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15th May 2015
Present: Karen Arnell, Dave Bates, Syd Bennett, Clive Benson, Steve Carey, Kevin Clarke, Dave Dalton, Sarah Evans, Andy Fildes, Graham Fildes, Bill Flanagan, Andrew Goff, Steve Goff, Miklos Gombos, John Guest, Adi Hammond, Robert Holmes, Larry Johnson, Kevin Jordan, David Lamb, Alan Larsen, Colin Larsen, Sylvia Larsen, Mike Melia, Aidan Moy, John Nelson, Mark Nutter, Noel O’Toole, Bob Rial, Elsa Sawczuk, Steve Sawczuk, Bohdan Serednycky (Sid), Neil Shortland, Debbie Thomas, Roger Wallace, Dave Whittle
Sauntering along Manchester’s Chorlton Street in the early morning sunshine, I made a mental note to confirm my next optician’s appointment as I peered through the windscreen of the Huyton’s coach, parked in its majestic glory and which would soon be thundering northwards along the M6 motorway – its suspension struts weighed down by its 36 strong human cargo of O.C.O.T. members and, most probably, given a test the likes of which they will not have experienced in its driving lifetime.
Was that the top of this week’s edition of Motorcycle News, which was becoming visible as I approached the parked coach? If so, it was surely beyond any co-incidence that the driver could be anybody other than Chris Law, who has not been seen in O.C.O.T. circles for the best part of five or more years? As I arrived, I quickly realised that it was just a trick of the early morning light and that the said rag propped up against the driving wheel in front of the driver was in fact of copy of the Metro belonging to its reader Andy Goff, the professional driver son of regular attendee member Steve. I supposed my imagination had run away with me in thinking that Chris had decided to play a trick of his own by making a surprise reappearance by masquerading as Andy.
Members gradually assembled in Chorlton Street, engaged in casual conversation and waiting to be subsequently shepherded, registered, and gently prodded on to the coach by our resident registrar, Robert Holmes. Following the final member’s boarding onto the coach, Robert performed his now almost obligatory final roll call by way of a raised voice and proclaiming: “If anybody hasn’t yet boarded, would that person please make him or herself known!” Robert’s inquiry mattered little to Andy as he already had his foot pressed firmly on the coach’s accelerator even as Robert’s words had yet to fade away.
We made our way in a northerly direction along Regent Road in the direction of the M61 motorway. On reflection, it was only natural that several members would begin to comment upon and to compare and contrast, the driving styles of Andy and Chris given that Andy was only the second driver that O.C.O.T. had ever experienced. Members also favourably viewed the extra capacity afforded by the 49 seat vehicle having historically endured a somewhat intimate and, depending upon one’s viewpoint, indeed claustrophobic, travelling environment. It was a generally noted feature too during this journey, as we made good progress along the M6 motorway, as to the absence of hands clamped on facing seat head rests with whitening knuckles!
Following an approximate 2 hour journey and having suffered only one minor delay on the motorway because of a road traffic incident, we duly arrived in Ulverston with several members sat with tightly crossed legs signalling the fact that they were in urgent need of the water closet. This unsatisfactory state of affairs was the combination of a fault with the on board coach facilities and the leadership’s uncompromising target of arriving in Ulverston in record time and uncharitably turning a deaf ear to any bleats of motorway toilet breaks from any of the unfortunate souls who were courageously attempting to manage their bladders that, under any normal laws of human physiology, should have succumbed to the inevitable odd accident, long ago.
Soon after parking up, we were greeted by Alan who had departed his country pile in Bear earlier that morning to meet us upon our arrival in Ulverston. No sooner had he introduced himself to the group when he was faced with a barrage of calls for advice on the whereabouts of the nearest water closet facilities. He urgently assembled the group and directed us towards the town centre mindful of his responsibility to avoid any ‘little accidents’ among the group. Upon arrival at the facilities there was a loud collective groan as the realisation dawned that there was an admission charge to the facilities. It was fascinating to ponder that even in the centre of this pool of human misery, Southlakeland District Council (SDC) was not to be denied its receipt of miscellaneous income. Much to the relief of the group, a couple of enterprising individuals had access to 20p coins to permit two tranches of sexed individuals to obtain relief from their feat of endurance. Unbelievably, I thought I had misunderstood a retired, community minded Manchester City Council finance employee, who shall remain anonymous, whose thoughts were focussed upon SDC’s budget monitoring team and its income shortfall regarding its miscellaneous income budget as thirty odd O.C.O.T. members had relieved their selves for the princely sum of £0.40. Egalitarianism can sometimes become an end in itself!
When everybody had been suitably relieved, we assembled again outside a municipal building in the centre of Ulverston in front of a memorial statue of Arthur Stanley Jefferson (Stan Laurel) and Norvell Hardy (Oliver Hardy). In the meantime, Alan had mysteriously disappeared back towards the direction of the parked coach. Several opportunistic members used the wait for the return of Alan to sate their burgeoning appetites which were now evident following a two hour journey. A local bakery had been spotted and members were seen making a beeline for various pies and hotpots. Secretary Larsen showing uncharacteristic indecisiveness finally made his own visit, exhibiting surprising agility as he made his way, fleet of foot, towards the bakery having realised that time was running out, as by now, Alan’s return was imminent.
In due course we made our way from the town centre and began walking up an incline towards the John Barrow lighthouse. Having climbed to the lighthouse summit, it duly provided the group with photo opportunities. Our descent from the summit took us towards Ulverston canal. A site along the canal presented us with a sandwich opportunity. As the majority or members sat down on wooden benches and enjoyed their food, several eagle eyed members noted the presence of a public house and duly set off to take advantage of the facilities. Unfortunately, Mark Nutter was neglected and much to his chagrin, missed out on this opportunity.
We duly made our way from the canal foot head along the Cumbria Coastal Path to eventually arrive at the Buddha Temple. We had a short cultural break at the site to investigate the artefacts and other objects which garnered our interest
Our departure from the temple took us on a route through the villages of Bardsea and Swarthmoor and ending at Ulverston. The earlier fine weather had now given way to the start of rain and we were grateful that our first point for refreshment was appearing ahead of us, namely the Devonshire Arms where Copper Dragon, Cascade Pale Ale, Coniston Bluebird, XB and Yorkshire Terrier were the bitters on offer.
Our next stop was a visit to the Farmer’s Arms. Here, we savoured Land Of Cartmel, Hawkshead, Esthwaite, Langdale, Lakeland Gold and Swan Blonde.
Upon our exit from the Farmer’s Arms, we were greeted by very heavy persistent rainfall. Noel, conscious of the dripping water gathering upon his head, immediately advised that perhaps we should take a minibus ride to The Swan, our final hostelry, to avoid a soaking. Incredibly, he was overruled and with an incredulous look on his face, not dissimilar to that of a condemned man, he began to walk towards the Swan muttering words which cannot be included by your correspondent but were similar in meaning and vitriol to phrases such as “the parsimonious bunch of so and so’s” and “tight-fisted set of ne’er do wells!”
In due course, we entered the Swan and Noel, rendered myopic by the mist over his spectacles’ lenses caused by the relative humidity of the warm pub interior and water rivulets visibly running off his pate, barked over to me in an almost accusatory tone of voice: “What are you drinking?” When his myopia dissipated somewhat, he noted the array of ales that lay before him and that helped him to attain a modicum of pacification: Screech Owl, Wobbly Bob, Hawkshead, Timothy Taylor, California, Acorn Blonde, Haka, Acorn Gorlouka and South Island Pale.
Between 19:45 and 20:00, we headed off towards the car park and boarded the coach for the return journey back to Manchester.
We extended our sincere gratitude towards both Andy and Steve for their provision of the transport services and to Alan for his organisation of a scenic and culturally rewarding and fulfilling walk.