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Begonia Rally

I hope to be able to attend this event. So far, the cheapest, and quickest, way of crossing the channel seems to be via the tunnel. Once off the train, it should not take much more than an hour to reach the site. Anyone else taking this route? John.


It doesn't matter how much it costs its worth it! We take a ferry from further North, much more expensive but means we don't have to suffer the down South traffic!


Hi Gino, I agree, but, as a geriatric pensioner, I have to count the euros! I was at the rallies, when held at La Panne, in '98,'99,& 2000, so, we may have met. If not, hope to see you there. I will be the mad old bugger on a '54 Dommi.


I was at de Panne, great location, great beer!! and so much of it! I must admit the cost of the ferry for us now makes it a very expensive weekend, fine if you can tie it in to a bigger Holiday but for a weekend it makes no sense but we still do it. We often say that if we lived in the South of England it would be brilliant for cheap travel to the Continent but of course there is a cost! Mad old bugger on a dommi doesn't narrow it down much!! Make sure you introduce yourself. I unfortunately will not be on the Norton as I'll be on the way back from the Ukraine (hopefully) trying out a bike for a bigger trip!


I am trying very hard to entice Peter Cocks to return to the Begonia again. He turned up, last year, on his Wideline 99 and decided that not only it had actually vastly improved but was now even better value for money.

As at previous Begonia rallies, the Solent Branch Outcasts will be getting together. This is an informal gathering that welcomes any solo riders turning up who may not know any other NOC members attending the rally.


Hi Phil, The last Begonia rally I attended was in 2,000 (at De Panne), so I probably will not recognise anyone. My bike is now back in the UK (but I am in Spain). I will fly back on 21st August, and have a tunnel booking for Friday 24th (the day after my 75th, my birthday treat to me!). Hopefully, I will arrive about 2 p.m. My friends think I am mad, camping at my age! Hope to meet you there, John.


Hi john........I remember several of the De Panne meets well but probably for all the wrong reasons. It was a super site to camp in but I seem to recall it was too small for the numbers attending, there was a long trek for a shower and a huge brawl most nights.

The highlight of one of these De Panne Begonias, was the guy in the next tent to me who started to dismantle his lovely bike and sell off big pieces. I think he used the cash to spend on an alternative way of getting happy!!! By the time I left to catch the ferry home, the seat, luggage racks, forks and front wheel had all disappeared. I often wonder how he got home??? I guess that calling out a 'recovery' service might have led to a few awkward questions.

Recent Begonias have been exceptional good fun to attend, very well run andexcellent value.

Please feel free to join up with us other retired oldies. We usually try and set up in a quiet corner of the site so that our hearing aids are not destroyed when the music is turned up loud. Look out for a Black LR Commando, a Red 99 and Neil Watkin's beautiful Cafe Race styled Commando.


Well, it's almost here. Begonia rally only a week away, weather forecast? Rain!, at least it will be a novelty, after the dryest summer for years in Spain.


Did you get there John ? Wet and windy just about sums it up. Congratulations to Marc Maes and his team. It really was a top quality location this year and despite the gale howling outside, we were warm and comfortable with plenty of space.

Lots of old faces there (looking even older, of course !)

I put more than 300 miles on the 16H this weekend without any problems except wetting a plug by not taking it off choke quickly enough when I was about to leave this morning. Even the ritual attempt at a bump-start failed. Damn, I took some stick from the cat-calling masses on the campsite. Fortunately a dry plug cured it. At 4 O'Clock this afternoon I was sitting in the sun at the Waterloo memorial. I hope that West Flanders dried out too.




John had his bikeparked under a blue cover about 20m away from you, just to the left of my tent.

Totally agree that the new Begonia site is veryimpressive and a vast improvement on previous venues.

Propershowers, toilets, eating facilities and a real bar just to start with.Theonly downsides were the camping fields were full of Sheep droppings which goteverywhere.

Plusthe weather, yet again, was horrible on and off.

Plus.......only just over half the attendees were on Nortons.

Ifeel, this last point, needs addressing urgently because word is soon going to spread fast thatthe Begonia is a now a great Rally where anyone can turn up on any bike andhave a jolly cheap continental holiday.Perhaps there should be a 50% discount for turning up on a Norton with camping gear.


+1 to all the comments, great venue and good crack!! Phils bike was polluting the field more than the sheep though!!, more blue gunge Phil?

Really enjoyed the new venue and I'll be on a Norton the next time (2014)


Yeah Gino, the sheep shit ! To be honest, it reminded me of the Mendip Rallies from years ago (except that was cow shit and you could slip over on it). I'm going to have to scrub inside my overtrousers !

I understand what you mean about non-Nortons but excluding everything else is a bit unfriendly. In the past, they used to make anything non-British park outside but there are so many 'new' Triumphs now which are considered British that non-British don't stand out.

I tend to feel that the rally field is a bit of a show-ground and if we don't make the effort to turn up on interesting Nortons then there won't be anything special to go for.

Someone who's intending to come on a modern bike isn't going to change their mind for a price discount but perhaps it is a more relevant use of the NOC subsidy than a first come-first served discount.


Sorry that my answer above makes it seem that I didn't know who I was answering. I sort of didn't as I was responding to Gino's copy of Phil's post and thought it was from him.

Bearing in mind that we've been told repeatedly that there is nothing wrong with the forum, it must be down to me or my browser. Sorry Chaps.



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Back to normal service..................the fundamental problem is the advertising of the event.

You may have noticed the word NORTON liberally sprinkled about with regard to the Begonia event. The organisers web page is titled Norton Owners Club Flanders Branch and under the Begonia Advert are some more key words eg. sponsored by the NOC England. Plus the route to the site entrance was flagged with numerous red arrow signs marked NORTON.

So having ridden my Norton the worse side of 850 miles to erect a tent in a field littered with sheep shit, it was a huge disappointment just a few hours later,to findthat I was boxed in by a camper van, an estate car, 4 BMWs, several new Triumphs, Harleys and Ducatis. Perhaps the onsite games, next year, should include 'Spot the Norton?' Mind you I do believe that many paid-up non 961 Owners have got the rights to this activity already.

Now I fully appreciate the organiser's dilemma. ie. you need bodies in multiples to make the event break-even. But where is the incentive to turn up on a Norton? It must seem strangely ironic to arrive at the signing-in tent on any bike but a Norton and then be given a mug marked such. More so if the recipient is not an NOC member.

At this point I feel a vast uneasiness coming on. If the Flanders website is correct in claiming sponsorship by the UK NOC, then in what form was this? Free advertising? Goodies grant? Brown envelope? There has been much discussion in the past regarding non-members turning up to NOC events and basically 'free-loading' on the grounds of being a friend or relative of a paid-up member. Is this happening here???

The 'bottom line' to this muddle ought to be in providing huge incentives to NOC members prepared to make the effort to turn up to the event riding on a Norton. There should at least be free entry to each rider who can provide evidence that they have done such. My ferry ticket detailed my bike registration, proving that I crossed the channel either riding or pushing. Plus, I turned up to the site with half a ton of camping gear strapped to the back and an equal load of mud, oil and sweat picked up en-route.

So let's add up the incentives:-

50% discount for turning up on a Norton

20% discount for carrying camping gear

10% discount for being over 50 years of age, 20% for over 60 and so on.

Finally, please can the organisers do away with the 'Best Bike' awards??? It is an absolute kick in the teeth to ride all the way, to the Begonia, from the outer regions of Europe and then watch some smart-arse sod unload his Norton off a trailer or Transit and promptly win a prize for the bike being stain free. Where is the fairness in that? A better award would be for combined bike/rider age in each class. providing the bike was ridden to the rally.


Mr. Hannam, Sir. What an old curmudgeon you are ! The trouble is that you're one of the old sort of rallyists who believes that the only true way is to arrive on an elderly example of the marque. I'm inclined to agree and I always thought that rotaries were a cop-out but I've enjoyed the company of their riders on many occasions.

I rode my over-laden old clunker to the Begonia and can only apologise that it was only 170 miles (twenty miles less on the way back which must prove that I got lost somewhere !)

Whatever, I like the sound of an 80% discount for riding the only make of motorcycle that I own. I don't own a car with a tow hook but I am a smart-arse and I do sod about so that must be why they gave me a prize despite my best efforts to hide the bike by painting it sheep-turd green and turning up late.

Rich and 16H (Total age 125 - 128 if you base it on the gearbox which started life on a 1936 Model 50 !)


Hi Richard, Sorry for the delay in replying, I only got back to Spain last night, and did not have internet access whilst in the UK. As Phil mentioned, I was there, but my bike did not move all weekend due to a flat battery. Someone brought along a charger, Saturday morning, but some kind soul (I hope not a N.O.C. member!) disconnected it and put their's on charge. Sorry we did not meet (maybe next year?). Marc kindly took me to buy a new battery, Monday morning, and I had an uneventful ride back to Kent.

I can beat you on combined age of bike and rider; Bike '54 model (58 years) + '37 model rider (75 years) = Total 133!

I do now have a trailer, it's too far to ride from Valencia to Kent, but would not dream of towing the bike to an event. If I can camp out, at 75, there is no excuse for the youngsters, in their 50's & 60's not doing so! Regards, John.


John, I can't believe that some cheeky blighter 'borrowed' your charger. I think that you should 'name and shame'

It's always an odd thing meeting up with 'unknown' people. Maybe we should all wear name badges ? I'll almost certainly be there next time. We can try again ! I can ask Phil Hannam to point you out next year.

I think that camping requires a certain state of mind so I certainly wouldn't criticise those who don't wish to and a ban on trailers is unenforceable...and if they go out on the run then they might ride further than a local who pops down for the evening. There is no easy answer to this one but I do think that we should all do our best to attend on a Norton and as it's a rally rather than a show, we should ride as much as we're able to.


On second thoughts, I have to withdraw my comment about trailing a bike to an event. Obviously a family group could not get all their gear on a bike. However, I do object to "Pot Hunters", bringing their cosmetic machines just to boast "Mine was the best!". John.


Excuse me for poking my nose into this thread but I feel the issue of members attending NOC rallies on other machines undermines the reason that the NOC exists. One of my branch members has only a BMW (but is a member and has an interest in Nortons) Another has a Commando but struggles to start it when laden with camping gear. he has since bought a ten year old triumph and intends going to the International rally on it. I could say "at least they make the effort" and they do. They are not bad people.

My thread about the cost of the Yorkshire International rally early this year resulted in a discount to the first 150 to book. I would have been pissed off if I happened to be number 151 to book and Number 150 was on a BMW. So EC, discount all attendees on Nortons, seemples. Any awards made should be to members who ride to the event, no polishing allowed. ( I can tell what a bike looks like through a layer of hard earned filth)


A bigger insult would be if number 150 also turned out to be a member of the NOC EC.

Many years ago there used to be awards for non-shiny bikes, the furthest traveled and the best hard-luck story. At previous Begonia rallies, I would have won the award for the best 'oil leak!'

The Club is awash with huge amounts of dosh it does not know what to do with. So why not free entry, if you camp, to the likes of the International and the Begonia? Just charge for food, drinks and T shirts if people want such.


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