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15th April 2016
Present: Syd Bennett, Robert Brown, Steve Carey, Kevin Clarke, Marie Collins, Dave Dalton, Andy Fildes, Graham Fildes, Steve Goff, Adi Hammond, Trevor Heywood, Robert Holmes, Kevin Jordan, David Lamb (evening), Alan Larsen, Kevin McDonough (evening), Barry McGuinness, Mike Melia, Paul Morrell, John Nelson, Mark Nutter, Noel O’Toole, Bob Rial, Elsa Sawczuk, Steve Sawczuk, Tony Statham, Linda Staunton, Dave Whittle, Mike Whittle, Mike Worthington
Following a slight day at Bolton’s Trinity Street station because of several late attendees we set off later than intended for the 125 Ribble Gold service to Horwich. Thankfully, as we boarded at the bottom of Great Moor Street in Bolton’s town centre, the bus was way below its intended capacity and was able to accommodate the entire payload of twenty eight adults. Kevin Clarke introduced everybody to his sister Marie, today being her inaugural attendance.
Following a brief bus journey, we disembarked from the bus on the Horwich border at St George’s Lane close to the Jolly Crofter’s public house. Under leaden skies we gradually made our way in the direction of Wilderswood slowly making our ascent towards Rivington Pike. Upon our arrival we had a break for lunch. We all felt the keen, cool northerly wind as we began to cool after perspiring from our arduous climb. A significant number of visitors were milling around the site of the Pike presenting us with a slight problem of finding seating whilst we ate our lunch.
Our next port of call after lunch was Pigeon Tower from where we began to descend towards the Chinese Gardens. Continuing our descent we progressed towards Rivington Hall. One or two members of our party, including your correspondent, had nostalgic memories of the courtyard outside the Upper Barn at Rivington where we used to attend motorcycle meetings on Sunday afternoons. Our target now was the Bay Horse in Rivington village and we quickened our pace in an attempt to avoid the rain, which was now beginning to increase slightly in its intensity. The Bay Horse, prima facie, appeared to offer a decent range of bitters. Upon our arrival, your correspondent asked Noel for his choice of bitter. He elected to opt for the Wainwright’s but as the glass landed upon his table and as his eyes alighted upon it, he performed a rapid volte face whilst simultaneously exclaiming that it looked like something that he’d passed earlier that day. Upon an inspection by your correspondent and, as he peered into the glass, he advised Noel that if that was the case, he needed to arrange a consultation with his general practitioner toute de suite. Upon the return of the ‘sample’ to the landlord, his silent acceptance of it and the offer of a New World replacement served as an implicit assignment of a ‘guilty as charged’ judgement. The Wainwright’s and the New World appeared to be the only bitters on offer together with Thatcher’s as the cider offering.
We left the Bay Horse to continue towards Lower Rivington Reservoir and Liverpool Castle. The walk ended at the Crown Inn in Horwich town centre. Several members departed for home at this stage whilst one or two others entered the Crown Inn. The majority however made its way towards The Brewery Bar, owned by the Blackedge Brewing Company Limited, which was a short walk towards the direction of Bolton. Once inside the Brewery Bar, there was an agonising choice of bitters to be had including: Brewsmith Gold, Brewsmith Mosaic (Brewsmith), Black, N.Z.P.A., Ginger, American, Blackedge Craft Keg (Blackedge Brewing Company). The range of ciders included Thistly Cross, Abrahall’s and Thunderwing Molly. Mike Whittle, not wanting to look a ‘gift horse in the mouth’ gleefully collected a free pint, from a landlady who was strongly focussed on customer service, after he accepted her apologies for handing him two thirds of a pint which she conceded was from the ‘bottom of the barrel’. Upon our arrival at the bar it was noted that a heated, glass fronted, pie oven was adequately filled with a selection of pies that were to soon to disappear with unseemly haste. Kevin McDonough at one point looked quite distraught, being torn between visiting the bar for a second order of a pie and servicing the nagging demands of his bladder. The latter took priority but before departing, he placed his order with Noel who was in turn also placing a further order for pies. Noel, however, was soon to report a minor calamity: there was an order placed for three pies (Kevin Maximus, Minimus and Noel) but only two remained in the oven. What to do? As Noel looked over in Kev Minimas’ direction this was the question etched into his face. Magnanimous as ever, Kev Minimas made the ultimate concession: he withdrew his order. Altruism in its purest form! Apparently though, all was not yet lost. A white knight emerged from the background in the form of one Mark Nutter. He had learned of the pie eating triumvirate’s pastry predicament, and, before Kev Maximus had returned from the water closet, had offered one of his own pies that he’d not eaten from his earlier lunch. With his offer though came a qualifier – caveat emptor! Mark’s pork pies on offer were about a third of the diameter of those on display in the oven. However, that notwithstanding, Mark’s pie was placed on Kevin Max’s plate whilst Kevin Min performed a quick reversal of his earlier altruism and plonked the other two oven pies on his and Noel’s plates. Kevin duly returned, sat down and began to focus with some earnest on the contents of his plate. He casually remarked to Noel on the size differential between his and the other two pies. Noel, thinking on his feet, and looking at Kevin po-faced, claimed that the reason for this was that Kevin’s pie had been in the oven for some considerable time and that the reduction in size had been attributable to a significant loss of moisture from the pastry, in a pathetic attempt to offer some rational explanation. Whether it was the cumulative effect of several pints of alcohol or Noel’s completely unconvincing reworking of the laws of physics, Kevin happily picked up the miniscule offering and was about to launch into it before he was summarily halted in his tracks. Kevin Min told him the earlier story before he had taken his first bite and returned the original oven pie to his plate.
Mark was heard lamenting over the absence of members wearing official attire.
The group thanked Alan once more for an imaginative and entertaining outing.