Shopping vs. Ride-Out A weekend in Street







     
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It was a high risk strategy. A hotel weekend located next to one of the largest factory outlet shopping villages in the south of England. The conflict was always destined to be shopping vs. ride-out. The more prepared members managed to walk the fine line, leaving the extra, ‘just in case’ evening dresses at home (and that’s just the chaps) in favour of leaving room for those purchases we didn’t even know we needed.


Reaching our destination around 4 o’clock gave us time to install ourselves in our rooms before heading for the bar or succumbing to the Siren-like calls of the Clark’s Shopping Village, immediately adjacent to our accommodation. Contrary to my normal instincts, Mrs. M and I went shopping which proved significantly more expensive than the bar. Shoes for work, which were needed, Timberland boots for me, which probably weren’t. Thankfully, we had come prepared with a rather flaccid Kreiger Tail Pack, but one now scheduled to be an entirely different shape on the return journey. Luck of the draw!
Dinner was the expected enjoyable social gathering, recounting the day’s events and catching up with many old friends over a glass or 3. The accommodation was quite varied with some of the group in the main Hotel, others in adjacent cottages, and few of us in cottages a couple of minutes’ walk down Street High Street. I suspect the latter got the better deal, being slightly tucked away from the main road, and away from the noisy rabble in the Inn, and some customers, on a Friday and Saturday night.

Saturday saw us assembling in the Inn car park before heading out on the lazy Somerset roads, heading for West Bay, Dorset. The carefully planned route however, was thrown into chaos by the closure of one of the key roads, leading us to an even more comprehensive tour of this pretty part of the Country. Personally, my ride was interrupted by a recalcitrant fly which failed to observe the time-honoured tradition of committing hari-kiri on my screen. Instead, it found its way into my
Mike Cross had produced his usual well planned, well executed, weekend trip with the options of meeting at our weekend retreat, The Bear Inn, in Street, or a Friday bimble through the leafy lanes of Hampshire, Dorset, and Somerset. The latter was a gentle stroll of around 80 miles from Rownham Services, on the M27, complemented by an improving weather pattern, and punctuated by a delightful lunch break at the Virginia Ash in Henstridge.
A well chosen lunch stop in Henstridge
Clark's Factory Outlet Village
(Just to clarify,  Mrs. M. is not one of the Sirens)
crash helmet and irritatingly, wandered around just below my ear lobe, refusing any efforts on my part to dislodge it. Finally, breaking with the group, I stopped and had to remove my helmet to get the little beast out.

The roads were a joy, covering parts of the Somerset Levels, and even getting as far as the edge of the Blackdown Hills. The general view seemed to be that the frequency of 30mph speed limits was erring on excessive, often having no more than a couple of hundred yards between zones, preventing any flow in the ride. Still, health and safety must win through, and we observed all the speed limits on our ride.

Arriving in West Bay, the town was already buzzing with bikers and tourists. This is something of a motorcycling mecca with marked bike bays for parking and a branch of Helmet City perched right on the seafront, just where the stall selling Kiss-Me-Kwik hats used to be. The sun was out and the wind was blowing; proper British seaside weather.
Mike and Jeanette seemed to know every pub in West Bay
Picturesque harbour
Coastal views, West and East
West Bay was the key location for the ITV series Broachurch, and many of the buildings and scenes would be familiar to fans of the programme. The fine shingle beach is dominated by the sandstone cliffs which soar upwards from the beach whilst, to the West, the view stretched right across Lyme Bay to Lyme Regis and Charmouth, along the World Heritage, Jurassic Coastline. Having taken longer to reach this delightful place than planned, it is definitely one to be put onto the sat nav a future, longer visit, but probably not in high-season. There was much evidence that this place would be packed to the gunwales during the school holidays.

We returned to Street on a more direct route and were back in time for drinks at the bar …. Or more shopping. We did the latter, buying some champagne glasses to replace one’s previously broken from a set. (Champagne glasses - motorcycle luggage? They made it back in one piece!)

Sunday saw us making our way back, either individually, or as part of a planned ride, back through the countryside to Middle Wallop Army Air Museum for lunch, via the spooky Porton Down biological research station. This has only recently been made accessible to the public following its declassification as a military research station. Its open ranges and mysterious bunkers were something more akin to a sci-fi film than a Sunday afternoon ride-out. After a snack lunch, we went our separate ways, heading for the Surrey Hills, and home.

Many thanks go to Mike and Jeanette for leading the weekend and to our lovely friends in the Southern Section for making it such a good break.

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Photo: Lesley Smith
The weekend in pictures by Lesley Smith