August 15th and 16th
After months of planning, researching and publishing amendments to Brian’s (Lee) original route on the MSCC website, wrestling with the vagaries of obtaining an MSUK exemption licence, liaising and consulting with 5 different MSUK Regional Liaison Officers (RLOs) and 5 different police forces, and working with Scenic Car Tours on the hotel booking, the 15th finally arrived. It started early for me, as Ian Stevenson and I, as single Morgan drivers, were taking two very important passengers and were picking up Sue Busby and Philippa Addenbrooke en route to Repton.
I left home about 8.15 to make sure that we were at Repton for 10.30 so that I could sign everyone on, and start them off on Brian’s lovely run. All started well, and we pulled under the arch at Repton school just after 10.30 to find Jim and Jill Kirby already there, along with the lovely Glyn.
The lovely Glyn, for those of you who have never had the pleasure of working with the MSUK RLO for Derbyshire, had been very helpful when I contacted him to start the exemption certificate process and given me lots of really useful advice, but I hadn’t expected to see him at the start. It was only after the majority of the cars had signed in and left that the penny dropped that he was there to check that I had actually got everything right and was doing everything I’d said I was going to do. I’m pleased to say that DonMog passed with flying colours – thank you everyone for being so helpful at the start.
With 13 MOGs, 1 Porsche and 1 tin top we were a group of 30, including our newest member Hazel Cawley-Nash who had only joined about 3 weeks earlier and her brand new, mat black Plus Four caused quite a stir. Sadly, Martyn and Helen Davison’s Mog had developed a problem the previous week and despite moving heaven and earth to get the part delivered from France in time, they had the ‘frustrating’ (that’s the polite description for it) news on the 13th that the wrong part and been sent, hence the 1 tin top. It was great to see the cars assembled after all the planning, and people set off in 2s and 3s.
Ian and I were due to leave last so that I could make sure that everyone had got off, but when we came to start up, for a few minutes, I wasn’t sure if we were going to actually make it. Ian’s beloved Millie, a 1986 4/4, usually so reliable, just didn’t want to start. After a number of attempts her temperamental starter motor decided to kick in and we were off! Sue & I in the lead, with Sue doing a sterling job as navigator. It was great to be bowling along the roads in what turned into a lovely sunny morning and early afternoon. Cross country to the A5, I was keeping a careful eye on my rear view mirror to make sure I didn’t lose Ian and Philippa. Sue will vouch for me when I say that according to ALY’s speedo, I really wasn’t going over 50 on the clear roads, however, the accuracy, or lack thereof, of Morgan speedos is legendary, as according to Ian & Philippa, Millie’s was telling them that I was doing more like 55 to 60, which was only really critical once we were on the A5, when they came speeding up behind us at one point, flashing lights madly having been trying to indicate for a few miles the need for an early stop to deal with the calls of the ever present condition of Morgan Bladder! Obviously with the directness of the A5 I had stopped being quite so vigilant on the mirror as I was at the start of the journey. We pulled into the possible lunch stop just before Weedon at the Heart of the Shires centre around 1.30 ish, to find most, if not all, of the cars already there, and the sun had really come out by now. Little did we know that this was one of Philippa’s favourite places, and whilst I was concerned that we seemed to lose her whilst we
were waiting for our table at the restaurant, I needn’t have worried. Those of you who know Philippa well, will not be at all surprised to hear that she had gone shopping, returning just in time for us to be called for our table with purchase in hand! The only thing that slightly marred a lovely lunch stop for me was that it appeared that we had ‘lost’ Hazel our newest member.
The arrangement at Repton had been that she would meet up with Richard and Jenny Davies just south of Ashby to tag along behind them, and not be travelling on her own, but having seen Richard and Jenny at Heart of the Shires I discovered that they had missed each other. A few texts later I was feeling somewhat happier when I was able to establish that she was OK and well on her way.
With some trepidation we held our breath while Ian started up after lunch but all was well, Millie started first time and we were back on the road. The route once we were of the A5 and the A43, was through some lovely countryside and villages, with especially good views of the Corinthian Arch at Stowe – a National Trust property which is well worth a visit and some people stopped at to walk around the beautiful Capability Brown grounds.
The lovely villages and roads came thick and fast now, but the weather was starting to change, and we’d had a few spots, but nothing major by the time we finally arrived at Banbury Cross – the final stretch of the run being up the road that came straight up to it. A lovely run that we had all enjoyed.
From the Cross it was only about 3 miles to the Wroxton House Hotel, our overnight stop, where it was reassuring to see virtually all the cars already parked up in the car park. We just had time to check in, dump our bags in our rooms, and meet in the bar for a quick drink before going up to perform the transformation from travel stained, weary Morganeers into 1951, well turned out civilised hotel guests looking forward to an Anniversary dinner!
Scenic had done us proud in their negotiating with the hotel, and the manager for the evening sought me out before I had to look for her, talked me through the arrangement for our dinner, took on board my requests and suggestions and was very attentive all evening to make sure that we had what we wanted, when we wanted it. Everyone entered into the spirit of the 1951 theme, and looked very smart. It was a tough decision to identify 4 candidates as winners of 4 categories (decided on the night), but ultimately I was very happy to be able to award the following: Most Glamorous – Jean Lee; Most Dapper – Graham Edwards; Most Authentic – Penny Thompson; and sharing the Naughtiest – Woody and Ian Stevenson.
Monday morning came, and it had obviously been raining during the night, but by the time we’d all had breakfast and were loading up it had stopped. Having reflected overnight about the unreliability of his starter motor and not wanting to end up stranded with Philippa to be concerned about, Phil Royle stepped forward and took Philippa for the return leg of the run, with Ian heading straight home from Wroxton with fingers and a few other things crossed that the starter didn’t totally give up the ghost before he got home. Philippa was in 7th heaven,
arriving with one gentleman and going home with a second! There was a definite twinkle in her eye when I dropped her walker off later that day and she told me about the raised eyebrows of her neighbours having seen her leave in one Mog with one guy, and then arrive back with a 2nd guy in a different Morgan!
Sue and I hit the road braving the possibility of showers and had the hood down all the way back, enjoying the Warwickshire roads and the Fosse Way drive back to the A5 then home. I was able to breathe easily the next day when I’d heard from everyone that they had got back OK. Sue and I certainly enjoyed the whole 2 days, and from the feedback that I’ve had from everyone else, so did they. It was so good to be back travelling in the Morgan again and meeting up with Morgan friends or an enjoyable evening, and it was good to be able to welcome some of our newer members too.
Thank you to Brian for having the idea of an Anniversary run and the effort it must have taken to put it together during lock down, and to everyone who joined us, for making it such an enjoyable event.
Post Script: I am pleased to report that Ian did manage to get home OK and since being back has had a new starter motor fitted.