Well it was back for its 20th year, ‘250 minis, 30 bikes and one big reason’, raising money for The Children’s Hospice South West.
The weather prior to the weekend was not good; Steve received a phone call from the lady at the campsite to say that the field was a bit of a mess therefore she was moving us to another field as to not get the minis caked in mud.
We arrived on Friday to a beautiful view of the sea and on the horizon Lundy Island.
As you can imagine, being on a cliff top it was a bit breezy which made putting up the tents and the gazebo an interesting task but with all hands on deck eventually we were all set up. It was then nice to sit back and watch several members of Mendip Minis and 3 IMM friends of Nicks who were camping with us. It was then time for the first shopping trip of the weekend (I left Nick trying to fix the engine mount on my mini). The evening consisted of food and lots of drink and silly activities involving our costumes for the Monday.
Saturday morning saw a number of jaded people (no names mentioned but it wasn’t me, eventually after a number of cups of coffee and a bacon butty we were ok to venture out, we all went off and did our own things with myself and Steve going off to Morrison’s to get food for the BBQ for 15 people!!!
Early Saturday evening we ventured our way to Northam Burrows for the ‘Saturday night cruise’ with Nick in front taking us the scenic route (or just the wrong way); it was a good job we left early!!! After the cruise it was back to the campsite for a group BBQ (and more drink) and silly antics.
Luckily enough not too much was drank Friday night so the early morning rise was not too bad (but bad enough). Coffees, bacon butties and at 9.15am we were good to go and head our way down to Westward Ho! Silly hat day was still very much alive with the added in of onesies.
Unfortunately the weather was a bit wet but it didn’t stop people mingling around and having ice creams. Eventually the brass band arrived and we were off to the large crowd lining the streets waving and cheering. The route took us through a number of small villages along the way with a stop at Hartland Quay for a comfort break and a burger.
As it had been raining I had discovered the new blades on my windscreen wipers were rubbish leaving the windscreen very smeary and sometimes they did not actually want to stop, Nick tried to fix it to no avail, also Len announced he had used ¾ of a tank of fuel just that morning. Eventually we finished at Dartington Crystal where we did not stop but ventured our way back to the campsite. A number of the group went out for a pub meal which was not a bad thing as it was very, very wet. When they arrived back it was definitely a beeline for the gazebo to take shelter, a number of drinks (well it is nice to be sociable) and some reminiscing and then off to bed for another early rise on Monday for the ‘big day’.
Coffee, bacon butties and into our onsies.
Some people had to pack up as they had to be back in work on the Tuesday, 9.15am came but some people were nowhere near ready so unfortunately we had to leave without them. We headed our way to Victoria Park, Bideford where it was drizzling a bit but we headed down to get a coffee and a wander around, you could say looking silly but we were not alone with some people in some fantastic costumes. In come the brass band and off we went, a little late as there seemed to be a medical emergency somewhere on the site. The crowds were definitely pleased to see us back as they lined the park entrance and the streets all along the route showing their support. Through the villages and towns, through the hospice where the children were there waving homemade flags and holding banners which always draws a lump in the throat. Then it was a re-group and off to Lee Abbey where there was a bit of a problem. Due to the weather we could not group in the field at Lee Abbey so we stopped on the side of the road leading into the valley of the rocks where by the time the last mini joined the queue we were blocking the members of the public so we had to move to the road leading into Lee Abbey.
The morning had been a challenge for both me and Dawn as her windscreen wipers decided not to turn off too and mine got worse so it was going to be a night of fixing minis for Nick (well he did have a night off Sunday!!). Eventually after all the messing around we were off again and on our way to Ilfracombe. Eventually we arrived in to the park at 5pm, a drink (and an ice cream for Nick) and then back to the campsite with a stop off at the chip shop. Exhausted and cold as the wind had picked up again (all in time for us to pack up in the morning) we had our fish and chips and a few drinks whilst Nick messed around on mine and Dawns minis and Steve and Rich finished up the wood from the fire pits from the weekend and then we retired.
Tuesday morning was a slow start, coffees and bacon butties before starting to pack up and get the tents down and cram it all back into the minis. On route home Nick’s windscreen wipers packed up.
A very enjoyable weekend where our cars behaved apart from the windscreen wipers!!!
Over the weekend £21079 was raised with £3804 collected by the bikers street collection. After the event, sponsorships were to be collected and paid directly to the hospice. Over the 20 years of the Grand Tour us mini-ites have raised nearly £500,000.
The tour began in 1994 and the club started doing this event in 1998 and we started donating in 2001, over this time (13 years), we have donated £13187.23.