If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Pics from XT Meet

Here are some pics from the weekend. Click for bigger. Sorry for the quality; the iPhone doesn't take very good photographs, but it's better than lugging a DSLR round everywhere on the off-chance.

Baskerville Hall Hotel
Arthur Conan Doyle used to visit Baskerville Hall a lot, and it was there that he heard the local legend of a ghostly hound. When he told the owners he was thinking of working it up into a story, they pleaded with him not to reveal the location of the Hall, as they feared an influx of undesirable visitors. In deference to his hosts, he agreed to set the story in Devon. They still got their undesirable visitors, though.

Gathering of the Clans
Showing that Germans appreciate decent 4x4s as well. This guy had built a superb expedition 110 and had toured Morocco in it. Powys shouldn't have been too much of a problem. He was the kind soul who lent me a blanket for the second night. Germans, I love 'em.

Crude attempt at bringing fire to the people
Public-spirited work in clearing surrounding woodland of dead material and disposing of it in an environmentally-friendly way. The chap in the foreground is an Irishman who was returning to Ireland with a van full of old Honda C90s. I didn't find out why. He lives within a stone's throw of the Magners brewery and showed a touching dedication to their products.

Home from home
My little corner of a cold and damp paradise. For a biker's tent, it is palatial and took way too long to put up and strike. A waste of drinking time, basically.

Ready for the off
XTs and assorted hangers-on get ready for the ride-out.

Oldest bike of the weekend
One of the 'Thumpers' was a 1950 Norton 16H, a 500cc side-valve single. It was, to be charitable, in 'oily-rag' rather than concourse condition. There was a bit of concern over how it would keep up on the ride-out. No problem, of course. I followed him for several miles, and the lovely chuff-chuff of a Brit single was an aural pleasure. I rather fancied getting one, but then I heard that these are fetching over 3 grand even in this condition, so I changed my mind. It was good to see a bike that was even older then me and still in good working order, though.

My little hero
Was there too.

Abergavenny Bus Station
And a crowd of bikes - mainly plastic pocket-rockets, but a few proper bikes in there.

Llanthony Priory
Beautiful, quiet corner, and a real sun-spot - it reminded me a lot of Strata Florida, which has the same rather spooky quietness. Decent ice-creams.

Surprise view
Somewhere on the mountain road between Abergavenny and Hay-on-Wye - we just came round a corner on a twisty single-track, and - wow - there was this. It seemed as if the whole world was laid out at your feet. 25 bikes all had the same idea, and stopped for a gasp and a photo. The cage drivers were not too pleased. Sod 'em.

Ready for home
Note the scientific way the luggage is loaded with no regard for the principles of weight distribution, or common sense. It worked fine, though.

Dire Warning
This is a monument (the "Mail Coach Pillar") by the side of the road between Brecon and Llandovery. One one side is a cliff face, and the other is a plunge of - well, a long way - down a steep slope to the river. The monument was erected as a warning to mail coach drivers to forswear the evil drink after a mail coach with a drunken coachman had a tragic accident here in 1835. The coachman, Edward Jenkins, was driving the mail coach from Gloucester to Carmarthen. Under the influence of strong drink, he was driving on the wrong side of the road at a full gallop when he met a cart coming the other way. He pulled the horses the wrong way, the coach plunged 121 feet to the river and broke apart after hitting an ash tree (great detail, huh? It even names the passengers, both 'inside' and 'outside' the coach) with a heavy loss of life. The monument was erected as an early form of drink-driving campaign.

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