Chapter Meeting, August 2016

A very brief write-up from the meeting this month …

Everyone was very helpful at August’s Chapter Meeting with lots of great feedback on the Heart & Soul Rally. Dawn will take this all onboard when arranging things for next year’s event. A few comments included … the rally packs, food timing, ingress and egress from Percy Park, them night etc. It sounds like a lot of people looked forward to the Tyne Tunnel on the ride-out. Maybe we can do that next year, instead of getting wet in Alnwick!

Peter and Helen provided further details of a few events in August: the fish and chip run on 10 August (from Westerhope at 6.00 pm), NET Convoy along the A1 on 12 August (from Washington Services) and the August Chapter Ride on 14 August. The latter will be our Ladies of Harley Pink Ride, in aid of the Bobby Robson Foundation.


News feed, 19.7.16

Mags Lupton has lived in Edinburgh for more than twenty years but her home town is Dunbar. She goes back every year for the Lifeboat Day parade – it is one of the town’s biggest events.

Mags’ younger brother and his son both play in the Dunbar Royal British Legion Pipe Band and they were in the parade too. Mags has sent some pictures in for us all.

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News feed, 9.7.16

And … finally, we have a new dealer, based in Dunston! Doors opened this morning at half nine at Gateshead Harley-Davidson. There are some old and some new faces. Sohail Khan is the Director, Burt Perry is the Franchise Manager and Grant Anderson is the Dealership Manager. You can find all the team here.

Here’s a few pictures from the opening event. There’s an official Launch Party on 23 July!

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Chapter Meeting, July 2016

Peter was in the chair again for last night’s Chapter Meeting. There were only a few updates from the Committee, so it was a fairly speedy round-up. The Road Crew kindly put on Newbie Ride, round the local roads, although there was only a small attendance for Chapter members.

Peter started by mentioning the turn-out by everyone to the funeral of Woz, landlord of the Penny Gill, on Wednesday. Peter told us that June will be carrying on with the pub and everyone is welcome at any time. We may have a Chapter ride up there soon.

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There was an update on the presentation by Northumbria Blood Bikes at the last Chapter meeting. We raised £140.00, which is great news. After the meeting, John went along to meet everyone at NBB. They assessed him and he undertook his first evening on call on Wednesday. A fantastic achievement, well done John!

Al has stepped down from the role of Head Road Captain, and Steve replaces him. Dave remains as Assistant Head Road Captain. Both will be in charge for the monthly Chapter ride-out on Sunday. We’re off to Jedburgh, with further details on the website.

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Peter gave us a brief overview of what’s what for events for July and August. We’ve posted everything on the website Events Calendar and keep an eye out for updates etc. on our Facebook group or by text, directly from Peter.

Ray went along to the HA clubhouse for the North East Coalition of Motorcycle Clubs’ meeting. Highlights for July include the Life’s a Pitch rally with the Draconians MCC (Derwenthaugh Park, 15-17.7), The Gathering with the North Men MCC (19-21.8) and an Open Night at The Penny Gill with the Brigantes’ Brotherhood (23.7). Get along if you can.

Mandy gave us a quick update on members and we now have 194 in the Geordie Chapter, which is great news!

Grant and Sam were at the meeting too and the new dealership, Gateshead Harley-Davidson, opens this Saturday at half nine! James has posted on Facebook about meeting up at Westerhope for a ride-in together, if anyone is interested. See you all there! There’ll be an official opening on 23.7 too.

Lyn has some rather swanky leather Geordie Chapter belts on sale now, skilfully crafted by Simon. £35.00, made to order, so get in quickly.

Paul McPherson updated the details of the November charity event. Bessie and the Zinc Buckets and Charlotte Yanni will be providing the entertainment and it’s on at the Lancastrian Suite on 4.11. Click here for a poster about the event.

Garry, Fay, Paul and Shaun all shared the spoils from the raffle.

Finally, Lyn told us that it’s Ray’s birthday on Friday, and he’s the oldest, and wisest (!?!), member of the Chapter. A very happy birthday to Ray!


News feed, 4.7.16

All roads led to Clennell Hall last Friday for our Chapter weekend away. People had taken a variety of routes to get there and tent pitching and checking in was underway throughout the afternoon. There was a mix of weather too, with some people getting soaked and some missing it altogether. As expected, everyone had a tale to tell as we landed in the bar to swap travelling stories.

We had a very circuitous route there via Morpeth, Bolam Lake, Otterburn, Otterburn Ranges, Blindburn and Shillmoor before landing into Alwinton. A great trip!

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Clennell Hall is a fantastic place, previously a historic manor house, much extended by the Clennell family during their stewardship. There was plenty of room to park the H-Ds but some of the little tweety birds did their best to poop all over them.

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People came and went during the evening, for some beers and some tea. Some had more of the former than the latter and were looking a bit shaky on Saturday morning at breakfast. Rocky kept the beer flowing and we were never thirsty. Olwyn and John B shared the spoils with the domino cards. John kindly donated his to the Blood Bikes, who were the recipients of all the proceeds from the games.

The hot water tank at Clennell Hall was knackered on Saturday, so many decided against a freezing shower before breakfast. But breakfast itself was piping hot, so we filled our boots then got ready for our ride-out. Shaun led this and Badger looked after things at the back. There were ten bikes and one trike on the ride-out.

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Berwick-upon-Tweed was the destination and we had some impressive roads, dodging rain clouds all the way there. There was a lot of gravel and potholes on some of those roads, so we all took extra care. Powburn was the first stop for some fuel for the Sportys, then we headed north, past Chillingham Castle, then back to Wooler, Milfield and towards Coldstream before following the A698 and the River Tweed into Berwick. We got some fuel for the non-Sportys, and then headed into town to Castlegate car park. It was a fairly busy car park to start with but we managed to bring it to a standstill as we all found a place for our iron horses. A very friendly man from the Council told us that parking is free for bikes throughout Northumberland. A wise idea.

We spent a great hour or so in Berwick – the sun shone all the time we were there. Peter even enjoyed a fruit scone with clotted cream and jam at Caffe Nero!

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Time to get moving again and we were soon back on the A1, heading south towards Alnwick, via Bamburgh and Seahouses. You never really tire of riding these great Northumbrian roads with such beautiful scenery and amazing coastal landscapes. The rain caught up with us a couple of times but we shrugged it off as we chased the sun back to Alwinton.

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In and out of Alnwick, we hit the B6341 and retraced some of our steps, in the opposite direction, from the ABC ride last week, past Edlingham Castle again and crossing the A697 towards Cragside and Rothbury. There was a particularly vicious pothole that caught many of us just outside Alwinton but we all landed back safe and sound. A superb 110 miles, about five hours all told.

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Some of our Saturday guests had already arrived, so we got back into beer and tea mode in Rocky’s Bar. Thankfully, the hot water tank was firing on all cylinders so we could all have a wash!

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Simon and Stuart warmed up their strings and very soon we’d been through The Wagon Wheel and Copperhead Road. Steve helped where he could on either guitar or harmonica. Mark even managed a few chords for one song. A rousing quartet! We had a few Bob Dylan moments too, with Knocking on Heaven’s Door and All Along the Watchtower.

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Everyone had a fantastic time: songs were sung, guitars were strummed, fiddles were fiddled and an amazing amount of beer was consumed. Phil even dazzled us with some foxy dance moves at one point too. The best thing though? It’s always the people that make it so great. There’s no doubt Geordie Chapter are a very friendly bunch.

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All too soon, Sunday morning arrived and with more breakfasts eaten, we made our way home. We travelled down with Paul and Donna, a lovely ride back after a great weekend away at Clennell Hall. Roll on next year!

You can find our flickr album of photos here.


Chapter Meeting, June 2016

Peter was in the chair for last night’s Chapter Meeting and we fairly whipped through proceedings, with only a few updates from the Committee along the way. The Road Crew kindly put on Newbie Ride, round the local roads, for our new riders, riders who haven’t ridden in a group before and riders wanted to brush up on their group-riding skills. Everyone had a great time.

June and July are always busy months for Chapter events and Peter gave us a brief overview of what’s what. We’ve posted everything on the website Events Calendar and keep an eye out for updates etc. on our Facebook group or by text, directly from Peter.

Ray was away having a great time at Benelux, so Peter and Barry went along to the HA clubhouse for the North East Coalition of Motorcycle Clubs’ meeting. We’re hoping to get a new page on the website showing all these events. In the meantime, highlights for June and July include the Badlanders MCC Armed Forces Day (Bents Park, 25.6), Badlanders MCC Party (clubhouse, 29.6) and the Sober up the Dragon rally with the Dragonslayers MCC (Morpeth, 8-10.7). Get along if you can.

Mandy gave us a quick update on members and we now have 191 in the Geordie Chapter, which is great news!

Dawn is looking for some volunteers to look after the Registration Tent at the Heart & Soul Rally during the ride-out on Saturday. If you’re not going on the ride-out and would like to help, get in touch with Dawn.

James provided an update on the June Chapter Ride, which is this Sunday, starting from Washington Motorway Services, A1 (southbound). All the details are on the website and, as usual, Peter will keep everyone updated if there are last-minute changes. The weather is looking pretty good for this one, so fingers crossed!

Grant was at the meeting too, and it looks like the new dealership will definitely be open on 4.7. There’ll be more information in due course, but get along if you can. Hopefully, there’ll be a big opening PARTY soon!

Paul McPherson gave us some early details of an event in November 2016, much like the Stand up for Scarlet event that he organised last year. Everything will be pretty similar, with The Buckets and Charlotte Yanni providing the entertainment and The Fed (or Lancastrian Suite, if you prefer … !) providing the curry. The chosen beneficiaries are Harley Stallard (for a new summer house) and Gibside School. There’ll be more details closer to the time, with flyers on the way soon, and this year it will be a movie and TV fancy dress theme. This was a great event in 2015 and well-attended by the Chapter. You may all remember Shaun’s amazing Hallowe’en outfit too.

Rob, Dave, Mark and John all shared the spoils from the raffle. John was last seen trying to ram a box of Magners into the bags on his Sporty …

Finally, we held a collection for Northumbria Blood Bikes, who gave us an excellent presentation on what they do. Many of us didn’t realise that it’s funded completely by donations and everyone gives their time free. A very worthwhile cause. If you would like to read more about them, or get involved, have a look at their website, here.

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News feed, 1.6.16

What rallies are all about … !

Although we have been H.O.G. members since 2009, Chris and I only went to our first rally in 2014. We enjoyed it so much we immediately booked another rally later in 2014, and then did three, including our own Heart & Soul Rally, in 2015. All were immense fun, so in 2016 we planned to try more. Benelux 2016 would be our first larger rally, and our first abroad. Chris only had one experience of riding, or driving, in Europe and I had none, so we would be doing this on his bike with me as pillion. We regularly ride with a group from Geordie Chapter and we were delighted that twelve of us would be making the trip.

Thursday morning arrived and we loaded our packs onto the bike and set off to join the rest for lunch near the ferry terminal. The weather that morning was absolutely dreadful with a really heavy drizzle. Needless to say lunch was rowdy, I dread to think what the rest of the customers thought of twelve soaking wet bikers as we greeted friends and sat down to eat until boarding time.

It eventually stopped raining as we gradually crept forward to the check-in booth. I have never been on a ferry with a bike before and the whole process was a little unnerving. Eventually, we checked in and moved forward to board. Loading on a ferry as a pillion was interesting – I sat completely still as we ascended the ramps and Chris navigated the numerous bumps, cables and cleats onto the car deck. Apparently, we were lucky as there was a corridor just for bikes, away from the chaos of the cars. We unloaded our overnight pack, strapped everything down and headed for our cabin to change out of our waterproofs.

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An hour later, after a brief exploration of the higher decks, we established base camp on deck 8 in a suitable bar and settled in for the night. Dunedin Chapter appeared and the banter increased. Steve decided to play a couple of songs, on his harmonica, with the entertainer and a great night was had by all.

After breakfast, we got to the car deck and waited ages to disembark and creep through passport control. We agreed who would lead from the ferry and that we would stop at the first services for a nice meal. We only had about 100 km to get to the rally site, south of Rotterdam. The weather was fine, the riding was great and the food was excellent – a far cry from UK motorway services. After an hour or so, we set off to find the rally site and get checked in.

Somewhere around 2.00 pm, the Geordie Chapter landed at the site! We checked in and tagged our bikes and headed through the camp to find our rally packs and get a cold drink – the weather was great and it was roasting! There were bikes everywhere. At the other end of the site, we were directed to the bike parking area and pulled in together to leave the bikes while we explored the rally site proper and collected our packs.

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The site was great – organised around outside tables, benches and a bar the village of about fifteen shops was selling a wide variety of things from food (excellent burgers) to Jekill & Hyde exhausts. To one side was the main marquee. This had its own bar with a stage and further seating and, to one end, a sectioned off local dealer shop with merchandise, bikes and even seat embroidery! Rally packs were collected, refreshing beverages consumed and we collected the bikes before stopping at the entrance to buy shuttle bus tickets for the weekend.

5 km later, we arrived at the chalet village and checked into two, three bed apartments. This would be our base for the next three nights. The self-catering accommodation was first rate and had its own restaurant and bar. Guess where we met ninety minutes later before heading to the shuttle bus pick-up point. Food was not going to be a problem this weekend as our rally pack included two breakfasts and Saturday night meal thrown in. The food was excellent, with plenty of choice, and it was all very well organised.

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The music and three bands on the Friday night were great and needless to say we partied pretty hard! Red Rose Chapter and Dunedin Chapter were also there in force, as well as Sherwood Chapter along with loads of Dutch, Belgian and German chapters. We made lots of new friends, and had a fantastic night before heading back to the shuttle bus late in the evening. The walk to our chalets from the bus drop off was hilarious and somewhat difficult, as I seemed to be the designated responsible adult for the group. It was like herding cats – I’m sure some of our group didn’t remember the stagger home: Chris certainly didn’t.

Saturday was a clear sunny day. We met up and rode back into the rally for breakfast about 10.00 am. Today, we planned to go on the mid-day ride to the Rotterdam dealer. So, after breakfast, we just chilled and chatted with folks until it was time to gather for the ride-out. There were other, longer rides available throughout the day and a L.O.H. ride. There were lots of self-guided rides, all available for download to your sat-nav – brilliant organisation again!

The ride to the dealer was about 40 km and our group of seven bikes was directly behind the World Port Chapter road crew. There were about fifty bikes in total. With one guy at the back and two at the front, they managed extremely well to get us all there safely, and in one group. This was our first experience of marshalling outside the UK and they did a great job.

We had an hour and a half at the dealers: there was a great range of accessories and clothes. They had also laid on live music and more food for us. We got back to the rally site about 4.00 pm, just in time for a quick shower and change and back on the shuttle bus for another evening of revelry.

We took things a bit easier on Saturday. There were three bands again, from 4.00 pm to midnight, the last two of which were excellent and large marquee was packed to the rafters. We had a hilarious ride back on the shuttle bus with a few from Red Rose Chapter – the banter was fantastic.

On Sunday morning, we returned for our final inclusive breakfast and some last minute shopping before the rally closed. Instead of the parade of flags, we headed into the countryside, in search of a small village bakery that featured on one of the Hairy Bikers’ shows. An hour later, we pulled up outside for excellent coffee and pastries and explored the eclectic collection of 1940s memorabilia at the bakery. With full stomachs, we then headed back after stopping off to buy some supplies for our last night at the chalets.

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Monday saw us split up with six of us heading home and six heading onto Arnhem, to the museum and bridge to pay their respects. We had some pretty bad weather during the early part of our ride back to the ferry but it was only the first that we’d encountered since leaving the UK. Bill led us on a great run, despite some patchy sat-nav performance, and all arrived in plenty of time. Unfortunately, we had a rather lumpy return ferry journey.

We have learned on this trip that the rally itself is only part of the mix. Yes, it provides the location and backdrop, but that makes a great rally is the people you are with. Our group is the maddest, most hilarious and best group of friends we have ever had. The rally was excellent, the venue, food, music and location great, and the weather fantastic. But without the company of these people, it just wouldn’t have been the same.

The saddest part is that we cannot do it again in 2017 as we’re going riding in the USA. Roll on our own Heart & Soul Rally at the end of July and Thunder in the Glens in August. All being well, next time I go to the Benelux rally I will be riding my own bike, rather than pillion with Chris. Can’t wait!

Ruth Neal, Ladies of Harley Officer


News feed, 25.5.16

Derek and I recently arranged a Fat Bob ride-out in The Lakes on 14 May. Here’s our story, with some great pictures from the day (photo contributions from everyone).

We had a fantastic ride-out on Saturday, and were blessed with beautiful dry sunny weather with blue skies – a perfect day for a perfect ride!

The idea of a Fat Bob only ride-out was suggested on a Facebook page called UK FatBobs (Harley-Davidson), and the idea quickly grew into reality, with so many enthusiastic riders wanting to be part of it. We’d seen how popular these rides are in Europe, particularly Belgium and Germany, and thought how amazing it would be to have one over here. Having got it all off the ground, we reckon it’s the first ever Fat Bob only ride-out in the UK.

There was a considerable amount of planning in getting it arranged, and we managed much of it with the help and enthusiasm of all those who were participating in the Facebook group. We had interest from all over the country, with some people travelling from Kent, London, Portsmouth, Merseyside and Lincoln. There was a real buzz in everyone’s reactions as many had either never been to the Lake District, or hadn’t been since they were much younger. Like most good riding events, the day centred on the ride itself and Derek planned and led the route around the Lake District.

On the day, we had twenty four Fat Bobs attend including a trike, with most travelling up on the Friday and staying through until Sunday. We helped everyone with local accommodation and booked up a local restaurant for an evening meal.

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Ready to start the ride-out


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Matty Ferguson (middle) – our new pin-up boy – sorry Brian!

On Saturday, we left Penrith at 10.30am, heading towards Pooley Bridge then on to Glenridding and up Kirkstone Pass. We stopped at the Inn for a coffee and to take some photographs. The scenery is simply spectacular up there, just right for some great shots with our bikes and trike.

With everyone fully refreshed, we then rode down The Struggle to Ambleside, taking the lakes road to Windermere and on through Coniston to Great Langdale. We stopped at the Walkers Bar, within the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, for a very welcome lunch.

What we didn’t realise was that the hotel was also hosting a wedding, so their car park was full, and we ended up parked in a field at the front of the hotel. As it turned out, this provided a wonderful scenic backdrop of mountains. We were met by lots of cheering and waving by the wedding party and the bride and groom insisted on having several photographs taken with us!

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New Dungeon Ghyll, Great Langdale

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Our group was completely overwhelmed with the majestic scenery, and many underestimated how much they would enjoy the ride-out, the company and the region.

After lunch, we set off again, riding through Ambleside then on to Keswick via the newly-opened A591. The road had been closed for many months, with much of it washed away by flooding. It was great to see it open again and it was a joy to ride, with exceptional new views across Thirlmere, with many of the trees cleared due to the floods.

We ploughed on through Keswick and headed for Borrowdale before climbing the very steep Honister Pass to Honister Slate Mine, where we stopped for a coffee, more photographs and more smiles!

All too soon, we were underway again heading for Buttermere and a brief stop for some lakeside photos.

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From there, we then followed the road to Braithwaite and picked up the A66, heading back to Penrith. After riding 130 miles, we landed back about 5.00pm, with a collective groan – everyone was having such a great time and didn’t want the ride-out to end!

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Knackered … !

We then arranged to meet up again for our evening meal and were met by lots of sunburnt, smiling faces. We had a lovely meal with our new found friends, topped off with a specially made cake in the shape of a Fat Bob tank.

Everyone was gushing about how much they had enjoyed the weekend, with many promising to return to the Lake District very soon. We’ve already been asked to organise another one for next year. Plans are already afoot, with a date set for Saturday 27 May 2017.

If any Fat Bob owners would like to attend, please go to the event page on Facebook Fat Bob Only Rideout Saturday 27 May 2017, and ask to join. Or click here.

Derek and Rachael


News feed, 20.5.16

At long last, after a cold and miserable winter with our bikes tucked up in the garage, it was time to get them out, fire them up and wake the neighbours.

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A dozen of us headed down to the famous Cider Rally to help Bridgwater Chapter celebrate its 25th anniversary. We set off on a wet Friday morning, meeting with other chapter members on the way. Heading south we were met with rain, hail and snow, and then had to cope with a 10-mile tailback on the M5. Was it worth it? You better believe it was!

Over the years, we’ve covered many miles in the UK and abroad visiting various rallies, including Sturgis, but this year’s Cider Rally was so different to anything we’d experienced in the past. The whole weekend was filled with laughter – the silver/chrome fancy dress on Saturday was hilarious – where else have you ever seen a spaceman dancing at a bike rally?

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At about 9.00 pm, a group called Las Amigos turned up wearing enormous sombreros and they were absolutely amazing. The evening saw lots of other chapters wearing all sorts of ridiculous outfits, and everyone was really enjoying themselves.

Sunday evening saw the Strictly Come Dancing theme, with the famous glitter-ball up for grabs. Quite a few members from various chapters entered to compete for the famous trophy and, to my amazement, there were quite a few who had practised and were really good dancers. Of course, not everyone took it so seriously. St Leger Chapter entered a team of two ladies dancing with two men wearing horse heads (they would, wouldn’t they?). I’ve never ever seen anything as funny as when they started dancing to Gangnam Style.

All our rallies now have great bands, good venues and great ride-outs and it’s become accepted as the norm. We all just pray for the sunshine to have a good time. However, what I learned from the Cider Rally is that you don’t need to have the biggest or the most expensive venue, or thousands of people attending. You just need to have something happen or to create something that is funny. Our memories from our first Cider Rally will remain with us for a very long time.

Safe riding everyone. Barry.


CRAGG, April 2016

Clyde Valley, Red Rose and Geordie chapters all meet up for a superb Saturday evening get-together, on 16 April, to kick start the riding season at Gretna Hall Hotel. Looking to make a weekend of it, quite a few of the Geordie Chapter travelled up on the Friday afternoon to get settled in, and make sure that the beer was OK.

The weather on Saturday morning was glorious, just right for riding our bikes. After breakfast and a short walk to the Old Blacksmith’s Shop for a bit of sightseeing, we made our way south to meet up with Red Rose at the Lane End Inn near Brampton for a spot of lunch. Everything went like clockwork and we arrived to find quite a large bunch of Red Rose Chapter already ordering food and drinks. We all had our lunch and very soon it was time to get going again to meet the Clyde Valley Chapter.

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We met up with them at the services on the M6 but by now, the weather had done the very British thing and changed completely. We were deluged with hailstones, so as soon as we got there we headed straight for the hotel back in Gretna.

Aided by a few beers, we had a great meal at the hotel then watched the Fat Alligator take us well into the evening. The drummer, Clyde Valley’s Activities Officer Dave Henderson, was amazing. It was marvellous to see the three chapters having fun and getting on so well.

It was a fantastic weekend and I would like to thank everyone who organised it, especially Paul Jackson for leading the ride up to the M6 services. A very special thank you goes to Red Rose and Clyde Valley chapters for allowing the Geordie Chapter to become a part of the CRAGG group!