By Mike Peake
Sunday morning dawned grey but actually not raining. However, I still wasn’t dry as my pet swamp had decided to move in with me during the night and as my airbed had deflated again; I wasn’t even floating above it. Fortunately I’d put my clean clothes up out of the way, so at least they were dry. I waded through Celia to the outside world and much needed coffee. (Well as we’d slept together, I thought I should at least know her name.)
Fixing breakfast was as easy as usual and just a matter of shouting “Is my bacon ready yet Gus?” Of course it was because Gus looks after us like that.
The morning progressed and Scumbag Grotto quickly filled as the hotel scumbags arrived and we all waited excitedly for SUPER ENTHUSIAST MAN to appear again to fix young Paul's broken Mini. We weren’t disappointed as with a mighty bound he arrived over the trees carrying Rusty the Mini under his arm.
Apparently, Rusty’s mechanical fuel pump had broken, dumping all the fuel in the sump and causing the vomiting fit and non-running of the previous morning. Super Enthusiast Man quickly had the noxious mixture drained into Gar’s empty curry pots. Then, removing a spare electric pump from the utility pocket in his Y-fronts, Super Enthusiast Man soon had it all fitted up and ready to go.
“Right young Paul, where’s your fresh oil to refill your sump?” Young Paul looked a bit sheepish at this point and said “errrmm….” So we all had a whip round of the rest of the scumbags and rustled up enough 20/50 to fill Rusty’s surprisingly large sump. Gar was the most generous in supplying a full gallon. (Yes, an actual gallon or 4.5l!)
Now it was time for the off, and all 13 cars made past the front gate of the campsite… all the way to the fuel station. Poppy only has a 6 gallon tank so given the scarcity of filling stations in 19th century North Wales I fill up at every opportunity making sure I do it before Nick “where’s the petrol station?” Arthur and his 7.2l Jenson run the bunkers dry.
At this point, Young Paul announces that he has forgotten the key to his locking Petrol cap. The Conversation then went as follows.
“What? Why don’t you keep it on a ring with the Car keys?”
“Ermmm… it broke and won’t fit on the ring.”
“Well why don’t you get a new one cut?”
“Ermm… I’m a poor student.”
“Well why don’t you at least leave it in the F… bloomin car?”
“Ermmm… oh… that’s a good idea!”
We then spent the next hour trying every single key in the scumbags' possession to see if one would fit. Needless to say, none of them did.
“How much petrol you got then young Paul?”
"I don’t know. The gauge doesn’t work.”
"When did you last fill up?”
“How many miles have you done since then?”
“How many miles do you get to a tank?”
“Don’t know… quite a bit…”
We decide to risk it and press on. Andy Gardner had decided he wanted the singular honour of being in Poppy today and I decided to let him drive for a bit. I can’t recall ever sitting in my passenger seat on the public highway before but it turned out quite a comfy place to be as long as I wasn’t listening to Andy’s attempts to change gear.
After a while though, he seemed to get the hang of them and it got quieter. Either that or there weren’t enough teeth left on the gears to crunch anymore. Another great drive was had along the coastal roads with the added bonus of actually being able to see the beautiful scenery today without that typically misty Welsh rain. I even managed to spot Last Minute Liam’s stockpile of marsh mallows that he’d dumped at the side of the road as we weren’t allowed an open fire to toast them on back at Scumbag Grotto.
After a bit, the convoy squeezed into a layby alongside a picturesque river estuary that I can’t remember the name of and probably didn’t have any vowels in anyway. I felt this would be a good time to share the sausage plait that Mrs FB had so lovingly prepared for us. Unfortunately, I made a slight error in counting and there wasn’t enough left for me or Last Minute Liam to have a slice, and I learned a valuable lesson. Eat my bit first next time!
We were about to set off again when an embarrassingly large puddle of oil was discovered under Andrew's VDP Allegro. Andrew swore that it must be the crank case seal failing and nothing at all to do with the overfill his dipstick was showing. We pressed on anyway.
Next stop was the coastal town of Barmouth. We parked along the seafront and rested for an hour or so while some of our number took the opportunity to fill up at the local purveyors of refreshment while Bella and Lady Luna (who is a thoroughbred Golden retriever don’t you know) had fun on the beach. The rest of us chatted to locals and tourists alike who stopped to look at the cars and tell us stories of when they had similar “back in the day”.
Cor! Could almost be a tropical Paradise!
It was soon time to head off again and we made it all the way out of the town before the rusty Mini…er I mean the Mini, Rusty ran out of fuel. Last Minute Liam solved the problem of the missing key by producing his ninja lock pick. A screwdriver and a big hammer and after a whip round for fuel we were off again… for about 200 yards where another grass verge provided the backdrop to young Paul’s embarrassment. We didn’t all get the breakdown message and Stan sailed on in blissful ignorance in his lovely S-Type.
Super Enthusiast Man suddenly appeared out of a bush and pronounced that the cause of the woes was rubbish dragged up from the tank. He soon had this cleared and further fuel was added just to make sure. Some of us were starting to wonder if these breakdowns were genuine or was it all a cunning plan to cadge free fuel? You’ve got to watch these student types you know. Cunning little devils they can be. Repair complete, we prepared to set off again.
We hadn’t even got 2 feet this time before the shout went down the line that we had another faller. Yes. Big Rov was having a bit of a strop this time. Fortunately, Super Enthusiast Man was still there to help and having established we had fuel and a spark, proceeded to blame the tiny little battery in the boot for the woes.
As Andy’s was the car immediately behind Big Rov he was given the honour of performing the jumpstart and prepared the jump leads. Then Liam got out of his P6 and said “they’re not jump leads! ... THESE are jump leads!” as he brandished the biggest, fattest, longest set of truck jump leads I have ever seen - and Big Rov was started. We don’t actually think there was anything wrong with Big Rov, we just think he was a bit cross that the Mini was getting all the attention and wanted some for himself.
Harlech castle was shut unfortunately. For some reason, we were a little later than planned. Weren’t we young Paul? So we drove straight past and headed to porddchllddywchlldd where we parked in an Aldi car park because our Fat Controller wanted some teatime supplies. Aldi was shut too. However, Super Enthusiast Man took the time to do a flypast to check we were ok and as all was good took some great aerial footage for us. which I’m sure will be available to us as soon as he works out how to upload it.
We were joined by a local in what looked like a rally prepped Hillman Imp. He was promptly mobbed and forced to join our FB group. He then directed us to a local Spar shop that was still open and Gar was pleased he wouldn’t starve that evening.
At this point the convoy broke up somewhat. Sad goodbyes were said to Eric who was heading home, others left for the campsite and their hotels leaving just The Brooks, Young Paul, Last Minute Liam, Lincoln and myself as Gar needed us to help carry his tea back for him before we all set off for the campsite.
We set off. I’d wrestled my keys away from Andy and was now driving myself. The pressure to make smooth silent gear changes was immense. Liam was leading the reduced convoy followed by the Brooks, Me, Young Paul, Lincoln and Gar. Liam missed the huge signpost for Beddgelert which, horror of horrors, meant the event we’d all been dreading all weekend had occurred. Yes, a couple of hooligans in a Capri were leading the group.
They immediately started opening a gap to the rest of us. Well the sight of some scallywags hurtling along in a Capri released my inner Inspector Reagan! They’d done a blag and were ‘avin’ it away on their toes. Well not on my watch they weren’t! “Shuut iiiit Carter! I’m gonna feel these Slaaaags collar before the hour is out” I said to a suddenly very quiet Andy as I dropped a cog and Poppy roared off in hot pursuit.
We quickly recovered the lost ground, working the gears as we sped round bends, up and down hills. Poppy gallantly stayed close to the blaggers getaway motor. Gar fell off the back of the convoy then so too did Lincoln - but plucky little Poppy and young Paul stayed on the Brooks' tail all the way back to Scumbag Grotto. As the cars skidded to a stop, I flung open my door, slid across my bonnet and, aiming my service revolver, shouted “You’re nicked my son!”
Young Paul on the other hand had to have his cold, white knuckled hands prized away from the steering wheel before we could force warm sweet tea into him. I’m still not sure whether the spirited driving frightened him or the thought that he’d just burned all that free petrol he’d scrounged.
A mixture of teas was BBQ’d, heated, fried and otherwise cooked and we settled down in a circle outside the gazebo to gaze at the spot our open fire would have been were we allowed one. All except Farty Woodward. We made him sit 40 feet away.
Another spiffing evening was had, as we looked at pictures of the weekend and swapped yarns deep into the night. The party broke up and I headed back to my tent for a last night cuddled up to Celia Swamp.
Monday morning dawned - would you believe it, bright and sunny. Pitches were cleared, breakfast was eaten and then, because Gar had been wittering on about it all weekend, we had to go and see a dead dog. The dead dog was legendary for some derring-do and being hastily killed by a nutty Welsh prince some hundreds of years ago.
If you want to know more just ask Gar. Believe me, he will tell you about it. Several times probably. Or you could just google "Gelert's Dog".
So, dead dog visited it was time to depart. Sad farewells were said and we all headed off to our respective parts of the UK.
Thanks for bearing with me during this tale and I sincerely hope that I have conveyed what a truly epic weekend this was. I certainly had the time of my life. Great roads, great fun and great people.
A big thank you to all the scumbags for traveling to the meet and making it a weekend to remember, especially Gus for his culinary skills and patience. However, a HUGE thank you is due to Gar for his tireless enthusiasm and energy in setting this up and keeping us all in line. I know this must have been a bit frustrating for him at times and a bit like herding cats but we all had the better time because of his support.
Finally, let’s not forget SUPER ENTHUSIAST MAN whoever he may be, for his tireless mechanical support. He will now be kidnapped and forced to attend all future group events.
See you at the NEC in November Chaps!
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