Malta - Devizes
Friday 10th July.
Awake at some abnormally early hour in room 221 of the Travel Lodge, Devizes, Wiltshire.
Outside, birds twittering, doing their distinctly English dawn chorus thing (Believe me. Dawn chorus varies according to latitude … ask the northern Craig to describe his experience … if you dare!).
With no pressing need for me to get up, clean up, pack up, check out, load up and get going … I roll over and quite simply, comfortably go back to sleep, oblivious to area specific twittering.
Time passes unhurriedly. Friday morning lay-in. Luxury.
Awaken in a civilized frame of mind and partake of a nice ho cup of tea, brewing en-suite whilst I tune into English TV …
Time passes hypnotically.
Grip of daytime TV broken by arrival of text message from Ms.B ‘Bongu Babe!’
Look around, appreciate simple, comfortable, well-appointed hotel room, with white towels, warm water on demand and an electric kettle and a supply of tea-bags to be self-served in with white pottery mugs.
Make another nicehotcuppatea. Text back ‘All’s well, and I have tea.’
Delve into Big Black Bag for reading material. Settle down and find the right page from which to continue the interesting climb of Mt. Improbable with Mr.Dawkins.
Awake with a start at the sound of Mt. Improbable falling onto the floor.
Right. Now so. Properly relaxed and refreshed.
Time to get, up get out and go check out the Devizes retail therapy experience.
At this point, Gentle Reader, please remember that I ain’t been shopping in England for, oooh, a very long time indeed.
High on my list of priority shoppings … is a nice pork pie with crunchy pastry … mmmn, pastry.
But first of all, check out the 900. All in Jolly Good order in the-motorcycle-ain’t-been-nicked-overnight dept. So, unlock, start-up, warm-up, set off. Ride relaxedly past the rows of respectable houses, past Wiltshire Police HQ and into downtown Devizes, past a couple of pubs, the Chinese, the Pizza place and all manner of small shops until there before me, revealed in all of there supermarketing glory - Tesco and Marks & Spencer!
Quickly find a parking slot for the 900, then I’m straight into M&S for enough pork pies, sundry savouries, brown rolls, mayonnaise, salad, salami and soft drinkies and Red Bull for a picnic or two.
Then Tesco provides much needed fresh supplies of socks and pants and plain coloured T-shirts, plus a nifty light weave black jacket that looks just the thing to keep me cool when returning south and the weather is too hot for the warm black bomber jacket that I’d brought with me and sweatily worn through that southern heat all of the way north during The Great Jaunt to Devizes.
Sated. Retail therapy session concluded satisfactorily.
Back to the hotel for sampling of my picnicking purchases. Oh … pigging out on Pork Pies!
Spend digestion time with another nicehotcuppatea and the mental exercise of compiling a brief statistical analysis of The Great Jaunt to Devizes.
1. 1,988 road miles travelled in four days from Floriana front door to Devizes (averaging 497 miles per day).
2. 203 litres / 53.6 gallons of fuel used (averaging 37 miles to the gallon, yikes! Big Black Bag drag factor? )
3. €304 total of fuel cost (€00.06.5c per mile …).
4. €285 total of Ferry fares (averaging €3.63c per nautical mile).
5. €111.20 Toll road fees.
6. €213 Accommodation.
7. €913.20 Total (€0.43.96c per mile)
8. Totally Mad
Travel Lodge happy to let me be in room 221 for the rest of my stay, so I pay for another few days.
Now, time to go check out the gathering.
Ride off to the not-very-far-away-at-all camp-site Rugby Club.
Find Craig all alone in the Gpz OC marquee, patiently awaiting the first arrival … That’s Me !
Craig, dear sweet considerate man that he is, is concerned, enquires if the Travel Lodge accommodations are satisfactory, tells me that he and the charming Mrs.D felt quiet guilty at not insisting more forcibly that I should stay at their place the previous night.
Naturally, I tell the Dear Fella that it really is Quite Alright, and not to bother himself any further about it.
“Ok.” He says. “That’ll be £25.00 please.”
“Pardon Craig, what was that?”
“£25.00 please.” (He’s always so polite).
“£25.00 entrance/attendance is for the 25th Birthday Bash, for the pig roast (you get a free beer as you’ve obviously brought your GPZ 900R with you), a disco, and breakfast on the Sunday morning. For those electing not to camp, the price is £25.00.”
“Ah yes, righto Craig, er, I have ridden 1,988 road miles across europe to be here and have many euro’s … would you accept euro’s?”
“Graham, listen mate, it’ll absolutely have to be genuine British dosh, with a picture of The Current Queen of England upon it.”
I dig deep into the recesses of the wallet, peel away a layer of no longer legal tender Maltese Lira, that’s interspersed with some defunct punts, and sure enough, in back, an original, living in south London £25 note, left over from those heady 1980’s ducking and diving days of yore.
Hand note to Mr.WW.
In White Wheels country.
An hour or so passes, Craig tells me for the second or third time “They should all start arriving soon …”
Thwack of leather on willow from adjacent cricket ground.
“Yes Craig, soon.”
Reverberation of motorcycles travelling along the main road.
The pair of us peer intently, even eagerly, towards the opening at the entrance to the site … see a group of motorcyclists go riding by.
“Didn’t look like 900’s to me, Craig.”
“No. But They should all start arriving soon …”
“Yes Craig, soon.”
“HOWAZZIE!” commotion from the cricketers.
Craig’s mobile rings. It’s a group of Them, stuck at a motorway services because one of their number can’t get his 900 to re-start. Craig offers good advice, some of which I recognise as that which I have previously benefited from.
“Ah, they’ll be alright,” he says, “Soon sort it out, get underway again, get here in the end.”
A light ripple of applause from the cricket watchers.
“Fancy a nice hot cup of tea and some bikkies, Graham ?”
“oooh, yes please, Craig. Tea’s most definitely the thing … but how much will it cost?”
“Don’t you worry about that.”
Mr.D. raises his right hand, snaps his fingers. Within seconds a comely camp-site Rugby Club minion is taking Mr.WW’s order.
Soon Tea and biscuits are being served by the comely camp-site Rugby Club minion.
While awaiting the imminent arrival of The Others, The Organiser and I continue to discuss life, the universe and everything that places the Gpz900r at the centre of it all.
Resounding Thwack of leather on willow and enthusiastic applause. Pounding footfalls of fielder as he chases the four to the nearby fence boundary.
“Graham. Could you see the Gpz900r Owners Club sign clearly, easily enough - slurp - down by the entrance when you arrived ?”
“Yes - munch - munch - I could, Craig, very clearly.”
“Y’know, They should all - slurp - start arriving soon …”
“- munch - munch - Yes Craig, soon.”
“No thanks Craig, the crumbs from that last one are stuck … ‘
A growing louder familiar across-the-frame-in-line-four-cam-chain-on-the-end-vrooom-vrooom-vrooom …
“Aye-aye. Here they come!”
And indeed, so they do - second, third and fourth arrivals …
As they come to a halt, I’ve a growing lump in my throat that’s nothing to do with stuck biscuit crumbs, I’m getting goose-bumps and maybe even a hint of a sentimental tear in the eye at the sight, cos I ain’t seen any more’n Craig’s and my 9, in the same place at the same time, for years an’years, an’years, an’years, an’years, an’years, an’years, an’years !
Mr.D introduces me to strangers who suddenly become familiar as the owners of the names on the forum whom I’ve come to know over the last couple of years.
Of course, now that They are all arriving, the instigator of it all plays it as cool as a cucumber, and in between organizing the event and everyone taking part in it …
… laughingly commences to repair my front brake-light switch and dodgy wiring.
Casually breaking off in mid-repair to snap at new arrivals.
The Mr.D, and Nanook-Father-Ted-Trev back to the task in hand, repairing my front brake-light switch and dodgy wiring, with the help of Nanook-Father-Ted-Trev’s portable soldering device, especially brought to the site solely for the benefit of repairing my bike (Thank You!).
As the afternoon progresses, the campsite fills with Gpz900’s and riders and their blossoming camping accommodations.
Wow! It’s like being a kid at Christmas with the presents coming non-stop as more and more and more Owners arrive on their Nines.
The contingent from The Far North arrive in good spirits, which seem not at all dampened when southern Craig informs northern Craig that there is definitely a further travelled attendee than he.
After a discrete pause, the conspiratorial Craig’s are seen to withdraw to the temporary Inner Sanctum of the Gpz900r OC marquee. Wherein, away from prying eyes and ears, who knows what strings are being pulled, or plans and plots being hatched or brought to fruition, while out about camp-site Rugby Club, untroubled Gpz900r OC members chat innocently of seized anti-dives, pitted cams and the value for money price of Mr.P’s ignition advancers.
At some point The Organiser declares that the camp-site Rugby Club bar is open, after which it all starts to get a little hazy.
Some time passes.
On foot into Devizes with Kwaksam, enthusiastically searching for a venue to supply an interesting evening meal.
Find a welcome at The Bear Inn, where, while waiting for the nosh, we try some local Wadworth XXXXXX …
glug, glug, glug, …
Wadworth have been brewing 6X in their Devizes brewery for over 80 years. This delightful copper-coloured beer has a malty, fruity nose with a restrained hop character. The same characteristics emerge on the palate but with more intensity, leading to a lingering malty finish. The beer is full bodied and distinctive but with a high drinkabilty, ensuring its position as one of the South of England’s most requested beers
… glug, glug, glug
… I can’t remember much else.