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3rd Flimwell Rally 2004


This year we invited a mate along, he has been out of the rally/biking scene for a while and after just purchasing a new project (there is another story here – the night before up till midnight making crucial repairs and by the skin of your teeth finishing) he was itching to get out again.

We met up at Charing, me and Nick riding and Pete in the van with the crucial supplies and all the camping gear (including his Harley).  The back roads from Charing, through Pluckley, Smarden, Biddenden, Hawkhurst are fairly quiet country lanes and with no rush we took a relaxed ride down.  We left early, with the idea we would be first on site to pick the best spot – wrong.  Mike & Sybil were already there.  (Mike’s theory – we are leaving at 10am but by 8.45 he is pushing Sybil in the van with the words “if we leave now I can drive slower”  Yeah, right – they were there before 10 and blagged the best spot!!!)

The next few hours, which included the arrival of Fred & Penny Weare and Greg Quail, were spent unpacking the two transit vans and erecting the marquee and gazebos.  I once had a spot of luck and put up a very small gazebo, without instructions and an audience, making out I knew what I was doing?  This has given people the misguided impression I can assemble anything – I got the job of erecting the marquee, and promptly dragged Nick into helping (thank god, Mark & Stuart numbered all the poles and saved the instructions from last year!!).

We finished setting up about lunch-time and were treated to Ploughmans pie and a Turkey/Cranberry pie courtesy of Pete. As luck would have it, Fred & Sue Woodgates arrived, just as we had sat down for lunch.  We think they had been waiting round the corner until the coast was clear before turning in the gates.  Lunch was finished off with cakes courtesy of Sybil (Penny’s famous cakes were not allowed out until the evening meal).

That done, we were left to enjoy the rest of the day - meet old friends and some new, as they arrived thought out the day. The weather had been predicted to be quite wet throughout the weekend but in sunny Flimwell we were really lucky, it was warm and sunny during the days and we lazed around talking, eating and drinking.  For our mate Nick, this was a bit of an eye opener.  He said he had a great time, everyone was friendly and the atmosphere was relaxed – he will be coming again next year.

Sometime during the day Keith Bird turned up in his Citroen 2CV special.  No Indian, as the poor Citroen cannot cope with the weight in the back.  He had originally converted it to a pick up but as this failed in the “what can we carry” area, he converted it again and called it a camper?  This seemed to cause some confusion during the weekend as people asked what it was?  A pickup?, A camper?, A chuck wagon?, A cot?.  Bingo, that’s exactly what it looks like  - a large carry cot and as he can just about crawl in and sleep in it, that’s clinched the argument!


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"Hot towel Sir?" Mike de B plays waiter


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Chilled wine at a bike rally?? Fred Weare knows how to live it up.

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Sam leads the rideout "is it this way back to camp?"

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The first pit-stop at a local bike dealers


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Three wise monkeys?


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Playing follow me leader lost

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Maybe the bloke on the Harley knows where he is going?

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Jan Chat left to look after John's Scout 

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Firestarters.  Rod & Ross supervised by Greg

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Mike warms his behind whilst Caryll nods off

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My bike - so there

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Sybil "If I look at the food long enough, it will cook!!"

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The masses chill out waiting for grub time

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Lynda practices for the Gurners competition

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Blah, Blah, Blah - Keith keeps everyone amused?

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It couldn't have been that funny

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Last one to leave pays the bill


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Stuart being tempted by Fred into a Harley


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Mike "is that bike chain boiled yet?"


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Nanny no good serves the masses


Friday evening – the huge central bonfire (instigated by Rod Williams with his firewood helper Ross), great food as usual, drinking, chatting and more drinking.  This is where it gets hazy, I know Jack D was involved here but it was chill-out time and I quickly got to the stage where I did not care.  I can remember John Wright putting on a movie themes music CD in his van with all the doors open and we all had to guess which film – or should I say, Fred (Clever Clogs) Woodgates guessed which film because if he got it wrong he would loose his can of Tetleys.  The last thing I remember, I needed a chicken pie before bed to aid the “no hang over” phase next morning.

Saturday.  Another glorious sunny day, breakfast, more arrivals and then the organised chaos we call a ride out.  This year, Sam Savage had the honours of leading us astray – what a good job he did.  Stopping the traffic on the A21 was a must, an uphill gravel junction onto a road where traffic is in excess of 60mph is not a good start for about 30 foot clutch, hand shift Indians to attempt in a group. 

I think we managed to keep pretty much together this time, the fact that we hit a major traffic jam that went for miles meant that the central chevron lane (personal bike lanes for us year round riders) was reserved for Indians (and some Harleys) only. We had two stops on the way, one at a local bike dealership and another at a bike shop/café for lunch. We all parked in a court yard to the rear and were politely asked to push the bikes onto the road before starting them when we left – apparently the neighbours get upset with too much noise and the echo of all the Indians starting at once could have given some poor sod a heart attack. 

The return trip to camp was pretty much held together, even to the point that Ray Chriss was racing a bike cop, whilst overtaking others on a solid white line with the bike cop doing the same just further to the right!!!  The last leg to camp is on the A21, which gave everyone a chance to race each other back and clear the cobwebs.  All in all a good one with only one breakdown – lets hope next time Lorraine can enjoy the ride on her own bike.  We lost Nick on his Harley sporty, he played good Samaritan and took the broken down bike’s mechanic, Bill Herbert, back to camp for a trailer.

Saturday evening was an even more impressive munch, Sybil and even Mike (which is a novelty) were stuck in the mess tent most of the time preparing the grub.  Penny Weare’s much celebrated cakes were offered as pudding and I did see some greedy sod (Nick) scoffing the hugest quarter size wedge around midnight using the excuse “could not find a knife, never mind the diet”. 

We were treated to a firework display this year by Fred Woodgates, and his assistant, Little John.  Even cars on the A21 slowed to see the attraction and we have all come to a general conclusion - he has the same job again next year.  P.S. can we have sparklers as well next year?

I had swopped JD for a nice single malt, which Sam Savage was tempted to try (I have to return the favour for all the samples I have had from him over the last year) and after running out late evening I resorted to demanding Cidar from Keith Bird (he has his uses).  A little drop of rain was quite refreshing - sitting round the camp fire, pleasantly mellow, with an umbrella.  Followed by the tried and tested hang-over cure of Chicken Pie and then bed.

Sunday is a good breakfast, followed by a slow exodus.  Then follows the clearing up process and the dismantling of the marquees and tents etc.  By midday the site is mostly cleared with just the last few stragglers remaining – a quiet peaceful time with a near empty site.  I decided to ride home, followed by Pete in the Transit with all the gear – Nick took the more direct route home so we split up at the campsite gates.

Flimwell is a really good site, never crowded it is always a relaxed atmosphere.  You do pretty much what you want and have plenty of time to catch up with mates you haven’t seen for a while.  I have to say a big thank you to Mike & Sybil, they were working hard all weekend for our benefit and it is appreciated.  There were others who helped as well; Fred & Penny Weare, Linda Jeffrey, Lynda Oakley, Lorraine & Bill Herbert, Sam Savage, Fred Woodgates, Rod Williams, Stuart & Mark Alexander and Tony Jeffrey for his BBQ contributions.  Thanks Guys - see you next year.

Anita Dray   

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