I almost wrote “Blogging The Beaver”, but that’s one step too cheesy, even for me.
If you stumbled across this post and are completely mystified about that title, stick around for a few moments and I’ll reveal all. You know, that might just be the most appropriate phrase that I could have used to describe the most recent weekend of our lives.
Hoggin the Beaver is an annual rally where (mostly) members of the Harley Owners Group get together as the culmination of a year’s considerable amount of fundraising. It’s held in the Vale of Belvoir, close to Belvoir Castle, where Belvoir is pronounced (and I know that you’re ahead of me here) Beaver! Obviously Hoggin The Beaver V is the fifth time that this event has been run.
Although the vast majority of people attending are from various HOG chapters, including Sherwood Chapter, it isn’t a chapter organised event, but is organised as a labour of love by Pete Clifford and his partner Sam York. They sort out the whole weekend between them with what always appears to be the absolute minimum of support from anyone else.
The format is much like any other biker rally (in my limited experience), with arrival and tent pitching on the Friday afternoon and evening, before Saturday’s main events and a Sunday packing up and travelling home.
This year, Friday was decidedly showery, but Sue and I had a dry journey from Nottingham to the venue, the Rutland Arms, aka the dirty Duck, just outside the village of Woolsthorpe. We had bought a new tent a day or so earlier and we are very grateful to Eric, one of the Sherwood Chapter members, for his help putting it up.
This is an enormous 4 berth dome tent, and even though there are only the two of us who will ever use it, the domestic authority needs the extra space to scatter her belongings. (Don’t ask me, I’m just a man.)
One the tent was up, we could ignore the showers and turned our attention to our major responsibility of the weekend, providing the disco. It seems that it is 100% compulsory to have a live band to provide the evening entertainment at every rally. The band booked for Friday night was El Gecko, an alt.country four piece who were the most laid-back and easy-going bunch of musicians you could ever hope to work with. They arrived bang on time and took less than an hour to set up and be ready to go. I even had to invite them to take the time to do a full band soundcheck because they knew that I was waiting to start the disco. It was a refreshing contrast to work with these guys after one or two bands in previous years.
However, the problem with this venue has always been space. The stage is only just big enough for my own disco rig and the band. This means that Sue cannot take her rightful place at my side during the disco sessions and has to hang around at a loose end while I’m performing. She won’t thank me for telling you that last year she got a bit drunk and got into an argument with a hanger-on from the band. This year, she took a book and sat in tent reading during my early sessions. We linked up while the band were on, and although I don’t normally drink at all when I’m doing disco, but everybody else was certainly getting stuck in, so Sue and I had a night on Magners cider. It doesn’t take much to be enough for either of us these days, but it’s a fine tipple, if you like that sort of thing. But once the band had finished and I started my main set through until about 1am, Sue went back to the tent and went to bed.
In Part 2 of this report, look out for my ride-out report and an update about Saturday night’s entertainment.