Alarm-alarm, quad bikes, craft beers, tapas and Glastonbury – not just another weekend

Back to Bournemouth and Hengistbury Head, it was a great weekend

I appreciate the horrible irony that, when so many don’t have the basics, I feel that I have too many things – but as a result, our sons give me ‘experiences’ for birthday and Christmas presents.

On Friday we drove down to Bournemouth for my birthday present. We all gathered in the evening (plus the older boy’s girlfriend) in readiness for the experience on the Saturday afternoon. After a great family meal in the evening, I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep in preparation – but the phone rang just before 6.30 with a message from the alarm company to the effect that power had been lost to the alarm at home in Oxfordshire.

Although heartened by the fact that it wasn’t an intruder alert, something had to be done, and it was a bit early to contact any neighbours.

The result, of course, was that before 7am I was in the car to drive the 100 miles back home. As I got into the village I could see some lights on – but the house had no power. It was simply the trip switch that had (presumably) been activated by a power surge some time after 5am.

Resetting it took about 5 seconds, followed by the 100 mile drive back to Bournemouth. What a great way to start a day.

In the afternoon we drove to Blandford Forum for quad biking. We watched the group ahead of us and got a bit worried as they seemed to be confined to some tracks around a hillside right by the farm – perfectly good tracks, with some very good flooded sections, but for an hour in the same place?

We didn’t know whether we’d be put with others to make up a group – but we weren’t. With just the three of us (sons and me) the first instruction ‘no overtaking’ wasn’t such a disappointment, but it did occur to me that we might not have the most exciting hour ahead of us.

Happily, I was very wrong. The instructor explained that we would start on the nearby hillside but, depending how we got on, there were more tracks he could take us to a few fields away.

We were on the first hill for only about 15 minutes and we must have convinced him that we weren’t complete no-hopers and he took us to the further field where there were some more difficult tracks.

‘Gnarly’ would be the word in mountain biking circles, I think.

That seemed really good and it was enormous fun. With the three of us the no overtaking was not an issue – the track was sufficiently demanding by itself.

After a while he led us off again and I was thinking that the time had gone incredibly quickly but instead of returning to the farm, he took us to a third site. My wife had been talking to one of the other instructors who explained there was a third site that they rarely took people to because it was very difficult – apparently that’s where we were.

I thought we’d already hit lucky on the fun stakes – but the third site was even better. In and out of some trees, up some very steep hills with drops that fell away so sharply that you couldn’t see the track beneath you as you come over the top, deep ruts, adverse cambers and sharp bends in front of rather solid-looking trees. It was very hard but such a buzz.

In the early evening we went to a local micro-brewery and sampled some really excellent craft beers. After that it was off to a tapas restaurant for some terrific food (after a slightly long wait for our table – with they handled very well, with a sincere apology and a free round of drinks – all credit to them).

On the Sunday morning the older son and his girlfriend were devoted to applying for tickets for the 2020 Glastonbury music festival. To get better internet reception we went to a local cafe/bistro on the seafront where they set up a row of four laptops and two mobile phones on the wall outside (the cafe not quite being open yet).

By chance, the Bournemouth half and full marathons were taking place, passing right in front of the cafe. I suspect that many runners though they were passing either a timing checkpoint or a press centre – certainly several waved and posed for non-existent cameras. Sorry, it was just an attempt at a ticket application.

In fact, their attempts failed to get through the queues to the ticket purchase stage – but friends who were also applying did get tickets for them all so it ended well.

After a brunch and a walk around the Hengistbury Head area, everyone headed back home in the afternoon – us to Oxfordshire and the boys to London. What a great weekend – and not a run, a cycle or the gym in sight. No exercise for three days, unless I can include the quad biking (I did ache a bit on the Sunday morning), or clapping the Bournemouth runners – congratulations to all of them.

I was thinking of the Bournemouth marathon as an event for late 2020 but the route winds back on itself several times in different places (would that mess with the mind?) and although I like running along the promenade, on Sunday there was a nasty little headwind blowing west to east along the Channel. I need to think about this …

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