Sunday, 15th April 2012

It is one of life’s puzzles, that we start the season of car shows and events, with what is probably the best of them all. Every year, a group of Triumph enthusiasts, from different car clubs, meet up at Avon Country Park, St. Leonards, in the New Forest.

This year, approximately 130 cars, of different ages and marques, including a few non-Triumphs, gathered at the designated time. It was difficult for the organisers to get everyone away on time, as there was so much to see, and many friends to meet. Most road junctions, roundabouts, etc., are controlled by marshalls, and where they are absent there is usually a sign to keep us on the right track.

This year  I somehow became ‘the one in front’. My thoughts as we turned out of the car park, ‘will we see you again’, as John and I are notorious for getting lost. My one consolation though was that after the half-way stop, someone else would take over . . . fingers crossed.

We knew the first bit of the journey, having done it many times in the past, out of the lane, turn left down to next roundabout, back to the Avon junction, straight over – from there on I relied solely on my navigator, but the boy did well! We passed many familiar name places, and some that were new to us, such as Verwood, Fordingbridge, Ringwood and Godshill. As with all good maps, we were directed by pub signs, which are easy to spot. Having passed Sandy Balls, we were straight on to the Fighting Cocks, and being a lady, I decline to make any comment, but privately wondered if they were in some way connected! More familiar places were Cadnam, Boldrewood, Stoney Cross, with several cattle grids to rattle our teeth and tummies.

One of our favourite routes is along Rhinefeld Drive, which a bit later in the year, will have loads of rhododendrons in bloom. This year, there were Ferraris! Mostly red, of course, and we got to see them close up and personal! It was a tight squeeze, as none of the drivers were keen to go over the sharp edges of the narrow road. One person said he reckoned we had passed over a million pounds worth of cars! There were twelve of them, and most of the drivers spoke to us or waved as they went by.

Having negotiated a shallow ford, very slowly to avoid getting too wet, we then found our way to Brockenhurst Village Hall, where complementary tea and coffee awaited us. It was a relief to get there, followed by 129 Triumphs.! It took a while for everyone to get parked, ably assisted by the marshalls. At this point we should have covered 32.4 miles; but our odometer always reads more, and I think one or two cars may have taken an alternative route.

Having refreshed ourselves, I was asked to move my car so that two of the marshalls could get their cars out ahead of the pack. So taking myself well back backwards, I waited to see who would now be in the lead. Despite there being other cars nearer the exit, I was waved out first! Oh well, having done it once, I guessed we could do it again.

We passed by signs to New Milton and Sway (reminds me of dancing), Burley (where I think of bg strong men), Wooton and my favourite name of the tour – Tiptoe, but we didn’t see any tulips. We passed by the Rising Sun, and the Plough, and then we made our first, and hopefully only mistake: “Turn right on to Barton Common Road” I was told. But just before that turning there was a Barton Common Lane. “Is this it” I asked, it didn’t look correct, but my navigator was concentrating on the next set of instructions and automatically said “Yes”. So right we went, but all the other cars behind stayed where they were, and Barry Bryan called out, “That’s Barton Common Lane, we want Barton Common Road!” I should have known as there was no marshall there, so a quick 3-point turn, in someone’s driveway, and back out on the main drag, where everyone was still patiently waiting for me. We did get a cheer from the marshall at the next turning though!

From here on, we were getting close to the sea and an enjoyable ride down Marine Drive at Barton on Sea, on through to Highcliffe, and Friar’s Cliff, Purewell Road, and finally Christchurch Quay where we all parked up for our picnics, and more car gazing. This second part of the tour clocked up 17.8 miles, so just over 50 miles in total, which was good for us, as we had already done 80 miles to the start, and slightly more returning, so we had a total of 210+ miles altogether.

As well as the rally plaques to tie on our front bumpers, every entrant was given a metal one to commemorate the run, and finally there was the a prize-giving, voted for by the drivers.

Dare I say it, but I think this was the best run ever. The weather wasn’t as good as in previous years, and it was quite cold and windy, especially at Christchurch, but the shorter tour suited us better. As mentioned at the top of this article there were approximately 130 cars, the highest number so far since the run was reintroduced.

The reputation of this event is spreading, and drivers come from all over the country, some staying overnight at a hotel, or at Mum and Dad’s guest house!

Finally, a great big THANKYOU is due to all the organisers. I dare not mention names in case I forget anyone, but a lot of planning goes into this event, with people ‘doing the route’ to make sure that we don’t go wrong. There is the collating of all the entry forms, and sending out numbers to individuals for the run; there are also the people who book us in, and the lady on the megaphone keeping us updated with information, and getting a team of marshalls together, to wave us through. Everything went smoothly – a sign or good organisation.

Hope to see you all next year!

Val McMillan



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