Newcastle Picnic Run July 2021

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By now all our members will be aware that several members are keen to meet up and head out on a picnic run at relatively short notice given the variances that the Irish weather may present.  For this year we agreed that the honorary secretary would email all on the preceding Tuesday with a follow up reminder on Friday of the next assembly. In this way we are all, so to speak, willing and able to participate subject to the usual practical hinderances and consideration. 

Laurence Roe made it known that his home in Newcastle would be somewhere we could settle on as a base for a venture into County Wicklow. And so, the call went out where we settled for Sunday 25th July 2021. It really was a good choice of day and location. The weather forecasters were of the view that the duration of the exceptional warm sunny days would stay with us for at least on the Sunday of our choice, but the following days were another matter; how right they were as the clouds opened up on Monday to the delight of gardeners who were concerned for their hanging baskets. 

The location was par excellence. Laurence’s home was open to all where we foregathered at 10:30 am, as invited. For many Seveners it was their first outing in their Club and an opportunity to meet and greet with colleagues. What was wonderful was the presence of five cars from Northern Ireland whose presence positioned us as an all Ireland Club. There was ample time to savour and enjoy the bountiful array of cakes, biscuits and savouries laid on with hot coffee, teas and minerals aplenty. 

Right on time at the drivers’ briefing, our secretary thanked members present for their support in attending the event, made mention of the next outing that may take place in or around the Cooley Peninsula on the first weekend in September, followed by an indicative plan for a weekend one month later based in Sligo on the Saturday and harmonise with the Western Car Club on the Sunday.  Also mentioned was the Austin Seven Centenary Rally taking place from 19th to 24th July 2022 where we all as a group may participate. 

Laurence Roe conducted the drivers’ briefing by welcoming everyone to his home, expressing how pleased he was to see such a fine array of splendidly turned-out cars and hoping that the route for the day would prove to enjoyable and safe for all. A rally pack was distributed to all co-drivers with the journey to Woodenbridge of about 25 miles and the return leg about 35 miles.  The distance is about right where one is not under pressure for time and well able to stop and admire the beauty spots along the way. 

We were off at 11:15 am. The weather was exceptionally kind to us. Very warm, blue skies and no wind; what more could one ask for.  And, as a bonus, the roads of Laurence’s choice were made to measure for the little Sevens. Our route took in the villages of Newcastle and Rathnew, so avoiding the town of Wicklow. After Redcross there was a gentle hill to Barraniskey where some of us stopped to enjoy great views of Wicklow and the Irish sea.  On then to Avoca. Some of us well remember Thomas Moore’s the Meeting of the Waters, thus set out for your entertainment:

THERE is not in the wide world a valley so sweet
As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet;
O, the last rays of feeling and life must depart,
Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart.

Yet it was not that Nature had shed o’er the scene
Her purest of crystal and brightest of green;
’T was not her soft magic of streamlet or hill,
O no,—it was something more exquisite still.

’T was that friends, the beloved of my bosom, were near,
Who made every dear scene of enchantment more dear,
And who felt how the best charms of nature improve,
When we see them reflected from looks that we love.

Sweet vale of Avoca! how calm could I rest
In thy bosom of shade, with the friends I love best,
Where the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease
And our hearts, like thy waters, be mingled in peace.

By and large we all arrived at our main stop within a half an hour of each other, some having pressing on while others took their time stopping for views and the odd photo or two. Parking up in a group in the Woodenbridge Hotel car Park was a magnet for the many visitors and tourists around to admire and inspect our cars. 

Many had commented that these cars were scarce on the ground and not been seen around and about, expressing appreciation to owners for the care they take in preserving what is a vital part of motoring history. Lunch was mixed and varied. Some brought delightful picnic baskets full of surprises, others fended for themselves in the local shops and others dined gracefully at the Hotel Smoke House. 

No matter what, each to their own, everyone enjoyed the lunch stop. We agreed to meet up prior to departure on the return leg of our journey to thank Laurence for his hospitality and route planning. In appreciation, Chris O’Mahony Honorary treasurer presented Laurence with a spalted beech bowl, hand turned from a Cork storm toppled beech tree. 

We duly made our way back alongside the Aughrim River to Aughrim, situated in a very scenic area near where the Ow and Derry Rivers meet, surrounded by woodland hills in South County Wicklow. It has won the tidiest town in County Wicklow award from 1996-2005. In this charming, neat village, there are a number of unusual granite terraced houses throughout the village.  Aughrim offers a wide variety of activities with Fishing at the National Angling Centre or various walks to enjoy the local sceneries.  

There are plenty of places to eat and stay. On then to the pretty town of Rathdrum and along the 1998 Tour de France route to Laragh.  Back at base again, Laurence and friends welcomed us home for afternoon tea and savouries, friendly discussions and a walk about his workshop to see his life collection of stationary engines, tools and a few cars, his Austin Seven but of course out in front! 

It truly was a great occasion for us all. New friends and acquaintances, plenty to talk about and plans for future meet ups. Happily, we report that the day was without incident. Having said our thanks and goodbyes, we all departed for home in the knowledge we would do so in natural day light. 

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