It all went horribly wrong yesterday. Really, terribly awry. Bugger it.
This should be a review and pictures of the Caldmore village Festival and the Road Rail steam event at Chasewater Railway. Neither went to plan.
After plugging both events here, I decided to spend my free Monday checking them out – first stop Chasewater Railway. Everything was buzzing, but it was just like a normal operating day. No road engines at all – in fact, nothing that differentiated from a usual weekend opening. Great, but I felt somewhat disappointed.
Enquiring with a member of staff, I was told the people with the road engines ‘Had let them down’. Sad, and it would have been nice to know. My apologies to any readers who went expecting something more than they actually got. I try to to be as accurate as possible in binging events to you, and my apologies that on this occasion, all was not well.
I set off, then, for the Caldmore Village Festival. I’d often wanted to go, but never been able. Today, I was going to do it. It was a nice afternoon, and I set off down the cycle track to Walsall. I’d been spurred on by organisers encouraging me to attend for the previous couple of days.
My plan was to slip in, have a look around and disappear, without being obtrusive. I wanted to taste the food, share the experience, see what the fuss was about, say hello to any mates, then write a review with some pictures. Hopefully without being spotted.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be.
Wheeling my bike through the main entrance, I was stopped and told bikes weren’t allowed, and I was to leave it by the fence. Now, I love Walsall and Caldmore to bits, but there’s no way I’m locking a unique and expensive bike to a rickety fence in such transitory circumstances, It takes seconds to steal a saddle or wheel. No way. Security were very polite and faultlessly courteous, but firm. No bikes.
So that was it, I left, downhearted, and hit the canal for a ride instead. I was hugely disappointed. Nobody mentioned the restriction in the promotional material, and on a bank holiday with piss-poor public transport, folk were likely to turn up on bikes, especially when prompted to do so by a cycling blogger like me.
If you attended and were similarly turned away, my apologies.
I tweeted my disappointment:
The organisers – Anna Rogozińska and Councillor Imran Azam – kindly got in touch and apologised, and offered to look after my bike. However, my cover would have been blown, and I didn’t want that. Besides, the shine had gone and I was now miles away. I really did appreciate their efforts, Councillor Azam in particular whose generosity of spirit and offer of compensatory vouchers at my favourite Caldmore food store – Harguns – were way beyond the call of duty and a true act of kindness.
I was contacted later in the afternoon by four separate people who’d visited by bike and weren’t challenged, and it does seem the policy was totally arbitrary depending on which member of security was on duty. I actually wondered at one point if I looked shifty, and thought maybe I should have shaved. Councillor Azam said that they’d had some trouble the previous day with kids zooming about the site on bikes, but my ability to zoom has long gone, especially with a samosa in one hand and a camera in the other. Perhaps a little discretion wouldn’t hurt.
A middle aged bloke pushing a bike round an English fete isn’t unusual, and is no more of a hazard than a pushchair. Had I known of the restriction, I’d have made other arrangements and arrived on foot.
I really do appreciate the efforts made by Anna and Imran, and accept that this is just one of those things that happens.
However, if you are organising an event, please make clear if you have any such restrictions, not just on bikes but on dogs, too. There’s nothing worse than cycling all the way to Walsall on a fool’s errand. Lots of cyclists do read this blog, and many of us have learned through bitter experience what happens to even the best locked bike at such public events.
Lets hope future event reviews pass off a little better…