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since 04.04.2000

AutumnNABDness 2006

Pictures by Wendy and John, words (so far) by Wendy (again!)

It seems ages since we went to this - in fact, it was the second weekend in September. JJ and I decided we were keen to do this one, having missed the NABD rally earlier in the year and hearing they had an excellent reputation.

We allowed ourselves one weekend off to recover after Anglesey (catch up on a few jobs etc) and then loaded up the faithful GPZ1100 again, to head South. The site is at Charlbury in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside, and it was glorious biking weather, but not an easy place to find. Just as we began to worry that we had taken a wrong turning, I spotted the first small 'NABD' sign and arrow. After that I just kept a careful lookout, and was reassured that we were going in the right direction.

I wonder if the local authority there is as awkward as Bromsgrove about signs to events? They claim it is because they could distract drivers and cause an accident. They are obviously not worried about a pile-up of bike riders all trying to find the right road!

Cornbury Park is a large estate and we were camped in the middle of the deer park, not far from a private landing strip. This was the view from the back of our tent! We even had beautiful weather to go along with the view.

The site soon began to fill up and we were glad John and Jules had got there earlier, and kept us a place to pitch our tent. 'The Moonshiners' camped next to us - no, not the yam yams, the ones from the North-East. They kindly made sure that a large enough spot was left by us, for Adam and Rosie to camp when they arrived later.

We were really glad we went to this rally. The stalls were varied and the food tents good value. JJ treated me to an embroidered dragon on the back of my rally waistcoat, and there was real ale on draught in the main marquee.

Considering that this was a NABD rally, we noticed that the percentage of cars here was lower than on many other rallies we have been on.

These two were soon able to relax and imagine themselves as Lords of the Manor. Either that, or they were preparing themselves for a night of real ale, good music and excellent company. If that was the case, they weren't disappointed.

The music was good throughout the weekend, and there was real variety. The main marquee and family marquee were sited at one end of a large oval formed by trade stands, food stands and children's entertainment. As a result, the area was well lit and was 'buzzing' throught the evening. What am I saying - practically throughout the night! I don't know where they found their energy from, although I must admit the site was much quieter first thing in the morning.

The food was more varied and better value than on Anglesey. In the main marquee the beer was 2 a pint (1 half pint) for real ale - and there was a good range of strengths and flavours. I enjoyed 'Old Rodders', while John decided to stick to his 'Wobbly Bottom'. There were a range of cans available in both marquees as well, and these were half the price charged at 'Heart of England', only 1 a can!

Despite this, there was no trouble during the weekend from drunken adults, and no badly behaved children. The atmosphere remained relaxed and friendly, and there was certainly plenty to do.

On Saturday lunchtime the bikes and trikes began manoeuvering into an empty space in the centre of the oval. The range was amazing. The show lasted from noon until 5 pm and we managed to fill quite a lot of the time wandering amongst them pointing out the finer points to each other.

We were fascinated when this trike appeared and began to circle and reverse until it was brought into line with others in the show. The large minibus seats contained the rider's family, and he handled this monster as if it were Simon's Vespa! Every movement was controlled by the joystick, and the reason for this unusual configuration was evident when the rider dismounted - he had one leg and one arm below the elbow missing. No 4-wheeled automatic for him.

Another bike which fascinated me was this one, with the rotary engine. I had heard of this engine years ago, but thought its development had been halted. I had not realised that there were vehicles on the road with this type of engine fitted.

On Saturday afternoon we sat outside the family marquee in the sunshine, people watching and listening to Tom Rockliffe, acoustic rock. He had played for 1 and a half hours in the main marquee earlier in the afternoon, then after a break of only half an hour he entertained us for another 3 hours outside the family marquee. No wonder he said his voice was going, by the time he finished.

We then moved inside the family marquee (and put up with cans instead of draught) to listen to Stevie and his mandolin. He was obviously very popular - the marquee quickly filled, and not just with families.

I had been very warm and comfortable on Friday night, in our new 3 season sleeping bags (if we are going to keep on rallying through the year, 1 season are not enough!!!). I woke several times during Saturday night, feeling cold, and blamed the canned beer (not such a warm feeling as real ale). However, as John's photographs show, the temperature must have dropped quite a lot during the night - and after such a warm day I guess the mist was inevitable: it was certainly cold, anyway, but quickly cleared as the sun rose higher.

One thing is certain - next year we are determined to book both NABD rallies!