It was again a full house for the 2011 Speckled Hen the annual MG Tour which brings together Abingdon’s two most famous products. With four countries represented amongst the 100 cars entered, the 19th Tour could certainly rank as being one of the most international to date. Assembled just outside Abingdon at Radley College, we had Dave & Laurel Godwin from Australia’s Gold Coast, although not in their MGA in which they travelled from Beijing to Birmingham in 2010, but in an MGB GT. Also from Australia, in this case Victoria, there was George & Marg Morgan in their J2 and from Canada Bob Dobrenski & Wally Stubgen, plus wives, who are members of Ontario’s T Register. The wives travelled in the comfort of their hire car, whilst report-02-Old-Speckled-Hen-Run.jpgBob & Wally took turns to navigate for Julian White in his MGF. Closer to home, Wales was represented by Terry Giddings in his 2006 TF and Stuart & Debbie Taylor in their MGB, whilst no less than 13 of England’s counties were represented. We were also delighted to welcome “Bridget the Midget”, plus owner Roy Locock, who are in the final stages of preparing for their next adventure later this year of Cairo to Cape Town. Judging by comments overheard in the afternoon, some of the Buckinghamshire roads were probably good training for some of the African roads the pair will encounter!
After refreshments in the 1st XI cricket pavilion it was time for the older cars to make their way to the arch for the traditional departure of a few words from the starter and a wave of the union flag. Sadly, during the year, we lost MGCC President Bill Wallis who has been our ever-present starter and there were many warm conversations about Bill during the course of the day, such was his association with the event. Another name closely associated with the Speckled Hen Tour is Mike Parker who, until standing aside last year, had organised the day for the previous 9 years. We were therefore delighted that Mike had agreed to be our starter for this year.
Following the Route Book, a run through the highways and byways of Oxfordshire followed by Buckinghamshire, – how many were confused by, at one point, seeing MGs travelling the opposite way on the other carriage-way? – led the cars to the lunch-time halt of Chenies Manor, a private home standing on a site which has had a dwelling upon it since Saxon times and has been developed, as a house, over the centuries. The house and gardens have limited public openings and whilst the house wasn’t open, the gardens & tearoom had been opened just for our visit with the owner’s family wandering around the cars and their picnicking occupants. With many declaring the gardens a joy to wander around, a number came away with plants bought from the nursery and some were overheard vowing to return for further exploration, it was soon time to leave for the return journey.
Under the watchful eyes of the many circling Red Kites and passed the “No to HS2” signs, with the thought of the awaiting cream tea the return journey to Radley College soon passed. After picking up their commemorative pin-badges and Old Speckled Hen glasses, those who were amongst the first to make it back, were able to enjoy a warm scone freshly out of the oven! Whilst everyone milled around chatting – heard about the marshal ‘relieved’ to find a spot behind a hedge only to be outed by a farmer on a tractor alerting everyone by flashing his lights and sounding the horn? – and enjoying their teas, Dave Godwin took the opportunity to present to the Centre a copy of his book recounting his Beijing to Birmingham trip in appreciation of the Centre’s support on the final leg of the epic journey.
We are very grateful to Greene King for their continued valued support and this year, we are extremely grateful to Artisan Internet who also kindly agreed to support the Tour. Without their support, it would need a considerable increase in entry fees to be able to run the event, consequently, their contributions cannot be overstated.
Text: Richard Martin. Photos: Malcolm Bailey and Ron Kemp.