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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