10 January 2007

Monopoly Challenge - Report

When I got up at 5.45am, some 45 minutes before I get up everyday to got to work, on a SUNDAY, I looked out of the window to see it was still dark, but the unmistakable reflection of the streetlights in the puddles in the road foretold that the start of the day was going to be damp and miserable. Exactly what it turned out to be as I made my way out of Hythe to the A20 and the blast up to Tesco's to fill the tank. The roadway even partly flooded through Sellinge, and slippery.

For me, objective 1 was to meet fellow SOC and IMTC member Nigel Jones on his Triumph 3-cyl Wotsit and a friend of his, Charles, who came on a Ducati 916. The meeting was 7.30am at the Moto Services on the M2 near Gillingham. I arrived with 10 minutes to spare! Unusual for me!! Both are IAM members and Nigel is doing the assessed rides and Charles is the Secretary of the East Kent Group of ther IAM... and I was in the middle with Charles behind me. Best behaviour Paul.

Objective 2 was to ride up to Blackheath and meet the rest of the Monopoly Challengers drawn from the BMF, many of whom I have met on numerous occasions. We had to be there before 8.15am to qualify for a free bacon roll. The challenge was met.

From there we adopted the de-rigeur drop-off system and headed for the first place on the board - Old Kent Road. I had been expecting us to stop conveniently and where possible have the photograph by a road or street sign bearing the name. But due to local parking restrictions the organisers had decided to have a photo by a landmark or point of interest if necessary. To explain to the less au-fait, they had made some facsimile place names to mimic the squares on the board.

So for Old Kent Road it was a B&Q car-park! Then we set off in earnest to knock off the remaining 25 places... some of which were taken by the road name sign and others as previously said at a landmark.

For Marlborough Street (it doesn't exist it is really Great Marlborough Street!) we had it taken by the tacky London Palladium advert board... see Sound of Music pic. I think Liberty across the road would have been more gentile. In the pic it's me on the left and Ian Campbell (fellow BMW Club South-East Section member) on the right.

Covent Garden was taken in Bow Street, two places with one stop, the first on pavement outside the Royal Opera House and the other opposite and outside Bow Street Police Station. It was closed.

There were few mishaps along the way and thankfully the traffic was light. Some sort of interference in Park Lane by the Four Seasons caused Nigel's alarm fob thing not to work. After a while we left him to wait for the breakdown truck. He was picked up and the bike loaded in a van only for the alarm to start for the umpteenth time, this time the fob worked. The bike was unloaded and he rushed around all the stops to rejoin the troupe. We met up outside the Savoy, that was one of our our Strand photographs, the other being Charing Cross Station!

At Liverpool Street Station we had just parked up on the double-yellows when a Police Sergeant came along. After a few words to explain what we were doing he said we could take as long as we wanted and wished us good luck.

The final place on the map was right around the board again to the "brown" section and Whitechapel. Here we parked up along the road outside the tube station and took photos in each direction, one (here when I can get the bloody blogger upload to work.. two pics okay and now it cocks up!!!!) of us assembled by the station entrance and one the other way towards the landmark of the Royal London Hospital.

From here we needed refreshment, as we'd only managed a cup of Starbuck's in the entrance to Carnaby Street ages before. Steve Cole, the main organiser, led us to the Blackwall Tunnel and back in to Kent and to Oakleas Woods.... Beware "Plain clothes and Uniform Police Officers patrol these woods"... apparently it's famous for dogging. Not to be confused with dog walking.

Some of the Challengers stopped for lunch. I had a coffee and set off for the longish run back home.

Now we await the photos being published somewhere public for the sponsors to see. I've raised about £75 from work and a further £20 from a train-buddy, Birgit, and I'll make it up to a round £100. In all the group have pledges for around £2750 and that should be enough to buy a horse for the Riding for the Disabled at Bradbourne, near Sevenoaks in Kent.
All the official pics can be seen on http://www.bmfinkent.co.uk/monopoly.html

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