First, to dispel the misconception, you don?t need a Ferrari to do a rally to Monaco. Yes, there were a few in our collection of luxury cars but there were also vans, Minis, Jeeps and taxis. Variety is the spice of life right?

As much as we?d all like to be Maximillion Cooper and pimp our Bentleys in a camo paint job and crash them willy nilly, reality dictates that fun-seeking charitable types don?t all have the cash reserves to do such things! The Gallery Rally this year saw a group from all ages and walks of life come together for a common goal…..to raise money for Jersey Hospice Care, have fun and win prizes!

Although the title ?rally? implies speed, it wasn?t the name of the game. This was a treasure hunt my friends… Each day saw our organiser (and tormenter) Chip providing a new set of clues that, once we?d unravelled the cryptic messages within, would help us get to the next location and rack up valuable points in order to be able to glance at our fellow contenstants each evening with a ?Moo ha ha ha… we got all the clues right?.

Our clue master, Chip Somers, has been organising rallies from Jersey under the ?Route de Libération? banner for 1o years but, according to the ?Old Lags? and reigning champions Mike Nolan and Gary Taylor, this year?s Gallery version ticked all the right boxes.  Phew. ..

So… what happened
The fun started before we?d even left Jersey with a less-than-easy set of questions challenging the brains of some – and the ability to use 3g phones phones of others. Once safely into St Malo we did our best to disrupt the traffic flow by parking luxury cars wherever possible.  Boy, were the locals impressed!  Despite a few ?sacré bleu!?s they seemed to enjoy ogling the Astons, Ferraris, Porsches and, of course, our beaten up Jeep.  We were briefed and given our first set of clues and whoosh, the open road lay before us.
Following our first place clue: ?Take the Red and White to a British Bath? we followed the autoroute down to Bain de Bretagne . You see how the clues work? Do you get it? Good.  The thing we had to find was described by the clue: ?Something looks fishy, but how many eyes are there?? A fountain statue of mermaids fitted the bill.  Answer pencilled in, on we all went.

The four-day route led us through quaint towns, over rivers and gorges, through the Alps and along the French Riviera. Some people solved clues and got to their destinations faster than others.  One car clocked up 1700 miles for the 900 mile route to Monaco. From Jersey to Poitiers, Poitiers to Vichy, Vichy to Grenobles and Grenobles to Monte Carlo, each stage saw competitors amassing in small French villages, much to the surprise of the locals who, in some cases, looked as it they hadn?t witnessed the miracle of powered transport first-hand before, let along in the guise of a DB9. They must have thought it odd that sixty odd rosbifs were scurrying around their neighbourhood looking for clocks to find, birds to count, locks to decipher and pressure to read.  To make sure the lesser mortals also had a chance to get in the points, the clue master also threw in a few extras, such as a paper aeroplane flying competition amidst strong winds with rain lashing down.

With the comfortable but mildly modest Novotel chain providing the accomodation each night on the way, on getting to Monaco, we were a bit shocked as the valet whisked our very tired Jeep away and we were led into one of the most opulent hotels I?ve ever stayed in. After the sort of gala dinner you?d expect from a 5* hotel in Monaco, we ventured out into the night. There?s something both exciting and frustrating about seeing yachts that big and also men with hot girls who were clearly there for dazzling conversation and not the 96,000 euros said man was willing to lose on a single round of Blackjack (yes, he did). Dancing the early hours away in a seedy joint full of shipping magnates and ladies of the night at least let us live a bit of the lifestyle anyway.

A big thanks to Chip and Heidi Somers, Katrina and Jersey Hospice and all of you that took part, sponsored the participants and supported the 2008 Rally. Look out for news of the 2009 Rally later in the year!