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Pete Foster’s Rally & Island Adventure
Thanks to everyone who had a hand in organising and running the recent very enjoyable International Rally. I attended in my 1963 Ensign Estate, travelling the 180 miles down on the Friday, but arriving too late to attend the tour around the Gin factory, so Ann and I went for a ramble along some lovely footpaths in the locality, arriving back to find our car being the only Standard left in the car park. Following a lovely evening meal and convivial evening at the Norton Park Hotel, we awoke the next morning and enjoyed a full English breakfast. Rather than attending the owl display, we went for another 7 mile ramble in “Watership down” country, which was very enjoyable despite us getting a good soaking from the numerous thunderstorms that occurred during the day. After our walk we went to visit Ann’s cousin at the nearby village of Owslebury, which proved rather an eventful journey as the heavens opened and deluged us in the “mother of all thunderstorms”, we were only glad we weren’t still walking! The windscreen sprung numerous leaks which we frantically mopped up with a bathtowel which Ann had luckily brought with her. The storm was so bad we had to stop the car until the storm passed over, following which we had to traverse the flooded roads to our destination, luckily we didn’t encounter any floods too deep to drive through.
After our visit to Owslebury we returned to the hotel for the Gala Evening meal, again most enjoyable, followed by Graham Lockley’s excellent presentation showing previous Standard Rallys & events. After a good nights sleep Rally day arrived, rather dull and cloudy but at least it was dry. I was dismayed to find my car covered in numerous spots of discoloured paintwork, obviously a result of the previous days downpours. I was somewhat comforted to find a few other cars were similarly affected, not sure of the cause but obviously something to do with the rain (I’ve subsequently managed to largely restore the paintwork using T cut and polish, but it took a whole afternoon of intense polishing). There was a good turn out of Standards, except for the Vanguard classes, with only Steve Smeltzer’s Phase 1A and Shaun Russell’s Phase 2 on display in the Phase 1 & 2 class. The Phase 3 class was slightly better attended with a Vignale and two Phase 3 deluxes along with my Ensign estate, but still rather a poor attendance considering these cars are probably the most suited to long journeys compared with earlier models.
Prize giving over, we embarked on the next stage of our adventure and set off for Lymington to catch the ferry to the Isle of Wight. My Ensign was one of three ex Isle of Wight cars at the rally, and as Winchester was as near to the island as we were likely to ever get I had decided to take my car back to her homeland. We made it to the ferry with plenty of time in hand, but once again the weather spoilt itself & we had to endure heavy rain again for the rest of the evening. We found good bed and breakfast near Freshwater, and following an early breakfast we set off for our little “tour”, luckily in sunny weather at last!! We had a gentle run around the delightful I.O.W lanes for an hour or so before arriving at Totland where my Ensign originated (there is a little plate on the passenger side door saying “supplied by The Totland Service Station”). We found the site of the garage, which has sadly closed down, but managed to take some photos of the car on the forecourt, which attracted some attention from passers by, one of which told us he used to have a Phase 3 Vanguard. We then drove down to the only remaining garage in the town, to fill up with fuel, only to find that one of the mechanics used to work at Totland Service Station, he was totally amazed to see the car was still around. He had a good look around it and said how good it still looked after all this time and reminisced about how he used to service the car and then return it to the owner , Miss McCracken, at her thatched cottage up the road and used to put it away in the garage for her!! You don’t get service like that these days!! After bidding farewell, we parked round the corner and found Lacey Farmhouse, where the car used to live. Apparently Miss Dinnie McCracken was in her 80’s when she sold the car to the mainland, which probably accounts for it’s low annual mileage of about 200 while she owned it (I’ve yet to find her prayer book hidden in the car!!!)
As we still had a couple of hours before we had to catch the return ferry we had another very enjoyable walk along the cliff tops in the sunshine. We caught the 2 o clock ferry back to the mainland, hoping the Ensign had enjoyed her return to her homeland. Our adventure still wasn’t quite over, however, as we had arranged to visit Ann’s son at Osmington near Weymouth that evening, so we made our way slowly through the rush hour traffic of Bournemouth (note-
Now looking forward to next years Rally at Kenilworth!!