Memba Rally and BMF Show - May 1997
On Saturday morning we made good use of the nearby toilet/wash house and, we went off in search of fellow club member MAC. When we got to his tent he had recently got up also, and he was just about to go and sign on for the games, which were being held in the showground arena this year. This made a lot more sense - after all, most people at the Memba rally would be making use of the Privilege Day to get their bargains, and were unlikely to take kindly to trudging quite a way back into the campsite just for the games and then trudging back to the showground to finish shopping before the marshals closed the gates. He told us that he arrived about the same time as we had, but hadn't put the club flag up until the morning, so we couldn't have seen it anyway.
After checking the show guide we found out where the club stand was located and made our way there first. Ian's car was there, but unfortunately nobody was at home. Assuming that everyone was shopping we decided to follow their example, and wandered off, chequebook in hand. Gissele had decided to get some leather trousers this weekend and saw some pairs which she thought reasonable at £80 but, having been here before, I advised her to check the prices in other tents first and, sure enough, we found some at nearly half that price, which appeared to be of better quality as well. Finding that one pair fit her almost perfectly, I decided that, after twenty-plus years of riding, it was about time I had some as well, and managed to find a pair that fit me. (Having said that, they both needed a couple of inches cut off the legs.) We returned to the Club tent with our purchases and found the Tedman brothers in residence, so we were able to drop off our shopping and not have to carry it round with us for the rest of the day.
Time marched on and the games were well under way so, pausing only to get a couple of rather expensive Cornettos from a bad-tempered ice cream vendor, we wandered over to the grandstand and found a couple of seats. We saw MAC and his bike in the centre of the arena, but he wasn't doing anything so we must have missed his turn, but I don't think he was very successful. Gissele was very amused by the sled pulling game, and they also had some sort of bungie-pull contraption, the sides of which managed to conceal all the action from the crowd. The games over, we resumed our bargain hunting but found nothing of interest except a couple of non-bike-related T-shirts, and returned to the campsite.
Having walked more than a few miles that day, (and I knew there would be nowhere to sit at the marquee), we decided to rest our legs in the tent a bit, at least until they lit the bonfire, as it was a bit cold that evening. They actually lit it rather earlier than we expected - before dark - so it was well under way when we got there. There appeared to be an arm-wrestling contest going on in the marquee, so we wandered around the food vans for a while, the Hog Roast burgers were very nice. We had been standing near the fire for a while when it started to rain, this caused almost everybody to crowd into the marquee. The smoky atmosphere caused Gissele's asthma to flare up a bit, and the fact that there were several thousand people packed into an enclosed space didn't help much either. I managed to lead her over to the far side of the marquee, where the organisers had opened up some of the side panels, and there were not quite so many people. This seemed to relieve some of the problems, (the left side is usually emptier than the right - I don't know why). Somehow MAC & Sue managed to find us there and we boogied the night away. There was the usual high number of pole climbers but this year quite a few were doing it barely dressed - some apparently naked - including one who fell about 30 feet from the top onto the crowd below, (that must have been an interesting story if hospital treatment was required). This incident didn't seem to dampen other people's enthusiasm and several races up the poles took place, while the band played very good cover versions of 70s hits.
By the time we got up Sunday morning most of the food vans had gone next door so they could increase their prices, so we made do with just coffee and biscuits for breakfast, and got some (cold) donuts to munch as we wandered around. When we visited the Club stand we found that the bad-tempered ice-cream man had invaded the corner of our pitch but, as this meant closer passers-by, we weren't too concerned. Not satisfied with Saturday's purchases we decided to look round quite a few of the stalls again until we got fed up with it. We did manage to find a burger van without too much of a queue, and with our food we found some seats in the grandstand and watched the final game of Motoball and the start of the Moped Enduro, but as we saw quite a lot of last year's race we didn't need to see too much of this, (certainly not the full two hours!). Back at the Club stand we found that there wouldn't be room in the car for any of our luggage, so we made our way back to our tent and started the long task of packing the bike for the trip home.
The trip home was a lot quicker, and brighter, than the trip up and I have now at last driven over the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at Dartford, very impressive, (and high!), but it costs 30p for a bike, and I think bikes on most bridges are now free - Severn Bridge (M4) and Forth Road Bridge (M90), for example. The only problem was with the extra luggage shifting during the ride, requiring a few stops to rearrange the straps.
- Phil (the Spill) Drackley