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'The Vultures Fly High
Thanks to Iain and Sophie taking Arlene to Lytham St Annes by car, I was able to go by bike. It has been a long time, or so it seems, that I rode anywhere alone and I was looking forward to a 'spirited' ride upt' North. Having deposited Arls and our luggage at Iain's I hit the road just a tad before 3pm and aimed at the M40.

Traffic was moderate and I soon got up to speed, but it became apparent quite quickly that the lack of 250 miles a week commuting over the last two years had left me a little rusty. I realised my reactions and forward planning were not as slick as I would like, so I backed off to a more leisurely pace. Soon I was on the M42 and I opted for the M6 Toll route. I was getting more settled in my riding by now and the smooth surface and lack of traffic was a joy. I arrived at the 'Toll Plaza' and joined a queue with four cars in front of me. I removed my sunglasses, one glove and rummaged for my cash. By the time I had found the requisite £3.00 the cars in front had gone and the guy behind was edging forward showing his annoyance at me still being stationary. I rode up to the booth and gave the lady my money. She just held it and starred at me. "Put your glove on" she said. "Ooo, you're so forceful" I replied.  "Put your glove on" she repeated. "You're not my Mum" I retorted. "No, but my son rides a bike and I don't let him go out without the proper gear, so I'm sure you're not either."  "Alright" I said, "I'm doing it!"  "You'd better, I'm not lifting the barrier until you do!".  After a shared laugh I rode off with matey behind busting a blood vessel.

Once back onto the real M6 I hit tailbacks and pretty much from then on all the way to Lytham it was filtering all the way.  I must say, the drivers up there are not as aggressive as on the M4, but neither are they as helpful. Very few moved over to allow me extra room but the lanes were wide, so by and large I could squeeze through. Being a very sunny day, there was a lot of screen washing going on and I caught the overspray 7 times. One, spectacularly hit me side-on straight between my face and my sun glasses, fortunately just below my right eye. 

As I neared Lytham I saw two bikes ahead. This turned out to be Anya and Al. A quick toot and a wave and they were a speck in my rear view mirrors. Soon I passed a couple on another bike and noticed he picked up speed as if he wanted to follow me. I slowed down and he tucked in behind me. My trusty Sat Nav lead us ever onwards towards our destination .......... until it suddenly recalculated mid roundabout and sent me off in the wrong direction. I stopped to perform a U-Turn, my shadow didn't. He sailed on by. I assumed he really knew another, different way, so I retraced my steps to the roundabout then followed my Sat Nav's corrected instructions.

It took me just shy of four hours to reach the Rally Site where I caused confusion by asking for two tickets. The poor guy looked perplexed, so I explained the other ticket was for Harvey my six foot high invisible rabbit. He gave me two tickets. (Younger readers may like to ask an old fart for an explanation of that). At this point my shadow arrived and I apologised profusely for selling him a dummy, which had resulted in them getting lost.

I found the C12 clan and heard stories of how the 'Trailer Guys' had beaten the two wheelers to the Rally Site. Stigg had taken his new trailer and used this additional capacity to transport a temporary warehouse. Having touched base I set off to find our Hotel a few miles away.
I checked in and obtained our key, then returned to site to find Arlene had just arrived with Iain and Soph. We deposited a few bits of our kit, such as jackets and helmets in Stiggs Self Store Unit and commenced to party.  Whilst many of the usual suspects were missing, there were many friends we had not seen for a very long time, and we had a great evening catching up with their news. Otto was there, but sadly he is no longer a member of the VSOC. His style of partying and Health & Safety do not mix so a mutual separation is in force. 

The band were excellent, the beer went down a treat and all too soon it was time for a taxi ride and we repaired to the Hotel.

Saturday dawned sunny and bright and we were soon back on site to hear tales of the night before's goings on and to witness Keith's spectacular success in the kite flying competition.  Not only was our kite the best looking and obviously very well made, it caused concern for Air Traffic Control at Blackpool International Airport.  (I made that bit up).
See the video on Facebook
We then spent a very pleasant afternoon with Rosie and Andre visiting Blackpool and Fleetwood.

Back on site, more gossiping took place, more beer was consumed, chips and a turd (aka Cumberland Sausage) were eaten and we spent some considerable time trying to work out what the writing on the nearby Church Tower said. With the aid of Rosie's on-line dictionary a very rude interpretation was found. However, we couldn't believe that a Church would bear the logo meaning 'Rock Shute' ( otherwise known as Sand in the Vagina ). So after extensive research we decided we needed to take photos and read it from a zoomed in perspective. This I have done and I think the letter in the middle is in fact a diamond, the same as at each end of the text. That being the case, the lettering appears to say 'Shag Us'. But what do you think?   .......

LogoThe band on Saturday were equally as good as Friday night's and the theme for the fancy dress was Beach Wear. The Bay Watch girls turned up which was a real turn on for some, allegedly.  Stigg wore a dress.
More beer was consumed, more jokes told, I lost my voice shouting over the music, Otto got tired and emotional along with Stevie Tyson (Who travelled to the Rally by train .... apparently it is harder to get lost by train).
Carriages were at 1am and all too soon we were back at our Hotel again.

We were woken by the sun streaming through our window and after a Hotel breakfast we taxied our way back to the site, passing the 'Trailer Trash', as they are now known, heading off to the Motorway. It was a bit worrying seeing the barrel with Stigg's Self Store Unit disappearing without knowing if, or where we would find our stuff.  No need to worry, Andrea and Phil were the new custodians. After shooting off to re-fuel I was ready to hit the road again.
I thoroughly enjoyed riding in our pack again, evenly spaced out, working as a team, accelerating together through lane changes, and all was right with the world....... until my eyes started to feel hot and sore. At our first stop they returned to normal, but as we left the Services a truck threw up some dust, which found its way behind my sun glasses and into my eye. There was no way I could stop, so most of the next 90 miles was ridden with one eye closed and tears streaming down my left cheek.
Other than that, the ride home was uneventful, apart from the jockey wheel of a boat trailer liberating itself just a Baz passed it. It did a Barnes Wallace along the length of the pack, narrowly missing a few riders. Phew!
 At our final stop, Peter's side stand succumbed and he had to use a Liverpool axel stand to support the bike (House Brick).

We said our good-byes and bikes peeled off at various points from then on. By the time I arrived home, Arls had already been in a good while and my eyes were again on fire.

Try as you will, I bet you can never explain to non-bikers the feeling we get,  having spent the weekend with so many brilliant friends. Thank you all for making this a great weekend for both myself and Arlene, and a very special thank you to Iain and Sophie for taking care of Arlene for me. Greatly appreciated.

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