2012 Park Hill Tour to North Devon – ‘The Final Insult’ by Dave Symons

Thursday 21st June 2012 – North Devon

My abiding memory of Thursday morning will forever be Martin locked in a staring contest with his breakfast. Unfortunately, as we looked on at the sorry sight of a man sweating at, rather than eating, his food, this battle only ever seemed to have one winner. Shortly after, Williams Senior was packed in the car and driven home by his more responsible youngest son.

With rain beating down, the prospect of the showpiece match of tour at North Devon being abandoned was looking increasingly likely. In the meantime we set off for the other annual showpiece – the go carting. The rain left puddles on the circuit but with the track remaining open we set ourselves for Webber’s favourite – a slip and slide extravaganza.

Meanwhile, there had been one notable absentee for most of the morning with Rob deciding that, after two days of hobbling, it was time to seek professional advice. When he returned prior to the Park Hill Grand Prix, equipped with crutches, the news was that he’d snapped a fibula! Credit must go to this monumental effort of walking around on a broken leg for two days, with it coming the undisputed title of ‘Park Hill’s Hardest Man’. I wonder how the Danny Dyer Fan Club on tour felt about the omission of that little nuance from their week-long series of tributes to Britain’s hardest muppet.

The carting was yet again a highly successful team bonding exercise, coupled with a scintillating exhibition of driving from Symons the Younger. Whisperings of the talent of a young Michael Schumacher combined with the looks of Jenson Button were hard to deny as the advanced driving courses of Jamie and Lawny were put to the sword in the wet. Milky and Symons Senior claimed positions on the podium – the inspiration proving Milky’s Formula One theme ringtone in the car en route. After skidding all over the place, naming various Hillians as Mario Kart characters and witnessing some death defying driving from Andy Clarke on the way home, we were back at the hotel.

With time to kill we met in the bar, a few Hillians elated at catching the carvery before it was packed away. However, there were notable absentees in Andy and the Major, with Andy’s timekeeping skills apparently to blame for their late arrival. The race against time with the carvery had been lost – cue paddy-of-the-day from the Major, who looked devastated until he and Andy tucked into what looked like battered whale and chips at Indow.

Rain was still driving down, but with no word from our opposition we travelled anyway…at the ground there have been more signs of life found growing in Webber’s car. Slightly miffed at our shoddy treatment we indulged in some prize giving down the local. Symons Senior, nicknamed Stelios for tour, had been running a Spelling-style book with money taken on highest run scorer and top wicket taker. And if you can’t rely on a Greek bookie, who can you trust?!

Most of Devon already knew that McInnes had amassed the most runs and he was momentarily peeled away from his overdue luncheon to accept winnings from the bet he’d (of course) placed on himself. Ransom also scooped some pounds, but nobody in their right mind would’ve ever bet on Adam Williams to take the most wickets leading to a big pay day for the Sock.

There remained little else other than drinking the Sock and public houses of the Barnstaple area taking their annual windfall (I have a vague memory of a shot called an ‘Abortion’…sambuca, advocaat and grenadine – I’ll let you figure it out), but before this there was some further hilarity to unfold.

Earlier in the day Park Hill masterminds Milky and Webs had been handed an envelope setting them a mission – to break into the room of reliable policemen Jamie Clarke and Rob Davie, taking photos as evidence and stealing one item to be returned in the evening. Surely these two couldn’t overcome the readiness of our UK police force…? With a little help from reception, they did – a feat even more impressive when it emerged they had been in numerous times over the day – once even when Jamie was in the shower.

Oblivious to this breaking and entering, possibly not for the first time in his life, the Tour Baby continued his daily routine. The items stolen – a sleep mask from our crocked hero and all of the toilet paper from the bathroom (how do two coppers who have witnessed three days of missions fail to notice when they have no bog roll, anywhere?!). The ‘disgrace to the force’ comment from Mrs Clarke may have been justified…Lawn was just left thanking his lucky stars it wasn’t him.

After a cold-blooded tracksuiting of Symons Senior by Lawny we were off to drink the Sock. The tracksuit almost earned me two new mums in the form of two elderly guests who seemed to take a liking to the dirty old thing…or maybe it was the tracksuit. Anyway, it was removed by the Wetherspoons bouncers – an act of mercy in my eyes – as apparently it wasn’t suitable for their establishment. Dream on, lads.

We all indulged in a Pablo or three, Phil took on a strength tester with his big bonce, Rob found his astral twin when we came across a tramp on crutches (it was funnier at the time) and Jamie gave a pole dancing exhibition. All before we stumbled back to the hotel – the Special Pres waddling along with trousers around ankles and shirt tied around head. Superb.

Then Dan, Webber, Jimmy SavPhil* and I went and jumped on a sleeping Milky in the name of tradition (see Andy Clarke Productions for the video) and that was that for another year.

*I know I’m scraping the barrel, now.

Friday 22nd June 2012 – Home Time

Breakfast on Friday looked like a hospital ward day out. I remember precious little aside from Rob running Phil close for Tour Paedo. He knows why.

Park Hill Tour 2013 will take place in the Park Hotel, Barnstaple from 17th-21st June for those wishing to book their holiday. Same time next year everyone…?

Dave Symons

Tour Secretary & PHCC Grand Prix Champ 2012