Hog and Bog – 20th Anniversary – 2/3/4 August
The Chapters gathered in the glorious setting of the
luxurious Burrendale Hotel in Newcastle, County Down. Service there is second to none. The Spa and Country Hotel, the camping, the
food – the wine, of course – it is the perfect location for a great weekend
out. The boys and girls came from far and wide, from Scotland, from Manchester,
from Holland and Germany, though this year we were not graced by the presence
of the delightful David Grimbert from France.
There were Harley followers who do not even ride those lovely big shiny
machines but just come along for the craic and hospitality afforded by the Belfast
Chapter. Director Colin McLearnon and
his glamorous partner, Agnes, certainly know how to put on a party, backed up
by the handsome twosome of Robin McMinn and Gary Kidd, Treasurer and Secretary
respectively. The members are true gentlemen to a fault, the ladies charming,
some of them glamour personified in their leathers. Jane Logan, for example, and Amanda who was
kind enough to take my friend “Barry” as she rode pillion with her husband
Bill. Bill had probably never had two
pillion riders on his bike before, but “Barry” sat quietly in the side box,
enjoying the noise and sensation of Bill’s magnificent machine. There are members who are stalwarts of the
Chapter, people who yours truly does not know well, but are known to hold the
Chapter together and support their illustrious Director. Gary Miller, who recently had an appalling
accident, and is now recovering well, Stephen Coulter and his lovely wife
Paula. Stephen is one of the most
helpful people I know, Elvin, Norman, Eunan… the list goes on. The Ladies of Harley, led by Wonderwoman
Judith Ringland, ensures that the ladies are not excluded from the effectively
male domain, not that the committee would dream of leaving the ladies out. The calendar girls a few years ago, including
Grania and Jackie was a great success, as was the Game of Thrones “Sparkle”
Tour a couple of years ago.
It is 20 years since the first “HogandBog” Harley Owners
Group – and the Bog? Well, yours truly
was told it was because the first rally took place in Enniskillen which is
known for its bogs. Quite an
achievement. Everything was perfect, the signage, the campsite the venue for
great alternative party, the boys and girls enjoyed a well prepared barbecue on
the Friday evening, followed by music by the fantastic rock band, Cold Comfort.
Robin McMinn is well known for his discerning taste in music, and perhaps chose
the band. Good choice. We wriggled, jived, danced, twisted to music
far into the Friday night. Alison Hood
and yours truly didn’t win the dancing competition, but hey ho. Yours truly slept in the car park as she
couldn’t have found her way to her bed and breakfast and shouldn’t have driven
anyway, having imbibed rather too much wine. The hotel was full of course. Good thing she had a camp bed and sleeping bag
in the car as a result of her recent trip to Scotland. She was watched over by two members and their
ladies in a nearby campervan. A lovely
spa and swim in the morning ironed out the aches and pains of too much dancing,
and, in the end, sleeping in the car as it was pretty cold outside, as she
found out at 4am.
On Saturday morning, there were a few sore heads, but it did
not deter the boys and girls from getting on their Softails, Fat Boys, CVOs,
and riding off into the Mournes, up the Silent Valley, and to Spelga Dam. It was a shame about the weather, putting the
damper on things. It was misty and raining. The spectacular show of the parade
of bikes leaving the hotel at 11am sharp was phenomenal. The noise – some say
like “putting the bins out” – the growling of the engine of a Harley Davidson
is something instantly recognisable, even to a “newbie” like yours truly. Some
of the gang turned back early on. It was
too dangerous on the wet roads. Safety
is always priority. The Road Captains
ensure that everyone is accounted for – well organised ensuring that the
members are protected from traffic, “sweeping” in case anyone has a mishap, as
happened to myself and my driver a couple of years ago.
It was Terry’s 70th birthday and Terry and Anne’s
45th wedding anniversary, and what better way to spend it than at
such a gathering. Anne took the family sight seeing while Terry rode his trike
on the ride out. There was a distinctly
family atmosphere in the afternoon.
Another band for the gang, the sight of the Director and Agnes dressed
up as Superman and Superwoman was a spectacle in itself. There were other
sights never to be forgotten, and no doubt Chapter photographer Stephen Bassett
has captured some great images and videos. The Fire Engine brought in for the
kids to admire and learn about. So typical of Colly to think of something like
that. The Chapter are great supporters of the Air Ambulance and raise money all
year to maintain that important service. We were missing the staunch Helen Heron
who always organised the raffle. Sadly
Helen can no longer ride her trike and is no longer a member. She is sorely missed by all. Other ladies took up the mantle, but Helen
leaves a wide canyon in the social element of the Chapter. There were other
ladies though, Judith, of course, Kirsty Barratt from Scotland, Roberta, Carol
Ann… brave ladies on their lovely machines.
After an amazing pillion ride around the local area, through
Downpatrick with its spectacular cathedral, through Clough, and other lovely
Irish villages, views from the back of Bill’s bike, yours truly headed for
home, not able to stand the pace any longer. It was just amazing to be riding
pillion again. Yours truly has always
been a fan of bikes, riding on the back of her brother’s Kawasaki in her
younger days, and on the back of the illustrious Steve Cullen, also sadly
missed by some as he is no longer a member. Yours truly never learned to ride a
motor bike, but instead rode horses, she continued eventing well into her
fifties and was amused by Kirsty’s badge “Save a Horse, Ride a biker”. There was another band that night “Raised on
Rock”, on the Sunday a Custom Bike show, another ride out and live music by the
“Ingram Brothers” in the evening.
The best thing about the Harley Davidson riders is that they
do not get drunk and disgrace themselves, they are welcoming and respectful to
guests such as yours truly, the men are gentlemen, the ladies welcoming, even
if you don’t have any connection with the Chapter at all.
This is a “taster” article for what we hope will be a regular write up. Tina Irving is setting up a syndicate of Freelance Journalists which will be officially launched in October. Members of the syndicate should not be in full time employment, nor attached to any particular media outlet. This should encourage newly graduated media studies students to join as they build their career once they lose the right to be a student member of each organisation.
It was suggested by Stephen Coulter that yours truly becomes an honorary member of the Belfast Chapter. Watch this space!
Tina Irving has a Diploma in Freelance Journalism from Aberdeen College.
HogandBog Facebook page.