East Midlands Scotland Extravaganza

Friday 22nd of April was an early morning rise, up to the services at Castle Donington where our starting point was for most, setting off at 08.30 saw 21 of us begin our journey to Scotland, not the perfect start as it was overcast, dull and cloudy but that wasn’t going to put our group off, everyone was buzzing about the adventure ahead.

Travelling M1, M18 and on to the A1 all the way to Scotch Corner, fuel up and to the cafe on the A66 where we were met by 2 of our friends, Steve & Marie Carpenter.

Fuelled, fed and watered off we set over the A66 towards the M6 where we headed North to Southwaite services where Alan Oldham joined the party, next stop was Gretna outlet Village to meet more of our party, John, Murray, Brian, Dave & Joe and a well earned rest for lunch was had.

The group was certainly coming together, watch out Scotland here we come.

Next destination was the Scottish National Transport Museum where I had arranged free parking in there events area, the only catch was that the Museum wanted to photo our bikes for there media, perfect and now our branch is on there website for all to see.

Saddle up time to head off, some went straight to Stirling and some came with me on the twisty route over the Campsie hills to Stirling to our Premier Inn for the night. Meeting in the bar at 7 where other members of our group had travelled separately to our main starting point, where the rest of the party was waiting, everyone was here safe and sound, all had smiles with lots of laughter, right, time to head out for our meal, yes I was leading the 10 minute walk to the restaurant, it was quickly pointed out that I was leading our 47 strong party in the wrong direction so a new leader was had, arriving quickly we were seated, I think we overwhelmed the restaurant even though it was booked weeks in advanced, not the best but after a while all was fed, back to the rooms and bed it was ready for an early start.

Saturday 23rd Opened the curtains to find full sunshine, off we set all 47 on 33 bikes what a picture it was, blinking sat nav got me lost but eventually we all arrived at the Kelpies then on to the Falkirk wheel, fabulous visitor attractions. Now heading for Loch Lomond I had arranged for a Drone to video the group at different points 
(join the East Midlands fb page to view or on the HOC GB fb page)
Balloch next to Loch Lomond was our next coffee stop, yes Mcdonalds it was but the car park was way too small but a kind man at the chinese adjoining car park let us park for an hour.

Off again heading up the west side of Loch Lomond there he was again near Cameron house (Sam Canning) my nephew with his drone hovering just above our path, everyone waving to get there pic in full swing, thank you Sam. Now heading North up through the rest and be thankful pass on these fabulous twisty roads at great heights and on to Inveraray where it was time for an ice cream and a drink of my favourite, Irn Bru, your other national drink, Scotlands Favourite. Onwards and upwards heading for Oban but taking in the bridge over the Atlantic at Clachan, what a lovely little place, yes we took over with all the bikes pulling in. Stopping for a refreshment, with some heading off, we trailed a little later but all arriving safely at the Premier Inn Oban, all checked in, showered and changed we head out to eat, free night do as you please, time for a Haggis Supper as we call it in Scotland (Haggis & Chips) most of us met up later in Wetherspoons for a night cap or two.

Sunday 24th Waking up again to full sunshine just lifts the spirits for another great riding day. After fueling up Northbound it was then heading East over some great roads and superb views to Tyndrum where we stopped at a popular bikers haunt, The Green Welly for fuel and refreshments. Now heading North to Glen Coe, stopping at a view point on the way for pics then entering Glen Coe taking a right turn to Kinlochleven, these roads test some of our skills, twisty but great and on to Fort William it was, fuel up and time for lunch. Back on the bikes, just a short ride to the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge with great views across the mountain range. Off we go again next stop Premier Inn at Inverness, arriving at the hotel, the car park is under cover but rather small, the manager came out and welcomed us with open arms, she assisted us with parking  the bikes were everywhere but safe and not restricting any access, she recognised us from when we have stayed before, very friendly indeed. All checked in, showered and refreshed, down to the bar for pre dinner drinks, Group photo opportunity time, the manager came outside to take our group pics, tables booked at our regular venue across the river, just a short walk, we have to walk over a swing type bridge, we’ll Mr Michael Bethell started larking about as he does and starts the bridge swinging and yes that starts everyone else doing it too, the bridge was in well swing, everyone laughing and joining in, finally making it to (The Fabulous Mustard Seed Restaurant) the manager and staff welcomed us and got us seated quickly, complimentary drink per person was had, thank you to the staff of the Mustard Seed for another great experience, everyone commented on how good the food was, not 1 complaint, excellent. I welcomed some new members 
Fred and Marie Parsons Keith Horton Olivia Clow Joe Morley
This was an extra special occasion for the East Midlands Branch 
We welcomed our 100th member
Mick Clow.
With new people joining the branch we now stand at 103, what a milestone.

Monday 25th Time to head southwards, headed to the Aviemore ski resort for pics and a coffee great views but the weather was not great, as we were about to leave a representative of the Aviemore resort approached me with regards to taking pictures of the group for there website media, so now the East Midlands Branch appears on there website  please have a look, a bit of drizzle, leaving Aviemore we headed slightly North then over the Cairngorms which took us southwards, the weather had passed and now was dry, fabulous route with winding and twisty roads, stopping enroute for lunch near Ballater then on through Balmoral, Braemar, Spittal of Glenshee another ski resort where myself and Julie rode ahead of the group to take a video, eventually we managed to catch up, through Perth and onwards to the Premier Inn on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Restaurant booked tonight just a short walk from our hotel, thank you Christine Gregory for sorting this for the group, great carvery was had by all. Back to the hotel for a night cap then off to bed.

Tuesday 26th This was a free day, into Edinburgh in separate groups it was, tram stop is right outside the hotel, open top bus was decided for our group, jump on jump off, a few hours later back to the hotel and off out to eat, some ate where we ate the night before and some at the Premier Inn, I must say my meal at the Premier In was fab, really enjoyed.

Well, unknown to me Mr Kevin Banton arranged a collection, he did a speech thanking us for a great trip, presenting gift to myself, meee Julllllieeee, Geoff & Dawn, very heart felt, brought a tear or two.
Thank you Geoff & Dawn for doing a terrific job tail ending over the last 6 days, you only lost 1 but we got him back, brilliant job both 
I do these trips for the branch members enjoyment, all I want to see is people enjoying themselves, a smiles on there face, that’s more than enough, if I could have bottled the happiness and smiles on there faces during this trip along with the positive comments that would have lasted me a lifetime.

Wednesday 27th 
Sad day, time to head home, all our goodbyes said, same heading straight home, some staying enroute home for another night, I said the holiday isn’t over yet, let’s carry on, so our group headed to South to Harry Potters Castle, some pics taken and if we go, Becky made a request so that was our next destination, Angel of the North as she had not been there before, we try to please where we can, not its time to get on the motorway all the way home stopping off for a toilet and coffee break.

I have had comments in the past that large group rides don’t work, Yes the can and do this proves it, don’t ever be put off from trying, if it goes wrong then try again.

Thank you all for joining me on this adventure, if it wasn’t for you the members we wouldn’t have a club  this us a members club ran by members for the members, I am a member just like you, yes I am the Branch Chairman, all I am trying to do is lead the branch as best I can.
Thank you all again for making the East Midlands Branch what it is today  26 years old this year 
Happy 26th Birthday 
Graham Brown