Trula and Paige came around and spent the night. We seriously embarrassed ourselves by doing some horrible blasphemous singing along to ABBA with the Wii. This was sadly followed by some laundry washing type dancing along to 'Zumba Fitness', again on the Wii.
|Paige, Trula and Karen murdering an ABBA song|
Whilst getting some new keys cut for Wallace at the locksmiths in the Stow, I was approached by a guy in a van wearing an 'Outlaws' T shirt. He invited us to join a ride out to all the local shopping areas in Harlow where that Outlaws gang members would extort a bunch of Easter eggs out of the local shopkeepers and then once finished, pop into town for a pint and then deliver the eggs to all the kids in Harlow hospital.
So there we were, 9:30am on Saturday morning, arriving at the town centre YMCA (steady) and were received very cordially by the local chapter of the Hells Angels. Then, whilst watching all these macho bikers arrive we were gobsmacked to see a bunch of guys turn up on scooters. Now, 30 years ago, their mere presence would have been enough to start a small war. Instead, they were greeted with pleasantries by the ugliest bunch of 2 wheeled mis-fits I have seen in a long time. I've been away a long time !
Anyway, at about 10:30, we set off en-masse for a ride around Harlow. It was pretty intimidating for the local car drivers who were stopped at every junction by a handful of lunatics who were leapfrogging the hundred or so bikers to get to the next junction and shut it off. They had obviously been given Royal ascent as normal traffic laws were brushed aside and red lights ceremoniously ignored by this posse of ugly bikers.
One of the stops was at The Stow, where Trula lives. Apparently she heard the noise and came out of her house to see what was happening only to see her ex-police, Mum and Dad riding with the local Hells Angels chapter. She came downstairs whilst the crew were persuading some poor shopkeeper to part with a large portion of his profits and lo and behold, she knew some of them and introduced us.
|The Outlaws. Karen and I are beside the Wallace (the blue bike) and the van wearing silver helmet. And look, above the silver car....scooters. It wouldn't have happened in my day ;-)|
|The Guy at the bottom in the chrome German helmet is Del, Trulas friend.|
After about 8 stops for the persuasion style shopping, that incidentally appeared to be very successful, we stopped off at Harlow town centre and took over one corner of the town centre, again, completely ignoring the local parking laws and then popped into 'Yates', the main pub in the town centre for a drop of the golden throat charmer. After about an hour of talking crap with fellow bikers it was all off the Hospital where an area had been set aside for us all to park in. Sadly, no one told the local security firm but the Outlaws can be very persuasive (read - intimidating) so we again took over a car park.
The gang members then, completely overloaded with a resurrection version of contraband, steamed into the children's ward and distributed over 300 chocolate eggs.
We actually had a very enjoyable morning, despite it being a bit surreal.
Naomi called us up to ask for a lift to a party in Stanstead Abbotts (about 2 miles up the road). Apparently the party was themed as the 'Mad Hatters Tea Party'. Naomi was going as the Queen of Hearts. I collected her and bought her home to get dressed in her costume, this was the result.
|Oh my God ! (Sorrry about the crap photo Naomi, the resolution was set too low.)|
And they wonder why I don't do facebook !
Trula had invited us over for Easter Sunday dinner. Karen decided to make the event into an old style Easter and went out and bought a pile of bits and bobs including a dozen real eggs, 30 odd chocolate eggs and bunnies etc, a trio of straw hats and 3 baskets. She spent most of the previous day decorating the hats and sorting out eggs (real ones) for the kids to decorate. So come the day, Paige and her friends spent most of the afternoon on an egg hunt and painting/decorating eggs.
|Callie, Karen, Paige and Ellie with their hats and baskets full of eggs.|
Today was the annual Ace Cafe to Southend charity ride in aid of the NSPCC. Karen was due to come but as the forecast was horrendous rain, she stood aside and let Trula get wet instead. She is all heart.
So Trula and I braved the wind and rain in an effort to get a spotless Wallace all messed up. We drove to the Ace and grabbed a coffee and a sandwich. We went to find a seat in the crowded cafe and bumped into Bryan Fewkes and his French wife Laura.
Bryan is a guy who I accompanied on an expedition up the Amazon in 1997. He had a narrow escape when at about 9pm, in the pitch black darkness, whilst we were motoring upstream on the Amazon, we were hit by a tidal wave and the boat sank immediately. Bryan was fast asleep and all he heard was me shouting "Bryan, inflate your life jacket". He pulled his cord and the boat was gone. We spent 3 hours swimming, with our floating kit, for the shore (it is a VERY big river) and when we got there, the tide was in so we slept the night in the trees and in the morning, the tide had gone out, and we had to abseil 30 feet down to the ground.
|On the beach at a freezing cold and horribly wet Southend. Ray, Laura, Trula and Bryan.|
So, one sip of coffee and only the bacon portion of our sandwich devoured we were called out to start up and head off. We had actually arrived late, so it was our fault. It was good to be out with another bunch of bikes, of which there were probably about 300 or more. The weather was atrocious and we took it very easy. The London traffic lights soon decimated the pack and by the time we reached Southend there were only about 20 bike in sight. However, when we drove onto the shore front, there were thousands parked up and we thought we would have trouble finding a parking place but fortunately they had large chunks of the sea front set aside for bike parking only. :-)
|The bikes just went on for hundreds of yards.|
|Trula with Wallace and Bryan's BMW|
Laura, unfortunately misunderstood Bryans advice about his bike clothing she had put on and had forgotten to insert the waterproof lining. She was absolutely soaked and freezing so we jumped into the first cafe for a bite and a coffee. On entering we were a sorry sight. All dressed in black and dripping wet but they did not mind despite it being a posh gaff. After we ordered, a small band turned up and started singing which was must unexpected. Then the real clietelle arrived and we were quite obviously the mis-fits in the cafe. We had a quick stroll up and down the sea front, watched the waves breaking over onto the main road, took a couple of piccys and then headed for home.
|And here we have father and daughter sporting the latest in biker underwear.|