Running Board Rally
If we were a little disappointed by the Newark turnout it was quite the reverse at the Running Board Rally. This is the July event in our activity calendar where we join in with other kit car clubs for a fun packed weekend at Henley on Thames.
After last years problems whilst setting out (see Dec 2004 newsletter) we decided to get there a little earlier this time on the Friday.
We managed to get away on time for once and had a very comfortable journey down. The weather was wonderful and we thought we would probably be the first of the Merlins to arrive. But no, what do we find but Clive and Margaret and Dave and Sue all sitting quietly by their pitched tents enjoying a cool drink.
Nothing for it but to join them. After a quick bite to eat and a cool drink too, we started to erect our tent.
The site wasn’t very full but we were hoping that more clubs would turn out as was usual.
We settled down for the evening for a BBQ and to prepare for the Saturday Treasure Hunt and Music Quiz. The weather was really warm and we all stayed up quite late catching up on events over the past months.
Saturday morning came bright and sunny. Hurray for a wonderful bright hot day.
Later that morning Dave and Daphne arrived in their Merlin. They weren’t camping but staying in a motel nearby.
So far that was four Merlins, one up on last year so far, but we were sure that over the weekend there would be more.
Once we were all ready we left to start the treasure hunt through the lovely local villages.
We did quite well with the clues; some were very obtuse and called for some lateral thinking. Only thing for it was to stop at a small public house and find refreshment to awaken those parts that needed it
Found a lovely little place and commandeered a small round table with attached stools. We sat down to enjoy our meal with a see-saw effect at the table. Every time somebody moved the opposite seat started to wobble. However being used to being thrown about in the Merlin we soon overcame this and managed to balance quite well. Suitably refreshed we left on foot to seek out more answers to the quiz before carrying on in the cars to the last destination on our sheets.
On our return to the campsite we discovered how hot it had been when all the red bits on our shoulders started to burn. Time for more sun cream.
We all mulled over our answers and decided that we had four good entries to hand in the next day.
Time for the music quiz, settling back with a drink or two helped release the thought processes. Dave phoned one of his children for a little help! But after a few hours we had managed to complete this as well.
It was now time for another BBQ and again the weather was kind to us. Several pork chops, fillet steaks, chicken portions later feeling well podged we all prepared to visit the last night of the Henley traditional illuminated boat parade. This was just a short walk and tumble over the fences on the other side of the road. Many old boats take part and they are covered in lights and decorations. A very pretty sight.
After all the excitement we returned to our usual recumbent state to finish off the evening with a few more drinks in the moonlight.
We had to reserve our strength in readiness for the inter club cricket match.
Sunday morning arrived bright and sunny, the Merliners arose bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for the day.
Pete Webb and his mate arrived in their white Merlin, another prospect for the team. Colin and Hazel Smith arrived plus doggy, from the Isle of White.
We were expecting a few more members to compliment the team but by 10.30 I was getting worried when Mark, Amanda and Nadia hadn’t arrived. Mark was a key player in the team, (he could actually hit a ball) and we were a bit thin on players.
We had to have six players. Volunteers were Me, Dave Russell, Pete Webb, Clive Pinker and Hazel was coerced into playing. Where was Mark?
The organisers were getting a little agitated but I kept promising that the team would be ready shortly. After a quick phone call I ascertained that the Dean party were within minutes of arriving and was able to placate the opposing team. They were getting a bit twitchy by now.
No sooner had Mark parked up but he was dragged out onto the pitch and a coin was tossed for the game to start. (A quick swig of pop to revive him after his journey)
It was reported that the other team The Pilgrims, had a real player amongst them, and boy did they take it seriously!! I don’t pretend to know or understand the rules of cricket but each player had 6 balls in an over for the game. We won the toss and decided to field first.
They certainly kept us running and soon had a tidy score (can’t remember exactly what) and we knew it would take some beating. Hazel nearly had her eye taken out with a ball, but the trooper she is she just shrugged it off and carried on.
It was soon time for us to bat. I was hopeless, bowled out on first ball. I didn’t even get a chance to touch the ball. The others were far more successful. There were some great hits by the boys; Hazel managed a good innings too. Mark had an injury to his hand so the wet sponge and plaster came into play. Nadia acted as runner for Pete who had a little trouble with running so all in all we did quite well. Lo and behold we beat the opposition by ONE run.
Alas there was an appeal. The Pilgrim team discovered that they had been bowling EIGHT balls per over instead of six. Now as far as I can see, this is an error on their part, we were too busy trying to hit the ball to kingdom come to count, but we agreed to play a decider game with just a few players. The score of the deciding game would be added to the original score.
We equalised their score and when added to the original we had WON, fair and square as far as we were concerned. The players by now were exhausted; the temperature was in the high 20’s. However the other team were still not happy, but gave in gracefully.
It was time for a well earned rest and late lunch. The game had gone on for so long we were all ravenous. That was soon remedied when Amanda opened her Tardis of a cool box. Pizzas, cakes, fruit, drinks, you name it she had it. The chocolate cake was delicious.
John and Margaret arrived in their recently rebuilt Merlin. (Second time in two years) John had unfortunately come to grief outside a Garden Centre in May, just before out Scottish trip. However he was now a dab hand at getting the car fixed (anyone with problems refer to John, I am sure he will give you plenty of advice, the best one, avoid it in the first place).
We all settled down for a relaxing chin wag and a quick drink before the end of the show where all the cars attending line up for a photo shoot and to be judged for various categories in the prize giving.
This is the embarrassing bit; well not really, we all worked hard and deserved the prizes but being called out for nearly all categories felt a bit strange.
First off, the most contentious was the Cricket Match trophy, I don’t think we heard too may boos.
Next came the Treasure Hunt Trophy. Andy & I had tied with another couple and were given a tie break question, “how many pubs did you pass on the treasure hunt”? Andy had said to the organiser before he asked the question “whatever the question is the answer is 17” However when we heard the question we were convinced there were a lot more and came up with a higher number. The other couple went a bit lower. What a surprise when the answer was 20. We should have stuck to our guns, but still we did receive the runners up trophy.
Next was the Music Quiz Trophy. Again Andy & I tied with another couple, however this time it was our own Dave & Daphne. Another tie break, “who started off the Live 8 concert”? I had actually seen the beginning and was able to answer quickly, “Paul McCartney”. So we received the winner’s trophy and the runners up trophy was presented to Dave and Daphne.
Then came the car categories. Hazel and Colin Smith were presented with the Best Exterior Trophy.
and Andy was presented with Best Vehicle Trophy, we are still gob smacked!
Dave Daniels was then presented with the Longest Distance to show trophy.
The draw for the raffle prizes came next. I think in all the Merlin Club members managed to win at least five prizes.
Now I don’t think that was a bad result. Will they invite us back next year?
The organisers thanked all those participating and told us that it had been touch and go whether the weekend would take place at all. Apparently they had not received too may applications by the due date and were uncertain if many would attend. However although there were not as many clubs there as in the past, the numbers were enough to make it a super weekend.
They also thanked the owner of the site who manages to keep it neat and tidy for us all. Eric who is constantly on the go whether it be grass cutting or emptying the bins has been the proud recipient of several baseball caps which Andy & I had been given. We make sure he has a new one every year. This year I also gave him a Cricket sun hat, I think he quite enjoyed wearing it!!
It was time for us to cool down now, so I opted to go for a quick swim with Nadia. The rest of the club commandeered a table at the poolside to enjoy a relaxing drink before setting off home. Andy & I had decided to stay another night. After nearly getting drowned by all the kids in the pool I left Nadia with her “new” friends in the water and joined the adults for my drink.
Soon it was time for those departing to leave and we all said our goodbyes, knowing that it may be next year before we see them again. Another super weekend was had by all.
Margaret and John were going into Henley for a meal before setting off for home so Andy & I joined them at the Pub in due course for a nice meal.
Not quite sure whether this is supposed to mean anything but Johns Merlin is not ready for the scrapheap yet!!
You may remember my missive last year and the problems we found finding any N.T.properties open for us to visit or any eating places well I can report that this year we had no such problems. We called in at West Wycombe Village and West Wycombe Park.
The village had cottages and Inns dating from the 16th to 18th centuries. We found a lovely old pub for a spot of lunch before visiting the Hall. I also bought some sweets from an old fashioned sweet shop, there were hundreds of jars full of sweets that I could remember eating when I was a small child. I even managed to find Tiger Nuts; no they have nothing to do with tigers!
Up at the Hall we enjoyed the rococo landscaped gardens and the neo-classical mansion. Apparently the mansion has been used for some classical TV and film programmes. The garden was created by Sir Francis Dashwood, founder of the Dilettanti Society and the Hellfire Club. (Very fitting for the Merlin Club I thought)
After a quick coffee we made our way home with no problems, well apart from the fact that Andy found he had broken his seat. Another welding job to do!!
If you are considering coming to the Running Board Rally next year please let me know, it really is a fun weekend, I don’t know of anyone who has not enjoyed themselves. Two people can camp for just £18 (price this year) for the whole weekend; we arrived Friday and stayed until Monday. If you are not a camper, you may be able to find B&B accommodation, or in Reading there is a Motel complex of some kind. I know Dave and Daphne stayed there.
See you all next year