Please Release Me!

Saturday 6th August:  D-Day for Adventures in Yellow when the 2 books were finally to be set loose into the big wide world.  A bookstore launch seemed obvious but we’d been advised that this weekend, at the start of the summer hols, might be a bit quiet so we confidently set out for the ‘Skylark Bike + Truck + Rock Festival’.  Sounded great; ten thousand people expected through the gate for an extravaganza of bikes old and new, plus legions of custom monster trucks and over twenty bands on the bill, headlined by ‘80s metal merchants ‘Saxon’ with a firework finale to the Saturday night supplied by the World Famous Kimbolton Fireworks Factory.

Maggie trucked a load of books with our camping gear in the car and I set off in advance on one of the BMW’s.  Forecast for the weekend was reasonable; maybe a bit of cloud but no rain.  More ominous was the light traffic on my ride out into the Fens and the complete lack of signs pointing the way to this great festival.  The Skylark showground is also host to a grand car boot sale “As featured on BBC & ITV CAR BOOT” and there were little yellow signs for this but nothing about this major Bike/Truck/Rock do…

The showground itself, just outside the pretty little Fenland town of March, proved to be a grand place.  Former potato fields have been drained, levelled and made pleasantly green so there’s no shortage of space and no neighbours to upset with all the noise.  Fifty quid got us a trading pitch with camping for the weekend (camping was free for anyone exhibiting a bike or a truck at the show).  The bands were fantastic with a line-up ranging from the very passable tribute band Quo-incidence to the main event on the Saturday evening when Oliver Dawson’s Saxon took centre stage.  Remember “Strong Arm of the Law”?, “747”? and that biker anthem; “Motorcycle Man”?  With the beer at below pub prices what could be better?

Well… the problem was… there was nobody there!  There were a few traders; Mercheford Motorcycles, a lady selling beads & jewellery, a guy selling leather-craft and a few charity stalls out for a good cause.  The local bike clubs attending in force completed the meagre complement of a couple of hundred folk at the festival.  The truck in the festival headline proved to be just that: a single truck.  A Scania, driven all the way here from South Wales by Irene, a smiley German lady and her hubby.  Their journey was a pilgrimage of sorts as they were bringing their beautifully restored Scania back to its home on the Fens where it had logged something like a million miles hauling spuds all over the country.

Yet the weekend was, for us, far from a disaster.  In spite of the poor turn out we still had all the ingredients to have a good time.  The small crowd made things pleasantly intimate and we were soon on first name terms with just about everyone.  There wasn’t much to do except loiter for a natter so our book stall attracted quite a bit of interest and sales were good.  The music too was a throwback to the early ‘80’s when we first got into bikes and I enjoyed a quiet reminisce over a few jars of Old Speckled Hen.

We swapped tall tales from the highway with our campsite neighbour Bob, there with his 1960’s Norton Dominator; a 650SS with 263,000 smiles on the clock.  Reminisced with Andy and Chris from Wisbech Motorcycle Club over fabulous tales from the Alps.  Along with Richard, Darren and all from Mercheford Motorcycles they have agreed to work with the organisers to create a better show for next year.  They’re a great bunch of people, these Fenlanders, and the show is set in such a fine location; they’re sure to make a great success of it.

The release of Adventures in Yellow has made both Maggie and I realise that the journey that started with our Pan-American Adventure is far from over and this book release is but the next chapter.  Here we are, in some place we’ve never been, talking to complete strangers, making friends and laughing at adversity.  It really feels like we are still on the road…


PS Monday 8th August, Maggie wandered into the local Waterstone’s and there they were, the two books, sat proudly on the shelf!   ‘Adventures in Yellow’, available now from all good book-stores…


Enter your email address to subscribe to the Adventures in Yellow newsletter: