Although certainly not new to MGs or the MG Car Club, I have to confess that I have never been on any organised run before, therefore I thought 2016 should be the year to put this right. So no better place to start than the highly regarded ‘Old Speckled Hen Tour’ hosted and organised by the Abingdon Works Centre. The date for this year’s OSH Tour was Sunday 29th May and 2016 marks the twenty-fourth such outing. The week before I had been monitoring the weather forecast closely, hoping for something close to early summer and the chance to drop the hood of my 2002 MG TF 160 Sprint. The tour was to start at the elegant Radley College and, with fair weather forecast, there were a great number of MGs from pre-war to the current range already assembled on our arrival just after 09:00.
Having signed on, the ever friendly AWC team handed over our rally plate and route book. Before setting off to our destination Stonor Park, which nestles in the Chiltern Hills close to Henley-On-Thames. We had the chance of tea or coffee in the cricket pavilion and the opportunity to catch up with fellow MG Car Club members. At around 10:30 we started to depart with the MGCC Chairman Ian Quarrington enthusiastically setting each entrant underway. The route would take us north from Abingdon then southeast along a varied mix of roads, taking in some of the breath-taking scenery the Chilterns and South Oxfordshire have to offer. The attention to detail was excellent and my navigator worked seamlessly with the comprehensive route guide.
After close to an hour and a half we arrived at our destination and were duly marshalled to the dedicated assembly area close to Stonor House. Although there was ‘The Great Antique and Vintage Car Boot fair’ being held, which was included in our entry, we took the opportunity to pay for a visit to the house and gardens. Having not been to Stonor Park previously, this was well worth the extra too, the house and private chapel date back to the 12th century and the gardens are full of interesting fauna and flora. We even got to ‘meet’ Thomas Stonor, 7th Baron Camoys who was in the gallery openly chatting to the visitors!
We set off at around 14:30 for the return trip, this time venturing further south and then northwest. And for a second time we were rewarded with spectacular scenery with the bonus of warmer temperatures and considerable sunshine. We had one minor detour due to a small navigation error, but quickly resolved this and got back on route and we arrived back at Radley College in around an hour. We were welcomed back with a commemorative pin badge and very civilised cream tea in the cricket pavilion. All in all, a very enjoyable experience and I shall be returning next year! Thank you AWC for a well organised event!
Text: Neil Mattock. Photos: Malcolm Bailey.