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THE SECTION ANNUAL RALLY - THE ENGLISH LAKES
Sunday 9 to Saturday 15 September 2007

Our hosts at the Netherwood Hotel, Grange over Sands, started the rally on a good note with a complimentary pre-dinner Champagne reception on the Sunday evening. We then sat down to a sumptuous dinner with an extensive menu to choose from. How the chef managed to take our orders from the table and produce a five-course meal, every evening, without delay, was quite amazing.

The Section organisers, Tony Leach and Dennis Windows, had already, on two occasions, checked out various hotels. It was their wives who spotted the old manor house, Netherwood Hotel, overlooking Grange and Morecambe. We took over the hotel and cottages nearby, to accommodate our sixty members. The large car park presented no problems for the thirty rally cars.

Various places of interest were booked. On Monday, only five miles away, was Holker Hall. This included their superb car museum and beautiful gardens. After a light lunch in the restaurant we were free to visit the shop and Lakeland Motor Museum. The day was planned to allow members to wind down from the previous day's journey. In the evening Tony Leach held a Housey-Housey (Bingo to some!) fun evening for charity. This raised £300 for the late Jack Pennell's chosen hospice. David Steel, the winner of a quiz organised by Tony Spencer, put his prize up for auction. Our favourite auctioneer, Paul Capper, made a further £300 for the charity.

Tuesday's great treat was Lake Coniston - memories of Donald Campbell and the ill-fated Bluebird. We parked our cars in a reserved parking area, on the west side of the lake, then embarked on the unique and elegant steam yacht Gondola (launched in 1859 and still going strong!) across the lake to Brantwood House for lunch in Jumping Jenny's Restaurant. This was the home of John Ruskin, the famous artist and writer. A most interesting tour with video on Ruskin completed the visit. The view from the room overlooking the lake was stunning.

Wednesday was our day off! After a leisurely breakfast members left to wander round Grange, take a ride on one of the two steam railways available, visit Keswick etc. The Beatrix Potter house is nowadays a great attraction, with people queuing from early morning to get in. We went one better by inviting Richard Foster, a local historian, to give us an after-dinner talk on the life of Beatrix Potter; he then answered our questions.

Thursday was the day for a visit to Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, the home of the Pennington family for 800 years. At lunch-time the owner, Patrick Gordon-Duff-Pennington OBE DL, welcomed us with a lengthy poem in the Old Laundry dining room. The castle, with its elegant rooms, historic furnishings and works of art, is still lived in as a family home. Reputedly haunted, the Tapestry Room did not scare anyone - as far as I know. After lunch we visited the World Owl Centre, where forty-five species of owl are on view, with a live commentary describing the owls and a buzzard flying across the lawns, quite fascinating.

On Friday we parked the cars at Lakeside, Windermere. We were taken for a trip on Lake Windermere, aboard ML Lakeland. A good buffet lunch with wine was served whilst viewing the lakeside houses, hotels, jetties and boats. Members disembarked at Bowness to make their own way back after looking round the shops. (Our thanks to Windermere Lake Cruises for the complimentary tickets).

That evening the Black Tie Gala Dinner, which included a Champagne reception with a special five-course meal, rounded off the rally. On a final note, a week when the Champagne was really flowing, we joined Geoffrey and Evelyn Halstead on Tuesday to celebrate their 53rd wedding anniversary with bubbly all round - Tony proposed their good health and happiness. Then Mae Underwood ordered Champagne for everyone to show her appreciation to them for their warmth and friendship towards her as a 'non-Club car' member. Dennis Windows asked members and their guests to join him in toasting the best of health to Mae - and especially for her forthcoming 90th birthday.

To sum up the English Lakes Rally - a good time was had by all! Thanks to Tony for his superb forward-planning and to his willing assistant Ticker Windows - not forgetting the support and encouragement from Daphne and Ann.

'Ticker' Windows - Section Magazine Editor


Group Gala Night
Group Gala Night photo outside the Netherwood Hotel.     Inset: Hardworking BWs take a well deserved rest.
Holker Hall Car Museum   Brantwood
  'Bluebird' Bentley in the Holker Hall Car Museum.             Brantwood and views across Lake Windermere. Photos: Andrew Honour