by Nick Arthur
My passion for motors is intertwined with lots of different stages in life, so here goes!
School wasn't really for me. I learned stuff, but it wasn't the curriculum that was planned, more a series of life lessons, so I left at 15. My bedroom walls at my parents house in Warrington were covered in car pics- e types mainly, spitfires and mgbgt . I dreamed that one day I'd own an e type roadster.
Other kids had pop stars or footballers. I had some from my beloved Liverpool F C but mainly cars. My dad offered me some stark choices when I decided I was leaving school. I had to go to work, earn money and pay rent, or go and get educated.
I opted for the latter, it seemed easier. I went to further education college. I like to think I learned lots in that year. I learned to gamble, I'd buy and occasionally steal ex juke box singles and I'd sell them on the coach going home. I saw myself as a budding if not slightly drunken entrepreneur . College expelled me. My dad offered me some familiar choices. This time with a bit less patience!
I went to work after lazing around for as long as possible. I was 17/18 by now, doing bar work mainly. Then a job on shifts when I was 18 . It was an aluminium smelting factory. Real life kicked in. Job was hard, tough folk work hard in hot and sweaty conditions. It was rightly well paid. I was on shifts and I had plenty of time on my hands and, as I was often reminded, I was living in the cheapest hotel in Warrington.
I needed a car. I badly wanted a car. My dad had company cars so I wasn't allowed near them. My mum had a very faded Red Austin 1100 - I wasn't allowed near that on my own. I wasn't responsible enough apparently. Probably right.
I changed jobs as I was made redundant - I was being taught practical lessons in politics. 'Don't mess with the unions '- as they will strike. Quickly followed by 'Don't mess with the management ' or they will stop investing and make you redundant. Strikes = redundancies, last in first out !
I got a job in a warehouse, stacking pallets, picking loads, brushing up and making tea. It paid poorly, but I got overtime and worked in a pub as well. I got by, I still had the red e type roadster on my bedroom wall.
I got in a fight, admittedly not my first - I was beer brave! Me and two mates took on a group of less drunk, much harder scouse guys in a chippy. They were mucking about, we took them on, Warrington vigilantes - we got badly beaten up. Me a bit more than the others, so enjoyed the hospitality of Warrington General Hospital.
The Coppers took our side as they were sick of Scousers coming to our town and causing trouble. I got to go in a brand new police rover SD1 and bled all over it ! But I'd been in a SD1 nonetheless . I got awarded criminal injuries and I had some savings. I could get a car, my very first car of my own - criminal justice ?
DWB 686H - a very second hand Cortina 1300 deluxe, pale blue, 4 doors, MOT. It had a few corners knocked off it but I loved that car. I did loads of stuff to it. I filled the dinks, sprayed them badly and then did it all over again. I put a 'stick on' heated back window!
I painted the wheels and meticulously cleaned the engine bay. I put a centre console in and fitted switches that kinda just switched on lights as opposed to really doing anything ! I had spot lamps with bright white covers on the front. I had a whip lash aerial.
For the first time in my life I was very nearly cool. I had a job, worked in a bar so I met lots of girls and I had a car! ( I was still a ginger so obviously unable to ever really be cool) . Me and DWB went everywhere.
I learned to drink shandy not beer anymore so we could go places. Me and my mates could go places outside of Warrington. Lock up your daughters Cheshire set, the Warrington boys were upwardly mobile. Knutsford, Nantwich, Alderly edge - even camping weekends in Anglesey. I loved DWB, it never once let me down , what could possibly go wrong?
About 6.30 am one foggy morning I was on my way to work and an uninsured driver came straight out of a junction and took me out. It was a big hit, I was ok, but DWB was in a bad way. Insurance write-off, way beyond my skills of redemption, it was towed away to a sad and lonely place.
I got about £200 insurance and at the age of 18 was back riding my old push bike to work.
Not cool. Time to find a new motor!
By Mike Peake.
Oh my good gods! it's a miracle! An honest to goodness, I've found Jesus, water into wine (that's my favourite) MIRACLE! The photo above was taken by Paul Cheetham - and I can't quite believe I'm saying this - he has actually managed to get the famous landmark AND classic cars in the same picture! What do you mean where? Right there above Poppy's boot. That's the Needles that is and the famous lighthouse! Well done Paul!!!
Sorry, I got distracted by the miracle.
Anyway, it was time to leave the beach side car park for our next leg to the Sammy Miller Motorbike Museum. It was about now that I realised I should have listened to my subconscious and parked nose 1st. You see, the inside of my windscreen and all my rear view mirrors were now covered in sea spray which, when you try and wipe off, just smears horrendously. I’m sure this leg was full of lovely scenery and great roads, but all I could see was smeary green bits, smeary grey bits and a smeary red Corsair.
Windy Sweet Kitten came to my rescue when we got to the museum with some fresh clean water and a clean cloth; my sight was miraculously restored.
Some of the crew needed to stock up on food and disappeared into the museum café. Phil only wanted a baked potato but they’d run out so he made do with cake. Others braved the long waiting times for more substantial meals while Anita and I were still full up from our HUGE breakfast.
The museum was AWESOME! Even for someone like me that knows very little about bikes, but now, I want a classic motorbike! Hundreds of fantastic bikes on display and every single one of them runs. (I asked) The really early ones were a bit nuts though and were basically an engine strapped to a bicycle.
Others had leather belt drives with the belt running uncomfortably close to where ones gentleman parts would be should you be daft enough to want to ride one or have the sudden urge to sing soprano.
For some reason, I was particularly drawn to the Triumphs in the display, especially the 1942 War Department bike.
Lots of other makes were there too to evoke nostalgia. Brough Superior, Norton, BSA, Ducati and even Harleys including an Indian.
Once we were able to tear ourselves away from the museum, it was time for even more photos in the car park.
It was now time to head for the final stop of the day. Well, it would have been, but the greedy guts Jaguar boys had waited so long for their food that they’d only just made it into the Museum. The siren call of the Ringwood brewery had already snared the rest of us, so we said we’d meet them there and headed off through more of the twisty turny uppy downy roads of the New Forest to fill the small brewery car park with classic cars. The Greedy Guts Jaguar Boys caught us up too.
Now I know what your thinking. Is visiting a Brewery on a driving tour a good idea? Well, for the drivers I guess not. Limiting yourself to one was tough but we made sure we all bought a different one and therefore were able to at least sample all the beers on offer and decide which ones we’d buy in the shop to take home. There was also a Bedford ‘O’ series truck in the car park but despite everyone’s best efforts, Mrs FB Just wouldn’t see the benefits of a camper/beaver tail conversion.
Whilst relaxing and supping our pint, we decided that after the super posh nosh we’d enjoyed the night before, we needed to bring ourselves back down to earth. We all fancied fish and chips. However, the weather forecast for the evening was atrocious so we felt an indoor experience might be a good Idea. So, on Pants Perman’s recommendation, Phil booked us all into Bertie’s, a fish and chip restaurant in Lyndhurst. Phil doesn’t like battered fish. (I know! Clearly there is something very wrong there.) However, he didn’t mind the dinning choice as he would have a Pukka steak and kidney pie with gravy and mushy peas like a proper northerner! We could all see the Homer Simpson drooling as he thought of it.
Dinner rendezvous agreed, the great day’s touring came to an end. We said cheerio to the Greedy Guts Jaguar boys, Pants Perman and Don and Louisa before setting off for our accommodation to dress for dinner.
What? Really? End of a tour and not one breakdown? I hear you say. Well, it’s true. Not one breakdown during the tour. However, It did become apparent that the electric passenger window, this time on the Jensen got stuck open on the way back to the hotel. Again, Nick tried to claim he managed to get it closed but Jo immediately cut him off at the knees and claimed credit for the fix. I believe Jo. Two reasons for this; 1) I’m scared of Jo and 2) as I may have mentioned, I’ve never seen Nick with a spanner.
What? Really? End of a tour and only Don and Nick got lost? I hear you say? Well I’d like to say this is true but as none of us had read the tour notes, Gar could have been leading us around completely lost all day and none of us would have known.
So after a jolly nice trouble free day, we all met up again in Bertie’s fish and chip shop with a few tables stuffed in a corner so it could call itself a restaurant, for a jolly nice, trouble free meal. Well, I say trouble free, but you remember Phil drooling over the Pukka steak and kidney pie, chips, mushy peas and gravy that he was going to order? Well they’d only gone and run out of Pukka steak and kidney pies hadn’t they! This, on top of not having his baked potato at lunch time, proved just too much for our normally mild-mannered Phil. He had a full-on teenage strop and decided that he “might as well just have bloody chips then!”.
The rest of us were in a state of utter shock at this outburst from the normally quiet Phil and it took us a full 10 seconds of silence before we all burst out laughing. On the upside, I think we may have finally found a nickname for Phil when Nick tried to console him by saying. “Never mind Pukka Pies Phil, our dinner is lovely.” Pukka Phil it is then.
The Next Morning, Mrs FB and I decided that, after a leisurely breakfast, we’d have a bit of a drive around the forest park and get lost for a bit which we did and found three great river fords. After driving the 1st one, we thought we should have filmed that for the blog. So when we came to the next one, Mrs FB got her phone out and filmed. Except she still had it on photo mode.
When we were home, I let the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” chaps know that I was home and that if they hadn’t passed me they were welcome to pop in for a tea and a wee stop.
Well they hadn’t passed me as Gar was leading and he still had his sat nav on “Taxi Driver” mode so had taken a route via Weymouth and Reading according to the rest of the chaps. So, 30 minutes after my text, I was crushed in the stampede for the facilities shortly before being crushed in the 2nd stampede when the chaps smelled the freshly cooked rock cakes that Mrs FB had made specially.
So after a great weekend we all made it home without any problems at all.
Apart from Nick. Electrical gremlins struck again when Nick pulled into a petrol station to refill the Jensens Bunkers. The little electric motor that opens the fuel cap lock refused to cooperate and wouldn’t open the fuel cap. Yet again, Nick tried to claim credit for taking covers off and prodding the manual release and thus saving the day with a flourish. I don’t know about you, but I’m calling bull poopy on that one! It was Jo, wasn’t it Nick?
So once again, massive thanks to all the chaps of all genders that joined us for the weekend and made it such fun. Particularly Gar Cole for all his organising and enthusiasm. None of these events would happen without him. THANK YOU GAR. WE ALL LOVE YOU!
Photo credits to everyone I stole pictures from but especially Paul Cheetham from whom I stole the most.
I hope you enjoyed the blog and I hope it has inspired lots more of you to join us on our adventures. We’d love to see you so keep an eye on the events section.
See you all at the NEC then chaps! Don’t forget your discount tickets using our club discount code.
By Mike Peake
After one of the most enormous and tasty breakfasts I’ve ever had and checking Poppy’s fluid levels, we set off to meet the crowd at “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this”. No one was in the car park yet so we went round to Old Mother Cole mansions for a chat and to see if we could scrounge another coffee. We couldn’t but we did get hold of one of the wonderful tour plaques that our group sponsor Alveston Press of Derby had made for us. (That’s Phil Allin that is. Top chap and excellent printer for all your printing needs)
When it was time to head to the car park, Poppy had a bit of a tantrum and refused to start. The strong smell of petrol suggested to Windy Sweet Kitten that she was flooded and suggested a bump start would be the cure and along with Mrs FB’s assistance immediately started pushing. He was right and Poppy was running again.
Poppy hasn’t had a proper run since I rebuilt the carburettor at the start of the year, so I suspected that the mixture wasn’t as good as it should be. I decided I would have a bit of a fiddle with it in the car park while we were waiting to leave. As Super Enthusiast Man wasn’t there, no amount of staring mournfully at the faulty part drummed up any help so I had to do it myself - which is where my bumbling incompetence struck again.
In reaching my hand through to the mixture nut on the base of the carb, I burned my hand on the manifold. Then in my rush to withdraw my hand I first impaled, then sliced open my palm on the end of the choke cable. So, with blisters on the top of my hand and blood dripping from the palm, I looked around sheepishly. No one had noticed. The down side of this was no sympathy for my injury. The plus side was that no one would know about my bumbling incompetence unless I was daft enough to put it in the blog and I’m not going to do that! (Oh …. Damn!)
Despite my injuries, I manfully struggled on and manage to tweak the mixture a bit. Whatever I did worked to some extent and mostly cured her reluctance to start when warm. More fiddling required when I get home though.
It’s time to start the tour so let me introduce the participating cars and their owners.
Representing the Isle of Wight Jaguar owners club, we have :-
The Enthusiasts were made up of the following:-
Actually, Nick and Jo weren’t there. Nick claimed he was fixing the window in the Jensen and that we weren’t to wait. They’d catch us up.
10 minutes after we set off, we got a message to say that he was passing the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” car park, so the convoy pulled into a parking area to wait. They soon caught up & Jo let slip that it wasn’t Nick doing the fixing but actually the mechanic from the garage 2 doors down from the pub they were staying in. I had an idea that this would be the case as I have never ever, ever seen Nick with a spanner in his hands. Beer? Yes. Spanners? Never!
Now the convoy was complete, we set off again for a very pleasant drive through the New Forest.
This leg of the run took us through the lovely town of Lyndhurst made not so lovely by the huge traffic jam caused by the traffic lights in the town centre and the fact that every car in the New Forest was there. It had us all nervously watching our temperature gauges as they steadily rose and also broke up the convoy.
Gar’s usual philosophy of “Leaving no man behind” seemed to have gone out the window now he was in his comfy and reliable Mondeo instead of Nelson. He pressed on at only fractionally sub sonic speeds. Phil, Pants Perman and I managed to hold onto his coat tails, just. The 4 of us arrived at our 1st official stop in a car park in Milford on Sea. Gar takes us to all the best places! To be fair, the view was spectacular.
As we pulled into the front row overlooking the Sea, I was going to pull in nose 1st but the rest were reversing in so I followed suit as it would make great photos with the Needles behind in the distance.
It was some time before the rest of the convoy arrived, but arrive they did. Except Nick and Jo in the Jensen and Don and Louisa in the Stag. Don was getting hopelessly lost and Nick was blindly following having learned nothing from our previous tours. They caught up eventually.
To Be Continued …
By Mike Peake
A wet and windy run down through the lovely green lanes of Wiltshire ensued - all rather uneventfully. We did get a call from Gar though. After his antics on the last tour, I was expecting a fuel requirement, but no. He needed another “facilities break”, so we stopped at the next petrol station. It didn’t have a customer toilet. We were only 30 minutes from the holiday resort that the chaps were staying in, so it was decided that he would try and hold out. We put him in the lead though, just in case.
Poppy gave me a bit of a scare by not starting straight away but she got there after a few turns of the key and we were off again. The exit from the garage joined the road after a set of traffic lights and Gar and Phil nearly killed themselves when they exited. I waited until the lights turned green and the rest of the convoy re-joined the road at a more sedate pace. Gar and Phil didn’t wait though. Luckily, I had the destination programed into Gladys the sat nav and we pulled into the New Forest resort, “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this”. Yes, It really is called that. Well, nearly, and yes, we all sniggered like school boys every time the holiday resort was mentioned.
We pulled up in the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” car park and waited for Gar to book us all in. This took somewhat longer than expected as the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” staff wouldn’t accept the booking without the “Booking.Com” reference number that Gar hadn’t bought with him. An hour later we made it to the caravan.
To call the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” accommodation "a caravan” grossly understates the opulence that greeted us when we opened the door. Comfy sofas, fully stocked kitchen including a dishwasher and digitally controlled climate control that no one could operate until young Paul Cheetham arrived. Gar had already bagged the double room which turned out to be a whole wing of the building. A huge super king size double bed and an en-suite BATH room. Yes, a massive bath in a caravan! He’d done quite well for himself. Even the bath had more room than the Holivan Junior 8 that is Gar’s normal accommodation on tour. Windy Sweet Kitten and Berbo had 2 single cots stuffed in a broom cupboard. They weren’t quite as pleased as Gar was.
We decided to leave the chaps to explore the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” stately home and set off to check into our weekend accommodation. No, not a tent. Mrs FB insisted on accommodation with a proper roof and beds if she was going to grace us with her presence. Gar had excelled himself by booking us into a rather nice B&B with the rather less amusing name of “Little Forest Lodge”. It was beautiful. We were welcomed with complimentary tea and homemade banana cake while we checked in, and if it wasn’t for the single beds Gar had booked us, it would have been very romantic. (In his defence, he had booked it for Phil and Paul before I hijacked the booking)
We all met up again at the Compasses, where Nick and Jo were staying, for an exceptional dinner only spoilt by all of us imagining Tosh Brook’s Yorkshire exclamation of “Ow Mooch!” when we looked at the menu. We had to imagine it, as Tosh hadn’t bothered turning up for this one because the New Forest is a long way from Doncaster. I know - what a lightweight! This also meant that we were touring without the comfort blanket of “Super Enthusiast Man” Gus Brooks. I have to say that we were all rather worried about the prospect of fixing our own breakdowns.
I say we all met up for dinner but Nick and Jo were late due to a “Hamlet moment”. Those of you who are old enough to remember tobacco advertising on TV will know Nick’s problem. For the rest of you, the electric window on the driver’s side of the Jensen had stuck in the open position. Have I mentioned that it was freezing cold and chucking it down with wet rain?
We were all extremely sympathetic to their plight and hardly laughed at all when 2 bedraggled, wet and cold people finally arrived at 9.40pm. We hardly laughed even more when they found out that the kitchen closed at 9.30pm and were no longer taking orders for food. However, Jo used her feminine charms on the chef and scared him into rustling up some nachos and a sandwich. (That was a direct quote from Nick when I asked how he got the food. Nothing to do with me. Honest Jo! No, really.)
The fun and laughter had to end as we all left for our respective accommodations for a good night’s sleep in preparation for meeting the Isle of Wight Jaguar boys in the “Sandy Balls? No. I always walk like this” car park the next morning, ready for the tour.
Oh, you may have noticed that Ian Woodward’s nickname has lengthened slightly to “Windy Sweet Kitten”. Well you have Sarah “Cup Cake” Woodward to thank for that after their romantic and moving Wedding Anniversary Facebook posts. (Oh No! I’ve just been a little bit sick in my mouth again!)
To be continued …
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