Shall we ring Mick and Netty and suggest going down the motorway? Shall we keep to the chosen cross country route? Shall we delay the start? All these questions were going through our mind. As we watched the rain beating down against the window.
Unbeknown to Roy and I, further North Richard and Christine were having similar thoughts about delaying their start, which they did in the end by three and a half hours, trying to miss the rain.
Ian and his crew, Al, Jim and Jill, Terry and Josie, Dennis and Christine, were already on the road battling with the elements plus a village grid locked by a large funeral (not one of Roy’s) which only helped them get even wetter. They stopped for a warm, at the arranged stop for coffee and Bacon butties, which were okay but the toilets were FOWL (had chickens in them!) and dogs wandering around, so no privacy there then?
Mick, Netty, Roy and I left home in the rain and traveled on the cross country route, which Mick insisted had a tea stop factored in. The rain wasn’t too bad but seemed to creep into the wet gear so when we stopped both Mick and Roy had wet tums. We stopped in Suckley, a small village in Worcestershire for tea, at Holloways very impressive garden furniture store and dripped all over their stone floor, but the owners were very nice about it!
Mick Netty, Roy and I arrived at the Hotel the same time as Richard and Françoise, wet but safe. Ian’s crew had already arrived and were in the pool and steam room, Roy unpacked the bike and quickly went off to find them I joined Denise for a drink in the bar which was busy with golfers watching the highlights of a washed out Ryder cup.
Joe arrived minus Izzy who was feeling poorly, she promised to join us the next day.Richard and Christine cruised in wet but safe, their delay did not make that much difference to the wetness
At dinner Alan and Joe pretended (?) to be a couple!! And Izzy’s meal which had been paid for was shared around, although I noticed Joe did not share her dessert with Al. The meal was very good and served in our own personal dining room. Ian wanted to know if the chicken as Halal, but I am not sure the foreign waiter knew what he was talking about. Roy for some reason had ordered the vegetarian curry and then spent a long time looking for the meat!!
After the meal, we were joined by the “Strictly come Dancers” Jim, Kay Kevin and Sarah. They had had to work and traveled down in the dry with only spray from the road!! They then dashed in for their dinner, which the hotel had kept for them.
Last to arrive was Rodger and Edit, more workers, again they were not too wet.
We took over the lounge and had a good natter catching up on the day and previous weeks since the last get together.
After a really good breakfast we went out to the bikes in BRIGHT SUNSHINE!!!, Nigel and Lynne were there waiting for us, so off we went with Joe in the lead. More or less straight away some of us were off route and had lost the front riders, Roy at the back sent Jim (Shirt) to check the rider leading the front of the last bunch had a sat nav, “affirmative was Jims reply. What we didn’t; realize was that, yes, Jim (Dance) had a sat nav, but no routes loaded, so the only way he knew how to lead us was by Kevin, checking the other bikes indicators and relaying “ right” left” straight on” via their bike 2 bike intercom, behind them we were totally unaware and thought he was doing a grand job, which he was!! Soon we were a family again.
Joe’s route lead us through the beautiful Cotswold countryside, gentle rolling hills, with it’s picture box cream stone thatched cottages, villages straight out of Cranford or Thomas Hardy, minus the cars of course. The sun shone down reflecting off the leaves, which were turning to all shades of copper, russet and gold, it was beautiful. Joe must have sold his soul for this weather, after yesterdays down pour.
We went through Winchcombe then Broadway and did a circular route up to see the Broadway Tower. Broadway Tower is one of England’s outstanding viewpoints and at 1024 feet (312m) above sea level; it is the second highest point on the Cotswold escarpment. Unrivalled views survey an expanse of a 62 mile radius and as many as 16 Counties.
On our way to the coffee stop in Moreton in the Marsh, we encountered a very skittish white horse, who did not like 15 goldwings riding past him on a single track road, by the time the last bike had gone by I think he had over come his fear!!
In Moreton we split up to find a stop and for some a loo, there were many local shops open, making a great change from the “chain store” high streets, so we explored the shops and a craft show taking place in the Town Hall.
Once again it was back in the saddle and under clear blue skies we, traveled on through fields of lavender (or they would have been if the lavender was in bloom) via Stow on the Wold, and Chipping Norton. Joe had chosen some lovely winding lanes and single track roads for us to navigate.
For lunch, in Burford we had a reception party waiting for us, my son Gavin and my grandson Thomas waved us in as we tried to park. Unfortunately the fire service were having a car wash charity day, so some spaces were taken but we all managed to park up and Alan and Mick took advantage of the firemen and had their bikes washed over. Not a very good job was done but it was for a good cause
Thomas was very impressed with the bikes and loved sitting on them, but Poppa Roy’s white bike was the best for him. Although Gavin for some reason thought Al’s illusion blue was better? Kids, what can you do with them?
After lunch, where Thomas was a real star and was even allowed to “share” Poppa Roy’s chips (Roy never shares his food with anyone) we waved goodbye and set off again. The Strictly Come Dancers decided to head straight back to the hotel to make use of the pool and Jacuzzi, as they had not had chance last night. Jim had forgotten his trunks so they had to find a sports shop on the way back to buy some new ones, Roy offered to lend him a pair but he declined, something about getting two legs into one leg, or something like that!
Again Joe’s route proved scenic and we reached Cirencester, via Lechlade and Fairford for tea. Jill’s back was really hurting her now so Jim decided to take her back; Alan went with them, as he wanted a swim. Ian “directed” them down the “next right” which lead them to a cul-de-sac and a small archway, unperturbed Alan lead them through the archway and down a pedestrian area to the road which would take them back to the hotel (we are awaiting the points to be issued by the local constabulary)
Now there were only 11 bikes, as we pulled onto the car park a parking warden told each bike that the car park closed at 5.00pm , we were wondering why until we found out that a market was being put up ready for the Sunday. We were not worried as we would b e long gone by then,
We all went into the a small café which was just closing, but 22 people want coffee etc soon kept them open although Christine(c) could not have the 2 boule ice cream she wanted and had to settle for one boule? The café owner gave no explanation as too why.
Then it was back home with the route taking down a hill with fantastic views over the countryside. Nigel and Lynne waved goodbye and raced off. Only to come towards us a few miles further on, with lights on and indicators going, they wanted to do a showy ride past all the bikes to say farewell!!
Back at the hotel, tired but dry, there had not been a cloud in the sky all day. Alan had not gone swimming after all because someone (Ian) had stolen his trunks the evening before, so he was not best pleased but once the swimming gear had been retrieved he was off for a splash.
Izzy had also arrived, and was still looking and feeling very poorly, it was lovely to see her.
After another excellent dinner, we all took part in a quiz Izzy had prepared; it was about Romance, as the routes we had followed were called the Romantic Tour. Well, in our pairs, we all struggled but Richard and Christine, were the “lovey dovey “couple who won the prize, chocolates and pink champagne!!
On Sunday the rain had returned again, but at least Saturday had been lovely. Thank you once again Joe and Izzy for arranging the weekend. I know Roy and I would like to go back again and spend more time looking around the towns and villages, may be another year’s trip?
Here are all the weekend photos