Just in case you think that life and these ramblings have become 100% bike, I’m going to buck the trend this time. However, I do have some bike-related bits to start with.
If you know our fair city of Nottingham, you’ll also know that it sometimes isn’t the most car-friendly place in the world. However, you can always find somewhere to park a bike, which is one very good reason for having the Yamaha YBR125.
Going back to last Monday, my manager at work, who I’ll call Lynn (mainly because that’s her name), was due to attend the same work meeting as me across the city. Lynn said that she’d bring her car in so that we could go there together. I suggested that we could go on the Heritage Softail, and Lynn jumped at the chance, provided that Sue, my wife, didn’t object to her pillion seat being occupied by another. I duly checked and was given the go-ahead.
Monday dawned and I remembered the spare lid, gloves and neck tube. I arrived at work at the appointed hour to meet Lynn, who phoned in from home, not to bottle out, but to beg a lift from home to the meeting – a rather longer ride. I picked her up from her front door, gave her the usual new pillion briefing; things like don’t lean, let the bike do it; keep you feet up until we get there… Lynn climbed aboard to admiring glances from her teenage son and we set off. By the second street I remembered that Lynn rides horses and uses her knees to hang on – and has she got some grip! A Softail pillion seat is a bit higher than the rider’s seat and her knees and my kidneys were occupying the same bit of space. At our destination, no more than five miles or across the city, Lynn climbed off and wobbled. She had been gripping me so tightly that she could hardly stand up.
With a slightly revised version of the pillion briefing, the ride back to work after the meeting was a bit more comfortable for both of us.
Let’s fast forward to the weekend. Saturday was the warmest day of the year so far with warm sunshine all day. It started with a Sherwood Chapter committee meeting at Robin Hood Harley Davidson, followed by a chapter ride-out to the Cat & Fiddle pub at the top of a spectacular peak district pass. Although the ride was very well patronised by Chapter members, Sue and I headed off on our own to another part of Derbyshire; Rowsley South Station of Peak Rail.
We blew out the chapter ride for the outstandingly good reason that we had arranged to meet with Martin Cowling, an Australian trainer and consultant in volunteer management, at the railway. When I met Martin at a volunteering conference last year, we somehow started talking about trains and discovered a mutual interest. I invited him to come to Peak Rail as soon as he could make it, and this was the day.
With the chapter committee meeting having rambled on for a bit longer than I expected it to, we arrived at the railway a little later than we should have to be greeted by a chrus of railway volunteers saying, “There’s been someone asking for you.” For a few dreadful minutes, I thought that we had missed Martin and co, but just as the needs of the inner man took over and my pie and chips from the buffet arrived, our guests were spotted walking down the yard across from the station platform. Once they had arrived on the platform, introductions were made when Sue and and I were delighted to meet Martin along with Rob Jackson, (who is another figure from the world of Volunteering) along with his wife and two young sons. They had already had a trip on the train and a guided tour of the LMS Carriage Association‘s restoration shed and workshop.
While we were talking on the platform the train arrived at Rowsley station where Jackie Statham, the railway’s Joint Managing Director and ultimate volunteer, invited us all into the restaurant car, known at Peak Rail as The Palatine. We were treated to tea and cakes during a ride down the line to Matlock with some special chocoalte cakes for the children. All of our group, very much including Sue and I, enjoyed the experience immensely, but for Martin, it got better still when we arrived at Matlock Riverside station. Jackie asked him if he would like to ride back to Rowsley on the footplate of the steam locomotive. At first, Martin didn’t seem too keen, but once he realised that this was genuine offer, he was delighted and went off to join the loco crew for the trip back, while the rest of us drank more tea.
On arrival back at Rowsley South, we took a walk down the yard towards the almost-completed engine shed and the Class 37 diesels, where we reminisced for a while about the old Inter City “Swallow” livery. By then, time was marching on and we went our separate ways; Martin flying out to the USA to work, as well as riding on an American railway or two.
I was back at the railway today (Sunday) as guard on the train, but that’s a fairly regular occurence and a fuller story can wait for another day.