by Kevin Thompson
So we are at the stage where all the electrics go and all the lights too. I saved on the back lights as I told you in the last episode (part 7) I got some trailer lights as they were cheaper than the original ones costing £42 each and the trailer one's costing £5.95 each.
I know they're not original but I wanted something different too same as the front ones they are off a Land Rover; I think they are Defender ones but not sure also costing £42 each for the original again saving money as the Land Rover lights cost £5 each. So they were fitted and all working ( as shown in pictures ).
Then was the head lights to be fitted now as least these were still good and original I was thinking down the road of angel lights but thought no - I was trying to keep to a budget here. Then when all was fitted I went back to my laptop just to check my wiring was all ok and check all the circuits.
All was ok to stay. I am not fond of electrics really - I hate them as they always hurt you lol or you blow something and then you know about it. Or you spend ages looking to find a fault but you never look at the fuse until you've torn your hair out. That's why am almost bald!
So that's the electrics all done but I will be fitting more lights for the inside (more on that later) but it was my next challenge to refit all the windows and headlining next but that's in part 9.
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By Mike Peake
Sunday morning dawned grey but actually not raining. However, I still wasn’t dry as my pet swamp had decided to move in with me during the night and as my airbed had deflated again; I wasn’t even floating above it. Fortunately I’d put my clean clothes up out of the way, so at least they were dry. I waded through Celia to the outside world and much needed coffee. (Well as we’d slept together, I thought I should at least know her name.)
Fixing breakfast was as easy as usual and just a matter of shouting “Is my bacon ready yet Gus?” Of course it was because Gus looks after us like that.
The morning progressed and Scumbag Grotto quickly filled as the hotel scumbags arrived and we all waited excitedly for SUPER ENTHUSIAST MAN to appear again to fix young Paul's broken Mini. We weren’t disappointed as with a mighty bound he arrived over the trees carrying Rusty the Mini under his arm.
Apparently, Rusty’s mechanical fuel pump had broken, dumping all the fuel in the sump and causing the vomiting fit and non-running of the previous morning. Super Enthusiast Man quickly had the noxious mixture drained into Gar’s empty curry pots. Then, removing a spare electric pump from the utility pocket in his Y-fronts, Super Enthusiast Man soon had it all fitted up and ready to go.
“Right young Paul, where’s your fresh oil to refill your sump?” Young Paul looked a bit sheepish at this point and said “errrmm….” So we all had a whip round of the rest of the scumbags and rustled up enough 20/50 to fill Rusty’s surprisingly large sump. Gar was the most generous in supplying a full gallon. (Yes, an actual gallon or 4.5l!)
Now it was time for the off, and all 13 cars made past the front gate of the campsite… all the way to the fuel station. Poppy only has a 6 gallon tank so given the scarcity of filling stations in 19th century North Wales I fill up at every opportunity making sure I do it before Nick “where’s the petrol station?” Arthur and his 7.2l Jenson run the bunkers dry.
At this point, Young Paul announces that he has forgotten the key to his locking Petrol cap. The Conversation then went as follows.
“What? Why don’t you keep it on a ring with the Car keys?”
“Ermmm… it broke and won’t fit on the ring.”
“Well why don’t you get a new one cut?”
“Ermm… I’m a poor student.”
“Well why don’t you at least leave it in the F… bloomin car?”
“Ermmm… oh… that’s a good idea!”
We then spent the next hour trying every single key in the scumbags' possession to see if one would fit. Needless to say, none of them did.
“How much petrol you got then young Paul?”
"I don’t know. The gauge doesn’t work.”
"When did you last fill up?”
“How many miles have you done since then?”
“How many miles do you get to a tank?”
“Don’t know… quite a bit…”
We decide to risk it and press on. Andy Gardner had decided he wanted the singular honour of being in Poppy today and I decided to let him drive for a bit. I can’t recall ever sitting in my passenger seat on the public highway before but it turned out quite a comfy place to be as long as I wasn’t listening to Andy’s attempts to change gear.
After a while though, he seemed to get the hang of them and it got quieter. Either that or there weren’t enough teeth left on the gears to crunch anymore. Another great drive was had along the coastal roads with the added bonus of actually being able to see the beautiful scenery today without that typically misty Welsh rain. I even managed to spot Last Minute Liam’s stockpile of marsh mallows that he’d dumped at the side of the road as we weren’t allowed an open fire to toast them on back at Scumbag Grotto.
After a bit, the convoy squeezed into a layby alongside a picturesque river estuary that I can’t remember the name of and probably didn’t have any vowels in anyway. I felt this would be a good time to share the sausage plait that Mrs FB had so lovingly prepared for us. Unfortunately, I made a slight error in counting and there wasn’t enough left for me or Last Minute Liam to have a slice, and I learned a valuable lesson. Eat my bit first next time!
We were about to set off again when an embarrassingly large puddle of oil was discovered under Andrew's VDP Allegro. Andrew swore that it must be the crank case seal failing and nothing at all to do with the overfill his dipstick was showing. We pressed on anyway.
Next stop was the coastal town of Barmouth. We parked along the seafront and rested for an hour or so while some of our number took the opportunity to fill up at the local purveyors of refreshment while Bella and Lady Luna (who is a thoroughbred Golden retriever don’t you know) had fun on the beach. The rest of us chatted to locals and tourists alike who stopped to look at the cars and tell us stories of when they had similar “back in the day”.
Cor! Could almost be a tropical Paradise!
It was soon time to head off again and we made it all the way out of the town before the rusty Mini…er I mean the Mini, Rusty ran out of fuel. Last Minute Liam solved the problem of the missing key by producing his ninja lock pick. A screwdriver and a big hammer and after a whip round for fuel we were off again… for about 200 yards where another grass verge provided the backdrop to young Paul’s embarrassment. We didn’t all get the breakdown message and Stan sailed on in blissful ignorance in his lovely S-Type.
Super Enthusiast Man suddenly appeared out of a bush and pronounced that the cause of the woes was rubbish dragged up from the tank. He soon had this cleared and further fuel was added just to make sure. Some of us were starting to wonder if these breakdowns were genuine or was it all a cunning plan to cadge free fuel? You’ve got to watch these student types you know. Cunning little devils they can be. Repair complete, we prepared to set off again.
We hadn’t even got 2 feet this time before the shout went down the line that we had another faller. Yes. Big Rov was having a bit of a strop this time. Fortunately, Super Enthusiast Man was still there to help and having established we had fuel and a spark, proceeded to blame the tiny little battery in the boot for the woes.
As Andy’s was the car immediately behind Big Rov he was given the honour of performing the jumpstart and prepared the jump leads. Then Liam got out of his P6 and said “they’re not jump leads! ... THESE are jump leads!” as he brandished the biggest, fattest, longest set of truck jump leads I have ever seen - and Big Rov was started. We don’t actually think there was anything wrong with Big Rov, we just think he was a bit cross that the Mini was getting all the attention and wanted some for himself.
Harlech castle was shut unfortunately. For some reason, we were a little later than planned. Weren’t we young Paul? So we drove straight past and headed to porddchllddywchlldd where we parked in an Aldi car park because our Fat Controller wanted some teatime supplies. Aldi was shut too. However, Super Enthusiast Man took the time to do a flypast to check we were ok and as all was good took some great aerial footage for us. which I’m sure will be available to us as soon as he works out how to upload it.
We were joined by a local in what looked like a rally prepped Hillman Imp. He was promptly mobbed and forced to join our FB group. He then directed us to a local Spar shop that was still open and Gar was pleased he wouldn’t starve that evening.
At this point the convoy broke up somewhat. Sad goodbyes were said to Eric who was heading home, others left for the campsite and their hotels leaving just The Brooks, Young Paul, Last Minute Liam, Lincoln and myself as Gar needed us to help carry his tea back for him before we all set off for the campsite.
We set off. I’d wrestled my keys away from Andy and was now driving myself. The pressure to make smooth silent gear changes was immense. Liam was leading the reduced convoy followed by the Brooks, Me, Young Paul, Lincoln and Gar. Liam missed the huge signpost for Beddgelert which, horror of horrors, meant the event we’d all been dreading all weekend had occurred. Yes, a couple of hooligans in a Capri were leading the group.
They immediately started opening a gap to the rest of us. Well the sight of some scallywags hurtling along in a Capri released my inner Inspector Reagan! They’d done a blag and were ‘avin’ it away on their toes. Well not on my watch they weren’t! “Shuut iiiit Carter! I’m gonna feel these Slaaaags collar before the hour is out” I said to a suddenly very quiet Andy as I dropped a cog and Poppy roared off in hot pursuit.
We quickly recovered the lost ground, working the gears as we sped round bends, up and down hills. Poppy gallantly stayed close to the blaggers getaway motor. Gar fell off the back of the convoy then so too did Lincoln - but plucky little Poppy and young Paul stayed on the Brooks' tail all the way back to Scumbag Grotto. As the cars skidded to a stop, I flung open my door, slid across my bonnet and, aiming my service revolver, shouted “You’re nicked my son!”
Young Paul on the other hand had to have his cold, white knuckled hands prized away from the steering wheel before we could force warm sweet tea into him. I’m still not sure whether the spirited driving frightened him or the thought that he’d just burned all that free petrol he’d scrounged.
A mixture of teas was BBQ’d, heated, fried and otherwise cooked and we settled down in a circle outside the gazebo to gaze at the spot our open fire would have been were we allowed one. All except Farty Woodward. We made him sit 40 feet away.
Another spiffing evening was had, as we looked at pictures of the weekend and swapped yarns deep into the night. The party broke up and I headed back to my tent for a last night cuddled up to Celia Swamp.
Monday morning dawned - would you believe it, bright and sunny. Pitches were cleared, breakfast was eaten and then, because Gar had been wittering on about it all weekend, we had to go and see a dead dog. The dead dog was legendary for some derring-do and being hastily killed by a nutty Welsh prince some hundreds of years ago.
If you want to know more just ask Gar. Believe me, he will tell you about it. Several times probably. Or you could just google "Gelert's Dog".
So, dead dog visited it was time to depart. Sad farewells were said and we all headed off to our respective parts of the UK.
Thanks for bearing with me during this tale and I sincerely hope that I have conveyed what a truly epic weekend this was. I certainly had the time of my life. Great roads, great fun and great people.
A big thank you to all the scumbags for traveling to the meet and making it a weekend to remember, especially Gus for his culinary skills and patience. However, a HUGE thank you is due to Gar for his tireless enthusiasm and energy in setting this up and keeping us all in line. I know this must have been a bit frustrating for him at times and a bit like herding cats but we all had the better time because of his support.
Finally, let’s not forget SUPER ENTHUSIAST MAN whoever he may be, for his tireless mechanical support. He will now be kidnapped and forced to attend all future group events.
See you at the NEC in November Chaps!
By Jim Lodder
The Maxi was very reliable, but not exactly exciting apart from the morning that I pulled into the coal yard at Aberystwyth railway station. ( I went there early every morning to collect the newspapers for the shop ) The front nearside wheel came off and rolled down the yard in front of me! I'd had a puncture the previous day and forgot to tighten the wheel nuts after I lowered the jack. Fortunately I managed to find the errant wheel nuts and fix the wheel back on, properly this time.
As the Maxi started to develop rust patches, one of the downsides of living right by the sea, I decided to smarten it up with a change of colour as well. I bought a product called “Repaint” which claimed that despite being a brush on product the finish was as good as a respray. Oh the gullibility of youth!
I managed to get the use of a large brick building on the caravan site that was used as a workshop during the week, but I could only have it from Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon. So drove it in Saturday morning, cleaned it, rubbed it down, repaired the rust (bodged would probably be a better description) masked up the glass edges, degreased it and set about applying the Repaint primer coat, which was white, with a large paint brush. Finally finished late evening, locked it up, and adjourned to the pub. I returned on Sunday morning ready to apply the nice bright red top coat (the Maxi was previously a mustard yellow colour) and set off full of confidence with my big paintbrush, the same one I’d used the previous day for the primer. However as I put more and more top coat on it became increasingly obvious that the primer wasn’t completely dry. No doubt I’d put too thick a layer on, and my lovely shiny red colour was slowly turning a very streaky pink! And that’s how it stayed for the next 3 years until it too was scrapped.
The Maxi was replaced with a dark green Mk2 Ford Cortina that came along courtesy of my first wife. I never really got along with that one (the car, not the wife, although she would become ex wife just 7 years later!) I could never get the Cortina to run satisfactorily and was getting mpg in the low teens at best, so quite quickly “moved it on” as they say and bought my second Triumph Herald, this time a dark blue saloon with mandatory white side stripe.
I managed to run the Herald on a shoestring as we had no money to spare and a baby on the way. My newly acquired father in law took pity on his poor daughter and was so concerned about his future grandchild travelling in “that old banger” (he had no taste) that he bought us a “proper car”. However it was a Johnny Foreigner so must remain unidentified here. We went through a few JFs over the next years, apart from a green Hillman Hunter GLS (nice car) and a hand painted blue Mini Van, so there must be a gap in this blog until, post-divorce, I moved on to the Rover P6 3500 V8, via a brief foray with a Triumph Toledo.
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By Mike Peake
Sometime in the wee small hours of Saturday morning (as Eric would say), Armageddon happened. The heavens opened and we were all woken by the noise of the rain beating on van roofs and canvas. Some were woken by it dripping on our faces. Somehow though, we all managed to roll over and go back to sleep (or was that just me again?).
It would also appear that my airbed was gradually deflating overnight and I was awoken at the uncommonly early hour of 6.30AM to the sensation of running aground. Feeling fully refreshed and not in the slightest hung over in any way I leapt out of bed singing a verse of “Oh what a Beautiful morning”. I stepped from my sleeping quarters straight into the swamp outside my bedroom door and sank in up to my knees. I pulled myself out after a while and staggered over to the rest of the group standing glumly around a picture of devastation shrouded in grey misty rain.
It was only when I shouted “Oh my gods! The cake and alcohol are in there!” that everyone came out of their daze. A rescue party was established and regardless of their own safety, battled their way through canvas, plastic and aluminium to retrieve these essential supplies. Fortunately, there were no serious casualties and we were all much relieved when the rescue team reappeared clutching cake, merlot, beer and whiskey.
After we’d calmed down from our shock, Gus called out that he was putting on the BBQ for breakfast and promptly disappeared under the small mountain of bacon and sausages that were thrown at him for cooking. At one stage, it looked like it would rival Snowdon itself. Unperturbed, our Gus kindly ploughed through cooking the various derivatives of pig and didn’t even get cross as scumbags gathered round and said, “can I have mine crispy?”, Is that smoked? I don’t like smoked, “Can you put these pretend sausages on for Helen?”, “Is it ready yet?” “That’s the wrong shaped bread roll for sausages” etc. Needless to say, breakfast was up to Gus’s normal standards and we were all stuffed to the gills. Except young Paul who seemed content with a coffee and some banana peels to smoke.
By now, the hotel people had returned to Scumbag Grotto and we were thinking about leaving for the tour when a forlorn voice popped up and said, “But Big Rov is fallen and I really wanted to drive.”
Everyone was busy looking at the floor, each other, the trees. Anywhere but at Phil and muttering “ermmm…”, “well, don’t really….”, “Ho hum…” and no one noticed our Gus sneak off to his camper van. I did though. The van shuddered and shook for a bit and some strange noises issued forth until, with a crash, the back doors were flung open and there stood, in a suitably heroic pose, SUPER ENTHUSIAST MAN! Resplendent in his cloak and his Y fronts on over his boiler suit.
With a single mighty bound, Super Enthusiast Man leapt from the camper, across tall tents and landed next to Big Rov. He proceeded to grill Phil as to the exact nature of the fault causing Phil to whimper “errrmmm, it’s got no electrickery?” Super Enthusiast Man whipped out his probe and proceeded to multi meter the heck out of Big Rov.
After an hour or so of probing and a couple of false starts involving spare wire, the fault was narrowed down to the ignition switch. Super Enthusiast Man was about to strip it when he noticed an errant wire dangling behind the dash. You see, when Phil changed the brake light switch last week, it looks like he may have inadvertently knocked this wire a bit loose and over the next few miles it had worked its way completely off. I am so glad I am not the only bumbling, incompetent fool when it comes to our cars! The wire was reconnected and Big Rov was back in action. Super Enthusiast Man quietly slipped away without anyone noticing.
Right! We off then? Err no. Not yet. Our Glorious Fat Controller wanted a quick morning briefing. “Have we all printed off the routes that have been available on the website for the last six months?” We all looked around guiltily. “So you’ve memorised them?” We were now looking anywhere but at Gar and shuffling our feet sheepishly. With a deep sigh, Gar gave us the day’s route and instructions that we will all wait at the checkpoints until everyone came in and that there was no need to all follow in one convoy if the faster ones wanted to shoot off. We all listened intently and then we all decided to follow Gar in one long convoy.
Now it was time for the off so we started our Engines. Well, most of us did. However, Young Paul’s rusty Mini… oh no, wait. I mean Young Paul’s Mini, Rusty was a bit reluctant but did fire up in the end and made it all the way to the campsite main entrance. Rusty then vomited all over the track. A nasty mixture of petrol and oil. So poor Rusty was pushed into a parking space to be dealt with later and young Paul was told to pick a car to be a passenger in.
Now we really were off. 12 cars left on the Convoy. So let me introduce everybody.
Hover over pic for captions.
We headed off into the Welsh Wales mountains and the very wet Welsh Wales rain for a surprisingly trouble-free tour on the mountain section of our weekend. The roads were fantastic and absolutely perfect for classic car driving. Surprisingly, I don’t recall any further breakdowns either. It was just a great day pootling through some stunning mountain scenery.
Just a shame that it wasn’t visible through all the Welsh Mist and rain. However, it bought back so many memories of my childhood holiday here. Peering out of my Dad’s rain misted Mk 3 Cortina windows or standing under a tree in my kagool with the misty rain dripping off my nose. Ah, those were the days.
We did however have plenty of stops for photo opportunities and young Paul did a fantastic job leaning out of Eric’s windows and sunroof to take some of the best photos seen in the group. However, we did manage to leave last minute Liam at the café by mistake but he soon caught up.
The day ended with a very nice meal and a few real ales in the local pub - a warm and dry local pub! Friendships made during the day were cemented over pie, chips and beer and a lovely evening was had by all. Especially Gus. You silver fox you!
Actually, saying I had pie and chips doesn’t really do it justice. It was gastro pub pie and chips, so quite posh. However, they forgot to take the chips out of the fryer baskets before serving them.
Well I say the day ended, but when we got back to Scumbag Grotto, we realised we needed to resurrect the gazebo which was done surprisingly quickly but with much speculation about the cause of the collapse. The general consensus was the weight of the rain collecting in the roof. I’m still convinced Farty Woodward had too much of Gar’s curry though.
It was almost time for bed but not before sharing a nightcap in the repaired Gazebo and Tosh stuffing FinlEy with highly sugared sweets to encourage his funny stories which mainly featured poo. The look of panic on Helen’s face was quite a picture as she hadn’t been allowed to vet the stories 1st and didn’t know what was coming. The look of panic on Liam’s face at the thought of a little boy pumped full of sugar at midnight was also a picture!
Finally, we all went to our various accommodations. I successfully avoided drowning in my pet swamp, pumped my bed back up and was soon in the land of nod and dreaming about the day’s driving and the coastal tour to follow.
Considering we’d had a solid 14 hours of that particular Welsh rain which seams wetter than any other rain, we’d all had the best of days!
To be continued….
Special thanks to Sophie Peake for her photoshop skills
by Eric Dalton
I had emailed Practical Classics on the Saturday to see if I could be put on the list of interested parties for ownership of the Ambassador. Two days later in connection with my job as a recovery driver, I was at another garage and was shown a 1980 VW Jetta which looked like it may have been going to the crusher.
£100 later, it was on the back of my lorry and off to be hidden away. I could hear the present Mrs Dalton (she's the only one, but it keeps her on her toes.....) "You just couldn't help yourself!". I congratulated myself for actually getting away with something for once, and forgot all about it.
Three months later I received an email to say the Ambassador was mine if I wanted it. The joy of winning was wiped away by the realisation that I still had the Jetta! The day before I was travelling down with two friends to collect the Ambassador, I came clean to Mrs D. This was on the Friday lunchtime, and the next time she spoke to me was when I was leaving the next morning for my train.......
The Ambassador was collected, and I found more storage, this time in the garage at a bus group that I help with. This was a year ago.
Forward now to March this year. Browsing the internet, as you do, I happened upon a 1989 Rover 216 VDP with an autobox. One elderly owner had covered just 23,400 miles in its life. It seemed too good to miss, and the Friday night saw me and one of the same friends that I had collected the Ambassador with getting the sleeper over the border to London.
A taxi across the city, and we were soon on the train out to deepest Essex. A short test drive confirmed that it was the car for me. Leather interior, electric windows front and rear, electric sunroof and that lazy autobox. In the last 10 mot's, it hadn't had one advisory. If the owner had dropped his wife off at the hairdressers and it was raining when she was ready to be picked up, he'd tell her to get a taxi.
Bob and I shared the driving home; indeed I kept having to prize him out of the driver's seat. In one day the car covered one year's average mileage, with no problems.
A fortnight later we went off down to the NEC for the restoration show. That was my first contact with Gar. I must have thought he was a decent chap as he drove the Rover at Cirencester. A fortnight before the Cirencester show, I'd also been to the group meet at Coventry airport. For those who don't know, that was when Mike Peake drove home in a swimming pool.
In June this year, my kind wife pointed out I now had 4 cars - you can't fault her arithmetic! My daily has to stay, as my oldies hibernate. I could never part with my two Longbridge cars, so Johnny Foreigner has gone to be loved by another carer.
That is the current state of play until I get careless again!
by Kevin Thompson
After all the painting was done it was time to do the dreaded thing - I think "Will this be fun or not?" (cue music den den der ). OK - it wasn't that dramatic but yes - it's time for the electrics!
"Oh crikey!" he says. "Who pulled them out?" (was not me) Well it was really... well after looking at some of it some was ok and some of it was not and had to be replaced. From the dashboard it ran down under the under body where it had 30 years of road dirt etc and was very brittle so that got replaced and trunked in side of the Reliant.
As you can see a couple of pictures I started to put the wiring back in. Now I am not very good with wiring but I did my very best with remembering where it all went. Good job I wrote everything down and pictures and copied everything as well just to make sure everything was going ok to a point.
I had to put my laptop on to see if I was going in the right place good job I could plug into the dash board (lol)
So the back lights had to be fitted now I could go for the original ones but they were way too expensive, so I got some trailer type ones that cost about £4.95 each and put them in but had to blank off the big hole at the back.
And this is what I did then I fitted the rear lights in but I will show them in the next part until then bye for now
By Mike Peake.
Well! What a weekend that was! I’m not sure where to start.
Maybe an explanation of the title is in order. It all stems from an altercation with a rather obnoxious woman at the Gloucester Steam fair beautifully described in Gar Cole’s blog of the event.
Her parting comment shouted from behind her tent was to call us “Council house Scumbags”, which says more about her than it does us or indeed council house tenants. Anyway, the name appears to have stuck, so from now on, those members attending meetings, tours and group events shall be known as the “Scumbag division of EBMVBB1985.”
The event itself was enthusiastically and excitedly anticipated for some time. With tales of last minute derring-do (Yes You, Last Minute Liam!) and countdown in number of sleeps in the group forum. This lead to many a slap round the ear from our significant others and being told “You’re like a kid before Christmas! Now grow up”, (or was that just me?)
As you may have gathered, I was very excited about the event. Poppy’s roof was as waterproof as Triumph intended, (it still leaks a bit) and the last minute oil change was completed successfully the weekend before.
In the run-up week, cakes were baked, arctic bedding sourced and Poppy packed to the gunnels. (No. It wasn’t ALL Merlot. There was some cake and camping supplies too….. oh OK, it was mostly Merlot)
Friday morning dawned and we set off at 7.15am. Unfortunately, not straight to Snowdonia as I had to put in 5 of the longest hours I have ever spent in the office. Not a great deal of work was completed as I seemed to spend most of my time gazing wistfully out the window at an anxious-to-go Poppy.
1PM finally turned up and I was off… to My mother-in-laws to pick up the lovingly prepared batch of rock cakes and a hot Cornish pasty for my trip.
Many of us were meeting up with fellow scumbags at various locations around the UK for our trips into Beddgellert , and I was meeting up with Andy Perman in his lovely Vanden Plas Allegro at Frankley services which is where his route from Portsmouth and mine from Royal Wootton Bassett coincided.
Unfortunately, there are major road works at the M5/M6 junction which held us up rather badly but did give me a chance to get a photo whilst we were stationary.
What followed was a fantastic drive up through spectacular mountain scenery including one road somewhere between Lllychwmddllddpilly and Ddypymcwmllmwch which only needed Matt Monroe’s “Days like these” to be playing and we would have been in the Italian Job. Oh and sun. It needed Sun too. (Town names may not be strictly accurate. You don't say! - Ed)
We both arrived safely and were almost the last to arrive at about 7.30PM. it was dark and raining. Fortunately the group had heard our engines as we drove round the campsite 3 or 4 times looking for a group of fools camping in North Wales in October. Young Paul Cheetham was quickly despatched to track us down and guide us in as he was the only member of the group remotely fit enough to run across a muddy field waving madly to attract our attention.
Paul found us and we finally arrived at Scumbag Grotto - all was well. Quick hello’s were said and I went to my fully appointed and pre-erected tent in the style befitting a gentleman of my stature.
As some of the chaps were arriving earlier in the day and I would be arriving after dark, Gar had kindly volunteered to pitch my tent for me and I gratefully accepted.
Imagine my joy when I discovered what a great job they had done. OK, it may have been pitched on a slight 1 in 4 hill … and right next to a railway track… and none of the 4 poles were the right height…. and there was a sizable swamp between my porch door and my sleeping section… and only 3 pegs appeared to be holding…. and the ridge pole was in the wrong place… and there were some bits left over, but they were only the little plastic domes that go on the top of the poles to keep the water out so not that important… but apart from that, it was perfect and I quickly filled it with my necessities.
Home-making complete, I joined the rest of the group to thank them profusely and congratulate them on their outdoor survival skills.
Everyone was assembled within the Fat Controller’s very large and very red Gazebo, which was making its debut appearance for the meet. Inside was like a military field kitchen with Gar resplendent behind the altar containing everything required to feed the 5000 with a choice of his Welsh Cawl or his fine curry. I chose the curry and sat down to savour my first glass of merlot of the weekend. The curry was excellent and extremely welcome after my long day and so was the merlot.
The evening progressed with much jollity, frivolity and fun although we were starting to become concerned as 2 of our members were still missing in action. Scumbag Grotto appeared to have been pitched in some sort of time warp to the 19th century in which no sort of mobile phone signal was able to penetrate. We were to find that this “Bubble” extended across most of the National Park too.
We were therefore unable to contact our AWOL personnel. Some of us had received a garbled text message on the way in from Phil Allin saying he’d broken down but we were a bit incredulous about this as Big Rov NEVER breaks down. Oh … apart from that time after Gloucester ….and that other time when … oh and there was that time that….
We weren’t worried about Last Minute Liam at all as he has a track record for midnight arrivals!
Big Rov eventually appeared on the back of an AA low loader along with Phil and his luxury caravan and Liam, Finley, Liam’s son and Helen, Liam’s long, long suffering partner, arrived not long after. Despite the lateness of the hour our glorious Fat Controller put his pinny back on and disappeared behind the Altar of Provision to fuss about like a mother hen to feed these wayward members of his brood.
We soon reverted to our jollity, frivolity and fun broken briefly, when Phil remembered that the last thing he’d told Loraine was that he was coming home on a low loader and now didn’t have a phone signal to tell her he wasn’t. We were all extremely concerned at his omission and hardly laughed at all.
However, those of our members electing to stay at posh hotels instead of Scumbag Grotto had wifi and agreed to let Loraine know for him. They were immediately bombarded by requests from the rest of us who wanted to let our loving wives know we were safe too in case they didn’t let us out to play next time.
The party broke up at some point and we all retired to our various accommodation’s to sleep and prepare for our big day and first tour on the morrow.
To be continued…
by Eric Dalton
18 months ago RNP666Y was dragged from a 25 year slumber. It had been shoved into the garage after a problem made it run very roughly.
Practical Classics magazine recommissioned it and took it off for a jaunt to Switzerland. Out of the blue, I'd picked up a copy of the magazine whilst taking the wife shopping. As soon as I saw it, I emailed to see if I could be considered when they were finished with it. On the 22nd October 2016 I met James Walshe beside the Forth bridge and took delivery.
Much work has been done in the past year. Before embarking on the Welsh trip, I'd only covered 150 miles in her, so Wales was a big ask. 1134 miles later at a very reasonable 31.7mpg I'm home again, and looking forward to Ireland in May.
Beddgelert was full of laughs, and also restoring faith in human nature. Everyone present had a desire for all the others in the group to remain mobile.
Memories for me are in no order, but some are as follows:
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