Thanks to Izzy for doing the report ( she can do more reports from now on!!!)
I must admit to having some reservations about the Wild West Trip when we checked the weather forecast on Thursday and found Somerset seemingly missing from the UK map – submerged with several flood warnings in place. However, Rick and Francoise clearly have friends in high places and the weather was kind to us. The weekend turned out to be a great success with a great many enjoyable and sometimes wild experiences. Dennis had his own individual wild experience and couldn’t make the trip. Hope you feel better soon, Dennis!
My new heated jacket made its debut outing and proved a great hit both during the drive down and throughout the weekend. We arrived at Hunter’s Lodge having taken the scenic route through The Cotswolds and meeting up with Nigel and Sue in Stow. We arrived to find Al and Mark busy cleaning their bikes and Christine and Richard, Roger and Edit and Alan and Gill parking up. Rob and Colleen were relaxing in the bar having checked in to their luxury suite complete with four-poster bed.
There was time for a quick shower and change before meeting up for dinner where the conversation shifted from local accents to a wild discussion about bri-nylon and its effects. Bri-nylon is probably the worst product ever invented and we all remembered bri-nylon sheets where every time you turned over in bed the sparks would fly and for all the wrong reasons! Nigel in particular seems to have been scarred (psychologically but perhaps physically also) by bri-nylon jeans bought by his mother. We were distracted by a tough quiz won by Al and Annie.
Saturday morning we headed off towards Bovington Tank Museum which was our morning coffee stop. We drove over Bulbarrow Hill which is one of the highest points in Dorset and gave us some stunning views of Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and Devon. Just before reaching the Bovington Tank Museum we rode past Cloud Hill, the rural retreat of Lawrence of Arabia. Some of us missed seeing Lawrence’s cottage due to some conflicting instructions; namely Francoise announcing ‘On the right we are passing Lawrence’s cottage’ at the same time as Rick was saying, ‘On the left we shall be passing Lawrence’s cottage’. Those of us who managed to catch sight of Lawrence’s cottage may be in need of a neck brace.
Refreshed, we left Bovington Tank Museum and rode towards West Bay. En route we passed the Hardy Monument, an imposing 72ft high monument erected in memory of Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy, a commander at the Battle of Trafalgar. This generated a deal of ribaldry from certain individuals on the theme of ‘Kiss me Hardy’ which we needn’t go into here. They know who they are. We rode along the Jurassic Coast and stopped to enjoy the view over Chesil Beach.
We stopped for lunch in West Bay, a delightful spot with a surprisingly well equipped bike store. Our afternoon coffee stop was at the Haynes Car museum in Sparkford, Yeovil where many chose to do a quick tour of the museum and came back with nostalgic memories of their first cars.
We rode through some great places which highly interesting names like Lower Twaddle, Middle Piddle and Upper Snodbury on the Mump.
Dinner was very sociable and lively although the effects of the sea air meant that many retired early to write their postcards. Another quiz to exercise the grey cells may have contributed to our fatigue.
Sunday was a much brighter day and we even saw sunshine although the heated jacket remained turned on and up. We rode through Somerton (a town which gave its name to the county of Somerset), Sedgemoor and stopped for coffee near Taunton. The ride into Sedgemoor was wild and windy and we were then faced with the hazard of a flooded road. Fortunately our fearless leader successfully navigated us safely through.
After coffee we rode through Exmoor National Park, avoiding cyclists, horses, motor homes and similar hazards and stopped for lunch in Dunster, a delightful medieval village with an impressive castle and yarn market.
Our afternoon coffee stop was at Clarks Outlet Village Shopping Centre in Street. Unfortunately time constraints limited opportunities for significant retail therapy but definitely a place to store in the memory bank for the future. Heading back to Hunter’s Lodge we rode past Glastonbury and Glastonbury Tor, an area with which a number of legends and spiritual traditions are associated. It is said that the Tor is a place where the veil between the worlds is thin. Glastonbury Tor is home to Gwyn ap Nudd, King of the Fairies. In the human realm it is managed by The National Trust. We also rode past the site of the Glastonbury Festival and Worthy Farm.
Dinner was a lively event and there was much discussion of our proposed ‘Bikers in the Buff’ calendar for 2013. Two daring souls took advantage of the improved weather temperature to pose for photos although one did so under cover of darkness – no doubt to show off his wand to greatest effect! Many retired early, no doubt to practice their poses. Keep those photos coming! We now have three months covered so nine to go!
Many thanks go to Rick and Francoise for organising such a great weekend. We saw some spectacular scenery and were able to experience a great part of the country thanks to their meticulous planning and organising. We learnt a great deal from the quizzes. But most of all we had a lot of fun.