As usual a number of us stayed at North West Castle Hotel on the Thursday, where the food, as normal, was abfab. Staying ahead of the departure date. gave us about ½ hour extra in bed, & no dishes to wash.
It was very pleasing to see Jim McGugan and his very large brood (3 generations) going on this trip & savouring the nosh at NWC.
We left the hotel at around 6.15 am, very drowsy, & met with others from the Club at the P & O terminal at Cairnryan.
All went well, good journey & met in the usual fashion on the other side.
Our destination for lunch was the Anglers’ Rest in Banbridge. We had to travel through Belfast, but no worries- marking was perfect, & we travelled via Lisburn to The Rest
Excellent lunch then for the focus of the day- bloody Nora, The Mercers!
This is an experience not easily replicated. Once we had navigated round the Pot Bellied Pig, and his many cousin Guinea Pigs of varying varieties, avoided the dozens of pigeons & doves that were determined to leave their marks on us, we settled down & smelled the coffee???? By the way- Grumpy has been cloning the pig- no, its not your eyesight.
John has been a collector of everything & anything since he was born. On the writer’s previous visit, he not only had motorcycles in the house, but huge furniture & numerous items from the far East, which he had visited many times while in the Merchant Navy.
Helen has brought a significant semblance of near normality to the proceedings, while, at the same time building a menagerie of some proportion- did I not mention the pussies?
However, the main thrust of the visit was to see his collection of bikes- some really rare & very sought after, others needing some tender loving care. No numbers given, but I estimate around 50. Nevertheless, very interesting and these bikes are in the main, properly housed.
We turned North by Lough Neagh, to near Antrim and our destination for the Weekend, the Dunsilly Hotel. A rare find, well done George & his team.
The writer was sharing a room with 2 bearded able bodied men, which helped with time for shaving, but I kept one eye open for most of the night & my cheeks firmly clenched!
On Saturday, we had a significant number of visitors, from Ulster 30 and a number of Mad Dogs.
The focus of the morning was to visit memorials- the first “Joe Craig lived here”. You will recall the father of the Norton single & the “dead against” the Norton twin. ‘Nuff said.
Thereafter, further North to Armoy where there was a triple memorial, including Wm Dunlop (father, I presume) and another memorial, which I missed. We were not far from Ballymoney, & could have spent the whole day visiting memorials & graves. Those Road Racers never learn or never mind!
George had sneaked off to the road racing circuit nearby, ensuring not many real riders knew about it, so he could win. By dint of ensuring a tractor delayed Johnny Haynes (who is quite a fast rider), George proclaimed himself the fastest- oh really!
We then headed due North to Ballycastle & the Marine Hotel for lunch. This was excellent, as usual, and so was this seaside town. A wander around in the lovely weather, with ice creams dribbling down our hands- what could be better.
Better was the route back to Dunsilly, along the coast road to Carnlough, where we headed inland. this was a fab route back to our hotel
The evening’s proceedings followed the usual pattern. By way of a surprise, and a very expensive one, George had managed to get to speak to Simon Cowal, who as you know, is a keen motorcyclist (as long as it makes him money). He lent us at a reasonable cost, his reserve Il Divo Trio. They were bloody awful & George is trying to get his money back- Good Luck- nae chance!
Food was great, company most pleasant, “absent friends” toasted and a couple of really funny jokes from George, & doom & despondency from John, worrying about The Referendum.
Sunday, a relatively late start, & just as well, as JG had a nail in his rear tyre, & not to be outdone Harvey had 2. But he was staying behind so he could get it fixed locally. JG was also fortunate as Grumpy had a battery operated inflater, Ronnie had the know how, & Jack Torrens had the Tyre Viagra, which kept the tyre hard, long enough or just long.
Paul of course, had to trump it all by doing a Marc Marques on leaving the car park, but his elbows failed to keep him & his bike tyre side down. No damage other than to pride, now that I’ve exposed him!
The highlight of the day was our visit to a motorcycle museum. We were all enthralled, and spent nearly 2 hours there, & could have spent longer with such emotive bikes, going back to the late fifties: plus an older Scott.
We were given eats & made very welcome. A great experience.
Lunch was towards the coast, at The Thatch. Plenty to eat. Thereafter. the coast road to Larne where the usual “goodbyes” were exchanged. It must have been one of the best Irish Runs ever, partly because of the excellent weather and the work put in by George and his team. Thanks a million.