The Rye Country Show


There are a number of things I consider essential for an enjoyable trip out on an August Saturday. Firstly, a nice drive of at least an hour through beautiful countryside with no motorways. Secondly, an abundance of classic cars and particularly Alfas. Thirdly, something else going on because, how does one put this correctly? Classic cars can become slightly obsessive.

The solution to the conundrum here in Kent and East Sussex is the Rye Country Show which, so say the owls at the birds of prey exhibit, is an absolute hoot! This year, thanks to our early rising members, particularly Phil in his beautiful strikingly yellow 4C spider, we managed to get the best pitch in the field, drawn in a line at the division between the classic cars and the local produce stands of the show. Quite unintentionally, the already boldly discernible giallo brillante, macchina di velocità leggera became  even more conspicuous when, one after the other, we all rolled up to park in our Rosso red Alfa Romeos. Yes indeed, every car apart from Phil’s was red.

We filled the pitch with two 4C’s, a very nice 916 GTV Cup, Spiders to die for, a Mito cleaned to within an inch of its life, two Bertone coupes and the “bunga bunga” GTV6. It was a stunning display for the reason that the Rosso colour of our cars was very similar in the bright sunlight. The Alfa Romeo line up in red and yellow made the E types, MGs, Jensens and a host of other very very nice automobiles look, how best to put this, more than a little sombre.

At Rye it is more than just cars. It is a charity event which gives a real taste of the countryside with a dog show, the highlight of which is the Doggy Grand National, Morris Dancing and a lively demonstration by the East Sussex hunt with twenty five to thirty hounds. The hounds were extremely entertaining, apart from being a lot bigger than you think, a foxhound is an energetic dog which quite happily runs along with horses over considerable distances. It is also a very friendly social animal and the Rye hounds seem to enjoy licking children! They entered the arena in pack formation and like a bomb explosion dispersed in all directions, sniffing and licking and doing what hounds do! Thankfully, for those being sniffed and licked, one blast of the horn by the master of the hounds was sufficient to get them all back to the centre of the arena.

The Rye Country Show provides a wonderful glimpse of rural England and, in my view, it is unmissable. The cars on display were absolutely spotless, in particular Paul Newberry’s Mito which always dazzles. The Mito makes an interesting study in the line up of earlier generation Alfas because it instantly highlights how much bigger modern cars have become…. and the Mito is a small car by modern standards! Plus, it’s all for a great cause, St Michaels Hospice.