As a stalwart Devonshire lad, I’ve never had any particular association with Cornwall. Indeed, if Devon and Cornwall were suddenly and irreversibly separated by earthquake or act of God, I doubt many people would complain (on either side of the border). That said, I thoroughly enjoyed my long weekend in Newquay, soaking in the sunshine, admiring the ruggedly beautiful landscape, and drooling at all the Minis in the vicinity. Yes, I’m talking about the MiniWorld Riviera Run, an annual meeting of Minis (and their owners) from around the country, officially starting by driving in convoy from Reading services all the way down to the Trevelgue holiday park in Newquay.
I actually went down a bit before everyone else, taking the opportunity to stop overnight at my parents’ house in Torquay, before meeting up with the convoy from Colchester Mini Club on their way down on the Friday. Driving down the A303 is always a pleasurable experience, as it is far more interesting than the motorway, especially once you get into west Somerset and Devon – once you’re into Blackdown Hills things start to get much more interesting, and especially once you pass the borded into Devon, the uphill drive really is something to savour in comparison to the relative flatness of Essex. Cornwall too is nice and hilly, though a little more rugged and stark than Devon, and we enjoyed a good drive down the A30. On the approach to Newquay, Darren’s sat-nav told him to take a right rather than following the official Riviera Run signs, and we found ourselves taking a considerable convoy of Minis down a narrow, twisty country lane, round tight corners, avoiding piles of horse manure in the middle of the road, apologising to the horse riders who weren’t too pleased to see us invading their quiet day out, before finally arriving at the Trevelgue holiday park.
I was roughing it that weekend, pitching my tent in a quiet corner of the site rather than taking advantage of the slightly more expensive static caravans available. I had also invested in a small camp cooker, which proved to be very useful over the weekend. Of course, I had to borrow a lighter from someone in order to get it lit – I had forgotten to pack matches. I also had to borrow a mug, as I had neglected to bring one of those either, and very much needed one to drink tea out of.
That evening and all the next day, hoards of Minis arrived, most with enthusiastically revved engines, showing off the powerful engines lurking under the tiny bonnets, or just showing off the loudness of their exhausts. Some were clearly all show and no thunder, but others were clearly raw, untamed powerhouses, eager to eat up the road at the earliest opportunity. There was plenty of inspiration that weekend, with various and varied paint jobs, subtle details, not so subtle bodykits, engine modifications, shiny chromework. There were a few standard, unmodified Minis on site, quite a few boy-racer style Minis with fancy alloy wheels and loud exhausts, and some more radical modifications too – I saw a Mini converted into a articulated lorry, a shortened 2-seater Mini, various roofless Minis, and Minis with entirely foreign engines crammed into the engine bay. All carefully and lovingly polished to a gleaming glow of radiance.
There was also a central area reserved for trade stalls, where all manner of Mini bits could be bought. There were shiny extras, integral mechanical bits, old second-hand odds and ends, custom acrylic stickers to personalise your Mini, T-shirts and hats, and plenty more. I caught sight of a pair of front door pockets with speaker pods, both rather dusty and old looking, but restorable. I never did bite the bullet on that one though, there were other items to tempt me. I bought a cigarette lighter socket, with which I can power various in-car devices, so at some point I shall have to figure out how to wire that in. I also found a nice red alloy gear knob, and invested in a bottom engine stabaliser bar to help stop the engine moving around under acceleration. There were plenty of other bits I was interested in, but a limited budget prevented anything overly frivolous.
Other attractions that weekend included the on-site swimming pool, our regular trips to Morrisons, and an unscheduled visit to a local beach, where we spelled out ‘Colchester Mini Club’ in the sand, had a cartwheeling demonstration and a long jump competition.
Sunday was the big day, with visiting Mini owners joining in the fun just for the day. There was a Show & Shine competition with some pretty spectacular and shiny entrants, and in the afternoon there was an organised cruise taking all the hundreds of Minis on a tour of the local country lanes. However, not wanting to spent 2 hours in a traffic jam, we members of Colchester Mini Club decided to let them all leave and then go on our own short cruise. So off we went, exploring the coast road and venturing down all manner of lanes, byways and twisty turny national speed limit roads. About two hours in, we were lost. At one point the decision was made to take a right hand turn towards a signposted village, but that turned out to be a dead end and all we found was someone’s back garden. Eventually we found our way back to civilisation and bought a takeaway dinner, before heading back through the ensuing drizzle to the camp site.
On Monday morning it was still raining, which was somewhat frustrating because I needed to take my tent down. Still, in a brief lull in the drizzle I managed to get everything packed away, and after saying the goodbyes to the rest of the club I headed off into the sunset. Or sunrise. Whatever. The rest of the club was staying on for a few more days, making the most of their time in Cornwall, but sadly I had work to be getting back to. The journey back was fairly straightforward, just very long. Thankfully there were plenty of other Minis heading back the same day, so I had company most of the way back. Unfortunately the tiredness started to get to me eventually, and I began to notice a slight weaving in my driving, so I pulled in to the next service station for a rest. The intention to close my eyes for ten minutes turned into a forty-five minute dream-filled sleep, but I felt much better for it and the rest of the journey was much easier. I did have to drive without my shoes on though, on account of a little swelling on my accelerator foot from being in the same place for so long – the addition of a pillow under my feet was a welcome comfort!
So, all in all, a fantastic weekend. I’ve put some photos up on my Photolounge, so do take an oggle if you have a spare moment.