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.