Where can I start?
Firstly the excitement and anticipation of the event was made that much better when in October 2018 my wife and I were entering a state of excitement following the Annual dinner about the forthcoming event in London the following month, only to be slightly concerned by the days and the dates not seeming to match up….hey ho we thought just a slight admin error we believed until about 2 weeks from the event and we still had not heard anything…very unlike Beaulieu…there must be something wrong…..quick phone call to Doug and his team, and the error became very apparent – it was our error (sorry Aly…my error) we only had the wrong year!
It makes a lot of sense now having experienced the administration and organisation involved for such an event…. The bid we had won was for 2019! So, the days and dates were right and so the wait began! One year on and with the flow of information flowing well from the ever professional Beaulieu administration team, our excitement yet again began to build.
Having never been on or even witnessed the London to Brighton rally, we genuinely did not know what to expect. Luckily by now being totally clued up to the errors one can make, I double, triple and quadruple checked the details……and suddenly wow – I found another “Taylor Error”. I had simply assumed that because the hotel the night before was for 2 people, then the ride in the Mercedes Benz was also going to be for two.
Alas I was wrong – again. This time far more worryingly so. For a year I had talked endlessly about the forthcoming November and that fantastic weekend were going to have traveling for London to Brighton aboard motoring history, following a stay in that iconic Lancaster Hotel, how on earth am I going to tell Aly now, that it was in fact a seat only for one in the car, and the likelihood was that one of us (and I was prepared to fall on my sword) was going to be traveling on a similarly historic route and that equally historic form of transport – “Southern Rail”
Panic set in…loss of face inevitable, divorce… possibly!
By a twist of fate we were so lucky to be informed that a seat that had become available at the last minute, and would we like it? We hurriedly accepted and a charitable contribution was made towards the Trust to secure the seat – marriage intact!
November 2nd 2019 – the long wait is over. Saturday evening, we arrive early evening at the beautiful Royal Lancaster Hotel, admire the superb room reserved for us with its spectacular views of a dark London November night. Swiftly down to the hotel’s restaurant, a particularly fine Thai restaurant where we had a gorgeous meal and then off to bed by 10pm.
Next day, an early start with breakfast in the hotel, not that I thought I could eat another thing after the previous evening gastronomic blow out! Still we battled on and made the most of a pretty spectacular breakfast spread, and then on, by 6:45 down to meet Doug and his team to aboard our chariots. The photos are deceptive it was still surprisingly dark, yet pleasantly mild. We had geared up for the cold…layers we were recommended, layers we had, we were ready for the worst, yet the day proved a glorious Autumnal day throughout, sunny clear and dry.
Leaving the hotel, we met up with the rest of the attendees at Hyde Park by the lake – OMG never did I expect to see so many cars. 400 in total, all Pre 1904. I would not have believed the sight unless I had been there, spectacular to say the least. Even now it just astonishes me that so many vehicles of such an age are still on the road. There are clearly many more hidden secrets hidden behind thousands of non-descript garage doors up and down the entire country.
After spending a pleasant while wandering among these wonderful machines and meeting many of the doting owners – including many rather eccentric ones! The 15-minute warning was given.
Back to our car – Bang! 9am on the dot the rally starts, in no time at all we are through the gates and on our way.
As we rounded Marble Arch and headed towards Buckingham Place, several thoughts went through my head….
- How lucky and honoured Aly and I felt to be taking part in such an important, historic and fun event
- How beautiful London can be between 7am and 9am on a Sunday morning, quiet, clear and majestic
- How British I felt…and proud of it I was, even if we were in a 1903 German Mercedes Benz!
On with the journey through central London, out through Brixton and on towards Croydon, Gatwick and beyond, all the way being waved to by hundreds and hundreds of well wishers in every village and town waving and cheering us on our way. No once did we stop smiling, and rarely did we stop waving.
What a wonderful time we were having, great weather, a cracking car, a great driver and enthusiastic supporters and helpers of the rally…all the way and all the time surrounded by the most astonishing collection of some of the world’s rarest cars.
We eventually arrived in Brighton about 2pm after just one scheduled stop for refuelling, a comfort break and a little engine fettling.
The sun was still shining, the crowds were huge and our bums were numb!
What a day, what an occasion. What an honour.
Well done Doug and your fantastic and enthusiastic support team for helping create a memory we will never forget.
I thoroughly recommend at this year’s annual dinner, you dig deep, bid high and try your hardest to win and experience the London to Brighton Rally – I promise you will be delighted with your prize…even if you have to wait until 2021 to take it!
Nigel & Aly Taylor