The Big Picnic

Last weekend was the Big Picnic, an owner's club event in aid of Prostate Cancer Research (PCR). It's held at the home of club member Barry Searle, on his 70 acre estate in Ashton Hayes just outside Chester. As the weather forecast looked amazing I signed-up the week before. With the picnic on the Saturday I decided to do a visit to Morecambe first on Friday to see a friend, stay overnight there, and then drive down to Ashton Hayes on the Saturday morning. I could stay overnight in Chester before driving back to London on Sunday morning. With hotels booked it was an early night on Thursday..

With so much traffic on the roads I much prefer driving first thing in the morning. So I'm up at 4am and leave London at 5am, heading round the M25 to the M11 and up to Cambridge. My plan is to do the A1(M)/A1 up to Wetherby, and then cut across through the hills and moors to Morecambe. It's quite cold in the morning so I start out with the half hood on. With the heater and my over-ear headphones it's quite a comfortable ride as we blast up North. I stop for breakfast along the way and by 09:30 we reach Wetherby. Now we start to head out across country.

The scenery is great as we cut across from Harrogate to Skipton and then Settle. I stop for an early lunch at the Fenwick pub outside Lancaster.

And finally around 2pm we get to our hotel destination for the evening, the Midland in Morecambe.

This is a really nice Art Deco hotel on the beach front, the car fits right in ! After relaxing for a couple of hours I pick up my guest for this evening, the lovely Jennifer who lives just down the road. With the car tucked away with his half hood, shower cap and wheel clamp on, we head to the bar. Morecambe is famous for its sunsets, and today did not disappoint.

So after a very pleasant evening ending with a midnight stroll along the beach front, I get up at 8am for breakfast. This is in the dinning room with stunning views out across the bay. By 9am I'm ready for the drive down to Chester and the weather is just perfect.

My car does look good in the sun ! The drive is straight down the M6 and then across to Chester. By 10:30 we get to the estate at Ashton Hayes.

There's already a dozen cars there as I arrive, including a pair of 21's ! By 11 the field is starting to fill up.

Ok so it's a Caterham event but one owner decided to bring his 328. We have a soft spot for 308/328's and this is a fantastic example in very original condition. Nice.. So the picnic is in the garden area around the greenhouse. Well you can call it a greenhouse but it's actually bigger than most people's house.

The gardens are simply stunning. More of them further down.

By midday there are over 50 cars here. A huge variety of vehicles, from X-flows to Superlights and more recent Sigmas and Duratec's. 

We are wandering around chatting to people, and it's all very friendly. Many thanks to Barry for hosting this event. His estate is exquisite.

And by 3pm we are heading off to the hotel in Chester. I wanted to test my new GoPro camera so here's a little 360 video of leaving the event.

So we stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton outside Chester, which was very nice. An early start on Sunday and by 11am we are back home in London. What a fantastic weekend !