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since 04.04.2000

Welsh National 2007

Builth Wells, 25th to 28th May

Report by Wendy, so far. Some good pictures from JJ and Adam, still to be posted. The way to shut me up is to send me your words and pictures.

Oh, well, there seems to be a pattern to the weather this year - once the main rally season gets under way, let's send plenty of rain to wash the bikes (make the mud, flood the roads, soak the bikers etc etc). At least it held off long enough for us to travel down and get the tents up, on Friday afternoon/evening.

JJ and I had not been to this rally before, but everyone we spoke to gave it a good report, so we were both looking forward to it. We were not disappointed. We went to Anglesey last year, and although it had its good points (in particular, the people) I had been disappointed in the catering and standard of facilities. I could not say the same about Builth Wells.

The toilet blocks were kept very clean and the water was red hot at all times of the day and night. There's hygienic! The catering was varied in content, good quality and good value on site. Here we had the added advantage of being only a short walk from town, with quite a choice of pubs, shops and cafes if you should want a change of scene. We were spoilt for choice!

There was also quite an extensive area of stalls, and traders of all kinds. When the 'boys' retired for their afternoon/evening nap (bless!) Rosie and I headed off in search of sustenance (beer!) as is our custom, now. I am ashamed to say that we never made it as far as the bar; when the fellas caught up with us an hour or so later, we were still shopping!!

Saturday was cloudy, but stayed dry most of the time so we were able to enjoy some of the afternoon's alternative entertainment. The couple in charge of the weird and wonderful beasts appeared to have Vulcan blood - if the ears were a clue. They certainly kept the crowd entertained, as they made their way around the grounds.

Adam was keen to watch the American War of Independence re-enactment (I think I've got the right war). We were given a lesson in priming and firing a musket - that could come in useful some day, I guess. They were not using live ammo (the war having ended some centuries ago), but managed to produce a loud enough bang! The first time, it was unexpectedly loud, and Rosie's can shot up in her hand. She spilt some of her beer, but it landed in Adam's tankard, which happened to be at her feet. Adam wouldn't give it back, either! The army camp was really effective, and the people doing the re-enactment spent the weekend living there. There were enough paraffin lamps and stoves on show to keep even the Moonshiners happy.

The large sheds, which normally hold the livestock for agricultural shows, were excellent for housing the bike and trike shows amongst other things. It was in one of these sheds that we were able to meet up with Nigel, who sold us our first bike when we came back to biking a few years ago. That was the Kawasaki W650 that we still enjoy riding (and cleaning!). JJ nearly bought a Kwak 500 off him, for a Winter bike, but was beaten to it by a young lady who had recently passed her test. We were pleased for her - it will make a good first bike. Nigel is now based in Exeter, where he and his partner run 'Speed' motorcycle dealers. He had taken quite a few bikes to the show and was doing OK on Saturday, but the terrible weather on Sunday kept the day visitors away and the traders did badly as a result. This show is open to day visitors on Monday as well, and as we rode out the weather was much better so hopefully things would have picked up.

I even enjoyed watching the kids perform on their bikes in the outdoor show-ring, although it was so obviously 'staged' and you knew the riders would all manage to negotiate the obstacles eventually, once they had built up the suspense with a few preliminary 'failures'. The commentator was a good showman and managed not to get on my nerves, so we went back on Sunday afternoon to watch the stunts and trials again. Very different weather that afternoon. The riders still managed to entertain and impress, with the cold rain sheeting down, but they were out performed by a very scantily clad young lady who smiled and strutted around the ring for hours despite the hypothermia. She deserved the trophy, in my book.

There was one drawback (for my companions, anyway). Wales went non-smoking indoors earlier than us, and the poor weather did not encourage us to sit out on the terrace for too long. As a result, we went back to the tents (and Adam's party gazebo) much earlier than we would normally do, where we supped and snacked at our own bar! On Sunday night the wind picked up, to accompany the rain we had had all day, and there were a number of canvas casualties - including Adam's gazebo.