The Isle of Wighter – Fri 22nd – Mon 25th August 2003

Exactly where do I start???

My first, as well as others, rally and its the biggest of the year in the world, the IOW.
The Pilgrims were attending in force for their first rally as a club, some leaving at Stupid O’Clock, others leaving later and meeting up with the St. Albans Scooter Club and taking a more leisurely route. Needless to say, I went on the Stupid O’clock run.

So 4am I pull up on the market square in Bedford town centre to be met by Nick (Smokey Joe), Stewart (Wossisname), Bernadette, Squirrel and Mod John. After a few pictures, which will hopefully turn out, we set off for Flitwick to pick up Boxer and then onto the Toddington Services on the M1 to pick up Pete Burgess and let the smokers have a quick fag. I think we all thought the M1 was busier than we expected, although not too bad.

Off we went and before we know it we are zooming down the M1, onto the M25 anticlockwise and keeping pretty much together. Mod John was certainly doing some serious slipstreaming I noticed, which is fine until I could see nothing out of my mirrors but his headlight trying to hump my rear carrier 🙂 We pretty much all took turns in taking the lead and soon we stopped at the first services on the A3 after coming off the motorway and topped up with coffee, fags, breakfast baps and of course petrol. Mind you, it looked to me like someone was hitting on a pretty woman in the diner too, you know who you are!
As we’re sat there, another group of about 15 scooters pulled in, some lovely GS’s and GT’s among them. Turned out that they were from South London or as one of them put it, “Saff Laandan”. When we said we’re on our way from Bedford I believe the response was along the lines of “Fack that”. Of course it wasn’t long until we noticed their lack of luggage, apparently they had a support van bringing it down for them. Lightweights 🙂

So back on the A3 and its daylight by now, at this point our backsides are pretty numb and Pete is leading us onto lay-bys every five minutes and I’m changing lanes all over the place, but within another hour we’re at the ferry port.

Pulling up at the ferry port we are met by a group of about 10 – 15 other scooters all obviously going to the rally, and luckily for one of them, our lot spot that one of them has a slow puncture! After buying the return tickets and getting on the ferry he manages to change his rear wheel, lucky he had a spare!

The trip across is literally 40 minutes which gave us time for coffee and smokes, we also noticed the guy who had the puncture on the bridge of the boat! Turns out that the girl with him is a cousin of the captain or whatever. By the way, a hint: when parking your bike on a ferry, park it sideways on, its apparently more stable.

At the other side it’s a case of “Gentlemen, start your engines” and we rode off the ferry; well, except Smokey Joe, er, I mean Nick who had to push his off the ferry and up the hill where we bumped it into life. It turns out that the running theory is that crankcase oil’s leaking into the cylinder somehow. But to be fair, that was the only trouble with the scooter all weekend.

Another 15 minutes and we’re riding through Ryde, down the hill to the roundabout beside the King Lud and parking on the green. We’re here!!!!!

So we’re on the green in the middle of Ryde and it’s only about 10am, nothing to do but sit and relax. What a great feeling to be there, watching as hundreds of scooters arrive at the years biggest scooter event, wandering around admiring scooters and women (you know who you are), taking pictures, and of course waiting for the King Lud to open.

As midday approached we separated and went off to sort out our digs but agreed to meet back on the green again which we did and just chilled on the green until about 3.30 or 4pm when the rest of the Pilgrims arrived. What a great sight, Tom, Wendy, Dave and his mate Martin, John and Alan from St. Ives, Lee, Bill and Faye, Paul and Rachel and anyone else I have probably forgotten. It was an invasion, watch out IOW!!

Apparently no one had any great problems on the way down other than Dave having a few clutch problems but he got there, that’s the main thing. After meeting and greeting everyone it was their turn to sort out their digs as Squirrel, Pete, myself and the others lolled about drinking until we decided to freshen up for the nights events.
So that first night, and after Squirrel and I got a kebab, we all met up in Wetherspoons for a couple of drinks, well, several drinks. The place was heaving so we went and stood outside with the drinks and to watch the scooters (and women) going by. Mind you, that first landlady was a pain chasing us back inside, so we compromised and stayed on the steps. Well, it was technically on the pub property.

After that it was off down the street to the Yelfs next door where several barmaids were ogled at, I tell you that Ashley, I have never seen a kid so keen to get on with puberty!

Anyway, next stop, after dragging ourselves away and resisting the temptation to go into the do at the hotel (£7 to get into what was essentially a disco that you could hear in the bar anyway) off to the Ice Rink on the front to see The Selecter.

As we entered you were struck by two things, no not the swinging doors! First, the coolness rising from the floor and second, there was no ice. Took me ages to realise that the ice was still there, just that they had covered it with some flooring. Mind you I had been drinking so before much more ado we headed for the bar. Again busy as heck but worth the wait.

As the music was pumping and we were a drinking all was well and then The Selecter came on stage. They were great, not completely my music but listening to a live band, there’s just something about it!!

I have to admit I headed home about midnight but know many others were there (including Squirrel) until late. He did his, now habitual, trick of following the band into the dressing room and no one batted an eyelid until he asked for an autograph and some piccies. Nice one.

Saturday morning started off with a headache rapidly followed by a lovely fried breakfast in the B&B (Cheers Alan, top man). Squirrel was already downstairs chatting to another scooterist who had come down the day before from Stirling in Scotland! And yes, that was on the scooter!

Over breakfast I find out that Squirrel hadn’t got to his bed until well gone 2am and was up, showered, shaved, the lot by 8. Not bad for an old(er) bloke. Puts me to shame for a start. Still, after breakfast it was off to the green opposite the King Lud for another day of admiring scooters, women, beer and chatting to mates.

By lunchtime many of the group had decided on what to do for the rest of the day, so it was off to the parts fair in the official rally campsite at Smallbrook Speedway Stadium. There was quite a bit to choose from, from full scooters to stickers. There was quite a tasty looking TV175 all complete for about a grand there for starters. Personally I only got a badge and a couple of spares, but Big Rob got a Lambretta Club of Scotland sticker made up, Squirrel got some CD’s and patches and much looking at Harrington coats and even I looked seriously at a 3/4 length sheepskin.

After we left the fair we took a trip to the Ice Arena again to see the custom show. Well, there were some gorgeous scooters there, absolutely gorgeous. Of course you could tell there were a few on display that had been “vanned in” but not all. Mod John’s Douglas was also there and he picked up the “Best Pre-64” prize, a big congratulations for that!
I will let the pictures pretty much speak for themselves as my descriptions just wouldn’t do them justice. For a gallery of custom show pics follow this link

After the show, Squirrel and I went for another breakfast which was heartily needed, and I remember us passing comment on these three American tatooed birds that were at the next table and how it seemed a long way to come for a holiday when it clashed with such an event. Still we didn’t think anything more of it and soon it was time to head for Wetherspoons again to meet everyone.

There was a bit of a mix up too when it came to what to wear. Some thought that they were supposed to wear the club shirts and some thought we were saving them for the rideout the next day. Ah well, these things happen. Of course, Squirrel managed not to spill anything on his shirts all weekend but managed to knock my arm, thereby making me spill my Guinness onto my pristine white club shirt, bugger!

However, my mind was soon distracted when we noticed a different landlady coming to shift us off the pavement again, the gorgeous and lovely Trudy Elizabeth Vaughn, who had less success than her predecessor from the night before in getting us to stay inside with our drinks. Still she was lovely, bless her. And she finished work at 12.30 that night too.

A couple of hours, and much flirting with Trudy, later and it was off to the Ice Arena again to see The Inciters and Two Tonic and again it was great! It was at this point we made the connection with the aforementioned ladies at the breakfast bar, it was only the female singers from the Inciters wasn’t it. Two live acts in one night, but again, I was off by 1am and a good job too.

When I got outside I noticed a fire across from the railway line and opposite the Marine pub. Seeing as everyone was just watching or wondering if it was a Vespa on fire I decided to phone the fire service, which I did as a good law abiding citizen. Once they arrived, off home to my bed I went and gave my Guinness stains the once over with some soap and water to ensure it looked it’s best for the ride out the next day.

The next morning was a bit groundhog dayish. Up, shower, dressed, breakfast. This time Squirrel had been up to 4am! He managed to follow the band into the dressing room again, got lots of autographs and kisses from the girls and even had the cheek to ask if they had enjoyed their fry up earlier in the day. He tells me that they remembered seeing us there too, of course I’m sure they meant me 🙂 After all, the sex appeal that went with that beanie hat, well, you couldn’t beat it with a stick.
Yet again, it was off to the green opposite the King Lud, awaiting the opening of it’s doors while soaking up the culture of the island. Who are we trying to kid, we were soaking up the women and scooters again! After a morning of that we were ready for the big event, the ride out. Off we went to the car park by the Ice Arena for about 12.30 and managed to get a space, which wasn’t easy. At least it was secluded so Pete could have a slash behind my scooter. I hear that’s a problem at your age Pete.

Anyway, we parked up and went hunting for the other Pilgrims, finding them up the other end of the car park. Up the stairs and onto the balcony of the pub we went and got several photos of the crowd ready to roll. If you weren’t there, you should have been, it was such an atmosphere!

You should have been there Wilstead Dave, you would have loved it. I should mention here that Dave was busy at the time changing his clutch with the great help of Bill. Top bloke!!

Well, the sound of several hundred scooters roaring into life was fantastic, as was the smell of two stroke filling your nostrils and just made you feel so great to be there. Of course it took about ten minutes to get from one end of the car park to the other as the police waved everyone through and onto the main road.

It was at this point that I wondered if I would get pulled. Why? Well, I had decided to do the rideout without my helmet and only wearing my hat. Why? Who knows, who cares?

Luckily I made it past and the rest of the rideout to the Rugby Club was great. Apparently, I got quite a few looks and people mouthing “he’s got no helmet on”. Of course I had passed them by then. The amount of residents of all ages that came out onto their front doors and pavements just to watch us all parading by was unbelievable. I even saw one mother on her doorstep getting her baby, which looked about 3 weeks old, to wave at us.

About half way round, I suddenly spotted a blue flash in my (one of several) mirrors and suddenly a copper on his bike is coming past and carried on slowly.
Too many thoughts crowded all at once into my poor irish, hung over but excited brain:

“I’m caught”
“Is he going to pull me?”
“Oh look, a nice Lambretta”
“I’m gonna get pulled, I just know it”
“What do I do now?”
“I wonder if there’s somewhere to pull over and I could put on my helmet and deny everything”
“There’s nowhere to pull over”
“I’m hungry”
“Why do I keep singing the same verse of The Irish Rover for the last 5 miles?”
“IS he going to pull me?”
“Bugger it, keep going, I’m either caught or not!”

So, I kept going, enjoyed the ride and at the busier junctions I kept a couple of scooters between me and the boys in blue and hoped for the best. And of course ….

Nah just kidding, I got away with it!

Arriving at the rugby club at 2 it was time for a few bevvies and laughs and listening to the music laid on. What a great rideout, great finish and great venue. Another chance to admire the scooters and girls, lovely as they all were and just chill out.

Of course, as the afternoon wore on, more and more people seemed to be leaving. In fact several noticed that some people turned up at the venue and almost immediately turned round and went elsewhere, not sure why but seemed strange to me.

Anyway, we were soon the only group left and it was at this point Bernadette decided that she could have a go on Stewart’s PX200E without risking life and limb. Heh, well the wheelie she pulled when she dumped the clutch didn’t inspire a lot of confidence to begin with I’m guessing. However, she soon got in the swing of things and was looking a complete natural within a couple of laps of the field.
Suddenly the music was winding down and the barmaids were packing away the beer, which was when Big Rob and I decided it was time to try and haggle one more round. Eventually, and with the use of much Scottishy and Irishy charm and cheek, we managed to buy seven and get one free! Wahay!

But, there was no denying it was time to go back when all the drink was gone so off we went, promising to meet up in Ryde before that nights do’s.

We met again at Wetherspoons but no Trudy 🙁 Apparently she finished at 6 that day. However, Squirrel was having fun with some mad blonde who got all upset when I suggested she should be at home doing housework, don’t know why?

Later, we went to the Hipshaker at Ryde Castle and it was great. Mucho djing by Molly et al made it a brilliant night. Apologies to Rachel for buggering up her drink, I don’t know why it tasted of Pernod, honest. I don’t remember a lot about that night as I was so drunk but I do remember having a good time.

So, the next morning was knackered from the start because there was no cooked breakfast due to the landlady of the B&B having to go visit a family member in London at short notice (hope all’s well Alan) and of course there was the undeniable fact that the rally was over, despite the rumours that there were events planned for the night. One was that King Kurt was playing at the Ice Arena that night, but when Squirrel and I went to check it out, someone had put the ice back!

Anyway, we had gone down to the green again and at 11am everyone turned up so we said our goodbyes and safe journeys to all. Squirrel went onto the roundabout to take a picture of the crowd as it left, but then they all went right in stead of left and I think he may have got a picture of about 20 scooterists arses! Still, I took a lovely picture and then realised I had no film in the blinking camera!

So there we were. Squirrel, Stewart, Bernadette and I twiddling our thumbs and wondering what to do. Of course there was only one thing to do in such a situation: fight through the throng of old people that had been released from their homes now the scooterists had left the island, and go to the pub. And of course, there was only one pub to go to, Wetherspoons!

Again Trudy was nowhere to be found. Still the beer was good. I believe we arrived at midday and it was six in the evening when we left. My God, the island was quiet. When we went past the green, our three scooters were the only ones left! It was spooky, like the island was transformed.

So we went for something to eat, took some more pics of the scooters (including the now famous “Carson Surfaris”) and buggered off back to our digs after saying our goodbyes.

Now, Squirrel and I had been parking our scooters with about 45 – 50 others in the hotel next door to our B&B so that there was a little extra security, but when we pulled in tonight, we were the only ones. This did unfortunately attract the owners attention, knowing that those that had been booked in were all gone so we were sussed. We did manage to persuade her that we only wanted to park up, we weren’t going to sue if something happened and all that blarney. I tell you, she had a crap attitude, obviously more than happy to take scooterists money and be nice to them then, but when she said that she “didn’t want scooters putt – putting about” well, it was obvious she was a two faced cow.

By the way, the hotel was the Tenerife but it’s closing this winter anyway and being sold to be converted into flats. She’s still a cow though.

So, off to bed at about 9pm it was. Seemed a right anticlimax that, but then…….oh yes, can it be?

Yesssssssss, BBC2, in 45 minutes, The Italian Job!! Great way to end the weekend, bleedin’ great.

The next day consisted of getting up, packing and going home, all uneventful other than a Jimmy moment where Squirrel was Jimmy, the post office lorry was a dump truck from Biffa and in this version the truck missed. Not by bloody much though. That driver was a right git and didn’t even think he had done anything wrong, git.

Git, git, git, git, git. May your gonads go green.

Anyway, it was a fantastic weekend, made so much more enjoyable by the company, thanks everyone!

Donegal Paul.