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‘Westerlys on Wheels’ – Valentine’s Rally, 9 – 11 February 2018
9th February 2018 - 11th February 2018
The inaugural Westerly on Wheels event certainly put the group’s motto – “Foul British weather will not deter us” – to the test. We arrived a day early to ensure that everything was prepared; and it was just as well that we did, because, despite several telephone calls with the pub over the previous weeks to confirm pitches, meals, etc, the staff on duty on the day we arrived had no record of us coming! Moreover, of the promised six hard-standings, there were only three available, the rest being already occupied by other campers. The back-up of using the pub’s overspill car park was therefore necessary, but we needed to make an urgent shopping trip (thanks to David Symonds) to purchase a couple of splitters to provide the promised electric.
David and Judith had also arrived on the Thursday, and we set our vans up with the awnings facing each other, which together with the Westerly Gazebo, we hoped would provide a dry meeting place for the pontoon party. In the event, we decided that the wind would be too much for the big Westerly Gazebo and so made do with a small one to extend our van’s awning instead. In any case, the wind increased late in the evening, and we had to take everything back inside.
Next morning, we put it all out again. The temperature had just struggled above zero, although the wind chill made it feel much lower. With Westerly flags flying we were ready to welcome the fleet! By Lunchtime most had arrived and we had our “pontoon party” get-together, just before sunset. David and Judith’s gas-fired “volcano” provided warmth for those huddled around it.
The following morning found us sheltering under the awnings from the wind and rain, for coffee and a Valentines themed quiz, and a wonderful iced sponge cake, specially made by Mandy and Paul Whitney, and featuring the WOW logo, to commemorate the inaugural event. Tim and Michele Burkinshaw were worthy winners of the Quiz and received the prize of a bottle of bubbly. Afterwards, although it was still raining intermittently, we decided to take down the gazebo and furl up the awnings as gale force winds (and rain) were forecast for the afternoon.
After lunch five hardy souls began the 1½ mile trek to visit Keyneston Mill where we had arranged for a visit to the Parterre perfumery and Botanic Café. On the way, we diverted to visit St Mary’s Church and admired the ancient murals on the walls. After tea in the café, we were shown around the perfumery, and given a talk on aromatic plant cultivation and perfume making. Fortunately, the rain held off for the walk back to the camp, and we didn’t get too wet.
In the evening we had arranged dinner in the True Lover’s Knot pub. This was accompanied by a raffle, which raised a total of £66 towards the Ocean Brothers’ target of raising £100,000 towards the British Skin Foundation charity. More information on the Ocean Brothers epic Atlantic rowing challenge can be found on their website. Another cake (chocolate, this time) by Mandy completed a very sociable evening, and we retired to our ‘vans.
On Sunday morning, the pub put on a full English Breakfast for all, before we went our separate ways home. There was even a brief flurry of snow as we packed up the campsite.
In total, 19 people (and three dogs), representing ten boats, attended the event. It was particularly encouraging to meet several couples who had not attended Westerly events before. We are looking forward to organising the next Westerly on Wheels event in the Autumn. Watch the website for details. If you want to be reminded of future WOW events please send us an email.
Contact: Dick Leedham