By Mike Peake.
Now that you know everybody, it is time to regale you with tales of our day.
I’d blagged a seat in Tosh’s beautiful and innocent looking Sunbeam Talbot, the perfect car for a hot sunny day’s touring. Or so we thought. Young Paul Cheetham was in Henry and Shiny Paul Shiny was in Richie’s Mk2 Escort. Already a very shiny and lovely car, but Shiny Paul was up all night making it even shinier before he agreed to be seen in it.
Graham had positioned himself perfectly to video us all leaving the campsite. Unfortunately, we can’t show you the video. Let’s just say that Graham’s grasp of technology isn’t up to scratch. However, I’ll let him tell you in his own words why you are not watching a lovely video of all the lovely classic cars leaving the lovely campsite.
See what I mean about his grasp of tech? Let’s give him a break though. After all, his Rover had tried to run him over again this morning.
Apart from Graham’s “technical hitch” the tour actually started out surprisingly well. Clearly, everyone had read at least the 1st line of the tour notes and just for a change, we all managed to actually turn right out of the campsite to drive down a lovely if extremely narrow lane. The Bentley and the Jensen only just fitted but it gave us all a chance to chat to the dog walkers and cyclists we passed trying to go the other way.
As I said, it was all going perfectly and continued to do so right up to the second junction we came to. This junction turned out to be a bit of a tricky Johnnie. You see, we had to turn left onto the main road and then immediately right into another country lane. 3 or 4 of us made the turn but then it all went wrong. Mick and Gill missed the immediate right turn even though Eric was sat at the junction waiting for them. The rest of the convoy blindly followed Mick’s Victor the wrong way.
I put forward the theory that far from doing his taxi duties as claimed, Gar - in an effort to distract from his embarrassing shenanigans on the last tour - was in fact in the area and trying to sabotage us by turning signs around and disguising junctions with Wile-E-Coyote painted scenery cloths. However, as it wasn’t raining, my theory was quickly dismissed and try as I might, I couldn’t blame Gar for this one.
Blocking the country lane completely, the small remaining convoy waited while Phil frantically tried contacting the others by phone, text, messenger, video chat, carrier pigeon and smoke signals. He successfully managed to get in touch with all except Mick and Gill and our red-faced fellow tourists corrected their course and one by one caught us up. As Mick and Gill were maintaining radio silence, we all decided to press on.
Tosh and I had been loving our drive in the Sunbeam so far. With its low sides and open top, the feeling of freedom, the wind in our hair and the panoramic views was just perfection. However, during this leg, the Sunbeam’s mood changed significantly and she started trying to kill us. It wasn’t just Graham's Rover with murderous intent now.
The Sunbeam has rod-operated brakes and for some reason they decided to apply the brakes on the right side much sooner than the left, resulting in a severe and dramatic lurch toward the middle of the road every time Tosh applied them. This was somewhat disconcerting to both of us and to Nick and Jo who were following. The extreme hills in the Peak District did nothing to alleviate our peril either. However, we made it to the 1st official stop at Stanage Edge Long Causeway car park, where sausage plait and veggy plait - especially for Lorraine who doesn’t like sausage - was served.
Phil finally got a hold of Mick and Gill who were still MIA. They had managed to find their way to our next official stop at Langsett Reservoir car park and would wait for us there. Chats had, photos taken, view and snacks enjoyed, it was time to set off again for the next leg. Tosh and I gingerly seated ourselves back in the Sunbeam and after a quick prayer to the automotive gods, we set off.
Not only was the Sunbeam growing ever more determined to kill us, its plucky little 1150cc engine was starting to struggle to haul herself, a fatbloke and an even fatter bloke up some of the steeper uphill sections and understandably Tosh was taking the downhill sections quite slowly too. This caused Nick and Jo in their 7.2 litre Jensen to get a bit bored and as soon as they could, they blazed past us leaving us choking in the cloud of unburned hydrocarbons and road dust. Nick later tried to claim that this rudeness was due to the Jensen overheating at such slow speeds.
It was shortly after Nick’s irresponsible overtake that the Sunbeam pulled out all the stops in her efforts to end our lives. After a loud clunk, Tosh’s foot went to the floor as we were approaching a tight left hand bend on a downhill section. I have no idea how Tosh managed to get us round that bend as I had my eyes tightly shut and was screaming like a girl. The trouble was, so did Tosh. We made it though and proceeded even more cautiously using engine braking and what was left of the brakes. The good news though, we weren’t veering sharply into the middle of the road anymore. Our slow pace meant we got a bit left behind. I politely declined Tosh’s kind offer to drive the Sunbeam as he seemed to be having so much fun and concentrated on reading the excellent tour notes to ensure we got to our next official stop where we vowed to make Super Enthusiast Man (Gus) sort things out!
After we lead our short 3-car convoy into the Langsett Reservoir car park and had our various fingers prised off the steering wheel and the passenger’s “OMG I’M GOING TO DIE” handle, we discovered to our dismay, that Super Enthusiast Man wasn’t there.
Henry was having some serious ignition woes and had broken down en route. The trouble was SEM wasn’t there either, so Gus was having to try and sort it out himself. (My money is on both the condenser in the distributor and the spare being duff but bearing in mind I’m a bumbling incompetent fool and Gus isn’t, I wasn’t brave enough to tell him my opinion.) After a considerable amount of fettling, it was apparent that Henry wasn’t going to return to road under his own steam, It was decided that Graham would tow Gus back to the campsite on a rope.
Next was a short hop to the Fleece pub where Phil had booked lunch for us all, and let them know we were running a bit late. Minus our casualties and after Tosh and I had stopped trembling, we set off. Tosh had recommended that I get a safer ride in another car, but when two chaps face death together that many times, a bond forms and I couldn’t let my brother face the danger alone. That and it was only a short trip, so I climbed in and resumed my fierce grip on the handle.
The trip was almost uneventful. Uneventful that is until the clutch went too and we could no longer engage low gears quickly enough for engine braking. Only the gods know how we made it to the pub with our lives and the Sunbeam’s paintwork intact, but we did. In fact, we were even in time to partake in a couple of stiff medicinals to calm our nerves before a jolly nice lunch was served.
To be continued…
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