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Whaplode

Bluebell Classic Car Meets

4th July 2018

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There were some changes afoot at the July Bluebell classic car meet, no doubt following on from the massive attendance in June. On arrival, in addition to Kenny on the gate in his usual cone hat, there were some additional pink hi-vis-clad marshals doing the parking, instead of the usual free-for-all. The modus-operandi so far had been to reverse park up to the perimeter boundaries and both sides of the central divider fence, and then fill up the middle if needs must. The problem with this is that the early arrivals can't then get out if there are a lot of late-comers blocking them in, and as we've said before, if you're going, be prepared to stay the whole evening.

This also means that sometimes certain corners and niches are not used for fear of the above so best use has perhaps not been made of vacant caravan pitches for instance. Well-meaning volunteers had taken on the task of parking the vehicles this month and decided they would back them right up to the neighbour's fence at the far end of the field on both sides of the dividing fence and bring them forwards in waves as demand built. At first glance this looked to be perhaps an OK idea, parked in rows nice and neat, not too tight but tight enough to try and cope with what turned up last month. However, to exaggerate a little, if you park a Mini next to a Cadillac, or perhaps a Spitfire next to a Jag, the rows become a little uneven, so you lose the block pattern quite quickly.

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When owners were able to put the camp chairs out behind the motors around the edge of the field, they were largely out of the way, but when they try and set them beside or behind their vehicles in the new scheme of things, they just got in the way, and the upshot was, it was difficult to circulate around the vehicles. My disabled wife found quite quickly there were no-go areas which has not happened before. Also, the early arrivals had no chance of getting out without half-a-dozen vehicles moving whereas before it was a little easier.

The founder of the event has taken a lot of stick recently, telling me himself, he's been told "he does too much talking and not enough working", however, it was founded as an informal laid-back social event in partnership with the pub and campsite. There is always a turn-over of vehicles and people who don't like the format, but last Wednesday's organisation essentially "under new management" pushed a few more over the edge. The new volunteers are probably needed to park the cars more efficiently as one man cannot be everywhere, but I urge them to revert to the old layout and just manage that better.

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On to positive things, the outside "bar" with a choice of 3 real ales was a bonus and saved me personally at least 10 minutes threading my way through the main bar to queue for service. The outside catering trailer also added pulled pork rolls to the menu, and I haven't forgotten I owe the landlady a quid for the cup of tea for the missus, due to her lack of change at the time. As usual, there were some different motors, a red Morris Eight or Minor van caught my eye, but the rarest vehicle I believe was the Vauxhall Envoy, a version of the FA Victor built under licence in Canada.

This carried just Envoy badging rather than either Vauxhall or as I expected Chevrolet, but Wikipedia explains as follows: "The Envoy name was first used in the Canadian market for a version of the Vauxhall Victor F-Series. It was sold through Chevrolet-Oldsmobile dealerships at the same time as the Vauxhall version was sold though Pontiac-Buick dealers", so it was essentially a brand in its own right, albeit badge-engineered. Another rarity not seen before was an Isuzu coupe in white, possibly a 117XE if anyone wants to look it up. There were also several VW custom vehicles in attendance as well, one what I'd describe as a hybrid being a Beetle floorplan with Baja or Beach Buggy front, Type 2 cabin and pick-up back hiding it's rear-engined mechanics.

Another seemed to have a desire to impersonate a Ford Pop hot-rod but had succumbed to what seemed like huge off-road monster-truck tyres, way out there somewhere. Attendance was down compared to last month's, so everything was easily off the road, but speaking personally, it was not the best meeting we'd been to by a long shot. Circulation issues meant the layout wasn't a success, and the job's not as easy as some might think. Let's see what next month brings and I urge everyone to give it a go, rather than risk losing this great venue.

2019: 1st May - 4th Sep

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