Road King goes to: Petworth House

What a start to Father Day, edition 2010: still tired from last nights amazing ride through London’s Midnight madness, 30 Hogsback Chapter bikes showed up just a few hours later at GHD for a early 10:45 start to the annual ride to Petworth House, by special invitation of the National Trust, for a lazy afternoon of music, sunshine, a public display of our prides and joy.

Here are some pictures of a great day out:

The drive itself was quite short, some 40 miles down the A283, through Godalming, Chiddinfold and Northchapel, and I was reminded again what great sceneries Surrey has to offer. Since I own a Harley and joined rides of the Hogsback chapter just some 2 month ago, I am each time amazed at how many smiles with bystanders of all ages our noisy procession is generating. The most memorable image on this day however came for me during a gentle left turn shortly after Witley, where suddenly 2 cultures converged. On the left side of the road, a impeccable green with cricket players, all dressed in their shiny white uniform, playing their slow game which I fear will remain a mystery to me, and on the narrow street next to the pitch our organised line of 30 Harley’s with black leather dressed drivers and passengers roaring along. White vs Black, grass vs tarmac, Chrome vs Green, quiet vs loud, swiftly vs cozy, in this one scene so many contrasts of 2 sports, 2 attitudes and 2 cultures were so beautifully visualised, that I now must check how to best install a permanent camera on my Road King Classic to capture such special unscripted moments.

A imposing house in the background behind some enormous trees reminded us not to forget the mandatory educational side of this trip, a visit of Petworth House itself, for which all Harley-Davidson riders and their pillions received free entry tickets. This late 17th-century mansion is set in a beautiful 283-hectare deer park, landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown and immortalised in many of Turner’s paintings.

I can confirm that the house contains one of the National Trust’s finest collection of pictures, with numerous works by Turner, Van Dyck, Reynolds and Blake, as well as ancient and Neo-classical sculpture, fine furniture and carvings by Grinling Gibbons.

Do not miss the interesting servants’ quarters, containing fascinating kitchens frozen in time, including a copper “batterie de cuisine” of more than 1,000 pieces. Most amusing was a historic photo of the servants of Petworth House, they look so grumpy, as if ready for playing in a Oliver Twist movie.

With the sun finally winning the battle in the sky, and all participants and visitors enjoying the live music while eating a burger and having a couple of drinks, some riders like me had to leave much too early.

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