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THE SECTION ANNUAL RALLY - THE SEVERN VALE, GLOUCESTERSHIRE
5-10 September 2004

It started with twenty-three cars arriving from various directions at the Hotel de la Bere, Southam, near Cheltenham, on a very hot and sunny afternoon. After greeting old friends and acquaintances and settling in our rooms, a most 'welcome drink' was enjoyed by one and all, we sat down to dinner and more catching up with all one's news.

Monday morning we set off in loose convoy to Eastnor Castle which is not normally opened to the public except on Sundays. But the owners opened it and led us on a most interesting tour of the place. Then a buffet lunch in their restaurant - a delicious soup followed by a ploughman's of very generous proportions, so much so that some couples shared one dish between them, causing a bit of a puzzle to the caterers who thought they had miscounted the number of guests! The castle is set in a most beautiful park with lovely majestic trees. We then all drove back to the hotel, a distance of about 22 miles.


Hotel de la Bere   Eastnor Castle
The Hotel de la Bere, a splendid Tudor Manor House.   Eastnor Castle, dramatically situated in the Malvern Hills.
Another sunny day on Tuesday and we all left, again in loose convoy, to Westons Cider, who are the largest producers of cider in Herefordshire. The tour was most interesting, all those lovely vats, and at the end a tasting of various ciders followed by a buffet lunch in their restaurant. Most of us then drove to Monmouth to visit the former home of Sir Charles Rolls where a superb tea awaited us. After another delightful drive through country lanes we arrived back at the hotel to learn that it was 'Murder Night'! It was a most riotous dinner and Ted Meachem had a few worrying moments when 'the man from Scotland Yard' accused him of the murder! But all's well that ends well and of course the butler did it!

Westons Cider   Rolls of Monmouth
A step back in time to see how cider is produced at Westons.   The former home of Sir Charles Rolls in Monmouth.

Wednesday was a free day. Some of us went off to visit old haunts and others in loose convoy to Bourton-on-the-Water to visit the Cotswold Motoring and Toy Museum, and after the visit David Steel told us we were on our own. So we all went our different ways, returning to the hotel for an early buffet supper at 5pm. That evening we were taken by coach to the theatre in Malvern to watch Penelope Keith in 'Blithe Spirit', a delightful and amusing play.


Bourton-on-the-water   Cotswold Motoring Museum
The beautiful Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water.   Cotswold Motoring Museum is full of interest for the enthusiast.
On Thursday the weather was still lovely and we all set off to visit Gloucester Cathedral - for me, the highlight of the Rally. There was only room for thirteen cars to park in front of the Cathedral, so we doubled up in cars. The tour started with a short talk and then (for me) a too short organ recital, absolutely magnificent. Then a very detailed tour including the crypt. It is such a wonderful building, one could spend all day there. We had a buffet lunch in the Parliament Building and then back to the hotel.

Gloucester Cathedral   Display of cars
In Gloucester Cathedral members were treated to a short organ recital.   Outside the Cathedral a display of our motor cars attracted attention.
That evening was Gala Night. It was so warm and sunny that we all enjoyed our pre-dinner drinks outside in the garden, then into the Grand Hall for another superb meal. Noisy balloons (our AGM has become famous for those) were produced by a couple of the members and things became a bit noisy to say the least. During coffee it was limerick time when we all read our own composition, the winners being Ian Burt and Derek Lord. The latter's was a true tale of woe. When he arrived at the beginning of the Rally he realised he left most of his clothes on his bed at home, and his limerick reflected this sad state of affairs!

Friday dawned wet and horrid. The final 'do' being a visit to Cheltenham Race Course and lunch there. Unfortunately we had promised our two young grand daughters that we would have lunch with them near Bristol where they live, so we missed it, but I'm sure it was another successful event.

Our thanks to Anne and David Steel and helpers for a lovely and relaxing Rally with such sunny and wonderful weather. How clever to organize the distances from the hotel, all about 23 miles. It was a most enjoyable Rally, they must have worked very hard, especially working out all the routes down to the last corner. Thank you again, Anne and David, and I hope you are now enjoying a well deserved rest. Roll on next year's!

Grace Jupe - Member


Group photo
Prior to the coach trip to the theatre everyone posed on the steps of the Hotel for a group photograph. Photos: Ian Burt