By Mike Peake
It’s Saturday morning on the Isle of Wight, (approximately 20 hours after SEM ran out of petrol) and residents of our caravan, John, Andy, Gar and I were all up, bright tailed and bushy eyed and eating a full English lovingly prepared by good old uncle John. Watch out Gus, he’s after your breakfast crown!
As we’ve come to expect on an EBMV event conceived by our beloved Fat Controller of events, the weather was horrible!
However, this didn’t stop Super Enthusiast Man leaping into action and rescuing Ian who had developed a large and rather embarrassing swelling… on his CAR Tyre obviously! (honestly! You lot! Can’t take you anywhere!) It was too wet and early to fix the lights on John’s MGB GT though. We took every opportunity to rib him about too. (Or was that just me?)
Needless to say, Poppy’s hood remained firmly UP and as waterproof as Triumph expected. Yes it leaked… A lot! But to be fair, the rain did end up as biblical.
Roger Spaven from the IOW Chapter of the Jaaaag club turns out to be a bit of a slave driver and expected us to be at the Osborne House departure point by 8.30. Yes! 8.30… In the MORNING! …on a Saturday! Anyway, we all made it despite having to go the long way round as the new chain ferry across the River Medina was being a bit temperamental.
The car park was already quite full with Jaguar owners and some members of the Vectis Historic Vehicle Club. (Vectis is the old Roman name for the Isle of Wight don’t you know. See? Educational as well! I’m too good for you lot!)
Anyway, at this stage the rain was just that fine drizzle so not too bad. We chatted and admired cars for a bit including welcoming some more EBMV members on their first event with us. Don Everest and his partner Louisa in a rather stunning white Triumph Stag, Jamie Denson in his Land Rover and Bud and Karen in their TVR Tuscan. Another very, very late 1999 car.
Unfortunately we didn’t see much of Jamie as we think he suffered a “Failure to Proceed” about a mile after leaving Osborne house and we didn’t hear from him again. Rumour was the SEM had syphoned his petrol to prevent further embarrassment to himself. (He ran out of petrol on the A34 you know.) Bud and Karen were fine chaps as were Don and Louisa who lasted almost to the end but that’s a story for later.
Cars of interest for me were a pair of Fords in matching livery.
The Cortina, owned by Kevin Froment was a 1600L and at the risk of sounding like a Muggle, my Dad had one of these. Not only that but it was the same colour and he painted the garage door to match it. The Capri owned by Graham Farrar, was a Mk1 3.0L that our Keith Lloyd would love. I loved it because it had one of those 70s louvered grills on the back window! When did you last see one of them?
Osborne House Clock bells chimed 9 O’clock and it was time for our 22-car convoy to set off. I have to say that Roger was very organised with him at the front and his friends acting as marshals in the middle and at the back and they all had walkie talkies and everything.
Anyway, we set off through the Island lanes to the first stop at a lovely viewpoint overlooking a valley and a bit of the sea. Roger’s presence and organisation must have been having some influence in counteracting the Rain Man’s baleful presence as we could actually see this view and the rain was still holding off a bit. We had lost the Land Rover though.
We continued through the villages of Yaverland and Rookley to our tea break stop at The Old Smithy in Godshill where we were joined by a Triumph Spitfire among others and I had the biggest chocolate cream éclair I have ever seen. It was gorgeous and surprisingly, not too sweet.
By the time it came to leave The Old Smithy, Roger’s influence over Rain Man Gar’s presence was waning as we now suffered heavy rain. We were not downhearted though. We had come here to enjoy ourselves and enjoy ourselves we would, and we did! We headed off to our lunch stop at The Needles via more picturesque villages and lanes until we got to the best road on the Island in my opinion. Military Road up the west coast.
We were able to stop at a viewpoint overlooking Military Rd and the Needles in the distance so we could appreciate where we were going. The road looked fantastic and really piqued our excitement, but we couldn’t see The Needles because of the rain.
This road was every bit as good as billed with great driving and great views when we can see them. By this stage the rain had got to biblical proportions and I had a very wet right leg because it was dripping in above my window. My rally notes were an illegible pulpy mess because of the drips from the same place on the passenger side.
I still had a great big grin on my face though and was revelling in the fact that since my alternator conversion, I had working wipers and lights unlike the South Wales tour, and unlike John's MGB GT. I was behind John and flashed my lights at him occasionally just to remind him. As we also saw on the South Wales trip, electrical gremlins are extremely contagious in old cars as Don lost the brake lights on his Stag too.
We caused another stir as we pulled into the Needles car park for our lunch stop and no, it wasn’t because of my wet trousers but our cars. Muggles appeared from all over the car park to look, take pictures and chat. The brand new Maserati Quattroporte, and equally expensive and sparkly Range Rover were completely ignored. (Except by me. I love the Quattroporte!) Their owners took it well though and even they came over for a chat and a photo or two.
I have to say that the Needles attraction wasn’t at its best in this weather. In fact it was a bit grim. I still didn’t see the Needles but I did buy a couple of those jars full of layered coloured sand for my girls. I also spotted a bottle of local Royal Navy strength gin and another of rum at 57% proof. It was £50 a pop though, so I had to forcibly remove myself from temptation.
Rain Man Gar had by this time completely reasserted his control of the weather and rain was falling at a rate that would give Noah cause for concern as we left for our last leg of the tour to Carisbrooke Castle. Don had asked me to follow his Stag and act as his brake light man.
I’m not sure I did any good as I don’t think the cars behind could see my car let alone my brake lights but it was still a fun a challenging drive and the castle looked very forbidding and hauntingly beautiful as we approached. Unfortunately, the rain was now so apocalyptic that most of us were content with a quick look through the castle entrance before rushing back to the shelter of our cars. (Somewhat dubious shelter in some cases.)
I’d managed to con Phil out the keys to Big Rov and was enjoying the luxury of the soft leather seats as I wafted along in the stately home on wheels whilst being lulled by the comforting V8 soundtrack but best of all, I was both warm and dry. I did however spare a thought for Phil who would have been neither warm nor dry as he drove Poppy back to the camp site. I did have to laugh as Poppy’s driver’s door flew open on a left hand bend and it became apparent that she was trying to eject him Harry Potter fashion. I bet he’d crunched that 2nd to 3rd gear change one too many times.
Once back at our vans, there was some slight concern that Gar and John seemed to be taking a long time and we were about to head back with SEM… honest… well ok, after we’d had a warming cup of coffee we were going to head back as in addition to his headlight failure, the MGB GT had thrown a proper strop and wasn’t starting. Before we’d finished our drinks though they’d got it started and running mostly well enough to get back to the site. We added it to SEM’s list of jobs for the morning.
It had been a fantastic day’s touring despite the weather and on behalf of the group, I would like to thank Roger for all his hard work and effort in organising such a great day. I’d also like to thank the rest of the locals for making us all so welcome. I for one, have fallen in love with your island and will be back. Thank you.
The day wasn’t quite over yet though as we rounded things of with everybody in the curry house (except the Woodwards and Owens. (Apparently, Indian food gives Ian wind.) The rest of us had a jolly nice ruby followed by a bit of a party in the Brooks caravan where a bottle of Talisker appeared miraculously and equally miraculously disappeared. We had another early night though and headed back to our beds for another classics day on the morrow. What? 2.30 AM is early isn’t it?
To be Continued ...
By Mike Peake
Super Enthusiast Man BROKE DOWN! I’ll say that again shall I? Super Enthusiast man BROKE DOWN.
Not only did SEM BREAK DOWN, but he broke down in the most bumblingly incompetent foolish way imaginable. Yes, HE RAN OUT OF PETROL!! I shall pause for a moment to let you get over your bout of hysterical laughter. This is our 1st indication that Super Enthusiast Man may actually be only human after all and proves that there is hope for the rest of us. He now joins Young Paul Cheetham as the only people daft enough to run out of petrol on tour.
Sorry, but I couldn’t help but lead with such momentous news. I know, I should start at the beginning of the tale which I will do... In a minute… when I’ve stopped laughing….
Right. Here goes… no wait, I’ve gone again…
OK. Deep breath… I’m composed.
As is becoming the norm before one of our tours, enthusiasts from all over the British Isles were getting excited. Number of sleeps remaining were being counted, cars were being packed and prepared ridiculously early and partners were slapping us round the head and telling us to “grow up!” (or was it just me getting slapped?). Anyway, I was up early on Friday morning and waving my womenfolk off to work before a quick slice of toast and a cup of coffee. It had been a bit of a manic week so I still had to pack some clothes food and merlot and put the bags in the car, check the fluids and top up with fuel before I was off east on the M4. It helped a lot that we were staying in Static Caravans and camping equipment wasn’t needed. It meant much more room for Merlot.
Gar in Nelson, Nick and Jo in the Jensen, Ian and Sarah and Bernard and Thelma in Ian’s Zephyr and the Brooks Brothers in their Rover P4 had all met up somewhere oop norrf before coming down the A34 and meeting Poppy and I at Chieveley services. This was shortly before Gus ran out of petrol.
Greetings made, pit stops pitted and we all set off together and headed down the A34. Gar was leading at a very respectable speed followed by Poppy, Nick’s Jensen, The Rover P4 and Ian bringing up the rear because of his noxious emissions’. I really had to fight Poppy to get her to turn south as she has become far more used to heading north for our meets and she was really quite confused.
Gar decided to start showing off his new engine and diff and increased speed to approaching Mach 1 to get past a line of lorries. Poppy and the Jensen kept pace but the Rover and Zephyr were lost in the dust. We thought it was that they were just slow but by the time we reached Rownham services they were still nowhere to be seen and we started to worry. It wasn’t long before we heard the truth of it though and we stopped worrying and started chortling. You see, SEM had RUN OUT of PETROL ON THE A34!
At first I was extremely disappointed in Ian not taking a photo of this momentous event but after he explained that they were all laughing too much to hold a camera straight, I forgave them.
After hearing that they’d scraped enough fuel together to get to a petrol station, the 4 of us settled down for lunch. As the Brooks weren’t willing to pay motorway prices as “Them’s from Yorkshire Tha Knows”. We agreed to meet up at the ferry so they could go in search of more acceptably priced fuel.
Does anyone know where Yorkshire Tha Knows is? I’ve found Yorkshire on a map but not met anyone from there yet. I’ve met quite a few from Yorkshire Tha Knows, but can’t find it anywhere.
Anyway, the rest of the trip was uneventful and coincidentally, both convoys arrived at the ferry port at exactly the same time from opposite directions. We were turned away and told to come back in 10 minutes as we were too early.
10 minutes later, we were allowed in and parked in a row causing a bit of a stir and attracting lots of muggle attention before being loaded to set off for foreign climes.
We also welcomed fellow members and lovely couple, Graham and Sue in their very, very late 1999 Rover 75 as they joined us in the real world for the 1st time. (Ok it was a 2003! I was all for keel hauling them on the return crossing but as they were so nice and a lot of fun, I let them off.)
Despite the storm warnings and high wind, the Solent was kind and hardly rippled our coffees as we stood in the bracing wind on the foredeck. As Bosun, I was tempted to set my crew to holystoning the decks but the Brooks brothers were looking particularly mutinous so I let them all relax. (They had run out of petrol after all.)
It wasn’t long before we convoyed off the ferry and headed to our caravan site with Graham and Nick peeling off for their more luxurious digs.
The caravans were luxury indeed and best of all, they weren’t tents. Actually, that wasn’t best of all. Best of all was that the farmer’s wife had left a homemade Jam and cream sponge cake in each of the caravans! Wayhay!
Bags were unpacked, kettles boiled and we settled down to a nice brew and a slice of cake while we waited for fellow tourists to straggle in from various different crossings. John Ticehurst was the 1st of the stragglers in his lovely MGB GT, followed shortly after by Phil Allin in Big Rov and bearing the Rally Plaques.
Nick and Jo, and Graham and Sue re-joined us at the site along with the man of the moment, Roger Spavin who was the organiser for Saturday’s Tour. He was also in a very, very late 1999 registered car but this time it was a Jaguar XK-R. (Phwoar!!) We were really quite hungry by this time so before proper introductions could be made, Roger was bundled back into his car and forced to lead us to the Shanklin Fish and Chip shop he’d promised us was the best on the Island.
We had a pleasant relaxed drive across the Island with our convoy attracting more attention than is usual among the locals. We all thought they were admiring our classic cars, but Roger assured us that they weren’t used to seeing anything so modern as motorised transport on the Island. (Sorry. A cheap shot I know but they would have taken away my writer’s guild membership If I didn’t make it.)
Arriving on Shanklin sea front we parked up and were welcomed by some more of Roger’s friends from the Jaguar Owners club – IOW Chapter in their lovely selection of Jaaaags and a very, very nice Mini which, (puts on nasally geeky voice) having an MW number plate, makes it a Swindon car I believe. (takes off nasally geeky voice).
Andy Perman, despite only living in Portsmouth and being the most local of the visiting tourists, didn’t arrive in time to meet us at the caravan site so we arranged to meet him at the chip shop.
It hadn’t all been plain sailing. John was telling anyone who would listen that his dipped and main beam headlights on his MGB GT weren’t working. Not many of us were listening as we were HUNGRY, but a rather sheepish Super Enthusiast Man (He’d run out of petrol earlier) agreed to take a look while we waited for Andy
Unfortunately, Andy arrived in his VDP Allegro before a resolution was achieved so we decided that the moon was out so what did he need lights for anyway? We went and had our long awaited, and very nice Fish and Chips.
The trip home was even better for me as my hood was down and it was night. I don’t know what it is but I think driving at night in an open car is particularly special and I love it.
We made it back to the caravans and as the Brooks van had the biggest seating area, we piled in there for a bit of a party. Most of us were taking it fairly easy as it was an early start and a big driving day tomorrow. However, Bernard was going all out. Despite the many wrist slaps from his wife Thelma, he still managed to overdose on purple quality street!
The Party broke up about midnight and we all headed off to bed. Except the Brooks and Phil. They had to tidy up!
…. Ran out of petrol indeed! Tee hee hee…. Ha ha ha… AAAH HAHA HAH HA … Oh…. I might have just had an accident….
To Be continued…
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