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Mallory Park

Weekend: Friday

I have had a lovely long weekend, though it made dragging my tail back into work a bit of a struggle.

It started on Thursday evening, when I met jm_horse for a cheeky Pizza Express before heading to the South Bank Centre to see William Boyd talk about his newly-released James Bond novel, Solo. Howard, who was coming up from Dorset, joined us a few minutes in. I was delighted to learn that Boyd and his friends used to read Bond aloud to each other in the dormitory at boarding-school, because I used to read it to my friends at my boarding-school. Afterwards we queued for signings, then sat over coffee overlooking the river while I reflected that there's still time for me to become the first woman to write an official Bond novel...

The weekend itself was spent in Presteigne, 'Gateway to Wales', with the London Advanced Motorcyclists. We were to gather at the southbound Wisley services on Friday morning, around forty of us, and ride to Wales in pre-assigned groups by routes of our own planning.

My first bit of excitement occurred at the meeting point, when I found myself queuing to pay for my petrol behind Sandi Toksvig. I hoped there would be an opportunity for witty banter, but, alas, no, though I did tap her on the shoulder to point out that one of the cashiers was free.

Of Howard's and my group of five, one didn't show and two were two-up on a big Kawasaki, so we made a tight little unit of three bikes. It turned out that my quick glance at Google Maps at work on Thursday was the closest thing to route planning any of us had done, and I'd only thought as far ahead as lunch.

I hate leading, especially leading strangers, but at least I got my bit over with right at the start, and the couple we were riding with were pleasant, easygoing company. My route took us into the Cotswolds, along roads I ride every year for the Air Tattoo and always mean to visit when they're not jammed with airshow traffic, ending with sandwiches at Kemble Airfield. It all worked, and I was pleased and relieved.

Afterwards we followed a sat-nav on Shortest Route, which is never my favourite thing. True to form, we ended up turning our bikes round on a muddy single track when we met a herd of cows coming the other way. Howard took over the lead position soon after this, bringing us safely to our destination with a combination of sat-nav and actual nav. At the hotel we were reunited with the other members of the party and enjoyed a delicious dinner. (My choices for each of the two nights we stayed: fish, fish, pudding.)


followed a sat-nav on Shortest Route

Ah. A sure-fire way to find muddy tracks and dead ends, that. ;)
I did make this point, but did anybody listen? It'll be an adventure, they said. BAH.
Do you sometimes wonder whether those devices are actually out to get you, one way or another?

"In fifty yards turn left."

Through the hedge? Into that wood? Then over that cliff? That road left with the Romans...

There are some truly-great and interesting twisties around Presteigne.. Back in the mid-1980s I drove quite a few of them in a Mk.1 Fnord Escort RS2000 as part of the "Motoring News" road-rally championship.
Nice! I go for the scenery, really, but am not averse to the occasional twisty...
Presteigne itself is a nice place, if not terribly thrilling. (The exception being the terrifying open-flame gaslights in the cellars of the Judges Lodgings museum...) I can't say I've ever seen Sandi Toksvig there, though!
It's very pretty - the hotel was a black and white half-timbered affair - with a bookshop I didn't have time to explore, and a chemist selling Cymru-themed, scooter-shaped magnets!
there's still time for me to become the first woman to write an official Bond novel

Ooo.. now there's a thought. =:D

Actually, that reminds me: apparently, Bryan Talbot is quite a Sherlock Holmes fan, and has designed this year's Crimbo card for the society for said figure. (Unfortunately, the caption's fairly unreadable on the web)

I admit, I'm terrible for loving the most minor roads possible. =:D That, though, is with four wheels underneath.

FWIW, here's the belly pork I enjoyed on Sunday night, at one of my local favorites. Being a bunny of very little brain, I merrily tucked into the pork shown, only eventually thinking that there was meant to be potato gratin as well - only once I'd finished the pork off did I realise that the other oblong was the potato. Ah well. A delicious main course regardless, even if enjoyed a little akilter. =:/

(Started with the scallops, though. Rather good, sat on a bed of pea purée and crispy bacon =:9)
Oh, that is an excellent card!

Pork belly was on offer for Saturday night, but local trout swung it for me. I've never tried scallops as I'm allergic to mussels but not prawns, and I'm not sure which camp scallops might fall into.


Annoyingly I'm still waiting for my signed copy to turn up. Admittedly I won it in a competition, but even so, that was LAST WEEK.

*sits on hands*

I just want to read it...

Have you read the Moneypenny Diaries? I've got the first one on my shelf to read.

Also, you should acquire Catching Bullets, by Mark O'Connell. It's jolly good.

Re: Bond

Ooh, congrats on the win!

I loved the Moneypenny Diaries - bought the first one when I heard the author speak at a Bond event in the Imperial War Museum, and I wasn't sure if I'd like it, but it's extremely well done.