An eclectic group of cars emerged at the Packhouse in Farnham on the morning of the start of the Wreck & Rouen charity rally. The 13 cars ranging from the more normal VW Golf to Volvos to Mercedes to a Cadillac and not forgetting our own Jaguar, fondly named Big Bertha. There should have been 14 cars however a catastrophic engine failure the day before the start put one VW Golf out of the running. This was a stark reminder of the age and potential fragility of the vehicles we had all acquired. Spending £350 on a car clearly does not guarantee reliability!
Following a briefing over a bacon sandwich we all left in convoy heading to the ferry at Dover, two hours later after an uneventful drive all cars arrived safely. We celebrated the minor miracle and breathed a sigh of relief that we were in fact all going to make it to France. The aim of the first day was to get to a campsite in Berny Riviere to the north east of Paris. Each day was to be accompanied by a set of challenges, day one included: obtain the largest garlic bulb you can find, finding out the cost of a live pigeon in Bapaume, taking a team selfie with a Peugeot 205, a boat and a piece of farm machinery, extra points added if a farmer was in the shot! Rather than head down the motorways we took the more scenic D roads, which are surprising smooth unlike our potholed UK roads. We arrived at the campsite in the early evening having ticked as many items off the challenges list as possible, the ‘who has the biggest garlic bulb’ judging in the evening was interesting…
Day two: With the aim of getting to Le Mans we had the choice of either driving through Paris or taking the country route to the south. We chose the latter on the advice that Paris was hosting a large exhibition that day and we did not want to risk Bertha overheating whilst stuck in traffic. The drive was fantastic, heading south towards Fontainebleau through the forests and mile after mile of open countryside. The daily challenges included taking selfies with a moated chateau, a windmill and what proved for us to be a very elusive Citroën 2CV. We also had to purchase the cheapest bottle of red wine possible and purchase a French beret. Again the beret proved elusive to us, having tried many shops the owners clearly thought we were mad trying to describe a beret in pigeon French, it appears that the national hat is now a beanie….. We were pleased with our cheap €1.40 bottle of Vin Rouge but were beaten with a bottle that had been purchased for €1.17! It hasn’t been opened yet but I’m guessing that it won’t improve with age.
Day three: Waking up to a beautiful sunny day we headed to the famous Le Mans race circuit. Being partly a road circuit we drove the cars in convoy along Indianapolis Straight, around Indianapolis and Arnage corners and then back to the Mulsanne Straight stopping to absorb the moment and to take photos. The planned route for the day had us aiming for Dieppe on the coast via Rouen. The challenges for the day included: Taking the most imaginative photo of the day, taking a selfie with a Gendarme, with a Renault 5 and next to Avenue de Basingstoke which we had to locate. We managed to upset a Gendarme who really did not want us to take his photo (he had a gun so we retreated). We also upset a boulangerie owner whilst trying to measure his baguettes to obtain the longest one possible again to fulfill another challenge. Big Bertha continued to purr along trouble free even through some torrential rain around Rouen. We arrived at the waterlogged campsite in the early evening, thankfully the rain had passed as we pitched the tent. The judging of the daily challenges proved interesting with considerable debate over who had the longest baguette. We had high hopes for our imaginative photo having persuaded a Frenchman to take our picture whilst riding a larger than life sized model bull outside a steakhouse, however we were beaten by the ‘Oddballs’ team who had photographed themselves stripped to their underwear performing a mock baptism in a stream!
Day four was a leisurely drive along the coast road finishing at Calais to catch the ferry just after lunch. Despite the damp conditions overnight and having passed 180,000 miles on the clock Bertha started ok and took the last bit of the French journey in her stride. Landing back on British soil we undertook the final part of the drive back to Farnham, all cars made it, which was quite remarkable considering their age and condition.
So in summary:
▪ Max Spend On Car = £350.
▪ Cars = 13.
▪ Participants = 33.
▪ Charities = Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice, Farnham & Step by Step, Aldershot.
▪ Days = 4.
▪ Miles = 900.
We had a great time and Big Bertha with her excellent wrap by Signseen put a smile on peoples faces. More importantly the two chosen charities will benefit from the £8,000 that has been raised so far. The Just Giving page is still open for anyone who would like to donate HERE
Technics are delighted to have been a headline sponsor and are looking forward to next years rally which is already being talked about, if you fancy taking part have a look HERE