Some events in the MG Diary are just too important to ignore, the 40th Anniversary of the MGC in 2007, the 50th Anniversary of the MGB in 2012 and the 40th Anniversary of the MG Owner’s Club in 2013 are three perfect examples.
Despite a distance of 347 miles from Camborne, Cambridge was the destination for five Cornwall MG Owners Club members and the weather didn’t let us down. A stunningly gorgeous weekend awaited us over the 13th/14th of July in fact, for once, it was almost too hot!
Dave Townson, Francis Healing, Neville Jones, John Ward and myself, assembled at the services at Roche, just off the A30 at 07:45hrs for a ‘trip of a lifetime’ to the Head Quarters of the MG Owners Club in Swavesey in Cambridgeshire.
A leisurely traverse up the A30/M5/M42/M6/A14 cruising at between 60 and 65 mph saw us stop at Taunton Deane for a ‘comfort break’ before proceeding to Monkspath/Shirley off the M42 for refreshments in Tesco’s car park and refuelling.
The final leg of the journey was uneventful until, just six short miles from our final destination, Dave’s MGB spluttered to a halt at the side of a very busy A14. Petrol was being pumped to the carburettors OK, but there didn’t seem to be a spark on the forward cylinder. A check on all the plug caps and HT lead to the coil and, miraculously, the engine re-started and we continued on to Swavesey.
The event ground was enormous and the small number of MGs already in attendance was dwarfed by the space. A quick hunt around soon located the Beer Tent and the first one never touched the sides! Francis and myself took time out to find our Travelodge at Fenstanton and checked in before returning to Swavesey.
It didn’t take long before we were sweltering in the heat of the late afternoon sun and we sought respite in The White Horse Inn in Swavesey for an evening meal, a lovely Olde English Pub with superb food and a selection of real ales and Ciders (NOT Cidres!). We were astonished to find that the hostelry was almost devoid of customers but the peace was soon disturbed by the loud utterances of a group of Londoners who soon descended on the place. Sadly, we soon spotted the ‘hospital-style’ wrist bands that we were also sporting!
The night was still young so we returned to the event site and mingled with other revellers outside the entertainment tent, mulling over old times with Roche Bentley and savouring the offerings of the live Band and Disco – one with a DJ who knew that people wanted to listen to the music and not some egotist overcome with the sound of his own voice. At around 10:30pm, the ‘oldies’ decided that it was past their bedtime and we left John to find his tent while we made our way to our Hotel at Fenstanton.
Modesty forbids me from recounting the activities in the bedroom shared by Neville, Dave and myself, mainly because we were too knackered after the long trip and all promptly fell into our individual ‘pits’: Dave in his sleeping bag on the spare mattress, Neville in the single bed and me in the double bed! Francis had his own room next door and he swears that he didn’t snore, but a strange resonating noise permeated the dividing wall – believe me!
The Little Chef beckoned us on Sunday morning and after a hearty breakfast we left the Travelodge for Swavesey once again.
At the event site, Richard ‘Dicker’ Immins from Portsmouth was awaiting our arrival and eventually joined us as an ‘honorary member’ of the Cornwall MG Owners Club. We now had a line-up of one MGB, one MGTF and three MGCs - a prial of MGC’s that no other club at the 40th Anniversary of the MGOC could surpass!
A guided tour of the Club Headquarters, Spares Department and Workshop facilities was undertaken early in the morning, and was the only disappointment of the whole weekend – simply because so many wanted to look around that only those at the front of the queue got to hear a word of the commentary.
Trade stands, Cars for sale, Club displays, demonstrations of Owls and Birds of Prey, Majorettes displaying extraordinary baton twirling (Dave will never forget those young girls!) and a display of special MGs inimitably commentated on by Graham Robson, all took our attention in the main arena throughout the day.
John was in his element scouring the ‘autojumblers’ for bargains while Francis was ‘seduced’ by the goodies on offer on the MGOC stand. Why he bought a peaked cap with LED ‘wally lights’ I will never understand!
Neville, like myself, had seen it all before and just took in the atmosphere and wandered around the parked cars admiring the efforts of owners who were blatantly seasoned Concours Competition entrants – the attention to detail is simply awesome and I’m glad that I’m out of that ‘rat-race’ now! Dicker and myself got waylaid talking to the owners and never did manage to complete the ‘Pride of Ownership’ self-judging form while Neville diligently scrutinised every car before making judgement.
By mid-afternoon, cars were observed to be leaving the showground and when Prize Presentation time arrived, many of the Raffle winners had departed and some of the PoO winners also. As was expected, the winners of the individual categories came from the exhibitors who were in a ‘league of their own’ and were also foregone conclusions. I have been down the ‘Concours road’ – twice before and I know from experience how much effort it takes to produce a car to ‘show condition’, trust me when I say that they deserve all the kudos they receive.
With the prize giving over, we made our way back to our cars, Dave had already left for a journey to Crewkerne, Neville was off to see his Son, Dicker was off back to Portsmouth which just left Francis, John and myself to embark on the return trip to Cornwall. At this point I will just say that it took us considerably less time to get back home than it did to get up to Swavesey, even if we did divert off the M5 and skirted Gloucester due to a much forecasted Accident between Junctions 14 and 15 at Bristol.
Did we have a good time? You bet your life! Would we do it again? Definitely – but not for a few weeks – we’re not as young as we were!
On a final note, I would just like to thank Dave, Neville, John, Francis and our ‘honorary member’ Dicker, for making me a very happy MG Owner’s Club member – for one weekend at least!