The M.G. Car Club 'Y' Register
Spring Run 2008 - Sunday 11 May 2008
By Jerry Birkbeck
The weekend of 10th/11th May marked the 11th Annual Spring Run and the 2nd Annual Dinner. It had been agreed by the Register Committee that following the success of the Dinner held to mark the Diamond Jubilee of the Y that this format ought to be followed. There was also a hope that the organisers could 'get the weather right' after the heavy rain which dampened those present last year — but not their enthusiasm!
Organising an event involves many decisions from choosing the weekend, the venue, affordable hotel accommodation and other matters. The date is always a Committee decision and has to recognise that there are going to be competing attractions. Our chosen time clashed with the 25th Anniversary of the Regency Run together with an event organised by the Midlands Centre of the MGCC and some highly personal milestones that members were drawn to. As a result we 'lost' 5 — 6 regular attendees. We also may have had more had I done a later promotional push but it was not to be. However, the maximum number of vehicles that Kelmscott Manor (our finishing point) could accommodate was 40 — which we reached — so perhaps it all turned out right on the night.
Those who have been involved with arranging hotel accommodation will know how difficult it can be to find reasonably priced hotels that can also cater with a large number of people. The Cotswolds, where the majority of our Spring Runs have been set, is a hugely popular tourist location. It is also relatively central for many of our participants who this year came from as far a field as North Yorkshire, Lancashire, London, Sussex, the Isle of Wight, Hampshire
and Somerset. They were complemented by owners based more locally — Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.
When planning the event last September I had hoped to use a large hotel near Cheltenham which I knew well from acting in Murder Mysteries and had also been used by The T Register in 2001. However, inquiries with them ruled this out as the buildings were about to go through a major refurbishment (although this is still to happen!).
Nonetheless, a trawl through the internet brought up Stratton House Hotel, Cirencester which is part of the Best Western chain of hotels. They had 39 rooms so I reserved 25 with participants making their arrangements direct with the hotel.
Once I had a base I could then look for a suitable finishing venue within a 30-35 mile radius. Another trawl through the 'net' provided me with a few National Trust properties and Kelmscott Manor, near Lechlade. This looked a fascinating location as it has once been the home of William Morris, the well known 19th Century designer and socialist. However, it is not open on Sundays. Nevertheless, discussions with the Manor encouraged them to open up the grounds and gardens
exclusively to us on the Sunday.
One of the benefits of choosing an NT property or interesting venue is the added value to those travelling with the Y owner. Rather than merely having to look at a number of cars parked in a field there is something else to visit!
The Y Register Committee, other than agreeing the date, is very good in leaving me to organise the weekend which is very useful. Over the years Jo and I have always taken the opportunity to visit both the start and finish stops. We were both impressed with the Hotel and had worthwhile discussions with the staff at Stratton and Kelmscott.
Over the years we have found that a journey of no more than 45-50 miles is sufficient for most participants. We chose the route using Ordnance Survey Maps, and where appropriate some local knowledge, selecting minor roads as far as possible. Jo was responsible this year and sorted out an excellent way round some very different areas of the Cotswolds. It passed through several different landscapes and some stunning villages. Once we had agreed this it was forwarded to the Area Liaison Officer for the Motor Sports Association of the RAC. He suggested some minor amendments and I was then able to produce the route book. I use the 'Tulip System' which is simple and easily understood by even those who are not 'map literate' . An extract of the map covering the area is also included.
Saturday — The Arrivals
All participants are sent a route book, which also includes a description of the vehicles taking part, instructions for the day and a rally board. By the day we had 54 for Dinner and 45 staying overnight.
What is especially exciting is seeing the cars turning up during the afternoon.
Some arrived remarkably early. Roy and Sue Clapham in their splendid YA were among the first with their journey from Cheshire taking just under six hours. By 6.00pm Murray and Christine Grainger (YA) completed the 21 cars expected that evening. There was a mouth watering selection of YA's, YT's and YB's plus a couple of interlopers - Bill Wakefield's VA Tourer and Jerry and Jo Birkbeck's TA.
The superb weather - goodness me what a change — allowed us to sit out in the sun having tea and a few beers. The hotel had kindly left us a croquet set — and I had suggested perhaps a game between YA and YB owners — but oh no! The spirits were raised and we ended up with an International match. Though it may have been informal it wasvery keenly contested! The rules, quickly picked up by Mike Silk (YT), were followed by the two teams participating - Dave Lawrence's Invitation International Select (Dave- from South Africa), David Pelham (YA) and Sue Silk) and Mike's Marauders (Mike Silk, Jo and Jerry Birkbeck). In spite of efforts from the home team Dave's IIS ran out winners in Stage 1.The aim being to hold Stage 2 early the following morning. This did not happen — was it even planned?
So the International Select won the non-existent trophy, and seemed to ignore the Stratton House Rules that the Marauder's were playing to — like kicking the opposition ball as far from the hoop as possible! Good fun though. David Pelham showed a distinct forte for the game with some well judged 'hoops', whilst the 'Marauders' lacked the determination and just could not get the Select side to adhere to local rules. Of course Croquet can be a distinctly vicious affair so it was good to see that all present played it a spirit of friendliness!
The warm evening sun continued and at 730pm 54 guests sat down to an excellent meal in a room made available for our exclusive use. President Dennis Doubtfire made a worthy speech thanking all those present for attending. Later in the evening Peter Sharp read out a splendid poem on 'Y buy a Y' — which hopefully will appear in print in due course. The evening was completed with a quiz prepared by Andrew and Arlene Coulson, which had to be handed in by breakfast. Those who went to France five or more years ago will recall his fiendishly difficult quiz —which Andrew thought was quite easy! This one, though not easy, focussed on the Y with some more difficult general knowledge questions. The results were announced at the end of the day at Kelmscott.
Sunday — 11th Spring Run
Gosh what a fantastic day — no rain this time but wall to wall sunshine! The boys were out in the car park early, cleaning, washing, greasing and oiling (the cars of course). During the early morning more cars arrived so that by 11.00 am we had 30 Y types present plus a J2, a PA (owned by Dave Rowland who also has a YB), a TC and Brian Mellem (who has a YA) in a TF. All these superb cars made their way through Jo's fascinating route arriving at Kelmscott from 2.00pm onwards).
Whilst some took an opportunity to visit the house, others chatted about Y experiences. Peter and Suzie Arnell, David Hague, Jack and Molly Murray, Ted Gardner and Neil Cairns undertook a brisk business in regalia sales. Many of us took tea later in the afternoon before the crowd gathered to hear the outcome of deliberations over 'Which cars (Y Types) would you like to take home'. These resulted in the following awards being given:
Roy and Liz Clapham in ESV 518 Chassis No Y5986
Last Years Winner at Charlecote Park
Mike and Sue Silk in IR 4304 Chassis No YT/EXR/2744
Alan Pratt in UFC280 Chassis No YB1497
Each year an award is made to an individual(s) who against all diversity has made a huge effort before and during the run. Known as the
Murray and Christine Grainger in their YA KXJ 912 Chassis No Y5100
They bought their car last year and as first time Y owners have experienced the joy and angst of owning such a splendid car. Which you can read about in Murray's blog about Clara (their YA) on the Y Register website: www.mgytypes.org .They set out from London at 9.00 am on Saturday morning and after being relayed back home by the AA to fix an electronic ignition system (the old unit was replaced), they set off again and broke down with a cooling problem at Abingdon. They sorted that and arrived at the hotel at 6.00pm. They then made Kelmscott and got home to London with no problems. Well
done to the three of you!
Andrew and Arlene's Quiz
Andrew and Arlene kindly donated a bottle of wine as a prize (Sharrow 2006) and this was won by Mike and Sue Silk
Finally an award of a Rally Plaque was made to Dave Lawrence (the author of 'Let there be Y's' to thank him for his presence and his role in winning the International Croquet Match
This wrapped up an excellent weekend blessed by fantastic weather, some great people and some outstanding cars.
To enlarge the pictures, double click on them.