By Mike Peake.
As seems to be the norm for me these days, it didn’t start well. Poppy wasn’t ready! Despite my best efforts and working my little socks off, it would appear that along with the delays due to duff primer, I had grossly underestimated the time it would take me to do what is becoming the “epic” re-spray project. I still had to spray the boot lid red, finish flatting back the car, flat back the boot lid, compound polish and wax the whole car, put the light lenses and front grill through the dishwasher, wash and polish all the chrome trim on the polishing wheels and then put it all back onto Poppy. All this in the 3 evenings left before the Cotswold tour.
To say I was disappointed is somewhat of an understatement but Mrs FB and I resigned ourselves to leading the tour in in the Honda. So, Friday PM after work, we loaded all of Anita’s baking into the car and went to collect our caravan from its temporary storage at the in-law’s, hooked up and away we went.
Things didn’t get any better. Just as we were pulling onto the dual carriageway, all the road lights on the caravan failed and ALL the alarms in the car went off. The CRV was telling me that ABS, power steering and tyre inflation systems among others were all on the fritz. However, this being a very local meet for me, we only had about 10 miles to the campsite, so I pressed on.
As we pulled onto the site where Gar was, it started to rain, proving without doubt that it is Gar who causes this. Anyway, we arrived safely and pitched the van with the others on the rather steep hill, connected gas water and electricity - and things didn’t get any better. We didn’t have mains electric in the van.
Turned out the breakers in the van and at the supply had tripped out. So, I switched them back on and they immediately tripped out again. What followed was a lengthy period of trial and error with plenty of advice and suggestions from our fellow campers and the site owner's 13 year old son. Despite this, we narrowed it down to the water heater in our van and isolated it. We now had power but had to resign ourselves to a weekend of cold water. Fortunately the shower block facilities were excellent.
Finally, we were settled in and things finally got better. Well for us anyway. Fellow members joined us over the afternoon including Andy Perman in his VDP Allegro all the way from Portsmouth. He’d had a very good trip up until he went to check in at the hotel and discovered he’d left his bag with all his clothes and weekend provisions back at home. Of course, when he told us this we were all very sympathetic and didn’t take the mickey in the slightest. Andy was all for heading home to get his bag when I pointed out that there was a Tesco Extra just down the road and for the cost of the additional fuel required for the return trip to Portsmouth, he could buy all he would need for the weekend.
So we jumped in the VDP and I directed him to the big shop where he bought 2 pairs of Y-fronts, shower gel toothpaste and a toothbrush and returned to the campsite where he continued to enjoy everyone’s sympathy. I have no Idea how it happened, but somehow, during all this sympathy, he gained the nick name “Two Pants Perman”.
An evening of jollity and a little bit of drinking ensued during which we were regaled with the shenanigans that occurred before we arrived. Graham had also bought his cocktail making supplies but despite this, we all still had fun.
The shenanigans? Well, It became apparent that we weren’t the only ones that had had a bad start. Nelson’s downpipe had cracked and fallen away from the manifold. Gar, in his usual, lovable way, had bodged up a repair with coke can and some string. He arrived at the campsite, pitched Doris and then stood around looking forlorn, waiting for someone to take pity on him. To be honest, I thought he was pushing his luck this time as a proper repair would require the use of a welder and who is going to have one of them in a traveling tool kit? Well of course, Super Enthusiast Man did, didn’t he!
Nelson was put up on the trailer ramps And SEM leapt into action and had the job done in very short order. They did have a bit of a panic when they were caught red handed by the campsite owners and expected expulsion from the site. However, the owners were great and were merely interested in what was going on.
On another note, my plan to lead in the Honda was quickly and rudely rejected by the gang and we were ordered to blag places in one of the classics.
Saturday morning dawned dry and warm. Believe it or not, it was actually warm enough for shorts! Again proving that it is Gar’s influence that causes the rain.
Everyone was up and happy and ready for the off and the non-campers (the posh lot) had arrived so let’s introduce them and their cars.
There was also Graham and Sue in their very late 1999 Rover 75 and of course, Paul Cheetham, Anita and I who had forgotten to bring a classic car.
Route notes were distributed to everyone (available here) and despite previously making it clear that everyone needed a full tank as there were no petrol stations until Bourton on the Water, I checked with everyone that they were OK for fuel and that everyone had been to the toilet. Everyone agreed that they didn’t need the toilet and that they all had plenty of fuel, so we set off. Bernard had drawn the short straw so Anita and I piled into his Maxi with all our supplies.
Now Gar has often complained that leading a car tour with our lot is like trying to herd cats and now I knew what he meant. Who do you think was the worst culprit? Yes, our glorious Fat Controller himself, Gar Cole. Not 15 minutes of wending our way through pretty countryside and we get a call from Gar telling us to ask Bernard “Stirling Moss” Owen to slow down a bit as we were losing people off the back of the convoy. “Oh and when is there a fuel stop as I could use one?” I refrained from screaming down the phone at him and we dropped from 50 to 45 and everyone caught up.
A grassy verge just past the picturesque village of Naunton provided a suitable place to stop, hand out sausage plait, take some pictures, have a chat and recruit a passing cyclist who’d stopped to chat. Gar also enquired further into when we would get to a fuel station. Of course it was also time to squeeze the two fatblokes into the smallest car on tour and that honour fell to poor old Henry.
I hadn’t driven the actual route for the next stage and we came upon Lower Slaughter from an unexpected direction but we managed to detour slightly to go back to Upper Slaughter and as Lower Slaughter was so pretty, we went through it again. Which was of course completely intentional and I don’t think anyone noticed.
We continued on to the beautiful town of Bourton on the Water passing a couple of petrol stations on the way where I expected Gar to top up and catch us up at the British Legion Car Park for which the post code was included in the tour notes for his sat nav.
I’d set aside a couple of hours for everyone to wander round the quintessentially Cotswold town, take in the wonderful and highly recommended car museum, have a paddle and get some lunch before meeting back up at the cars.
However, lunch for certain members of the group turned out to be a lavish 7 course meal which caused them to be somewhat late in returning to the cars. We had plenty of time though and I managed to remain completely cool.
To Be Continued…
PS. Rather alarmingly, I found out where Windy Woodward goes to read my blogs. Time to flush and leave the bathroom Ian!
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