2012 Header
'Swamphenge
It is always a challenge trying to come up with a new ride out destination or event to attend, so when Kay breezed in and suggested a ride to the Summer Solstice it was greeted by considerable interest.

Over the past week the weather forecast has been checked avidly by a number of Vultures all wanting to share this experience. It sounded rather appealing to me too and I resolved to go if it were not too cold a day, as Arls gets cold, icy cold, very easily. Facebook was alive with messages and comments, but sadly as the day drew neigh and the forecast got worse and worse, (to the point of extreme weather warnings !) more and more people dropped out. Poor old Smudger was well up for it, but was laid low and gutted he couldn't make it. Kate arranged for her man to meet us at Chieveley as she didn't want him riding in the dark on his own. Can anyone else imagine Carl being concerned at riding alone in the dark?  No, neither can I, but it was good to have him with us.

Arls and I set off just after 1am on dry roads and in warm air, with very light traffic it made for a very pleasant ride.  2 miles from Chieveley and the first few spots of rain were felt. I decided to continue riding as we would have got wetter had we stopped to put on wet gear. At Chieveley we met up with Carl, Mike the Bike, Baz, Spokey and a couple of Kay's friends Juliette and Mark (I think). The departure time came and went, but no sign of Kay. Baz tried calling her to no avail, so eventually we fuelled up and bundled up in our wet gear set off in the driving rain. All apart from Mike that is, who had no wet gear and went back home instead. As riding in inclement weather goes, this was quite a comfortable ride. Baz kept up a reasonable and safe pace at the front and I rear marked behind Juliette and Mark. It was later I discovered Juliette was piloting and Mark was the pillion. Fair play.

Now I don't know what your impression of this event is, but I had this naive notion that we would park in the usual car park, stroll across the road to the stones and join a handful of Druids, a couple of VW Split Screen camper loads of hippies, a couple of press photographers, a few naked virgins, six Hari Krishna followers and the obligatory drunk.
Imaging my surprise when we were sent on a three mile detour around to the far side of the field containing Stonehenge to enter a field which already contained thousands of cars and camper vans. Because of the deluge it was like Glastonbury with mud four inches deep. Baz had a tete a tete with a Copper in the hope we would be allowed to park on something firm and after some negotiations we were ushered across a few hundred feet of sludge to a hard standing area for motorcycles which also contained a small igloo tent for some reason.

It really was like a Festival. There were hundreds of Hippies, some very weird people, some Druids, many many drunk and high people, some more very weird people but no naked virgins. Not even any naked non-virgins. There were hundreds of Portaloos. In fact if the VSOC had that quantity of Portaloos at a Rally we would all have at least one each. Police and National Heritage Security were out in force and there were even several mounted Police. Crew busses of Police mooched up and down the road the other side of the fence as we all trudged through the mire towards the stones. It must have been a good two mile hike, during which Baz got a call from Kay to say they had arrived, having just missed us at Chieveley.

We arrived at a check point prior to getting to the stones and stopped to wait for Kay and her friend, close to a Hari Krishna soup kitchen. At least I think that is what is was. It had a sign saying 'Feed the 5,000' or words to that effect. Now, they would have known for at least a year, that there would be a Summer Solstice in 2012, yet none of them had used that time to learn the words to their songs. One went  " La la la la, la marching in, la la la la la la la la, la la la la la la la number, la la la la la la la." whilst others banged on tom toms and saucepan lids. It was all very good natured and there was lots of smiling and tom foolery going on.

We eventually met up with Kay and her friend and told them their other friends Juliette and Mark had ridden there with us, only to be greeted by blank expressions ... "Who????"   Mmm oh well, they were nice people and Juliette rode her Suzuki well.

Once through the check point to see if we had any glass items with us  ....  ( afraid we might use the sun's rays to set fire to the grass I guess, which was by now invisible beneath the quagmire ) we arrived at the stones. Still wearing waterproofs and helmets because of the rain but which at long last had started to ease.  For a while the sky seemed to brighten and we almost started to believe we may see the sun briefly. Nah ! 
Posses of Police and Security men seemed to be having a game of their own. They would all suddenly run in one direction, homing in on a particular spot, then like something from Keystone Cops would suddenly turn, look around in a merecat stylie, then run off in an entirely different direction, shouting instructions down their radios. 
Carl's popularity rocketed when a group of Dorset lads standing nearby discovered that he was in possession of a dry packet of Rizlas !!!!   He was like the Messiah !   Well he's not the Messiah he's a very naughty boy !
Bongos were bonged, horns were blown, the Druids had their equivalent of a Diesel Award Presentation, laser lights were shone on the stones, vodka was poured down throats, spliffs were rolled, stones were hugged, weird people milled about, and eventually the magic moment came. It wasn't like New Year where everyone counts down supposedly in time with Big Ben, there was no announcement or ceremony, no rapier beam of sunlight, the bonging, blowing, presenting, shining, pouring, rolling, hugging  and milling continued and the moment passed. After all that effort the main act, the STAR of the show (see what I did there?) failed to show !!!! But who took notice ????  Bloody nobody, that's who took notice.

At this point Baz suddenly had a pang for a full English, so we set off home via Chieveley for a cold, mediocre, over priced breakfast which we had to wait ages for and even longer for some cutlery. The service at Chieveley was as enthusiastic as the Solstice itself, just couldn't be arsed.  So next year anyone ?  Sorry Kay but include me out !