Rose and I set off 4 days early and arrived at a caravan site about 30 miles north of the rally where we met Albert and Dianne from the Cheshire section. We towed the caravan with my van with the Ajay inside. It is a lovely campsite in the wood which is run by the forestry commission, so lots of walks and cycle trails. We visited Stamford where ‘Middlemarch’ was filmed – lovely town.

On Thursday we made our way down past Kettering to the A6 and around Rushden to the rugby club. We were surprised how many arrived on thursday as the rally officially starts of Friday. When Rob and Barbara arrived, it was like a Vauxhall Vivaro Owners Club meeting! (Albert also has a Vivaro van).

The Friday afternoon run was to a preserved Victorian railway station. The bar (see pic) had original gaslights which they lit for us and was well stocked with a good variety of real ales. The Saturday run led us to a very nice town called Olney, where we wandered around the shops and cafes. On the Sunday run we visited the Milton Keynes museum which is huge. We ate our packed lunch in the courtyard and then spent a leisurely couple of hours exploring the exhibits and buildings. The best exhibit is probably the ‘Oil Engine’ which drove a huge generator to provide all the electricity.

All the runs were fully marshalled with help from other sections and were at a good pace, not too slow so were very enjoyable. They took us through very picturesque countryside with lovely old stone villages and farms.

The band on Friday night played some good stuff, mainly rock and blues from Clapton to Stones. The Saturday night band played a wide range of rock from the 70’s even Hawkwind! Not exactly dancing material but very enjoyable to listen to. Sunday night was a disco so lots of dancing after the prizes were given out (no, big Chris didn’t win the longest travelled this year!) At the bar there was a massive range of real ales which we did our best to sample, only one cider though (which wasn’t great says Rose!)

At the autojumble Malcom and Joan were doing well on their stall (also Albert getting rid of some junk, oops priceless classic spares!) and big Chris doing his best to find that elusive part.

As usual there were some lovely bikes of the marque and lots of modified bikes and specials. One of my favourites was an AJS twin with Yamaha XS650 engine fitted, really looked the part but I would’ve gone for an electric start version! Probably the most unusual machine was Pat Gill’s 1915 WD Matchless sidecar outfit with Swiss MAG engine and machine gun!

Thanks Heart of England Section for organising a really enjoyable rally.

Dave.