This year the 4 Nations rally was hosted by the Lambretta Club of Scotland. Their location this year was Innerwick, next to Dunbar on the east coast of Scotland. Scotland is a beautiful country and it’s got some very scenic roads, but sometimes they can get very wet.
We (Ulster Lambretta Club) were sailing over Friday morning on the 7.30 boat. I got up just after five am and had a coffee while I assessed the weather in the darkness outside. It was raining. This was forecast and after checking the weather for our route across Scotland, I wasn’t worried. There was to be rain, but it just showers. No problem said I.
By 6.50 am the Lambretta was loaded up and I was heading off across Belfast for the ferry. Still dark and raining I met up with fellow members Gouser, Decy, Victor and Mark along the way. 7.30 am and we were all on the boat including a couple of near misses from Hedges & Frankie. There was one absentee. Monty had called in saying his Lambretta wouldn’t start. I wouldn’t have blamed him for making it up to forego the ride in the rain. He was to dispel that line when he managing to get a flight from Belfast to Edinburgh and then onto Innerwick.
Sprouley had brought the back up van for the trip and so his Son Jack was on board for the trip too. The back up van would prove to be a worthy attendee.
After docking at Cairnryan it didn’t look too bad. It was raining, but it wasn’t heavy. We all road off the boat and by the time we got to Ayr, we had all split into our own small riding groups. The rain was still coming down as we rode on and by the time we got to Muirkirk, which was after 65 miles I was beginning to realise the rain wasn’t going to stop. I had two layers of waterproofs on top of my clothes, but there were signs of a little leakage.
Once we filled up with petrol, I was asked to take the lead of the group as I had the Sat Nav. I wasn’t confident, I never am, even with a Sat Nav. The rain that was never going to stop got worse and mixed with the winding country roads, made for very tricky riding. A few times we were slipping round bends and trying to dodge the flooded roads. When we reached Currie on the outskirts of Edinburgh the rain had got through both layers of waterproofs and three layers of clothing to the skin. I wasn’t alone, most of us were at the same level of drenching.
Pushing on, we all had enough fuel to get to Innerwick. The A1 that comes out of Edinburgh made a better ride the last 25 miles or so, but the rain didn’t stop. The initially heavy traffic soon thinned out as we road on. After about 15 miles or so we lost Karl when his Lambretta could cope no more. This was only temporary, Saturday morning would see his Lambretta fire up again. I had a slight worry when on the A1, my throttle was sticking open for a few miles, unsure of the problem I dealt with it by ignoring it! It seemed to sort itself out and on we went.
When we arrived at Thurston Manor Park, (location of the 4 Nations Rally) in Innerwick, Sprouley was dispatched with the van to pick up Karl. Mark tried to check us in to our accommodation, but there was an issue that had us delayed for a while. When our caravan was sorted wee were given food vouchers for our trouble and all was forgiven. When Decy, Mark, Victor and me got into the caravan we began the attempt to dry our gear. This was to take a while.
A short while later Dom had arrived and joined us in the caravan and after changing, we all headed over to the on site bar and function room which was all quite civil. Something we don’t see here in Belfast, an orderly queue at the bar. Once we got our beer and food ordered, I could feel the stress of the days riding disappear as we relaxed and enjoyed the night with great company, including the lads and Lassie (Andi) from the Lambretta Club Scotland. It didn’t seem long until we were all back in our caravan, but before we got our heads down for the night, Decy opened up and shared his gift of a bottle of Whiskey by courtesy of Willie from the Lambretta Club Scotland. I abstained. I don’t get on with Whiskey and prefer to keep my drinks down. By three am everyone was asleep.
I was woken Saturday morning by the Sun shining through the windows of the caravan and it wasn’t long before everyone was up. The Gods of sunshine were presented with our wet riding gear on the balcony of the caravan. A couple of coffees later and we headed over to the function room for breakfast. We met up with some friends old and new and fellow Ulster Lambretta Club members. We set up the Ulster Lambretta Club stall to sell some T-shirts for a few hours in the afternoon and this made a good focal point for chat and other nonsense with those coming in and out of the bar. By late afternoon we had packed up the stall.
Early evening and we headed off into Dunbar for a couple of beers and a meal. It wasn’t far from Innerwick and it was good to see a bit of the surrounding area, especially as we missed the rideout. Although I’m not a fan of these. A Four Nations rideout lets you see parts of the UK you’re not likely to see very often, but most of our riding gear hadn’t dried out, so I guiltily abstained.
After our trip to Dunbar we got a taxi back to the Thurston Manor and went to the function room for a few beers with our friends. Toot did a rousing set to bring the night down with a great success filling the dance floor the rest of the night. It would be hard to find anyone who didn’t enjoy the night Maybe Tam from the Lambretta Club Scotland, the poor soul was tortured by my constant rabble about god knows what. As was Andy Gillard.
When we all woke on Sunday morning, we were indecisive over whether to leave early and catch the 3.30 pm ferry or hang back and get the 7.30 pm ferry. Victor had already made his mind up and was going to get the early ferry. If we were to get the early ferry then we’d need to make our mind up quickly or we wouldn’t make it.
After a brief discussion we decided to leave as soon as possible. We loading up the Lambretta’s with our luggage and we said our goodbyes to those still at the site. Although it wasn’t raining, it was forecast and so we were a bit apprehensive of a repeat of Fridays soaking. 20 miles down the road Sprouley and the back up van were called into use. Victor ran out of petrol. Ten minutes later we were all together at a garage filling up for the next leg. At this point we heard fellow club member Pip had broken down and we were instructed to carry on as he would get picked up by Sprouley and the back up van.
Ironically, by the time we got to Muirkirk we had glorious sunshine and for the rest of the run to Cairnryan. We had made good time and arrived for the ferry about 2.15 pm. There was a couple of times the Sat Nav misguided us. Once along the way it lead us through a housing estate and after Aye it kept trying to divert us up single lane tracks. After checking in and boarding. We gathered in the lounge and used the opportunity to relax and reflect on the weekends shenanigans.
Once the boat docked in Belfast we wished each other well and we poured out of the ferry riding off to our own homes across Northern Ireland. My home is only across Belfast from the ferry port, so I count my self lucky as some of the others still had a bit of riding to do. Even so, it didn’t stop a couple of mishaps.
The first was a wrong turn were I rode into a car park. Then as I rode up the street from my house a large insect flew in my helmet. I stopped quickly to take off my helmet. I had no idea what it was, but I wasn’t going to hang about. When I took off my helmet, I knocked my glasses onto the ground. Instead of getting off the Lambretta to get them, I lent over and tried picking them up. The centre of gravity shifted and left me lying on the ground with the Lambretta on top of me. I’d like to think nobody saw me, but it’s a residential street. I don’t know what they would have thought.
A couple of hundred yards later I was home. That was another hugely successful weekend. The Lambretta once again excelled itself.
Just to add. The photographs are somewhat limited on this occasion.