The Motley Crew all went to the Isle Of Wight branch rally last year, and had such a decent time we all decided to go back this year too for another bash. It’s a bit of a trek though, especially for the Durham contingent, so again we made a full week of it. If you’re coming over from mainland do call the IOW branch first, who have managed for the last couple of years go negotiate a discount on the horrifically expensive ferry! We stayed at the Old Mill Holiday Park at St Helens, but to be honest the island is small enough that you can stay pretty much anywhere and still be reasonably local to the rally itself at Haven Street.
We drove down in convoy during the Friday night, for a 7am booked ferry from Portsmouth. In the Mini (for why, read here) so travelling a fair bit quicker than the others, we had an extra two hours in bed and still caught them up around Oxford. We rolled into the terminal in good time, and immediately discovered Malcolm’s Minor had a flat battery. The headlights, spots, radio, wipers, heater, and a socket powering the Satnav had all proved too much for the standard dynamo, so we just left it running for a while and put some much needed charge back in. On the ferry we were marshalled onto the rear deck, which was a bit concerning over the salt spray but gave us an opportunity for some good pictures. Knackered after driving through the night we spent most of Saturday relaxing on site.
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Sunday dawned bright and warm – good omen – and we soon found our way to the rally field. They’ve been following the same formula for a bit now and had got it off to a fine art – the railway runs steam trains on the day, a selection of Morris dancing groups come along to join in, plus a couple of brass bands, the island’s bus museum have an open-topper doing sightseeing trips during the day plus a couple of static exhibits, and other car clubs including the IOW Mini Club bring vehicles too, so there’s loads to do and see. It’s superbly organised, and we extend our thanks for the work that goes in behind the scenes. Shortly after we arrived a traction engine lumbered out towing a Romany caravan, having been stuck there since their own event the previous weekend due to too much mud. Fortunately the sun was in full force and the ground soon dried up. We all went on the first bus trip of the day, and immediately caught up with the traction engine on the narrow lanes. It ain’t often a fully laden vintage bus is the helder-uppee rather than the helder-upper, and one or two passengers on the open upper deck got a faceful of soot ;).
Car of the day went to a superb maroon Minor van, which was extremely well deserved – it was sodding gorgeous. Lots of laughs with the locals, good food in the station cafe, great company, and a bit of sun, all add up to a perfect recipe for a great day. I do advise you to go if you get the chance.
Motley Crew Isle Of Wight Week
We stayed on the island for another week after the Minor rally, sampling the fine hospitality (and the ice cream, says Malcolm). The weather was on our side all week, and the only rain came during the night, so as per last year we managed a couple of days in the sea. We did the Needles last year, but there was still coastline to explore at Freshwater and get some spectacular pictures, and the bay at Bembridge harbour had attractive views too. We visited a couple of animal sanctuaries so Michelle could add to her adoption tally, and had a good browse round the bus museum at Newport too. Of course, no Motley gathering would be complete without sampling the local hostelries too!
Calbourne Mill near Carisbrook was our destination on one particular day and was one of the highlights of the week – a fabulous restored mill, mini-museums, peacocks, but a rather expensive cafe for lunch. Made up for it though with a boating lake where some of us did our best to sink everyone else in sight and not falling over the side, which kept us entertained for hours! We dared Chris to jump the stream and he managed it easily, which was most disappointing for the rest of us. Most of the week we just toured round the lanes and stopped off for refreshments en route, but that brings me to the only negative – the island roads this year were even worse than last and were genuinely awful. I know the Mini suspension is much firmer than a Minor but even so, the potholes were the worst I’ve seen anywhere in the country, or even in Europe, for years. We all very much enjoyed the Isle Of Wight week, which is now an established part of our Morris Minor calendar.