With the forecast looking promising we headed to Portsmouth for the annual pilgrimage to our favourite scooter rally venue which also coincides with the anniversary of when we got together 15 years ago and married in 2010.
The Wightlink ferry port was unrecognisable with an upper section allowing cars access to the upper ferry decks via a ramp. The lower parking area was reserved for scooters and lorries which were loaded onto the ferry only a few at a time. We counted just 25 on our crossing, which is much lower than usual, but surprisingly there wasn’t a massive backlog later in the day when the others came over.
We had the usual ‘tethering’ palarvar to make sure that Lee’s scooter doesn’t fall over on the crossing, consisting of a multitude of bungees and various items of padding to shore it up. Once he was satisfied that it was secure we finally headed up to the deck!
As we always mark our anniversary on the Friday of the rally we headed for a celebratory lunch at the Propeller Inn near Bembridge. I love this spot as it’s so peaceful, with beautiful scenery. Light airplanes land and take off periodically from the airfield and the food is really nice too.
When we finished our meal we got back on the scooter and rode the short distance to Smallbrook to see if anyone else had arrived. Champs had got there first and was saving a space for everyone else’s tents. Angus was next on the scene and Lee helped him with his erection issues!
We also had a nice chat with A5 Simon, who seemed to stalk me all weekend!
We took a walk around the stalls to see if there was anything to tempt us to spend our hard-earned cash on. There was a SIP stand, manned by friendly bilingual Germans, who unfortunate weren’t selling anything. It was all for show but could be ordered online with free delivery to the UK. Lots of exciting bits and bobs for Vespa owners with money to spare.
Next stop was the Scooter Nova stand – a new magazine for the discerning scooterist. They offered a photo opportunity to be a cover star – a fun idea and one which we couldn’t resist. Unfortunate Lee’s massive head was almost too big for the hole, but he managed to get it in. However, getting his ears out proved tricky but luckily he managed to extract himself without damaging the stand or causing lasting damage to his head…
Another interesting stall featured an Ali-bretta, which I couldn’t resist! As the name suggests, the frame is made from aluminium, which means it’s very light and therefore very speedy.
I’m not one to get excited about exhausts usually but this twin pipe for the GTS caught my eye. The price tag of £500 was eye watering though so I don’t think I’ll bother rushing to buy one!
Back to the tents and Champs was having a little siesta, so we left Angus to hold the fort while we went back to Ryde to check into Yelfs for the weekend..
Once we’d unpacked we had a quick shower and headed to the bar for the first beers of the weekend. I spotted Lee Parker wandering past so invited him inside for a chinwag.
Another ex Pacemaker, Greggsy, was skulking around the bar so he joined us for a couple too. He bought some shots and made me drink one, but I was a real big girl’s blouse about it, drinking it in about 8 sips rather than the usual single gulp. We did a quick selfie and then joined our gang who’d got the bus into town from the campsite.
Having stocked up with cans of Strongbow from the offie we went to the Chinese next to the Lud for our dinner.
Although the campsite was reported as heaving (a reliable source later told me there were 2000+ campers) I don’t think the overall numbers as as many as previous years. We easily got a table in the restaurant which is extremely unusual. After food and chitchat we caught the shuttle bus to Smallbrook and sat upstairs which prompted a few choruses of ‘The Double Deckers’ as we lurched through the lanes back to Ashey.
We went back to the tents to drink our way through a few cans and a few texts exchanged with Tori prompted a mad dash to the do to see Basket Case. I had assumed they’d be the headliners but they were on before 10pm! Personally I think this was a mistake as they should have been top of the bill, but they whipped the crowd into a frenzy as usual and played a blinding set.
The band always dress up for their gigs and this year’s theme was spaghetti westerns, Clint Eastwood style.
We all had a great boogie to some punk and new wave classics.
But next time, please make them headliners! We had a great time but yet another ska band forced us outside when we were really up for more dancing. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of The Specials et al, but it’s so samey and once you’ve heard a couple of songs you yearn for something different.
We went outside to cool down and have a chat, and when the others headed back to the tents Lee and I stuck around – and once the band had finished we ventured back inside for a boogie. Thanks to Daz, Evo and co we had a brilliant time! The best bit was when a CD started skipping and Daz had to put something else on in a hurry. He chose Street Tuff, which went down a storm!
We stayed right til the end, and hopped on the shuttle with Parker and Lucy back to Ryde. I do have video evidence of more bus shenanigans but it’s probably best kept private (but pm me if you’re interested!).
I didn’t get much sleep as our room was scorching hot, so I went for an early wander down to the seafront to get some fresh air. I love being outside before the world wakes up!
After a hearty breakfast we headed to the green to sit in the sun and look at scooters, as you do. We bumped into Sticky and Tracy who had ridden down with their son Sam who had turned 16 just a few days earlier. He had quite an adventure riding his Vega 50 down from Nuneaton! It was a beautiful machine though, built by Sticky.
The others had joined us by now so we basked in the sun, chatting and watching the world go by.
Then we went up to the site for the custom show. It didn’t seem as big as previous years but it’s still the best in the world. Some fantastic scooters and brilliant displays. It was the first time I’d seen the revamped Dazzle and it was still as breathtaking as it was in the 80s.
The site hadn’t filled up yet, but in a few hours after this was taken it was heaving and there was nowhere to park!
The weather was glorious, just perfect, although the site seemed to be about 5 degrees hotter than the rest of the island. At the tents, Putt was melting, so Snowy made a shade to try and cool him down.
Lee and I went for a ride to Culver Down which was lovely, and had a nice breeze to cool us down. The views up there are spectacular and no photos do it justice really.
On the way back we bought ice and lollies to cool down the sweaty campers before heading back into town.
We went back to the Chinese in the evening for an al fresco dinner. Everyone was a little pinker despite having applied copious amounts of sun cream!
Gail and Snowy were celebrating their 3 year anniversary so I acted as photographer for the official shot…
We then parted ways, with me and Lee off to the Balcony Bar and the others heading back to Smallbrook. We were really keen to see Dave Wakeling’s Beat, and it has sold out so the venue was packed. The support band, Marquis Drive, were brilliant, playing indie covers from bands like The Farm, Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets and Pulp. A top set!
And then to the headliners. Dave Wakeling is looking great for 61 and the band were really tight. It was great to hear those classic songs live, sung by the original artist.
I then hit a wall (metaphorically) as the lack of sleep caught up with me, so we headed back to the hotel for a relatively early night.
Sunday dawned, and all good things must come to an end as we had to make our way home. I took a few last scooter shots from outside Yelfs as I love that view down Union Street.
We love this rally so much but can’t stay for 3 nights any more so we packed up and made one last visit to the green.
Soon it was heaving with scooters of all shapes and sizes…
The PRATS were treating themselves to ice creams so I followed suit!
Lee’s scooter got a lot of attention too, from young and old alike!
We caught up with a few people too, before heading off to the ferry for the short ride back to West Sussex.
We bumped into some familiar faces at the ferry port too – the next generation of scooter riders is shaping up well!
Scooter rally blues!
What a great weekend. Perfect weather, brilliant company and great music – what more can a girl ask for? The post rally blues are hitting me already! If this inspires you to head out on a scooter rally in 2018 then check out my rally and event dates here.