I’ve never been to the Channel Islands before but over the last week I’ve been on a trip there by scooter. I chose to ride what turned out to be 265 miles to the port of Poole in one go. I’d gone to the Bay Horse to meet the rest before they left on the Wednesday and there’d already been a Lambretta exhaust catching a speed hump coming into the pub car park. Kieron went home to bring a different Lambretta. Most of my travelling companions were taking 2 days, stopping at Gloucester and by chance we met on the road perhaps 30 miles from Poole, from where we’d sail to Jersey the following morning. Whitty’s Royal Alloy scooter had already died and the last 30 miles took about 4 hours, waiting for the scooter to be rescued and visiting a pub. On my Italjet Dragster 200 I’d been able to maintain an easy 60 mph so didn’t keep getting overtaken by trucks on the motorway. I also found that my average mpg on a mixture of motorway and main road was an unbelievable 99.68, even at those speeds.
After a night in Poole at a Premier Inn the real drama started. The ferry to Jersey called in at Guernsey on the way and when we left the port a bow thruster malfunctioned, causing us to return to Guernsey to disembark and wait for over 4 hours for a slow freighter to take us on to Jersey. In the world of scooters word gets around and a Guernsey scooter rider came to chat to us through the fence as we waited on the car park. It was gone 9 when we finally arrived. Luckily we had Fitzy, a local scooter enthusiast, to guide us through the St Helier one way system.
Parky had damaged his Lambretta’s exhaust on the ramp of the ferry carrying Whitty, who’s scooter was left in Poole for a repair, hopefully. The excess weight of 2 gentlemen of a certain age had rendered the pipe so low that it had hit the ground, bending the stub just like Kieron’s previously. Tony’s exhaust, meanwhile, had cracked a mounting bracket which had caused the pipe to fracture. Plenty of rasping 2 stroke noise to mark our arrival, then.
We managed to squeeze a few beers in before bed time. Some even elected to stay up til the wee small hours but I let the side down to get some beauty sleep. In the morning, after an all you can eat breakfast for just £9.99, I wondered down to the garage to look at the broken Lambrettas. My role was mainly supervisory, pointing out the obvious. It seems like a lot of motorcyclists leave their bikes in various free parking spaces but have to move them at least every 7 days. It was useful for us and provided a work space for Tony and Parky.
Neither scooter could be fixed on the day but thankfully Fitzy lent one of his Lambrettas and Parky borrowed Bob’s, who had decided to spend the day in St Helier with Karen. That meant that all who wanted a look around the island were now mobile with Whitty and his better half, Gillian riding pillion. We rode along the south coast to find a defensive area which had been built by the Germans in World War 2. First we had to climb a steep, twisty road with me navigating by intuition. Just before our target Parky and Gillian rode over a tiny speed hump and you’ll never guess what.
I arrived alone, took a picture and returned to the scene of the usual carnage. Yes, the exhaust stub of the scooter borrowed from Bob had succumbed to the same fate as 2 of the others. We rode to the end of the peninsular to view the gun positions and magazine batteries. All good stuff in a beautiful setting.
A Lambretta still needed fixing so the stub was accessed after the rear footboards were removed. Hammering it with stones had a limited effect but fortunately a serial killer had driven up in a car. Like all good serial killers he had a hammer in the boot and it was enough to render the stub as good as new. Whitty and Gillian had chosen to find a bus stop to go on alone but we wondered if they might become the hammer owners next victims. If Whitty perished it would save us throwing him into the sea like Jonah. After all it seemed like everything he touched turned to shit on the trip so far.
We carried on, turning northwards, to find a military museum. Due to the surprisingly heavy traffic, which seems to be a feature of Jersey, we saw a sign for the tunnels which had been dug during WW2 and took that turn. We had coffee and cakes but since the tunnels visitors centre recommended 1.5 to 2 hours for a visit we decided not to go inside. Instead we talked to the owners of an historic American Jeep and set off back to St Helier. We expected to stop for a drink but pubs don’t seem as common as at home and we couldn’t find anything suitable. We returned to town and in the evening split again. I went with 7 others to a fish restaurant whilst others had pizzas. We met again later for more beer, of course.
After another bargain priced breakfast we were to be taken on an island tour by the Lets Quote Quadrophenia Ten Times A Day Scooter Club of Jersey. We met around 20 of them by the seafront and embarked on a trip. The south coast is very built up and tends to be busy with traffic. We stopped at a point on the coast for photos and refreshments. An LQQTTAD scooter had had a front brake problem but ours all survived for the remainder of the day. We travelled further along the pretty north coast to a puffin colony which not only had the little fellas living in burrows but some impressive public art in the form of large puffin statues.
There were more German fortifications in this area. Non of these were tested during the war since Hitler had built an essentially impregnable fortress. The occupiers voluntarily surrendered on the 9th of May 1945, which is still a day of celebration in Jersey. We next went to an excellent restaurant for a late lunch where I had a fabulous crab linguine. Various local riders turned off for home as we rode back to town. We went into town to a pub or 2 in the evening once again, looking economically dapper, like a bunch of Poundland Kardahians.
By morning Tony’s exhaust had been welded and Parky’s stub heated up and beaten back into shape so we were all ready for the ferry where we needed to check in before 1.30 pm. Some had decided to visit the war tunnels, having been assured that it was well worth the effort. The tunnels were dug by slave labour and bodies of those who died during this ordeal were incorporated into the concrete. The average German bloke seems rather nice these days, often speaking in a somewhat camp manner. Who’d have thought the scene could be so different a couple of generations back? I’ve heard that men in Germany are expected to sit instead of standing for a pee these days. No wonder they lost the war. I can only presume that come D Day they were caught hoisting their trousers when they should have been holding their positions.
We met a Vespa riding member of the Jersey Royals Scooter Club, the rivals of our new LQQTTAD friends, in the garage before departure. He was and affable sort of chap and warned us of the sheer incompetence of Condor Ferries, which we’d already experienced on the way out. A half hour delay to the start of our return trip seemed like a small victory to us. The weather was gorgeous the whole way back to Poole. We again stopped in Guernsey but this time left without problems. One thing I’ve noticed about returning to England, particularly at this time of year with fresh, green vegetation everywhere, is just what a lovely country we’re lucky enough to live in. Poole harbour is spectacular and was being enjoyed by lots of sailing dinghies as we coasted in.
We spent the night at the Premier Inn again and enjoyed some time in the bar for food and drink. The next morning Whitty’s scooter had been repaired and was collected. The 9 of us set off for home, a distance of 248 miles. We expected to ride up the Welsh border to avoid the motorways but, despite the use of sat. nav. managed to go way off track. After much discussion we ended up near to, though not within sight of, Stonehenge. This monument has been visible here for thousands of years but now you have to pay 28 quid and catch a bus. I made the brave decision to volunteer my services as navigator which meant that we got back with no more wrong turns. We thought that it would take until midnight using the ordinary roads so we eventually joined the motorway near Gloucester from where Whitty lead, since his scooter was the slowest. By keeping Whitty at a good distance before the motorway we only had two more breakdowns. Tony broke a throttle cable, which was replaced and later Parky replaced the Cdi unit and sparkplug, which was enough to stop it popping and banging.
Due to the navigational error before I took over and various times returning to broken scooters I covered 292 miles on the return. The bare inch of padding on my Italjet seat must be enough to compliment my own padding so I wasn’t even uncomfortable. Another memorable trip which could only have been enhanced by more reliable scooters, such as Italjet Dragster 200s, and some warmer weather. Next year it’s back to Normandy just before the 80th anniversary of D Day. Bring it on.
Great read Andrew , I hope you all had a great time on our Island despite all the mishaps 😂… LQQTTADSC love to host clubs from the Big Island ,Jersey a beautiful island for ride outs. ,just a shame about the sea fog whilst you guys were there . We shall catch up again one day and have a small libation I hope ..
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