I left early in the morning to avoid the ubiquitous and unavoidable traffic jams that face anyone who wants to travel anywhere by motorway in the UK. Early to me is packed and off at 5:30. Despite the early start I immediately fell victim to the beast that is the M6, which brings to mind the a quote from Terry Pratchett (rest his soul) and Neil Gaiman Novel "GOOD OMENS", "the nice and accurate prophesies of Agnes Nutter"
"In fact, very few people on the face of the planet know that the very shape of the M25 forms the sigil *odegra* in the language of the Black Priesthood of Ancient Mu, and means 'Hail the Great Beast, Devourer of Worlds'." was a construction designed to breed low level evil in the world, which I believe is the main purpose of the M6!
And don't get me started on the Toll road, which is basicly pointless and expensive... rant over...
At least I wasn't stuck for hours, just slowed down a little I shuddered for the poor people trying to pass this way at work hours. The drive to Clitheroe was actually very pleasant and I had that little skip in my heart that comes when the city scenery gives way to trees rivers and mountains. The passing names and places made the journey go surprisingly quickly.
I should point out that for some reason I hadn't recieved a formal itinery or email for instructions, the website had said a Friday/Sat event so I figured I would get there early settle in so I wasn't rushing around... Besides the weather was amazing clear blue skies, with fluffy clouds that looked like the opening scenes of the Simpsons.
I had arranged to work LIW for the day, and had cleared most of my work the night before and used up some TOIL from previous weeks so I could use most of the day for the event. One of the benefits of working for a good employer and a reason why I can happily work late at home without begrudging it!
I stopped just outside of Clitheroe for a coffee and some free wi-fi from Macdonalds, I pulled up next to a lady and I must have been smilling like a loon because she looked at me and said your happy! I replied "whats not to like" it's sunny, bank holiday weekend im off for some fun and I am listening to the Boss "Dancing in the Dark" (Bruce Springstein).
After a lot of emails, Lync conversations and phonecalls with work I made my way into Clitheroe which is a lovely village, for my taste the right amount of houses to shops ratio :-) I drove along the Waddington Road with the Clitheroe cement works not to distant, smoke belching from a Chimney. I don't know why but it didn't seem out of place, I think my idea of industrial north made it feel at home even in such a lovely setting.
|A dusk view from the campsite|
the everpresent smoky chimney of the Cement Factory
The shock for me (and it shouldn't be a shock) was how quickly I came to Waddow Hall, which was a left turn in and jaunt up a narrow tarmac road that winds it's way around the site past various camping and activity areas to the car park. I walked up to the Hall passing a lovely view of the river Ribble and the weir with a resident heron perched on top.
|A view of the weir, at the foot of Waddow Hall, sadly no Heron|
when I took the shot.
The staff in the hall were great, but very surprised at my arrival they hadn't expected anyone till 4:00 and Laura wasn't arriving till 12:00. They told me where to camp so I unloaded and set up home for a few days. I chose what I considered to be the best spot (first come first served) pitched tent fired up my stove and sat down to a Brew.
|Tent Pitched and site set up for the weekend, My trusty|
Coleman double burner stove providing a brew!
Here is a postive (to me not to everyone) the mobile phone signal was great and the data connection was fast so I could sit, read surf the web keep in contact with work and wait for everyone else. My first companion was a pheasant that wandered over, he looked fairly tasty and I tried to remember the rules about when it's legal to nab one.. My ideas of the legality of pheasant nabbing come from "Danny the champion of the world" and living near to Shelsley Walsh where they regularly wander into the path of cars! I left my pot out hoping he would wander over and fall in making me blameless but he just carried on... unfortunately i didn't have a supply of raisins soaked in sleeping powder.
|The pot is right over here sunshine|
I decided it was lunch time so lunch was begun, I cooked steak strips in a cajun sauce with mushrooms and some baguettes. As if on queue the next to arrive (after the pheasant) was a lad who had cycled to the event, he pitched up next to me, so I brewed him a tea and shared my lunch and a good old chat. He was also surprised that no one else was about!
|Shameless Selfie, note the beautiful weather for Day 1|
I went for a brief wander around and came back as a couple pulled up, a canadian who had settled in Britain and his wife, really lovely people! They wanted to head of to Clitheroe so I promised to keep an eye on their tent, in return they promised to pick me up a chair to sit in and duly loaned me theirs till they returned.
After this a steady trickle of characters arrived, at one point a rider aproached us and I spied a set of Koga Atalanta handlebars, I mentioned them and that I had a pair also, and I was greeted with "Newt it's Tim", I had suspected as much. Tim and I had conversed via my blog, aparently I was the only one who had put any information on these handlebars and after talking he had decided to travel down as well, planning to cycle back to London from the festival.
|Tim in the woods by the Hall, stood next to a carving of a jolly fish|
on it's back.
I should also mention that there was another Tim who had pitched tent next to me, he was I think 19 and we found out he had finished his A levels, was working and had saved up with a plan to tour Europe before returning and going to Uni. Young Tim impressed us all, a really nice lad great company and the right attitude, adventurous with a willing to earn what he wanted and no expectation for things to be handed to him on a plate! I didn't get his contact details, but if you read this I would love to hear how you get on!
The afternoon went by with the campsite filling up and plenty of meeting and greeting. Registration was soon underway in a wooden hall by the car park. On entry you were confirmed on the list, handed a goodie bag, which had various booklets, itinery, information and some cakes etc.. as well as a commerative water bottle. This was our first chance to meet Laura and her husband who must have been exhausted from all the hello's. Laura's mother was in attendance and she had decorated the hall with hand made stringers and banners, which really pleased me as it gave the event a really homely feel which is what I was looking for, not the corporate over organised events I would normally shy away from.
I didn't attend many talks, mainly because there were only certain ones I was very interested in. Instead I had a wander about the place, doing my favourite past time of meeting different people and swapping stories.
I visited the book sale upstairs and got a signed copy of "Eat Sleep Cycle by the author "Anna Huges" who was really lovely and gave a great talk! Meeting Anna was one of the highlights for me, and i was more than happy to part with some cash for a signed copy, we had a good natter and confirmed my choice for cycling round the UK and Irish coast before venturing abroad was the right choice.
I was only disapointed with one talk and that was on custom bike builds, I am sorry to be negative but I found the main guy talking to be condescending and to be honest rude, the last person I would consider buying a bike from. A member of the audience asked a fairly standard question, "how much does getting a custom bike built cost", the speakers answer "if you have to ask you can't afford it", not the kind of answer designed to enthuse.. there were others with him and a younger chap (I think from Oxford bikes not sure) he was much more positive and enthusiastic.
One of the things I did learn from that talk was that if your steel frame is spot welded not brazed then it's probably not much more repairable than an aluminium one... something to look out for folks.
There was no food provided on the Friday night which caught a few people out, I had brought plenty of supplies, but after a chat with the two Tim's we headed down to clitheroe and a supermarket provided Steaks, sweetcorn, beans baps etc.. some veggie burgers for young Tim and a load of beers.
Unfortunately the talks went on till fairly late, fortunately for me the ones I was interested were early on, Laura and her Husband being one of them so i ducked out and sat under a sheltered barbecue on the campsite, coleman lamp a barbecue and two huge steaks and sundries later feeling very satisfied. Tim turned up later for some veggie food and a few others wandered over before we went off to bed.
|Laura and Husband|
That was pretty much the theme of the weekend, meeting lovely people of all ages all walks of life and from all over the country and further afield. I would like to say a special thankyou to the catering staff who were really patient, and especially the wonderfull lady who mixed and matched my food for me and gave me a more than generous helping as it is plainly obvious from my slim and lithe figure that I could expire from starvation at any minute!
My figure which, completely off the topic came up in conversation today, I did an hour session in the gym on the bike before work and finished with a heavy session on the leg press, I am lifting every other day to add more leg muscle pre-trip and today I pushed 18 x 20kg plates for 3 sets of 10 on the leg press machine which works out as 18 x 20 = 360kg or 793 lb, which prompted one of my colleagues to state "never underestimate the power of a fat man" which I am going to adopt as my new tag line :-)
here are some pictures:
|Amazingly there was a couple sat behind me, one of whom|
worked at the same place as I do, they had brought their
tandem which they commute on!
It really is a small island!
|The weather had turned|
I had a great time, I am looking forward to next year, I haven't covered everything there's more stories etc.. on facebook. I would need to spend the whole weekend typing if I covered all the people that I met and all of the things I learned.
So thankyou to all of the volunteers, staff for providing a wonderful event.
I can say hand on heart, everyone was really nice, and talkative. It was a great event with something for all, imho well worth the ticket price!
See you all there next year!!