GALFORD SPRINGS - DEVON - 2017
After many years of taking an annual trip to Llantony in South Wales it was decided to give it a miss this year and try a different venue. Devon appeared to be a popular choice being about the same distance to ride as was Wales and where there would be plenty of lanes to explore. Finding an appropriate place that could accommodate 12/15 members wasn’t easy but in the end we settled on Galford Springs, a working farm in a rural setting with self catering facilities on site. One of the few down sides to Wales was that if it rained and we were ‘confined to barracks’ there was little to do. Finding a Devon site that provided Sky television, table tennis, pool table, dart board, skittle alley, Wi-Fi and indoor swimming pool meant that there would be plenty to do in the case of the inevitable inclement weather.
Our accommodation was made up as three separate bedrooms with the remainder in beds/bunks in the main living area. This resulted in a major change from previous years in that some members decided to take their wives in the three available rooms, Bob having agreed to sleep with Diane in his camper van and then Mike and Julie taking a room in the farmhouse making a total of seventeen. With such high numbers it was clear that traveling down in any form of convoy was out of the question so we split into more manageable numbers and used a variety of routes. Surprisingly with heavy traffic each group caught sight of each other at various points on the journey with the ever vigilant Bob and Diane in the ‘support van’ bringing up the rear. Although our journey started with a steady drizzle by lunchtime the sun was shining and some took lunch outside the Crown in Bridport and watched the steady stream of caravan and motorhomes passing by.
All arrived at our destination safely although Gerry having just ridden 200 miles in some mixed weather and testing traffic conditions tipped off on some deep and loose gravel as he turned into the farmyard. Although the author was the last to arrive after ignoring his own written instructions on his tank bag and taking the wrong exit from the A30 and then missing the tight turn down to the site. So by the time the last of us arrived the couples had found their rooms, Tony had bagged the best bed (it was ever thus!) and we settled down to the first brew of our stay. Perhaps at this point it is appropriate to mention some of the negatives members highlighted in no particular order;
The beds/bunks were too hard, too soft, too lumpy, too short, too long and Dave’s ladder too narrow.
The armchairs (didn’t get those in Wales) were too soft, too low and maybe a little too comfortable as some of our pictures might show.
The cooker had, due to use, lost the indicator lights as to which ring might get hot.
The kitchen was a little on the small side.
Those members in the three rooms had cold showers whilst the rest of us were fine.
Connection to the local Wi-Fi proved troublesome.
As you might appreciate keeping everyone happy was never going to be possible and after several visits from the plumber and then a heating engineer the problem with the showers was resolved . The combined IT expertise of those present was used to resolve the Wi-Fi issue by switching the router (pronounced rooter or rowter depending on how posh you are!) off and then on agin to achieve a re-boot and all was well.
The positives, again in no particular order included;
The provision of all bed linen meaning a lot less to carry on a bike.
Plenty of space, the benefit of which mustn’t be underestimated.
Bike parking right next to the premises, no tramping any distance in wet gear.
The plentiful number of toilets and showers (once hot).
The provision of a washing machine and tumbledryer.
The rural setting, no traffic and traffic noise.
And of course the aforementioned pool, alley etc.
The intention to have a first night barbecue was thwarted as the barbecue was about two inches thick in wet ash and the chances if getting alight poor to zero. The beef burgers, provided by Julie, were cooked in the frying pan and supplemented with a macaroni cheese and salad both prepared and cooked by Julie who in the best Girl Guide tradition had come prepared. From here on in the days blurred together and my memory even with some rough supporting notes may well differ from others impressions or indeed reality.
Poor weather meant that riding any distance was not at the top of anyone’s list so a run by car to top up provisions and alcohol became a priority. With an array of sleeping beauties in those armchairs is evidenced by the following photographs, the rabble was eventually stirred into a competition in the nine pin skittle alley. The standard of expertise shown by all players was at best mediocre and occasionally downright dangerous but a good laugh. Ron seemed to be set on bowling at those putting the skittles up rather than the skittles themselves and put his poor sense of direction down to his wrist problem. Apparently his wrist is very weak due to many years of m......... misuse.
I really need to blur the remaining days into one as my memory is lacking, it's an age thing, although as my life revolves around eating I can certainly recall Julie's excellent casserole, the Oakhamton fish and chips and the 'last supper' at Lytton Hall Hotel. During these days we visited, briefly, the Premier Foods Ambrosia site, an excellent farm shop with a restaurant that accommodated a couple of hundred people and chased around trying to find the biker pub. The pub had actually chased its' name and subsequently closed for business but the pub;city had yet to catch up with that fact. A splendid ride across Dartmoor with a stop in Princetown for a cuppa and scone and where we failed in getting Ron accepted into the Dartmoor prison population. We went to Buckfastleigh so the the past President could get his fill of steam trains and checked out the otter rescue centre and butterfly farm. It was a nice enough day for an ice cream. With road closures, French drivers and general traffic the riding was 'interesting' whilst some took the opportunity to visit past contacts, cousins etc.
A spin down the Atlantic coast to Bude then on to Tintagel and along the route you could find just about every style of wind turbine with two, three and even four blades. There certainly was more than enough wind to keep them all working although the visual impact on the countryside was a shame although all in the path of progress. Fellow bikers gave us the tip for where to park in Tintagel and while no-one wanted to walk to the castle ruins there were some interesting shops and the very best ice cream I had ever had. Bob certainly enjoyed his all the better for having it in a teddy bear cone. So on to the last night supper which was a very pleasant meal at the Lytton Hall Hotel at a reasonable price and in our own exclusive dining room.
What would be the perfect end to our break..........you've got it! A 200 mile ride home in persistent rain with some taking a longer route back.