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'The Only Way is Wet
Once again the weather forecast was abysmal. So much so that there was even talk amongst the TVV TT of leaving for the Rally a day early. This tactic was specifically designed to maintain their 100% record of 1 consecutive arrival at a Rally ahead of the 'Two Wheelers'.

I had packed the Max the day before and after loading 'The Truck' with provisions, set off to ride with the pack to Runwell. The day was overcast but warm, with the sun threatening to peep through as I left home. Within two miles the sky had darkened  and I was still trying to work out which way the clouds were travelling when I hit the M4. The sun came out. Then I saw the ominous sign of the cars on the opposite carriageway with their lights on and their windscreen wipers going. The first few drops of rain arrived just as I stopped under a Motorway bridge to don my waterproofs. It was a very light shower so I opted only for over trousers.  I rejoined the Motorway and the rain stopped. I hate wearing wet gear unnecessarily, but I shouldn't have worried, as I joined the M25 the heavens opened. There was nowhere to stop to add my waterproof over-jacket, so I ended up very wet at South Mimms.

I pulled into the Services to find the TTs still anxious to arrive at the Rally site first and were just leaving the Services as the TWs were still assembling.  Various additions were noted to the trailers as they continue to evolve. Keith's has sprouted a roof rack and rear tool roll. If it gets any taller it will resemble the Night Bus from Harry Potter.
After drinks, smokes and a dry out, around 12 bikes set off on the final leg to Runwell.  A warm welcome was received at the Reception Tent, along with goody bags and a Vodka Shot. Tents were deployed, the Gazebo was erected and the Vultures Flag (1st reserve ) was run up the pole.

A few hours later 'The Truck' bearing Arls, Rachel and our Grandchildren, Benson and Maisey arrived. Arlene and I took the Truck off to the Camper Van section where I set about pitching the awning for the first time. Within seconds a few other Van Owners were lending a hand and in no time she was up. You wouldn't want to sleep in it, but the awning does provide additional temporary storage space.

The band on Friday night was OK, but in my opinion just lacked attack. The tunes jogged merrily along, rather than making you want to get up and play air guitar or dance.  It didn't stop Benson or Maisey showing us their moves though. 
Rachel was perturbed by a sign in the Toilets which read "Please leave these toilets as you would wish to find them". She said "I'm only here for two nights, yet they expect me to pop down to Wickes for tiles, bathroom suite and paint ......... ".
Just after that a lady from the club tried to sell us Raffle tickets for a New Roof  .... how do you get a roof home on a bike  ????

During the night on Friday, a parcel was left at the entrance to Baz's tent. It contained our original Vulture banner which grew legs and disappeared in Sweden. No note, no ransom demand, no explanation. We may never know who took it or why, but we are grateful for its return. 

BobSaturday's band was excellent and a very welcome change to the usual heavy rock, ear bashing norm. The highlight of the evening for me was seeing Badger Bob trying to ride a Space Hopper and bouncing off, flat on his back on his second bounce. It really was a You've Been Framed moment, but alas no camera caught it.  Subsequent tumbles were captured and retained as evidence, but none were as spectacular or as funny as that first one.

I exited the Truck during the night to visit the little boys room and was pleased to see the awning contents were still nice and dry. When I got up at 7.30am though it was a different story, and as I sploshed around in the paddling pool which was our ground sheet, I realised that in the haste of erecting the awning, we had forgotten the little bonnet which sits over the apex to shelter the air vents !! Bugger! Bet I don't overlook that next time! On the up-side, sleeping in the camper section is a hell of a lot quieter than the tent site, and we had two very good nights sleep, with Arls staying comfortably warm all night.
Frank had been a little apprehensive being a VSOC Rally Virgin, but it is not a Vulture tradition to have initiation ceremonies, although we did make an exception for Pants !  The only other Vulture to have his status changed this weekend was Ed. He went from being a TW to a TT. We await with interest to see what Ed's bike looks like when it is no longer a two wheeled luggage infestation, at the next Rally.
Maisey asked on Saturday night if I would take her to see the motorbikes. So with Benner in tow too we inspected the ranks of bikes and they chose the ones they liked. Being about the biggest bike around I asked Benson what he thought of Ed's bike. He sized it up, pondered his answer, then said " It scares me in my heart ", referring to the 'Flames of Hell' paint motiff.   Coming from a four year old, I thought that was a remarkable description.

The ride home was pretty uneventful except my expectation of a fuel stop at South Mimms didn't materialise, so I had to peel off for a splash and dash. Despite a valiant effort I never caught the pack up  ..... not even the TT who must have been keeping up a really good pace.

I don't remember a wetter day for breaking camp and my garage floor now has a covering of Essex rain where I am trying to dry out Rachel's tent and my awning. I tried to think of a Daily Star / Sun type news headline for this write up. The best I could manage was The Only Way is Wetsex .....  but this is a family show, so I settled for The Only Way is Wet, which really does sum up the weekend. The Rally itself was very enjoyable despite the weather, and the hospitality as always at a VSOC Rally, was excellent. Well done C19 for a great Rally in extremely difficult circumstances.


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