Lessons I learned in Somerset and Wales

I LEARNED many things on my visit to the West Country and Wales last weekend.

My trip taught me that, just as my physique means I am not cut out to be a jockey, a ballet dancer or a sprinter, neither it seems am I suited to being a planker.
Planking, if you’re not aware, is the fad of lying down, like a plank, in public places.
And if it’s good enough for the likes of sweary chef Gordon Ramsay, tennis chick Laura Robson and various unfeasibly tall NBA basketball players, I decided on the journey down that it’s sure as hell good enough for me.
It seems simple enough but, when you’re a big fella, you need to find a strategically-positioned inanimate object capable of bearing your weight
This, I discovered on my trip to Somerset and Cardiff for the biggest speedway event of the year, is not necessarily problem-free.
If I’d paid more attention to my physics teacher at school I’d be able to give a more detailed reason. But, as a rule of thumb, planking on something which isn’t that sturdy may result in a fail.
I also learned that when a nimble female friend offers to demonstrate a judo move, the correct response is to say “no”.
By answering “yes” you may find yourself being thrown over her shoulder and onto the grass below, thus landing in an untidy heap. I speak from experience.
I learned too that the choice of room-mate is crucial to the success or otherwise of a weekend away.
In Somerset and Cardiff I roomed with former Bears favourite James Grieves who, of course, won Friday night’s PL Pairs title for Glasgow with team-mate Joe Screen.
For me this was great. He’s a top bloke, it meant I could tell everyone I met how I was sharing a room with a newly-crowned national champion and, of course, it gave us all the perfect opportunity to raise a few glasses of the local brew in celebration post-meeting.
Sadly for Grievesy it wasn’t such a great strategy and, I have to confess, I did snore a bit. Well a lot actually, by all accounts
But Grievesy’s loss was my wife’s gain. She had a great couple of nights’ kip while I was away, apparently.
I learned there is no substitute for experience (Grieves/Screen in the Pairs, Hancock in the GP); that the Polish media have a habit of trying to smuggle vodka into the Millennium Stadium media centre; and that a British world champion in the foreseeable future is as likely as the Queen having a parmo at the Europa.
But perhaps the greatest lesson of all was that the PL Pairs/British GP weekend is the undoubted highlight of the speedway calendar.
The heavens opened on Pairs night but the meeting went ahead as planned and, when I wasn’t being thrown to the ground in a perfectly executed martial arts move, I witnessed some great racing.
It’s a great opportunity to meet up with fans you’ve got to know from trips up and down the country too as fans from pretty much every PL track in the land converge on the Oak Tree Arena.
As one Glasgow fan told me “Ye can mix wi’ fans frae aw over th’ coontry – ecept ‘at lot frae Auld Reekie!”
And Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium provides a simply stunning venue for speedway.
With the roof shut and nearly 44,000 people inside it’s a cracking atmosphere, and the city centre location means it’s ideally situated for some apre-shale fun.
Knowing speedway can still hold its own in such a top class venue is a great feeling, although I do wish a few more media outlets took it as seriously as me!
On top of that I was fortunate enough to be away with a great bunch of people and met many more besides down there.
It was a weary bunch that made its way back to Teesside on Sunday but we were all clear on one thing – we’ll be back next year!
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