25th Welsh Weekend.                                                   24th to 26th September 2004         


Celebrating 25 years of organising the Welsh Weekend and Jill and John Bowman are presented with a bouquet and a memento from the attending members.  
  How many couples can boast having organised the same annual Austin Healey event for 25 years? Jill and John Bowman reached this remarkable achievement this year when the Welsh Weekend, with its usual fully booked entry set off from Trefriw in the delightful Conway Valley this September.
  The hotel, Princes Arms, has deservedly gained a great reputation for its friendly atmosphere and excellent food. Unfortunately for the many who would also like to join the event it can only accommodate 15 couples. The restriction on numbers, however, enhances its appeal with most entrants re-booking year after year.
   It was fifteen years since we last entered the event, then it was larger and based in Llandudno. We had planned just to join in the runs and operate from a nearby B&B. Fortunately we were able to join the others for the meals, quizzes and other activities and the B&B was only a five minute stroll away and my wife and the landlady were both born in Stockport, so we were well established straight away.
   Despite our long absence we were pleased to find that we knew the majority of the entrants, and even one member to whom we were introduced and we were sure we did not know, turned out to be Denis Welch's brother in law Ralph who we last met thirty odd years ago! Another, who I had failed to recognise as he was not wearing his usual flying hat that evening, turned out to be he who handles my Healey insurance, viz. Peter Higgins.
   We had had a great run over from the Peak District on the Friday with lovely weather all the way. However, the Saturday run started dull and misty and the spectacular runs had their views shrouded in mist. A coffee stop at a white water rafting centre proved interesting but there were no takers.
   Then it was a run to the coast for lunch and a long walk around the picturesque village of Portmeirion. It was almost fifty years ago since I was last there in my teenage cycling era and it had not changed a bit. At last the hood came down and an enjoyable run back to the hotel followed.
    We drove back to Trefriw in convoy with a 'compulsory' stop for homemade ice cream at Bedgellert. One of the frogeye Sprites turned out to be the centre of attention for one elderly couple who had done their courting in an identical one some forty odd years earlier.
  Denis Welch drew the short straw as guest speaker, and he had us enthralled with tales of his racing career. Having known Denis longer than I care to remember, when he and I were racing and rallying Ford Anglias respectively (he had an X in the rear window in those days.) I learned a lot about his exploits of which I had previously been unaware.
   Denis led the applause and presentation of bouquets and souvenirs to Jill and John and elicited an undertaking that they would put on this enormously popular event again next year. A late night was 'enjoyed' by all.
   'Bright' and early the following morning we headed off through Snowdonia, hoods down and enjoying the sunshine. We arrived at Bangor and strolled down the pier for a coffee stop, it was very blustery conditions out there and you needed to hold tight on to your hats. Our racing man Denis spotted a ‘racing car’ outside the café, and felt the need to indulge, having been deprived of a weekend’s motor sport in favour of a bit of touring, much to the amusement of the onlookers.
   A spectacular drive followed through the Snowdonia National Park.
   Mid afternoon and back at the hotel following lunch and prize giving, (We won ‘best modified!’ - never won a Healey prize before!) several couples were heading for home, but nine couples stayed on the extra night and had a really friendly, relaxed evening, the highlight of which must have been Phillip Thorpe's tales and jokes.
   We drove over to Anglesey on the Monday to visit some old friends before heading home. Our abiding memory of the weekend was the camaraderie, the food and the enjoyable driving.
   Well done, Jill and John, hope to join you again next year.
                                                                                                       Mike and Ilma Smith.


Hover on thumbnails below for titles, click to enlarge.  
   On the front at Bangor pier.   On the front at Bangor pier On the front at Bangor pier.


On the front at Bangor pier.


Denis Welch getting in more 'practice' on Bangor pier. Ilma Smith and Hester Waldon outside the Princes Arms at Trefriw.  
Denis, Jenny, Tina and Ralph with the ex- Shakespeare rally car. (Ring Denis if you want to buy it!) Coffee stop and we watch the white water rafters, none volunteered to have a go. Ilma on the beach front at Portmerion.  
Portmerion, lunch stop. Picturesque lake at Portmerion. A round of applause for the organisers.  

Pics by Mike Smith.