The Blue Lias pub.
Well on the car park the first thing that hit you was a jet aircraft to the right as you entered, just a small one, might have been a trainer, don't remember seeing any guns. The landlord was, as you can imagine, ex RAF type (he may have been the real thing) big bushy handlebar mustache and the lounge was covered floor to ceiling with photos of all manner of aircraft. Nice setting, nice time of the year, the Saturday prior to the Banbury run. How to kill 2 birds with one stone.
To get onto the field to camp there were two gates to the left of the car park, about 50 feet apart, and both times I attended it was a swamp. As a comparative novice aged 20, taking a BMW R69 through 6 inches of well churned mud was not an easy task, but there were enough helping hands. The fun part of early Saturday evening was watching the locals turning up to find that "their pub" had been taken over by a hoard of hairy-assed rallyists (spending a damn sight more in one night than they would spend in a month). Most of them pulled onto the car park, stopped, looked, reversed and left. But one brave soul ventured off the car park into the lounge, to be greeted with a queue 4 deep across the bar. He and his girlfriend decided to go elsewhere but in the few seconds they were in the lounge around 15 of us ran forwards, took hold of his mini, lifted it and spun it around facing it to the exit. I think he got the message.
Wow we are going back a bit here, almost to the start of my rallying days. I can't remember which club or individual ran the rally, but I do remember what good times they where. Location an odd spot just to the east of Long Itchington, just off the Coventry to Banbury A423 road. The pub a step back in time to the '40s.
But first the name of the pub and the sign outside. The sign was most unusual, a brontosaurus, or something like that, stomping around in a prehistoric swamp. I know now that the "blue lias" is a period of time in pre history.
That was 1970. In 1971 it rained and as we arrived I didn't fancy trying to get the bike through the mud onto the camping area. Neither did my friends, so we stopped on the car park as did quite a few others.
A couple of pints later we had a walk-a-bout. Just by the road is a canal bridge so we wandered down the tow path a short while to spot an abandoned lock-keepers house. Just what the doctor ordered. Heavy push on the door and bingo, British Waterways Hotel open for service, even down to an iron framed single bed that I bagged. After the pub closed we burned the architrave and other odd bits of wood that we could tear off for heating and light and slept dry safe and sound.
Wish I was 20 again.
- Les Hobbs