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Werner goes to the International Rally

Feature on a trip from Switzerland to the International Rally

(Positively no trailer involved )

This is just one of the 3 prizes that Werner Maurer won.

By email from:Volketswil, Switzerland, 1st October 2007

Since I am retired, it gives me the chance to come to the International Rallies in England more often, but also, and that is the point, to use my Standards for long journeys as an every day car as it was common in the fifties.

This year, Heidi said, take it easy and do the journey in two more days quietly. So, I left on Tuesday before the Rally already. I wanted to leave home at six o’clock in order to avoid the morning traffic jams around Zurich and Basle. But at this time it was raining very heavily so I decided not to leave before 9 o’clock and to hope that at this time the rain would have stopped. Yes it did. So I headed towards Zurich and on the motorway to Basle. The weather changed between rain and sunshine.

A new motorway tunnel was opened under the city of Basle at the beginning of June. The journey through the town to the French border takes now only 10 minutes. It reminded me of an incident, when I came home last year from England only one tunnel was open and my accelerator-cable broke. I managed to stop in a little lay by to repair the cable with a torch in my mouth. 

The weather in France was the same as in Switzerland. I headed towards Mulhouse, Colmar and through the beautiful Alsace wine region. On the Col de Bonhomme I stopped for lunch. Thereafter I continued towards Nancy, St. Dizier when near Vitry le Francois, a nice old French town, it was pouring down so I decided to stop there at a hotel with a garage. It was raining nearly the whole night, but when I left the next day at 08.30 the rain had stopped. I drove towards Reims, St. Quentin, Arras to Calais. The ferries over the channel were so busy so that I had to wait until 5 o’clock. While waiting for boarding, several people come towards me, asking what car it is or that I am crazy to drive such a long distance etc. A drink or two on board and some food made the crossing over the rough see nevertheless pleasant. In Dover I tried in vain to find a hotel. Outside Dover I saw sign "luxurious B&B rooms". I found there, on a farm, a beautiful room with a modern ensuite-room. The landlady gave me a plan where to find a good restaurant which I followed. The road became narrower and narrower. I thought I would end in the nowhere. Suddenly, I saw two houses of which one was a restaurant. A drink, some wine with the meal, a coffee and a brandy made it a nice evening. I thought, here in the desert no police would stop me for blowing. 

The next morning, Thursday, I realised that I had lost two screws on my front numberplate, so I took it off. I followed the A2, crossed the Dartford tunnel and headed towards Hatfield. Now began the most difficult part of my journey - to find Phil and Lynda’s home, even though it was not my first visit. I was, as always, welcomed with a G&T with ice and lemon. In the evening I was invited to an excellent meal in a newly opened fish restaurant in St. Albans. The next day I showed Phil how to make the brass parts on his old Standard to shine like new. I think, if we would have worked a little bit harder, he would have deserved first prize at the rally. He promised me, that he would clean it in future every week. ( I am a failure, Werner, sorry!- webmaster)

In the afternoon, Lynda came home from school, and we drove towards Cambridge and the Rally site. The Friday afternoon traffic on the roads and the motorway was enormous and the heavy rain made driving not easier. It was nice to meet old friends at the rally site. About the rally you were informed through the homepage and the magazine. I was pleased to get three first prizes.

Nevertheless, I was sad, when before the prize giving a member of the committee said to me, "where have you parked your Mercedes-Benz and your trailer.?" Believe me, I come to the rally because I like driving my Standard and I have always driven my Flying 8 from Switzerland to England and back on his own wheels and never on a trailer (see photographs enclosed) As you will see on one picture I am carrying about 40 kg’s (88 lbs.) of tools and spares which I would not need with a trailer.

Monday morning after the rush hours I left St. Albans, drove slowly back to Dover, over the Channel to Calais, on the A 26 in France towards Lens for the first overnight stop. Next morning back on the A26 towards St. Quentin, Reims and then over the route nationale to St. Dizier and Nancy for the next overnight stop. If you stay there at the IBIS Hotel, within one minute there is a tramway station, a modern tramway which is a mixture between tramway and trolleybus. It drives on rails, then like a bus on the road to rejoin the rails afterwards. It brings you in 15 minutes into the center of Nancy with its beautiful castle and many nice old buildings and for the ladies a beautiful shopping area. Wednesday morning, the last day of the journey, I drove towards the Alsace to Colmar, Mulhouse and Basle. Between Colmar and Mulhouse a lorry driver was mad, because I was in his eyes not fast enough, he shouted the horns of his lorry and overtook me in a dangerous way so that I had to brake hard and drive onto the emergency lane. Normally lorry drivers and other people were very friendly. They often waived or switch on the emergency lights for a few moment. It rained again and I was happy when I was at home at 4 o’clock, having covered over 2700 km’s (1678 miles) without any troubles at all. (What about the numberplate bolts, Werner?- webmaster)

It was a pleasant journey and a very nice International. Thanks to Ian and Vera for organising a perfect rally. I had many good talks with other members and it was really worthwhile coming to England even so the weather could have been better. Moreover I would like to thank my friends, Phil and Lynda for their hospitality.

Just a few words, which have nothing to do with the Rally. Since a few years you call your rally "International Rally", which I think is justified as e.g. this year you had quite a number of foreign participants, Three with their cars and some others who made their holiday or business travel plans so, that they could participate. Look into the homepage of the Club, you get reports from India, Australia, Norway, USA etc. which means you are lucky, you have active members of all over the world. I think, the international success is no doubt due to the outstanding homepage of your club. You want to be and you are an International Club. Be proud of it and not jealous

I hope to see you next year in Stratford upon Avon.

Werner Maurer, Switzerland

The roadtrip in pictures- click any thumbnail to see an enlargement

Approaching the Dartford Crossing Bridge

Chance encounter with Dirk Cornelius with another Eight.

Waiting for the Ferry at Dover

The 8 loaded on the ferry

The French motorways are quieter than our own

The Eight rests outside a hotel en-route in France

Below, the Maurer toolkit, none of it needed!

Thanks Werner, not only for coming the furthest, but for sending me the story of the trip. If you would like to congratulate Werner, he will be at Charlecote Park in 2008

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