Only two Wakefield MAG members attended this years Edinburgh MAG Rally, a few short of our usual posse but as it was the weekend before the Farmyard, most folks had to make the hard choice between one or the other, and as we have marshalling responsibilities in the Blues Tent at the FYP, the other won. Pete met Steve at his house and they set on their merry way at 10:20 on the Friday morning.
We followed the direct route onto the A1 via the M1 and came off at Scotch Corner for a cuppa. Scotch Corner Services was rammed, especially with half cut stag party attendees who had started drinking at 8am that morning (no wonder they were dying for the toilet !!!). We had a leisurely Costa Coffee, filled up with petrol, then back on the A1 for 1 junction to take the B6275 to the A68 which would take us all the way to the rally site.
The A68 is a lovely road and part of the appeal of this rally is the great ride there and back, biking is after all, all about the journey and not the destination. We continued on the A68, with Pete nearly missing the A69 turn off you have to take to stay on the A68, and made our way to our lunch stop, Camien Cafe, famously known as the last Cafe in England.
A tip for all those tempted to stop here - only order the all day breakfast if you are really really hungry ... it is huge, and started Steve's Black Pudding feast that would last the whole weekend.
Suitably refreshed, we headed north, and soon hit the Scottish border (not literally) ... it was just over the border that the heavens opened, and we thought 'here we go, set the scene for the weekend', but alas no, it only lasted for around 20 minutes and then stopped .. not until after we had to negotiate the various hairpin bends in the wet though. The journey then was uneventful (although very picturesque), all the way to the rally site at the Stair Arms Hotel at Pathhead.
Normally, it would be a case of pitching the tent but as we had booked a room at the hotel, no such hardship, which obviously meant, we could hit the bar that much earlier. The hotel isn't quite as luxurious as it looks on the website, but then again, it wasn't the worse place we had stopped in ... and being in Scotland, it had the obligatory tartan carpet !!!
The camping area was in the hotel gardens, which was obviously rather nice as that is where they take the wedding photos (the hotel is licenced for weddings).
The rally 'marquee' was in the function room of the hotel so no roughing it this year !! We had a few beers outside in the beer garden until we started to feel hungry ... and we also wondering where everyone had gone ..... so we wandered into the hotel restaurant and found everyone else in there already tucking in. There were two menus on offer ..... one with a selection of meals for a fiver, or two courses (starter or desert) for a tenner. The other menu had a bigger choice for only slightly more money. We opted for the fiver option, with a burger and chips and gammon and chips ordered. I'm pleased to report it was jolly good. Proper food, good portions, on proper plates, for food van prices .... marvellous !!
Suitably fed, we then settled in to watch the Friday night band, Lewis Hamilton and the Boogie Brothers. They played a lot of Jimi Hendrix material and weren't half bad.
There were only around 60 odd people in attendance on the Friday, although Steve Wykes (Scottish Regional Rep) was expecting more on the Saturday evening. The lack of numbers didn't stop people hitting the dance floor though.
The following day we arose for breakfast and can give a glowing reference for the cooked breakie, complete with Black Pudding (always the benchmark for a good breakfast). Following breakfast, we saddled up for a rideout. We decided to head to the coast (on the hearty recommendation of most folks at the rally we had regailed our plans to the night before). We headed to North Berwick, via a route we hadn't quite planned due to a road closure, but it turned out to be a gem of a road, passing a castle en-route. North Berwick is a lovely costal town.
We had a look round then deciding we needed a cup of tea, headed into what we thought was a cafe, only it wasn't, it was a fund raising coffee morning that was packing up. However, they welcomed us scary bikers with open arms and we were furnished with tea and biscuits. We were certainly very popular (I'd like to think it was our personalities but maybe it was our generous donation). Following our tea we headed up the coast which was a little more built up and less picturesque, so we headed in land again and after a bit stopped in Dalkeith. Following a brief look round, we realised it was no Beverley Hills, so decided to return to the bikes and head back to the rally, taking the long route of course. The rideout was most pleasant and we had covered around 75 miles.
We decided to push the boat out a little bit for evening meal that night, and chose from the slightly more expensive menu ... starter of Black Pudding and Egg for Steve, followed by the Mixed Grill, and a monster Steak for Pete. Again, the food was absolutely spot on. The Edinburgh MAG rally always had a reputation for good food (the old site sported fabulous home cooked food by the farmer and his family who owned the farm the rally was held on). The new site upholds that fine reputation ... and then some !!!
Following our nosebag, we then settled down for the evening entertainment. There was a much bigger attendance on the Saturday evening as Steve had predicted, with a lot of folks obviously treating it as a rock night (and why not). First up was a familiar face .... a guy who sings and plays the guitar for beer, and is a pretty talented chap .... we had seen him before at a York MAG do .... that didn't come as a surprise when Steve Wykes told us he lived in York.
A possible for a future Wakefield MAG party me thinks. Next up was the Penetrators, who had played at the very first Edinburgh MAG rally twenty years ago. They were pretty good, and had the place bouncing with classic 70's rock tracks.
Steve was determined to win something in the raffle, so bought 20 tickets !!!
He won a small bottle of Vodka and nothing else, but what the hell, it's all for MAG funds. Pete was just as (un)lucky, winning a mere small bottle of JD. Pete scooped the furthest travelled award, by a mere 5 miles (the distance from his house in Mirfield to Steve's).
All in all though a cracking (and booze fuelled) night.
The following morning we were again treated to a top breakfast, just the fuel for a lengthy ride back home. We said our goodbye's to Steve and his guys who hosted the rally, and made our way back home. We stopped again at the Camien Cafe (no jumbo all-day breakfast this time though, just a cup of coffee). We made it back, safe and sound by 3:30.
A fanstastic little rally and heartily recommended. A Huge thanks to Steve and the Edinburgh MAG team for putting on this rally after a years absence. The change of venue hasn't changed it's appeal and it upholds it's fine reputation for food. With 3 real ales on the bar too, we were well sorted. Steve assures us that the rally will return to it's normal start of June slot, so with no immediate proximity to the FYP, there should be a few more than 2 Wakefield MAG members attending again next year. Hurrah !!!