I am sure most of you will remember a pre-Covid time, when many of us would often be planning the next blat or tour destination, whether it be a run north to the wild beauty of Scotland, a blast over some distant continental pass, or an impromptu long weekend away with Seven-owning friends.
Clearly, 2020 was a tumultuous year in many respects, including the dramatic impact the Covid pandemic had on the ability to drive our cars on our favourite local blat, never mind to the far-flung corners of mainland Europe. As we enter 2021, the combination of the on-going lockdown restrictions and the rapid roll out of the vaccination programme give us some hope for venturing out, particularly during the second half of the year.
Following a recent change in employment circumstances, I decided for some inexplicable reason to volunteer to pick up the Club’s Tours Lead role, and have spent the last six weeks or so working with the wider Club Leadership Team and third-party tour organisations, to decide what may be possible and realistic from a tours perspective, not just for 2021, but also looking further ahead into 2022. I served as Club General Secretary from 2016-2018, but more importantly for this role, those of you who know me will appreciate that I do love a ‘Grand Tour’. Dave Rothwell, who has also helped to devise and implement many domestic and international tours over the years, will provide support as part of the Tours Team. The Club has supported / organised many varied tours over the years and that ethos remains at the heart of our plans, but we are also here to help other groups within the Club to organize their own adventures, if that is what they would like to do.
Along with many others no doubt, I have learned some useful touring lessons, not just as a driver but also as an unofficial tour organiser for a group of Seven-owning enthusiasts and Club members, mostly in the Midlands and North. We have ventured across the Alps, northern Spain, the Pyrenees, several jaunts to the north of Scotland and the Borders. We therefore see an important part of the role being to help those with less experience organize events that meet their own needs.
At the same time, we will of course use the services of third-party specialists to offer not only bespoke tours for the Club, but also discounted offers for their more general tours covering multiple marques.
Enough waffle I hear you cry – “where are we going in 2021?”
There will be a separate post covering the specifics, but in order to offer at least something by way of a taster, we have teamed up with Ian Longden at Fasttracktours, a company that comes highly recommended and with extensive experience of serving the TVR Club amongst others. We are also in active dialogue Scenic Car Tours, a company we have partnered with in the past, and actively plan to revive our relationship with them as we look further into 2022.
So to 2021 — we thought a sensible trip would be to offer a five night / six day tour and motorsport event to the Spa Six Hours, spanning a weekend at the end of September and early October. What could be better after a year of enforced hibernation than a spirited drive from Calais, through the beautiful Ardennes and onto Spa to take in some day/night racing. Spaces are limited as due to time and accommodation availability constraints, this is not a dedicated Seven Club tour.
If this whets your appetite, please do keep an eye out for a more detailed post with appropriate links in the Blats/Tours section on Blatchat over the coming day or so.
Apologies again for the lack of a broader Tours programme at this stage, but we at least wanted to offer something for 2021 as we are certain there will be pent up demand. This surge in demand does need to be balanced with the practicalities of not wanting to organize too much, only to have to cancel plans due to changing Covid restrictions around Europe.
Fear not however — we will actively use this quieter time to devise an interesting and varied programme for next year. Please do let us know what format of tours you like and some ‘hidden gem’ destinations you may like to share. I lean towards the more driving-focused structure with less emphasis on high end hotels and expensive meals — fuel in the car and the open road. We are of course a Club comprising nearly 4,000 members with varied tastes and we fully intend to cater for the broadest church possible, so we would love to hear your ideas. Both Fasttracktours and SCT can offer bespoke packages, varying the content and structure accordingly.
Some of you may be wondering why the Club has not thus far organised its’ own Tours directly. This is possible, but (and it’s a big ‘but’), we do have to be mindful of, and comply with the Package Tour Regulations which place quite stringent requirements on organising companies. I would never say ‘never’, but more detailed research is definitely required.
In the meantime you can reach us at ‘[email protected]’ – we look forward to hearing from you.
And please don’t forget to get in touch if you would like us to provide some practical input to your more local ideas.
Looking forward to seeing you out on the road.......soon