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Wet 'n Wild And Oddly Familiar

Ride Date 21 May 2021

By Ren Withnell

May 17th of our lord 2021 has been and gone last Monday. This, from all available interpretations, means we the plebs and common folk can now go camping. Well, I think it does yet under the careful and diligent guidance of BoJo it's hard to be entirely sure. My acquaintances also believe we are allowed. As such during this first weekend of freedom we are to gather, perchance to camp, to talk, to eat, to drink and, oh my, I can barely say it, to enjoy ourselves. 

There is a concern that we may not be the only people in the UK planning to do this. It seems likely campsites will be filled to the brim with excited and exuberant citizens. After 18 months of quasi-isolation the idea of a crowded campsite seems wrong. Fear not dear reader, one of the clan has a cunning and devious plan. 

Many many tents close together on a campsite in Amsterdam
Packed campsites are no fun at all.

Through connections unknown Andy has secured us "private" lodgings. From what I can understand The Heath Tea Rooms is closed at present due to the pestilence. This for us is fortuitous as the owner is happy for us to camp in their large garden area and have use of the Tea Room. This is subject to us being fed by the owner and paying for the food, the camping is free, well, I'd argue - "included" in the cost of the meals. This means our group has the place to ourselves and we shall receive 4 square meals over the weekend too. 

So now I find myself upon the 500. The rear tyre is fresh, I have found my tent and the rest of my camping gear, I have a notion of where I'm going and all seems well. Save for one minor hiccup. It is at present raining. A lot. An awful lot. Dammit.

Fear not faithful friends, for I am a mighty motorcyclist, brave, heroic and bold! A deluge of biblical proportions shall not keep me from my quest. I venture forth into the mire upon my trusty steed, waterproofs flapping in the breeze, visor cracked open a smidge to ease the fogging and my new glasses already dripping wet. My face bears a fearless grin as I splash through rivers across the motorway.

Ah, no, wait. Hang on, sorry. Scrub that. I look like a drowned rat and my face feels like it's being carved by a metal cutting waterjet. And yet, for reasons known only to the stupid in me, I feel quite at home. I am comfortable and at ease with my situation. 

By the way, The Heath Tea Rooms is located south-west of Shrewsbury, south-east of Welshpool. That's about 105 miles from my abode. And where's Sharon? Sharon's done her back in so riding is off the menu as well as sleeping in a cold wet tent. While I'm peculiarly at ease with the rain today I doubt Sharon would be. I think she's been unlucky lucky.

Presently it's 1715. I have set the phone up as sat-nav because after Oswestry I haven't got a clue where I'm going. It's hard to read the phone in the tank bag soaked in water, I have to stop from time to time to get a proper look. I'm off the main road and into some very pleasing lush green lanes. A left, a left, a right and 2nd left. I forget how good the English countryside can smell in the rain. Earthy, grassy, occasionally cow manure-y.

I arrive at the Tea Rooms at 1755 and tea is being served at 1800. I am greeted by my friends, I choose a chair in the cute room and by the time I've said hello and removed my waterproofs I'm tucking into tasty hot stew. I could get used to this.

After reacquainting myself with my fellow campers I head out to pitch the tent. I've brought my tepee because it's so easy to put up and I'm pitched in 5 minutes. I put together my bed and spread my gubbins out across the floor. Job done, nice and easy.

Ren's tepee tent in the large garden field at the Tea Rooms
The tepee. Easy to pitch even in the rain.

Back in the Tea Rooms the log fire is burning, the booze is being consumed (except for me, I'm imbibing an endless stream of tea which I will regret later in the night) and the conversation is flowing. Outside the rain varies from drizzle to torrential. 

This is a most peculiar feeling. I've been in this situation many times before and it feels entirely natural. Still, there's this small nagging doubt, this question, this sensation that this is all so very wrong. I know what it is, it's obvious. I've been conditioned to fear company, socialising and, oddly, to fear enjoying myself. This is what 18 months of restrictions does to me.

Please, don't misinterpret this. I'm not talking conspiracy here, there's no lizard people, no Illuminate, no men in black. I understand the restrictions, I agree with (most of) them, I can see why this has happened. It feels good to be out in the world once more and interacting with real people in the flesh. I think it will take a while before it feels entirely acceptable once more. I find myself instinctively keeping a little distance. 

To bed, perchance to sleep. Save for the unfamiliar surroundings. Oh and the unfamiliar bed. Don't forget the battle with the sleeping bag. The noise of the rain on the tent. Throw in a pathetic bladder and 6 gallons of tea. Other than that I'm quite comfortable.

Advertise here? Contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Wet 'n Wild And Oddly Familiar A much antici......pated weekend away sees everything in order for Ren except for one small matter. The weather.
A Pleasant Day Out In a turnip for the broth Ren somehow finds himself having a nice day in good weather. Something's not right, am I on the wrong blog here?
Then End Of A Good Beginning It's time to go home and Ren is reflecting on the weekend. Will there be another anytime soon? Well, that depends on the news more than the willingness of the participants.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
Ta Ed, glad you've got out, not so glad you got soaked, but very glad it wasn't me.
Strange innit, since March 2020 all we have wanted is normal, now we don't?
There's a line from a Jack Nicholson movie that I'll now misquote to fit.....
"The NORMAL, you can't handle normal". It is very peculiar.

02/06/2021 13:15:51 UTC
Bogger said :-
Camping for free in some ones back garden. Sounds about right for our Ed.

02/06/2021 13:56:57 UTC
Jim said :-
No Illuminati? Who have I been paying my membership subscriptions to all these years? No wonder I still work for the Council....
02/06/2021 14:15:58 UTC
Borsuk said :-
Your as bad as Mrs Borsuk Ren. She drinks gallons of tea during the day then moans about getting out of bed every hour during the night to pee.
02/06/2021 21:16:45 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Camping for free in someone's back garden? Sounds like a fine idea. Hmmmm. I keep on thinking I must head Upt' North and maybe drop in on Upt' North. And, yeah, hmmm, he's got a big garden. I'm starting to see a plan forming in my diminutive skull. Anyone else on here gotten a garden I can camp in??

Tea is the elixir of life. Without tea there is nothing, with tea there is everything. Coffee on the other hand is the spawn of Satan, evil in liquid form and only drunk by those with no soul. The worship of tea is the worship of all things good but as with all things there has to be a catch. That catch is an enduringly persistent relationship with the bathroom at all times of day and night. I see this as a religious pilgrimage now rather than a hassle.

03/06/2021 08:05:43 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Oh the joy of summer.........
Persons of questionable behavioural patterns campin in ya back yard.
Waking in the early hours to look out over ya kingdom to see said reprobates peeing on ya Rhubarb.
It's what dreams are made of. You know those dreams where you wake up screamin in a hot sweat clutchin the bedside lamp. Or is that just me........
Upt'North at Upt'North.
Very pleasant Upt'North at the moment, constant mid 60's and mainly full sun but the sea fret made it about 10 miles inland yesterday evening. That fret's blummin cold. Let's hope it gets rid of all these blummin tourists, roll on Monday.

03/06/2021 12:59:20 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I wouldn't pee on ya rhubarb! Good heavens man, what do you take me for? No, I'd pee on ya grass.
04/06/2021 09:26:08 UTC
nab301 said :-
Excellent Ren , glad to her you're enjoying yourself again. I had similar weather recently on a day trip but despite the rivers of water I thoroughly enjoyed myself.... very cold hands in late May / early June is a new experience though.
Sea Fret , I had to look that one up!
07/06/2021 11:54:20 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Cheers nab301. May I recommend hand guards as they keep the wind off and thus the chill. I could show you how to make some as stylish as my own if you wish?
07/06/2021 18:20:51 UTC
Daf said :-
I know exactly what you mean. I usually do about 8k miles a year on the bike for work, usually camping at events I'm working at. And another 8k of pleasure riding with a couple of camping trips in there somewhere. Not for 12 months. Did my first trip away in march for work training and it felt... Weird. Like I shouldn't be doing it.

Last week, first bike night in a year at the local pub. Again felt weird and unnatural. It's amazing how much our view of normality changes over time!
08/06/2021 16:33:27 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I'm sure we'll settle in to some kind of "back to normal" sooner or later. I keep on pondering though - what will be the long term changes we'll see from this event? Take office working. Many businesses have been proclaiming that working from home is the "new way" but I suspect many managers and owners will soon be wanting to visually see their staff at the grindstone rather than maybe/maybe not working hard at home. Some will keep remote working, others won't. It remains to be seen what percentage of office staff will be required to come back to the office.

The same applies with, for example, bike nights. Many people went out of habit and now that habit has been broken. Correspondingly many people, after such isolation, will be seeking out social events and numbers may swell.

These lockdowns will lead to changes, only time will tell what these changes turn out to be.
09/06/2021 10:24:33 UTC
Snod said :-
I went to check out a local bike night at a pub last night, just to check out what's happening in the area I've just moved into. I'd say a lot of people have been waiting for this to be allowed again!

It's in a little place called Scarcliffe. Not bad for a pub car park eh??
Posted Image
09/06/2021 14:31:56 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
North Derbyshire. (?)
Nice area.
09/06/2021 17:58:49 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Busy! Can't say as I've been but Google maps shows it to be lovely. Whereabouts have you moved to Snod?
09/06/2021 19:15:43 UTC
Snod said :-
I've moved to a little place called Creswell, an ex-mining village that never really recovered. And it has quite a deep drug problem that no one really talks about until after you've moved in. But never mind, the house was cheap and it has a garage at the back! Sadly it is in Nottinghamshire so I can't claim to be from Derbyshire which sounds so much posher. Also it's much too close to Yorkshire, people here say "fayt" instead of fight (which gets mentioned a lot, strangely enough). What have I done??

On the plus side I'm closer to Matlock, having moved here from Leicestershire.. When's the Matlock Bath BAT Meet (MBBATM)?
09/06/2021 19:57:48 UTC
nab301 said :-
@ Ren , nooooo , I'll settle for cold hands and Mr Suzukis OE dainty hand guards , failing that I'll fit some muffs...
I was never a fan of big meets and the last 18mths hasn't changed my views , but maybe currently it's some sort of Stockholm syndrome , I popped out on my Enfield at the weekend initially just to blow the cobwebs off ( the bike)and ended up spending 6 hours exploring back roads but never ventured more than about 40 miles from home ...despite having no (country wide) travel restrictions I kept expecting to come across a check point!!.
09/06/2021 21:24:07 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
The problem with moving anywhere new Snod is you don't know the place - logically. I just hope it pans out for you, just keep your head down and don't get involved with a "fayt". You gotta garage and that's what really matters. I want a garage...

MBBATM? Yeah I can get meself down to Matlock Bath. You're not too far from The Cat And Fiddle either which I get to from time to time. NB FYI - don't use the car park at the Cat and Fiddle pub UNLESS you are going inside to purchase something. Rumour is they're CCTVing the reg plates and charging a fortune for parking unless you buy something and give them your reg.

No check points nab301? Maybe by sticking to the back roads you avoided them all but it sounds like a lovely ride. No, you need some large misshapen slabs of plastic on your bike.
10/06/2021 08:50:50 UTC

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