2010 Isle of Wight
Plans are a foot to attend this rally with the – Modern World Scooter Club – stay tuned !
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I’d never heard much about the Isle of Wight before we went there, I knew it was an island off the south coast of England and that was about it.
The island is quite large with its own railway and bus service. There are a few large villages with great shopping and the scenery is just awesome. It’s a beautiful place for your summer holidays with safe, sandy beaches, good accommodation and great transportation options. Cowes is where the ferry from Southampton arrives and you can get a bus or train to most of the other little places dotted around the island. We were to be based in Sandown in a seaside hotel with the rest of the scooter club and got there a day before most of the group then stayed a day longer for our 5 day sojourn
Darren (Daz, know what I mean?) and his wife Deb met us at the Southampton ferry terminal in Daz’s work van on the thursday before the long weekend. He had his 2 Lambretta scooters in the back along with the rest of their gear. They had driven down with some of the Modern World Scooter Club members early and some of the others were going to arrive on the Friday for the long weekend. What a lovely couple they are and childhood sweethearts to boot. Daz is a big man, with a big heart, a builder by trade and someone you probably wouldn’t try to annoy and Deb has such a wicked sense of humor. We all got along like a house on fire and had such a great time with them, we could have adopted them ! Daz had organized most of the logistics of the trip – scooters, accommodation, ferry’s etc and other than things that were out of his control everything went very well. Cheers mate.
We were booked into the Marina Bay, a typical seaside holiday hotel right across the road from the beach and a place they had stayed in before.
An interesting place not unlike Fawlty Towers in some respects and run by a very smart young entrepreneur. There was good parking out front for the extra cars and vans and excellent parking round the back for the scooters. As it turned out there were a couple of double bookings so some of us had to stay in another hotel just up the road for the night which was all good. Thursday night we met up for drinks with the rest of the team and went to a local bar called the Tap just around the corner from the hotel. The drink of choice for a lot of the people there was Bulmers pear cider and its not a bad drop at all. Just as we left the pub there was a torrential downpour and we got really soaked walking back to our temporary hotel.
The next day we moved our stuff down to the Marina Bay and met up with Daz and Debs and the rest of the group as well as some people from the Black Country Scooter Club and the Unreliables Scooter Club who were also staying at the Marina Bay. We caught the bus into Ryde to get tickets to a concert at the local ice skating rink where a british ska band called Bad Manners were playing that night. We had a good look around Ryde as a lot of the scooters for the event were starting to arrive and we ended up sitting in the sun at the local pub taking in the atmosphere – if you didn’t like the smell of burning 2 stroke oil and the racket of modified engines and exhausts then you wouldn’t have liked it there at all. There were scooters of every colour and some were heavily modded. Some of the custom scoots were just ridiculous and you could get a lot of great ideas about what you can actually do to a scooter. I would say there were a lot more stock and modified Lambrettas then any other scooter there and was told that the Lammies give you more options to modify them than say a Vespa. There were scooters parked on the promenade for as far as you could see. Literally a sea of scooters with the obligatory Fishtail Parkas, Docs, Suede Desert boots, Ben Shermans, Fred Perrys, Levis, Harringtons and the suited and booted boys were the shiz. There were some very large men on some very small highly modified scooters, trikes and sidecars and all very happy to tell you about their scooters and all great sources of information. If you are into scooters and can only go to one rally a year then this is it – book early !
We got the bus back to the hotel later in the day and got ready for a big “lip up fatty” night out with Buster Bloodvessel. After a few brews at the hotel we ordered a van to take us into Ryde to see the concert. The event centre was packed and getting to the bar was a mission, the opening band was playing a good set and everyone was getting ready for some ska action. Bad Manners were the best thing I’ve seen for ages – hot sweaty dancing, excellent rhythm and brass section it just went off. Awesome ! I’m not known for my dancing but here you could just go for it and sweat your ass off. I’ve never been to a gig like it before and just got into it, plus it’s not like anyone knows you there or anything is it ? All the hardcore skins (go hard Justin) were up the front giving it the old OI OI OI and surprisingly there were no fights in spite of the packed crowd and the type of dancing going on. It all ended too soon and after a couple of encores we headed off for a rest and some fresh air. It took me ages to get the “My Girl Lollipop” song out of my head and since I’ve been home I’ve been thrashing you tube for all the Bad Manners stuff and am listening to “Sally Brown” as I type this. We all went into the main street to get something to eat but funnily enough everywhere was flat out and packed so we waited for a bit and then got into a kebab place. After the van picked us up we were off back to the hotel for a shower and a good sleep. The local council had put on special buses that were running until 4am as there were other events on all over the island so getting about was straight forward. I must say the bus drivers there really earn their money as the streets are narrow and corners are very tight especially in areas that have roadworks on the go.
The double deckers would make good fruit pickers as the overhanging trees on the sides of the road seem to get picked by the open windows in the top deck as the bus goes past showering the passengers with debris.
Saturday morning we had the hotel breakfast – a full english had been the staple diet to date and is included with the room and if you want tomatoes or a fried egg you just have to ask the little Indian man who takes the orders. That doesn’t mean you will get what you want but it will have eggs of some sort, baked beans, fried bread, a sausage, tomatoes, bacon and toast and a pot of tea – unless you want coffee. You also get 1 small glass of orange as well whether you like that or not. Big Dave had a penchant for voices and did an excellent take off of the breakfast service man that just cracked us all up. As it turned out, all of the scooter ones had an excellent sense of humour and were so easy to get along with and made us very welcome. For me this was the highlight of the trip, being able to do something a little left field for most tourists (except us scooterists – KTF !) and to meet such fantastic people all of similar age and interests. Getting a scooter and helmet to use was just shit hot, especially as we hadn’t even met each other. There were a few couples and families in the club which just made it all the more enjoyable with Richard and Jenny and Ralph in the car (thanks for taking Jane with you !) and Justin, Ange and Shane all riding their scooters – great stuff, great people.
After brekkie it was organised to go for a ride down to the parts fair to have a look around so I helped Daz unload the scooters to get a look at the one I was going to use for the next couple of days. Both were Lammys and Daz’s had the full mod kit on his bike which just looked the business. Attention to detail, colour co-ordinated and in great condition it must of been a real mission to clean. My one was the exact opposite – clean, classic shape with a rack on the back and quite a loud exhaust. I had never ridden a Lambretta before and being a 1963 model it was older than me but in far better condition and probably weighed less especially after 4 weeks of boozing and hotel food.
There were some obvious differences between my PX 200 and the Li 150 – mainly the lammy sat lower, wasn’t as wide and had narrower handlebars, designed to go fast with a lower centre of gravity. Daz used premixed fuel in it and unlike the PX it didn’t have a fuel guage but wasn’t necessary as it was quite good on fuel for the type of riding we were going to be doing. The moter had been kitted out and had a stronger clutch in it which took a bit of getting used to initially as well as the speedo being in miles and no indicators or mirrors. It looked great and went fast when I had the opportunity to give it some and the exhaust would just sing once you got it in the power band although it was a bit of a challenge to keep it there considering the speed limits and riding in a group. This model didn’t have an ignition key so Daz had a lockable cable to secure it against theft. Not having electric start either just shows how spoilt we are with PX’s but Daz showed me the way to get it started – turn the fuel on, a couple of kicks and your off. I did forget to turn the fuel off at one stop and then it took a bit to get started and then I stalled it. Ah well…..
Thankfully the weather was mild and not too windy which was handy as I only had a crappy windbreaker to ride in not wanting to cart all my riding gear away on holiday with us. Unlike here in NZ riding in the IOW and parts of the UK is a slow affair on narrow winding roads and the opportunity to go hard is only there if you can weave in and out of the traffic. The ride to the fair was excellent as the sun had come out and there was no wind so it was primo scootering conditions. Arriving at the site there was a gateway into the property with a gold coin entry but not too many places to park although we did find a bank outside to park all our scooters on.
It was tent city inside with everything you could want for your scooter from parts and accessories to clothing and safety gear. There was a tent there just selling Doc Martin boots and tents selling after market kits and pipes for modifying your scoot. Like a kid in a candy shop it was a bit too much to take in as I already had a list in my mind of bits I wanted for my PX and was aware of having to cart it all back to NZ but had taken a backpack with me there – just in case. A chromed rear 3 in 1 rack, 2 after market shocks, a checker board mod fairing, new metal feet for the stand, a headlight mesh cover, a fluffy toy, a heap of mounting brackets for my accessory lights and mirrors, a chromed peak for my headlight, a new mod helmet and some badges and patches were all I could get before Jane noticed just how much I had stuffed in the back pack. Thankfully she was able to take it all back to the hotel in the car.
Most of the other guys there already had a lot of the gear on sale so mainly got those “hard to find, better get that now, bits” and tee shirts and badges. Not all of the vendors had eft-pos facilities which was a bit of a pain but you could haggle with some of them for cash so it worked out OK. By now it was stifling hot and a ride back on the scooter was looking good until I discovered the keys for the lockable cable were in the backpack along with my cellphone now in the car heading back to Ryde – bugger ! However after a quick call from big Dave, the keys were returned and we rode back to Ryde to sit in the sun outside the pub (hard work I know and you can just sit outside with your drinks there – no sweat) to watch all the scooters buzzing around. I don’t know what sort of money the rally injects into the local economy but we did our best ! Just about all the locals we talked to were supportive of the event and cited very little problems associated with any of the scooter clubs attending the rally. The place is literally a buzz for the weekend and booking restaurants and taxis is a must while you are there. The group we were with prebooked the accomodation from the year before so if you want relative comfort and meals versus tenting for the weekend (nothing wrong with tenting when you are young and single) book early.
We stopped at an Inn on the way back to Sandown for afternoon tea and a bit of a break before going back to the hotel for more drinks and then out on the raz to another couple of local bars, the Caulkhead and the Jolly Sailor, where both pubs had DJ’s doing all the northern soul hits. There were a couple of guys in the tonic suits looking very smart indeed as well as the pork pie hat and wraps brigade. On the walk home we stopped at the local kebab place who advertise this monster kebab for 9 pounds. Big Dave had tried one the day before and said it was just too much, so Richard, me and Big Dave decided to give one a try.
Now if you know me, you would know that I could eat for NZ and very raely don’t finish what I’m eating (partly because I was brought up to not waste food but mainly because I’m a bit of a hog) so we went back to the hotel and sat down outside with a couple of ciders and got stuck in. By about halfway through it, I was thinking, bugger me ! It had a combination of very spicy chicken (or may have been beef ?) pieces which normally you would get down no worries but I was struggling. A quick check, and Dave and Richard didn’t look too good either but I’m nothing if not persistent so had a wee rest and a drink and had another go. Righto, nearly done, only a couple of mouthfuls to go and I’m thinking “boy are you dumb” fuller than a state school said it all.
Dave and I didn’t finish but Richard did – a very gutsy effort indeed.
Sunday is usually the day the rally has the big ride out around the island, starting funnily enough from Ryde, and is a sight to behold for all scooter enthusiasts, however the MWSC had decided this year to do their own thing which was great as we did a 58km (or that might be miles) circuit of the island and stopped at some great country places for a drink and afternoon tea. Jane had been on about having a traditional english meal with the yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings since we had been in the UK and finally found a place that had it on the menu. There was a well used NZ lamb cook book at the place we had tea at and the meals there were excellent. After a ride back along the coast to Sandown we got ready for another night out at the Tap where the BCSC had put on an evening of dancing with a DJ and some classic Northern Soul tunes.
The atmosphere in the pub was great and it was full of locals, mods and scooter boys and girls. The DJ, one of the BCSC club members, had the tonic suit, the hairdo and the tunes to burn it up. The crowd got into it and it wasn’t long before the whole place was rocking. The Tap wasn’t the biggest of pubs but it was absolutely chocka and we all danced for hours. Good stuff that Northern Soul and as per all the other dances we had been to everyone was dressed up in their mod gear with some of the girls looking very smart indeed. It was a bit of mission getting to the bar so everyone was buying drinks for everyone else and just like all the other nights we had there, no one got pissed or agro and everyone just danced and chatted the night away. It was all over far too soon and a great night for a Sunday.
On Monday after another “please, full english” we said goodbye to some of our new friends that had to get away home for work the next day. I helped Daz load up the scooters and the rest of us spent a leisurely day on the beach and exploring the Sandown Pier which is just like the Brighton one, only smaller. We had a ride on the bumper cars which was great fun and went down to where the locals were fishing. I got talking to a local man about the fish and bait and stuff and he caught a good sized Makerel while we were there talking. It was warm and sunny, an idyllic place really, just the shot for your summer holidays. Justin (alright Kidda ?) got me some “welks” sort of a snail like shellfish in a plastic cup with vinegar and a toothpick. They were very nice and similar to the cats eyes snails we get here in NZ. Just like here in Invers the water there was cold but the beach was sandy and very clean.
We had ice creams in the sun and just lazed about for most of the day. Jane and I had to go and buy another bag to put all of her (oops, I meant mine !) scooter parts into for the trip back home. Today was the only day we really got to relax on our whole trip, no train, bus or plane to catch, no crowds, no luggage and shorts and jandals all day – excellent, plus all with great new friends company. Someday I’d like to go back to Sandown and do some fishing off that pier……
We all went out to a local restaurant for tea that night and sadly the IOW adventure was coming to an end. Up early the next day and after some farewells we got into Daz’s van and set off to Cowes to get on the ferry. Another great sunny day and a chance to sit down and take in the scenery as we sailed off the Isle of Wight back to Southampton where it all began 5 days previously.
The MWSC were awesome and if we were to go and live in the UK we would definitely go to the “Black Country” and see our new friends Daz and Deb, The Fellows and Marsh clans, Big Dave, The Mod couple Paul and Rachel, Ernie and your nephew, Rich and Wendy, John, Carl and any of you ones I’ve missed.
KTF – See you in a bit…..