Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Entrenched in the Bog

How to have fun on a Quad bike..

A personal tale of kids in Welsh Wales having fun on quad bikes...

Every picture tells a story and this one is no exception. You see us well and truly entrenched in The Bog by The Top of the Hill Climb on Tommy’s Farm.
For many off-road riding people that information will be all they need. For the rest of the world a more detailed narrative may be required....

Who are we?

We were all from the Archway Project in Thamesmead, South East London. A motor project par excellence.

Where are we? 

On Tommy’s Farm right in the middle of Welsh Wales.
About as far away from our urban existence as can be achieved in the UK.

Camping on Tommy’s Farm was the high point of the year for the project. The previous trip would be talked about for months and the next camp planned for an equal time. Eagerly anticipated by young people and staff alike.

Happy days with a lazy eater

Of course Tommy’s Farm was a colloquial name. The actual address is Cwm Dwr but hey, Tommy’s Farm was always more catchy. The farm itself was not much agriculturally, with some rather dodgy looking sheep wandering about and cattle too. In fact it wasn’t unusual to come across a sadly deceased animal. Tommy, the most amazing of characters, once described a dead sheep that we reported to him as “a lazy eater”!
We all loved Tommy and his wife Liz who lived in a somewhat charming ramshackle cottage in the middle of the large valley that constituted their hill farm. 

The battle of Tommy's Farm

Off-road riding and driving was the main activity on their land and supplied Tommy and Liz with their income though they lived extremely modestly.
Sadly not everyone was so keen on the use of land and the authorities were intent on stopping the riding/driving activities. The battle went on for many years culminating in the most dramatic of events whereby Tommy was sent to prison for allowing people to ride on his land. Shortly after being released he suffered a heart attack and died.

Team work in the Quad squad

So back to the photo. Leon is sitting on the quad. A clue to how long ago this happened will be demonstrated when you learn that Leon has recently become a father having served two terms in Afghanistan. He wasn’t the one who got the quad stuck in the bog, that was James on the far left. Leon was the lightest and that helped in the extraction of the quad. A true team effort.

James suffered from Juvenile Arthritis, particularly in his hips which made walking very difficult. A bike was never going to work for him but the quad was do-able. He had wanted to come to Tommy’s for several years but we were concerned about how he would cope with the less than comfortable conditions on the mountainside. But being good equal opportunities people we gave it a go. 

Of course it all worked pretty damn well and James enjoyed himself as much of the rest of us and why wouldn’t he?

Challenges beaten

For me this picture represents all that was so fantastic about taking groups to Tommy’s. The challenge of being in such an alien environment, the cooking, camping and riding in the rain and sun proved to be a broadening experience. I can guarantee that if you were to ask any of the kids that went there they would regale you with amusing and surprising anecdotes. Once visited, never forgotten.

Happy days, a drink to that and the memory of Tommy.

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