Report, Sevens to the Sea 2016

SEVENS TO THE SEA – Sunday 10 April 2016

This was our fourth experience of Austineering in Lincolnshire, such is the welcome and camaraderie that we can’t keep away. It is also a good way to start a new year of Austineering.

Our routine from Suffolk begins on the Saturday morning motoring to Lincoln via Kings Lynn and Sleaford in Matilda, Karen’s 1927 Chummy, a journey of about 110 miles.  We overnight at the Holiday Inn Express which has good secure parking for the Austin.

Negotiating the busy A15 and A17 is not without it’s challenges and Saturday had dawned wet so hood up and side screens were required. Having arrived in the mid afternoon, by which time the rain had stopped, we met up with Rick and Cherry Fryer who had driven up from Dereham in Cecil the Special.  Their drive was even wetter as they only have a couple of aero screens to protect them from the elements.  We proceeded to sample a few well earned real ales in the Adam and Eve pub before adjourning for dinner in Café Zoot. Lincoln is a beautiful and very interesting city – well worth a visit. My main challenge is keeping Karen out of the handbag shops on the basis we have no luggage room in Matilda. I usually fail though!

The weather had transformed overnight and Sunday dawned clear and sunny.  The start at Hartsholme Park is manned from 8am and we wanted to arrive early so we could have the opportunity to chinwag with acquaintances we hadn’t seen since last year, or in some cases, since the last Sevens to the Sea event.  The added incentive was delicious hot sausage and bacon baps which tasted wonderful at that time of the morning.

The driver’s briefing by organiser Peter Rowlands received only mild heckling and was followed by a welcome by the Mayor and Mayoress of Lincoln. They were impressed by the turnout of fine motor cars and, according to tradition, waved us off with the chequered flag as we departed.

Austins gathering at the start

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The invitation to this event which covers approximately 110 miles notes that it is proof that Lincolnshire is not flat.  That is certainly true, for having driven no more than 6 miles, we reached a reasonably steep hill to a T junction controlled by traffic signals. If they are on red, a challenging hill start is required and it is as well to leave sufficient room from the car in front to allow for stalling or a dodgy handbrake!

The route is devised by Paddy and Ande Malone and every year is different. They do a super job and we all know how long such things take to plan. The route took us past St John the Baptist church near RAF Scampton where the accompanying notes point out that there are graves of WWII Luftwaffe pilots in the churchyard. Interestingly, these graves are in the same traditional stone design of the Commonwealth War Graves . It would be interesting to know the background to these and we made a mental note to research this in a little more detail before our next visit. Many points of interest are shown on the route and we are all encouraged to stop and see the various sites such as churches with amazing interiors and viewpoints. Throughout the route the daffodils were spectacular as they bowed in the breeze.

Open top motoring on a fresh morning has it’s effect on one’s plumbing so the planned coffee stop at Wickenby airfield was welcomed.  As was the selection of homemade cakes on offer! It was a great opportunity to view the cars again and natter.

Rick and Cherry Fryer ready for take-off from Wickenby airfield

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The weather just got better as the day progressed and the village of Tealby must have wondered what had happened to it as 50 Austins arrived to take a lunch break at the 80 mile point.

The afternoon followed a pleasantly meandering route to Cleethorpes where despite filling up in Lincoln, we suffered the ignominy of running out of petrol on the approach in to the town. Fortunately, we had a spare can of fuel.  (Memo to self – must investigate high petrol consumption)

The sunny weather had resulted in Cleethorpes being particularly busy with day trippers.  Normally the promenade is closed to vehicular traffic but for this event only, the organisers arrange with the local council for permission to drive our cars on to the prom. Proceeding at no more than 5 miles an hour, one picks one’s way carefully through the pedestrians and seaside train to park along the seafront.

This naturally attracts a crowd of interested bystanders eager to take a closer look at the cars and of course, the “I used to have one of those” yarns! We would all be rich if we have a fiver for every photo taken!

After receiving the congratulatory completion certificate from the Pre War Austin Seven Club and North East Lincs Borough Council we hung around for as long as we could but with a keen wind blowing off the sea the cosy bar at the Kingsway Hotel beckoned temptingly.

Thus we scuttled off to get Matilda in the underground car park and then refresh the parts that other beers cannot reach.

The climax of the day was of course the group evening dinner which, this year, was held for the first time at the Pier Restaurant on the seafront. This has been refurbished to a very high standard and a very convivial evening was had by all – some more than others!

All good things have to come to an end and after breakfast farewells on Monday morning, it was time to head for home.  The weather stayed bright albeit windy and Matilda covered 360 miles over the weekend with only a seized fan pulley 20 miles from home.

This gentle event really is a great way to start the season and I would recommend it to anyone to give it a go.  One could not wish for a more welcoming bunch at the Lincs Group.

We have already booked for 2017.  Why don’t you?

Dave and Karen Witton