The “first annual” run? A bit presumptive maybe? Well, why not?
This was our first attempt at a proper forum get-together. We’ve arranged to meet up at various bike & rod shows before, but never organised our own little Monkey gathering. I’d like to think it went pretty well. Most of those who took part have already said they’d be up for doing it all again next year, so why not?
I’m very happy to say that the MMMotors forum has slowly evolved into a nice little community with none of the arguments & cliques that are so common in other groups. Some members are friends from my local area, some are from further afield & some I’ve never met & know only as names on a computer screen, but all are happy to share their knowledge, help each other out, or just drop in for a chat from time to time. About a year ago we decided to harness all that forum goodwill by chipping in 10 pounds each to sponsor a chimpanzee at the MonkeyWorld ape rescue centre in Dorset. We chose Micky, a chimp who’d been rescued from a miserable life, being used as a photographer’s prop in Spain. We receive a quarterly newsletter from MonkeyWorld, an adoption certificate & a group entry ticket, giving free entry to the centre for up to 30 people.
So when a forum get-together was first suggested, MonkeyWorld was the obvious destination. A date was set. Sunday, April the 29th 07. As is always the way with these things, by the time April arrived, several people had dropped out, but on the day we still managed to muster a very creditable fifteen people for the trip. Furthest travelled was probably Janie on her faithful little 500 Royal Enfield India, who rode from Aldershot to meet us in Basingstoke for the trip down to Dorset. By the time she got home again that evening she’d covered over 300 miles. Being between vehicles at the moment, I had to rely on my good lady Tazet for a lift in her BMW, while Flap rode his orange Reliant trike. We took a meandering & gentle ride down, through Winchester & Salisbury, to meet up with the rest of the group in a supermarket carpark in Blandford Forum. Would there be anybody there to meet us we wondered? Yes, of course there was. We pulled into the carpark to find eleven others waiting for us.
Doc had blasted up from Somerset on his GS850 trike, “Twisted Patience”. Biker Gran was there on “Gertie”, her GT550 Kwacka trike from Poole, as was Toad on his Honda, with his other half Violet May meeting us at the centre. Rainbow & her friend Kev had ridden up from Southampton on a Yamaha & a Honda. Pete, Chrissie & Emily had travelled from Lymington on their VW trike, as had Chevy Rick & Jake on their Harleys.
It didn’t take long to cruise the ten miles or so from Blandford out to MonkeyWorld but it was great to watch our little contingent of machines, snaking their way around the Dorset lanes. The weather was glorious –warm sunshine all day. Perfect for a ride out with some good friends. We arrived at MonkeyWorld at lunchtime, showed our group entry ticket & strolled inside.
The park covers 65 acres & is home to over 160 apes of all species. It’s a nice place to spend a Sunday afternoon, but more importantly, it’s a refuge for animals suffering cruelty or neglect & has links with organisations & Governments all over the World, dedicated to rescuing or improving the lives of our closest cousins.
Of course, top of our list of people we wanted to meet was Micky –“our” boy. We found him in Paddy’s group, where one of the keepers was able to point him out to us. Being much greyer than his fellow chimps, the 25 year old was easy to spot. I’m glad to say he looked fit & well & happy in his adoptive home. Having split up to wander around the enclosures, we reconvened at the park entrance at 3 in the afternoon. Toad had volunteered to lead us on a mystery tour to a local beauty spot. I had no idea what he had in mind & must admit to being a little worried! I needn’t have been though. We rode out in convoy across the Dorset hills towards the coast. The views were spectacular, long valleys stretching out below us in the spring sunshine & twisting single track lanes winding around the hillsides.
Toad had chosen Tyneham, near Lulworth Cove, as our destination. It’d been a thriving rural community until the Army bought the entire village during the War, evacuated everybody & used it as a training ground. The MOD still owns the land & entry is restricted to weekends & holidays. What a beautiful spot. So tranquil. We’d packed the boot of the car with picnic stuff & Bobbi had brought along a disposable barbeque. We also had several Frisbees with us, but in the end, everyone was happy to wander around the ruined cottages or simply relax in the sunshine & enjoy the peace & quiet. A lovely afternoon in great company.
We eventually said our Goodbyes & drifted away around teatime, finally reaching home by mid evening. As a first attempt at organising anything like this, I think it went really well. Thank you to all those who made the effort to join us & to those who didn’t make it, I hope we’ll see you on next year’s run!