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since 04.04.2000

1st Hop and Barley 2008

Burton-on-Trent 29th to 31st August

Report and pictures by Wendy, so far. The way to shut me up is to send me your words and pictures.

We returned from this rally 12 hours ago, and had such a good time I have been motivated to work on updating the website - about time, I know.

This was Dave Silburn's first rally (as Organiser, I mean - he is certainly not a rally virgin!!) and was staged as a NABD fundraiser. The gods smiled down on us - enough to give us warm, dry weather anyway (a rarity this year);the rain held off until we reached home. The site was level, grassy, and less than an hour away even on Sunday lunchtime. In fact it could be described as a dream location, as it was right opposite Marston's brewery! Next year we must also find time to visit the Brewery Museum, a short ride away in the town.

There was certainly plenty to do, both on the site and in the immediate area. A few stalls to visit and spend our pennies at, a creperie and a general food van (who, I have been told, was selling cups of excellent tea and coffee for only 50p). There was also a pub a short walk away, with decent food and a large beer garden. On Saturday we rode into town, to visit a large Army and Navy Stores - more pennies spent there, on lots of useful 'stuff'. A Sainsbury's store provided an opportunity to stock up on food and alcohol at a reasonable price, while some of us enjoyed a meal in the restaurant. A big plus at this store - the car park is patrolled by a security guard who kindly directed us to their secure bike park. This is close to the store and protected by CCTV cameras. He even coned off access to it once we had all parked up. Definitely one of the good guys! Some of our group later rode on to Matlock Bath from here, while the rest of us returned to the site.

There is a canal a few minutes away, with a marina full of narrow boats to gaze on, and a picturesque towpath for anyone with the time and inclination for a walk.

A strange sight greeted anyone approaching the entrance to the rally field on Saturday - 3 marshalls in colourful (if minimalist) costumes, armed with collecting buckets for NABD. As anyone using the leisure centre had to pass them, I hope their efforts proved profitable. Unfortunately I didn't have the camera with me - or perhaps it was a good job!

Vic did a sterling job manning the NABD tent, along with Dave and others, but managed to find time to put in some practice for the next Olympics. It would seem he fancies his chances at the 400 metre hurdles - but shouldn't someone tell him the Games will be taking place in London, not Dubai?

The Clubhouse was not over-large, but there was a large covered verandah with seating, Marston's pedigree on draft, and the toilets were accessible throughout the day and night. What more could you ask for? Only negative point - the cost of the beer went up by 20p per pint at night. If they were paying for the entertainment, this would be fair enough. If, however, NABD were paying the DJ and bands, I don't know how they could justify it.

On Saturday night the stalls and food vans stayed open late, the music sounded OK (although it was a warm night, and we only went inside to collect drinks), the Moonshiners won 'Club Turnout', and Andy was awarded the trophy for 'Best Rat'. We also managed to join a hen party - or did they join us? Ian in the role of Pied Piper figured in there somewhere. This resulted in a session of silly games that had not been included in the programme (Moonshiner style). I never seem to have my camera with me when I need it, but then I doubt I was capable of using it!

This was a nice. level site with plenty of space to set out tents, chairs etc and chillout with friends. The grass was long enough to provide a soft base for the tents, but not too long - and as it was a sports club it had not previously been inhabited by cattle, horses, llamas or any other smelly animals that seem to inhabit rally sites when we aren't there!

Obviously on a much smaller scale than the NABD rallies in Cheshire and Oxordshire, this still had the same warm, friendly atmosphere that we love at the others (and which has encouraged JJ and I to join NABD). Don't tell everyone, though - we want to be able to get tickets next year!!

Mention must be made of Unwanted MCC who not only did such an admirable job of marshalling the rally, they also sponsored the rather beautiful, engraved glass trophies. Thanks to Dave, Vic, Unwanted MCC and anyone else involved in staging this rally, for providing us with a great weekend (this vote was unanimous - not just the opinion of yours truly). Look forward to seeing you all in two weeks' time, at Marston.