Growing up in a town whose biggest annual event is an international festival of morris dancing, I consider myself something of a connoisseur, so the Rushcart festival was a nice opportunity to check out some fresh talent. It draws on the ancient tradition of carrying fresh rushes to put on the floor of public buildings. Where the dancing comes in I've no idea, but I bet fertility is involved.
I'm amazed the Rushcart is permitted by the EU. Picture if you will a morris man perched thirteen feet up on a pile of rushes (cut by kind permission of the National Trust) atop a swaying cart drawn up and down hills by the rest of the sides. You would not catch me up there in a gazillion years. As if that wasn't enough, the rider is plied with beer at every village along the route. You'd think there would at least be hard hats and safety harnesses involved.
I noticed two things about the northern morris teams (or 'sides', as those of us in the know call them):
- There were no women's sides involved (we get lots in Wimborne)
- Hats lavishly decorated with fresh flowers, often heather
Sunday was the Whitby Run, one of very few rallies for automatic scooters. Two of the local X9 owners kindly met me in a layby and escorted me to the start at Wakefield, where we found everything from tricked-out mopeds to monster Burgmans. We set off in fine style - and the X9 group and I got left behind at the first set of traffic lights.
No worries, we thought: we had two marshals with us, and waited for one of them to move out in front of the group and show us the way. Two circuits of the town centre later we discovered that the marshals clearly had no clue where they were going, and it was only thanks to an X9er with a GPS that we escaped Wakefield at all.
Once we reached the first meeting point, an hour and a half after we should have done, our remaining marshal (his friend having got left behind somewhere) announced that he knew where he was now, thanks, and buggered off. The rest of us required a coffee stop after driving for two hours, much of it round in circles, so we had a very nice ride of our own across the moors. This included Goathland, famous as a location for Heartbeat but more interesting to me as a stockist of pineapple ice cream. Lots of rolling roads and twisties, lots of sheep.
When we eventually arrived at the final rendezvous it was high time for me to start back for Bromley. I found some more nice roads on my way back to the M1 and did the whole journey in just over 6 hours.