Guild enjoys first foray to France
On Sunday 27th October 2012 we were finally on our way to France taking 8 P4’s and 1 P5B.
After all our planning it was now happening,our committee had had countless meetings and Ken Newton was appointed as the organiser. He did all the bookings with the travel agents including our hotel accommodation in Portsmouth. Colin (Curly) Newton along with his wife and chief navigator, Jill planned the daily routes around Normandy (so we were sure of no disasters).Tony Brewster’s car was nominated to carry the spares and tools – enough to cover every eventuality. I was in charge of keeping a log on everything we did during the preparations and our time away.
This is our record of what we did, we hope you enjoy reading about the Rover P4 Drivers Guild Devon Branch run to Normandy.
At 10am 5 P4’s and Curlys P5B met at the Blue Ball Inn at Sidford, this is where we have our monthly meetings. Over coffee, folders with all the information were handed out, run plaques were issued and then we were on the road to Honiton to meet Colin and Jayne who had driven down from North Devon. Then it was onwards and upwards towards Portsmouth.
We stopped off for lunch at a beautiful Dorset pub called the Worlds End, this was booked en route (how did we ever manage without mobile phones), after an enjoyable and leisurely lunch we carried on with Tony Brewster leading the way. He had previously lived in Portsmouth for 10 years so we used his knowledge to get us to our hotel (who needs Sat Nav).
Along the way Peters’ car had been miss-firing so on arrival it was decided to change the plugs, a quick run around the block and everything seemed OK. We were then joined by Graham, Del and Liz from Bromsgrove as well as Adrian and Suzanne from Northampton. Every body was now present and we arranged to meet in the bar at 7pm to have a bite to eat and discuss what lay ahead for the next week.
Tony B lead the way to the ferry, after boarding we made our way to the lounge area and once we had set sail went for breakfast. After a very enjoyable crossing we left the ferry and headed for our first destination, Pegasus Bridge lead by Curly. The convoy arrived trouble free and we spent a very interesting and thought provoking one and a half hours in the ‘Memorial Pegasus’ war museum.
It was fantastic to see that the British engineering from years gone by was still going strong.
From here we headed for our Château at Le Molay-Littry, when stopping for fuel we drew considerable attention from the locals.
After a superb evening meal we retired to the bar for drinks and a natter before retiring to bed, a great day was had by all.
We woke up to a damp morning but proceeded towards Utah beach lead by Curly, thankfully the weather improved.We walked along Utah beach,
We also visited the war museum whilst there which Suzanne, who is American found particularly interesting, she said she “felt privileged to be able to see these things as many Americans would never have the chance”.
We set of for Arromanches for a light lunch and while here a coach full of Americans arrived and thanked us for bringing our lovely cars for them to see!
After lunch we were greeted by another gathering of Rover admirers before we headed back to our Château. That evening we had another superb meal washed down with plenty of wine, this evenings entertainment was arranged by Tony B (Ex Royal Navy PO ) some times known as Sin-bad. He decided we should all learn the sailors horn pipe, everybody was to participate and we were all in fits of laughter. When you see it done it looks so easy but not after a few drinks – trust me!
We were greeted by damp weather again but undeterred we headed towards Bayeux. The morning was aimed for the ladies to get their shopping fix, and when we arrived in the city centre car park the Rovers got all the attention again. We eventually went shopping and looked around the Cathedral and the museum containing the Bayeux tapestry.
We returned to our cars to find a reporter from the local paper who asked us about our cars and the Rover P4 Drivers Guild, arrangements were made to meet him for a photo shoot at the Bayeux war museum so that he could get all the cars together. He will email us with the article in the near future.
From here we headed for Arromanches and Gold beach, this was very humbling and the museum was most interesting.
On our way back to the Château Colin told us his speedo cable had broken, this was one of the few items we hadn’t packed!! So we plodded on regardless.
Peters’ car had also started missing again it and it was decided to replace the number two plug lead, with this job done we could meet in the bar for pre meal drinks.
Today was also Carols’ birthday so Val and the girls organised a birthday cake! Tonight’s entertainment was arranged by Curly (ex RAF) and had to beat Sin Bad’s efforts from earlier in the week. The ladies had been advised to wear trousers tonight – which left the mind boggling!
We were to play a game called ‘bombs away’ which involved placing four one Euro coins in a “delicate” area and negotiate an obstacle coarse then release said coins into a container – all without using your hands!
Two teams of nine were chosen for their agility and ability to retain the coins over the said course,this had the staff and ourselves in fits of laughter and we retired at about 11.30pm a little worse for wear!
After an early breakfast we were on the road by 9am heading for Lisieux, the plan today was to visit a cheese producer, a cider producer and a motor museum. We arrived at a village called Beuvron-En-Auge to go to the tourist information centre to get details about our run for the day, this is by far the prettiest place we visited. The ladies found a little shop which sold just about everything you could think of and they returned to the cars well loaded. As usual we attracted a lot of interest from the locals asking questions, one gent sat in my car and got his wife to take photos. He also wanted to press the horn because he said he loved the sound of it!
In the mean time Jill had found out that the cheese producer and the car museum had closed for the winter, a major blow for us men! So we decided to go to Lisieux for lunch whilst here we looked around the Basilica which was fantastic before going to the cider farm, we did find it in the end (sorry Jill your only error)!
It was well worth the effort and it was a good job we men were driving otherwise I think we would have stayed much longer.
We decided as it was our last night we would ask if we could have a cheese and wine evening so we called into the local supermarket to buy a selection of cheeses and French bread, this was followed by tonight’s entertainment which was arranged by Ken (ex merchant navy). Ken had arranged a karaoke night, we all had to pick a song and after some technical ‘hitches’ we got started. We had a good old sing song and everyone received a good round of applause – except yours truly but I had warned them!
It was our last morning and while the ladies packed our bags we men checked the cars again, some of us even cleaned them! Once loaded, we were ready for the off, we all started up – except Jim!
It turned out to be a flat battery and with one turn of the starting handle she fired back into life.
On our way to Bayeux city centre to get our baguettes and pastries we again soon attracted a crowd, once they had dispersed we headed for Bayeux war museum and military cemetery which is on the outskirts of the city, this was a very moving experience.
After this we headed North towards the coast to Juno beach (Canadian) and Sword beach (British) unfortunately time was not on our side and it was raining very hard so we pushed on towards Caen to catch our ferry back to Portsmouth.
Once on board we made our way to the lounge and discussed our run in France, it had turned out just as we had planned and the cars all performed well with only a couple of hiccups – overall the cars were stars.
We had enjoyed interesting days out led by Curly and Jill, plenty of laughter nearly all of the time, great evenings, all let our hair down and enjoyed each others company.
Once back in Portsmouth Colin and Jayne set off for North Devon and as Tony knew Portsmouth so well he lead us back to our hotel. But despite having lived here for 10 years he got us lost, and all because he would not listen to his wife Val! (A valuable lesson can be learnt here chaps – next year we won’t take the women). But he got us there in the end and we arrived at hotel at 10pm, we were all worn out so went straight to bed but arranged to meet for breakfast before saying our goodbyes.
What a fantastic time we had, I had covered 625miles with an average of 26.31 miles per gallon and would do it all again tomorrow. So with this in mind we will be organising another run next year, the destination is to be decided at a later date but will take place W/C 7th October 2013 so watch this space.