May Day Bank Holiday

We set off at 10:00 am to go to Peak Rail to sell raffle tickets on the train to raise some funds for the Darley Dale Down Building. This is a grade 2 listed building on Darley Dale Station that was abandoned when the railway from Matlock to Buxton was closed in 1968 and has been neglected ever since. The railway and the charitable trust are keen to restore it to use, but it will cost a lot of money – about quarter of a million pounds.

Our contribution today was to travel up and down the line, talking to the railway’s passengers and trying to persuade them to part with a pound for a strip of five tickets. The prize was a very large cuddly toy dog. Almost every family on the train was happy to join in, with early contributions from Australian visitors and a lone traveller from the USA. It was great to talk to people from as far afield in the UK as Stoke on Trent, Kettering, Manchester and Essex.

After a lot of walking up and down the train all day, punctuated by several mugs of tea, two bacon cobs and a slice of quiche from Rowsley buffet, we asked a passenger on the last trip to draw the winning ticket. As we pulled into Rowsley South station for the last time, the winner happened to be sitting on the platform, so it was great to be able to hand over the prize straight away. However, we had devised a cunning plan in case the winner had already left the railway – we had collected a name and phone number from everybody who bought a ticket and we had planned that the railway’s office staff would contact the winner and send the prize out by post.

On thing that Sue and I always find a bit of a rip-off with lots of raffles is when we are sold a strip of five tickets and the whole strip is put into the draw, effectively making it a single ticket. Sue and I were having none of this, so we asked each buyer to write their name and phone number on the first ticket and we copied this onto the other four before separating the individual tickets. Sure, it’s lots of work, but we both feel strongly that it is the only honest way that we can justify asking £1 for 5 tickets.

Anyway, we raised £87 pounds, not a huge proportion of the total needed, but it is more than we would have had if we’d stayed at home. We also rode over to the railway on the Heritage, making this the fourth consecutive day that we had ridden the bike over this weekend. With a dull, overcast start to the day, I almost left the bike in the garage and took the car, but when the sun came out and it turned into a warm spring day, the bike was the correct choice.

We left the railway at about 5:30pm and headed back to find the centre of Matlock was a traffic jam. We originally decided to head for home, but today was the first evening ride out of the year by Mansfield area group of Sherwood Chapter. It was a very easy decision to decide to ride to Mansfield and join the group who were having dinner in the Oak Tree. I had sausage and mash, Sue tucked into her customary roast chicken and we chatted to the group that grew to a respectable size as 7pm approached.

At the appointed hour, it must have been had a dozen or more bikes that set off behind our Chapter Director, Pete Clifford. He took an interesting roundabout route through the Trent-side villages before crossing the river at Gunthorpe Bridge. We then rode to the Castle Barge, a floating pub in Newark. After some good conversation, we all started to set off on our separate ways homewards as the night was starting to draw in and some of our number, Sam in particular, were starting to feel the cold. We arrived home almost 12 hours afters setting out to greeted by a hungry cat, Misty.

We are getting well into the riding season now and it is only a couple of days until the first ride out of the year organised by the shop. This, of course, is our chapter’s sponsoring Harley-Davidson dealership. With this ride out due to take place on Wednesday evening, that only leaves Tuesday night to give the bike a good wash before then. I am full of good intentions, but I’ll have to let you know how I go on in reality.

Ride safe,


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