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The Swannies Fussy Pussy Puppies Ride Out

Blog Date - 19 July 2013

Oh that bike club! The Swannies...aka Swan 2 Wheels Bike Club...have a member who looks after pets for those too posh to do it themselves. As such VW is a keen supporter of animal welfare types. She's also up for any excuse for a ride out and a party like most of the other Swannies. This time the excuse is to donate pet food, blankets, kitty litter and anything else useful to 2 local animal rescue centres, Bolton Animal Shelter and Preston RSPCA. So the date was set, donations requested and plans made.

It never ceases to amaze me does people's generosity. As the date was approaching we'd managed to half fill the rear of VW's pet transport van with cans of dog food, dried cat food, kitty litter, pillows and blankets and a few pet toys as well. Swannie members kept on bringing these items and VW kept on collecting them. Lord only knows where it all came from but that doesn't matter. 

Of course there's no point in doing all this if there's nothing in it for the Swannies. As such plans were laid for a post ride out barbie on the beach somewhere. We'd have to take VW's van as there was far too much pet food to fit on the bikes so with the van we could take a proper barbie and a big chiller box full of food. It also seems that some...perhaps too many...Swannies like to dress up too. So it was agreed that the riders should all be dressed as pets. Damn, that really grips my miserable nature.

All we'd need now was some good weather. After what has felt like the longest winter ever even in June when preparations were in full swing the idea of a beach barbecue seemed ridiculous as the wind whipped rain hard against the windows of the pub where we meet. About a week before the weather finally lightened.

So it is I find myself on the car park of the Mercury Hotel with the gf on what is promising to be a very warm day. I, rather annoyingly, have a pair of bunny ears on my helmet. That is as far as I am prepared to go. The gf however is wearing a Dalmatian print onesie over her bike gear and does not seem to suffer any kind of embarrassment at all. As the rest of the members turn up most of them are dressed in a similar fashion. The scene in the car park resembles something more akin to a farcical pantomime cast than a bike club. If I'm honest...it is very funny but don't tell anyone OK?

2 bikers dressed as dogs pretending to breed on a hot sunny day in westhoughton
Don't worry they're married...a dog and a cat...is that possible?

With the sun beating down and the mercury rising we set off. We're actually pretty good at riding in a group, we do it quite a lot you see. No-one gets lost and no-one is left behind as we ride through the centre of Bolton but the heat is something else! With heavy traffic and onlookers gawping and pointing at us we crawl through the sticky streets. Engine fans work hard to keep performance motors cool and those wearing the various dog and cat outfits are starting to appreciate how a dog feels when locked in a hot car. However we all find time to wave at excited kids shocked at the sight of so many bikers looking like pets.

Bolton Animal Shelter provides us with a welcome respite, shade, a toilet and a very big smile. I'm not an animal lover myself. That said I can see the attraction and more importantly I'd never want to see any harm come to an animal. As such I'm glad places like Bolton Animal Shelter exist to offer care to those abandoned and unloved pets. I only take a short look inside, I fear seeing all those sad faces pleading with me to take them home might be too much and I'll end up with a creature I don't have the time to look after properly. One cat eyes me up, meows then looks cute whilst washing. Damn, I get out of there.

unloading the van at the bolton animal shelter and trying to cool off in the heat
Stripping off and unloading the van. NH uses an ice pack from the chill box to cool down.

After unloading half the van we decide due to the heat and the traffic we'll head to Preston on the motorway. Good idea. With a pleasant wind blast we're cooled down but my bunny ears can't cope with the pace. The gf and I struggle to remove them as we all sail down the black top soaking in the cooling breeze. I can only imagine what the car drivers think as they are passed by umpteen bikes being ridden by cats and dogs. I laugh as CW's ears flap in the wind, it reminds me of a cartoon dog with it's head out the window of a car.

Preston RSPCA also provide an equally warm and heartfelt welcome. This time I don't go inside, I volunteer to stay and look after the bikes. An RSPCA volunteer is walking a mean looking small dog that transpires to be as soft and friendly as can be. 3 young girls walk past the bikes and enquire with the volunteer about helping out. This world isn't full of bad dogs and bad youths, it's just that the odd rotten egg spoils things for everyone else. Apart from the food and the barbie the van is now empty and our work is done.

preston rspca and a few bikers, one in a dalmation jacket
Preston RSPCA and a very hot Dalmation biker.

On the way to the beach at Lytham we're stopped by some traffic lights. 2 women in the car next to us ask me what it's all about. I tell her briefly about the charity pet run and she laughs. At the next lights her friend hops out the car and gives me a fiver! I assume its for the charity...

Finding somewhere to stop in Lytham is difficult. On this warm sunny Sunday it seems the world and his wife have the same idea as us. A little local knowledge goes a long way and one member eventually points us to a suitable car park next to suitable toilets and a suitable stretch of beach. Sorted. After some toilet mayhem and regrouping we leave our bike gear locked in the van and head to the beach. It does feel most peculiar having been on the bike to now find myself on a beach in the sun wearing nothing more than shorts. Yes folks, I've got my "moobs" out.

VW and her husband MW are possibly 2 of the most organised and efficient people I know. I'll be damned, they've pre-cooked loads of burgers, sausages and chicken to avoid poisoning the Swannies and to speed up the barbie process. Here on the beach the wind is up which for me provides a cooling breeze, the gf was hoping for a real scorcher. The breeze is making the efficient and organised gas barbie a little hard to light but soon we're munching on burgers with relish and salad. There's paper plates, spoons and tongues, plastic glasses, drinks, crisps and even deserts in the form of cakes and doughnuts. 

Attempts are made at playing with the provided bats, balls and a Frisbee but the wind is playing havoc. It appears there's a distinct lack of ability too when we watch a few of the girls missing the ball with the rounders bat. Sandcastles are built with the provided bucket and spade but then are immediately destroyed to much laughter. I eat so many burgers, sausages, cakes and doughnuts I can barely move and as the evening draws in I can see the rest of the Swannies have too. There's still some food left though.

one biker makes sand castles while another turns pink
MW making sandcastles. His creative skills are soon destroyed. Meanwhile the rest of us turn pink.

It's time to go home. What a great day it's been! The weather has been very much on our side. We've done something useful. Some of us enjoyed dressing up as pets, the rest of us enjoyed laughing at them. The animal shelters have both been delightful and a little saddening too. The barbecue was great. Most of all the company was excellent. 

I'd like to thank anyone who donated anything for the furry critters at the animal shelters. I'm sure the Swannies would all join me in thanking VW and MW for being so goddam organised and efficient. Cheers!

Reader's Comments

kath brooks said :-
Great write up on a brilliant day7
01/01/2000 12:00:00 UTC
linda atkinson said :-
it was a brilliant day, loved every minute, thankyou to everyone especially v+m

01/01/2000 12:00:00 UTC
Alison Sweeney said :-
Indeed one of the most enjoyable charity days we have had,a day spent with some of the best folk you could meet, and ones I am proud to call my friends xx
01/01/2000 12:00:00 UTC

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