by John Lonergan
Further to my last musings of my early motorcycling years look what I found in an old album , me and my younger brother sitting on the said Bantam , he would be about 7 or 8 and me about 12 or 13 the photo is mid repair , I had removed the head , cylinder and piston , I remember well ( and I'm laughing now) I had read somewhere that if you polished the ports the engine would run better and faster …..it didn't 😂 . If you look closely you'll see it is minus the top end , this was also before the we fitted the large sprocket , anyway it did get a good decoke and it did run a little smoother.
Now in our street there were a couple of the dad's who were actually motor X riders and rode competitively each Sunday and usually one or the other sometimes both would take myself and my mate Brian to the Scrambles boy did we look forward to Sundays , they also gave us many second hand parts such as part worn tyres old alloy guards and anything they could spare that would help us out . These weekend trips would continue till after we left school and the highlight of the week , top blokes and I'll never forget their kindness.
Now it's 1970, I'm 15 I've left school and am working as an apprentice HGV technician but still get the odd lift to the Sunday Scrambles meet . So this day Brian and myself got a lift to a grass track event and as I was working and had cash in my pocket I was pretty well dressed and was enjoying watching the practice laps when in amongst the sidecar outfits going round the bends I recognised two local lads a couple of years older than me and unfortunately they came a cropper on left hand bend and the older of the two the rider John had broken his wrist so it appeared their entrance money was wasted , John was taken to the St John's Ambulance station while Terry the passenger ( PASSENGER no such thing on a competition outfit it's damn hard work) walked about trying to find someone to ride the chair while he took to the controls of the bike ( a Norton 600 I think it was) well there was no one available ……. Until well dressed idiot (me) stepped forward " I'll do it Terry " I shouted eagerly , " you'll have to tell the scrutineer you're older " he said "ok" said the well dressed idiot grinning from ear to ear , I borrowed John's helmet and gloves and so it came to pass on a fine summer's day in 1970 I became the best dressed sidecar rider( idiot) in the land . So there I was best togs and boots on at the start of my very first (and last) sidecar race .
And we're off 😂 I never to that point felt acceleration like it and in seconds was on the first left-hander , my right hand through a leather loop and me hanging way out of the left side left hand almost trailing the ground ( I knew what to do - I'd watched many races) back up for the straight and seconds later throwing myself over the right side for the right hander and so on it went till the race was over , we didn't qualify for the final but we weren't last either.
It was the most thrilling ride of my young life and the most hairy but absolutely the most fun I ever had , we rode gently back to the pits where I jumped off slightly shaking and totally exhilarated. I looked at my mate and Charlie the bloke who brought me they were laughing fit to bust and I was grinning from ear to ear , I was no longer the best dressed idiot on a sidecar but I must have been the muddiest , the only parts without mud were around my eyes where the goggles were and my teeth when I grinned .
I really did have the time of my life - my clothes were ruined and my fancy boots in a right old state but did I care? Not a bit though I did have an embarrassing ride home as Charlie made me strip to my boxers for the ride home .
Oh what fun we had ,
young and daft and just a little mad .
By Callum Tooey
It's February 2019 and I've finally got a few days free to work on Nutmeg. My brother came to help for a few days and together we flushed her radiator and filled her with fresh coolant, we then set about working on the brakes. With some work we were able to bleed them successfully and for the first time in my ownership Nutmeg's brake pedal was not all the way to the floor!
I then decided that I would need a key to lock the doors as none had been provided with the car, so I removed the rear boot latch and took it apart in an attempt to find the key code, this proved fruitless as no keycode appeared stamped on any parts and the tumbler was royally seized inside the mechanism. A local locksmith could not help and the car shop were unable to preserve the lock so the mechanism was reassembled and another job was added to the list.
Unfortunately all was not well as my brother stood up grim faced and said "I think she needs a lot more welding at the front there" I agreed and made a mental note to take her to be welded as first point of call.
With her now running, driving and stopping, we decided to take her for a test drive, I got in and coaxed her out of the garage, went around the block and pulled her back up onto the kerb. I spent a few minutes testing the lights and other peripherals before the engine died suddenly, and even with a few turns of the starter she refused to start back up, putting us once again back to square one.
This put me in a moral dilemma as being only a couple of months before a wedding, and being increasingly busy with work I knew that I would not be able to dedicate the time or resources that she deserves, so I made the sad decision to put her up for sale and in time was offered a reasonable PX for a 86, Vauxhall Carlton which arrived on a trailer from Devon.
After offloading the Carlton we used a combination of brute force and a trick of turning the starter whilst in gear to kangaroo Nutmeg onto the vacant trailer. I took the Carlton for a test drive immediately and found she handled amazingly well and was quite well specced (although sadly German rather than British).
As I arrived home we tried to put the Carlton into the garage, but found it was too long, our little Peugeot stole the top spot on a temporary basis and the Carlton was relegated to the kerb.
In a cruel twist of fate, the very next day a car popped up on a Facebook sales group, it was a 1983 Triumph Acclaim HLS in Opaline Green, my "Holy Grail" and the car I had been searching for years for - I even have a commissioned painting of it on my wall of my house!
Feeling glum about this, I moaned about my 'typical luck' to my fiance who surprised me with her response of "That's your car, use the savings pot and go and get it"
And that's exactly what I did...
By Mike Peake
Part 4?? Part 4?? Sorry about this, but this really is the last part. I promise.
The eventful and unintentionally long drive from the campsite to Caen Hill locks and the stop there meant it was already 2 o’clock - the time I had roughly planned to be leaving Avebury after having our lunch there. So a change of plan was improvised and we set off for Silbury Hill.
Not long after we left, having driven through Devizes, we got another phone call from the back of the convoy to advise of another casualty. Now, some of you may remember from the Isle of Wight tour that Tosh and Gus ran out of petrol in their Rover P4. I may have mentioned it once or twice in my blog.
Anyway, after that experience, you would have thought they would have learned a lesson wouldn’t you? Apparently not. Tosh had run out of petrol in the P6 Rover. Topped up from a jerry can, we made our way to the next petrol station which was just down the road. Other, sensible people also topped up their tanks as well as Tosh. Gar wasn’t going to, but I forced him.
The rest of the trip to Silbury Hill was brief and uneventful and everyone pulled into the small car park for a short photo stop.
Silbury Hill is the largest artificial prehistoric mound in Europe. Probably built over a short period between about 2470 and 2350 BC, it is part of the Avebury World Heritage Site. On learning this, Gar said “Hold my beer!”
Next on the agenda was Avebury. Avebury henge and stone circles are among the greatest marvels of prehistoric Britain. Built and much altered during the Neolithic period, roughly between 2850 BC and 2200 BC, the henge survives as a huge circular bank and ditch, encircling an area that includes part of Avebury village. Within the henge is the largest stone circle in Britain - originally of about 100 stones - which in turn encloses two smaller stone circles.
It is a spectacular site and a great place to get some fantastic photos of our cars driving past the great stones. So, before we left the car park at Silbury our official photographer, Young Paul Cheetham was given the brief. He would be dropped off as we drove through the stone circle the 1st time and take pictures of the cars driving passed the stones as we drove back through.
What I had envisioned was something like the next picture with our cars passing on the road. There might even be photos good enough for next year’s calendar.
So, young Paul was thrown out of a car, camera in hand as we went through the 1st time. He had plenty of time to position himself while we drove out of the village and circles, turned around and came back through enjoying the magnificence of this mystical landscape. The last car through even remembered to stop and pick him up again unlike a similar episode at Chatsworth house last year.
Mission accomplished! Or so I thought… here are the pictures Young Paul took.
He’s a blithering idiot isn’t he? Not a blooming stone in sight. I know, I should have known better than to rely on him after his failure to get Chatsworth House in the pictures of our cars passing Chatsworth House last year. (Idiots! I’m surrounded by idiots!)
The next leg of the tour took in one of my favourite local roads from West Kennet, through Marlborough, and over the Downs to Hackpen Hill and Whitehorse, one of my favourite viewing points in Wiltshire. Pictures were taken of the cars with the lovely view behind them and chats were had before bumbling incompetence struck again. Graham managed to run himself over with his own car. Fortunately, he avoided serious injury.
This brush with death must have shaken Graham more than we thought though, because as we were leaving, it was only 2 Pants Perman’s lightning reflexes in selecting reverse and backing up faster than Graham was, that prevented the VDP wearing a nice new Rover 75 shaped bonnet ornament. Disaster and a new recipient of the “Kevin Crown” avoided, we pressed on with the tour which was taking us through my home town of Royal Wootton Bassett.
As we were so close, I thought I would show the gang the unfinished results of all my hard work on Poppy. So we all piled into my street and parked up. Everyone gathered round the entrance to my tent ready for the grand reveal. I opened the zip, pulled back the doors and waited for the reaction.
It appears that everyone has learned the lesson that if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing. The silence was deafening, eventually broken by Gar saying “it’s a great tent isn’t it? Really sturdy.” I’m pretty sure I could hear them all thinking the same thing. “Yep! That’s what happens when a bumbling incompetent fool sprays a car!”
I can’t say I wasn’t a little disappointed by the reaction, but after a good look over the car, Paint Guru Tosh took me to one side and ignoring my trembling bottom lip, said “It's ok. It's savable that is”, before offering lots of practical advice on how to do so and telling me where I’d gone wrong in such a kindly way that I didn’t blub like a baby.
All that was left now was the last leg home to the camp site taking in one last photo stop at the lake where I used to take my girls to feed the ducks when Anita was asleep after working nights. It’s where one of my favourite pictures was taken and the subject of the painting that was my 50th birthday present from the group.
Back at the campsite and it was clear that everyone was tired and hungry after a long day. SEM went for a snooze while the rest of us pondered what to have for dinner. No one could be bothered going out again so the decision was taken to empty all the caravan fridges, chuck it on the Barbie and share the results.
After my 2nd intravenous Merlot fix, I came out of my caravan to find Phil at the BBQ prodding sausages with a really big fork. Foolishly, I decided to do the polite thing and see if Phil wanted any help - fully expecting him to say “No thanks Mike. I’ve got it, you’ve worked so hard to make a success of the tour you deserve to sit down with a large glass of Merlot.” However, to my utter horror he didn’t say that. He handed me the really big fork and sat down.
Well I didn’t know what to do, so I stood there and prodded a sausage or two. Anita was so shocked to see me stood at a BBQ that she took a photo and posted it in our family chat group. Sophie sent back a GIF of a caravan exploding.
One of the things in someone’s caravan was eggs and Tosh decided he was going to crack a couple onto the BBQ hotplate. I didn’t know what to do with them either. So I prodded them with the big fork too.
Now, if there is one thing Gus hates more than bumbling incompetence around a car, it’s bumbling incompetence around a BBQ. On seeing my performance he was out of his camper van in a flash. He snatched the really big fork from my hand and pushed me away towards my Merlot. When I sat down, I could see Gus, happily prodding away with the really big fork and muttering “Eee Ba Gum! Who puts eggs on a BBQ?” and “By ‘eck someone’s murdered these sausages!” as well as other Yorkshireese. Anyway, our improvised meal turned out to be delicious because of Gus’s culinary skills and we settled down to our final evening of laughing, eating and drinking.
When I looked out the caravan window the next morning, people were wandering around and starting to clear up. So I went outside to help take the Coleman down with the other chaps. Then I remembered that I still needed fix the caravan road lights. I was pretty sure that it was going to be the adapter that goes between the 13-pin socket on the car and the 7 pin plug on the caravan.
So, I decided to take a leaf out of Gar’s book. I got the adaptor out and stood there looking pathetic with a random tool vaguely pointing at the item I needed fixing. It worked a treat and Windy Woodward took the bait. Before I knew it, he had the adapter apart, exclaimed at the dreadful amount of bare wires showing, fixed it and put it back together.
We went to plug it into the car and caravan. It still didn’t work. Before I knew it, Windy was crawling all over the floor, looking for fuses, stripping out wires and prodding things with a multi meter.
It still didn’t work. It did work when we plugged the Zephyr directly in to the caravan though but my van is too big for the Zephyr to tow. So, Windy was back at it with Phil’s multi meter but it had us all completely baffled so we eventually gave up.
So, there ends this epic tale of Codgers in the Cotswolds. I hope you’re all still awake? Windy Woodward? If you sit there any longer, you’ll give yourself piles!
I have to say that as always, I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend with the chaps. It was great to see the new faces too, Mick and Gill and Brian and his wife. I really hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and that we will see you again at other events.
A huge thanks to everyone involved but especially to Phil Allin for the fantastic tour plaques and his last minute printing of the tour notes (although I guess he needn’t have bothered) as well as Bernard Owen and Windy Woodward for allowing Anita and me to clutter up their cars all weekend.
Also huge thanks to Gar for entertaining us with bumbling incompetence all weekend. Sorry, you seem to have been the butt of most of the jokes in this series of blogs. You know we love you really though. However, if you ever complain about herding cats on a tour again, well …..
Finally, if you want to know more or follow our footsteps through the Cotswolds, you could do worse than read the tour notes. It has step-by-step route guides and a little interesting information on the sites visited and passed on the tour. They are on our website under “Codgers do the Cotswolds Gallery".
In other words, will someone, anyone, please … READ THE BLOODY TOUR NOTES!!!
By Mike Peake
Believe it or not, I’ve still only got to Saturday evening even though I’m on Part 3, so buckle up. This is turning into a tale to rival War and Peace, in size if not the literary elegance. Someone warn Sarah Woodward that she won’t be using the bathroom anytime soon!
So, just to remind you, we’ve had a full day’s touring with its attendant mishaps and incompetent tourists who can’t follow instruction or even other cars and don’t fill up with petrol when they are supposed to. To say I was in desperate need of Merlot would be an understatement of the grossest proportions. So I went to set up an intravenous drip.
Whilst I was bracing myself after a rather frustrating day, Super Enthusiast Man (SEM) set about a more permanent fix to Nicks car. Apparently, it has something called and “exciter coil” which Nick was having trouble getting excited. A situation that his partner Jo says she is more than familiar with. Anyway, I have no idea what SEM did, but Nick headed off the campsite on Sunday morning with no trouble at all. (Edit: It was a bad crimp on the Exciter coil feed at the solenoid)
Nick’s coil wasn’t the only electrickery being fiddled with though. Two Pants Perman had bought an ignition amplifier kit with him to fit to Nelson. A process that seemed to require probes attached to a flappy needle, a flashy lighty thing and copious amounts of beer.
Whatever he did to it he seemed happy with it. SEM wasn’t happy at all though. His poor little crestfallen face had us all nearly in tears. You see a bonnet was open, an engine was being fettled and SEM wasn’t doing the fettling. He spent some time trying to peer over shoulders or squeeze between the bodies, but Two Pants Perman was having none of it and SEM sloped off to stare wistfully at his strangely unemployed tool box for 20 minutes before disappearing into his campervan.
With the car fettling finished for the evening it was time to fire up the BBQ. It seemed as though every pig in Gloucestershire was sacrificed to the automotive gods and cooked up by a newly invigorated Super Enthusiast Man, who was happier now he was needed again. Many beautifully cooked sausages, burgers chops steaks and even chicken made its way to our hungry tummies. There was even, dare I say, salad as there were ladies present. Oh, and there might have been just a little bit of beer, wine and cake.
Now, you may think that driving classic cars through the countryside and picturesque villages was reason enough for a get-together like this and you’d be right. However, we were also there to celebrate a birthday. Not just any birthday, but the Fiftieth birthday of stalwart member, generous group sponsor and all round top chap Phil Allin. Well we couldn’t let that go by could we? We’d all had a whip round and with the 50p raised we bought Phil a present from the group he does so much for. Sue Clamp whipped up a very fine Birthday cake too.
Gar sent off for the Heritage Certificate for Big Rov and had it framed along with photos of the car from previous tours and left two spaces free for Phil to add his favourite pictures from this tour. He seemed quite pleased with it. We didn’t leave Lorraine out either and bought her the new caravan that she has been badgering Phil for, for the last year.
Of course, we all had another fantastic night of it after this, especially when someone produced a large bottle of gin and led Phil and I astray again. I really don’t know why this keeps happening.
Sunday Morning dawned a bit grey but still warm enough for shorts. For some reason, everyone seemed a bit sluggish compared to the previous day but bacon helped the situation considerably.
We were down a bit on cars today as Nick had to return for a wedding, Mick and Gill were heading back to a previously booked car show as was Brian to a different car show and Berbo decided he’d rather be a passenger today, leaving 8 cars for the trip.
The selected departure time of 10am arrived and 7 of the cars were ready to go. But the Allins weren’t. Phil was claiming not to be hung over in the slightest and was trying to blame the family’s tardiness on poor Lucas taking too long in the shower. (Yes mate! We believe you!)
Despite knowing that everyone had been to Tesco last night where there is a big petrol station, I took the opportunity provided by the Allin’s lateness to check that everyone had fuel so we could miss this stop and try and catch up with the timetable. Everyone agreed that they had enough petrol for the day’s driving.
Finally, at 10.30, the Allins were ready and we all set off where it all went wrong immediately. Nelson refused to start. As if by magic, SEM appeared … instantly! With a great big grin on his face! SEM was cock-a-hoop to be elbows deep in Nelson’s engine bay after being excluded from last night’s fettling. SEM soon identified that a crimp on one of the new wires had missed the copper. Once fixed he took great joy in telling everyone that would listen that it wouldn’t have happened if SEM had been allowed to play in the first place. Finally, we could leave.
Now, if everyone had read the tour notes, they would have known that unlike Saturday, we were turning right out of the campsite.
Ian was lead car with Bernard, Anita and me as passengers. We turned right as did Darren, Tosh, Two Pants Perman and Gus all turned right. Then Gar arrived at the campsite entrance … and turned left! Graham turned left too and was chasing Gar and flashing his lights to advise him of his error. The Allins, who had read their tour notes turned right and phoned me to advise of the situation. We pulled to the side of the road in disbelief that it had all gone so wrong already. Henry, Gus’s JC Midge, was so disgusted that he blew his electrics again and coasted to a stop behind us.
By the time a suitably embarrassed Gar arrived trying to blame Graham for the mistake, SEM had Henry running again so we set off, driving past the big Tesco with the petrol station that everybody said they didn’t need.
A pleasant drive through the countryside ensued. We did encounter a couple of light showers but nothing like the apocalyptic weather we get on Gar’s tours and we were able to laugh at the Zephyr’s vacuum powered windscreen wipers. Anita and I were making the most of the Zephyrs gloriously comfy back seat. (No! Not like that! For goodness sake, you filthy minded lot!)
We had almost made it to Calne, the halfway point for this leg of the drive, before we had a panicked call from Gar. Yes, he needed fuel. It would appear that Nelson has developed a thirst … and Gar hadn’t topped up at Tesco last night! Fortunately, there was another big Tesco coming up. While Gar topped off his gas guzzling monster, the rest of us took the opportunity to visit the facilities or buy a coffee or stand around chatting in the picturesque setting of … a bloomin’ Tesco car park!
Once we were all ready again we set off. We’d got all the way to the second roundabout on the Calne by pass (about 100m) when the call came down the line that Henry was on fire! Well of course we immediately turned around and rushed back to help. When we arrived back at the Tesco car park, we discovered that “fire” was a slight exaggeration. Gus had spotted a wisp of smoke coming from under the dash. Gus quickly rewired something and we were off again.
The route after Calne took us along the A4 to Derry Hill, then left down the A342. So far so good. From the A342 Devizes road was a right turn into a single track country road. We turned right, Darren turned right, Tosh turned right, Gus turned right 2 Pants Perman turned right and the Allins turned right. Gar went straight on followed by Graham. Lorraine phoned Gar to tell him of this error and they waited at the junction so Gar would know which one to take when he eventually came back. The rest of us stopped and waited blocking the track to all but cyclists and the odd horse rider, which Windy tried to recruit.
Eventually, Gar and Graham joined the back of the convoy. However, they’d somehow achieved this without being spotted by the Allins. Phone signal was sketchy so Graham had to go back and find them. Once we were all together again we set off towards the beautiful village of Lacock. Anita and I were a bit worried that Lacock would be closed to traffic as it often is due to it being a popular site for filming period dramas. It was all open though and we were able to enjoy the village in all its glory before heading for our first scheduled stop of the day at Caen Hill Locks… Finally!
Caen Hill (pronounced ‘cane’ ), is one of the longest continuous flight of locks in the country. Opened in 1810, it has a total of 29 locks with a rise of 237 feet over 2 miles with a 1 in 44 gradient for anyone who's counting! The 16 hill locks are designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument – the same level of heritage protection given to Stonehenge and was the final section of the Kennet and Avon Canal to be built. The locks became derelict after the Second World War, but were restored and reopened by the Queen in August 1990.
It was the perfect place to stop and watch the narrow boats traverse this marvel of Regency engineering. (even if one of them did smash into one of the gates that the pilot hadn’t noticed wasn’t fully open. Fortunately, the boat just bounced off.) It was also the perfect place to enjoy some sausage plait and a rock cake or two.
To be continued …
By Mike Peake
When everyone finally bothered to turn up at the car park in Bourton on the Water, we set off again. Well we tried, but we had our 1st casualty of the tour. Nick’s Borgward was dead. He had all his dash lights but nothing happened when he turned the key, even when a box of new electricity was fitted.
Of course Super Enthusiast Man was straight in there and decided that the quick fix to get it going was best and stuck a great big screwdriver into the engine bay. There was a huge spark, a bang and SEM was looking a bit singed around the edges, but the car was running. Nick was advised not to turn it off again until we got back to the camp site.
Anita and I had switched over to Windy Woodward’s Gorgeous Zephyr and were followed by Nick in his Borgward. Two cars that you’d have thought to be gloriously conspicuous among the modern traffic wouldn’t you? Well apparently not.
At the give way sign at the end of Bourton on the Water, we continued straight on as instructed in the notes and Nick continued to follow. The convoy had got a bit broken up with the busy traffic so the Zephyr and the Borgward pulled to the side to wait for everyone to catch up. We waited and we waited. It turned out that everyone else followed Gar when he turned left having not spotted the two most conspicuous cars ever had gone straight on.
The problem was further compounded when Gar stopped for fuel that I thought he had got already. Some of the convoy stopped with him but Bernard, 2 Pants Perman and the Allins blatted past and ended up on the A429 headed back to Cirencester.
It was about this time that I was getting numerous phone calls from Gar and the Allins all telling me something had gone wrong. However as we couldn’t work out where everyone was, I calmly decided that it would be best if we all went our separate ways and regroup at Burford.
So Ian, with Anita and I on board and followed by Nick, continued along the prescribed route enjoying the lovely country lanes and the picturesque Rissingtons, Barringtons and Taynton before driving through Burford.
The Allins, when they realised the error, actually READ the tour notes and managed to find their way back to prescribed route enjoying the lovely country lanes and the picturesque Rissingtons, Barringtons and Taynton before driving through Burford.
The rest went down the main A361 straight to Burford the boring way. Well, all except Bernard who was still on the A429 being chased by Two Pants Perman who was trying to attract Bernard’s attention to tell him of the errors.
Eventually, we all met up again in a lay-by at the top of the town and continued with the tour taking us to Lechlade. Ian offered to let me drive the Zephyr for the next leg and on hearing this, Anita decided to return to Bernard’s Maxi.
Imagine my horror when I discovered that Ian still hasn’t fixed his car and put the gearstick in its proper place! Ian had the patience of a saint though and tried to guide me through the complexities of a column change. Despite this, almost every gear change was proceeded by fumbling around in the air looking for the gearstick in the correct place and swearing when it still wasn’t there.
Frustration not helped by a micky taking Yorkshire man beeping his horn and shouting obscenities behind me!
Unfortunately, the scheduled stop at Riverside Park in Lechlade had to be abandoned because someone had inconsiderately organised a music festival on the site so an impromptu detour through Highworth and Hannington was required. We did see a Routemaster in Lechlade though which everyone asked if I’d seen. They all seemed to know that my Grandad drove them too. I wonder how they all found out?
Anyway, after Hannington, another grass verge provided the location for our afternoon photo shoot. It was also the location where Nick forgot he wasn’t supposed to turn his engine off and required the use of SEM’s special starter key again.
Extremely rare footage of Nick driving PAST a pub ... twice!
The next leg of the run was back to the big Tescos to stock up on bbq items, alcohol and fuel for team. No sooner had we set off than the call came down the line that we had a breakdown and as the number 1 rule of our tours is “no one is left behind”, we all went back to laugh at the latest victim. In fact, Gar was in such a hurry to turn around, he broke Nelson’s steering wheel!
Imagine our delight to find that Tosh had broken Henry! Yes SEM’s very own car had actually failed to proceed. We were astonished and of course, very sympathetic. Apparently, the fuse supplying the fuel pump had blown. Needless to say, SEM had it sorted in no time although he denies using rolled up tinfoil to fix it.
The rest of the run back to Tesco was uneventful and all the cars were soon packed to the gunwales with supplies and fuel and it was time to head back to the campsite. I’d managed to blag a drive in Henry for this bit but he broke down again almost as soon as we left the store. The tinfoil… er… I mean the replacement fuse had blown again. SEM was my passenger and he leapt into action and had it going again apparently without resorting to a nail.
The rest of the drive back to the campsite was fantastic! Henry is a ridiculous amount of fun to drive and it took ages for my silly grin to subside.
Finally, we all arrived back to the campsite tired but happy. The day’s fun wasn’t over yet though. Not by a long way.
To Be Continued…
By Mike Peake.
As seems to be the norm for me these days, it didn’t start well. Poppy wasn’t ready! Despite my best efforts and working my little socks off, it would appear that along with the delays due to duff primer, I had grossly underestimated the time it would take me to do what is becoming the “epic” re-spray project. I still had to spray the boot lid red, finish flatting back the car, flat back the boot lid, compound polish and wax the whole car, put the light lenses and front grill through the dishwasher, wash and polish all the chrome trim on the polishing wheels and then put it all back onto Poppy. All this in the 3 evenings left before the Cotswold tour.
To say I was disappointed is somewhat of an understatement but Mrs FB and I resigned ourselves to leading the tour in in the Honda. So, Friday PM after work, we loaded all of Anita’s baking into the car and went to collect our caravan from its temporary storage at the in-law’s, hooked up and away we went.
Things didn’t get any better. Just as we were pulling onto the dual carriageway, all the road lights on the caravan failed and ALL the alarms in the car went off. The CRV was telling me that ABS, power steering and tyre inflation systems among others were all on the fritz. However, this being a very local meet for me, we only had about 10 miles to the campsite, so I pressed on.
As we pulled onto the site where Gar was, it started to rain, proving without doubt that it is Gar who causes this. Anyway, we arrived safely and pitched the van with the others on the rather steep hill, connected gas water and electricity - and things didn’t get any better. We didn’t have mains electric in the van.
Turned out the breakers in the van and at the supply had tripped out. So, I switched them back on and they immediately tripped out again. What followed was a lengthy period of trial and error with plenty of advice and suggestions from our fellow campers and the site owner's 13 year old son. Despite this, we narrowed it down to the water heater in our van and isolated it. We now had power but had to resign ourselves to a weekend of cold water. Fortunately the shower block facilities were excellent.
Finally, we were settled in and things finally got better. Well for us anyway. Fellow members joined us over the afternoon including Andy Perman in his VDP Allegro all the way from Portsmouth. He’d had a very good trip up until he went to check in at the hotel and discovered he’d left his bag with all his clothes and weekend provisions back at home. Of course, when he told us this we were all very sympathetic and didn’t take the mickey in the slightest. Andy was all for heading home to get his bag when I pointed out that there was a Tesco Extra just down the road and for the cost of the additional fuel required for the return trip to Portsmouth, he could buy all he would need for the weekend.
So we jumped in the VDP and I directed him to the big shop where he bought 2 pairs of Y-fronts, shower gel toothpaste and a toothbrush and returned to the campsite where he continued to enjoy everyone’s sympathy. I have no Idea how it happened, but somehow, during all this sympathy, he gained the nick name “Two Pants Perman”.
An evening of jollity and a little bit of drinking ensued during which we were regaled with the shenanigans that occurred before we arrived. Graham had also bought his cocktail making supplies but despite this, we all still had fun.
The shenanigans? Well, It became apparent that we weren’t the only ones that had had a bad start. Nelson’s downpipe had cracked and fallen away from the manifold. Gar, in his usual, lovable way, had bodged up a repair with coke can and some string. He arrived at the campsite, pitched Doris and then stood around looking forlorn, waiting for someone to take pity on him. To be honest, I thought he was pushing his luck this time as a proper repair would require the use of a welder and who is going to have one of them in a traveling tool kit? Well of course, Super Enthusiast Man did, didn’t he!
Nelson was put up on the trailer ramps And SEM leapt into action and had the job done in very short order. They did have a bit of a panic when they were caught red handed by the campsite owners and expected expulsion from the site. However, the owners were great and were merely interested in what was going on.
On another note, my plan to lead in the Honda was quickly and rudely rejected by the gang and we were ordered to blag places in one of the classics.
Saturday morning dawned dry and warm. Believe it or not, it was actually warm enough for shorts! Again proving that it is Gar’s influence that causes the rain.
Everyone was up and happy and ready for the off and the non-campers (the posh lot) had arrived so let’s introduce them and their cars.
There was also Graham and Sue in their very late 1999 Rover 75 and of course, Paul Cheetham, Anita and I who had forgotten to bring a classic car.
Route notes were distributed to everyone (available here) and despite previously making it clear that everyone needed a full tank as there were no petrol stations until Bourton on the Water, I checked with everyone that they were OK for fuel and that everyone had been to the toilet. Everyone agreed that they didn’t need the toilet and that they all had plenty of fuel, so we set off. Bernard had drawn the short straw so Anita and I piled into his Maxi with all our supplies.
Now Gar has often complained that leading a car tour with our lot is like trying to herd cats and now I knew what he meant. Who do you think was the worst culprit? Yes, our glorious Fat Controller himself, Gar Cole. Not 15 minutes of wending our way through pretty countryside and we get a call from Gar telling us to ask Bernard “Stirling Moss” Owen to slow down a bit as we were losing people off the back of the convoy. “Oh and when is there a fuel stop as I could use one?” I refrained from screaming down the phone at him and we dropped from 50 to 45 and everyone caught up.
A grassy verge just past the picturesque village of Naunton provided a suitable place to stop, hand out sausage plait, take some pictures, have a chat and recruit a passing cyclist who’d stopped to chat. Gar also enquired further into when we would get to a fuel station. Of course it was also time to squeeze the two fatblokes into the smallest car on tour and that honour fell to poor old Henry.
I hadn’t driven the actual route for the next stage and we came upon Lower Slaughter from an unexpected direction but we managed to detour slightly to go back to Upper Slaughter and as Lower Slaughter was so pretty, we went through it again. Which was of course completely intentional and I don’t think anyone noticed.
We continued on to the beautiful town of Bourton on the Water passing a couple of petrol stations on the way where I expected Gar to top up and catch us up at the British Legion Car Park for which the post code was included in the tour notes for his sat nav.
I’d set aside a couple of hours for everyone to wander round the quintessentially Cotswold town, take in the wonderful and highly recommended car museum, have a paddle and get some lunch before meeting back up at the cars.
However, lunch for certain members of the group turned out to be a lavish 7 course meal which caused them to be somewhat late in returning to the cars. We had plenty of time though and I managed to remain completely cool.
To Be Continued…
PS. Rather alarmingly, I found out where Windy Woodward goes to read my blogs. Time to flush and leave the bathroom Ian!
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