The second of our two indoor shows this year, the NEC being a much bigger venue and show than the one at Manchester. Our theme this time was much more serious as the weekend included the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War. We had planned a display to celebrate the evolution of the motor-drawn caravan with the earliest being one of the very first Eccles caravans to be built. The most popular though, prove to be the little Sprite as so many people could be heard to say “we used to have a Sprite..”. Again we were kept busy with visitors and although we didn’t win a prize this time, we were honoured to be named as a runner-up in the Club Display category.
An indoor show was to be a new experience for us, with Manchester being the first of two this year. As setting up was to start early on the Friday morning, we decided to travel up on the Thursday and stay overnight in the caravan. The journey there involved quite a challenging drive over Saddleworth Moor with some quite hair-raising hills and bends to navigate. Christina’s choice of site proved to be a little dubious, and certainly nothing like it’s website portrayed, but we had an enjoyable evening with Chris and Cam and set off early the next morning to meet the rest of the gang just outside Event City. We were re-using part of the Carry On Camping display, and the shower scene again grabbed lots of attention. We even had some celebrities, namely Stig and Ed China, photographed in it. We were kept busy throughout both days with lots of visitors wanting to share their memories of caravan holidays, but the highlight of the weekend was when we were awarded the top prize for Best Club Display Stand. The journey home was a little more relaxed although still involved some pretty steep hills, and our stopover on the way back was much nicer, a pitch on a farm with lots of old cars in various states of disrepair.
The second of our three-in-a-row rallies was on home-turf, which meant that we were the hosts. We had been invited to display our caravans as part of the Sandringham Game and Country Fair, and after much discussion we had adopted the theme of ‘Carry-On..’ A team effort had resulted in signage, bunting, a ‘Camp Office’ and the very popular ‘Camp Shower’.
The weather stayed mainly dry, with Sunday the better day, which meant that there were lots of visitors to the show, many of whom wandered through our area and had their photos taken with Hattie and Kenneth in the shower!
Most of the RCC members attending had agreed to dress to the age of their caravan, which added to the display.
Other attractions at the show included the inevitable clay pigeon shooting, and of course we all had to have a go!
Horseboarding was something we hadn’t seen before – quite a spectacular new sport combining water/surf boarding with horse racing.
After 2 weeks at home, during which we gave the car and caravan some well-deserved tlc, cleaning, polishing and touching up some of the interior paintwork, it was time to hook-up again for the National Rally at Nuneaton. The sunshine had returned and we had an easy drive to arrive at Makins Fisheries by early afternoon. The rally field was on the edge of some beautiful fishing lakes and there was plenty of room for the 40+ caravans that attended. The whole weekend was great fun as we caught up with friends met at previous rallies as well as making new friends.
The beautiful Bluebird towed by a classic landcover won ‘People’s Choice’ of best caravan at the rally, with James’s Sprite, towed by his Morris, a well-deserved runner up.
The traditional Sunday coffee morning, which followed the AGM, was also the arena for judging the best caravan-baked cake. There was no argument over the winner – Alistair’s incredible Lemon Meringue Pie (although should a pie really win a cake competition?)
After just a few days at home following the two Triumph rallies, it was time to get back on the road and head towards Newbury for Retro Festival. We left quite early and after a brief lunch stop, arrived at the Newbury Showground to find that there was some confusion going on around where/how we were to pitch. After a phone call to CB, Paul donned his imaginary Hi-Vis jacket and assumed the role of ‘Boss’, a title which stuck with him for the whole weekend! With new arrivals coming in regularly, we were kept busy but seemed to manage to get everyone parked happily. With more arriving throughout Friday, and some shopping and preparation to be done for the ‘RCC Disco Nite’ we only had a little time to look around the rest of the show, which opened to the public on Friday evening, before the disco began. Thankfully the weather had improved as it would have been a shame to cover up our outfits!
The RCC had almost 40 caravans on display, although the new layout for the show meant that we had fewer visitors than last year. The music was just as good, though, and we spent an enjoyable 3 days chatting with friends and members of the public, as well as a little bit of dancing!
TSSC TriumFest at Shelsy Walsh
The continuing heatwave across the UK had led to much discussion about best departure and stop-over times to avoid traffic queues and the possibility of overheating the Herald. In the end we decided to leave around 8am with our first break after about 2 hours. Hinchingbrooke Country Park was the chosen destination and, with no delays on the way, we arrived there just before 10.00. There are height restrictions to the car park, but we managed to get into one of the bays reserved for horse boxes and other higher vehicles. It is a lovely little park, with woods and play areas, and a small café where we had a drink and shared a piece of cake. Definitely better than a motorway service station and one to remember for future stopovers, especially as the warden has said if we phone ahead he can make sure there is a space for us to park. We left at about 10.45, intending to stop again at Corley Services in another couple of hours. However, as it seemed to be getting hotter and hotter, Paul decided he would prefer to be clear of Birmingham and the possibility of delays before we stop again, and so we continued for another 45 minutes, by which time it seemed more sensible to just keep going and have lunch at the campsite. Unfortunately, after clearing the A14, M6, M42 and M5 with no delays, we hit roadworks just 10 miles from our destination, and faced the worst possible scenario – a long queue, in 30C heat, going uphill. The poor car was not happy, and it took lots of revving to keep her going. Thankfully we got to the end without her stopping and managed to reach the campsite just after 2pm. We were soon pitched up and sitting in the shade with our lunch, watching as the field filled up with campers. Refreshed and revived, we took a stroll down to the Paddocks to see some of the cars that would be racing over the weekend, but decided it was too hot to attempt to walk up the hill. After catching up with a few familiar faces, we had our customary first-night chilli then bed.
Saturday morning saw us all looking sky-ward as the heatwave seemed to have come to an end and the threatened storms seemed likely. The forecast was for showers off and on throughout the day so, armed with waterproofs, we took the Herald to the display area before setting off up the hill, stopping at several points to watch the cars racing up the hill. Paul was keen to join the Cavalcade of Triumphs as they paraded up the hill, so after a delayed start we drove up the track and a somewhat slower pace than the cars we had been watching earlier. By the evening, the wind and rain were becoming more persistent, and Christina was regretting leaving her boots at home, but Paul joined Mike and a few others up at the bar where a band was playing.
On Sunday morning, there was no doubting that the heatwave was over, and rain was set in for the day. Several tents had been blown away, and those that hadn’t were very wet, so most people were packing up by the time we had breakfast. We packed most of our things before having a last wander around the race area but decided there was little point in staying any longer and so finished packing, hooked up and left just after 11.00. We had a short journey to our next campsite, Somers Wood in Meriden, and so were thereby 1.00. The rain continued to come down, so we sat in the caravan until it stopped, had a walk around the site before dinner, then watched a film on the laptop.
By Monday morning, the rain had stopped, and the sunshine returned so that we had a quiet, relaxing midweek break. We felt a little overpowered sometimes as bigger units pulled in either side of us, but we felt quite sure that we wouldn’t have swapped with any of them!
TSSC Leicester and Rutland Sunshine Rally
We left Somers Wood on Friday morning, and called into the TSSC Headquarters and museum on the way to the Sunshine Rally at Rutland. It was good to finally see where Angie is based when she’s not out on the road cooking breakfasts and running the hospitality tent!
We arrived at the Rutland Sunshine Rally at about 2pm to a very warm welcome from the organisers. Colin joined us at around 5pm, and we worked together on the evening’s quiz, and chatted with other ralliers. On Saturday morning we set off for the run, with Christina navigating, Paul driving and Colin following behind as he was driving solo. We stopped at a working windmill, then Launde Abbey for refreshments. The best stopover though was Barnsdale Gardens where we spent a good couple of hours looking round the gardens that Geoff Hamilton created for the BBC Gardeners World programme, getting inspiration for our garden. When we got back to camp, Mike and Sue had arrived, so we opened a few bottles ready for the evening’s BBQ which was delicious. On Sunday morning we went by coach to Oakham for a Treasure Hunt, then back to camp for the show and shine, before gathering together for the competition results and raffle. We packed away and left at about 4.30, having had a really great weekend.
The Annual Norfolk TSSC Fish and Chip Run to Cromer. Once again, we arranged to catch up with the convoy in Dereham and were pleased to see 5 cars arrive soon after us. The recent hot spell seems to have encouraged more classic car owners out onto the roads and after a pleasant drive down to the cliffs it was great to see a total of 18 cars on show. The sun remained warm as we ate our fish and chips down by the seafront but by the time we left, around 9.30, the warmth had gone, leaving Christina wishing she had brought a warmer jacket for the journey home. A really enjoyable evening and good to catch up with people we hadn’t seen for a while.
Following 3 weeks of non-stop work trying to get the house ready for our wedding, we had had a fantastic day but were both ready for a break. After cooking bacon rolls for those that turned up on Sunday morning and a doing a good tidy up we set off with the caravan. First stop was a one night treat at Lynford Hall Hotel. On the way we popped into Brick Kiln campsite to say goodbye to the RCC rally goers and other friends and ended up leaving with a “Just Married” sign on the back of the caravan.
After our first night at the hotel, we were soon heading along the M11 to the M25 and Dartford crossing. Our usual one or two beeps a journey had increased 10 fold thanks no doubt to the sign on the back.
Arriving at the pre-rally campsite we had chosen just outside Maidstone we started to realise how little prepared we were for our holiday. First trip would be a supermarket followed by car spares shop for some oil.
We had to pay an extra £2 for our new canopy but it was well worth it. Finally a bit of shade we could sit under instead of moving around the caravan as the sun went through its course.
So followed three days of total R’n’R interspersed with a trip to Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey and a wander around Maidstone.
Last day at the campsite and after getting told off for washing the car we hitched and took the slow road to the RCC rally at Fairfield Farm. Bravely parking the combo in the high street at Rolvenden we visited a small motor museum there. The museum housed mainly Morgans but there was also a rare Bampton caravan on display, which caught our interest.
We seem to be getting almost blasé about where we go and were we park with the combo as we stopped off at the Sovereign Light Cafe in Bexhill for some lunch and to pay homage to the Keane song. Again, parking on the side of the pavement.
This was followed by taking a combination of town centres and single track roads to our final destination, Fairfields Farm for the RCC rally.
This turned out to be a very restful weekend with the occassional cream tea and strolls around the area. The last day soon came around and after the usual coffee morning we set off home. Taking the side roads again we stopped off for a pub lunch in Eynsford. Yet again parking in the High Street. Then it was what appeared to be the long drive on the M25 and M11 to home.