Running Board Rally - Henley on Thames 2004
The next event in our activity calendar was to join in with other kit car clubs at the Running Board Rally in July.
Andy & I were a little late in arriving!!
All started off well, we had plenty of time so at about 1.30 Andy got the car out of the garage ready to hitch the trailer to it.
The trailer was all packed and ready to go or so we thought. All we needed to do was to take the locking wheel clamp off. But where was the key?? After searching in every cupboard and drawer, trying every key in the house we came to the conclusion that the only wheel clamp key that we had must have been on the Merlin key ring with all the other Merlin keys------which had been stolen sometime in June. We had managed to get replacement keys for everything else, but not given a thought to this one. Typical just when you need it.
So what to do, It was about 2.30pm by now. Crow bar, only thing for it. Andy tried to crow bar the clamp off, no go. “Let the tyre down I say” “and maybe it will work then”. Knowing that this would mean a trip to the garage to inflate it again Andy did so with some reluctance. It did work but the tyre came off the rim so that we would have to use the spare one. This needed inflating properly too. Never mind it was by now nearly two sweaty hours later and Andy was getting more and more annoyed.
So annoyed that he forgot how he usually hitches the trailer, which is by backing the car up to the trailer, but instead he took the trailer to the car, hitched it up and backed the whole unit out of the drive. The inevitable happened, the trailer turned and the sharp bit took a nice little gash out of the paintwork.
After thumping the tyres, walking round the car about ten times and saying we’re not going anywhere now!!!! only perhaps not as politely I managed to persuade him that it wasn’t that bad. “Lets go to the garage and get it pumped up and just go”
So at about 5pm in all the teatime traffic we set off at last. It was a quiet journey; at least it was in the car. The traffic was dreadful but undaunted we carried on.
When we eventually arrived it was nearly 8pm and the first thing we got was a note left with the organiser from Claire and Chad. They had been there since about 4pm waiting for us to arrive and had finally given up on us so we would see them on Saturday. Sorry for the wait.
Thoughts of a leisurely barbecue disappeared and a trip to a local fish & chip shop became very tempting and quick. After our meal and a bottle of wine we retired for the night wondering who else would turn up.
Saturday brought with it the hopes of better weather and hopefully more Merlin owners.
Well we did have a few, Chad & Claire arrived and then PaulCluney. It was just like the famous five; we would have to do our best to keep the flag flying on behalf of the club. The organisers handed out the quiz; this was a musical one this year. Then there was the treasure hunt, so we all set off to follow the clues around the villages. The day had stared to heat up now and after a few miles a local hostelry was found to replenish our batteries.
We managed to complete the treasure hunt and answer all the questions, submitting two entries between us. Who would get them all right this year?
We even managed to complete the music quiz, with a little bit of help from a friend. I telephoned Margaret Ellis to find out if she & John were coming over. Just as an afterthought I asked her if she knew how many keys there were on a standard piano. “Just a sec “she says, “I’m standing by one, I’ll count them now”. What luck eh!
Well, all though there were only a few of us we had a thoroughly great day, the weather having perked up and we decided to have a barbecue between us. Claire & Chad eventually left for their hotel, and Paul went home leaving Andy & I to finish the bottle and get ready for the next day. Will anyone else come tomorrow? was the thought.
We weren’t to be disappointed. Before we were up and about Amanda, Mark & Nadia arrived with some delicious pastry style breakfast, then Dave Daniels from Wales turned up followed by Colin & Hazel Smith from the Isle of Wight. At last more troops, just in time as the organisers were getting teams ready for games of boules and of rounders.
We paired off for the boules challenges and Chad, Mark & I were co-opted on to the Pilgrim owners rounders team as they didn’t have quite enough volunteers and we certainly didn’t have enough for a team. I think the last time I played rounders was in the eighties. I had forgotten just how hard it was to hit the ball; I’m glad it was only a tennis ball.
After the gentle games of boules were completed, we didn’t win by the way, came the more ambitious game of rounders. It was finally our turn to play, and after over an hour of exhausting hitting and running and trying to catch the ball the Pilgrims + Merlin’s came in second place overall. We were quite pleased, as at the end of the game us three Merlin members were the only ones in the team left still in.
Everyone involved thoroughly enjoyed the games; it was great to see all ages playing together, the kiddies often running for some of the older relatives.
It was soon time for the line up of cars, not as many as normal but all the same quite impressive. Everyone parked their cars and prepared for the prize giving and tea & biscuits, which the organisers always provide.
Would we be able to beat the previous years prize wins this year, we would have to wait and see.
There was quite a bit of success. The Merlin owners won the music quiz, Claire & Chad were runners up in the treasure hunt, Colin & Hazel won best interior and Andy won best exterior (did the judge have his guide dog or did someone have their hand over the scratch, -see beginning of tale)
Members also won a few raffle prizes, so that all in all with only a handful of cars there, we did quite well. Lets hope there are a few more of us next year to carry on the tradition.
Although we had had a downpour during the ceremonies, the weather again cleared up and I decided to take the plunge, literally, and went for a swim in the pool with Nadia. After half an hour or so and lots of blue lips we managed to get Nadia out.
Andy & I decided to stay on at the campsite for another night and so with the late arrival of John & Margaret we enjoyed a quiet drink back at the tent.
Eventually all the other members left for home and we prepared for a night out in Henley. We took the opportunity of partaking in an ‘all you can eat for £15 each’ Chinese restaurant, and duly pigged out.
Monday morning came bright and sunny and after decamping we decided to visit a National Trust property on the way home.
Not quite sure what this is but he had a very comfortable weekend.
We located about three properties that were on our way back up to Nottingham and decided to have a quick bite to eat at one of them. It was about midday by now and we would be ready for lunch soon. The first property was closed; we missed the turning of the next so decided to call at a pub instead in the next village. The first pub we found was on fire attended by three fire engines, there goes our lunch we thought. Next pub we found was closed.
OK only thing for it is the nearest Little Chef, the ladies room was becoming more important than the food. Eventually we found it amongst a lot of rebuilding works and were greeted with” we are not doing any food because there are no staff and the coffee machine may not be working either” No it wasn’t Friday the 13th or April Fool's day. We wondered why the place was so empty. However the coffee machine was working so at least we got a drink. After all this we decided to give the National Trust a miss and get on home. At least it was fine weather.
Arrived home safely and with time to reflect on the weekend. It had gone really well apart from the beginning and end; a sort of sandwich with the filling being the actual stay in Henley which as usual had been excellent. We look forward to next year’s event and hope that more members will be able to join us.