This year we had an excellent start with the SUNNY STONELEIGH show over the early May Bank holiday weekend. Yes wonder upon wonder the weather was actually really good for the first time in ages. No shivering over the barbeque, standing under umbrellas in the pouring rain or waking up to be greeted with cans of coke frozen solid.
Andy and I as usual set out bright and early to set up camp. Would we find the enormous mound on our pitch this year (by the way on our return last year we were approached by several off road clubs asking us to switch sites, they fancied parking a car on top of the mound)!!! But when we arrived it had been flattened.....................Gone........Good...
We duly started to set up our tent and work out where all the other campers would be able to pitch and where the marquee might be erected.
We were hoping that Darren would turn up that day so we could put his marquee up early but as the day wore on and others arrived we decided that maybe he wasn’t coming so the two gazebos went up instead. We needed some protection, just in case!!
Not many campers this year, seems like the Merlin owners are succumbing to age, like the cars, and opting for luxury rather than adventure (mind you those in the village accommodation might not agree with the luxury bit)! Or maybe they are the wise and us the foolish. However Clive and Margaret arrived in their caravan and began setting up as well.
Would we need to shelter in their van like last year we wondered? With great surprise we found the weather was being kind to us and even managed to erect the gazebos with no problems.
Eventually the usual Saturday gatherers arrived for the weekend and we were able to get to meet those we hadn’t seen since last year and have a leisurely barbeque in the evening. No pressure with any business, just a matter
of relaxing. Even John and Margaret Ellis arrived, I thought for a moment they were going to camp!! But they had other events organised for the rest of that weekend so they decided to join us just for the day.
Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny. It was looking good and we all began preparing the gazebos with various banners and bunting and a few balloons as usual. We were ready for the onslaught in no time.
Moooo!!!! Get me a lump of dead cow.!!
Darren arrived late morning but as the weather was holding we did not put his marquee up as well. However, as he has moved to a smaller property he has no room to keep it and has kindly donated it to the club. We thank him very much on behalf of all the members. Mind you it means Margaret and Clive have got to turn up every year as we can only carry it in their caravan!! Alice and Bruce arrived all the way from Bonnie Scotland, brought their own mini Barbie, I think Bruce is trying to cook their supper but hand may have helped!
We were hoping that with the good weather we would have a great turnout, this proved to be right and on the Sunday we had 29 cars all told.
Sunday is AGM day so those on the committee and other members trooped off to the conference room to discuss all activities last year.
All present committee members were re-elected (come on you others, please join us)!! There is a separate AGM report in the newsletter, so I won’t bore you with a repeat.
Those members who will be joining us for the trip to Scotland this year were given final details; all we have to do is pack and go. I’m sure there will be a full report in due course.
We hope that Newark will be supported as well as last year and the weather better.
The Henley weekend looks very popular so we are expecting a bigger turnout this year.
I asked for volunteers for the August bank holiday so we will have to wait to see if anything is organised.
John Winn kindly offered to organise the September Hotel weekend and all those who are going (or in case this comes out after) went will have a great time I’m sure. Andy and I will be in Italy so will not be able to make it.
Barry had organised the production of new bar badges, bonnet badges and window stickers and details were given for these.
After the AGM we were able to get back to the stand and carry on with the club business.
Most members renew their membership fee (still cheap at £7) at Stoneleigh so it gets a bit hectic at times. Apologies if you feel we don’t talk to you all enough but stay for the BBQ and we’ll soon make amends.
We had quite a few T-Shirts (or tea shirts as it said on my posters, I didn’t write them, honest)! We managed to sell most of them at a knock down price of £1.50; if yours has now disintegrated after several washes at least they make good dusters!
We took an amazing number of orders for the badges and by now most of you will have received them and hopefully be quite pleased with the quality. Our bonnet badge has been duly stuck on the car and it looks great, the other badge had faded so badly. Orders can be placed by logging onto the website at www.merlinoc.org.uk
Dave Harrison has done a great job of managing this site and it has definitely increased awareness of the club and its members.
Please look at it and contribute if you have anything to say. I digress, back to Stoneleigh.
Sunday night is BBBQ- BIG BARBECUE NIGHT. We would love more of you to stay, and now we have the new marquee I promise it will be cosier. This year however the weather was so good most of us were in T-shirts well after dark.
The usual meats and salads were brought by our members and enjoyed with copious amounts of liquid (some non alcoholic). These were expertly torched on the BBQ as per normal (some carbon is good for the digestion so I am told)!
We were entertained by Nadia and her glowing sticks which were made into halos and bangles.
Dave and Roma often bring a pudding for all to share but this year it was a delicious home made Damson Gin, I hope I got that right.
Mel one of the Geordie lads had a little too much I think and fell over the tent pegs. But he was up and at it again without blinking!!
Everyone had a really good evening until it dwindled to the last stalwart few, then even I had to give in, for tomorrow was another day!
Monday was a little disappointing as there were only 16 cars in all, but over the whole weekend it was a really good turnout.
We carried on with the usual Merlin business and signed up a few new members over the weekend. The weather stayed fine and gradually as people drifted away we relaxed for the last few hours until it was time to pack up everything until next year.
Summary of Stoneleigh
E njoy a
L uxurious (those in the hotel)
I nexpensive (apart from those in hotel) and begin
N ew friendships that will last a lifetime
S ee you next year
All that is left to say is thanks to all who have helped over the past year and welcome to all members for the future. I hope you will have as much fun as the rest of us in the club. We look forward to seeing you next year and at other activities throughout the year.
Best wishes Helen
PS Our friends had just bought a new MGF (unfortunately just before they went bust) Diane and Malcolm always come over on Sunday, we used to bring their son Philip with us from age 10 to 18. He has now more important priorities than cars although capable of combing both.
Anyway they were getting ready to leave and Malcolm being a fairly tidy person decided to put his jacket in the boot. You guessed it. His keys were in his jacket pocket and you can only get access to boot from inside the car. But the car doors were also locked.!!
A call went out to the AA but when they arrived an hour later all they could do was to break into the car. Not wanting to damage the car it was decided that they take our Zsara home to Nottingham and return the next day with spare keys. A little embarrassing as Malcolm had been discussing just this situation with Clive earlier in the evening.!!!!.
Nadia thought it very funny and whilst waiting for him to return the next day set out to put posters all over his car reminding him of what not to do.
You may recall that for a change we headed north of the border for the spring holiday.
Bruce and Alice worked hard to do all our initial shopping and plan endless visits and activities. Imagine how impressed we all were when he turned up with a bottle of his own label whisky.
( But we still have our name on the bottle to.)