(Then and Now)

There were times in the Fifties and Early Sixties when firstly college exams, then the job ruled my T.T. time off in June.
Strangely, I could always get time out to go to the Practice week, probably because it often began with the May Bank Holiday.
However, on these occasions aforementioned, I was forced, after a glorious week and weekend, when I could see part of Mad Sunday, to get the boat home.
Do you think that this was good enough ?
So I found out that some local Motorcycle Shops ran Day Trips to the Senior T.T.
I returned home from the practicing on the early Monday morning, had a short sleep, and then went on to college or work.
By Thursday night I had done what was necessary to learn or make money, so as soon as I left college/work that evening, headed in the first few years to "St Andrews Motors of Newcastle" (The Newcastle and District M/C Club base) then later to "Walrons of Gateshead" who ran the trip for many good years.
Up to three bus-loads of men, women and boys ( no girls surprisingly !) climbed into the coaches which were numbered 1, 2 and 3.
The cost was less than five old pounds in those days, but one received a goody bag in which were sandwiches, pop and a wadge of fruit cake if you were lucky !
We set out just after 6pm and trundled out across Northern Britain to aim for Liverpool.
Conversation and joke telling was fast and furious but as the journey progressed some of the lads fell into a dozy sleep.
Some had, of course, been into the pub across the road from Walrons to have a pint or two before we all left.
By about halfway these itinerants woke with full bladders and the buses had to stop while the fellas lined the hedge to the amusement of the women.
All happy, we went a few inches further, to be stopped again by the women who had found a petrol station with conveniences.
No lining the road for them, but a long and winding queue which held us up for some time.
We went on and eventually, as it got dark, began the drive down to the Liverpool docks.
We arrived at the Pier Head in semi-darkness and unloaded the men, women and the sleepy boys.
They only wanted to stay on the bus, not go for the boat !
The snake of people from all over Britain on similar trips as ourselves was already twice round the terminal and every so often moved forward as the Steam Packet forced everyone aboard.
Just after midnight the sound of the ferry bounced across the Mersey and we were on our way, sitting or lying on the decks, in passageways and even in the luggage container nets.
I was too hyped up to sleep and as the four hour plus voyage brought us nearer to the Island, we set up a sweep for the "First one to spot the Isle of Man".
Some of these overnight trips were a nightmare with high seas and no stabilisers.
The smell became unbearable as people felt that they would like to see their meals again, and we prayed to make landfall !!
The winner of the sweepstake was the one with the sailors stomach !!
By now, the rest of us could not have cared less.
We docked and after a minor delay which felt like hours, disembarked, bent down and kissed Manx concrete on the dock.
Some of our party found a promenade seat or a bus shelter, and crashed out, others went exploring to find a suitable breakfast bar.
Now I was at a distinct advantage !
The hotel in which I had spent practice week left a key where I could find it and I was able to get into said hotel and crash out in the lounge.
I was awakened with a hot cup of tea and a super breakfast.
Some of my friends who went over with me were welcomed as well because they were paying for their breakfast.
It was the fact that we could have shower, change into TT-watching clothes and leave our travelling items in the hotel.( which were often washed and dried by the time we came back from the racing !)
We could go to our vantage point refreshed and ready for the high speed thrills.
We passed our other trip members out cold on benches and in cafes still eating.
Nothing we could do !
Having this arrangement with the hotel was a wonderful idea and our party grew over the years I used the Day Trip for the Senior.
There were eventually three sittings for breakfast and we were amused by the people who were staying in the hotel, seeing the total of people at breakfast treble on Senior Day.
They were LONG races in those days, the six lappers taking nearly three hours to complete.
When the TT was over we had to dash for the "Six O'clock Boat", which limited our contact with the pubs and the Manx girls !
We found a place to lie down in the bowels of the ship, and crashed out.
Generally we awoke again at about 10pm, frozen and praying to see land.We looked for the buses and somehow they were numbered 2, 3 and 1 !
Bloody confusing when you couldn't see straight for tiredness, Manx Ale and a broken sleep pattern !
We rarely remembered the bus ride home other than the smell of sweaty feet and boxes of kippers, and we hit our homes in time for breakfast.
It was the Saturday and some lucky ones were allowed to stay in bed for a few hours, but others less fortunate had to help with the shopping.
"If you can go to the TT, you can help me to get the shopping !".
We all heard it didn't we !

Probably the most memorable day trip of that era was the 1965 Senior won in terrible conditions by Mike Hailwood.
We all know the story of how he fell off at Sarahs Cottage, kicked the MV "straight", restarted the machine downhill against the traffic and went on to win.
WE were there, soaked to the skin but loving every second of the drama as it unfolded.
As we made our way back to the docks for the boat the sun came out and we sunbathed on the top deck all the way back to Liverpool, our clothes steaming in the heat.


I then had a run of full TT periods until the 1970s when I again had to miss Race Week because of a company conference.
As the meeting drew to a close it was like the film "Trains and Boats and Planes".
The last hour dragged horribly, but soon I was out of the hotel, (in Bristol,) and like a whippet, heading up the M6 in the company car .
As before I had been over for Practice Week and had the hotel geared up to supply breakfast for a few "hangers on" who I recognised from previous years.

Then I was pleased to arrange a TT trip to meet up with my Dad, recently widowed, who had decided to make his first visit since 1960 !
We met up in Liverpool, and parked our cars in the overnight pound.
He was expecting the usual toss and turn of the ferry, George Formby and a couple of "Rainbows", but it was a truly smooth, incident-free crossing.
We saw the 125cc race but because there were floods on the course, the Senior was postponed until the Saturday.
Shame but we missed what we had gone to see, and had to return on the boat in heavy rain.
Dad and I split up in Liverpool, he to go back to Newcastle and me down to my new home in Reading.

For a lot of recent years I have managed to go for the full T.T., thank God, but have met up with friends I have known for years know who still arrive on the trips, and then I take them back to the "residence" for the customary breakfast and shower.

The Day Trips of today are more refined than those in days of long ago.
As long as you make your way to Heysham, and then park your vehicle in a secure pound, you get the latest Seacat, with seats and a real food supply.
When you arrive in Douglas, you get a good substantial breakfast as part of your package AND a trip round the TT course in a bus before the racing starts.
You also have time to SEE a bit of the Island.
You are bussed up to Creg-ny Baa where you see probably one of the best TT vantage spots on the whole course.
Plus a great pub and MORE food.
You have a full day there on the Island before catching a Seacat at about 8pm.
Furthermore, you are back on the mainland at a decent time !
Now we have to make the effort to get to Liverpool or Heysham ourselves.
If you can't get all the time off, at least go on a "DAY TRIP"......
They are truly an experience.....