Oh, as ever on MLOC, feel free to take the p*ss!
I was a little nervous during the run up to MLOC@Chatsworth2013, and busy, but very excited. There was a lot that could have gone wrong but I felt confident that if most of it went to plan it would be a pretty good day.
Last year was the first time we had the MLOC@Chatsworth event. I didnt know quite how it would be received as it was a little different from most car club events - deliberately so because I didnt want another cars in a field type of do. There is nothing wrong with cars in a field dos, and I can kick tyres and talk manifold sprockets with the best of em, but I thought for a big summer event MLOC could do a bit better.
The idea of having a Run first thing was an easy decision to make as Lotuses are best when driven! Yes, even green 340Rs. Plus if people are travelling a little distance it would be rude not to show them a little of the glorious countryside of the Derbyshire Dales and Peaks. The decision to assemble at Chatsworth was also a no-brainer. It is spectacular and beautiful whats not to like?
The picnic idea was a little more ambitious perhaps. The thinking was that eating together brings people together, and I wanted the day to be a good opportunity for people to get to know their fellow members. I also wanted the food to be a bit better than simple butties on laps, as a nice little surprise. In 2012 plenty of brave souls took a punt and put their orders in for Mrs Bs buffet picnic not having a clue what to expect. Of course I am a little biased but I think they were glad they did - certainly there were plenty of nice compliments on the food.
For me, it was when we all sat down to eat that the day really seemed to come together.
So, with close to sixty cars last year and lots of positive feedback, I couldnt not step up to the plate again for 2013 could I?
The planning started in December, thinking of what could be improved and what needed to be changed. I liked, and still do, the basic format so it was really just tweaking bits here and there. The main aim was to try and attract more cars, and that was by far the hardest thing to achieve. I had to spend an awful lot of time on our forum and others setting up and then tickling along threads to raise awareness and generate enthusiasm and, towards the big day, momentum.
As ever with these events it would be impossible to achieve anything without other members volunteering to help. In no particular order I must thank Simon for sorting a raffle with fantastic prizes and for helping out with all sorts of other bits and bobs, the companies and members that donated prizes, Simons dad Mike, Mark H for quietly and effectively running the site but also for sorting advance payment through the shop, the group leaders Russ, Alex, Jody, and Alastair, Paul TheDustRoom for the printing and posting, JonS for securing the clubs MSA accreditation and getting the license for the run (a huge job), MrsB for the desserts, Winifred (my mother), the caterer (aka The Quirky Cook), The staff at Hassop Station café, Amy the events coordinator at Chatsworth and everyone else who pitched in that I havent mentioned. It was a great club effort.
I had a lot of fun devising a good route that had spectacular scenery and exciting, challenging driving roads without much filler, and was very pleased with the end result.
As you all know I got myself in to a tangle with catering by telling everyone we could have the picnic for a price that no caterer was prepared to entertain, but with a huge amount of goodwill on the part of those that had already signed up it worked out okay in the end.
As July dawned a lot of people had already signed up to attend and pre-paid which was hugely encouraging, although I still kick myself for not printing and distributing fliers on the windscreens of the hundred plus Lotuses that attended the Club Lotus Donington event in the spring. I intended to but was so busy with work and kids I just couldnt find the time. Next year!
The final month was, like last year, very busy although it all seemed to go quite smoothly. There were spreadsheets with orders and run groups to update, maps, routes, briefing notes, and letters to type, printing and postage to sort, Group Leaders to brief, Catering to sort, queries by PM to respond to and lots more besides.
I wasnt at all sure if I would be able to sleep the night before the big day but as it happened I slept like a log. Maybe I was tired. When I woke though and looked out of the window my fear and sneaking suspicion was confirmed after months of unbroken dry weather it was wet!! Aagh! Now Im never going to see a 340R I thought. Oh well, I suppose you cant have everything and it is the British Summer time.
Inevitably perhaps the rain had a slight dampening effect on moods early on, but people were still in good spirits at the start at Matlock Bath and the Run got off to a reasonably timely and organised start. I enjoyed leg 1 although as the organiser I spent most of it hoping everyone else was enjoying themselves. Anyone who has ever thrown a party knows what I mean.
The breakfast stop was a lot better this year I thought, and by that stage the 60 plus cars in the car park at Hassop Station looked fantastic.
The second leg of the run would have been much better if a man in plain clothes holding a walkie-talkie hadnt run up to me and shouted "Police, stay where you are" at the top of Winnatts Pass but hey, sometimes these things happen. After a little chat during which another two members (who shall remain nameless) and I were able to persuade said Policeman we were sensible and responsible motorists, we were allowed on our way.
If that was the low point of the day the absolute high point for me, without a doubt, was when I first drove in to Chatsworth, following a really nice early Esprit I came across in Ashford-in-the-Water, and as I approached the house saw probably twenty five Lotuses already parked up. I led my group of a dozen in, and knew there were at least another fifty to come in from the Run and Hassop Station. At that moment I knew it would be big enough to give it the wow factor and make it the success I wanted it to be. It was a huge buzz. Absolutely huge.
From then on I just relaxed and enjoyed myself. I think the final number was ninety eight Lotuses. Pretty good I reckon, and I believe it now stands as the MLOC record.
Thank you to all of you that came along. I sincerely hope you enjoyed yourselves. If you did, please come along next year and in the meantime spread the word. Simon and I have decided we want at least 150 cars next year, preferably more, so getting the word out will be vital. The bigger the better I say (although the run will be kept to a reasonably modest size so sign up early to avoid disappointment). The TVR boys and girls get 700 cars to their Chatsworth event if the weather is fine. Derbyshire is slap-bang in the middle of the country and makes for a fabulous weekend break so I can see no reason why we cant chase those numbers over the next few years. Lotus is better than TVR, right? If we do it will be a great advert for this wonderful, friendly club of ours and will help it go from strength to strength.
Edited by DeanB, 13 May 2014 - 8:29 PM.