By Mike Peake.
Relaxing and peaceful countryside?? Don’t you believe it!! I was woken up at 4.30am by a nest of birds screeching and chirping just outside my bedroom window. They were shortly joined by a cockerel crowing his heart out followed by horses going down the road and tractors firing up! However, I was in a soft comfy and warm bed so it was much easier to doze than on a partially deflated airbed until the alarm went off.
After a wonderful and large full English - sorry - full Welsh breakfast, it was time to head off to meet the rest of the tourists. As I half expected, Poppy didn’t have enough electric left to turn the starter, so Brian produced a set of jump leads that would make even Liam jealous. They were huge and I’m sure he could use them to jump start an aircraft carrier. Anyway, they did the job and we set off. Gar led followed by me, Brian and Eric. Optimistically, I had my roof down.
It was during this trip that Gar made his first bid for the title of “Bumbling Incompetent Fool of the weekend”. He swore blind his sat nav steered him wrong and took us down a tiny narrow lane despite the two big dead end signs either side. Now you could argue that he immediately lost the title because we all followed him down a tiny narrow lane despite the two big dead end signs either side. However, we only did this in order to laugh at him when he came to the inevitable abrupt halt.
We didn’t laugh for long though as 1) I was getting very wet as it was now raining and 2) we couldn’t turn around as the lane was tiny and narrow. Having put my roof back up (which is so easy now it’s mended) the 500-yard reverse back up the tiny narrow lane was accomplished without incident. Well I say without incident but Gar backed Nelson into a ditch and Poppy took out the plastic barriers surrounding some road works, but apart from that it was without incident.
A short time later, 2 Englishmen, a Scotsman and an Irishman drove into a Welsh rugby club. They were perfectly safe though as disappointingly, Thomas and Emily were the only ones there. Oh. I don’t mean it was disappointing that Thomas and Emily were there. I meant it was disappointing that no other cars had turned up…. I’ll shut up now… (And yes, I do know that technically, Brian isn’t Irish and Gar is a bit Welsh but just go with it for the sake of the joke eh?)
Gar had planned a fantastic route through some stunning scenery and extremely challenging roads. It was somewhat more challenging for me as all the electricity in Poppy had now fallen out so I had no lights, indicators, or more importantly today, windscreen wipers. On the plus side though, my ignition warning light had gone out too.
If we hadn’t known we were in Wales the weather proved we were. We had that particularly unique wet, Welsh misty rain that seems to be wetter than any other rain in the world. Needless to say without wipers, I was really struggling on some of those mountain roads. I was still having lots fun though and so was everyone else.
As I’ve said, Gar had planned a scenic route with fantastic views so I thought I’d share some with you.
This is the view from Dowlais Top,
This is the view from the mountain top near Cwm Bargoed on the gloriously named Bogey Road.
This view was so spectacular that Gar parked us all up to take a photo of the cars with the stunning mountain backdrop. Gar was the only one daft enough to get out of his car and brave the elements.
This was my view whilst waiting for Gar to do his David Bailey.
The problem was that this wasn’t a lay-by but a passing place and traffic was building behind us including what we thought was a Police van but turned out to be an ambulance. We hurried on.
Brian was behind me in his rather lovely Triumph 2000 saloon and seemed to be taunting me with his working electrics and running all 4 headlights and the two spots on the front of his car. I was pinned to my dash by the glare and blinded by the beams refracting the rain drops on my windscreen, which wasn’t helping my visibility. He turned them off as we travelled down the A472 toward Nelson though. Or so I thought. However my attention was taken by a 2.8 MK2 Granada barrelling past us at quite a lick, but as he passed Gar, Thomas threw the car into the lay-by that he almost missed.
We all pulled in behind him and as I got out of my car, I was accosted by Brian who started beating me about the head with his Zimmer frame and shouting, “You’re a blooming Jinx you are!!” You see it would appear that Triumph electrical gremlins are highly contagious. Brian hadn’t turned his lights off but had lost all electrics too, after seeing smoke pouring from the switch on the steering column.
Whilst I’ll admit that seeing an ex prop forward being beaten up by Old Father Time may have been amusing to some, I was saved from this particular humiliation by Thomas and his bid for the title of “Incompetent Bumbling Fool of the weekend”.
“I’m overheating, I’m overheating and it’s blown my radiator cap off!” he wailed in despair. I bet it’s having to drive so slowly behind you lot!” he accused before stomping off back to his steaming Granada leaving us all somewhat bemused. Brian had also stomped off and was playing with fuses and taking apart his steering column.
Young Thomas then returned looking rather sheepish and clutching something tightly in his hand. It was the radiator cap which he’d found resting on the inner wing under the bonnet. He was still trying to claim it had “blown off” but we all knew that he hadn’t put it back on after checking his coolant levels. Whilst future events would preclude Thomas from holding the title of “Incompetent Bumbling Fool of the weekend” he will now forever be addressed as “You stupid boy” in the best Captain Mainwaring impression you can muster.
Whilst we were waiting for “Stupid Boy’s” Granada to cool so we could top up the escaped coolant and FIT THE RADIATOR CAP, Brian traced his electrical gremlins and discovered bodgery by the previous owner. The spots were badly wired in, causing the High beam/Horn/indicator switch to melt spectacularly and blow the fuse which also operated the wipers. As this was due to his taunting me all morning with all his working lights, I must admit to sniggering slightly.
We also noticed at this point, that Eric’s Ambassador had developed a bit of a list to port. Apparently though, that was due to hitting a big pothole and knocking some gas out of the funky elastic suspension or something. However, its ability to proceed was unaffected. This left only Gar’s Morris Nelson completely trouble free when we limped into the Llanfabon Inn car park.
The Llanfabon Inn is a lovely, quaint hillside pub still very much in the 20th century and must be one of the last bastions of the “cash only” economy. It was cozy and dry and the beer was good. The pub had a long family history with Gar too and he regaled us with his childhood memories whilst we supped our pints.
We were running a bit late now, the weather was still horrible and we were all hungry for the buffet snack that Mrs Pike was preparing for us back at Maesteg Celtic Rugby Club. (That is Rhiannon Jenkins, Stupid Boy’s Mum) so after another jump start for Poppy, we decided to cut out the photo stop at Castle Coch (excuse me? - Ed) and take the direct route back to the club.
The buffet was superb and copious and enjoyed by everyone. A very pleasant afternoon was spent reminiscing about the day’s adventures and trying not to be put off by the cheers and whoops of a bar full of Welshmen thoroughly enjoying watching the South Africans beat the English at Rugby.
Despite the Gremlins and the weather, we all had a really great time but boy did we miss Super Enthusiast Man and we wish him a VERY speedy recovery.
We retired for the evening as we were all very much looking forward to the weekend’s main event, the South Wales Charity Classic Car Show, organised by the Jenkins Family in aid of the Stroke Association.
I made the most of my “not camping” facilities and filled Poppy back up with electric overnight.
Sunday, if it was at all possible, dawned even wetter than Saturday. Despite this we had a trouble free trip to the rugby club. Well I say trouble free .... both Poppy and Nelson’s engines started missing and Brian still had no lights or wipers, but at least I did now and we didn’t get lost this time.
We arrived safely and set up on the car park. Over the next hour or so the car park gradually filled with interesting vehicles while we hid under the Jenkins gazebo and they ran around like lunatics organising the placement of vehicles, selling raffle tickets and getting very, very wet. Despite the weather, the event was very well supported with over 60 vehicles taking part and a wide variety it was too.
You can see the full selection over on the galleries section of the website (click here to see - Ed) but I will list a few of my stand out cars of the show.
This modified Reliant Robin was the wackiest I think. Must be a hoot to drive and I could definitely have used that gun to clear the jams on Friday.
My favourite non Brit was the Toyota Celica. I can’t remember the last time I saw one of these in the flesh and it looked great in its seventies-tastic purple and metal flake paint.
My personal favourite of the show though was this beautiful Morris 8. It looked stunning in it’s black over blue livery and the original interior looked perfect. Apparently, all it required was copious amounts of leather feed and a little bit of die on the faded bits. I am certainly developing a taste for pre-war cars even if they do all look the same to me.(sorry)
Unfortunately, the rain was unrelenting and it was decided to bring the awards and raffle forward before too many people left.
Furthest Travelled went to our very own mad man Eric Dalton for his epic 900 mile round trip from the wilds of Scotland
Best tractor award went to this rather fine David Brown.
People’s choice was won fairly and squarely by this beautiful Humber Sceptre.
And finally, best car in show was won by this gorgeous Rover P5B.
Eventually it was just us left in the car park and it was time to say our farewells. Eric and I were heading home and Gar and Brian back to the “not camping”.
We set off. Poppy was still missing under load but when I got to the M4 I was able to push up to 60 where it cleared. The weather was appalling but I had a tank full of fuel and a battery full of electric, I was confident. I was confident for approximately 2 miles right up until a loud thunk and a rattle under the car.
Well this time I didn’t put it down to a kicked up stone. I was pretty sure something big had fallen off so pulled to the hard shoulder and Eric pulled in with me. A quick inspection revealed that I am indeed the king of bumbling incompetent fools the world over and jobs would be so much easier with the right tools. You see, my brand new crank pulley nut had decided that it too would make a bid for freedom and is now roaming wild on the side of the M4 near Bridgend.
The AA was called and because I was in a hazardous place assured me I was a priority case. Eric insisted on waiting with me until rescue arrived despite his upcoming epic journey through a principality and two kingdoms. So we sat in his warm car and he fed me cake and I looked online for a 1 & 7/16 socket until help arrived.
I wasn’t the only one that failed to proceed though. Our only remaining fault-free car of the tour needed the assistance of the recovery man too. I leave Gar to fill you in on that though as the diagnosis is still outstanding at the time of writing. But the engine didn’t sound well after putting in a modern oil having left all his 20/50 on a rugby club car park.
As you can see, my recovery truck was much bigger and more impressive than Gar’s.
See what happens when you leave us alone Super Enthusiast Man? Here’s the list of faults developed over the weekend. We all agreed to save them up for you to fix.
1 Listing Ambassador.
1 steaming Granada.
2 Triumphs with dodgy Electrics.
1 Triumph missing nuts.
1 Noisy Triumph engine in a Morris Minor.
We all made it safely home though, albeit with help for two of us and we all had a fantastic weekend.
Big thanks to our loveable Fat Controller Gar for organising the tour on Saturday.
Massive thanks too for the Jenkins Family, for all their hard work and dedication in setting up the Sunday and for the hospitality shown to us all weekend.
Adrian ‘is that a fence?’ Jenkins
Rhiannon ‘Mrs Pike’ Jenkins
Thomas ‘you stupid boy’ Jenkins
Shannon ‘Slugger’ Jenkins
I have never felt so welcome in Wales. Thank you all so much and I can’t wait for next year. Hopefully the weather will be kinder.
PS if you were unable to make it but would like to show your appreciation for all the hard work, Thomas and the Jenkins Family put in, you can still make a donation to the Stroke Association by following this link to Shannon's“Just Giving” page.
Shannon has set this up just for us, so please be as generous as you can. It’s a very worthy cause.
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