SOUTH EAST SCRIBE NOTES
As I write these notes the vaccination programme is running well and over half the adult population has already received their first Covid jab so there is at last some light at the end of the tunnel. However, we aren’t there yet and events, both VCC and non-VCC, are being cancelled for another year. Already here in the South East we have postponed the Spring Opener and cancelled the Main Event. As the Spring Opener is just a simple lunchtime pub meet we hope to be able to re-arrange it for later in the year. All SE members will be emailed when we have more news about our proposed events.
With no events to report on and no news received from members I’m rather short of things to write about so I thought that I would look back on my first ever VCC event. I first watched the Brighton Run well over 50 years ago and bought my first old vehicle nearly 40 years ago on my 20th birthday, but it wasn’t until 2002 that I joined the VCC so that makes me a bit of a newcomer. I purchased my first veteran car in February 2003 when I took over ownership of the 1903 Humberette 5hp from Sir Ray Tindle. At the time I was deeply engrossed in the restoration of an old bus so the Humberette sat at the back of the garage untouched for the next 3 months. It wasn’t until the end of May 2003 that I pulled the car out and started it for the first time. I was booked on to the VCC New Forest Foray at the beginning of June so needed to start learning about the car. To try the car out I wanted to take it to Staplefield village fete and car show. I’m sure many of you will have passed through Staplefield on your way to Brighton each November. As I had never driven the Humberette on the road I was reluctant to drive it on the busy A23 from Crawley so I took it on the trailer to within a couple of miles of Staplefield before driving it on quiet country lanes. At the village fete I met Roger Learmonth and Rodney de Little who were there with their own recently acquired veterans. Both were booked for the New Forest event so it was good that I would now know some people who would be there.
The New Forest Foray was a joint event between the South East and South West Sections which was based at the Balmer Lawn Hotel at Brockenhurst. It was for singles and twins, and attracted an entry of 42 cars. I had a wet journey down to Brockenhurst on the Friday and met Ron Clark who had drawn the short straw so was on car park duty in the rain. Alan Coleman was warm and dry inside the hotel as he was on the booking-in desk. Being my first ever VCC event I was rather apprehensive as I had no idea what the weekend would be like but I was extremely pleased with the very warm welcome I received from everyone I met.
Being on my own navigation wasn’t going to be easy so I tried to follow other cars, hoping that they were on the right route! The Saturday morning coffee stop was at Rhinefield House Hotel and lunch was at the White Buck Hotel in Burley. It was here that I parked next to Anthony and Penny Chew who were there with their 1904 De Dion Bouton. We instantly struck up a friendship and I was able to follow them for the rest of the weekend to save me trying to read the route directions while driving. Sunday morning started with a drive along a track into the New Forest to a remote car park. The idea being that this track was a good representative of what many roads were like in the early 1900’s. There then followed a 12 mile drive to Bucklers Hard for lunch. I remember the return trip to the hotel well as my car was really struggling to make progress and I assumed there was a problem with it. We were driving along an exposed road from Beaulieu towards Brockenhurst and it was actually the very strong head wind that was slowing me down. As the road entered the forest my car surged forward at double the speed. My first experience of how the wind can affect a small single-cylinder car.
When I started the New Forest Foray I had driven my Humberette just 4 miles and as this was my first veteran car it was a steep learning curve on how to drive it. By the end of the weekend I was beginning to get the hang of it and had a thoroughly enjoyable time. I couldn’t wait for the next VCC event and the chance to drive my car again. I quickly decided that buying a veteran car was the best thing I had ever done. Eighteen years later I still think the same.
The New Forest Foray was a great success and it would be good if the South East and South West Sections could do a repeat New Forest event. The roads in the Forest are ideal for our cars with miles of attractive lanes with a maximum speed limit of 40mph. Here are a few pictures from that event