Archives 2022

Exbury Gardens

Exbury Gardens

Despite some light rain dampening proceedings, a total of ten Austin Healeys assembled at the Kimbridge Barn, just north of Romsey, on Wednesday 25th May for the first “Reasonable Weather Weekday” of the year.
After a chance to catch up with friends, some of whom we hadn’t seen since 2019, over tea or coffee and, for most, a slice of cake, we all departed for a drive of around 35 miles, with our final destination being Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway.
Our route took us via the villages of Awbridge and West Wellow into the eastern New Forest and the village of Bramshaw. We then continued south via Cadnam, passing The Woodlands Lodge Hotel (a regular meeting place for the New Forest Centre) before reaching the village of Ashurst. From here, we continued through the New Forest to Beaulieu. This section of the route saw more light rain, but several cars pressed on without putting their tops up, clearly undeterred by typical English summer weather!
From Beaulieu, the route continued through the village of Blackfield down to Lepe Beach, where we were able to look across The Solent to the Isle of Wight. From there we continued on to Exbury, where most of the cars arrived in a convoy that was led by Brian Loades. It seemed that everybody was happy to trust that Brian’s local knowledge of the route would get them to Exbury without the need to follow the route instructions that they had been given!
Clearly the weather had deterred many others from venturing out to the gardens as the car park was much emptier than expected. We all parked up together in the car park and headed into the gardens for a spot of lunch and a stroll around the gardens, which are always a mass of glorious colours at this
time of year with the rhododendrons and azaleas in bloom.

‘Drive It Day’ Austin Healey Style

‘Drive It Day’ Austin Healey Style

It seems no time at all since we had the national Drive It Day 2021 operating within the ‘COVID
Rule of 6’ and limited to only three cars.
So on Sunday April 24th 2022 it was a treat to see the Healeys appear in style for the NFAHC run.
We did wonder if our club members confidence had returned enough to come along and join in. But
in full sunshine, mostly with the roof down, the Healey engines could be heard roaring from the
distance as they turned up for start. It was good to see familiar faces and new members having a
good natter over morning coffee and a generous silver platter of pastries provided by Le Chateau at
Cadnam.
Eighteen cars were parked in a very orderly, disciplined fashion considering no marshalling took
place! There were 16 Healeys, including Healey 3000s, 100s and a smart red Sprite.
In addition we had an interesting Panther belonging to John and Sue Morrissey. They had hoped
that their Healey would be ready to drive that day, but sadly for them it wasn’t. On the other hand,
new members Andy and Carol Smith had their fingers crossed that their newly acquired Healey
would be ready, and to their delight it was! Oh and of course…. long standing members Pete and
Alison brought their E-Type and had to put up with the normal banter, such as suggestions that it
should be parked up the road on Haydon Tyres Forecourt. (They take all the flack in good spirit!).
The route of the day was distributed and the run got underway. Les was without a navigator in his
Sprite and had cleverly used Google Maps to plot the route on his phone. Francis and Yvonne
Bugler decided not to risk doing the run as their 100 had got stuck in 4th gear during their journey
from home. So Francis became Kevin Bennett’s navigator, and Yvonne and Andrea took advantage
of the sun and stayed behind in the garden until lunchtime!

Sporting a Drive It Day Plate
Sporting a Drive It Day Plate

The route passed through Romsey into Wiltshire, through Whiteparish, Whaddon, Downton,
Landford, Bramshaw and back to Cadnam. It took about an hour and a half along a variety of A
roads, B roads and a few dodgy, narrow lanes, where avoiding potholes on the left edge of the
tarmac demanded a bit of skilful driving to protect those vulnerable exhausts! There was the chance
to enjoy quiet, country lanes as well as places where you could put your foot down and give the
engine chance to show its potential. We were pleased to hear members say that they enjoyed the
views along the way, and some said that they had not driven along a few of the roads before and
thereby enjoyed the experience.

Natter over Sunday lunch
Natter over Sunday lunch

Everyone made it back to Le Chateau without incident and managed to avoid the pigs, donkeys,
cows and New Forest ponies that frequent our local roads. Thirty two of us sat down to a lovely
roast meal with fresh vegetables, followed either by an excellent apple crumble with custard, or a
good variety of ice creams. Our thanks go to the chef and staff for looking after us so well.
We hope that many of you reading this enjoyed a successful Drive It Day event. It felt so good
being free on the road again after all the restrictions of the last two years.
And yes, you’ll be pleased to know that, despite the jammed gear box, the Healey managed to get
back home using only its 4th gear and no doubt will be soon nursed back to full fitness for more
adventures.