UK Owners Club – International meeting

August 2019 – event write-up

David Ullathorne very generously accepted responsibility for compiling an account of our antics around South Suffolk at our international meeting. Thank you very much David for reminding those of us who were present about the event and hopefully whetting the appetites of those who didn’t join us this time. I have received numerous messages of thanks to the organisers and I am pretty confident that a “splendiferous” time was had by all.  Here is David’s article.

Martin Garrad, Membership Secretary

After virtually a year of meticulous planning, the eagerly awaited Barchetta UK Owners’ Club First International Meeting commenced on 22 August at Stoke by Nayland Hotel Golf & Spa in Suffolk. After the previous 2 weeks of unsettled conditions, the weather had turned into a record breaking ‘heat wave’ Bank Holiday weekend,unbroken blue skies – just perfect for Barchetta motoring and a sun tan!

A total of 64 cars attended with their proud owners. About half were from the UK (including Wales, and N Ireland – Scotland missed out!) and the rest from Germany, Holland, Belgium, Norway, France, Switzerland, Ireland and Japan (in a German car). Unless I’m mistaken, this was the largest gathering of Barchettas the UK has ever seen. A weekend of surprises, fun and entertainment lay ahead…….

Thursday 22 August – Arrival day 

A handful of Barchettas had arrived the day before, confusing early arrivals as they approached the hotel, by driving in the opposite direction on an impromptu drive to Clacton. A steady flow of Barchettas started to arrive from about 12.30pm and continued until gone 6pm. Our dedicated team on the registration and check-in desk welcomed all attendees with expert efficiency. The registration packs included all information needed for the weekend, as well as a ‘goody’ bag containing 2 bottles of Suffolk cider, a windscreen sticker and club lapel badges.

The hotel’s bar terraces were quickly found by new arrivals and much joviality commenced, with the Dutch contingent taking the lead in having fun (and continued to do so every day)!

At 6.30pm, all met in the bar for pre dinner drinks, where new and old acquaintances were made. It was pleasing to see a good number of new and established UK club members as well as all our like-minded international friends. A superb buffet dinner with wine, (washed down by beer for some) followed.  After dinner Martin welcomed everyone and announced various travel and Barchetta related awards, which went to – 

‘Big’ Dave, UK member and yet another David in the club! – Highest Mileage car

Friday 23 August – Drive 1

Kentwell Hall 

After an early breakfast we collected packed lunches and met in our dedicated parking area where 3 groups of around 21 cars were formed for the drive. Each group left in quick succession arriving at our first stop in Lavenham after a 15 mile scenic drive through the narrow Suffolk lanes, passing cider orchards en route. Upon arrival, we were treated to a surprise organ recital by Ross in the stunning Lavenham Church. We learnt this particular organ had around 5,000 pipes – which is a lot – apparently! Lavenham is a uniquely preserved medieval town with an abundance of leaning half-timbered houses and cafes. After about 2 hours we were off on a short drive to Kentwell Hall for another surprise experience – a time tunnel, but not travelling in a DeLorean! We were met at the end of the tunnel by 200 of the Hall’s new temporary residents –folk who like dressing up and speaking in Olde English (‘each to their own’ I suppose – although I guess they say the same about Barchetta owners!) After ‘acclimatising’ and getting into the Tudor ‘way’ it was quite fascinating to interact with the ‘would be’ Tudor-people, who were totally immersed in their various characters. Some of us had their epiglottis attended to by the Olde Worlde medics, served the Lord and Lady of the house with food authentically prepared in the kitchen to Tudor recipes, watched a musket being fired and were greeted by falconers, blacksmiths, and bakers. 

Come 3 o’clock it was time to head back to the hotel to enjoy the pool, bar and/or sun before dinner. Dinner this evening was another first class buffet with plentiful wine once again.

Then another surprise ‘artist’ appeared – Chris DJ Pearce, had brought his disco kit (and removed his “For Sale” sign from his car – has he ‘seen the light’?!) The dance floor suddenly came alive in proper ‘Strictly’ style, led by a very professional show by Susan and Eric from Switzerland.

Saturday 24 August – Drive 2

Longer drives today. The first took us to Sutton Hoo after a scenic 1½ hour drive. Owned by the National Trust, Sutton Hoo is one of the country’s most amazing archaeological finds, comprising numerous burial mounds including an Anglo Saxon King’s long ship burial site. It has recently been reopened following a multi-million pound renovation including a fantastic visitor and experience centre. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sutton-hoo

All left suitably impressed for an afternoon by the seaside, along with the rest of East Anglia’s population. A convoy of 64 Barchettas descended upon picturesque Aldeburgh, driving in convoy through the High Street and onwards to the far end of a pot-hole strewn gravel track. After some nifty steering over the uneven surface, we all got safely parked with no drama or broken springs. Fish and chips on the beach for many, beers in the pub, and crab sandwiches for others. I dare say some ice cream was also enjoyed. The RNLI also had an open day allowing access to the amazing life boat. David and Kim took to the sea for a refreshing dip in the North Sea, whilst others were buying props in readiness for our comedy dinner.

Come 3 o’clock it was time for the 1¾ hour drive back to the hotel for the English Seaside themed Gala Dinner with a Fawlty Towers comedy show, complete with a very realistic seagull display expertly prepared by Helen and Tony. Everyone made a great effort (although it has to be said, some made an extra special effort). If I’m honest, the hotel let us down a little this evening with the food, unless you have a penchant for rubber chicken and dry tuna. Maybe it was part of the Fawlty Towers show?! The dessert was good though. However, this didn’t spoil the evening, as Mike had done us proud by managing the budget to include a generous supply of wine! At 9.30pm we were treated to a spectacular fireworks display courtesy of an adjacent wedding party.

Speeches and thanks by Martin, Jorg, President of BCD (Germany), Tanja President of BCN (Holland) and Jarle from Norway followed the meal and show. Generous exchanges of gifts and mementos – a commemorative plaque from Club Netherlands, special Barchetta watches and wine from Club Deutschland and Aquavit from Norway. All UK members were also kindly invited by Club Netherlands and Club Deutschland to their joint 25th anniversary meeting next year (spaces will sadly be in limited supply).

Chris was then ready once again with his disco. Dancing into the night, it was nearly the end of a legendary meeting.

Sunday 25 August – Departure Day

After a latish breakfast, we met in the car park for a group photograph by Colin, followed by fond farewells with all looking forward to next year’s various adventures.

The organisers and all who contributed made this an amazing and successful international meeting for the UK club, made possible by the attendance of all of those who travelled from near and far– thank you.

David Ullathorne

August 2019