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19th February 2016
Present: Syd Bennett, Robert Brown, Steve Carey, Dave Dalton, Andy Fildes, Steve Goff, John Guest, Adi Hammond, Trevor Heywood, Robert Holmes, David Lamb, Colin Larsen, Barry McGuinness, Mike Melia, Mark Nutter, Noel O’Toole, Bob Rial, Neil Shortland, Tony Statham, Dave Whittle, Mike Whittle, Mike Worthington
The sight of the human congestion as your correspondent boarded the 10:49 Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton service at Hazel Grove was testament to this route’s popularity. He was fortunate to spy an empty seat as he carefully navigated his way around young mothers and children’s buggies. The unmistakeable conversational din emanating from the carriage accommodating the tightly packed O.C.O.T. membership rose above all other ongoing passenger conversations. It was only seven or eight minutes later following your correspondent’s boarding when we arrived at Disley station.
We headed along Red lane from the station to access Lyme Park near its main entrance. The main hall was our focus as we walked towards the Cage. Shortly after midday we seized the opportunity for a lunch break in the park’s refectory area close to the hall. Thankfully today, we avoided the ignominy of having tortious accusations levelled at us for trespassing on private catering grounds by over zealous members of staff as we sat down to enjoy our sandwiches and drinks.
Soon after lunch, we joined the Gritstone Trail through Knightslow leading to an ascent up towards the Bowstones at which point we departed from the park. We proceeded along the top outside the park walls to Dale Top before descending to the Keepers’ cottages. We continued through a valley to Shrigley Road. A further short walk brought us to the Macclesfield canal. Our pace began to quicken as we closed in upon our first hostelry of the day – the Boar’s Head at Poynton. It was therefore a crushing disappointment to discover that the premises were closed. We all agreed that the landlady’s/barmaid’s behaviour was highly incendiary as we spotted her at the first storey window gesticulating with her hands which we interpreted to mean her abject refusal to allow us access to any liquid refreshment. Or perhaps alternatively: “Abandon all hopes all ye hoping to enter here!” Amazingly too, when our circumstances were viewed through a finance prism, she also failed to recognise that an economic windfall for her business was in the offing on this quiet Friday afternoon.
We finally faced up to reality and made a volte face returning in the direction from where we had arrived. We returned to the park through Haresheads Farm and the Gate At Four Winds (Windgather) and then continuing towards the main hall. By this time, several members had begun to reach the limits of their physical endurance. Robert on learning of this made an immediate executive decision (to the best of your correspondent’s knowledge, his first in forty years of unblemished local government service) to prematurely curtail the walk and return to Disley toute suite.
As we journeyed along towards Disley, we chanced upon the spectacle of a large group of teenagers playing a somewhat unruly game of football. We commented that it was good to see such youthful sporting spirit. Waves of nostalgia washed over Kevin as he walked past. It took considerable effort on his part to resist the temptation to become an active participant of the game by offering his vast repository of refereeing experience. Had he done so, the youths would have been completely oblivious to the fact that no matter how inferior the quality of their playing may have been that day, they would have been completely immune from the potential issue of any coloured penalty cards. Your correspondent has it on sound authority that Kevin, perhaps uniquely so in football refereeing circles, has managed to sidestep the issuance of a single coloured card throughout his entire refereeing career.
Progressing along Hawthorn Drive, the trail by the main road, we returned to the park’s entrance and then towards Disley along Red Lane.
We wasted no time in dropping anchor at our opening port of call, the White Horse. Bitters being served that day included: Trooper, Unicorn, and Robinson’s Dark and the cider Stowford Press.
Our second establishment was the White Lion, that was still basking in the afterglow of its 2015 accolade of Pub Of The Year. It was a just award when adjudged against the evidence of its available bitters that day: Horster, Woodforde’s Wherry, Amber Bitter from the Otter brewery, White Queen from the Tatton brewery, Hopster from the Tweed brewery, Yorkshire Blonde and Glaslyn.
The Ram’s Head was to be our final destination. The bitters on offer here were: Sharp’s Doombar, Wainwright and Black Sheep. The cider was from Aspall.
The group thanked Robert for an invigorating and thoroughly enjoyable outing.
Secretary Larsen wishes to serve advance notice to members that the excursion to Ilkley/Otley scheduled for Friday 13th May 2016 will again engage the chauffeuring services of Andrew Goff and his coach transport facilities.