Brittany Together Again 2008

Last year we visited Manoir Du Menec and had such a good time that we all decided to go again! I was extremely apprehensive because sequels are rarely successful and I’m the organiser! However I need not have worried, there were a greater number of cars/visitors than last year and everyone agreed that they’d enjoyed themselves even more.

It was wonderful to see regulars again, sad that a few including David and Linda Neely from Australia couldn’t make it, but everyone was delighted to see some new faces too.

We were honoured with a visit from Colonel Bob Montgomery and his wife Elizabeth who spent four days with us on their way home from a BDC trip. Bob is eighty seven now but aged twenty one he was a Captain in the Royal Engineers and on the bridge of the Campbeltown when it rammed the Harbour gates in St Nazaire. He was awarded an MC for his part in the raid and he was visible in the Clarkson program on it, but not interviewed because he was staying in a different hotel. He and his wife were excellent dinner companions and now good friends. For our final evening the girls had formed a Choir and Hilary bullied local man Serge Gamany to accompany them on his Piano Accordion. Serge played the music for the recent award winning Piaff film which probably did his reputation more good than we did but it was great fun and he and his wife appeared to enjoy themselves. And therein lies the success of these trips, a holiday with one’s wife or partner is always enjoyable and relaxing with plenty of things to do during the day, but the evenings can drag. With a trip like this they don’t, there’s always an excellent dinner party and there may be entertainment too.

The dinner parties are such a success because Hilary and her staff work tirelessly to make sure everyone is well looked after and to make sure the same people are on different tables each evening so that everyone quickly gets to know everyone else. So good a host has she been that it’s no exaggeration to say that we all adore her and would recommend any group needing a holiday in Brittany visit the Manoir du Menec, France is full of excellent Hotels, yet this one still excels. This year we even had a whip round and bought her a much deserved present!

For motoring enthusiasts used to Britain’s appalling and overcrowded roads, Brittany (or France generally) is heaven on earth, the countryside is beautiful, the roads are empty, in good condition and fast, the towns are delightful, the food superb and prices much lower than the UK, although fuel is about the same.

Next year we may visit somewhere else and I’m looking into alternatives including Biarritz knowing that most would be happy to return to Manoir du Menec. There may also be a trip to the Circuits des Remparts races at Angouleme in September, so if anyone is interested do please get in touch. I’m sure that still more will want to come in 2009 so if you think you might enjoy it, please let me know soon to be sure of a place

The accompanying photos will do more to describe our holiday than my dreary prose although I’ve avoided mention of road numbers or even “Myrtle’s Comfort Stop” because Club mags are awash with such things in failed attempts to describe how much we all enjoy ourselves. All I can say is that I look forward very much to seeing everyone again and I hope everyone else feels the same.

I organise these trips for lovers of all old cars who enjoy driving them but don’t want a marathon, some people do huge daily mileages in WO’s or more recent pre-war cars and they are welcome. It’s exhausting, noisy and particular misery for spouses. Post war cars are far more comfortable and the ‘46-55 R-R & B’s particularly so. But for the lack of Air Conditioning, there are very few better today, Bristols too are excellent if more sporting in character. However Trevor Lewis travelled from Saudersfoot in South Wales in his 1937 MGVA, it cruises at up to 55 mph and the ride is extremely bumpy, he’d probably done over a thousand miles by the time he’d got home without the car missing a beat (I bolted his carburetors back on before it ground to a halt!). A remarkable achievement.

I’ve had JTM50 for ten years now having bought it in extremely dilapidated condition from the Real Car Company and subsequently rebuilt most of it a bit at a time as I could afford it. This year the brakes were overhauled, the shackle pins and bushes replaced and rear springs reset. The car is now extremely good and it cruises all day at between 70-80 mph whilst returning at least 18 mpg, rising to 21 if kept to about 55 mph. With Norman’s 3.4 to 1 rear axle, it still pulls strongly from 12 mph in top and is as smooth as silk. I can’t imagine that any other 57 year old could provide as much pleasure or be as reliable, though next year I intend to take my gleaming and totally rebuilt Bristol 400. One of these was second in the Targa Florio and 3rd in the Mille Miglia in the touring class which must prove something!