Chelsea Picnic II

13th July 2008

The Show Must Go On!

“If you go down to the woods today
You’re sure of a big surprise
If you go down to the woods today
You better go in disguise
For every HOG that ever there was
Will gather there for certain because
Today’s the day the C&F HOGS have their picnic”


The Chelsea Picnic, first held last year, was declared a roaring success, and so it was one of the first events for 2008 to get pencilled at our annual planning meeting at the end of 2007 - C&F events are not just thrown together, you know. Months of meticulous planning are in order, to ensure we offer variety and inclusive fun for all our members. And so it was with the Chelsea Picnic II. It is important to remember that the great and good of the C&F Chapter are all volunteers, and that, however enthusiastic and generous they are of their time, occasionally, real life rather rudely comes knocking at the door. So it was that Messrs. Scott and Howers found themselves in the unenviable position of having to pass their respective batons to myself and Rob “Lee Majors” Warr late in the day to put on the usual, stylish show that is a C&F Sunday Ride Out.

Not off to the most auspicious of starts and still miffed that my only ride this year was snowed off in April, I was more than a little worried that we were not going to get a wheel turned. So, imagine my surprise when I rolled out of the garage on Sunday morning under a perfect blue sky. Now, that’s more like it!

Rob was at 611 bright and early, armed with croissants and coffee, and it was pleasing to see so many familiar faces and a good number of C&F ‘newbies’. Administrative duties completed, with everyone briefed and fuelled, we set off on our customary ‘quickest-route-out-of-town’ trundle through Putney and out onto the A3.

Instead of diving off at Hook or Tolworth, as we normally do, we carried on down to the ‘Hog’s Back’ and then on to Alton Station for a comfort break and a glimpse of some steam locomotives. Alas, the dreaded engineering works put paid to that little extra.

I am not, in any way, superstitious, but I was considering becoming so when my Garmin Zumo decided to throw a wobbler and refuse to start, and so for the second half of the ride I employed the tried and tested method of reading the road-signs, which was pretty straightforward until Winchester, as it was the A31 all the way!

Luckily for all, Rob and Lynn Ardley were on the ride and they have recently moved down to Southampton, so had some good up-to-date local knowledge. ‘Don’t go on the Motorway, as it is chocka with road works’ was the advice given. ‘Best to go through Romsey and drop down’. So that was the plan, except that the signs for Romsey dried up at the M3, so down the Motorway we went. As it happens, the traffic was not so bad, and did mean we could stop for fuel, which was most welcome for the early V-Rod boys. It also gave me the opportunity to gather a C&F road crew up at the front of the ride to ensure we negotiated the last leg of our ride with style and aplomb. We adopted our overseas formation of navigator at the front then me behind, dropping off road crew, and neatly navigated our way through the Sunday day-tripper traffic in a swan-like fashion. Big thanks to thank David O’Flaherty, Dave Mollison, Terry Ferguson and Sarah Papas.

I haven’t been to the New Forest for some time, but do remember that the ponies roam about pretty much anywhere. What I did not realise was just how many there are and that they are joined by their good mates, the cattle. I came to realise, as we carefully wound 35 Harleys around cows, bulls and calves munching on the Blackberry bushes that line the ditches, that the New Forest is theirs not ours. Which is pretty neat, I reckon, and long may it continue like that. So it took us a little while to get to our picnic site. I am not sure what the other picnickers made of our rumbling entourage, but their anxiety must surely have been allayed when the two toughest looking members of our group emerged from behind the Ice Cream hut with cornets (one vanilla, one strawberry).

Those of us who had brought picnics selected our ‘patch’ and settled down to a feast of sandwiches and cake. There were some pretty impressive spreads, including ice buckets and champers - with real ice! Top marks, there, I thought.

The ‘pub contingent’ were also well catered to - the nearest pub turned out to have a mini-beer festival, home made hamburgers and live music.

So everyone had a great day, knowing they had a decent ride home to look forward too.

Big thanks to Rob Warr, as always, and the C&F Road Captains, Rob and Lynn Ardley and my very own Mrs. P, for all pitching in and making the day another roaring success. Mr. Scott may have to fight me to get the Chelsea Picnic III back from me next year!

Andrew Papas - C&F Road Captain