Kris and I had the good fortune to attend the Ulysses International Gathering at Harrogate, England from Friday 6 to Sunday, 8 July.
Hosted by Ulysses Club GB, the event was combined with the GB AGM and was attended by members from France, Germany. Norway, Switzerland and the UK, plus a number of visitors from Australia including Andy Luck.
Circumstances surrounding my attendance go way back! Shortly after the Albany AGM Event in 2010, Ulysses GB member Keith Hooper and his partner Ellen were travelling as part of a very long journey from New Zealand, home to England on a Honda Transalp (see: www.rightwayround.net for full story) when they pulled in for accommodation at a remote location near the Northern Territory/Western Australian border. A rather scruffy grey bearded bloke (who Keith described as a probable model for the Ulysses “Old Man Logo” done by “The Bear”) came out and examined their bike. Keith spoke to this bloke and said, “You wouldn’t know how I could contact the Melbourne Branch Quartermaster would you?” The bloke (Greg Rees) replied, “Yes, that’s me.”
After the laughter and amazement stopped, discussions followed and that resulted in Keith and Ellen visiting Kris and me a few weeks later and also attending a Melbourne Branch social night. I arranged storage of his bike for about 8 months while Keith and Ellen returned to the UK. They returned in 2011 and Keith attended the Newcastle AGM Event before continuing on via Darwin, Indonesia and many other countries to the UK over a number of years.
This year Kris and I decided to visit my family in the Netherlands (Holland) and combine that with visits to France, Norway and do some walking in the Yorkshire Dales. I told Keith of our plans and hinted that we may call down to see them in Cornwall for a couple of days while we were in England. Keith told me of the International Gathering at Harrogate and invited me to come along as he was going to give a presentation about his travels during the event. He also invited me to ride one of his bikes to the event. We couldn’t make that work but we agreed to attend and I made contact with the organisers. Just more examples of Ulysses camaraderie across the world.
We arrived at Harrogate on the Friday afternoon and were made very welcome by Dave Twist, “Two Sheds” Pete, Keith and many others. We exchanged some disgraceful lies and banter over dinner and examined the maps for the weekend rides. As Keith was keeping his bike in reserve for his Sunday night presentation, he joined Kris and me for some exploration of the scenic Yorkshire dales over the next two days in our hire car. We managed to cross paths with Ulysses groups on a number of occasions and also drove the beautiful Butter Tubs Pass. On the Saturday night many enjoyed watching England defeat Sweden in the World Cup. On Sunday night Keith gave a wonderful presentation detailing his trip from New Zealand home to the UK generally in stints of 60 days or less at a time. He brought his bike into the hotel as part of the presentation.
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I also enjoyed a chat with a man whose parents did not know how to spell – John Cooke! He is a member of both Ulysses GB and France and lives near the French Alps. He embraced the Gallic shrug and verbal response of “Why Not?” when people were asked why some things were done in France. The weekend was over all too soon, but it is rumoured the 2019 International Gathering will be in Vosges Region of France. So, to paraphrase John, “If you’re off to Europe in 2019 and the stars align, why not also attend the Ulysses International Gathering and add a whole extra dimension to your travels?”
Kris and I thoroughly enjoyed our attendance and followed it up with a trip down through the Peaks District, Derbyshire Dales and a stay in the Cotswolds before catching up with Keith and Ellen again for a few days in beautiful Cornwall.
John Cook #5048
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