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Rain, hail, lightning and more rain, the forecast for Tintern blared. Josh from the film crew rang me on the Sunday night.
‘Really sorry, Sue, looks like we’ll probably have to cancel, the forecast is–’
‘Nooooo!’ I wailed. ‘Please don’t cancel! I have ladies from North Wales and Liverpool already on the road!’
Poor man. He promised to ring and confirm attendance at 08.30. I barely slept. The morning forecast hadn’t altered, and my heart sank as I awaited that phone call. Josh sent a text. He probably couldn’t bear another wailing woman call.
‘We’re good to go. See you there.’
WooHoo! Posting the good news on Facebook, I gathered my clobber and made tracks to Old Station, Tintern.
This would be the fourth attempt to meet Henry Cole, of The Motorbike Show, Shed and Buried, World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides, Junk and Disorderly and Find it, Fix it, Flog it. The other attempts had been foiled by snow, floods and Covid. I was delighted that they still wanted us and pulled out all the stops to accommodate them.
Old Station, Tintern, is a picturesque picnic area, with the old station as café. There’s also signal box and a carriage, and plenty of parking, which the manager kindly cordoned off for us. We arrived to find many Curvies there already, munching on their bacon sarnies – including Kitty and Clare, from North Wales! So many regions, all gathered together. It was brilliant to see all these smiling faces after so long in lockdown.
North Wales, Wirral, Essex, Hereford, Warks, Gloucs, Worcs, Wilts and South, East and West Wales were in attendance.
Henry arrived with the film crew and the sunshine, and engaged with the ladies before he’d even got out of the car. Charming, funny, smiling and happy to be photographed with anyone who wanted to be, he was exactly as he is on the tv. Easy company, asking questions and listening to the answers. And good at remembering names! The crew bustled about setting themselves up and I couldn’t help noticing that Henry was the same with them as he was with us.
Henry’s bike and the drone had got caught up in the diversions and fallen trees resulting from the gale force winds of the previous day, so Henry asked if I would lead a rideout, ‘As you’re in charge.’ Who, me? ‘Just a few miles up the road and back, so we can film you.’
Pamela Jones pillioned the cameraman, Ben, who later confided in me that the last time he’d pillioned, he’d been a kid on his dad’s bike! I led a huge tail of Curvies, slowly, to allow the cameraman time to catch us up. Good thing I was going slow, as just a mile later, the road was closed due to tree-felling.
This meant the entire ride turning in the road. I know what you’re thinking. But there were no mishaps, and off we went again. Pam was an absolute star, allowing us to creep up alongside her pillioned cameraman to be filmed for what felt like an eternity before we were waved on.
We did this a couple of times and then it hailed. Big, fat chunks of ice bounced off my leggings. We turned back into the Old Station, where Henry’s bike had arrived. It was the cue for him to interview us as a group, and he singled out several ladies to answer questions. Donna Saxton was a star, and Audrey Sibert was knowledgeable about how and when the club began. Sally Jeeves was cheerful and positive about how men generally viewed us, and I was so proud of how supportive and encouraging everyone sounded. I stopped rounding everyone up like a manic border collie and began to relax.
They bought us tea, and Henry, with a fund of funny stories, sheltered with us from the rain while we drank it, signing the back of Pam’s hi viz waistcoat (I wish I’d thought of that) and his paperback for me.
Everyone had a wonderful day, including Henry. He did ask at one point whether Curvy Riders accepted men, and I think he would have joined if he could!
The program will air on Henry Cole’s “The Motorbike Show” on 28th July, 9:00pm on ITV.