Sparkhayes site.

May bank holiday.  2009.

        Here we are again, another May bank holiday upon us.  After last year's "Gallybagger", and the thieving, non-biking element at the "Over the edge" rally the year before, I decided to give the Isle of Wight a miss.  A few Moonshiners made the trip, and enjoyed themselves, or so they told me.  I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for a rally report from 'em though.  A few more Moonshiners decided to cut out the middle man, so to speak, and head straight for Porlock, myself amongst 'em.  I was owed an extra day off work, so I set off mid-morning on Thursday.  You would have thought by now that I would have learned to take a bit of notice of my fuel gauge.  "Hmm - I reckon I'll make it as far as Sedgemoor services"  I reckoned wrong - by exactly one mile.  It's a long mile when walking along the hard shoulder.  Having made it to the services, then next snag became apparent.  They did not have any fuel cans.  Seems they'd sold out, and not replaced 'em.  All credit to the guys in the petrol station, they had a search around and found a fuel can - sadly it had no screw cap lid.  A bit of fettling with some scissors and a bit of polythene and a makeshift lid was made.  The walk back seemed even longer than the walk there. Just as I stowed the fuel can and started the engine, the highways agency van appeared.  Where were you an hour ago ?  I didn't particularly want to talk to 'em, so I accelerated up to 60 mph and joined the main carriageway.  One full tank of petrol later and I was back on my way.  By the time I hit Porlock, Roy was already there.  I set up camp, had a cuppa, and reflected on the finer points of life.  As you can imagine, many Otters were consumed in the Ship later on - a ukulele also appeared, or so they tell me.

The view from the Dog Kennel by day               PORLOCK                 by night The Ship by night - which is how we generally saw it

    For the rest of the week, the site became the equivalent of "Moonshiner Central Station" with some folks coming from the Isle of Wight, some folks turning up later the same day and some folks coming on the bank holiday Monday, just as other folks were leaving on the bank holiday Monday.  All very confusing.  I came to the conclusion that the best thing to do was . . . .  . nothing, and that's what I did for all day on Friday - before sinking a few more Otters in the Ship later on.  This time, two ukuleles were being wielded.

   Saturday saw a couple of us touring around the normal places.  Lynton, Lynmouth, the Valley of the Rocks, and generally taking in the delights of Exmoor, before heading back and relaxing for the rest of the day.  The evening saw some kind of musical mayhem, during which several Otters were downed.

   Sunday.  Today's grand plan was to take a walk.  A walk  up to the tower that can be seen from the campsite.  Hurlstone Point, or that's what the map says.  OK, let's walk.  First off, down to the beach, then follow the beach for a while.  Ah, it would seem we have to go inland towards Bossington in order to find the path up to the tower.

One of those "Monet" moments

Cross the bridge, then take the uphill path.

No Vampires along here

Walk up through the garlic plants - I just had to have a nibble

I can see my house from here

Look back at where we've just walked from

I'm knackered.

Have a sit down at the base of the tower

It looks better than some of the places I have to work at.

Walk back through the scenic village of Bossington

Very "chocolate box"

Bossington chapel - Porlock is only a mile walk away


     The lesson learned today was "The tower is further away than it looks".  Now the pub was exactly the same distance away from the camp site as it has always been.  A much shorter walk, followed by consumption of several Otters.  Now that's the sort of walk I like.

.     Just to keep us on our toes, Martyn's car decided to throw its toys out of the pram, well, it threw the fuel pump out.  The local garage managed to sort it out . . . at a price.  The joys of modern motoring.   More folks left, more folks arrived.   I took a ride over the moors to find the clapper bridge at Tarr Steps - and find it I did.

Clapper Bridge - Sans Satan

No sign of the Devil sunbathing - so I crossed the bridge.

   Now this is where it gets confusing.  Thursday, and I packed up in order to go to the NABD national rally, up in Cheshire.  I hit the motorway and was rolling along quite happily.  The matrix signs then lit up to say there had been an accident up at junction 4a, and the tailback was down as far as junction 7.  No problem, I'll drop off at the M50, and take the A38 into Worcester.  Now every time I stopped, I noticed my exhaust sounded louder.  I put up with this until I was well North of Worcester then pulled up to tighten what I thought was a loose manifold bolt.  Oh dear, the complete exhaust down pipe has broken.  Time to take things steady for the remaining twenty miles or so.

   Friday morning saw me and the trike rolling up at Pete's work for a bit of exhaust surgery.  One repaired exhaust system later, and I loaded up ready to meet up with Pete and Ollie for the run up to the NABD rally.  The M6 Northbound on a Friday evening is a nightmare.  It took us over two hours to reach the rally.  Astle Park was the venue - a field the size of a small European country, and they were cramming folks into a small a space as possible.  To say this pissed me off is an understatement.  I couldn't even turn around - I had to drop the dog kennel off and maul it round, then struggle to turn the trike around.   I made for the exit and left - sorry NABD, but that's the last national rally I'll be doing.  It appeared the thieving element returned to the rally this year too - rather glad I left when I did.  I decided to load all my gear onto the Enfield, spend the night at home, then set off back down South in the morning.

Yes - you can take it with you

Let's go

   Early Saturday, the Bullet was loaded up and off I went.  Down through the Cotswolds, across to Cheltenham, then onwards to Stroud.  I did get caught up in the traffic for the Badminton horse trials, but seeing as I was on the bike, rather than the trike, things didn't cause too much hassle.  I stopped for petrol in Bath, then on through Wells, Glastonbury, Bridgewater, before stopping at West Quantoxhead to photograph the church.  This is one of those pictures I've always wanted to take, but had always been on the trike, usually towing the dog kennel, so had been unable to pull up anywhere.  This time it was different.

I'd been meaning to photograph this for years - now I've done it

St. Audries at West Quantoxhead.

   Having had a nose around West Quantoxhead for a minute or two, I carried on to Porlock - again.  Of course, no trip to Porlock is complete until you've been up the hill.  Now there's normally an ice cream van on top - and this time was no exception.  Well, it would have been rude not to have had one, wouldn't it ?

Obligatory hill top piccy

The Bullet on top of Porlock Hill

   The campsite had more bikes on than I'd ever seen before.  There was a party of Irish folks who were over celebrating a birthday.  The Otters were going down well in the Ship all evening. . . . . . maybe I should point out that the Otters in question are pints of beer, brewed by the local "Otter Brewery" near Honiton, in Devon . . .  as if you hadn't guessed

There we have it - another bank holiday week done and dusted.  

It had both good and bad points, but ain't that what it's all about ? 

Roll on the next holiday.

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