words by Roy and Chris, Pics by Skip, Shark, Leg over and Roy, wit from Mark and Sid
This rally is held at the Top End Farm campsite in Little Staughton in Bedfordshire, not that far from the A1. This is a well-run site, with all the usual facilities – an excellent well-stocked shop, a good children’s play area, an information hut and a fish and chip van which arrives on most Saturday evenings in the summer; this proves to be very popular, and there is normally quite a long queue waiting to be served. If you fancy a pub meal the local one, “The Crown”, is about one mile from the campsite and it serves nice food.
We had a nice dry ride to the campsite. However, as we pulled onto the site, we were met by a large sliding gate which was firmly closed. The instructions at the gate were to report to the camp shop and book in, and you would then be given the code number to operate the gate. This was new from last year, may be the owners have had a few people forgetting to pay!! Walking back from the shop to my outfit I bumped into Dave Levine. The sidecar rally had taken over the far end of the field; this was a nice-sized plot, and even with 40 units attending the rally there was plenty of space for more.
Friday night saw a fair crowd of us turn up at The Crown pub; the food was nice, although we felt that the chef was on a bonus that night. When we ordered our meal we were told that there was a queue waiting for food; this didn’t matter as it gave us time to get another drink in!!
Arriving back at the campsite I spotted a wooden pod, and got talking to the site warden. He told me that this is their first pod, and that they hope to get a couple more in the future. The warden kindly opened up the pod for us to go in. He explained that this pod was a “mark one” version, and he said that the non-opening back window was to be replaced with one that opens, in order to get some air into the pod. The pod was fairly bare inside, with two folding benches that turn into double beds, a TV and a heater for the colder nights. There is no microwave provided (as there is in the pods at the Kings Lynn campsite); this is because this site wants you to cook outside. The pod price covers 2 adults plus 2 children; Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights are charged £40 a night. However, if you book all three weekend nights the charge is £100. Monday to Thursday nights are £30 each. I was led to believe that a discount may be available if you want to stay for several nights. We noticed on Saturday night that the pod was being used.
I spotted Mick Payne’s Jawa /Velorex parked up on site; this little outfit is taking him and Katie on their “4 Corners 4 Alzheimer’s“ride. The bike had done really well until a gasket split; luckily Dave Angel brought a new one to the rally, but there was still a problem to be solved. Luckily Mick and Katie have relay cover. Mick told me that they had met some nice people on their way, and they have been invited to go to Ireland.
Friday evening saw lots of people gather in the marquee; many had a go at Ken’s Jenga competition. This was a hoot. Chris had a go – this was her first attempt at this game, and she said that she enjoyed losing her virginity in front of so many people, but complained that it was over too quickly. As she later said – the earth did not move but the wooden blocks certainly did!!
The Saturday morning ride out was to the Forest Centre and Millennium Park, which is situated at Marston Vale. I hitched a ride in Martyn’s sidecar; he was also leading the rideout. The weather on Saturday was really nice and warm, and we had a lovely ride through the lanes and villages. We passed quite a few cyclists on our way, and I noticed that one had a small rear view mirror attached to his cycling helmet.
At one time we travelled past the airship hangers at Cardington; these are that big that I have been told the liner “Titanic” would fit inside either of them. This was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me – about 35 years ago I was a fairly newly-qualified driving instructor, and at that time the Department of Transport was training driving examiners at the airship hangers. We got invited up there for a day, to see how they were being trained. If my memory is correct the DoT also trained the motorcycle examiners there.
The hangers themselves are presently being overhauled. Riding around to the other side of the hangers there was a massive development of new homes. Later on Martyn had to slow down as there were some ducks crossing the road; luckily for them they dived through a hedge and out of sight.
We soon arrived at the Forest Centre. Just over 20 outfits took part in the run, with several solos as well. There was a café and a shop near the main entrance and the food was nice; however those of us sitting outside were buzzed by the odd wasp or two. The Forest of Marston Vale Trust is an independent registered charity and they are hoping to have planted 5 million trees by 2031; they have already planted over 1 million trees. They are trying to raise money to do this. Not far from the café was an excellent children’s play area. Fairly close to the café is a meadow which you are allowed to walk around for free; if you want to go into the wetlands reserve then you need to get a pass. Looking at a map of the Forest the walkers’ / cyclists’ route is about 5 miles in length. The centre also puts on children’s activities, including pond dipping, pirate hat making and a “going wild” taster day. There is usually a small charge for these events. For more details see website www.marstonvale.org/events
We had a nice ride back to the campsite, with Lesley telling Martyn as he got off the outfit, that they had 15 minutes, until the Children’s Grand Prix started, so it was all systems go. The junior grand prix was great fun as usual and was won by Joe. Soon afterwards the adult quiz took place with Rebo setting the questions, this went well and ..won the quiz.
The fish and chip van arrived about at 5 pm. I got to it at 5.30 pm but there was a long queue, as usual – the chippie does nice food. The club raffle was due to start at 6.30 pm; however this was delayed because people were still queuing for their food. As usual, there were some nice prizes to be won; however pink and yellow tickets seemed a little thin on the ground, but the blue ones went well, and Paul got a big cheer whenever his blue tickets won a prize!!
Next came the tank racing. For those of you not familiar with this event, competitors are given a kit containing a cotton reel, some elastic bands, a drawing pin, a slice of candle and a match stick (you may have made something similar in the past). This was great fun, and my one was the most successful that I have ever built – it made it into the final – but Sticky John’s tank was better than mine and he won, but it was great fun taking part.
Last of the organised events was Tri-Anglia Wheels’ famous “Grand Prix Racing Tournament”. This game is a great laugh and we all had a lot of fun. Lesley worked hard here keeping every one organised. It was eventually won by John C.
Actual view of the final through Martyn’s eyes.
Well done to the “Wheels” team – another good rally on an excellent camp-site with good amenities and a nice children’s play area. Many thanks to everyone involved in all the hard work that it takes to make it such a great weekend.
Some people never grow up!
I heard this song on the way to work and thought of Chaddy, Daddy Cool can you remember the group?
Oh, and let your children watch it, at least they will have a laugh.
Tri- Anglia Wheels would like to thank all who turned up and hope you all had a pleasant time at the Sidecar Soiree, joining in with the fun, joviality and friendly banter. Our reward is to see all the happy faces.
Same time, same place next year. Bring more Whisky. No not cooking Whisky.