New Forest
HOG at
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Taunton Carnival ? - It was all 'Geordie Andy' s idea ... like a 'Wall of light man' he said ... 'You'll feel the heat off the parade man' he said. ...and how we scoffed and joshed him - But he was bloody right ... it was ( like a wall man) ... and you could (feel the heat man)

Lips and I took up an invitation to join Tony, Mims and a whole bunch of Eastern area party faithfuls heading West . Mims had booked a beautiful B&B just 1 mile from the carnival rendezvous point and half a mile from the official Bridgwater HOG sunday morning departure point for HTB 7 (Irish luck , female intuition .. or both ?) . The only part of the equation that escaped her (and everyone else)  was the fact it was a half term holiday weekend and the A303 would be almost at a standstill in both directions. 

Lips and I were seemingly the only ones who had taken the precaution of packing thermos flasks and fresh filled baps so whilst others were cursing Little Chef for charging a fiver for a coffee and a torp we layed out our doylies for a picnic on one their tables outside in the sun and pulled faces at the others through the window as they queued (ha ha)

Acting road captain Pompey had cunningly left the detailed map I printed off especially for him on the mantelpiece at home and Jim's Sat Nav (an E-bay 'bargain' ) was nackered - so we basically winged it 'the pretty way' as you do . Predictably a healthy dose of white line fever had set in by the time we arrived at 2.30 pm. The lovely young couple who ran the place endeared themselved instantly by pointing out their was a quantity of Worthingtons beer in the garage that we were welcome to help ourselves to. Say no more guv.

Unpack the spare undies , quich shufty around the landscaped gardens ...

couple of stiff voddies for Lippy ...

... and we're off a dozen miles up the road to Riders of Bridgwater for a mosey and a re-fuel before riding back to Taunton en masse with assorted Hogsters than have been congregating from all over the country throughout the day. 

Never been there before but very impressive showroom and nice to see provision made to celebrate the fact that the chapter are allegedly the oldest in Europe . Compliments too to whoever put together 2 huge collages of individual faces of all the Bridgwater members from silly outtake photos - very effective and a nice personal touch !

>>>  See more New Forest HOG Peeps  <<<


At the MFI car park rendezvous - to a man we're all upstaged (once again) by ... yup you've guessed it the immaculately quiffed Oliver in his silver 'Pussy Wagon' having been 'chaffeured' all the way from Sheffield by his personal grooms Rob & Hilary suitably attired in Indian clothes to match their award winning paint jobbie

>>>  See more Pix of Oliver and his Pussy Wagon   <<<

  Visit Oliver in HOG 'Pets Corner'   <<<

At 6.30 Dave Holden cranks up the megaphone to thank everyone for attending and we make our way noisily to the carnival depart point five minutes away for more of the waiting game. 

>>>  See more Pre Carnival Ride Pix  <<<

Finally come 7.00 its dark enough and we're off to warm up the crowd around the carnival route before all the farmers do their thang with their tractors and trailers and enough generator power to light up the whole of Somerset.

  Taunton Carnival Pix - Set 1  <<<

Park up at the football ground and hoof it back to the White Hart to watch the carnival only to be told by the police there's no alcohol allowed on the street. Luckily have several cans of nicely chilled Pils secreted about my personage so bollocks if they can't take a joke . Most of us station ourselves across the road outside 'Munchies' so fresh pizza and kebabs are within gobbing distance when the need arises.

The distant sound of a marching band is gradually drowned out by disco music amplified with enough decibel power to supply an AC/DC concert as the first of dozens of floats blind us with white light of mothership proportions and young (and old) people gyrate enthusiastically - most sensibly harnessed to their respective floats for health and safety purposes to avoid too much blood on the tracks.

>>>  Taunton Carnival Pix - Set 2  <<<
(courtesy Jim Murphy)

I have to say it wasn't what I was expecting given my recollections of dropping (old) pennies in buckets as the floats trundled up through Southampton common when I was a kid but its reputation is well deserved delivering as it does something more akin to a 'Mardi Gras' than a mere carnival. It ain't rock and roll but I liked it ... '2 Jags' and various others had vanished earlier for a vindaloo so frantic moby calls abound back in the darkness of the car park cos they don't know their way back to the digs. Early night then


Sunday morning despite the full English monty at 8.00am sharp we make the 9.00 a.m. depart from J25 with seconds to spare. Very fast ride with a hundred or so bikes up to the old bridge services - still dry thankfully. Numbers were probably down overall (i'm guessing) on previous years given the threats of 50 mile per hour gales and torrential rain that have persisted for most of the week and the fact we'd heard they were closing the bridges at midnight Saturday till 9.00am Sunday to let the storm blow through and were closing it again at 3.00pm sunday - so a quick in and out then as the actress said to the bishop ?

Well 'quick' was the last thing you could have described the ride as . Despite being a much longer ride than previous years through Magor and various other villages before doubling back to Chepstow I'm not sure why at times we were travelling at little more than walking pace and never got above 15-20 mph ?? - it was no surprise therefore that by the time we hit the town centre there were a number of 'smokers' . Luckily (?) our arrival co-incided with the promised deluge to help put out the flames. There was obviously going to be no let up so once the excellent blues band finished playing in the market square we claimed the T shirts , grabbed the pins, shaped up , shipped out and didn't pass GO till we hit the green green grass of home down the Wessex Way

>>>  More Pix from HTB7  <<<-

I heard rumours the event had raised 17k (?) for the 'Spencer Daman trust for meningitis' so no doubt all for a good cause but (and I'm sure I'm not the first to say it) ... shame it couldn't take place at a more sensible time of year !