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9th Blenheim Palace Festival of Transport -24th – 25th August 2014

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9th Blenheim Palace Festival of Transport -24th – 25th August 2014

So with North Devon ‘The Legendary Grand Tour’ being cancelled this year we all had a bit of a hole in the calendar for the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August.  We all scratched our heads and thought what we could do instead then I saw online that there was a show on at Blenheim Palace.  I put a text message out to club members to see who was about and interested.  We thought we would make a weekend of it and go on the Saturday and come back on the Monday as they had camping over the weekend.

It turned out that there were only 2 people that were available to go on the Saturday and camp so we organised to get up early and go to the show on the Sunday and camp that night and travel back after the show on Monday.

This was to be a two day event with the emphasis on the Sunday being on Classic Cars with some really rare and exotic machinery on show and then a wider scope on the Monday with a more general show to include Classic Cars, Bikes, Mini's, VW's, Kit & Custom Cars, Americans, commercial & military vehicles.

After our mosey around the show we went back to the camping area, I will not call it ‘camp site’ as we were pitched at the edge of a field with no water facilities and no toilets (unless you class trees as suitable!!!)

After a cuppa and a natter we fired up the BBQ and by this time we thought we deserved a drink or two!!!  After food and a few pints Dawn and Rich C departed home and we thought we would take a walk in to Woodstock as the music festival was on.  When we finally found our way out of the palace grounds we got to the village and in the square was live bands playing and a lot of people!!!  We found a pub and we battled our way to the bar and finally got a pint and then we made our way outside to enjoy the music.  The music ended at around 10.15pm and we found our way back to the palace and the camping area where we enjoyed a few more drinks and then to bed.

Monday, well what can I say about Monday?!!  Some would say the typical bank holiday weather.  We woke to the sound of very heavy rain, eventually we were all brave enough to leave the shelter of our tents and congregated in the gazebo where we remained most of the day, having breakfast a copious amounts of tea and coffee oh and breakfast on the BBQ.  There was no sign of the rain easing so at about 1.30pm we were brave (ish) again and we got the tents and the gazebo down, in record times, and made our way back home to a warm, dry environment.

Despite being washed out on the Monday the Sunday was good and it was a pleasant surprise to be able to go to the music festival in Woodstock.

The sun was shining when we arrived, we pitched up camp and then went to have a wander.  A good selection of classic cars on club stands and individual classic car entries from the 1920's to the 1990's.  A fine turn out on the TVR stand and some very nice cars there indeed.  There was a good turn out for the minis too even though the emphasis on the minis was not until the Sunday.  There was also a selection of traders and autojumble sellers.

International Mini Meet – Mini 55 – Kent County Showground, Maidstone 31st July – 3rd August 2014

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International Mini Meet – Mini 55 – Kent County Showground, Maidstone 31st July – 3rd August 2014

This was the main event of the mini calendar 2014.  Every 5 years the IMM returns to England, this year responsibility for organising the event fell to the Southern Mini Owners Club who had won the vote to host the 2014 show at the 2011 IMM in St Switzerland.

Thursday 31st July 2014:  Dawn, Rachel and I left Wootton Bassett at lunchtime with the plan to arrive at the showground around 3pm, pitch the tent and then go for essential supplies (alcohol!!).  The 3 minis behaved perfectly on the trip there and the M25 was surprisingly clear.  We arrived at the site to find a holding field full of minis waiting to enter the show.  It took us 3 ¼ hours to gain entry to the site so by now the beer run plan was off and patience was some what tested (thanks to Rachel for saving the day with a supply of 6X).

Having finally got on to the site cars were abandoned on the camping pitch and a first visit to the site pub ‘The Rusty Subframe’ was made for a much needed drink and then to sort a ticket for Dawn for Friday’s brewery tour.

The tent was then pitched after much swearing (ground was full of rocks) and we finally got some food from one of the vans (not cheap but no other choice at 9.30pm.  We were soon joined by Carenza and Johnny and IMM friends Steven, Robert and Jackie for a social evening and a few drinks.

Friday 1st August 2014:  An early start, bacon rolls (from a food vendor as still no food run complete!!) and then caught the coach for a trip to Faversham for a tour of the shepherd Neame brewery and lunch.  We spent the afternoon in town and then back to the site, a trip out to Tesco (to finally get some provisions) and then back to the site for an evening BBQ (first outing for the new club BBQ) and more drinks.

The club presidents meeting took place during the morning and it was later announced that mini club Belgium had won the vote to host IMM 2016 (A welcome short trip following next years long haul to Lithuania)

Saturday 2nd August 2014:  We spent the day on site, spending in the vast trade village, a few trips to ‘The Rusty Subframe’.  A visit to the ‘Mini People Lithuania’ club stand to collect information for IMM 2015 and a photo opportunity with Paddy Hopkirk and a signature on our IMM mini models.

IMM meal was held in the evening (yet another long queue, an hour plus) before the evening IMM party and more drinks at the campsite.

Queues aside, a very enjoyable and well organised event, many thanks to the Southern Mini Owners Club (IMM2015 May 21st – 25th – Lake Zarasas, Lithuania).

Sunday 3rd August 2014:  Having already picked up all the parts we need at the trade stands it was decided we would forgo the planned IMM breakfast (none of us could be doing with yet another queue) and take a run off site for a pub lunch and an afternoon tour of Chislehurst caves before returning to Maidstone for the IMM closing ceremony and the traditional handing over of the IMM key to next years hosts, this followed by another BBQ and of course some drinking!!