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More Reminiscences   by Ruth Moutrey

Bert and Molly Pearce's reminiscences of their 37 years caravanning published in the last Newsletter stirred many similar memories for us, particularly as regards The Cheltenham Weekend at Southfield Manor Farm.  Its fame had reached us long before we managed to buy our first Cheltenham in 1968.

Scarcely was the ink dry on our cheque when we sent our application to join the Club.

The first meeting we managed to attend was the Winter Luncheon at London Airport in 1969, where we met as table companions Dick and Paddy Felstead; in the tradition of 'Cheltenham', friends ever since. 

Our first Rally at Southfield was in 1969 and we shall always remember the sight of the house with its wall covered in 'White Star' Clematis (Montana) in full bloom. Every time we see a similar Clematis it brings back that memory.

Bert has recalled some of the memorable moments of the rallies, and perhaps we can add our memories of what were unique weekends.

During the week preceding the Friday start to the Rally, the barn and the surrounding area had to be cleared of pigeon droppings and cow pats. This task fell to the Committee, who were fed and watered, or should I say wined, by the Gardner family. Unfortunately, we were never able to participate in this! Work meant that we could never arrive until fairly late on Friday evening. We thus also missed the evening gathering in the barn for refreshments, again provided by the Gardners, which, from all accounts, were memorable.

Saturday was the Big Day. In the early morning it was a tradition that the Teenagers, who incidentally had their own room near the barn, climbed the hill behind the farm. We are indebted to Jill Smith for this information and also for the news that one of those Teenagers now has 5 Grandchildren.

The main feature of the morning for most people was the visit to the Works. Here we saw Cheltenhams in various stages of construction, and climbed the stairs to the Stores to buy any bits and pieces we needed for our vans. We bought a carpet for our 'Waterbuck', already cut to size, and amid cheers, carried it back to our van in the field. It fitted perfectly and was suitably welcomed by a number of visitors.

he Dinner Dance in the marquee, as Bert has described, was pure 'Cheltenham'. The Top Table consisted of, in addition to the Gardner family, the Mayor, the Town Clerk, local M.P. and, our Chaplain, the Vicar of Charlton Kings. We wore evening dress and danced to live music.

The Teenagers had their own table, but before the Speeches they left to enjoy the evening in their own room.

The lighting effects were arranged by Len Benson, who always added tone to any rally by arriving in an Aston Martin. He was assisted by Alan Harvey and a new young assistant, namely Dick Felstead, although it would appear that the last named did most of the work, Len and Alan were somewhat 'mature'.

Dick reminds us that he had strict instructions to make the lights in the Teenager's room high enough to prevent any lively and agile youngster from removing the bulbs!

 The Sunday morning service in the Barn was conducted by our Chaplain who was accompanied by the full choir from his Church. As today, the singing of the Cheltenham Hymn was always a poignant moment.

After the Service coffee was served, and the AGM followed It is interesting to note that many people of standing in the caravan world then, were Cheltenham owners and had interesting and helpful contributions to make.

All too soon we had to start preparing for the homeward trek, always having had a wonderful time, We had made new friends, seen many old ones, and met interesting people, but as we joined the road for home, our abiding memory was, and must always be, of that lovely Clematis.

AN AFTERTHOUGHT - Our daughter, for several reasons, is seeking a motor caravan for use in retirement· As a family we have been evaluating various models. Sitting in our Sable recently, she remarked "If only they would make this layout in a motor caravan. It has never been bettered. 
"Full circle 1919-2000 !?

(Arthur Gardner started the 'Cheltenham Dynasty' leading to the Sable by making a motor caravan from an ambulance in 1919.)

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