Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Belgium and the Begonia rally

This years trip to the Begonia started a little earlier, Fiona and I set of after lunchtime on Wednesday, the morning being spent trying to earn some beer vouchers, slaving away for our meagre pittance. The other advantage of leaving after 12 was that the heavy showers started so within 5 miles we no longer had to worry about the Nortons getting dirty! A pleasant but windy ( nature, not me) ride down the A68 and a stop at Corrbridge for a late lunch, Corrbridge is a pleasant little village with plenty of café’s, unfortunately the first one we stopped in had the what I thought was only a Scottish idea of not serving food after 2.30pm, that said the café across the road was excellent and did realise that strangely enough some people are not addicted to strict eating times. After a good feed we headed down to Darlington, we reached there at 5pm, perfect for a bit of getting lost in busy hour, the advantage is that we got to practice our driving the wrong way down one way streets and the complete ignoring of signs until our exit appeared. Wednesday night we camped at Thirsk racecourse which I can recommend, only 4 tent pitches though so worth pre booking. A pleasant evening ensued in the town centre where we found a Weatherspoons which served food and beer so cheaply it felt almost free, matter of fact the double whisky for only a pound more than a single meant we had to repeat the offer as much as we could until we both felt we’d saved a substantial amount of money, the more you drink, the more you save.
Thursday and Alan Clarke our Hull correspondent was along bright and early on his 350 Norton Single to show us some great routes through Yorkshire, we had a thoroughly enjoyable day with Alan setting a fast pace on the 350 and showing us some nice roads and scenery not to mention great places to take tea. Alan is usually at the Begonia but a family holiday in Canada meant he couldn’t make it this year, as he dropped us at the ferry I’m sure he was thinking of just coming along anyway.
We met some nice people as always waiting on the ferry, Joe a German who had just had a 3 week tour of Scotland with no rain, and Barbara and Ricardo from Italy who’d just done a 2 week tour with little rain, at least Scotland is nice to some visitors! Caught up with my brother and Lesley on the boat and Tom Bradley, a good night was had by all.
A run into Brugge Friday morning for breakfast, spookily quiet but then the usual lost in Brugge thing with one way streets the wrong way and pavements being the norm to help us escape. At the rally we met with friends including David Templeton who’d come up from the Pyrenees on his Ducati, we spent the whole weekend riding and talking about bikes, drinking beer and being in the company of great people. Peter Williams was the guest of honour, the former 73 F750 TT winner on a John Player Norton he is now making replicas of the same bike, only 25 will be made and I have to say it is a work of art, especially to any Norton enthusiast. I was lucky enough to spend some time in his company over the weekend and found him to be a fascinating man with some very clever ideas about the future of motorcycle design. If you have some spare cash get in touch with Peter this bike would look great in anyone’s front room, far better than watching TV ( . Only mishap over the weekend was Fiona’s exhaust coming loose on the run which meant we lost the tour but we were all starving anyway so found a restaurant to enjoy the sun and watch the world go by, lucky brother John stuck with us as he had a GPS and I can never navigate around Belgium’s confusing network of small roads.
The weather was excellent over the weekend and the lightning and thunder only happened at night when we were drinking anyway so that was fine. Geert picked us up on Monday, we made the usual sad goodbye’s and Geert took us to a nice town just 5Km from Zeebrugge for lunch, we had lunch and then the heavens opened, we were ok but Geert with no waterproofs had a 70Km run back to Kortrijk.
Tuesday we battled along a congested Hull in the morning, cloudy and overcast and the up the A1M, stressful on an old bike so we turned off and had an excellent ride up the A68, as always one of my favourite weekends of the year, try it its fantastic. The pics as always tell the story (and there's a few!)

Corrbridge tea stop
Nortons at Thirsk racecourse
Nice art deco cinema in Thirsk
Coffee stop with Alan
Of course Fi had to try the ford
More tea more bike chat
John, Lesley, Fiona Joe and Tam
Our new Italian friends Barbera and Ricardo
Brugge centre to try and leak some oil
Queer chicken camped next to us, think it was crossed with a sheep
A room full of Nortons and David taking it in
The two spaceframes are home made, impressive!
The proud creator and his creation
Buy one, you know you want to
Peter sits underneath an iconic photo from his 73 TT win
Nicey nicey
Pamela looking thoughtful (not for long!)
Scottish geezers talk bikes and the weather
Hans, editor of the Dutch Norton magazine with his Norton quad
Yep its true
Nice Nortons everywhere
Hans and Ilco go for a spin (he did seperate them before going on the run!!)
Tams cafe racer splits the new 961's
Another Commando, no apologies
Stunning (and lots of expensive bits)
This is a fantastic bike we drooled over all weekend, a new build Egli Vincent 1365cc!
Sobering, over 26000 Germans were buried in this burial pit, young men deprived of life by politicians, nothing changes
Note I am on lemonade while David drinks beer!!
Rinser, Jeff and Brenda, Norton rally regulars and of course nice people
Drummer got carried away
another JPN pic cause I like it
Just exquisite
Packing the gear
And a lunch with Geert before the ferry, excellent!!!


  1. Gino, thanks for the nice photos and comments. Hope to see you again.Oh yes,
    my photos are here:
    Paul (yes, from the Egli-Vincent)

  2. Hi Paul
    Good to see you again last weekend, looked at your photo's , most excellent. Keep the Egli shining my friend


  3. Hi Gino and Fiona, apologies for not giving any responses to your blog as of late for various reasons. Still very entertaining and great photos as always.
    I had the luck to be able to drop into NOC meet at Brooklands in July, a very interesting place as you probably know and a fab selection of Nortons, as would be expected.
    Eric fae Arbroath

    1. Hi Eric
      Hope your well, we have managed to avoid each other this summer somehow, hopefully we can sort that. Thanks for your comments. I was at Brooklands in 2000 for a rally, excellent!

      Keep on BSA ing.......

      Gino & Fiona