Friday started badly when Jess phoned to say that the cattery where we were to leave our cat was deserted and despite numerous unanswered phone calls and waiting for forty minutes, she eventually gave up and went home. Luckily, family and friends stepped in to save the day and offered to look after Ben.
By the time that I got away from work and loaded up the bike it had started to pour down. My gloves and boots were saturated before I even got beyond the M25 and I still had another 140 miles to go!
When I arrived at the services at A1/A14 intersection, where I had agreed to meet Jess, there was a message on my phone from her to say that she was a bit lost. She had overshot the junction and was nearly on the A1 Motorway. Luckily, I knew more or less where she was and went off to find her. Fortunately, a kind man had seen her stopped at the side of the road and offered her shelter whilst she was waiting for me. It wasn’t long before we were back at the services and drying out and warming up.
The rest of the ride to Tamworth was pretty wet but uneventful (although the M6 in torrential rain on a motorbike is no fun!) and by the time that we arrived at Drayton Manor Park the rain had eased a bit. The ground was a bit soggy but we managed to pitch our tent without any problems.
We awoke on Saturday morning to glorious sunshine and the bikes were soon gathering for the ride to the National Memorial Arboretum. Our good friends from Norwich, Jim and Nicky, had also travelled up for the ride, so we spent the morning with them looking at all of the bikes as they came in. Rumour has it that there were about 7000 bikers in all.
We left Drayton Manor Park at about 11.00am and we arrived at the Memorial at about midday. After parking up we wandered around for a bit and enjoyed a cup of tea in the sunshine. Jim didn’t want to hang around for long as they still had to get back to Norwich that evening, so they set off before the start of the proceedings.
There were a couple of speeches followed by a small service and a couple of pipers, which brought a tear to everyone’s eye.
As we were walking back to our bikes I saw that mine was laying on the ground and a couple of guys were busy standing it back up. A bloke riding a Harley had accidently dropped his clutch and shot forward, knocking over the bike in front of him. This started a domino effect, knocking over two other bikes, with mine last in line.
My new bike! My new panniers! I had only fitted them two days before. To say that I was cross is a bit of an understatement! On closer inspection the fall had broken my right indicator/hand guard, the right pannier had partly crumpled and the carrier frame had bent in, marking the panels a bit. The rear numberplate holder was also broken. Not a good way to start a holiday!
After getting insurance details from the culprit we headed back to Drayton Manor Park. Needess to say, I wasn’t in a party mood and so we were in bed fairly early.
At about 5.30am on Sunday morning the rain started again and the ground where we were pitched became so water-logged that it started to soak through our ground-sheet. One of the other campers told us that it would ease at about midday, so we burrowed ourselves away in our sleeping bags and read our books and dozed until then.
Luckily, the report was spot-on and as soon as it eased we hastily packed up our tent and set off for the rest of our holiday in the Peak district.