By Mike Peake.
Eeee, Ba gum lad wim gowyn t’ Yorkshire moors ont’ touwer!
Ok, I’ll stop that now. It’s starting to hurt my throat and I don’t understand what I’ve written.
It was time for our much-anticipated tour of the Yorkshire Moors in celebration of dedicated member Bernard Owen’s 80th birthday and we were all very excited despite severe bumbling incompetence hitting weeks before the actual tour.
When Mrs FB heard about this tour she was very keen to come as it was “not camping”. In a moment of rare clarity of thought, our glorious Fat Controller of events (Gar Cole) realised that November, in the North Yorkshire Moors is likely to be a tad chilly and damp and not very likely to be conducive for happy camping. He booked the Cross Keys Inn.
Now, as well as being “camping averse”, Mrs FB was also rather unwilling to be driven 300 miles in a “rattle ridden, drafty old car with a leaky roof and no heating in November”. (I know. How rude! It’s a good job Poppy didn’t hear.) Fortunately Gar Cole came to the rescue. “I’m buying a car trailer, Mike.” He said. “You can borrow it whenever you like.” Sorted, I thought. So I sent him Poppy’s dimensions just to make sure. Gar successfully sourced a trailer and I towed it home from the NEC show. We won an award at the NEC show you know.
Anyway, the trailer was parked on my drive in the dark and I only saw it in the dark until the next weekend which was the weekend before the tour. I went up to my lock up and gave Poppy her pre-flight checks and while I was there, I happened to look at the gap between Poppy’s wheels and had an alarming thought. I measured the gap between the wheels and the track. (Distance between the outsides of the wheels). The measurements were 43” and 49”. When I got back to the trailer, I measured that gap between the insides of the tracks. It was 47”! Ooops!
If I was really clever in loading, I could get poppy balancing on the raised lip on the inside edge of each track with 1” of tyre to spare on each side. Needless to say, I abandoned this plan so I decided to go in the CRV and car hop when we got there. Sadly, Poppy would be left at home for yet another tour this year.
Friday 22nd November dawned and we set off with a very sad looking empty trailer. (We were passing right by Gar’s house on the way so it would’ve been silly not to return it to him so that he could discover that Nelson wouldn’t fit either.)
After a brief stop at Gar’s it was on to meet some more intrepid tourists at the Donington Park Services. (Just the 3 “n’s” Lo(r)raine, is that correct?) Nick and Jo, Windy and Sarah Woodward, Bernard and Thelma Owen and new tourists Anthony and Pat Osborne. Surprisingly Phil Allin was there too but he was just skiving and joining us for a coffee. He couldn’t leave until Lucas had finished school but you could tell his feet were itching. We sent Phil back to work and set of for the M1/A1(M) car park for the final 2 hour blatt to the hotel. With two decompression stops, I should be able to continue my journey to the extreme north without getting the bends or a nosebleed.
Arrival at the hotel was a welcome relief after a traffic jam-laden trip but at least all the classics behaved themselves and in that sense it was trouble-free. The hotel was a fantastic find by Gar. It was newly refurbished and had only reopened the previous week. You could still smell the paint and the rooms were fantastic.
The rest of the tourists arrived over the afternoon and Bernard’s 80th birthday celebration weekend could start properly. A lovely evening was spent in great company with good food and just a little beer. Sue Clamp’s multi-storey birthday cake caused some problems as even Tosh Brooks’ mouth wasn’t big enough to deal with the height.
After the events at the NEC, Phil and I had made sure we remained at opposite ends of the pub for the whole evening as he is a very bad influence on me. As a result, I woke up in the morning feeling remarkably refreshed and healthy. Indeed, actually human.
Phil didn’t. For some reason, a night on Yorkshire ale had sent him “native”. He spent the whole morning dressed like this and saying things like “’Eee, ‘ave Tha seen ma ferrits?”, “Eee Thas reet grand thariz” and “Eee ba gum lad”. At one stage he even exclaimed “’Ow Mootch!” We tried to flush it out of him with copious amounts of tea. However, schoolboy error, it turned out to be Yorkshire tea. Oh well, Tha lives an’ learns young’uns, tha lives an’ learns. Oh no. He’s got me at it now!
So let me introduce the tourists. First the little surprise left for us in the car park overnight. An unidentified classic car. It turns out that Graham was fed up of his very, very late 1999 Rover 75 trying to run him over on tour and has actually gone out and bought this rather lovely Humber called Humphrey.
Newcomers to our tours, Pat and Anthony Osborne bought this cracking looking 1980 MGB GT. I particularly liked the black paint with the rubber bumpers. Welcome to the EBMVBB1985 Care in the Community group. It was great to meet you and I hope you weren’t scared away by Windy Woodward. Every group has one though and we’re sorry about that.
Tosh and Gus Brooks Jake and Bella in their gorgeous P6 2000. Surprisingly, this is the P6’s second tour with us as Tosh hasn’t sold it yet. Get yer finger out Tosh. We’re bored now and need you to bring something else exciting. (Not so exciting that it wants to kill us though.)
Nick and Jo were in the glorious Jensen. Nick had fitted new twin carbs (Not himself obviously. Don’t be daft!) They only cost £20 and he was making the most of the 10% improvement in fuel efficiency that the new carbs were giving him. He said he really enjoyed that extra 250yds.
Eric Dalton was in his Rover 216 VDP. This is a local one for our resident mad Scotsman and he almost forgot to stop at the hotel as he hadn’t driven his normal 600 miles to one of our events.
Phil, Lorrain and Lucas were in Big Rov, the stately home on wheels. Big Rov loved Yorkshire and we all love Big Rov but we could all see his embarrassment at the antics of his driver.
Being wafted around in the luxury that is the Ford Zephyr were Ian Woodward and his long-suffering wife Sarah along with Bernard and Thelma Owens. As the all-important 80th birthday boy, Bernard exercised his right to be chauffeur-driven this weekend, leaving Webster the Maxi at home. I do love this Zephyr despite the silly gear stick but most of all, I still can’t get over how appropriate it is for Windy Woodward to have a car called a Zephyr!!
Poor Nelson had been left on the drive yet again in favour of the flash new mistress in Gar’s life in the shape of the much younger Mk1 Mondeo. (All fur coat and no knickers that one, so they say. The Mondeo I mean - not Gar, obviously! Eeeew!
Richie Moore and Stan Barnes joined us on the day in the stunning blue Sierra estate and the immaculate S-Type Jaaaag.
Adrian, Rhianna and Shannon “Slugger” Jenkins and her friend Casey were in Shannon’s very, very late 1999 Ford fiesta. John Ticehurst, Kevin Terry, Keith and Marcus McGovern, Mrs FB and I had all forgotten to bring a classic and would spend the day car hopping.
That just leaves my very favourite, Brian Allison and his Mk II Triumph 2000. Obviously, it’s the car that’s my favourite not Brian. I really, really love this car and spending the day being chauffeured around in the warm cosy loveliness of it just underlined my desperate need to have a big Triumph in my life. Now, Brian has very kindly agreed to leave it to me in his will. However he inconsiderately, stubbornly and surprisingly (given he is older than time) clings onto life! Oh, er yes, and er long may it continue (at least long enough to spend the TLC sorting some of Tricia’s niggles anyway.)
So, now that you know everyone its back to the tour. We checked our weather apps and were pleased to see that Gar “Rainman” Cole had booked our usual weather even down to the yellow warnings.
Gar handed out the tour notes and we were ready for the off. Actually we weren’t quite. Windy’s Zephyr had run out of electrickery and needed a top up from Gar’s flashy Jezebel but was soon up and running.
Eric wasn’t so lucky though. His Rover VDP just point blank refused to start. Even our resident car whisperer Gus “Super Enthusiast Man” Brooks couldn’t coax her into life. The diagnosis? We believe that she was feeling hard done by and unloved as she had only been driven 100 miles or so yesterday instead her usual 600. Eric elected to wait for the recovery chap who couldn’t cheer her up either and Eric and the Rover were towed home. So, bit of a busman’s holiday for ex recovery driver Eric.
The slight delay meant that we’d all had time to meticulously study the tour notes that Gar had handed out rather than mess about in the car park taking daft photos. This meant that as Gar pulled out of the hotel in the white Jezebel, everyone was ready to ……. head off in their own completely different directions. Honestly, it was like a Red Arrows break, even down to the green coloured smoke leaking from Windy Woodwards window.
Brian and I had an excuse. We turned around and went to make sure Eric was ok and didn’t want to jump in with us. As for the rest - who knows? Actually, Humphrey the Humber had a little hiccup and needed a short rest before bravely continuing after Super Enthusiast Man gave him a hard stare.
Twenty minutes later when Gar realised that literally no one was following, he pulled to the side of the road, put his head in his hands and tried not to go Super Diva. Eventually, we all trickled in, all thinking the same. “Oh! There’s Gar. Wonder why he’s stopped there?”
Once Gar was happy that he had his flock successfully corralled, we all set off again for our 1st official stop at Hutton le Hole. Well to be more specific, The chocolate factory at Hutton Le Hole. The ladies on tour had found out about this little gem and insisted that it we added it to our itinerary. To be honest, none of the men folk argued too hard as we all want our ladies to be happy. Not to mention that some of us may like chocolate too. Anyway, who wanted to go and who didn’t was all rather academic; it was shut.
The car park was jolly nice though and well worth the £2.50 we’d all put in the machine. Adrian also took the opportunity to replace some of the air that had fallen out of the Fiesta’s tyre. It was only flat at the bottom though, so I’m sure it will be fine.
We left Hutton Le Hole car park for a fantastic drive across the moors to Grosmont. I didn’t know 1 in 3 hills existed before this trip but Gar seemed to have found loads of them. It was brilliant! The weather was bleak and the moors were bleak and it was all rather beautiful because of it. I loved it. The hauntingly beautiful scenery necessitated several unscheduled photo opportunity stops including the ruins of iron smelting kilns high up in the middle of nowhere before the notorious 1 in 3 descent down the “Chimney Bank”.
Grosmont is one of the stations on the wonderfully nostalgic North Yorkshire Moors Steam Railway. It was chosen as a stop because of the unspoilt Victorian station where we would be able to see steam trains roaring in and out of the station and experience all the accompanying sights, smells and sounds. It was shut.
We did however manage to break onto the station platform which was indeed nostalgic. Gar was telling everyone that would listen that this station “played the part of Hogsmeade station in the Harry Potter Films” before running up and down doing his beast Hagrid impression. Which, to be fair was actually quite good.
None of us had the heart to tell him it was Goathland station further up the line that played Hogsmeade. We were all enjoying the Hagrid impressions too much. At Grosmont we also broke into the engine sheds and gaped at the huge massive engines up close before finding a proper old fashioned toy er… I mean model shop to mooch around in and gape at the tiny little engines up close.
It was just a short trip from Grosmont to Goathland and this was the stop Mrs FB and I were looking forward to the most. Back when we were newlyweds, we were avid fans of a brand new police drama starring Nick Berry and Niamh Cusack. We were even expecting our 1st child at the same time as the main characters in the drama. Yes, Goathland was where Heartbeat was filmed. It was fantastic to drive around the village green and see the “Aidensfield Arms” and “Scripps Funeral Parlour and garage.” Which of course we had to stop outside and take pictures.
Whilst we were taking the famous photo outside of “Scripps” which, as you can see, was all done up just as in the programme, the owner of the gift shop done up as “Scripps” came out and rather grumpily and rudely told us to “clear off” as we were “takin’ bloomin’ liberties!” Well, he said something like that.
He didn’t seem to understand that after taking the pictures all 28 of us would quite likely have gone in and given him money for his cheap tourist tat thus providing him with his living. Furthermore, our cars were causing quite a stir among the other tourists and parked outside his shop could have drawn in even more custom. Never mind.
We had the last laugh anyway by driving really slowly past the premises and taking photos anyway. I left a blistering review on trip advisor too. That’ll teach him. At least, I will do, as soon as I think of something suitably witty and cutting.
I have to say, it was a bit of a shock to come across a grumpy Yorkshire man. I mean, A grumpy Yorkshire man? Who knew? After all, we have Yorkshire men in our very own group and they’re all happy, cheerful, fluffy and lovely types who are never the slightest bit grumpy. What? What do you mean “who’s that then?” Yes, of course I mean Brian, Gus and Tosh. Why are you laughing?
Anyway, we all laughed off our brush with Grumpy and continued on to Goathland station. You know, the station that actually played Hogsmeade station in the Harry Potter films. There were still no steam trains as the railway was still shut for the winter and there was not even a whiff of the magical Hogwarts Express, but we had fun whilst indulging our nostalgia bones all the same.
Now it was time for the short drive to the Cross Butts Inn in Whitby (no, I can’t imagine why it’s called that either) where we were having Bernard’s birthday dinner. We’d managed to convince Pukka Phil that the restaurant had called to say that they’d run out of pies to see if we could set off another teenage strop New Forest style. Yes I know you will deny this Pukka Phil as you pretended not to believe us, but we all saw your bottom lip trembling and don’t think we didn’t notice you stood by the door to steal the 1st portion of pie to be bought through.
Whilst the rest of us were waiting for our food and Pukka Phil was filling his face with pie, Windy Woodward was teaching Lucas how to make a wine glass sing. He’s a good teacher and it wasn’t long before Lucas produced a fine pure note. Windy then rolled up his sleeves, said “Hold my Beer”, wet his fingers and started to run them round the rim of the glass. We were all utterly amazed and our ghasts were flabbered when a full orchestral rendition of the Bridal March rang out across the Inn. Ian took a bow and the applause was deafening.
Actually, there was a wedding in the function room next door but the timing couldn’t have been better if it was planned. The rest of our meals were delivered and the food was exceptionally good as was the service. Even Tosh wasn’t complaining. But now it was time for Bernard who really is a very lovely man and the Grandfather of the group. I shall now pass you over to Gar and Bernard themselves. (I mean watch the video you numpties! This is the interweb, It’s clever like that.)
It was all rather moving and got a bit emotional but we wiped our eyes, bashed our chests and started talking in manly voices about manly things until it was time to head off for our final destination,.
Whitby Abbey was our final destination before heading back to the hotel. We were all looking forward to mooching around its haunting chapel’s and vestibules looking for Count Dracula’s coffin and soaking in the spooky atmosphere. It was shut.
Everyone was fussing around the car park to get the cars perfectly lined up with the floodlit Abbey making a fine backdrop and some really great photos were taken.
Personally, I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. It’s not as though they’ve even finished building it yet! I mean, I’m sure it will look lovely when it is actually fully built, but still.
Anyway, it rounded off a really great tour so huge thanks to Gar for all his tireless efforts in putting together a great day and it’s not even over yet.
We all headed back to our hotel and after a short nap as we’re all knocking on a bit now, we hit the bar for another great evening with great company. There was even a professional singer laid on for us! Well, yes. The least said about that the better. It was all we could do to stop Jo ripping his microphone away and taking over. Not that she wouldn’t have been a far superior replacement you understand. I’m sure she has the voice of an angel (What was that Nick? A Hells Angel you say? Well that is just rude Nick! I’m surprised at you.) No. we were only stopping Jo as we felt it would be rude to usurp the professional.
Phil and I were still making sure that we never inhabited the same end of the pub at the same time but it would appear that his claim that I was the bad influence wasn’t his only worry. He was so concerned after the effect that drinking Yorkshire Ale had had on him, that he was choosing to drink the least Yorkshire, and coincidentally least manly tipple to be had. Yes, and I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say, that I am deeply ashamed to report that he was drinking … Baileys! Not only that, but Baileys … with ice!!! I know. Oh the humiliation!
He wasn’t the only one. Lorraine was also drinking Baileys with Ice but as she is an actual girl, it’s not quite so shameful. Anyway, It would appear that Lorraine was only drinking Baileys in the extremely mistaken belief that it would improve her dancing.
A really lovely evening was had by all in the best company possible. Midnight was soon upon us. The hotel staff were starting to drop subtle hints that it was time for us to retire to our rooms for the night. You know the sort of thing? Putting the chairs up on the tables and turning the lights out. Anyway most of our party took the hint and went to bed. Two of us didn’t though. Can you guess? Ha! No! it wasn’t Phil and I. We’d spent the whole weekend avoiding each other whenever alcohol was about. No. It was Mrs FB and Jo who stayed up way into the night putting the world to rights.
“At last!” I thought. I’d be able to administer the same levels of loving sympathy that Mrs FB gives my hangovers. Yes! Disappointingly, Mrs FB didn’t have so much as a minor head ache in the morning.
Now would be a good time to say a massive thanks to all those who attended. Along with the other regulars who couldn’t be here you’ve made the social side of this group so much fun that it almost comes as a surprise that there are classic cars too.
So, hearty breakfasts were eaten, sad Goodbyes were said and we all headed our separate ways for trouble free trips home. All except Gar that is. The Jezebel’s gearbox let go a mile away from home. Nelson smirked, smugly.
By Mike Peake.
Sunday seemed to dawn much, much earlier than I expected to the sound of Gus banging loudly on my door and a little man banging loudly in my head and another churning cement in my stomach. I reluctantly and manfully pulled myself out of bed but even a cold shower didn’t make me feel any more human. However, seeing Phil made me realise how bad it could have been. At least I’d managed to shut my bedroom door, undress, turn out my light and get into bed before falling unconscious last night. Phil hadn’t managed any of this and his hair in the morning was definitely reminiscent of Doc Brown in Back to the Future. As rough as Phil looked though, I didn’t feel that much better but at least it gave me a laugh. However, Gus’s lovingly prepared full English breakfast was just a step too far for me. Needless to say, Gus drove us to the NEC again. He must really love my CRV!
Once we were on the stand, a couple of gallons of strong coffee, some sugary cake and a look at our award winning exhibits soon had me back on my feet again. I did tell you that we won the Lancaster Insurance Sponsors Choice award at the Classic and Sports Car Awards dinner on Friday evening didn’t I? I think I must have.
Paul Green’s Standard Vanguard Estate was a stunner and puts a smile on everyone’s face. Paul bought this car originally as a stop gap car whilst he restored another. A friend of his had a 101 victor estate and Paul discovered that he really like classic estate cars so when this one turned up on Car and Classic, he went to Norwich with the trailer but walked away 3 times until the vendor offered it at the right price and it came home.
Paul told his mate, who restores his cars that it just needed 3 bulbs and a tune up. Two years and a lot of hard work later, it rolled out of his mate’s workshop and to its first show, which just happened to be a very cold day at a show run by our very group at the Coventry Transport Museum where it won the Member’s choice award! Apparently, he enjoyed himself so much that he wanted to be part of the Gang and we are making his dreams come true. Yes, I know. They must be some very odd dreams.
The remaining AWARD WINNING car on our AWARD WINNING stand belongs to John and Jean Dickson and it’s a rather lovely 1961 MkII Austin A55 Cambridge. Before it came into John’s ownership, the car’s history showed an awful lot of owners, most of them in recent times and apparently all part of the Banger Racing community. Luckily, they all decided that it was too good to race and “Lucky” found her way eventually to John and Jean.
I first saw this car when John joined us on our Dark Peak tour and have to admit, I was smitten and very pleased when it was chosen to join us on our stand.
I have to say that the Lancaster Insurance NEC Classic Car show really outdid itself this year and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Not just because we won an award, (WE WON AN AWARD!!!) and not just because it seemed much friendlier this year and the rivet counters had seemed to stay away but because of the outstanding quality of all the displays. There really was some strong competition for us. (But we beat them ALL and WON THE AWARD! Naa Naa Nana Naaaa!)
Here is a gallery of some of my favourites.
After winning the Pride of Ownership at the 2018 NEC Classic Motor Show, Shiny Paul Shiny (Clappison) was invited to enter his very shiny MGB GT onto the Meguiar’s “who’s got the shiniest shiny car” stand. He was really mixing it up with the big boys of shiny. So, after donning my welders goggles to protect me from the glare of this shiny stand, I headed over to Hall 1 to see how Shiny Paul was doing.
When I got there the glare was so strong that I slathered on some factor 50 just to be safe. I have to say that Shiny Paul’s shiny MGB GT definitely deserved to be there and to my untutored eye looked every bit as shiny as the rest. On learning that shiny Paul is solely responsible for the current world wide cotton bud shortage, I appreciated the amount of work that goes into shiny.
The judges' white gloves were still white after their very, very thorough inspection of Shiny Paul’s work of art proving he still has Shiny sorted.
The other car on the Meguiar’s “who’s got the shiniest shiny car” stand, that really caught my attention, was this humble Metro. The young lad had bought it for £500 and used it as his daily runner before his passion for “tidying it up” became a bit of a fetish and he achieved this. A real credit to the chap.
Unfortunately, neither the shiny MGB GT or the shiny Metro, nor any of the multi million pound temples of shiny gracing Meguiar’s “who’s got the shiniest shiny car” stand, were deemed by the judges to be quite as shiny as this stunning Mini and all I can say is WOW!
The rest of the show was spent like most of the shows in eating cake and chatting to all our members that made the effort to visit us on the stand and say hello. It was really great to see you all Thank you. Sadly though, the show came to an end in the traditional blaring of horns and it was time to pack up and say cheerio.
Video needs sound.
So, a massive thank you to Nick Arthur for the beer barrel, Paul Green for the Standard Vanguard, Mick and Gill Taylor for the Vauxhall VX 4/90, John and Jean Dickson for the Austin A55 and Gus and Tosh Brooks for Apollo the P5B camper. You WON AN AWARD CHAPS! Thank you. Special thanks to Lexy too for fulfilling her guard dog duties so well.
HUGE thanks to Dave Youngs and Lancaster Insurance for their continued support and choosing us for the Sponsors Choice AWARD THAT WE WON!
Thanks are also due to Phil Allin of Alvaston Press who regularly supports us with the fantastic banners and flags and tour plaques and to our other sponsor, Richard Edmonds Auctions. We couldn’t put on these events without these guys' continued support so thanks again.
Finally, hugest thanks of all to Gar Cole for his passion, drive and energy and to Captain Paul Sweeney for his continuous behind the scenes beavering away all the way from New Zealand. We hope that one day that he can join us to see the fruits of his labours in the flesh. Nothing would happen in this group without these two top chaps.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed my report and that I managed to convey how much fun we had and that we WON AN AWARD!
Of course, I have to finish with a picture of our glorious Fat Controller of events, eating at an event as well as some other members who couldn’t quite handle all the excitement. Its traditional you see.
See you soon.
By Mike Peake
Saturday seemed to dawn much earlier than I expected but Gus had made us a lovely cooked breakfast to fortify ourselves for the day ahead and we’d all made our packed lunches. So, bright eyed and bushy tailed we set off for the NEC. Gus had so enjoyed driving my CRV last night that he insisted on driving it in that morning too. We arrived safely and even managed to meet up with Tosh in the car park before arriving at our AWARD WINNING stand and proudly setting up the AWARD THAT WE WON for all to see the AWARD THAT WE WON. WE WON AN AWARD at the Classic and Sports Car magazine awards dinner on Friday evening you see.
Nick Arthur sent us a message to say that he wouldn’t be in that day because he was pretending to have an event with the Jensen owners and that he wasn’t at all hung over at all and we all pretended to believe him.
Mick, Gill and Lexy Taylor were there though and because we were now an AWARD WINNING stand we decided to employ Lexy as our vicious guard dog to protect both the award and our award winning exhibits on our stand that we won an award for. I’m not sure whose idea it was to employ Lexy as our vicious guard dog because she is gorgeous, cuddly, fluffy and soppy and not at all vicious in any way. She is very big though and I suppose if someone stood behind her making growling noises we might get away with it.
Mick, Gill and Lexy are the very proud owners of the stunning 1965 Vauxhall VX 4/90. An unrestored and quite exceptional car. After the 1st owner, the car was a museum exhibit for 30 years. The 2nd owner kept it for 15 years and used it for the occasional car show before passing into Micks incredibly fortunate hands in July of this year. It proved very popular with the show going public and me.
Our wonderful and glorious Fat Controller Gar Cole was running a bit late claiming an overrunning taxi job and categorically denying that it was due to over celebrating at the Chinese Buffet Island because we WON AN AWARD.
Once he did come in though he refused to let the award out of his sight and he insisted on having a photo with it too.
Seriously though, Gar puts so much time and energy into these events and without doubt we wouldn’t be winning awards with the big boys without him, so it was a privilege to see his little face light up with pride on seeing our new silver cake plate. In fact, the only time we saw him NOT clutching the award was when he was fighting Liam’s son Finlay for the last slice of Sandra Simpson’s Banana cake.
It was time for me to have a bit of a wander round the show, but before I went I asked if anyone knew where the Lancaster Insurance Pride of Ownership stand was. At which Gar burst out laughing and said, “It is probably over there under that HUGE Lancaster Insurance banner! I can’t believe you missed that HUGE banner!” It was only after we pointed out that as the main sponsor of the show, Lancaster Insurance had several of these HUGE banners scattered around the show. In fact there were 4 in our hall alone. That shut him up and he went back to cuddling the Award.
Well, I thoroughly enjoyed my wander and would like to introduce some of my very favourite cars that weren’t on our award winning stand.
First up would be the actual Ford Consul GT used in the opening credits of the Sweeney. Like many of us gents of a certain age, The Sweeney was a pivotal point in our growing up. From sneaking down the stairs to watch it through a crack in the door to finally being allowed to stay up and watch it properly and having to put up with Mum’s tutting every time someone swore. It was a great show and I actually felt privileged to be stood next to the car which had recently had an extensive restoration to earn its place in the entrance to hall 5. Wow! Just wow!
As many of you know I am a bit of a Citroen fan and have long held an unrequited love for the DS. A truly beautiful car that was way, way ahead of its time. In fact it’s looks were so futuristic, it was used as flying taxis in the film Back to the Future II. So, imagine my joy when I came across this stunning example of the rarest of the rare Citroën DS Décapotable. It just oozes French charm even down to the iconic pack of Gauloise cigarettes on the dash board. Décapotable sounds so much better than convertible too doesn’t it?
Now look at the pictures while I imagine myself wafting around the south of France in it.
I eventually wandered up to the Lancaster Insurance Pride of Ownership stand where many a gleaming shining example of motoring history was displayed. My reason for being here though, was to see our illustrious group founder Lord John Simpson of Boston and Practical Classics fame. He was displaying his beloved Sunbeam Alpine on the stand.
Now, for me, pride of ownership isn’t about having the most immaculate car in existence or spending loads of money making car immaculate and trailering it to shows. (Although John’s car is beautiful and shiny and immaculate). I think it is about your history with the car and John’s has this in spades. He has owned the car since 1981, painstakingly maintaining and repairing as and when needed. The car has given John and Sandra, their children and now their grandchildren so much joy and fantastic family and childhood memories and continues to do so. As I walked away after taking the family picture, I overheard one of John’s Grandsons say “Grandad, can I sit in your car?” Now THAT is Pride of Ownership.
Unfortunately, when the vote was counted on Sunday, John missed out to this very shiny Morris Minor Million. The Simpsons know who the real winners are though and don’t need a trophy to prove it.
It was now time to head back to the stand for a very nice cup of coffee served from our very own mobile café. Of course I mean Apollo, the Brooks family 1969 P5B Coupe Camper van.
For those of you that have been members for any length of time and haven’t been hiding under a rock, you will already know and love Apollo who has become somewhat of a mascot and flagship of our group. For those of you that have been living under a rock or new members, put the shot guns and pitchforks away. Apollo was converted into a camper by his original owner way back in 1972 when you couldn’t spit without hitting one of these cars.
No one is really sure why he chose this car to convert but he did and created a unique vehicle. The Brooks bought him some 5 years ago, and worked their magic to produce the glorious, mad as a box of frogs, vehicle we see today. A wonderful mix of the old and new, he was quite possibly, the most popular vehicle of the show. There wasn’t a moment when he wasn’t surrounded by admiring show goers and he bought a smile to everyone that approached our stand.
The show ended for the day and we all headed back to our respective digs. Tosh, Gus, Phil and I went back to the AirBnB before walking the 10 meters to the Pub for a jolly nice pie. Much to Pukka Phil’s dismay, I had the last pie so he had to make do with the monstrous mixed grill. Being in a pub, the chaps felt that it would be rude not to continue celebrating our award-winning performance and needless to say, the pub had moved when it came to home time and was much further than the 10 meters from the house that it was when we went in. Even so, Phil felt that we hadn’t done enough celebrating already and made us celebrate winning an award some more.
Tosh and Gus headed off to bed some time later, but I just felt that I couldn’t leave Phil down in the dark celebrating winning an award on his own so I took another one for the team and kept him company. It might have got a bit silly but we did WIN AN AWARD you know.
To be continued …
By Mike Peake
Just in case you weren’t aware, WE WON AN AWARD!!! More on that later though in its proper place. Sorry but I’m still excited that WE WON AN AWARD!
I wasn’t able to make set up on Thursday due to not having much leave left. However, I hid in the beer barrel for a while when I got there on Friday and got all the gossip as the rest of the group chatted freely without realising I was there. You see, the chaps are starting to wise up and realise that everything stupid that they say and do WILL be used against them in the subsequent blog. Therefore I am having to take ever more drastic measures to get the scoop. Hence hiding in the Everard’s beer barrel.
Of course, when Gar got it to the NEC, Super Enthusiast Man Gus Brooks was there to save the day. Yes, the beer barrel started immediately, leaving Gar and Nick very red faced and claiming it must have been the damp. I guess now would be a good time to give you a bit of the history behind this unique vehicle.
WE WON AN AWARD! (Ed. Yes Mike, they know, but you haven’t reached that part of the story yet!) Sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, the beer barrel.
Well it was originally built on a Morris J2 chassis and running gear for Whitakers of Halifax and promoted their “Cock o’ the North” brand (Stop sniggering!) before moving onto a wine company and finally ending its working life at Everards Brewery. Fast forward to 2011. The finance boffins at Everards noticed that they’d been paying a farmer a monthly fee for a number of years but no one could remember why. When they went to investigate, they rediscovered the beer barrel languishing in a barn. Yes. This actually is a proper “Barn find”. It was in a bit of a sorry state, so Everards pulled it out from the farmers barn and delivered it to the National Brewery Centre.
The museum has a team of volunteers who were very keen to get to work on the van and have worked hard on restoring it back to its former glory. The project has taken over 5 years with the volunteers working on it once a week every week. They have done Everards proud and they now have a fully running, fantastic looking, unique publicity vehicle. The Barrel is now on permanent loan and displayed at, the National Brewery Centre. (Unless Everards need it.)
This fantastic vehicle caused a bit of a stir with the show-going public but especially with the chaps on the Morris J2 Register stand. Before the show, they knew nothing about this vehicle for the 30 years they’ve been running the register and boy were they excited! They were asking lots and lots of questions and clambering all over and under the barrel, taking pictures and finding the chassis plate. I think they spent more time on our stand than they did their own.
Of course, this wasn’t the only stir on the stand. Dave Youngs of Lancaster Insurance caused a bit of a flap too when he bought a couple of tickets for the awards dinner and insisted that we be represented at the event. Well, Gar had a taxiing job at stupid o’clock on Saturday morning so he wasn’t up to it and no one else had bought the posh frocks that are necessary at such events. In the end, Nick Arthur and I took one for the team and said we’d go.
Not having a posh frock wasn’t my only issue though. You see, I had been invited to stay in Windy Towers this weekend. I was to have the impressive mobile suite fitted with every luxury your sophisticated chap around town could possibly need. (Of course I mean me!! Cheek!) It even had staff quarters in a small brick building at the other end of the drive where the aromatic butler and long suffering Housekeeper would prepare a breakfast of kings for me in the morning. Unfortunately, it would prove a bit difficult to get to after a free bar at the awards dinner. There was nothing else for it, I would have to slum it in the spare room of Gus’s AirBnB. The things I have to do for this club!
It was now 7pm and I should have been at the event but I was still on the bus heading for the car park for a quick spray of deodorant and a splash of aftershave and didn’t get to the Hilton (told you it were posh) until 7.20. The only door that remained open to the hall happened to be right down the front next to the stage, which, to my utter horror already contained eminent people giving speeches. My utter horror was elevated even more utterly when I realised that table 25 was in the diametrically opposite corner from where I was standing.
Well there was nothing else for it so, as surreptitiously as a fat bloke can, I waded through the tightly packed tables and chairs. Needless to say it wasn’t very surreptitious at all and was accompanied by many utterances of “excuse me”, “sorry”, “can I just…” as well as the scraping of chairs, much tutting and a loud gasp. (I am so sorry Madam!)
Much to my relief, when I reached the table The four Scotsmen from the TR register and Nick who had already made themselves comfy on table 25, were drinking beer. This left a full, unopened bottle of wine just for me. I poured myself a large one and relaxed.
The evening progressed and after a very, very nice curry followed by cake, err… I mean gateaux. (Well it were posh weren’t it?) it was time for the awards. I have to admit, my hopes weren’t high after our previous experiences of awards dinners, so imagine our surprise when we heard our Group name called out. I carefully made my way to the front through the tightly packed tables and chairs again to graciously receive our award with dignity and to polite applause from the audience.
Oh who am I kidding, people were diving over tables to get out of my way and the remaining tables and chairs seemed to fly aside like the parting of the red sea as I ran to the stage shouting “in your face!” to the runners up and air punching like a hooligan.
Well OK, maybe that’s not strictly true either, but by some means, that probably fell somewhere between the two methods above, I got my hands on the award and I was jolly pleased.
Oh yes, What was the award for? It was the “Sponsors Award for the group of cars that they would most like to take home” and when they were announcing us as the winners, special mentions were made of Apollo, the Everards Barrel and the Vauxhall VX 490, which Dave Youngs of Lancaster Insurance would “Give his right arm” for. I thought that would be a bit silly of him as it’s not an automatic.
I have no idea who else won what as we were celebrating with my full bottle of wine and laughing at Nick who was reduced to minesweeping unopened bottles of beer on other tables as he and the 4 Scotsmen had drunk all of ours. I’m sure there must be a website with the list of winners somewhere though. (Click here to see the list)
The evening wound up and our carriages arrived to take us home. Well Gus picked me up in my CRV and took me back to the AirBnB where, to my horror, I discovered that Phil Alin was also staying. Long term readers will know that Phil is a very, very bad man who leads me astray and always makes me drink far more alcohol than I am comfortable with.
This was no exception and we were up until the early hours “celebrating” because WE WON AN AWARD!!
To be continued…
by Nick Arthur
My passion for motors is intertwined with lots of different stages in life, so here goes!
School wasn't really for me. I learned stuff, but it wasn't the curriculum that was planned, more a series of life lessons, so I left at 15. My bedroom walls at my parents house in Warrington were covered in car pics- e types mainly, spitfires and mgbgt . I dreamed that one day I'd own an e type roadster.
Other kids had pop stars or footballers. I had some from my beloved Liverpool F C but mainly cars. My dad offered me some stark choices when I decided I was leaving school. I had to go to work, earn money and pay rent, or go and get educated.
I opted for the latter, it seemed easier. I went to further education college. I like to think I learned lots in that year. I learned to gamble, I'd buy and occasionally steal ex juke box singles and I'd sell them on the coach going home. I saw myself as a budding if not slightly drunken entrepreneur . College expelled me. My dad offered me some familiar choices. This time with a bit less patience!
I went to work after lazing around for as long as possible. I was 17/18 by now, doing bar work mainly. Then a job on shifts when I was 18 . It was an aluminium smelting factory. Real life kicked in. Job was hard, tough folk work hard in hot and sweaty conditions. It was rightly well paid. I was on shifts and I had plenty of time on my hands and, as I was often reminded, I was living in the cheapest hotel in Warrington.
I needed a car. I badly wanted a car. My dad had company cars so I wasn't allowed near them. My mum had a very faded Red Austin 1100 - I wasn't allowed near that on my own. I wasn't responsible enough apparently. Probably right.
I changed jobs as I was made redundant - I was being taught practical lessons in politics. 'Don't mess with the unions '- as they will strike. Quickly followed by 'Don't mess with the management ' or they will stop investing and make you redundant. Strikes = redundancies, last in first out !
I got a job in a warehouse, stacking pallets, picking loads, brushing up and making tea. It paid poorly, but I got overtime and worked in a pub as well. I got by, I still had the red e type roadster on my bedroom wall.
I got in a fight, admittedly not my first - I was beer brave! Me and two mates took on a group of less drunk, much harder scouse guys in a chippy. They were mucking about, we took them on, Warrington vigilantes - we got badly beaten up. Me a bit more than the others, so enjoyed the hospitality of Warrington General Hospital.
The Coppers took our side as they were sick of Scousers coming to our town and causing trouble. I got to go in a brand new police rover SD1 and bled all over it ! But I'd been in a SD1 nonetheless . I got awarded criminal injuries and I had some savings. I could get a car, my very first car of my own - criminal justice ?
DWB 686H - a very second hand Cortina 1300 deluxe, pale blue, 4 doors, MOT. It had a few corners knocked off it but I loved that car. I did loads of stuff to it. I filled the dinks, sprayed them badly and then did it all over again. I put a 'stick on' heated back window!
I painted the wheels and meticulously cleaned the engine bay. I put a centre console in and fitted switches that kinda just switched on lights as opposed to really doing anything ! I had spot lamps with bright white covers on the front. I had a whip lash aerial.
For the first time in my life I was very nearly cool. I had a job, worked in a bar so I met lots of girls and I had a car! ( I was still a ginger so obviously unable to ever really be cool) . Me and DWB went everywhere.
I learned to drink shandy not beer anymore so we could go places. Me and my mates could go places outside of Warrington. Lock up your daughters Cheshire set, the Warrington boys were upwardly mobile. Knutsford, Nantwich, Alderly edge - even camping weekends in Anglesey. I loved DWB, it never once let me down , what could possibly go wrong?
About 6.30 am one foggy morning I was on my way to work and an uninsured driver came straight out of a junction and took me out. It was a big hit, I was ok, but DWB was in a bad way. Insurance write-off, way beyond my skills of redemption, it was towed away to a sad and lonely place.
I got about £200 insurance and at the age of 18 was back riding my old push bike to work.
Not cool. Time to find a new motor!
By Mike Peake.
Oh my good gods! it's a miracle! An honest to goodness, I've found Jesus, water into wine (that's my favourite) MIRACLE! The photo above was taken by Paul Cheetham - and I can't quite believe I'm saying this - he has actually managed to get the famous landmark AND classic cars in the same picture! What do you mean where? Right there above Poppy's boot. That's the Needles that is and the famous lighthouse! Well done Paul!!!
Sorry, I got distracted by the miracle.
Anyway, it was time to leave the beach side car park for our next leg to the Sammy Miller Motorbike Museum. It was about now that I realised I should have listened to my subconscious and parked nose 1st. You see, the inside of my windscreen and all my rear view mirrors were now covered in sea spray which, when you try and wipe off, just smears horrendously. I’m sure this leg was full of lovely scenery and great roads, but all I could see was smeary green bits, smeary grey bits and a smeary red Corsair.
Windy Sweet Kitten came to my rescue when we got to the museum with some fresh clean water and a clean cloth; my sight was miraculously restored.
Some of the crew needed to stock up on food and disappeared into the museum café. Phil only wanted a baked potato but they’d run out so he made do with cake. Others braved the long waiting times for more substantial meals while Anita and I were still full up from our HUGE breakfast.
The museum was AWESOME! Even for someone like me that knows very little about bikes, but now, I want a classic motorbike! Hundreds of fantastic bikes on display and every single one of them runs. (I asked) The really early ones were a bit nuts though and were basically an engine strapped to a bicycle.
Others had leather belt drives with the belt running uncomfortably close to where ones gentleman parts would be should you be daft enough to want to ride one or have the sudden urge to sing soprano.
For some reason, I was particularly drawn to the Triumphs in the display, especially the 1942 War Department bike.
Lots of other makes were there too to evoke nostalgia. Brough Superior, Norton, BSA, Ducati and even Harleys including an Indian.
Once we were able to tear ourselves away from the museum, it was time for even more photos in the car park.
It was now time to head for the final stop of the day. Well, it would have been, but the greedy guts Jaguar boys had waited so long for their food that they’d only just made it into the Museum. The siren call of the Ringwood brewery had already snared the rest of us, so we said we’d meet them there and headed off through more of the twisty turny uppy downy roads of the New Forest to fill the small brewery car park with classic cars. The Greedy Guts Jaguar Boys caught us up too.
Now I know what your thinking. Is visiting a Brewery on a driving tour a good idea? Well, for the drivers I guess not. Limiting yourself to one was tough but we made sure we all bought a different one and therefore were able to at least sample all the beers on offer and decide which ones we’d buy in the shop to take home. There was also a Bedford ‘O’ series truck in the car park but despite everyone’s best efforts, Mrs FB Just wouldn’t see the benefits of a camper/beaver tail conversion.
Whilst relaxing and supping our pint, we decided that after the super posh nosh we’d enjoyed the night before, we needed to bring ourselves back down to earth. We all fancied fish and chips. However, the weather forecast for the evening was atrocious so we felt an indoor experience might be a good Idea. So, on Pants Perman’s recommendation, Phil booked us all into Bertie’s, a fish and chip restaurant in Lyndhurst. Phil doesn’t like battered fish. (I know! Clearly there is something very wrong there.) However, he didn’t mind the dinning choice as he would have a Pukka steak and kidney pie with gravy and mushy peas like a proper northerner! We could all see the Homer Simpson drooling as he thought of it.
Dinner rendezvous agreed, the great day’s touring came to an end. We said cheerio to the Greedy Guts Jaguar boys, Pants Perman and Don and Louisa before setting off for our accommodation to dress for dinner.
What? Really? End of a tour and not one breakdown? I hear you say. Well, it’s true. Not one breakdown during the tour. However, It did become apparent that the electric passenger window, this time on the Jensen got stuck open on the way back to the hotel. Again, Nick tried to claim he managed to get it closed but Jo immediately cut him off at the knees and claimed credit for the fix. I believe Jo. Two reasons for this; 1) I’m scared of Jo and 2) as I may have mentioned, I’ve never seen Nick with a spanner.
What? Really? End of a tour and only Don and Nick got lost? I hear you say? Well I’d like to say this is true but as none of us had read the tour notes, Gar could have been leading us around completely lost all day and none of us would have known.
So after a jolly nice trouble free day, we all met up again in Bertie’s fish and chip shop with a few tables stuffed in a corner so it could call itself a restaurant, for a jolly nice, trouble free meal. Well, I say trouble free, but you remember Phil drooling over the Pukka steak and kidney pie, chips, mushy peas and gravy that he was going to order? Well they’d only gone and run out of Pukka steak and kidney pies hadn’t they! This, on top of not having his baked potato at lunch time, proved just too much for our normally mild-mannered Phil. He had a full-on teenage strop and decided that he “might as well just have bloody chips then!”.
The rest of us were in a state of utter shock at this outburst from the normally quiet Phil and it took us a full 10 seconds of silence before we all burst out laughing. On the upside, I think we may have finally found a nickname for Phil when Nick tried to console him by saying. “Never mind Pukka Pies Phil, our dinner is lovely.” Pukka Phil it is then.
The Next Morning, Mrs FB and I decided that, after a leisurely breakfast, we’d have a bit of a drive around the forest park and get lost for a bit which we did and found three great river fords. After driving the 1st one, we thought we should have filmed that for the blog. So when we came to the next one, Mrs FB got her phone out and filmed. Except she still had it on photo mode.
When we were home, I let the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” chaps know that I was home and that if they hadn’t passed me they were welcome to pop in for a tea and a wee stop.
Well they hadn’t passed me as Gar was leading and he still had his sat nav on “Taxi Driver” mode so had taken a route via Weymouth and Reading according to the rest of the chaps. So, 30 minutes after my text, I was crushed in the stampede for the facilities shortly before being crushed in the 2nd stampede when the chaps smelled the freshly cooked rock cakes that Mrs FB had made specially.
So after a great weekend we all made it home without any problems at all.
Apart from Nick. Electrical gremlins struck again when Nick pulled into a petrol station to refill the Jensens Bunkers. The little electric motor that opens the fuel cap lock refused to cooperate and wouldn’t open the fuel cap. Yet again, Nick tried to claim credit for taking covers off and prodding the manual release and thus saving the day with a flourish. I don’t know about you, but I’m calling bull poopy on that one! It was Jo, wasn’t it Nick?
So once again, massive thanks to all the chaps of all genders that joined us for the weekend and made it such fun. Particularly Gar Cole for all his organising and enthusiasm. None of these events would happen without him. THANK YOU GAR. WE ALL LOVE YOU!
Photo credits to everyone I stole pictures from but especially Paul Cheetham from whom I stole the most.
I hope you enjoyed the blog and I hope it has inspired lots more of you to join us on our adventures. We’d love to see you so keep an eye on the events section.
See you all at the NEC then chaps! Don’t forget your discount tickets using our club discount code.
By Mike Peake
After one of the most enormous and tasty breakfasts I’ve ever had and checking Poppy’s fluid levels, we set off to meet the crowd at “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this”. No one was in the car park yet so we went round to Old Mother Cole mansions for a chat and to see if we could scrounge another coffee. We couldn’t but we did get hold of one of the wonderful tour plaques that our group sponsor Alveston Press of Derby had made for us. (That’s Phil Allin that is. Top chap and excellent printer for all your printing needs)
When it was time to head to the car park, Poppy had a bit of a tantrum and refused to start. The strong smell of petrol suggested to Windy Sweet Kitten that she was flooded and suggested a bump start would be the cure and along with Mrs FB’s assistance immediately started pushing. He was right and Poppy was running again.
Poppy hasn’t had a proper run since I rebuilt the carburettor at the start of the year, so I suspected that the mixture wasn’t as good as it should be. I decided I would have a bit of a fiddle with it in the car park while we were waiting to leave. As Super Enthusiast Man wasn’t there, no amount of staring mournfully at the faulty part drummed up any help so I had to do it myself - which is where my bumbling incompetence struck again.
In reaching my hand through to the mixture nut on the base of the carb, I burned my hand on the manifold. Then in my rush to withdraw my hand I first impaled, then sliced open my palm on the end of the choke cable. So, with blisters on the top of my hand and blood dripping from the palm, I looked around sheepishly. No one had noticed. The down side of this was no sympathy for my injury. The plus side was that no one would know about my bumbling incompetence unless I was daft enough to put it in the blog and I’m not going to do that! (Oh …. Damn!)
Despite my injuries, I manfully struggled on and manage to tweak the mixture a bit. Whatever I did worked to some extent and mostly cured her reluctance to start when warm. More fiddling required when I get home though.
It’s time to start the tour so let me introduce the participating cars and their owners.
Representing the Isle of Wight Jaguar owners club, we have :-
The Enthusiasts were made up of the following:-
Actually, Nick and Jo weren’t there. Nick claimed he was fixing the window in the Jensen and that we weren’t to wait. They’d catch us up.
10 minutes after we set off, we got a message to say that he was passing the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” car park, so the convoy pulled into a parking area to wait. They soon caught up & Jo let slip that it wasn’t Nick doing the fixing but actually the mechanic from the garage 2 doors down from the pub they were staying in. I had an idea that this would be the case as I have never ever, ever seen Nick with a spanner in his hands. Beer? Yes. Spanners? Never!
Now the convoy was complete, we set off again for a very pleasant drive through the New Forest.
This leg of the run took us through the lovely town of Lyndhurst made not so lovely by the huge traffic jam caused by the traffic lights in the town centre and the fact that every car in the New Forest was there. It had us all nervously watching our temperature gauges as they steadily rose and also broke up the convoy.
Gar’s usual philosophy of “Leaving no man behind” seemed to have gone out the window now he was in his comfy and reliable Mondeo instead of Nelson. He pressed on at only fractionally sub sonic speeds. Phil, Pants Perman and I managed to hold onto his coat tails, just. The 4 of us arrived at our 1st official stop in a car park in Milford on Sea. Gar takes us to all the best places! To be fair, the view was spectacular.
As we pulled into the front row overlooking the Sea, I was going to pull in nose 1st but the rest were reversing in so I followed suit as it would make great photos with the Needles behind in the distance.
It was some time before the rest of the convoy arrived, but arrive they did. Except Nick and Jo in the Jensen and Don and Louisa in the Stag. Don was getting hopelessly lost and Nick was blindly following having learned nothing from our previous tours. They caught up eventually.
To Be Continued …
By Mike Peake
A wet and windy run down through the lovely green lanes of Wiltshire ensued - all rather uneventfully. We did get a call from Gar though. After his antics on the last tour, I was expecting a fuel requirement, but no. He needed another “facilities break”, so we stopped at the next petrol station. It didn’t have a customer toilet. We were only 30 minutes from the holiday resort that the chaps were staying in, so it was decided that he would try and hold out. We put him in the lead though, just in case.
Poppy gave me a bit of a scare by not starting straight away but she got there after a few turns of the key and we were off again. The exit from the garage joined the road after a set of traffic lights and Gar and Phil nearly killed themselves when they exited. I waited until the lights turned green and the rest of the convoy re-joined the road at a more sedate pace. Gar and Phil didn’t wait though. Luckily, I had the destination programed into Gladys the sat nav and we pulled into the New Forest resort, “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this”. Yes, It really is called that. Well, nearly, and yes, we all sniggered like school boys every time the holiday resort was mentioned.
We pulled up in the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” car park and waited for Gar to book us all in. This took somewhat longer than expected as the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” staff wouldn’t accept the booking without the “Booking.Com” reference number that Gar hadn’t bought with him. An hour later we made it to the caravan.
To call the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” accommodation "a caravan” grossly understates the opulence that greeted us when we opened the door. Comfy sofas, fully stocked kitchen including a dishwasher and digitally controlled climate control that no one could operate until young Paul Cheetham arrived. Gar had already bagged the double room which turned out to be a whole wing of the building. A huge super king size double bed and an en-suite BATH room. Yes, a massive bath in a caravan! He’d done quite well for himself. Even the bath had more room than the Holivan Junior 8 that is Gar’s normal accommodation on tour. Windy Sweet Kitten and Berbo had 2 single cots stuffed in a broom cupboard. They weren’t quite as pleased as Gar was.
We decided to leave the chaps to explore the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” stately home and set off to check into our weekend accommodation. No, not a tent. Mrs FB insisted on accommodation with a proper roof and beds if she was going to grace us with her presence. Gar had excelled himself by booking us into a rather nice B&B with the rather less amusing name of “Little Forest Lodge”. It was beautiful. We were welcomed with complimentary tea and homemade banana cake while we checked in, and if it wasn’t for the single beds Gar had booked us, it would have been very romantic. (In his defence, he had booked it for Phil and Paul before I hijacked the booking)
We all met up again at the Compasses, where Nick and Jo were staying, for an exceptional dinner only spoilt by all of us imagining Tosh Brook’s Yorkshire exclamation of “Ow Mooch!” when we looked at the menu. We had to imagine it, as Tosh hadn’t bothered turning up for this one because the New Forest is a long way from Doncaster. I know - what a lightweight! This also meant that we were touring without the comfort blanket of “Super Enthusiast Man” Gus Brooks. I have to say that we were all rather worried about the prospect of fixing our own breakdowns.
I say we all met up for dinner but Nick and Jo were late due to a “Hamlet moment”. Those of you who are old enough to remember tobacco advertising on TV will know Nick’s problem. For the rest of you, the electric window on the driver’s side of the Jensen had stuck in the open position. Have I mentioned that it was freezing cold and chucking it down with wet rain?
We were all extremely sympathetic to their plight and hardly laughed at all when 2 bedraggled, wet and cold people finally arrived at 9.40pm. We hardly laughed even more when they found out that the kitchen closed at 9.30pm and were no longer taking orders for food. However, Jo used her feminine charms on the chef and scared him into rustling up some nachos and a sandwich. (That was a direct quote from Nick when I asked how he got the food. Nothing to do with me. Honest Jo! No, really.)
The fun and laughter had to end as we all left for our respective accommodations for a good night’s sleep in preparation for meeting the Isle of Wight Jaguar boys in the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” car park the next morning, ready for the tour.
Oh, you may have noticed that Ian Woodward’s nickname has lengthened slightly to “Windy Sweet Kitten”. Well you have Sarah “Cup Cake” Woodward to thank for that after their romantic and moving Wedding Anniversary Facebook posts. (Oh No! I’ve just been a little bit sick in my mouth again!)
To be continued …
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