By Mike Peake
My new control box arrived and I was at my lockup like a shot and had it fitted in no time at all. One of the nice things about working on Poppy at the lock up is that people walk past and want to chat about the car and what I’m doing to it and today was no exception.
A young couple with a baby approached and were very enthusiastic about the car. Particularly the young lady who introduced herself as Mel. She wanted to know all about it. How easy to run as an everyday car, who could work on it and how fed up she was with her boring modern car. Well if Poppy was for sale I think Mel would have bought her there and then, but chat over and off they went to continue their walk and I went back to working on Poppy.
Jump leads to the Honda and Poppy fired up. Frustratingly, the ignition light was still glowing. I guess it wasn’t the control box then. I left the car running and attached to the Honda, while I pulled up the diagnostic procedure on my phone, but while I was looking at this, the cut out cut in and the light went out. “Woohoo! Its fixed” I thought and went for a spin to charge up the battery. As I was driving down the High Street, I saw Mel and her family again and they were flagging me down so I stopped to a chorus of “Oh Wow! You fixed it. That’s great! Can I have a ride?” from Mel, Well not wanting to disappoint my public, I took Mel for a ride round Bassett. She didn’t stop talking the whole way and really seemed to enjoy the experience. I also convinced her to join the group because I’m smooth like that.
After I dropped Mel back with her family, I went for a proper blast in the countryside, …Errr… I mean proving run. It all went smoothly apart from a brief thunk and rattle under the car which I put down to a kicked up stone, the ignition warning light came back on and Poppy developed a slight intermittent misfire. Needless to say then, I was a little bit grumpy when I got back to the lockup. Especially so, when the “kicked up stone” turned out to be the crank shaft pulley nut making a bid for freedom.
The next 4 hours were spent prodding and poking with the multi-meter and swearing … a lot. Despite this and my best efforts to look as competent with a multi-meter as Super Enthusiast Man and Lord Simpson did, I had no success whatsoever in chasing any electrickery back into the car or indeed, finding out why it all fell out in the 1st place. I’m ashamed to say that I gave up and vowed to convert to an alternator. In order to have some sense of achievement after a day spent on the car, I serviced the ignition side which cured the misfire and fitted the replacement nearside door mirror which was broken about a year ago when a Fatbloke tried to squeeze between the car and the garage wall.
Another pleasant hour was spent with Mrs FB driving very slowly up and down a certain stretch of road in the Honda, whilst I looked for my freedom-seeking crank shaft pulley nut but it had made a clean getaway so I will have to buy a new one.
Well the group’s Maesteg tour and show was approaching and as it was a charity show in aid of the Stroke Association and organised by our youngest active member, Thomas Jenkins, 17, I decided that I’m going anyway despite my charging issue. The battery was off the car and being filled with electric at home ready for the trip and there will be lots of people there to bump start me should I need it (but they are Brian, Gar and Eric … I’ll take jump leads!). Therefore, Friday afternoon had me refitting the battery and a new crank shaft pulley nut before heading down to Welsh Wales. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a big enough socket or spanner so I did the best I could with a dodgy Stillson wrench I found. I promised myself that the correct sized socket will be ordered.
There was to be no slumming it in a tent for me this weekend. Gar had booked me into a proper B&B! I have to say, it’s a lot easier to go away like this when all you have to pack is an overnight bag. Poppy felt so much lighter to drive too without all my camping gear!
Now I had another decision to make. Boring M4 and take less than 2 hours and only 91 miles or avoid the motorway which the satnav says will take nearly 4 hours and will be nearly 130 miles? Well it was a bit later than I would have liked having fitted the battery and crank shaft pulley nut and not wanting to waste merlot time, I opted for the M4. This was a stupid decision. It turns out that a popular combo band called the Rolling Stones were playing in Cardiff. I entered the motorway at the west Swindon junction to stationary traffic and didn’t get above 20MPH until after the last Cardiff junction. I arrived at the B&B 4 hours after I set off, very tired and hungry but the weather had stayed dry and I had the roof down the whole way.
The rest of the chaps had already left for a local Pub so I made a quick call to Gar to find out which one. Gar said that he was “sending a car” for me. Well the car turned out to be Adrian in his very fine 1989 Jaguar XJ6 manual.
Let me tell you that after 4 hours in a Herald, It was absolute bliss to sink into those soft leather seats. I was whisked along feeling like a Gangster overlord. I just wish I’d bought my camel hair coat, sovereign rings and big cigar. Anyway, the journey to the pub was completed safely without hitting any more fences so well done Adrian!
A very nice evening was had and we all learned a couple of valuable lessons.
Evening entertainment over, it was time to head back to our “not camping” gentlemen’s abode for a relaxing sleep in the peaceful Welsh countryside.
To be continued…
PS if you were unable to make it but would like to show your appreciation for all the hard work, Thomas and the Jenkins Family put in, you can still make a donation to the Stroke Association by following this link to Shannon's“Just Giving” page.
Shannon has set this up just for us, so please be as generous as you can. It’s a very worthy cause.
By Mike Peake
My daughter recently purchased a 2013 ice blue Mini One convertible and it set me thinking about when we bought Mrs FB’s first car which was also a blue Mini. This one was of the British Leyland variety with the 1000cc engine and from 1975. I thought I’d share these thoughts with you.
1988. I’m 19, fit and handsome. Anita is 18 and incredibly beautiful. Sophie wasn’t even a twinkle in our eyes. It was the middle of winter.
2018. I’m 49, fat and balding. Anita Isn’t 18 anymore but is still incredibly beautiful. (Yeah, I know but give me a break! She might read this!) Sophie is 22 and incredibly beautiful. It was late spring.
1988 Anita needed a car to get her from the Nurses home to the hospital in London as we didn’t want her walking late at night before or after shifts.
2018 .It is my eldest daughters turn to buy her 1st car for commuting to work and because she wants to.
1988. Anita decided she wanted a Mini. She’d never driven one but decided she really liked them and it would be ideal for zooming in and out and around London and she’d look really cool, and it had to be blue.
2018. Sophie decided she wanted a Mini (yes, the BMW one). She’d never driven one but decided she really liked them and it would be ideal for zooming in and out and around Swindon and she’d look really cool, and it had to be ice blue.
1988. Budget extremely limited as paying rent and living in London on a student Nurse wage. In fact, our 1st Pram cost more than we spent on this car.
2018. Budget not quite so limited as living with Mum and Dad and able to put almost entire salary into saving up for a car.
1988. Scoured classified advertisements in local paper and Autotrader when they came out on Thursdays.
2018. Set notifications on eBay to notify me when a car that matches my criteria is listed. Ask Local Mini dealership about a car on the forecourt. It was already sold but said he’d let us know if another came in.
1988. Find an ad in the paper for a car that sounded great and was really cheap. Call the number in the ad which rings out as answering machines weren’t in common use and the phone would have been tethered to the wall so couldn’t be taken into the toilet. Finally get through and arrange to view that very evening.
2018. Dean from Mini dealership calls to say he’s just taken in the perfect car as a PX so we arrange to view that very evening.
1988. The address given was on the roughest dodgiest housing estate in Swindon, but the directions were simple. “It’s the only one in the street not on bricks.”
2018 Met my daughter outside the posh main entrance to the dealership under a mini bolted to the wall. So I guess you could say “it was up on bricks”?
1988 It was dark and pouring with rain, but the car looked ok (in the dark). We rang the doorbell. Anita wasn’t insured so the vendor took us to the car park in front of the local row of shops for us to test drive. Here we were able to establish that it moved and stopped. He then drove us back to his house.
2018 It was a pleasant evening and still bright daylight and we were able to have a good look round the car. It was spotless and everything seemed to be in excellent working order. It was however too late to go for a test drive as it was nearly closing time at the dealership.
1988 When we pulled up back at his house, his girlfriend came out and announced that someone was on the phone about the car. Whilst he was inside on the phone we decided to have the car as it was likely to go quickly. Yes, we fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book. We handed over the agreed amount and I drove the car back to the future in-laws house. I discovered on the way that it pulled to the left and there was a rubbing noise on full left lock. It had 2 months MOT and Tax though.
We were arranging the test drive for Saturday morning when Dean announced that unless we paid a fully refundable deposit, he couldn’t guarantee the car would be there. Sophie decided that she wanted the car and told the salesman this which rather undermined any negotiating position. However I did get the upcoming service and brake fluid change thrown in along with a tank of fuel.
The Next day, Anita’s Dad decided he would get the car inspected by a local garage he trusted. He then promptly spent another £300 on welding and repairing steering. Oh and the car caught fire on the ramp but they managed to put it out and repair the cause. (Dads are great aren’t they?)
We all test drove the car and came back with big grins on our faces. The deal was done and we arranged to pick the car up the following week to give the garage time to do the service and valet the car.
We got the car back and with insurance arranged, Anita got her 1st proper drive on the road. She hated it at first as it was so different to drive than the brand new Vauxhall Nova she’d learnt on. However she soon fell in love with its handling and practicality and what was intended as a town car purely for the commute from digs to Hospital soon became a motorway car too and was going back and forward from Swindon to London for her days off. This 1975 Mini 1000, KNT 735P gave great service for 3 years until the floor fell off and it became the spares car for the one I helped build as a wedding present.
The day came to pick up the mini and it was sunny and warm. The salesman ran Sophie through all the controls and paired her phone. The roof was lowered and off she went immediately in love with the car. 2 weeks later, we still haven’t managed to prise her out of the driver’s seat or get the grin from her face. I’m also pretty sure this car will provide many, many years of service and I really hope the floor doesn’t fall off.
Somethings are definitely better now than then and I think the "new" Mini is definitely a classic in the making. .... But I do miss that old Mini.
by Callum Tooey
So we left part 1 having returned home via recovery with my first 'proper' classic (well OK technically speaking my previous '85 Reliant Rialto fit our group criteria but having owned Reliants previously this was a totally new experience). It was so late by the time I returned home that my partner never actually saw the car.
With Nutmeg now languishing in my garage, my partner spent the week constantly pulling me away from the windows where I'd be sneaking a peek in disbelief at the fact that she was actually in there. I ordered parts that I knew were needed, a new coil, airbox and paper air filter (it had a K&N fitted directly to the carb), spark plugs. The new coil arrived within a few days but due to work commitments I knew I'd have to wait until the weekend to do any work.
The weekend finally arrived and my Dad and uncle had agreed to come over and help me to fit new parts. I checked the voltages across both the old coil and the new one, they were reading equal which I thought was odd but hey, that was the diagnosis of the recovery mechanic so who am I to question it (I now know this isn't the right way to check coils).
My uncle arrived first but with limited tools (mainly metric) we struggled to remove the old coil from the car, we tried testing it by simply connecting the old coil, I was optimistic but after cranking the engine multiple times she still failed to start.
We pulled some spark plugs and they were dry, strange I thought as fuel wasnt a diagnosed fault? We checked the fuel to the carb, check, somehow it wasn't entering the cylinders, it must be blocked we thought, we decided to check the spark at the plugs, also nothing... 'Two different faults?' I exclaimed 'What are the chances of that!'
My uncle replaced the old coil with the new one, with the understanding that it eliminated the coil as an issue, my Dad arrived with two heavy toolboxes full of AF tools 'You can have these son!' He said, whilst watching me almost buckle trying to lift them out of his car boot.
With the correct tools at our disposal we had the carburettor disconnected and removed, my plan was to find a specialist who could professionally clean it. Deciding nothing more could be done with the car that weekend I removed the battery to charge it and we retired for a well earned cup of tea.
I spent the following week calling around various places to attempt to have the carburettor cleaned, one company enthusiastically told me they could rebuild it for around £300 odd and that they were the sole specialists for this however there were time-frame issues and I would need to send the carb away to be worked which, I spoke to a local firm who said they had never done one before but 'could give it a go' and to drop it off and it would be done 'whenever'. I politely declined and decided to strip it down myself to clean the jets using my manual as the guide.
Stripping it down proved to be relatively easy, in hindsight though I should have wore some eye protection as spraying carb cleaner over-zealously into every nook and cranny of the carb was enough to catch a nice spray of it in my eye which I can say categorically, stings like a b*tch.
After taking a breather and discovering I wasn't going to lose my eyesight I reassembled the carb and stored it again ready for refitting that weekend. This was a big weekend for me as I had decided to work on the car by myself, reassuring myself that you don't learn until you throw yourself into it.
Refitting the carb proved to be a slight hassle as although the right hand bolt is easily accessible, the left hand bolt was impossible to reach with a socket and I could only get a quarter turn on the bolt, I noticed that if I could refit the choke cable and put it 'on' this would move some of the obstruction giving me half a turn which made it slightly quicker.
After confirming the carburettor was refitted I refitted the battery and decided to try to start her again, I don't know what I expected to be honest as she turned over definitely but still refused to start. I tested for a spark at the points and spark plugs, nothing on either.
Becoming frustrated, my Dads voice echoed in my head 'Should have bought a Morris Minor'. "No - I will fix this" I decided, this is 2018 and we have technology now to help! Out came my phone and onto Youtube, testing for sparks the usual search terms but nothing helped.
I had bought another distributor, a new rotor arm and a new electronic ignition so I decided to fit these to the car, again under the perhaps misguided impression that they removed a possible 'reason' for the car not to start. After fitting these parts I tried once more to start her, but all this succeeded in doing was draining the battery. Light was fading now so I locked up the garage, and retired back indoors.
Needless to say, I was at a low point here, I made a disappointed post to vent on the group Facebook page, strongly disheartened by the days events and wondering if I had truly bitten off more than I could chew here. That post instead showed me why I am a member of the group in the first place when another member, Colin, offered to call me and talk me through it.
Taking time out of his work to talk me through the basic mechanics and checks I had performed, he said something that caused me to perk up 'You have checked the coil right?' Of course I have, it had voltage across it 'Yeah that's fine but what about the resistance?'
'The resistance?' I thought, Colin had to dash off for work but told me to look into it, a quick Youtube video later and I realised I'd been checking the coil wrong, I didn't need to check voltages I needed to measure the ohms! After rushing out to the garage I grabbed the old coil and checked the resistance, it was around 3 ohms for the primary circuit and around 9 for the secondary.
With my manual only stating an ohm resistance of 4.5 for the coil I had no idea if this was within tolerable levels so disconnected the new coil and tested it, the first circuit proved slightly higher but there was no reading for the secondary proving that my 'new' coil was actually a dud.. Could it really be that simple?
Well a new coil has been ordered... and I guess you'll have to wait for part 3 to find out!
By Mike Peake.
The scenery couldn’t have contrasted more with our last tour if it tried. I don’t think I have ever been anywhere so devoid of hills. I have no idea how the hill start on the driving test is done round here but as Lady Sandra pointed out, the sky is big.
Let me start by introducing the cars and crews that set off on the tour.
Our 1st stop was Coningsby airfield, home of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, where we parked up at the viewing spot to look at the Spitfire parked on the apron. We were also lucky enough to be there when the DC3 Dakota taxied out and took off. It even did a few fly pasts for us before setting off with a waggle of its wings, for an air show somewhere in the country.
Of course no group meet would be complete without trying to squeeze fat blokes into small cars and this time Gar and I had to shoehorn ourselves into Tosh’s inaccurately named Austin Big 7 for the amusement of all. (It’s really not nice to laugh at the fat blokes you know! Oh…actually… I see your point!)
The next leg had us winding through some picturesque Lincolnshire villages before ending up at the Kinema in the Woods. This quaint, very old fashioned cinema still had the old fashioned organ that came out of the floor at the start of the old silent films and I would love to have had the time to stop and maybe watch some classic Laurel and Hardy.
However, our head count of cars came up short by 3. Missing were Malc and Les in their Pristine 26K-miles-from-new Austin Cambridge, Kevin and Sheila in their candy pink mobile disco Reliant Rialto and Ash and Thomas in their Mini Scamp. The Scamp pulled in a short while later with the news that Kevin’s enthusiasm had got the better of him and he failed to notice the huge Cambridge had stopped in front of him. Fortunately, no one was physically hurt but the mental scars resulting from having pride and joys damaged will stay with everyone concerned. Kevin will now be fitting proximity activated inflatable crash bags to the front of his pink marvel and on future tours will be forced to set off 5 minutes before everyone else.
Drama over, Lord Simpson of Boston announced that there was an outdoor big screen showing of the Dam Busters movie that evening and this was where you could buy tickets. So we did, like a shot.
The next - thankfully uneventful - leg had us winding through some picturesque potholes and broken roads to the Petwood Hotel.
The Petwood is a beautiful Tudor-looking hotel and was also the off-duty home of the officers of the RAF 617 "Dam Busters" Squadron during the war. It is packed with memorabilia, including the remains of one of the famous bouncing bomb prototypes. After visiting Derwent dam on our last tour, it was great to carry on the theme on this tour and I was getting even more excited about the film that evening.
We stopped here for a very nice lunch in the perfectly manicured grounds. It was the perfect experience of how the posh folks like Lord and Lady Simpson live every day. The airborne theme was also continued as other posh types took off in their helicopter from the hotel grounds.
The final stop of the day was at the Thorpe Camp Visitor centre. It is charming little museum largely centred around 617 Squadrons wartime adventures but also into the Cold War with the Lightning and Bloodhound SAM outside. Apologies to all those I bored to death with my commentary.
It had been a great day with some lovely driving and fascinating stops and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but it was time to head back to the camp for tea and chat before going to the film. Anita was with Gar in the 80 year old Austin Big 7 and Howard was leading the small convoy of cars that were returning via the fuel stop.
Howard was driving his lovely Ford Popular but his after-market indicators weren’t working and he was using hand signals very effectively. It was all going well and a couple of right hand turns had been successfully navigated. It was when we came to a left turn that it all fell apart.
Howard executed the perfect “I am turning left” hand signal. However Gar and Anita interpreted this signal as “I’ve decided to go this way but you pass me and lead the convoy the wrong way as you have no idea where you’re going” - which they did. I did know what Howard's signal meant so we stopped at the side of the road trying to phone them to point out their error.
After the petrol station, it was time for a bit of a change around. Gar wanted to have a drive of Poppy so I found myself in the privileged position of driving Tosh’s Big 7 with Anita by my side. Here I was being allowed to drive someone else’s 80 year old car and Anita and I had HUGE grins on our faces. It was so much fun. OK, it wasn’t by any means quick and the brakes were merely “adequate” when compared to more modern systems. When you turned the steering wheel, it was no more than a suggestion that the car may follow if and when it felt like it but all that helped in forming the car’s character and charm. We loved it.
When we got back to the site, we stood around chatting about the great day and the cars. If I thought the mickey-taking about my boot lid was over, I was sadly mistaken. Lord Simpson wanted in on the act and gave me a book called Paint Craft to much hilarity in the group.
Actually, it looks a jolly useful book and I shall study it fully. Thanks, John!
Gus fired up the BBQ and us plebs gathered around to cook a variety of dead animals. Lord and Lady Simpson of Boston however, settled down to a 5 course meal with Lady Sandra’s Lady in Waiting, Bridget and John’s Batman Howard in attendance.
The rest of us looked on longingly and it paid off. Lady Simpson took pity on us plebs and shared a stunning, multi-layered, amoretto soaked, cream and raspberry gateau that she had knocked up in the caravan earlier that evening.
The gateau was quickly demolished and it was time to head back to Petwood House where the outdoor screening was to take place. Stuffing five fatblokes, Mrs FB, Bella the dog and all the required deckchairs into Gars Zafira was a bit of a challenge, but we made it.
Although I must have seen the Dam Busters hundreds of times and almost know it off by heart, it was a fantastic experience to see it on the big screen at such an appropriate venue. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Yes we may have frozen to within an inch of our lives but it was fantastic and a great evening with great people.
Sunday morning started out clear and warm and stayed lovely nearly all day. Our cars were moved over to the show field and were soon joined by plenty of other cars including our ageing hippy renegade Ford sub-section (you know who you are!). A great day was had sitting in the sun and chatting with old and new friends. It was particularly good to see BL Dan and his good lady again.
Cars of note for me were Carl Dennis’s Austin Princess 3.0l Farina. It was probably the biggest car at the show.
John and Elaine Fisher’s Crayford convertible Mini was probably the smallest car in the show. They share my love of these little cars but have taken it to the next level. They have rather a lot of Mini and Mini-derived cars and they kept going home to bring another one of their collection.
Speaking of Mini-derived cars, Ash Lakey and his son Thomas were certainly enjoying their Scamp. Seeing 5 year old Thomas sat on his Dad’s lap and confidently steering it around the site brought back lots of memories of me doing the same with my Dad and my daughters.
Another of my favourites was Dean Berresford’s lovely 1989 XJS. It was the 3.6l straight six FHC. I love this car and would seriously consider adding one to my collection one day. I actually prefer the straight six to the vaunted V12. In my opinion, it is much more usable with 30mpg and with only 6 cylinders. It is much less scary to a bumbling, incompetent home mechanic like me. I also love those “flying buttresses” coming off the back window. Again, in my opinion, much better looking than the convertibles. Looking through e-Bay, it would appear this car is becoming quite rare now so that Lotto win seriously needs to hurry up.
Finally, this gorgeous Riley owned by Barry Holden. Mainly because it just looked beautiful but also because it was experiencing boot lid difficulties. Barry was doing the sensible thing though. He’d sent it off to someone that knew what they were doing.
The show drew to a close and many sad farewells were said. Having sat in one place all day, Anita and I had a bit of wanderlust though and fancied a jolly jaunt. Skegness wasn’t far so why not pop along and get a bit of seaside, we thought?
Lady Sandra did warn us that it was a bit like Blackpool but we’ve never been there either. The drive there was very pleasant despite the ominous clouds in front of us but we made it and stayed dry. Well, Skeggy was umm, an experience. We’ll leave it at that. We did have some of the nicest fish and chips though and we spotted a Mini and Poppy started again despite not charging all weekend. Unfortunately, it started to rain as we were leaving so I manually flicked on the contact so the battery could charge and I could use lights and wipers.
This happy situation didn’t last long as we started to smell something getting really, really hot in a burning plastic electrical way. Needless to say, I stopped and switched the regulator back off and continued with our drive back to base camp peering round the rain drops.
We had a jolly nice evening though and I only had to put up with Anita moaning about sleeping on the floor in a tent for one more night.
Bank Holiday Monday morning now and, unbelievably, it was still warm and sunny. As we had drunk all the Merlot, OK, I’ll rephrase that. As I had drunk all the Merlot, we were able to get everything back into Poppy and all tucked in without having to put the roof up. We were set for a lovely drive home. We said our goodbyes to the remaining campers, Howard and Bridget and Lord and Lady Simpson, during which we had the singular honour to be invited back to the Simpsons stately pile for a spot of lunch. An invitation that we sadly had to decline as we had a slightly poorly Poppy and if we did have to rely on the AA, we wanted to have a sporting chance of arriving home at some time on the Monday.
Thank you for the kind offer though. Maybe next time?
Car loaded goodbyes said; it was time to leave so I turned the key on Poppy. She turned over VERY sluggishly but just as John set off to get his booster pack, Poppy fired up and we were off.
Despite the ignition light, we had a very pleasant ride home. The way the deck chairs were packed also acted as a very passable wind deflector, making us even comfier and allowing us to go all the way home without having to put the roof back up because Anita’s hair was "tired”.
OK, we did need a bump start in the McDonalds car park at Towcester, but I had parked facing down a slight hill and a kind gent offered to help Anita push, so all was good. (What? Anita had the option to be in the driver’s seat but she chose to push! Honest!) It was at this point that we also realised that all our electrickery had finally run out so we had to resort to hand signals.
After Howards brave attempt at signalling a left turn, I realised that he and I were probably the only ones that knew proper hand signals and if other classic car drivers like Gar didn’t know them, what hope did I have surrounded by muggles in their moderns? So I made Mrs FB stick her arm out for the left turns.
We finally made it home after 474 miles under mostly our own steam. The car was unpacked and one more bump start from my eldest daughter this time, Poppy was snuggled up in her lock up and we could put our feet up with a nice cup of tea.
This just leaves me to say a huge thank you to Sandra and John for organising such a great weekend and I’m looking forward to next year already. Thanks also to everyone who joined in and created a fun time and I really Hope Malc and Les Shaw haven’t been put off joining us in the future.
Finally, Anita and I would like to announce our very favouritist car of the weekend. Of course it is Tosh and Gus Brook’s Austin Big 7. I really loved this 80 year old original and unrestored car and a big thank you to the brothers for their generosity in allowing us all to clamber in and around, drive and just enjoy this wonderful piece of history.
Well my new voltage regulator is ordered so I expect you will hear from me soon. Also, our next event in the Welsh Wales valleys is happening soon, so check out our events section both here on the website and on our Facebook page.
See you soon.
Fatbloke and Poppy.
By Mike Peake
I’m still on a high from our Peaks tour, maybe because it took me so long to write the blogs, but now it’s time to get my head around our next event which was the group tour around Lincolnshire on Saturday followed by our meet in the show field at the Boston Bubble Car Museum on Sunday.
There was a lot of "Will she, won’t she?" from Mrs FB, not helped by my bumbling incompetence and double-booking myself. A friend of a friend’s daughter was in need of prom transport and I didn’t connect the dates before I said yes. Therefore Friday afternoon had me making Poppy and myself presentable instead of packing for the weekend.
Kayley and Oliver are a lovely young couple who seemed almost as smitten with Poppy as my family are. I had strict instructions on when and where to be. I arrived slightly early and was ready for the family photoshoot where Oliver’s extended family all oohed and ahhed over Poppy until Kayley arrived looking lovely and they all oohed and ahhed over her.
Despite spending two hours on her hair and makeup and my warnings that it can be “quite blowy” in the back of a Herald with the roof down, Kayley insisted on leaving the roof down, and the 12 miles to the venue was covered sedately in an effort not to completely destroy the “do”.
We made it with all our hair intact and then sat in the queue for the red carpet entrance. There were loads of interesting Promenader delivery vehicles but nearly all too new for our groups. Being a rural area, lots of the kids turned up in tractors which whilst agricultural, actually cost a lot more than the Ferraris, Bentleys and Mustangs that were also delivering young people. One tractor was pulling a trailer with a half dozen girls in their Prom finery, sat on hay bales. My personal favourite though was this old fire engine. Emily (my youngest) had a ride on this at her prom too.
For every time Oliver would point out some flash, expensive modern Ferrari or Mustang etc, Kayley would always say, “ I prefer our ride” or” this one is much nicer”, which was lovely for me to hear. One girl in a modern Bentley Continental even shouted out that Kayley “looked so cute in that car”. Apparently this girl was one of the “It” girls and had never spoken to Kayley before.
45 minutes after joining the queue, I was starting to get a little concerned as Poppy was running really hot, but we were close to the drop-off point, so I just sat there and prayed to the gods of Proms and old cars that we would get the kids to the red carpet without embarrassment . We did. I jumped out and held the door open and the seat up in such a good chauffer manner that even Paul Mattinson would have been jealous. The kids got out and had a professional pic taken with the car. At last I could set off at a decent speed and Poppy quickly returned to normal operating temperature.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was a privilege to be part of such a lovely couple of kids special evening and I really hope they enjoyed themselves and felt special in my car. Oliver’s Mum sent me the following message along with some of the photos above which made it even more worthwhile for me.
“Thank you so much for yesterday, you really did make Oliver and Kayley’s day. It was very kind of you to take them and we greatly appreciate it. Kathryn.”
Prom duties complete and feeling that I might actually be a nice bloke, I went home via the chippy for some fish and chips and it was time for the giant game of Tetris. Mrs FB had decided that she would grace us with her presence on this event. So, all the camping equipment, plus all the luxuries that Anita would require like clothes, had to be packed into Poppy. I did have the added space of my boot rack that I’d fitted to hide my painting disaster. However, we were still rather full and couldn’t have the roof down or everything would have blown off the back seat.
Now, I was planning on either driving all the way up and pitching the tent at midnight in the forecast rain or setting off ridiculously early on Saturday morning, but no. I had Anita with me and she had done the sensible thing and booked a Travelodge at Thrapstone about two thirds of the way. A very heavily loaded Poppy arrived at about 11.30 PM in time for a nice cuppa and a good sleep... after we had to unpack everything to find the overnight bag.
Saturday morning, and after unpacking everything to get the overnight bag back in the car we set off. We hadn’t got far though before I realised that my ignition light was still on and we pulled over in a layby to see if I could figure out why.
Well, the new brushes were still in place and seemed ok so I suspected the voltage regulator. Because of the limited space available and the fact that Mrs FB was attending, I only had room to pack the absolute essentials and I’d decided that my multi-meter wasn’t essential, so I couldn’t confirm my suspicions. I decided that I would press on and get as close to the Bubble Car Museum as I could, safe in the knowledge that if I broke down and was close enough, Super Enthusiast Man would sense my distress and come to my rescue. It wasn’t necessary though because plucky little Poppy made it all the way there.
We pulled up on the site and took Poppy's roof down, whereupon all the stuff packed in there immediately exploded all over the ground. Offers of tea and coffee abounded from our fellow Enthusiasts. Anita accepted Lady Simpson’s offer of tea and I accepted the very “below stairs” offer of coffee from Tosh Brooks. This meant I had to cope with 2 drinks, but I managed somehow.
As I had (rather rudely) refused all help from the Snowdonia veterans, my tent went up perfectly. And yes, unbelievably, it was the same tent I had at Snowdon.
Anita was left to pack everything that had exploded out of Poppy into our perfectly erected tent while I opened the bonnet on Poppy and pretended to look for my charging fault. My ruse worked and like bees to honey, Lord Simpson and Super Enthusiast Man were instantly at my side along with most of the men on the campsite. I told them of my ignition light and that I’d only just fitted new brushes and stood back.
It would appear that no one else thought a multi-meter was essential either, as the only one we had was Howard’s which looked like it came with a Happy Meal. Well the two experts prodded and probed and hummed and hawed before pronouncing that my voltage regulator had had it. Disappointingly, they didn’t have a spare about their personages and Howard had surrounded Bridget’s 1200 Herald with sand bags, barbed wire and machine guns to prevent me pilfering hers. SEM and LSB did tell me how to manually close the relay and get a charge though.
Well, with nothing to be done with Poppy without a new regulator, it was time to set off on our gentle pootle around Lincolnshire.
To be Continued…
by Callum Tooey
It’s a Sunday morning and I’m in the passenger seat of my dads car as we are driving to Cambridge to visit our boats when my phone beeps. ‘What’s that?’ My Dad asks whilst pulling into a supermarket to buy a drink. ‘It’s eBay, that Vauxhall I showed you finishes in 10 minutes’ I replied whilst reviewing the advert. I passed him the phone to take another look at it, ‘it does look clean’ he admitted ‘but I wonder if you could still get parts for it?’
"Good point" I said, so I took a few minutes to check eBay for various parts all of which I appeared to find with relative ease, then left to my own devices as the timer ticked down I entered a bid of the asking price, confident that I’d be outbid. As the timer hit zero, I was shocked to see the green banner informing me I had won. My dad was equally shocked ‘I thought you wanted a Morris Minor’ he said, something that I would be constantly reminded of in the weeks to come.
We arranged to pickup the car the following week. The advert said it was in Hythe in Kent and further contact gave us an address of Port Lympne which my partner said was a zoo of all places. I had visions of finding the car inside an enclosure overrun by animals all week but fortunately that wasn’t the case and the only ‘wild’ animal we saw was a woolly rhino that was being moved.
Once we saw the car we took a look at her condition and were happy she had been described correctly. I decided to name her ‘Nutmeg’ as her number plate reads ‘NMG’. I planned to drive the car home, so after a brief drive around the car park I was satisfied she was driving and stopping OK. We followed the signs back towards Maidstone before picking up the M20. I was checking the instruments and noticed the speedometer and temperature gauge were not working and she was struggling a bit with constant coughing before refusing to accelerate anymore.
I coasted her onto the hard shoulder and we started diagnosis whilst awaiting recovery. Fuel seemed good, no tools to check spark but we presumed it was an electrical fault. The recovery guy diagnosed the coil and she was loaded on the back of the truck.
Getting her home, we blocked the road with the truck whilst we tried to offload and manoeuvre her into my garage, hoping she would fit. This prompted a few of the neighbours to come and see what was happening with one running shirtless to move his car as he thought I’d called a tow truck to move it! (Parking across the dropped kerb has been an issue and metal sign stating vehicles will be towed has been put up).
We got Nutmeg into the garage with a couple of inches to spare. With the garage door shut this was the last I’d see of her for a couple of weeks until part 2 when we could start working on her.
By Mike Peake.
It had been a long day of challenging and fun driving and we’d all loved every minute of it. We were all back at base camp now, putting on our glad rags and making ourselves look beautiful for our evening meal to celebrate a great day and my upcoming 50th birthday. 28 of us set off to the Druids Inn with Anita carrying an intriguing package which turned out to be a fabulous birthday cake she’d made for me. (Unfortunately, I had to share it though.)
Most of us were eventually served a rather lovely dinner but I think the pub had bitten off more than it could chew with such a large party. It took a long time to serve us all, leading to some having finished before others were even served and the final meals out really weren’t up to standard. Unfortunately, it was Windy Woodward, Tosh Brooks and Liam White that were last to be served. Windy and Tosh got the bad meals but they are shy and retiring types and didn’t want to cause a fuss (Ahem).
Liam on the other hand was getting hangrier and hangrier. Spotting the warning signs of an imminent Liam explosion, we shouted at the staff that they needed to serve the roasted vegetable and chicken as soon as they could. Unfortunately, they only heard the vegetable bit and bought out a side plate of vegetables. Realising that it would be extremely life-limiting for the server to attempt to give this plate to our devout and hungry carnivore, Nick’s current carer Jo, ushered them back into the kitchen and returned with the correct order.
It was a shame and I hope it didn’t spoil the evening too much for anyone, but maybe we are just getting a bit too big to expect a pub to cope. On the plus side, my meal was excellent. I really enjoyed it and none of us was laughing at our 3 hungry desperadoes at all… honest!
Everyone except Liam had finished eating. Cake candles were lit, Happy birthday sung and cake cut and eaten. It was time for the awards that I wanted to give out to people I felt deserved them. It was just rosettes though so don’t get thinking I splashed out.
The final award was the “brave boy” award for not blubbing too much when his multi award winning Zephyr didn’t win at our Coventry meet and didn’t win here either. Yes, Windy Woodward is a very brave boy.
Awards done but I wasn’t allowed to sit down. Gar was stood next to me with an extremely well bubble-wrapped parcel saying lots of very nice things about me of all people, before presenting me with the parcel. It took me a while to fight through all the layers, but I eventually revealed the gift and was really quite taken aback. It was an oil painting of one of my favourite pictures ever taken of Poppy with me and my young daughters feeding the ducks at South Cerney Lakes in the background.
I really hope I was able to get over to everyone just how pleased and touched I was at the thought that went into choosing and commissioning such a gift and the generosity of those who contributed.
I was, and still am, somewhat overwhelmed by it all, but a huge and heartfelt thank you to all involved. I will cherish it. Of course I am also quite overwhelmed at the thought that this means some of you do actually quite like me. I thought you just put up with me for the award winning lemon drizzle cake.
We all returned to base camp where we blatantly ignored the “Silence after 10.30 PM” signs plastered all over the site and continued the party. The camp fire was lit, much beer and wine was consumed and the hilarity continued.
Paul Cheetham won the game to see how many marsh mallows you can fit in your mouth (a quite surprising amount it turned out). However, Tosh should get a large credit for this win as it was him that stuffed them all in there.
The award for “who could create the best cave painting using Kurt as a stencil” went to Tosh who chose to use the medium of “squirty cream”. However, Kurt should get a large credit for this win as it was him squirting the can of squirty cream into Tosh’s mouth until he choked.
Eventually, we all made our way to our beds so we would be fresh and ready in the morning.
Sunday dawned bright, sunny and warm. No. Really it did! I know, on an EBMV event too. It must be because it was Phil’s tour and not Gar’s. Anyway it was warm. You get the picture, and some changes were rung. We lost Chris Ball and his MGB, Kevin and Sheila’s support Volvo, Rob Shalcross and his Tempest and Chris Baker and his TR7. However we gained a couple of aging hippies in the form of Richie Moore in his gloriously crusty MK1 Granada and Ian Wright in his gloriously shiny MK2 Granada.
We were almost ready to go but were still waiting for Andy Perman and Liam White who were too posh to camp with us and were staying in a local hotel. It was no surprise at all that Last Minute Liam was late but it was unlike Andy. We were just starting to worry when Andy pulled in looking worried. He got out of his VDP and came up to me. I said “What’s wrong Andy? Tell me? Has Liam broken down in his P6? His fuel line has broken away from his carburettor? Oh No. I’ll get Super Enthusiast Man at once. (Oh my gods! It’s turning into an episode of Lassie!)
The Brooks camper shook, the rear doors burst open. There stood Super Enthusiast Man in all his Glory! No, not that glory. Euww! I mean in his boiler suit, cape, flat cap and Y-fronts over the top! Anyway, with a mighty bound he was in the VDP and off to rescue Liam. The rest of us were left sniggering as it couldn’t happen to a better bloke after all the micky taking he’d done (or was that just me?)
As we have come to expect, Super Enthusiast Man and Liam in a running P6 were soon back at the site and we were ready to head off. We set off to Buxton for the fuel stop of the day, where Liam broke down again, spilling petrol all over the forecourt and needed Super Enthusiast man to work his magic again. (No, I mustn’t laugh. Stop it!)
Liam was soon up and running again and we all set off in a full convoy of 15 cars. Driving through Buxton and other populated areas in a large convoy of classic cars is a lot of fun. It makes a real impact that 2 or 3 cars don’t achieve. Muggles actually stop what they’re doing to watch, smile, point, wave and take pictures. It is great to watch everyone’s reaction as you drive past. Personally, I much prefer driving like this. It really is great fun.
After Buxton, Phil soon had us back on some fantastic fun and challenging roads again and we had a great drive to our 1st stop of the day. The Dam on the Errwood Reservoir. It was beautiful looking out across the water at the scenery. (Oh my gods! It’s just struck me! I was looking at scenery, taking pictures of scenery and appreciating scenery! That’s something my Mum and Dad did! It’s official! I am actually… OLD!)
The rest of the leg to Allgreave was equally beautiful and the roads were fantastic. The Cat and Fiddle road was awesome as the scenery changed from rugged hills to open barren moorland.
After Allgreave we wound our way up to Flash. At 1518 ft, this is the highest village in the country and offered great views as we stopped for a cup of tea. A really nice MGA was also stopped there and of course we all had to have a chat to the owner before watching him drive off. Gus also got told off by the pub land lady for parking Henry in her front garden.
Suitably refreshed, we all headed off again for our lunch stop in Hartington. I was just behind Big Rov at the front of the convoy and Anita was reading out the notes on this leg of the tour to me. She had just got to the bit about how the junction with the B5043 comes out of nowhere and is really easy to miss when Phil pulled us all over and got out of his car and back into C3P0. ”We’ve missed the junction with B5053” he said. “It appeared out of nowhere and we’ve driven straight past it.”
Turning 15 classic cars around on a single track road isn’t the easiest of exercises but we all managed it with minimal mutterings about bumbling fools who can’t even follow their own directions. In no time at all we were back on course for our lunch stop in the lovely village of Hartington and the Charles Cotton Pub. The landlord had cleared the apron in front of the pub and wanted us to park here so he could take promo photos. We wouldn’t all fit and those at the back of the convoy had to make do with the car park out the back. We also met up with Dave Aikman and his MK3 Cortina.
Another lovely lunch of sandwiches and chips was served before we all descended on the famous cheese shop and cleaned them out before heading off on the leg to Tissington via the much anticipated Wetton Tunnel.
I have to admit, we all turned into little boys playing with toy cars only bigger as we queued up to go through one at a time. Photographers, drone operators and sound engineers were positioned at the other end of the tunnel and we were ready to go. Nick and the Jensen went through first and the sound was incredible. No one else came close to matching. It was huge fun though.
Anita was a bit bemused by the whole thing as we sat waiting and watching those in front of us roar through with big grins on their faces. “I just don’t see what the appeal is” she said. Then it was our turn. There we were at the tunnel entrance revving Poppy’s engine and waiting for Phil to finish his run.
Then we were off, accelerating hard and making as much noise we could. With the roof down we could really hear that plucky little four pot reverberating off the tunnel walls. As we shot out the end of the tunnel for our picture, I looked over to see that Anita had a matching big grin on her face too. “Ok, That was fun” she allowed.
It wasn’t all fun and games though. After we went through Gar was approached by a local chap walking his dog who immediately started berating him. “Have some regard for the locals” he shouted at a bemused Gar. “We get this all the time and you lot look old enough to know better!” Then just as Gar was trying to pacify the chap by assuring him that in fact we were mature and weren’t creating too much noise or fuss, Liam wheelspun away with his V8 screaming and shouting “WOOHOO” out the window. The chap just looked at Gar and said “I’m calling the Police” before storming off.
Gar then tried to herd everyone else through as quickly as possible before the police arrived but they were all intent on having their fun and Nick insisted on another run in the Jensen. Eventually though, we did clear the area and despite Liam briefly scaring us with the siren facility on a bull horn that he produced from somewhere, we avoided the Rozzers for the rest of the tour. (Who the hell thought it was a good idea to give Liam a bull horn??)
The rest of the tour passed in a haze of happiness that was periodically broken by Liam shouting rude comments through his bull horn. Even this didn’t spoil the fun though. Far too soon, we were back at base camp and people were packing up, saying their goodbyes and leaving. Everyone was saying what a great time they’d had and I have to agree that this was the group’s best event so far, and this time, I really don’t think we can better it.
So I know that I say this on behalf of everyone on tour. Huge, massive thanks with squirty cream an cherries on top to Phil C3P0 and Lorraine Allin for setting all this up. We all really appreciate the effort and hard work you put into this and assure you it was worth it. I think I can say with certainty that we WILL be back so you better start planning the next one.
Monday morning saw us taking a leisurely drive home with Anita towing the caravan via a more direct and less stressful route following Poppy and me. I even took her for a romantic lunch in the car park of the M42 services. After a total of 519 trouble free miles we pulled up at home.
I would like to thank all who attended and made this such a great weekend. I hope that those of you who joined us for the 1st time enjoyed as much as we all did and that you felt welcome and want to come again. I for one had the time of my life.
Boston next although it might have already happened before I get around to publishing this. So, I’ll see you soon with more tall tales of a bank holiday weekend.
by Mark Smith
Saturday 19th May started well. The sun was shining and the morning was pleasantly warm, very unusual for a British Spring Saturday. After a leisurely breakfast I mounted my Victoria Pendleton bicycle, purchased during last year’s Black Friday Halfords sale primarily for the commute to and from the lock-up garage a couple of streets away where our lovely Triumph Mayflower Mildred is kept and set off for the corner shop to collect our Saturday Times before heading round to collect Mildred.
The usual pleasantries were exchanged with the shop owner who always asks me what I’m up to that day. I explained that I was just off to the lock-up to collect Mildred and that Christine, Georgia and I were heading off to the lunchtime meeting of the Charnwood Custom Cruiser’s at Hathern where we planned to have our usual sausage, egg, chips and beans lunch at Lisa’s Diner before looking around the other cars and chatting to a few of their owners. I had then planned to drop Christine and Georgia off in town on our way home where they were going to pick up a Birthday balloon and banners before delivering them to the Bella Italia Italian restaurant where Georgia was having a Pizza Party with a few school friends the following day for her tenth Birthday.
We set off from home around 12:30pm in good spirits and with the sun still shining, Georgia full of excitement about her Birthday the next day. We had just got to the traffic lights on King Street where it joined the A6 to town when the lights turned red and we stopped with one car in front of us. I looked in the door mirror and watched a Transit sized van pull up behind me. As I looked ahead again, the lights changed to green and the car in front started to pull away. When we had pulled up I had knocked the column change gear selector into neutral and applied the umbrella-handled handbrake, it was a good thing I had! As I depressed the clutch peddle ready to select first gear, there was a terrific snapping sound and the peddle hit the floor and stayed there, we were going nowhere.
I knew the clutch mechanism was mechanical rather than hydraulic so assumed it was cable operated and that the cable had snapped. I got out of the car and went round to the lads in the van behind to explain what had happened and the passenger got out and pushed us the short distance across the A6 and into a lay-by parking area opposite. We ended up parked on the double yellow line area just before the start of the proper parking bays but there was no way we could have maneuvered the Mayflower into a parking bay even if one was available but the car was parked in a safe manner and was not causing an obstruction. I lifted the bonnet to get extra light through to the gearbox area under the car and crawled underneath to inspect the damage. I was amazed at what I saw, the linkage was not a cable, it was a ¼” thick steel rod and it had snapped where the threaded section began that attached it to the clutch peddle. A ¼” thick steel rod snapped clean through!
There was nothing I could do other than call the RAC so I told the girls to continue into town, have some lunch and sort out the balloon and banners for Georgia’s party and I would stay with the car until the RAC arrived. The RAC Call Centre operator told me it would be somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes to get an engineer to me and Text me the engineer’s contact number in case I wanted to call him and I settled down to await his arrival. I had explained to the operator that they would need to send a breakdown truck to take the car back home a it couldn’t be driven and I would have to track down a spare clutch rod and repair the car myself in due course. While I waited for the engineer to arrive, I rang Paul Burgess the Spares Officer at the Triumph Mayflower Club and told him what had happened and asked if he knew if we had any spares in the club. I also had to cancel a planned publicity photo shoot at Stonehurst Farm which we had organised for the Monday evening as I had no way of getting the car back on the road over the weekend.
I had just got off the phone to Paul when I received a call from the RAC’s engineer to advise me he was on his way and would be with me as soon as he could depending on the traffic. He was over at Syston near Leicester and hoped to be with me in around 20 minutes. As I waited in the sun, sitting in the driver’s seat of the car with the door open and the bonnet up, I had quite a few people walking to or from town stop to talk to me about the car. The younger ones wanted to know what the car was and the older ones who knew what it was, just wanted to look at it and everyone that stopped said how much they liked it. Even when Mildred is under the weather, she just seems to generate so much goodwill and you can feel the affection people have for her, which I just find so amazing.
The RAC engineer was as good as his word and arrived more or less to the minute of his predicted time. As he pulled up behind Mildred, I instantly saw he was quite a young chap and the first thought that went through my head was that he wouldn’t have a clue what to do because he wouldn’t be able to plug in a Lap Top. How wrong I was! I walked up to his van door before had had a chance to get out and told him that I had told the operator to send a low-loader as there was no way the car could be repaired. The lad smiled and as he got out of the van, he asked me what had happened.
I explained that the clutch rod had snapped and there was nothing he could do as I would need to track down a replacement so he would need to get a low-loader sent out. He said he had a collapsible trailer in the back of the van and could get the car home for me if all else failed but he’d have a look first. He got a torch out of the van and preceded to clamber underneath Mildred. After a quick inspection, he got up and with evident pleasure on his face said to me, ‘I think I can get that fixed!’ ‘Really?’ I replied. ‘Yes’ he said and went to get a few tools.
Within two minutes of arriving he had removed the broken rod and then returned to his van and made a phone call. He then told me he had rung a local exhaust centre who had agreed to have a look at it and hopefully weld it up. I was amazed for the second time in an hour! He said there might be a charge for the welding so I gave him the £15 I had intended buying our sausage, egg, chips and beans with and he said he would try to get the work done as cheaply as he could and would not mention money unless the exhaust centre did. With that, he got back in his van and drove off saying he’d be back as quickly as he could.
I settled back down in the Mildred’s drivers seat and waited in the sun for the RAC engineer to return, again spending my time chatting with passers by who showed an interest in the car. The time ticked by and as I was talking to a very nice family about Mildred, Christine and Georgia returned from their jaunt into town. We all stood talking for a few minutes when the RAC engineer returned as happy as Larry as he had been able to get the clutch rod welded up and free of charge too! He gave me back my £15 and then refitted the rod to the car. Within a few minutes, Mildred was mended and the engineer had the biggest smile on his face! He was so happy because he had actually been able do some real "mechanicing" instead of plugging in a laptop to diagnose the fault, then stating ‘There was nothing he could do’ before towing the vehicle to the nearest repair centre.
I thanked him and asked his name before asking him to have a photo taken with the car. He told me his name was Jack and he was as pleased as punch to be asked to pose with Mildred for a photograph. We said our ‘Goodbyes’ and went our separate ways. Christine and Georgia got back in Mildred and we drove home full of praise for Jack and the RAC. As soon as we got home I went on the RAC’s Facebook Page and Posted the photo of Jack with Mildred and praised him for his excellent service. Within a few minutes, I had received a reply from the RAC thanking me for my feed-back and asking if I would send my Membership Number in a private message so they could track down the Call Centre that dealt with my initial call in order that they could pass on my thanks to Jack. I was more than happy to do that and again thanked them for their first rate service. I then went outside and gave Mildred a nice wash down and a bit of a polish before returning her to her lock-up.
I later reported my experience on various Facebook car groups and thought that was the end of the matter but it wasn’t! A few days later I received a letter from the RAC. As I opened it I assumed it was either a general circular or a questionnaire about my breakdown experience but it wasn’t, it was a personal letter from the RAC’s Customer Care thanking me for taking the time to praise their engineer and report my experience! I am aware that other people may have different feelings about the standard of service they have had from the RAC in the past but I can only talk about my own experience and cannot praise Jack enough for the service he gave us, it was old school and of a standard we used to expect in a different age.
As I started writing this piece this, I heard from Paul Burgess that he has found a replacement clutch rod among the Mayflower Club spares stock. I’ve put my name on it and will swap it for the welded original as soon as possible. I know people say that a weld can be stronger than the original material but once bitten….
By Mike Peake
We were all up bright and early Saturday morning, lined up ready to go. We were joined at the campsite by Rob Shalcross and his son Luke in their Tempest kit car based on a Reliant Fox. (Yes, I’d never heard of it before and had to ask too.) It is a great looking car though and for a little 850cc engine, it went like a rocket! Mind you, I’m not sure it was your regular unleaded that was being burnt. There was a definite whiff of “Speedway” about the exhaust when I was trying to follow him.
Phil was acting a bit like a worried C3P0 trying to chivvy everyone along as he was concerned we’d be late for our lunch stop, but there were photos that needed to be taken and drone footage to be shot and we all had to stop and laugh at Gus in his get up!
You can see from the drone footage of us leaving the campsite that I was laughing so much, I nearly fell off the road.
We finally left the campsite only 3 minutes after C3P0 Allin’s final deadline of 10AM. It would appear that he wasn’t quite mollified though, as he set off in Big Rov at quite a lick with us all trying to hang on to his coat tails on our 1st leg to the glamorous setting of Sainsbury’s Petrol station. It would appear that Big Rov only has 2 speeds. Broken and 100mph!
We all managed to cling on though and those brave enough to look away from the road and the passengers that didn’t have their eyes shut were able to catch glimpses of the stunning countryside as it flashed by. We all made it through and were joined by Chris Baker in his rather nice TR7 FHC.
16 classic cars filled up with fuel before we let Nick “When’s the next petrol stop” Arthur drain their bunkers for his Jensen.
The next leg was to Edensor via Chatsworth house where Phil “C3P0” Allin assured us that there was a great spot to plant a photographer so that he would be able to get good shots of the cars as they passed with the epic view of the house in the background. To this end, we all pulled over to let Phil shoot ahead with our 2 nominated intrepid photographers, Paul Cheetham and Andy Gardner who had been so unfortunate as to forget to bring their classic cars to a classic car tour.
17 classic cars pulled over on the side of the road does generate some attention from the Muggles. There were lots of smiles, wows and phone snaps taken as they drove by. There was one grumpy woman in a silver 4x4 that shouted “BLOODY OLD CARS!” out her window as she drove by, but we think we spotted a sticker in her back window saying “My other car is a Blue MGB GT” so it was probably that woman from the steam fair last year.
As you can see, the photos taken there were fantastic. However, either they didn’t get the brief or Chatsworth House was just too small for them to notice. Great shots though Guys! Well done.
Shortly after the photo shoots we had a couple of “panics”. My panic first though. We’d just driven over a cattle grid when Poppy started making an horrendous “grinding, rattling clicking” noise that was very loud and alarming. It was so alarming that I immediately pulled to the side and leapt out of the car to investigate whilst other enthusiasts swarmed to my rescue and to laugh at a Fatbloke crawling around on the floor.
To be honest, I was fully expecting to see half the car dragging on the road but after a full 5 minutes laying on the ground searching fruitlessly, Liam piped up. “You know your number plate has fallen off don’t you? I was going to tell you earlier but I was laughing too much”. Yeah Thanks Liam! I was too relieved at the simplicity of the breakdown to beat him up though and I quickly removed the remaining screw and slung the number plate in the boot. The second panic? We realised no one had stopped to pick up our intrepid photographers, so Kevin was quickly despatched in his 1998 Volvo support vehicle to rectify this.
What with C3P0 still having “Light Speed” engaged on Big Rov”, my minor mishap and the abandoned photographers, the group had become split up. Fortunately, Phil’s rally notes were superb and Mrs FB was able to navigate us along the rest of the route with ease through the picturesque village of Edensor and to the car park near Grindleford where we were to stop and admire the view. Unfortunately, as the mini convoy I was leading arrived, the mini convoy that had managed to hang onto C3P0 was just leaving. So we filtered in with them for the 5 minute drive to the Yorkshire Bridge Inn for our lunch stop.
At this point C3P0 relaxed back into the easy going chap we all know and love and we all fully enjoyed the lunch of soup and sandwiches in our own private room that our Phil had arranged.
After lunch we all walked up to the nearby Ladybower Dam to admire the engineering marvel that is the overflow plug hole. Unfortunately, the water levels were too low for it to be flowing, but it was still an impressive site. The views of the countryside from the dam were also lovely. A relaxing few minutes was spent laughing at Liam’s antics as he tried to find the best position to take a group photo.
We left the pub at a much more relaxed pace and stayed in full convoy until our next stop at the famous Derwent Dam. We were between Liam’s P6 and Tosh’s Wolseley but they’d swapped drivers. As we were pulling into the car park after a 13 mile drive, Liam started shouting and gesticulating out of the Wolseley’s window. We thought he was just doing his Father Jack impression again so ignored him, but when we finally stopped, Liam leapt out of his car and retrieved his expensive iPad from the boot of the P6 where he’d left it before we left the Pub. Of course it was my fault though, as I hadn’t spotted it while following just behind for 13 miles. I guess I was still avoiding looking at boot lids.
Derwent Dam is every bit as impressive as I was expecting having seen it so often in one of my favourite films. As we were sitting at the bottom between the towers, it was easy to imagine the roar of low flying Lancasters overhead. It was actually quite poignant to be there so close to the 75th anniversary of the famous Dambuster raid of 1943 and I spared a thought for the 56 airmen that didn’t make it back and the 1600 civilians that died as a result. Well said, Fatbloke - Ed
Sorry. Got a bit deep there. Anyway, after a cheeky ice-cream for everyone, we set off for what was to be the most challenging and fun drive of the tour so far. The long steep climb to Mam Tor. It was fantastic and the scenery was breath taking. I haven’t enjoyed driving so much for a long time and I enjoy my driving. Everyone felt the same and as we got out of the cars at the car park at the top the comments that were on everyone’s lips were “Wow! That was Fantastic!”, Boy that was fun!”, “What a run!” and “Thanks Phil, that was awesome.” As well as all humming the tune to “Days like These”
After giving the cars and drivers a bit of a breather after the ascent, it was time for the 1 in 5 descent through the Winnats Pass. The first time you see the view at the entrance to the Pass really is an “Oh wow!” moment and it just gets better as you go down. It was at this point that Anita asked me why everyone was leaving such big gaps between the cars going down the steep hill? Maybe I should have thought about my reply before blurting out, “in case of brake failure” but it made for a very quiet descent and I could concentrate on enjoying the scenery.
The next stop was Phil’s favourite view of the Peak District. The car park of the Monsal Head Inn. Well OK, it was the view FROM the car park, and I have to say I agree with him. It was a beautiful sight. Very tranquil, relaxing and peaceful… until the busy bee buzz of Gus’s drone spoiled it all! But he got some great footage and supplied the entertainment with the panic displayed when he thought he’d lost it. It was also really good to see Paul Berman and his wife who had driven out to meet us and have a chat.
The last leg was supposed to be down to Caudwell Mill and back to base camp. Unfortunately it was getting a little late so it was decided to head back to the camp site and get our glad rags on in time for the evening meal at the Druids Inn.
To Be Continued…
by Paul Sweeney.
It is our pleasure to present these video clips filmed by Garry "Gus" Brooks and John Ticehurst during the Peaks tour - its available below to view and download if you wish to keep a copy. Obviously, everyone there thoroughly enjoyed the tour - special thanks are due to Gar Cole and Phil Allin for taking on the not inconsiderable job of organising the tour - very well done, chaps!
To view the video, click the 'Play' button above. To download it to keep, click here.
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