Well that was a busy week, off to Ireland on Wednesday to get the P&O ferry from Cairnryan to Larne for this years Norton Owners Club International rally. Fiona and myself on the Norton's and Alex on the Triumph. Cold but dryish run down, only really fun for the last few miles, when your time constrained there’s no good way to get from the East to West of Scotland in the Central belt. Ferry was ok but deposited us in a very wet Larne, roadworks most of the way to Belfast and then rush hour in Belfast was painfully slow, literally painful as my wrist was aching slipping the clutch so much. We crossed into Southern Ireland and had a reasonable run around Dublin arriving into Wicklow about 5 hours after we left Larne (which is ridiculous) First thing that we saw was the Garage our Wicklow correspondent Kevin Sheane works in with a huge "Wicklow welcomes the Norton 2015 International Rally", very nice. A bit of banter with Kevin and the owner Padraig and then off to the Grand Hotel to claim our room for the night. Glad to get a Guinness after the journey. Kevin joined us for a few beers but tiredness claimed us early.
Thursday up to the rugby club to set up our tent and prepare for the onslaught of Norton riders, to be honest the onslaught never came but we ended with 161 booked in over the next couple of days which was ok and kept us busy enough in the booking in tent. Highlights of the weekend were the great nights in the bar with the staff and members of the club working tirelessly to keep us happy. The catering was excellent throughout the weekend and many paid a compliment on the food. The run on Saturday when we all parked in the “wrong” car park at the city Gaol and then caused chaos as we shifted in excess of 100 bikes was typically farcical and we all had a good laugh. Most people enjoyed the run led by Colm O’Shea and our sweeper Mark Oliver Saturday night was fantastic with great music and a bit of banter during the prize giving (apologies to any who I might have offended)
Sunday was a strange day as people started panicking about the expected Armageddon which was forecast for the next day, ferries were already being cancelled due to the strengthening wind which was to turn to gales and the heavy rain forecast, I'm sure somebody also mentioned a plague of locusts!
Sunday night was good to get the banter and mingle, I even spent some time with Ian Verrinder and his large London crew not swapping insults, we must be going soft!
A huge thanks to Kevin Sheane for his enthusiasm and help with the setting up of the meeting, to Martin Connachy for liaising with the guys at the Irish end and the most excellent T shirts (and the ambulance service), Colm O'Shea for the run and for the band (he was visibly relieved after the first 3 songs) . Fiona for working hard and keeping me sober during the day, the staff and officials at the Rugby club, particularly Ann who I negotiated with, and her husband Larry, and the caterers for ensuring we had a great time.
Specifically thanks to the large Dutch contingent who supported us and swelled the numbers (and of course the English, French, Belgians, Germans, Czech and Swedish crew not forgetting the Welsh and Scottish chaps and of course John & Peter all the way from the USA)
We had a windy and cold but mainly dry run back up to Larne joined for the run by Johan and Wopkee from the Dutch branch but then the heavens opened and we got soaked trying to book into our by now cancelled ferry. We got on the next one but that meant about another 40 miles in atrocious weather. Fiona's Norton was lying on its side against mines when we got to the car deck, the guys wouldn't let us lift it until the first officer took photos, then he announced they would take no responsibility, Thanks to P&O for nothing, use Stena the next time. Alex's Triumph was also damaged so we spent 40 minutes sorting them out so they were ridable and cracked home. We got back at 10.15 pm which was ok, very cold, wet but with great memories of a great International
|Welcome to Wicklow|
|Alex, Kevin and I enjoying a pre rally pint|
|In town for lunch|
|Did you hear about the 2 Irish, 2 Americans and the Scotsman trying to put up a tent...funny|
|Andrea, Martin & Agnes Connachy, helpers and T shirt aficionados|
|Part of the team|
|View from my office most of the weekend|
|1929 Model 18 ridden all the way from the Isle of Wight, great effort by Jeff|
|Dave Allen, am I in the right place?|
|Waiting for the off, oldest rider (ridden to event) our former Chairman Peter Cocks standing Centre|
|Youngest rider on a Norton Toon from Belgium asking Davie what polish he uses|
|On your marks|
|Colm and I prepare to lead the guys to the Gaol|
|NEVER give me a microphone, Tim Harrison our chairman to my left wondering what I'll say next!!|
|Let the party begin|
|Priase for Kevin & Colm|
|Top team, thanks!!|
|Barman thanks me for my praise|
|Always happy to serve|
|Kevin in for a pose|
|Ortmund, Guy and Fi|
|Part of our large Dutch contingent|
|Top bar team|
|I feel sick.........|
|Needed this hassle like a hole in the head|