OUR AUTUMN RALLY SEPT. 2016

How do we manage it – we have 3 rallies a year similar format, but so different from one another. We certainly explore parts of the country which are unknown to most of the participants, on roads specially suggested to us to follow. Of course it was in theory Autumn, yet the scenery colours we might have rightly expected were at an early stage, with lots of trees still very green. Tree-lined roads were in abundance. We now know where the best surfaced roads in the UK are – they are near Winchester, whether an A road or a dotted track on the map,Extraordinary. We enjoyed a great deal of the one -vehicle wide roads actually. Norton Park Hotel near Sutton Scotney looked after us very well indeed. We had 35 Morris cars from 1914 to 1931 taking part, with 79 intrepid travellers no less. I again asked for volunteer scribes to write about the different driving segments of each day,and what follows are their offerings.   Margaret .

Hotel to coffee stop Saturday morning.

It was a leisurely start that morning, as we had been advised not to set off before 9 am.(we like that!). On route to Barton Stacy we caught a brief glimpse of a quaint church with a tiny grave yard, and a yummy mummy, baby on her back, dog on a lead, picking the first blackberries from the hedgerows. Residents of Barton Stacy collected sufficient money to repair the church wall. Close by was a rest bench for walkers with a magnificent view, and blackberries in abundance. Having done six miles we passed the Chilbolton Observatory, a facility for atmospheric and radio research. We drove through the Leckford Estate, near Longstock, which was very well maintained,so many rare and beautiful specimen trees bordering the road through. Also Danebury Hill Iron Age Fort with far reaching views all around, not forgetting the Dartmoor Ponies. For any one trying to score points in their I-SPY book of road signs, the unique ones surrounding the  Middle Wallop training areas would have gained you top marks, and were very large and impressive, but would anyone think of picking up stray metal objects… Close to Nether Wallop we noticed a military helicopter air lifting a load in a net, possibly practising as it was close to the airfield. The last leg before coffee at the Greyhound Pub at Broughton delighted us with numerous thatched properties.    Rod  & Jenny Nash.

On the road to our lunch stop.

Refreshed from coffee, and the cobwebs blown away after 25 miles in the Bullnose, we turned left out of the Greyhound car park. Just a few metres up the road in the middle of a grass triangle, one of many we were to see on the rally, was a wooden village signpost topped with beautifully carved Doves, a sight rarely seen these days, and especially on this rally of no signs! Onwards through Lockerley Estate past Lockerly Manor and an old Mill house, then over the 2 bridges in quick succession brought us into Mount Lane and Butlers Barn, but somehow I don’t think a Butler lived there. Then on to Doctors Hill dotted with thatched cottages and even more very nice looking expensive houses, we were definitely in Stockbroker belt. In Dunbridge by the Mill and railway crossing we had to drive very slowly and carefully past lots of beautifully toned bodies in Lycra. I tried very hard to avert my gaze, but must admit I found it very difficult to concentrate on the route. In Kimbridge there was more distraction on seeing the sign for Annie’s Tea room and judging by the amount of parked cars I think it must have been good, but it was far to early for cream tea. Passing Pucknall Farm, Peter, being the son of a Corn & Seed merchant, spotted a group of  lovely old farm buildings and a splendid half timbered granary on Saddlestones. A few miles further on over the rolling country side of the Test Valley, greeting us as we drove into the village of King’s Somborne, we saw Hop Fields, but we did not stop long to examine them as by now we were getting hungry, so we quickly pressed on to the village hall where a splendid WI lunch awaited us.            Dawn West & Peter Meecham.

Return to Hotel after Lunch.

Having dined well with the delicious cold meat luncheon platter prepared by the members of the King’s Somborne WI team in there new Village Hall, Sue and I took advantage of the optional route to Mottisfont Abbey before returning to the Hotel. We had never followed one country lane in a South East county, for about three and a half miles without a turning to the left or right, or indeed any houses! It was so surprising to be so close to larger towns, but so isolated amongst beautiful countryside.

Only two other members cars were parked in the National Trust car park during our visit, so we supposed the house and garden had either been visited by members in the past, or the desire to follow Brian and Neville’s routes back to the Hotel were preferred. Mottisfont  Abbey is not actually a derelict abbey, but a Tudor house built from the nave of the old abbey church, following King Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Parts of the old church can still be seen within the structure of the house, and the abbey’s 13th century cellar can still be visited under the east wing.

Following several ownerships, in 1934 Maud and Gilbert Russell, philanthropists of the arts, remodelled the interior of the house and stables and created an inspired walled rose garden, and later gifted the house to the National Trust in 1957. As usual, friendly volunteers were on hand to interpret the rooms – most being rather like a 1930′s film set, with period furniture borrowed from other National Trust houses! We were fortunate to cadge a lift on an electric buggy up to the famous walled rose garden, the volunteer driver being so impressed about our description of the club’s activities and cars that he ensured he was around at the end of our visit to hear more!

As time was getting on, we chose to follow the main roads back to the Hotel,(the Romans who built their road at what is now the A30 did not think ahead for low powered 4 wheel vehicles on their hills),but arrived at the Sutton Scotney petrol station at the same time as many other cars who had taken the ‘scenic route’ – so we’re afraid we cannot comment on their driving experiences! But I understand it included more twisty, winding roads under green tree arches and lots of “thank goodness we met that oncoming car their instead of back a bit where the road was so narrow”!

John & Sue  Hind 

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Hotel to coffee stop Sunday Morning.

The day started off with surprisingly dry and fine weather, in contrast to the rather pessimistic forecast from the previous day, although everything was still soaked from the heavy rainfall during the night. We accordingly left the hood up to dry out before folding it down at the coffee stop. Our first port of call was at the local petrol station at Sutton Scotney since we had realised from the previous day that in this area filling stations were as few as thatched roofs were plentiful. Back on the prescribed route, we immediately joined  that network of traffic-free minor roads so typical of those we had enjoyed the previous day. We passed through a number of picture-postcard villages, typical of these being Stoke Charity, with its watercress beds, the larger Kings Worthy, Martyr Worthy, and Easton, the latter being especially delightful. At this point, after passing over a cattle grid we were met by the alarming spectacle of being plunged into an area populated by fierce-looking but mild-mannered Highland cattle,(see picture,Two Bullnoses in Harmony). Then followed Itchen Abbas, situated on the River Itchen, whose regular visitors included Charles Kingsley, this village setting provided the inspiration for his classic novel ‘The Water Babies’; and also where Sir Edward Grey

(” The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”) spent the night fishing before then travelling the following day to London to announce the UK’s entry into the 1st World War. It was at this pointthat we joined a group of other cars, the nerves of whose navigators were apparently still suffering from their recent unexpected Close Encounters of the Furred Kind, such that they were all experiencing difficulties in interpreting the route sheets, resulting in much 3-point turning on single track roads. Fortunately, we were then joined by our General Secretary, who decided to guide us by sat nav to our coffee stop destination, the public house and brewery, aptly- named ‘The Flower Pots’ at Cheriton, which was also the venue for the BNMC ‘Best Rock Cake’ competition, won by Caroline O’Brien. (see pictures).         David Margaroni & Lynda Williams.

Back on the road to the Lunch stop.

Our vintage procession departed from the Flower Pots micro brewery, with a number of members carrying what looked suspiciously like dirty radiator water in a selection of different sized milk cartons; your guess is as good as mine as to their likely contents.. We soon found ourselves playing the role of support cars (or wild inconveniences, depending on your perspective) in the middle of a cycle road race. This carried both positive and negative aspects: on the downside, we found ourselves having to negotiate relatively technical sections of the route on what were now much busier and slower single-track roads; on the up side, the core BNMC success measure of ‘number of other road users overtaken’ saw a healthy uptick. Ironically, their directional arrows coincided with our chosen route too. Having successfully left the Tour de Hampshire behind (at least for the time being) and drifted casually through another one of the country’s watercolour-worthy collection of thatched cottages in the picturesque village of Beauworth, our mini-convoy found itself performing a u-turn having missed a stealthy junction heading towards Lower Upham. It was a good thing we did, too, as it enabled us to travel for about a mile with a (very) slow but steady procession of other Veteran and Edwardian cars passing us in the other direction; a lady in a front-mounted basket clearly issuing a challenge to the Cook’s dickie seat for most perilous passenger journey of the weekend. We continued to wind our way through the Hampshire countryside, passing a selection of seemingly imperturbable Shetland ponies and Old Winchester Hill Fort, where a number of the more adventurous members stopped to ascend the hillock and admire the sights. Those of us of a more sedentary persuasion were soon to be treated to a spectacular view of our own, with the long climb up Station Road yielding one of the most impressive vistas of the weekend. Alas, the extended climb had proven too much for the White and Poppe at this stage in the proceedings and, as we passed at the top of the incline, her radiator was performing a more than passable impression of the fountains at the Bellagio. With bellies rumbling, our procession moved through the parish of East Meon, which apparently played overnight host to the Parliamentarian soldiers in1644 before the Battle of Cheriton; a turning point in the English civil war. In more recent military history, the Parish was said to be the recipient of 38 high explosive bombs and an estimated 3,500 incendiary bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe during the second world war. The only loss of life, however, was suffered by an unfortunate pig. Leaving East Meon behind, we arrived in West Meon a mere three miles down the road, where we were greeted by the sight of a local cricket match taking place on the green, and where lunch had been prepared for us by local caterer, Angie Trenchard, at the village hall.               Tristan Garnons-Williams. 

Once again well fed we are back to the Hotel.  

After lunch we spotted storm clouds overhead so we put the hood up, and within minutes cloud passed so down came the hood only to be put up again within another few minutes! Then we set of on the route but found we were going south instead of north, so corrected ourselves and paid more attention! Driving through beautiful farmland it looked as though the farmers had done well as the harvest was all in apart from sweet corn, and the fields had been ploughed, and re-sown and new shoots were already showing. We saw the Watercress beds bur were not able to but any, as it was Sunday. After passing under the Watercress Line railway we diverted to Alresford station to have a better look at it. We were not disappointed! The train reminded David of the Southern Railway pre-1948 with a school’s class engine and green carriages in the station ready to go. While we were there we were approached by a man who was very enthusiastic about the Bullnose, having made an Airfix kit Bullnose as a boy – he owned several vintage motorbikes but thought he would trade them in for a restoration project. We enjoyed tea and cakes with him on the station platform,and then he followed us back to the Hotel to view the line up in the car park. This was the end of a really enjoyable weekend, a super hotel, excellent planning and well chosen routes through the countryside. The following day BB romped home along the A34 and we were back to reality.     David and Jean Howard.

 

Thank you scribes for your splendid and varied contributions.  And so another year’s vintage Morris motoring drew to a close. I am told it was a cracking weekend, so well done to Brian Chandler and Nevill Sibley for all there hard work, and the scenic routes they had chosen for us. We could not have asked for a better end to our year. Thoughts are turning to 2017 and discussions took place about meeting up again.   WILL YOU BE THERE?.

  

 

 

 

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