By Mike Peake
Part 4?? Part 4?? Sorry about this, but this really is the last part. I promise.
The eventful and unintentionally long drive from the campsite to Caen Hill locks and the stop there meant it was already 2 o’clock - the time I had roughly planned to be leaving Avebury after having our lunch there. So a change of plan was improvised and we set off for Silbury Hill.
Not long after we left, having driven through Devizes, we got another phone call from the back of the convoy to advise of another casualty. Now, some of you may remember from the Isle of Wight tour that Tosh and Gus ran out of petrol in their Rover P4. I may have mentioned it once or twice in my blog.
Anyway, after that experience, you would have thought they would have learned a lesson wouldn’t you? Apparently not. Tosh had run out of petrol in the P6 Rover. Topped up from a jerry can, we made our way to the next petrol station which was just down the road. Other, sensible people also topped up their tanks as well as Tosh. Gar wasn’t going to, but I forced him.
The rest of the trip to Silbury Hill was brief and uneventful and everyone pulled into the small car park for a short photo stop.
Silbury Hill is the largest artificial prehistoric mound in Europe. Probably built over a short period between about 2470 and 2350 BC, it is part of the Avebury World Heritage Site. On learning this, Gar said “Hold my beer!”
Next on the agenda was Avebury. Avebury henge and stone circles are among the greatest marvels of prehistoric Britain. Built and much altered during the Neolithic period, roughly between 2850 BC and 2200 BC, the henge survives as a huge circular bank and ditch, encircling an area that includes part of Avebury village. Within the henge is the largest stone circle in Britain - originally of about 100 stones - which in turn encloses two smaller stone circles.
It is a spectacular site and a great place to get some fantastic photos of our cars driving past the great stones. So, before we left the car park at Silbury our official photographer, Young Paul Cheetham was given the brief. He would be dropped off as we drove through the stone circle the 1st time and take pictures of the cars driving passed the stones as we drove back through.
What I had envisioned was something like the next picture with our cars passing on the road. There might even be photos good enough for next year’s calendar.
So, young Paul was thrown out of a car, camera in hand as we went through the 1st time. He had plenty of time to position himself while we drove out of the village and circles, turned around and came back through enjoying the magnificence of this mystical landscape. The last car through even remembered to stop and pick him up again unlike a similar episode at Chatsworth house last year.
Mission accomplished! Or so I thought… here are the pictures Young Paul took.
He’s a blithering idiot isn’t he? Not a blooming stone in sight. I know, I should have known better than to rely on him after his failure to get Chatsworth House in the pictures of our cars passing Chatsworth House last year. (Idiots! I’m surrounded by idiots!)
The next leg of the tour took in one of my favourite local roads from West Kennet, through Marlborough, and over the Downs to Hackpen Hill and Whitehorse, one of my favourite viewing points in Wiltshire. Pictures were taken of the cars with the lovely view behind them and chats were had before bumbling incompetence struck again. Graham managed to run himself over with his own car. Fortunately, he avoided serious injury.
This brush with death must have shaken Graham more than we thought though, because as we were leaving, it was only 2 Pants Perman’s lightning reflexes in selecting reverse and backing up faster than Graham was, that prevented the VDP wearing a nice new Rover 75 shaped bonnet ornament. Disaster and a new recipient of the “Kevin Crown” avoided, we pressed on with the tour which was taking us through my home town of Royal Wootton Bassett.
As we were so close, I thought I would show the gang the unfinished results of all my hard work on Poppy. So we all piled into my street and parked up. Everyone gathered round the entrance to my tent ready for the grand reveal. I opened the zip, pulled back the doors and waited for the reaction.
It appears that everyone has learned the lesson that if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing. The silence was deafening, eventually broken by Gar saying “it’s a great tent isn’t it? Really sturdy.” I’m pretty sure I could hear them all thinking the same thing. “Yep! That’s what happens when a bumbling incompetent fool sprays a car!”
I can’t say I wasn’t a little disappointed by the reaction, but after a good look over the car, Paint Guru Tosh took me to one side and ignoring my trembling bottom lip, said “It's ok. It's savable that is”, before offering lots of practical advice on how to do so and telling me where I’d gone wrong in such a kindly way that I didn’t blub like a baby.
All that was left now was the last leg home to the camp site taking in one last photo stop at the lake where I used to take my girls to feed the ducks when Anita was asleep after working nights. It’s where one of my favourite pictures was taken and the subject of the painting that was my 50th birthday present from the group.
Back at the campsite and it was clear that everyone was tired and hungry after a long day. SEM went for a snooze while the rest of us pondered what to have for dinner. No one could be bothered going out again so the decision was taken to empty all the caravan fridges, chuck it on the Barbie and share the results.
After my 2nd intravenous Merlot fix, I came out of my caravan to find Phil at the BBQ prodding sausages with a really big fork. Foolishly, I decided to do the polite thing and see if Phil wanted any help - fully expecting him to say “No thanks Mike. I’ve got it, you’ve worked so hard to make a success of the tour you deserve to sit down with a large glass of Merlot.” However, to my utter horror he didn’t say that. He handed me the really big fork and sat down.
Well I didn’t know what to do, so I stood there and prodded a sausage or two. Anita was so shocked to see me stood at a BBQ that she took a photo and posted it in our family chat group. Sophie sent back a GIF of a caravan exploding.
One of the things in someone’s caravan was eggs and Tosh decided he was going to crack a couple onto the BBQ hotplate. I didn’t know what to do with them either. So I prodded them with the big fork too.
Now, if there is one thing Gus hates more than bumbling incompetence around a car, it’s bumbling incompetence around a BBQ. On seeing my performance he was out of his camper van in a flash. He snatched the really big fork from my hand and pushed me away towards my Merlot. When I sat down, I could see Gus, happily prodding away with the really big fork and muttering “Eee Ba Gum! Who puts eggs on a BBQ?” and “By ‘eck someone’s murdered these sausages!” as well as other Yorkshireese. Anyway, our improvised meal turned out to be delicious because of Gus’s culinary skills and we settled down to our final evening of laughing, eating and drinking.
When I looked out the caravan window the next morning, people were wandering around and starting to clear up. So I went outside to help take the Coleman down with the other chaps. Then I remembered that I still needed fix the caravan road lights. I was pretty sure that it was going to be the adapter that goes between the 13-pin socket on the car and the 7 pin plug on the caravan.
So, I decided to take a leaf out of Gar’s book. I got the adaptor out and stood there looking pathetic with a random tool vaguely pointing at the item I needed fixing. It worked a treat and Windy Woodward took the bait. Before I knew it, he had the adapter apart, exclaimed at the dreadful amount of bare wires showing, fixed it and put it back together.
We went to plug it into the car and caravan. It still didn’t work. Before I knew it, Windy was crawling all over the floor, looking for fuses, stripping out wires and prodding things with a multi meter.
It still didn’t work. It did work when we plugged the Zephyr directly in to the caravan though but my van is too big for the Zephyr to tow. So, Windy was back at it with Phil’s multi meter but it had us all completely baffled so we eventually gave up.
So, there ends this epic tale of Codgers in the Cotswolds. I hope you’re all still awake? Windy Woodward? If you sit there any longer, you’ll give yourself piles!
I have to say that as always, I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend with the chaps. It was great to see the new faces too, Mick and Gill and Brian and his wife. I really hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and that we will see you again at other events.
A huge thanks to everyone involved but especially to Phil Allin for the fantastic tour plaques and his last minute printing of the tour notes (although I guess he needn’t have bothered) as well as Bernard Owen and Windy Woodward for allowing Anita and me to clutter up their cars all weekend.
Also huge thanks to Gar for entertaining us with bumbling incompetence all weekend. Sorry, you seem to have been the butt of most of the jokes in this series of blogs. You know we love you really though. However, if you ever complain about herding cats on a tour again, well …..
Finally, if you want to know more or follow our footsteps through the Cotswolds, you could do worse than read the tour notes. It has step-by-step route guides and a little interesting information on the sites visited and passed on the tour. They are on our website under “Codgers do the Cotswolds Gallery".
In other words, will someone, anyone, please … READ THE BLOODY TOUR NOTES!!!
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