Garden of England

14th May 2006

Warr’s Mottingham

A quick regulation pit stop at the Oakdene for a coffee and to meet U.K. and Eire H.O.G. Manager Marj Ragg and her pal Tracy. Mindful that I had been asking riders to get there sharp, I needed to be at Warrs S.E. by 09:30.

09:20 we arrive - Wow there are a dozen riders there already! And then they came and kept coming until the whole of Mottingham was buzzing and vibrant with bikes, riders and pillions totalling well over 100 people filling the place to overflowing.

Members of the public stopped to admire and chat - Dogs were thrown into total confusion - normally just one tree or a lamppost - but today so much choice!


Breakfast served - the ladies from St. Georges café worked tirelessly to feed the army of hungry H.O.G. riders who had turned up for this annual mega event at the specially erected stand.

Gerry, Becky and Shaun joined John Warr and chilled with the group, soaking up the atmosphere and passing the time over a sarnie and drink.

What a great way to start the day, everyone just talking and having a good time - almost a shame to ride - but no, the atmosphere was buzzing with anticipation of the day ahead.

10:50 everyone had been fed and the ride brief given, all that was left to do was ‘line ‘em up and move ‘em out!’

Passing the ‘Queens Head’ slowly through Chislehurst Village the procession eased gently onto the A20 shepherded expertly along the way by Meridian’s ever-efficient Road Crew.

The residents of Kent must have thought the weather forecasters had got it wrong again.

With grey skies and a slight chill to the air there was a rumble in the hills - not the sort of thunder they would normally expect though, but that of 100 Harleys moving snake-like in an orderly fashion, chrome shining and lights blazing deep into the Kent countryside.

Passing Brands Hatch down to Wrotham the procession made constant progress through the lanes passing bluebell-covered woods along the way.

Oasthouses adorned the route in plenty, a glimpse back to bygone days of hop fields and for those who will remember, the family off on ‘op pickin’ holidays during the summer months, fond memories no doubt.

Having passed through Leeds village and the Castle entrance, the ride nipped over the motorway and stopped at junction 8 services for a comfort break and coffee.

13:15 We eased off again onto the A20 heading towards Ashford. An easy section of the route allowing riders to soak up the rolling hills as we passed through Lenham and onto Charing, For those who were sharp eyed they would have seen the white cross to the left, carved into the hillside in commemoration of a Pilot who crashed at the spot during a ‘dogfight’ overhead during WW2.

At Ashford we joined the M20 for a short run down to junction 11, the last leg of our journey. The Road crew passed us on the motorway, followed closely by our recently appointed ‘Photographer’ Martin ‘The Kiwi’ Falaniko looking very cool on his black and Chrome Springer.

Guiding the group onto the motorway slip and making progress for Stowting, I eased my brain back a little in comfort that it had all gone well - only to greeted by Nick Franklin coming back the other way telling me that the road had been unexpectedly closed to put an anti skid surface down.

No worries though, having brought the ride to a halt, the road crew quickly marked out an alternative route though the lanes and within 5 minutes we were off again arriving ‘en masse’ at the Tiger Inn bang on time.

Emma and her team had put on a BBQ to add a different angle to eating (yes more food) and parking was all sorted - nevertheless we pretty much filled the place and more.

Most people just chilled over a drink and lunch for a couple of hours or so before melting away.

Tiger Inn

Pondering on the day whilst riding home, I thought If anyone asks or wonders what H.O.G. is all about - this is it I thought to myself, what a scene what a group - yeah nice people - come and see!

My thanks to all the Road crew and the Kiwi for making this day happen - Martin took 410 images on the day - a job in itself to sort that lot out!.

Also John Warr, and Marj for coming along and most of all thanks to all you H.O.G. members - the real stars of the day... it would not happen without your support and enthusiasm... Ride safe.

Dave Mann - Meridian Road Captain