Oswestry, we discovered on Friday night, is a strange place filled with strange people. On Saturday morning we learned that they also have some strange driving habits, but we escaped unscathed to the back roads where I enjoyed the overtaking opportunities, the views and the criminally cute lambs.
It began to pour with rain after our coffee stop and I found myself in difficulties as I couldn't see over my borrowed scooter's rain-blobbed and misted tall screen. Generally you should look over a bike screen, rather than through it; with this one I found myself craning round the side of it like a dog with its head out of a car window.
We stopped at a viewpoint, and Howard showed me where Snowdon would appear if it wasn't covered in cloud:
Everyone we met assured us that the hills were drawing down the rain and it would clear as we travelled onwards.
This wasn't quite true, and the rest of the journey was alternately wet and very wet, but the sun did come out after we'd reached our destination.
I'm not a huge Prisoner buff but I'd watched enough to be very excited about Portmeirion, where it was filmed. The village is also pretty and weird enough to be interesting in its own right.
We got lost in the gardens, following smaller and smaller paths until we found ourselves on the wrong side of this notice:
The very sweet Dogs' Cemetery ('TO DEAREST DARLING WOOFY') was guarded by this mournful chap:
I did some souvenir shopping (the Prisoner shop is number 6 on the map) after enjoying a delicious ice cream (bubblegum flavour):
The return journey through Snowdonia National Park was much sunnier, and we were back at the hotel in time for Doctor Who.
On Sunday morning I arrived at the meeting point, Meole Brace Park & Ride, in a state of high anxiety, as the red ribbon which proved I'd registered had blown off my mirror on the dual carriageway. Thankfully, a kind marshal gave me another.
He said they were expecting 3000 bikes, but that some riders might be put off by the weather forecast. (Wimps!)
We estimated the eventual turnout as around a thousand - still an impressive number. A sudden downpour struck, and I found myself once again The Only Biker With An Umbrella.
Then the sun came out and we were off down the A5, police outriders blocking the roundabouts to give us a clear path. In laybys and on footbridges, people stood and waved, holding up their children to look at the column of bikes. The ride was smooth and we arrived on time.
I hadn't visited the Cosford museum before. On this occasion we didn't really have time to do it justice, and I shall have to return. There are seventy planes in four hangars, one of which is the National Cold War Exhibition and includes all three V-bombers. It is a pretty BIG space, and they still had to suspend some of the planes from the ceiling to fit them in.
We spent a happy couple of hours looking at the planes, then rode off to meet an X9 Forum member who had kindly offered to escort us back to his place. He and his missus plied us with coffee, sandwiches, cake and scones, fortifying us for the long motorway ride home.
Just over 600 miles for the weekend.