By Mike Peake
Our group’s main show this year was at the Boston Bubble Car Museum and as the weekend approached my excitement was growing. Friday afternoon, being POETS day at work (Push Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday) found me applying more liquid wax to Poppy, baking more of my award winning lemon drizzle cake and trying to find all my camping gear that had been slung into the shed after Bressingham at the end of the 2016 show season. I had about an hour of panic when I couldn’t find my tent poles, but they turned up eventually hiding behind an old lawnmower under the bench.
In my panic I did succumb to the 21st century malady of “posting in social media” instead of actually looking for them but this cry of desperation showed the camaraderie and generosity common in our group when John Ticehurst quickly offered me the use of his spare tent. Many thanks John.
I’m quite an old hand at packing Poppy for camping trips now and even managed to squeeze in a fan heater and electric hook-up cable that I’d modified with a 13 amp 3 pin socket fitted in place of the caravan plug. I’d learnt my lesson after Cr-eye-ch (Did I say that right Phil?) and Bressingham and was determined to be toasty warm this time.
7am Saturday morning had me loading the bedding, cake, merlot and food supplies into Poppy and the 2 of us were ready to start our adventure. Poppy purred into life quite quickly much to the relief of the neighbours (although not as quickly as she used to with the old pump) and we were off.
It was a great drive taking in stops for adding clothing and a break for coffee and fuel at Leicester where I ended up having to explain what Poppy was to a mini bus full of Romanians. “Multumesc, Cu placera” indeed. 5 hours later, Poppy and I arrived at the Bubble car museum campsite with me looking like the Michelin man in a Biggles hat and Poppy looking a little dusty and flyblown. (No. There is not a photo!)
The last available electric hook up meant I was as far away as possible from the rest of the happy campers leaving me looking like I was Billy No Mates in the naughty corner, but I soon had my gentleman’s abode assembled and a brew ready for John Ticehurst when he arrived and had finished setting up.
The rest of the happy campers arrived after their mass trespassing event. Old friendships were rekindled and new friendships were made while we all sang “Kum Ba Yah” round the campfire until Lord and Lady Simpson of Bubble arrived with provisions and the party began.
Gus Brooks fired up the BBQ and soon had the EU meat mountain cooked to perfection - regaining his title of chief camp cook (I dont think Gus is at all camp! - Ed). Lord John’s Lincoln sausages made converts of us all and Lady Sandra’s cheesecakes were so tasty that fights actually broke out over the last pieces. (I won’t mention names Ian and Bernard. You know who you are.) Needless to say we all had a great night and can’t wait for the next camping trip.
Many thanks to my fellow campers, the Chuckle Brothers, The Fat Controller, Steptoe and Son, Long John, Time Lax Allin, Mr and Mrs Snowy and of course special guests Lord and Lady Simpson of Bubble for such a great night.
After an uncomfortable night due to an airbed malfunction, I arose the following morning feeling somewhat the worse for wear. I was greeted by a similarly lacklustre crowd of campers, except for Gar who was disgustingly, and quite unnecessarily, cheerful. We all felt a moment of guilt for having left Gar to clear up his pitch after the party but in our defence, he was the only sober person there.
Gus came to our rescue and cooked the whole fatted pigs worth of bacon and a couple of gallons of coffee each, soon had us back on our feet and ready to set up for the day. At which point, I found myself giving Poppy a bit of a wipe down before the show started. I’ve never done this before. What am I turning into?
We knew Lord John was going to arrive slightly late as such a popular and knowledgeable chap is in high demand and his presence was required at an MG breakfast meet. (I overheard some say that he had muffed it and booked two shows on the same day but I can’t believe our Gandalf would be so foolish.)
At 9.30 members started arriving and arriving and arriving. 52 vehicles in total and it turned into a great show. The usual large variety of vehicles, camaraderie, and complete lack of snobbery was ever present and it was fantastic to see so many of you there and to chat about all sorts with you.
Poppy basked in the glory of people ooh-ing and aah-ing over her shininess. Lord John was heard to say that it was hard to believe it was the same car that was at the NEC. The Brooks were taking all the credit and claiming it as their idea and even our very own polishing and detailing maestro, BL Dan said I had done a good job. Praise indeed from respected members of the group which made all the hours of hard work worth it.
There were many highlights of the show for me but the main ones were a stunning wedgwood blue Triumph Herald with matching numbers and a huge history file. I spent a very pleasant hour or so with the charming owner Bridget Stott and her husband Howard with his equally nice Ford Pop. We chatted about all things Herald, comparing hubcaps and fuel pumps. They were even daft enough to ask me for advice on a couple of things which was quite an unusual experience for me. Before you say it, yes Howard has read my blogs and still listened to my advice. He may have just been being polite though.
We were treated to our first commercial vehicle attending one of our events too. A very nice looking Austin FD Truck with a chequered gypsy past, and they want her back! Owner Richard Joyce was more than happy to show me around and let me clamber over and in it and I loved every minute. I was particularly taken by the eccentricity of the knee windows and back doors. What a great vehicle.
Other cars I particularly enjoyed were the Brooks BMC/Cotswold Camper Smurf, Billy Bob’s Bedford Dormobile Romany and of course the lovely Humber Imperial limousine.
Much fun was had, many chats were chatted and of course, copious amounts of cake consumed. In short, I had a fantastic time and it will be difficult to top this one. That won’t stop our Fat Controller of events from trying though.
So a HUGE THANKS to both John Simpson and Gar Cole for setting this up. Well done Chaps - you are Jolly good Eggs! And thanks to everyone who turned up. I hope you had as good a time as I did.
Sadly, as these things do, the show came to an end and it was time to depart. My gentleman’s abode was ably consumed by Poppy and it was time to say goodbye and head for home.
Poppy performed superbly… until I got to Northampton. She developed a bit of a misfire with loss of power and occasional back fire. I amazed myself by instantly and correctly diagnosing an ignition problem. Removing the dizzy cap revealed a very sooty rotor arm which I quickly replaced with the spare I always carry. Well I say quickly but this did involve unpacking my entire boot to get to my spare parts box. Boot repacked and Poppy running smoothly again, I set off feeling very self-satisfied and smug.
This feeling lasted for precisely 103 yards when Poppy’s engine died away completely and we rolled to a stop. My heart sank as I had a sneaky feeling I knew what the problem would be.
I lifted the bonnet again and yes, the fuel filter was empty. I pumped the hand primer and fuel was pulled through so I tried to start her. She ran for about 5 seconds before stalling again.
I disconnected the pipe where it joins the carb and hand pumped again. Petrol came out the pipe, but nothing when cranked on the key. My brand new fuel pump wasn’t being activated by the cam.
For the first time in my 16 years ownership I was going to have to call for rescue. For the 1st time in 16 years, Poppy had left me stranded at the side of the road. It wasn’t her fault though. It was the fault of the shoddy workmanship in modern replacement parts.
I bit the bullet and called the Men in Yellow. They arrived surprisingly quickly. Just 20 Minutes of chatting to passers by about Poppy and they arrived. The mechanic said “Well you sound like you know what you’re talking about”(If only he’d read my blogs!). “Do you think we can fix it here?” I said not, unless he had a spare original Triumph fuel pump in his van! He didn’t, so another 20 minutes later, Poppy was strapped to a towing dolly and we were headed for Chieveley services to meet the relay that would get me home.
To be continued....
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