By Mike Peake
So I’m headed for the Valleys of Welsh Wales for the South Wales Charity Classic Car meet, organised by our youngest active member Thomas Jenkins.
The only route that was practical was a 2 hour slog along the M4. The alternative would be up to Gloucester and pick up the M50 and then the beautiful “Heads of the Valleys” road. However, this would have meant setting my alarm even earlier than 6.30am. Judging by Mrs FB’s reaction when the 6.30 alarm went off, I was wise to choose the motorway route. Otherwise, I think I would have been visiting A&E instead of a car show. Anyway the dull slog along the M4 it was.
The dullness was alleviated slightly when I joined the motorway at junction 16 and slotted in nicely behind a very clean Mk2 Granada and a Morgan forming an accidental convoy until they turned off at the Bath Junction. I suspect that they were heading for the Bristol Classic Car show.
After that, I was on my own, but it was a lovely sunny morning and the Muggles were pointing waving and smiling as they whizzed past. Next up was the 2nd Severn Crossing. I’d never driven across it in an open top car before and I have to say that looking up at the supports and cables was actually quite breathtaking. It gave me a real appreciation of the engineering involved.
My reverie was spoiled somewhat when I realised that for the 1st time, I’d have to pay the toll without being able to claim it back on expenses. £6.70!! I say again, £6.70! That’s very nearly half a bottle of polish!!
Recovering from the Shock, I pushed on to Cardiff Gate Services where I was meeting our Fabulous Events Fat Controller, Gar Cole. Due to some lame excuse about still working at 3AM that morning and having trouble fitting table, chairs AND his old chopper in Nelson, (stop sniggering at the back there!) Gar was in his modern.
After a brief comfort break, we set off again for the final leg. As Gar had the sat nav, he led and after a short, final stretch of M4, we had a nice uneventful drive through the valleys. Well, apart from that time Gar inconsiderately stopped for a red light when I was busy enjoying the scenery and not paying attention. Let’s just say that luckily, Poppy has FANTASTIC brakes!
It wasn’t long before we arrived at the Maesteg Rugby club. Plucky little Poppy had performed in a 1st class manner all the way down but was starting to run a little hotter than normal due to it being such a warm day.
On pulling into the Tesco/Rugby club joint car park, we were a little concerned that we were the 1st people there a full hour after the meet was supposed to have started and there was no sign of young Thomas. We parked the cars up and stood around scratching our heads. “Have we got the right day?” Yes. We’re sure we have., “Have you got young Thomas’ phone number?” No, Gar didn’t have his phone number.
Then it slowly dawned on us that this being Welsh Wales, the spiritual home of God’s own game, there might be more than 1 Rugby club in Maesteg. A quick search of Google Maps, showed that there was, in fact, another Rugby Club in town. This one called Maesteg Celtic RFC, so we set off again.
Poppy showed her displeasure at being asked to spring back into action so soon. Her temperature gauge was almost in the red and her fuel was evaporating faster than the gin in my bottle at home. After a brief bewildered look under the bonnet and much starter motor churning, Poppy reluctantly came back to life and we headed for what we hoped was the correct rugby club, just 1.5 miles away.
On pulling up we were pleased to see lots of classics gleaming in the sun. Not realising he was talking to a true VIP, the gate marshal sent Gar off to park his modern in shame, miles away with the other Muggles - but waved Poppy majestically into the car park.
As many of you know, I am quite a sensitive chap when it comes to people criticising Poppy’s patina’d appearance. So you can imagine my shock when, before I’d even got out of the car, I heard someone say “I don’t think much of that polish job”. Well I jumped out of Poppy prepared to serve a thorough verbal and possibly physical slapping when I saw a grinning face I recognised. Our very own Grand Elder Statesman, Brian Allison had made the trip all the way from the Emerald Isle to join us. Needless to say, I didn’t slap him.
The slip up with Gar’s VIP status was quickly sorted, mainly by Gar shouting “DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM” and generally acting like a little Diva. Eventually, the embarrassed marshal waved Gar in to park more locally so he was able to set up our table and chairs. He even got his Chopper out and displayed it proudly for all to see. (What now Habib? Oh you are so childish!)
The 3 of us spent a very pleasant day admiring the various classics on display and soaking up the superb Welsh hospitality.
It was however, “bloody hot!” (“bloody hot” is a Standard British Unit of Measure. See Appendix 1 for conversion table. It is not swearing in this instance.) It being “Bloody hot” necessitated frequent trips to the bar to cool off and rehydrate. (I know! A bar at a car meet! Jolly civilised these Welsh chaps you know!)
Young Thomas had done an heroic job of organising everything for what was an excellent, well put-together meet. There were prizes, raffles, refreshments of the food and hot drink variety, happy car chaps and even some lovely old tractors to look at and listen to, and of course, the bar! Thomas had even organised fine weather which is something our Fat Controller has never managed to do!
I have to say, my favourite car of the show was Brian’s smashing Triumph 2000TC. I loved it. It brought back memories of long hot summers with my cousins in my Uncles 2500TC in the same colour. Very nostalgic it was sitting in Tricia and I spent rather a long time drooling.
As I said above, Thomas had even organised some elegant engraved glass trophies, which were awarded as follows.
“Best Car as decided by the organizers” was given to this stunning Ford Capri 2.0L.
People’s favourite car was a canary yellow Ford Corsair Crayford convertible that certainly made me smile.
Best Tractor was the David Brown 850.
Furthest travelled was awarded to our very own Brian Allison who even got a passing mention in the local paper. An epic 400 mile round trip I believe, not including the wet bit. Brian insisted on celebrating this by “Doing a Woolard” against everyone’s advice. Much to our surprise, he actually pulled it off and a mighty “Woolard” was achieved I’m sure you will agree.
It only took 2 appliances from the local fire brigade to get him back down and a lie down in the ambulance to recover too, so I don’t know what we were all worried about.
Finally, the raffle was called and prizes distributed. Of which there were so many that I think everyone attending won something. Gar won a portable gas stove, Brian won some micro fibre cloths and I won a luggage strap.
With this the meet came to a close. The 3 of us were invited to join the Jenkins family for a meal which Gar and Brian accepted and had a lovely evening. Unfortunately, I had 2 hours of sweaty motorway to negotiate and work in the morning. Thanks again for the invitation though.
A quick stop for fuel just down the road were I spotted this and then I set off for home.
Despite not stopping the whole way home, (I was worried she wouldn’t start again!) plucky little Poppy performed perfectly. We were parked outside my house in next to no time. I went inside and slept in an ice bath to soothe the sunburn. Poppy even took me to work and back the next day.
It really was a great day out. Thomas should be extremely proud of himself. It will definitely be on my calendar for next year and as it is a charity event, it would be great if our group can support in more numbers. Don’t worry, we have a cunning plan! You’ll like it.
Take care all. See you at Coventry airport.
Conversion from standard British Temperature to Degrees Celsius.
Bloody cold = anything below -10 deg C
Quite Cold = between -10 and +5 Deg C
A bit chilly = between +5 and +12 deg C
Getting warmer old chap. = between +12 and +18 deg C
Really quite Hot now. = between +18 and +25 deg C
Phew! Wot a Scorcher = +25 to +30 deg C
Bloody hot = anything above +30 deg C
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