walden as I wish to pick up the A505 at Royston. I study my map and point out a route. He says that that would be a nice route. I just missed catching him having a good peer at my map book as I did with one of the others having a good peer at my bike…possibly at the bug collection there.

We eventually bid out farewells. This impromptu ride out made a nice adjunct to the day and made it complete.

I find my way to Saffron Walden and then take a wrong turning. I stop to check my map and I think I’ve just about sussed it when a chap emerges from the house I’ve pulled up next to to help me out. I explain where I’m heading and what road I intend to use. He tells me that it is immediately after the roundabout but it’s a horrible road and that ‘we locals’ don’t even use it, that it’s just a track. I say that that’s OK. I’m going to go for it. Thanks all the same. I turn round and press on. Yes, the road is immediately after the roundabout and I turn in to it only to find that it IS a bit like a track and that my way is blocked by a gate. Ah. Railway. Level crossing. Lights flashing. I check my map. Yes, this looks like  the right road though I’m puzzled because it is marked as a B road and looks as if it should have a station nearby. I seem to be there a while and wonder whether to turn round. Then I hear a train horn. It passes and the gates rise and I’m on my way. The road continues to be single track and a bit rough. Have I got another 14 mile of this all the way to Royston? Fortunately not. After a mile it eventually joins another, double track, normal road and I roll on towards Royston at a quicker lick. I’ve just checked Google Maps and it IS a side road. The right turning was a little further along. Oh well, that was fun. All part of the adventure. The rest of the journey is hassle free with only a stretch of resurfacing on the A505 with nasty gravel being the only duff point.

I get home to find that fish and chips have been bought: a perfect end to the day. To hell with healthy eating for a day!