Beer, Barges and a Birthday

The Cotton Arms, Wrenbury, Cheshire

30th Jan - 1st Feb 2009


The weather was true to form for the end of January – bitterly cold with snow forecast. It would do the caravan good to take it out and warm it up. As I tried to unfreeze the door lock the phone went. It was Val Brailsford who was already on site. The heating in the pavilion had failed, could I bring a portable gas heater. Gas? What about electric, wouldn’t that be simpler and safer? No, said Val, apparently we’d blow the supply to the pub.

I grappled with a mountain of frozen awnings and other paraphernalia as I searched the shed in vain for that little gas heater. Then I reasoned that one little heater in a big pavilion was never going to make much difference. The pavilion was where we planned to meet for Friday evening teas & coffees, the Saturday night social, and Flag on the Sunday. Without it the success of the rally would be severely compromised. Given that 18 outfits were expected the outlook seemed as bleak as the weather.

When we arrived on site Val said that the landlord had agreed we could make and serve teas and coffees in reserved area the pub. Teas and coffees? Mmm... not with Hooky Gold bitter on offer! The pub food was excellent too. The result was that we had a long and heart-warming evening with our fellow Swifties whilst we basked in the glow from a wood burning stove.

The next day an engineer called to fix the problem with the pavilion’s heating. He didn’t stay long – he condemned it! Back to square one then? Not quite, not with our accommodating landlord Joe. He discovered that the village hall, 100 yards away, was free and he would foot the difference in cost.

What a lovely village hall it was - bright, clean, warm and perfect for our American supper. In our 15 years with the Swift Owners Club we’ve been to quite a few American suppers so you begin to think you’ve seen it all. Not so. This time we had fresh chips and home made soup on top of the usual platter. The chips came from the pub and the soup from first time ralliers Kevin & Gayle Pickering. Kevin cooked the soup in his motorhome according to a recipe he made up as he went along. It was served from a professional heated tureen supplied by Gayle and was absolutely delicious. There was even enough for some seconds.

Sunday morning’s Flag was back in the pub with the urn once again steaming away. The raffle went on for ages, there were so many prizes. As ever one prize made it through to the end – a ladies handbag. Just perfect for the last winner – Mike Clough! (See pic below.)

A big thank you to all who made the rally so successful, especially the marshals Sharon & Paul Verdon and Val & John Brailsford; but we must not forget Joe the landlord, who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.


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