Reflections on the Cape Centres Gathering
From a member who has experienced several Cape Centres Gatherings and Indabas:
So it was, that on a freezing morning, we folded ourselves into the MG and with the “lid” off, which I was assured by Peter, that everyone else was doing, with the small suitcase tied on, off we set. After braving the trip to Port Elizabeth last year, this was going to be a breeze. I feel that we all define our age by how sprightly we are able to ”sardine” ourselves, into and out of our cars?
A privileged bunch we sure are, with all the wonderful scenery that we travel through and enjoy. e sped up the beautiful Outeniqua Pass, and descended into Oudtshoorn, marked by a significant drop in temperature. Of course, I then observed that we were the only ones to be in an open car?! Load shedding meant that a decent coffee was unavailable, and I expressed my concern that baboons may hitch a ride on our car through the Meiringspoort. Donna assured me that they would drive behind us and hoot if this occurred?
Meiringspoort in an open car, has to be on everyone’s bucket list. One can only wonder at the magnificence of the rock formations. The twenty-five drifts with their curious names are a delight as one surmises their origin. At one of the stop/goes in the Pass, a truck driver cautiously approached the car as if it was a wild animal, and curiously askedwhere we housed such a car and, whether it was automatic. He could not believe that the car was more than 75 years old. He then photographed this piece of machinery from every angle, so he could show his family what he had encountered on the road that day.
Onlookers that one meets on these outings, are always interesting. We had a youngster in P.A. who was taking selfies of himself with the car and when I suggested that he get into the car, he could not have been more enthusiastic, and dramatic, in his poses as we took photos for his Facebook page and girlfriends.
There was a sense of belonging to the MG “Family” on arriving in Prince Albert, cruising down the Main Road and encountering MG’s from all over South Africa. (It amuses me that Peter identifies members by their cars, I am just thankful for those name badges). Booking into the Swartberg Hotel with whoops of delight as old friends were recognised, we were given our Goody Bags that held such wonderful delights.
The camaraderie as we all had three days of fun, continued. The meeting of us all at the waterfall at the end of the well devised treasure hunt was hysterical, as everyone burst out of their cars exclaiming that their partners “drove too fast to get the clues, did not listen, did not realise that there were two pages of questions; I’m not competitive but…..”
The flawless final forming of the Centenary 100, was the epitome of the incredible work done
by the South Cape Centre Committee and their workers. Thank you!
From first-timer members:
Thelma, our TF, is humming happily as we drove through Meiringspoort. The poort was covered with a green blanket after the good rain over the last two weeks.
As newbys to the South Cape MG family, we have been looking forward to this event for nearly a year. When we drove into Prince Albert and met up with all the other cars, I just knew, this is going to be one of those life changing events.
It had been, not only a privilege, but also such an honour to be part of this perfectly organised once in a lifetime event. Food, Friendship, MG’s and Scenery. What more could one ask for. We love you MG family.
From the town tour organisers:
The two town tours allowed our MG visitors to be introduced to activities and venues in the town that they would not easily have found for themselves and were well received as it also gave opportunities to buy local produce – with little driving involved!
Prince Albert Olives The manager gave a very well thought out talk on olives and olive
Avoova Ostrich Shell art works was next on the itinerary and members had a full tour of their
Striking Metal Blacksmith Shop was next and enjoyed by the MG men in particular.
Karoo Looms weaving Mohair products was next door to the Blacksmith and was more interesting for the ladies.
Alberts Mill is a very old water mill that is being restored into working order and the owner gave access to the ancient machine room.
The Old Lei Water System which starts at the mill and supplies irrigation water (leiwater) to the town, with a handout giving some of the rich history of this system dating from Dutch Colonial times.
Gay’s Guernsey Dairy included a formal cheese tour, as well as opportunities to buy their delicious products.
Dave & Fay Jones
From the Treasure Hunt & Meiringspoort Drive organiser:
The Treasure Hunt Run was conducted over 2 days, firstly teams Green & Red on Wednesday 24th May & then teams Yellow & Blue on Thursday. A total of 43 cars took part over the two days.
22 "Treasures" had to be identified along the route of 77km starting in Prince Albert & finishing
at the Waterfall in Meiringspoort.
Participants could then drive a short distance to De Rust to enjoy a tour of the v
illage & to have a snack & beverage break before returning at their leisure to Prince Albert. Winners of the treasure hunt on Wednesday were Brian & Bernie Davidson of team Green, with Rob Meeks & Mike Roumanoff of team Red a close second, and Dave & Heather Holt also of team Red in third place,. . . So well done South Cape Centre!
Winners of the Thursday treasure hunt were Tony & Liz Greenwood of team Yellow, with Brian & Beth James of team Blue second , and Nigel & Joan Stokes of team Yellow in third place, well one & congratulations to all.
From one of the organising team:
It’s Monday morning and a convoy of MGs and ‘plastics’ is heading to Prince Albert – the organising team and partners are on their way to get the show on the road. 3 plastics filled with goody bags, flowers, banners, feathers – everything but the kitchen sink, it seems! The months of planning are over, the endless lists of to-do and to-bring have been ticked off and this is IT. The next 24 hours are to be occupied with goody-bag-filling, room decorating etc.
Tuesday lunchtime and gradually the centre of Prince Albert is filling up with MGs, long-time- no-see friends greet each other, and the registration desk gets busier and busier, but there’s a well-oiled machine at work and within a couple of hours most have arrived and are finding their way about. Best laid plans – well, you just have to go with the flow and if folk tuck into the buffet supper earlier than expected, just adjust the evening’s programme and no-one will know. Breathe ….. that’s the first part over.
Where do I go for the start of the town tour/treasure hunt? Wednesday is under way and 2 teams head north to Prince Albert Olives, and 2 teams south to the starting line (ie Margie + 3 cones) for the treasure hunt. All goes quiet till the afternoon when the MG100 photoshoot has to be set up. This has taken 2 rehearsals in Loerie Park to produce a perfect octagon – not to mention countless hours of working out how to achieve that shape. Later, the sound of loud rhythmic music in the hotel car park draws the crowds to a performance by local children, the Vastrappers, high-octane energy from start to finish. After supper, more high-octane, this time from MG racers and their vocal supporters. We’re halfway there.
Rise and shine, it’s MG100 photoshoot time! Thursday morning and you all have to finish breakfast by 08:30 – your MG is needed on the school field for its photo. Yellow-bibbed marshals tell you (politely) where to go and the drone is hovering overhead to capture this special moment. Then it’s off round town or to Meiringspoort – and the team is back to work in the function room, practising or decorating; it gets rather noisy as “that’s not level, down a bit to the left” is competing with “Ain’t she sweet”.
By late afternoon the volume round the bar area is growing and we’re ready for the Gala evening. Quick change into “100” fancy dress and we’re on the downward slope. “Happy birthday, MG” and we can tuck into that cake we’ve been waiting to taste.
Bye bye, see you at the Indaba, travel safely – MGs gradually disappear from Prince Albert and the plastics are filled up again with the left-overs – surely we should have a lot less than we came with? It doesn’t feel like it! Back home, check everyone has got home safely, then raise a glass to a job well done – and sleep like a log.