Scratching, yawning and tumbling out of our hibernation for the winter Elite Wings are once again on the road.
Ian and Denise had arrange an Easter weekend in Swindon so that we could take in the delights of the City of Bath (BAARTH) and also visit the beautiful New Forest.
Friday dawned bright and sunny, there was only a blip on the weather forecast for Sunday, but they may get it wrong and we would have lovely weather. We all travelled to Swindon from the various corners of GB. The hotel had arranged for us to park at the rear of the hotel, with an entrance nearby and most of the rooms would be overlooking the bike parking. We arranged to meet for dinner at 7.30 and soon everyone was catching up and being introduced to new members, Tony and Sue Motto, Dave Stolting and Alan and Cheryl Roulston. Chris Beddows was also joining us for the weekend which was great as we have only met him once or twice. There were 21 bikes with Nigel and Sue in the car. Nigel is recovering from a heart attack and it was lovely to see him looking so well. During and after the meal there was a lot of gossip and experiences being exchanged.
Saturday. After a fairly early breakfast, well it was for the retired members, we assembled by the bikes for a briefing by Red Leader Ian, we were told the best way to keep 22 bikes together ( Grenville had now joined us) as we would soon get lost around Bath. All mounted up, off we went and we followed Ian’s route, with a few wrong turns, through the beautiful Wiltshire countryside with seas of bright yellow rape, villages with clipped lawns, freshly thatched soft mellow Cotswold stone cottages and quaint country pubs. We planned to be in Bath before lunch for an extended look around. Gren had worked his magic with the local authorities and secured us a large cheap parking space near the Crescent. We then all split up for a look around at the beautiful city and lovely shops. It was while I was looking at some particularly attractive shoes that an “albatross” decided to deposit a large dollop on my head and back, much to Debbie and Spencer’s delight. Roy, ever the gentleman cleaned me up ( as best as he could while trying not to cry with laughter), they say it is lucky, and it may have been as I won £25.00 on the lottery that night.
Bath was busy as there was a Rugby match on so when we returned back to the bikes to leave, the cars were hovering around waiting for our spaces. Jim and Jill were queuing to see the Roman Baths, Paul and Jan, Alan and Ann were also still busy sightseeing, so their three bikes were moved to safety and the remainder of us set off for the ride to the afternoon tea stop. This ride took us across country through the beautiful town of Bradford upon Avon (must go back for a real look around) and on to garden centre where some of us enjoyed a compulsory cream tea. On leaving Rob had trouble starting his bike, it just did not want to know, so while Roy lead the main group back to the hotel, Ian, Rob and the garden centre owner got his car and jumped started Rob’s bike. All was well, until Rob got to the garage to fill up and again his bike refused to start. Something wrong with the electrics/battery/alternator, so Rob arranged for the bike to be picked up next day and transported back home. Our return trip took us through the interesting town of Marlborough, where we spied Paul and Jan window shopping, a town worth revisiting I think.
We had been really lucky with the weather, fine and dry with just a chill wind on the high commons.
Rick and Françoise joined us for dinner, which was lovely to see them both again. They told us of their problem with £8000 of damage to the new motor home caused by a golf ball sized hail storm earlier in the year!! The hotel was busy with a wedding, which Alan and Ann gate crashed so they could dance, we were all then invited into the reception, I think most of us declined and went off to bed ready for the next day.
Sunday . Forecast not so good. The Easter Chick ( Denise) visited each of the dining tables at breakfast and offered us an Easter Egg to get everyone into the Easter feeling. We said good bye to Tony and Sue and Nigel and Sue ( both the Sue’s were having to work) and Rob and Coleen in the breakdown van, but hope to meet them all again soon. Waterproofs were the order of the day as it would be very lucky if we missed the forecasted down pour. Today we were heading off to the New Forest and wound our way through quiet picture post card villages to the especially arranged coffee stop, the George Inn at Middle Wallop. The pub had opened an hour early to accommodate us, which was great considering it was a bank holiday. On leaving the coffee stop there were the patter of rain drops on the helmets but nothing too bad. The route now took us into the New Forest, where the animals are allowed to roam free, in one really narrow lane we encountered an “ unmanned” herd of approx. 24 head of cattle, bullocks ,calves and cows. Not a farmer in sight! They surrounded the bikes and a couple of the cows started to “fight” well that’s what Roy thought they were doing!! It is surprising how big, small cows are when they are up close. Once they had wandered on, we then negotiated the cow deposits into the wider open gorse covered spaces of the New Forest, although over the CB there were comments that shouldn’t a forest have trees?.
Lunch was at the beautiful, Georgian market town of Lymington, on the western end of the Solent. Unfortunately, the weather decided to change for the worse and the rain began to fall really heavily, we really didn’t have the opportunity to look around , although Netty and Roy both bought natty sun hats to keep the rain off!!. Lymington is another place to revisit. Alan and Gill had headed off to look around Sammy Millers, they may have found a drier venue. Back on the bikes, with the rain beating down, finding it’s way into every little gap sending cold wet chills down your neck , it was decided to follow the route home but not stop at Salisbury. Spencer had an issue with his glasses so Roy and I lead them back, shortest fastest, but still only got back 3 or 4 minutes before the pack. Everyone was wet through, the hotels heating were turned to red hot and the bedrooms turned into saunas with wet clothing adorning the chairs and radiators etc. The joys of motorcycling?
Again we had our own separate eating area, so soon we were all dry, warm and tucking into dinner. After dinner there was the quiz “Famous Willies” which was won not by Joe and Izzy , but by Alan and Cheryl, looks like there could be competition between the two couples. Denise awarded the prize to the winning couple who scored 12 out of 15.
Monday – Terry had decided to start a new Easter Monday tradition . it is called “Sit on your bike and get people fully clothed in motorcycling gear to push you up and down the car park till they drop and your bike starts”
Richard was the first to take part, while the rest of us stood by watching this amazing feat. As we watch him push Terry, faster and faster down the car park, Richards face ( complete with helmet) was turning redder and redder, Soon Alan ( Fireman) jumped in to help and Terry was racing down the car park with a silent engine. When Richard and Alan could push no more and Terry could not go any further, they decided that to make things easier they would take the KILL switch off and start the bike he normal way!! Yes Terry had knocked the kill switch and bike would not start . Terry says it was a new part of the IAM training but we were not so sure!!
We all said our goodbyes, in what promised to be a better day, some of us were Heading East, some North and some ( well they took several wrong turns) undecided!
Once again it was a lovely weekend, despite the soaking on Sunday, really looking forward to the rest of the trips we are on this year. Thanks to Ian and Denise for organising it and thank you to everyone who joined us. Sorry if we didn’t get to chat too much but there was a lot to get around, See you soon
Celia and Roy