I was volunteering at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal yesterday evening. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be there. It was raining – and how – as I drove there, and the evening looked very unpromising.
A small team of us were there to make an evening’s Family Bike Ride round the Abbey and Studley Royal grounds run smoothly. Apparently I was going to be stuck near the Temple of Piety and Moon Ponds preventing riders from disappearing up into a woodland path, with only my two-way radio for company. I hadn’t even got an umbrella. Anyway, who would bother to turn out with their families, and all the family bikes, to trundle round Fountains Abbey in the rain?
I was wrong. Of course. The rain stopped. Families turned up, and lots of them. At first though, I had many minutes of peace to stand and absorb the views of the very special Georgian water garden. I spent time enjoying the company of a new family of coots: I suspect the three little spherical balls of fluff I saw with their solicitous parents had hatched that very day.
And then the bike riders came. There were confident teenagers relishing the chance to get up speed in this tranquil setting. There were primary-aged children enjoying family time with their parents. There were little ones, able to wobble along on their bikes, their parents confident that they were utterly safe from passing traffic. Open Country, a local charity working to help people with disabilities access the countryside had brought along a team and several tandems.
Some people went round the circuit once, some twice, a few as many as five times. I took lots of photos with lots of cameras for family souvenirs of the evening. Sadly, I hadn’t brought my own camera. These not-at-all impressive photos are taken with my camera phone.
I’ll volunteer again sometime for this event. But not next time. Next time I’ll want to be there with my own family, trundling around this very special site with my own grandchilden (first though, I’ll have to learn not to fall off a bike).