By Mike Peake
Lunch in the Fleece was excellent, and a chance to ooh and ahh over the fantastic roads and incredible scenery that Phil had found for us. Tosh also decided that enough was enough and was going to take the Sunbeam back to the campsite by the most direct and least hilly route possible and would hopefully see us there. The brotherhood bond Tosh and I had formed in the face of death that morning was only so strong, so I wished him luck and jumped into Brian’s Triumph. As Tosh turned left out of the pub, Phil was heard to mutter “but we’re taking the most direct route back and the whole area is very hilly. It’s the Peak district.” “and why is he turning left?”
The rest of us mounted up for our next stage and the long climb up to Holme Moss for an ice cream. This leg was surprisingly uneventful in terms of drama and trauma but the scenery was beautiful and the road fantastic. Brian was keeping me entertained with tales of his youth spent in this area. Tales like “Eeeee, when I were t’ lad, all this was completely flat. God hadn’t got around to making it yet.” And “I survived the Great Flood by climbing up Holme Moss and sitting it out. It was actually here where Noah came ashore and I was able to meet him off the boat. His wife was something I can tell you!”
As we all pulled into the busy Holme Moss car park, the views took our breath away. What an incredible place. It didn’t stop us mobbing the ice cream van though as everyone knows, the view is always better when you’re licking a 99.
As I’ve said, the views were stunning. However Shiny Paul Shiny was most perturbed. Firstly, the “viewing frame” left there for tourists to take pictures through wasn’t shiny enough so he spent an hour polishing it. Then he realised that a young family, with their picnic all laid out on a blanket would be in his picture if he took it through the now shiny frame. Now most people would have tried to angle the camera to try not to get them in or just taken the photo with them in it. It’s not as if they were ugly or anything. But no. This wasn’t good enough for Shiny Paul Shiny. Apparently, they weren’t shiny enough. Bold as brass, he went over and asked them to move. Amazingly, instead of telling him where to go before inserting the “frame” where it would cause maximum discomfort, they actually apologised and moved! Shiny Paul Shiny got his photo.
Not long after this, we were all rather surprised to see a rather dishevelled, frazzled, harassed, and frustrated Tosh pulling into the car park muttering “Apparently, this is the most direct route back and the whole area is very hilly. It’s the Peak District.” He then got out, slammed the door and went full “Basil Fawlty” on the Sunbeam.
After we calmed him down with a 99 he decided that he would abandon the Sunbeam where it was and recover later with the trailer. The Sunbeam and Tosh had clearly fallen out. Eric on the other hand wouldn’t hear of abandoning the car in such an unsecured manner and insisted on staying there and acting as body guard.
The next leg was the home stretch. I was in my favourite non-Herald Triumph with Brian, Young Paul Cheetham was with Kurt in the only functioning Brooks car left, the Rover P6. Tosh, not content to have escaped the evil clutches of the Sunbeam unscathed, decided to take his life in his hands again by getting into the Metro with Lincoln.
It became apparent that Phil was now of the mind-set that he had put a lot of work, time and effort into the tour notes and he was going to make us read the bloody things if it killed him. So he set off at warp speed in Big Rov. Not to be out-done and determined NOT to read the tour notes, most of the tourists tried to keep up. Nick and Jo obviously had no trouble holding pace in the 7.2l Jensen and were vastly entertained by the antics of Lincoln’s Metro with two great big fatblokes in it as it bounced all over the road and did it’s very best to remain mostly airborne. Bit of a hooligan is our Lincoln.
Brian and I had a more relaxed drive back enjoying the views and the car while Brian continued to regale me with tales of his youth back at the dawn of time.
We arrived back at the campsite after an eventful, and now I am not staring death in the face, I’d even go so far as to say enjoyable day.
We were greeted by a very smug and proud looking Graham who was telling everyone who stood still for more than a nano second that it was “years and years since I’ve towed anything with a rope and look, we made it back here all safe and sound!” he didn’t stop smiling. The smoke and occasional flame still rising from Henry’s brakes and a trembling Gus sat curled up and gibbering in the corner of the Coleman shelter, provided all the proof needed that it had indeed, been “Years and years” since Graham had towed anything with a rope.
There was no time for me to rest or take the micky out of Gus for having to suffer the indignity of being towed back to the campsite. No. Apparently it was far too time-consuming for Tosh to pack up the camper to take the trailer, and my Honda was the only other tow bar equipped modern there. The trailer was hooked up and Gus and I were despatched back to Holme Moss to recover “THE EVIL ONE”. Tosh shouted “you don’t need me do you?” as he sat down, opened one of Nick’s beers and waved us off.
We were soon done though. 30 minutes to drive there, 20 to load up “THE EVIL ONE” and another 30 minute drive back to the campsite with Eric, “THE EVIL ONE’s” bodyguard, trying to keep up.
Meanwhile, back at the campsite, in an effort to give credence to his excuse that “overheating” was causing him to drive his Jensen like he stole it, Nick had the bonnet up and was moving his hands around pretending to “fix it”.
He “claims” that he traced the source of his “overheating” to one of the fans not operating. He went on to “claim” that he traced the source of the non-functioning fan to a dodgy connection which he “fixed” by tightening up the crimps. His most ludicrous claim of all though was that he did this all by himself with no one helping at all.
As no one has ever seen Nick with anything other than beer in his hand and certainly never “tools” I really don’t think this tale has any credibility at all and Nick just likes driving like a hooligan. There aren’t even any photos of him pretending to do this! So, next time Nick, photos or it didn’t happen.
Not long after Gus, Eric and I returned with “THE EVIL ONE”, Gar Cole arrived in his rather splendid Mk1 Mondeo. After spending time oohing and aaahhing over the new addition to Gar’s fleet, it became apparent that, to our utter dismay, Old Mother Cole’s restaurant wasn’t going to open. What were us starving waifs to do to stop us fading away with hunger? Well, we went to the pub just 200 yards away.
Having enjoyed one of the driest warmest sunniest days for forever, not 30 minutes after Gar arrived, guess what? Yes, it started to rain!! Proof positive that Gar is THE RAIN MAN!!
A pleasant evening of chat, good food, ale and laughter ensued before we headed back to the campsite to continue the party. However, all the near-death experiences of the day had taken it out of me and I headed for an early night at about 11pm. Phil also announced the intention of an early night but managed to get a bit delayed. Thus proving that Phil is the bad influence and not me.
Sunday morning and I was up early (Phil wasn’t) for bacon and to put my tent away. We said goodbye to several tourists but Phil had planned a trip to the Kelham Island Museum which is home to the River Don Steam engine, one of the most powerful steam engines ever made. Those of us remaining set off for Sheffield. I was riding shotgun in John Dickson’s rather lovely Austin A55 Cambridge and Shiny Paul was in Henry. Gus had got him running again overnight.
All was fine and uneventful until we reached the busiest roundabout in the centre of Sheffield when Henry choose that very moment to break down yet again. Shiny Paul and I pushed Henry off the roundabout and into the side street. The trouble was, Henry is so light that we ended up pushing him at bit of a run, which as you can imagine was quite distressing for me and several bystanders.
SEM was still a no-show and Gus failed miserably in his attempts to revive Henry. Phil was keen to get to the museum so as not to miss the steam engine running and said “We’re only 100 yards or so from the museum, lets push Henry there” before quickly jumping into Big Rov and rushing away. This left Just Shiny Paul and I to push Henry.
Shiny Paul soon had the car to the speed of a fast Jog. I did a bit of a “Dad Run” to show willing but decided that Shiny Paul had it handled so jumped into the Mondeo’s passenger seat. I have to say, I’m quite glad I did as Phil’s “100 yards or so” turned out to be at least ¾ of a mile and Shiny Paul looked a little more shiny with sweat and was blowing quite heavily at the end. We’d all made it though and went for a potter about in the museum.
Kelham Island Museum is a fantastic place and absolutely worth the visit. I won’t go into details as the blog is already quite long enough and if Windy Woodward still reads these on the toilet, he’ll be giving himself piles by now. All the details can be found here on the Museum’s website. As I say, well worth the visit. I will leave you with some photos and a short video of the River Don engine running.
A word of caution. If Shiny Paul Shiny had brought his shiny MGB GT, he would have died in shock. All the cars were covered in a measles rash of tiny oil droplets from the running engine. Worth it though
Gus finally got Henry running again, sort of, and we said our goodbyes and all headed our own way home.
So it just remains to thank Phil and Loraine Allin for all their hard work in putting such a great weekend together and to thank my fellow tourists for the laughs, fun, entertainment, friendship and blog material!! Above all though, thanks to Tosh Brooks for keeping “THE EVIL ONE” mostly under control and keeping me not dead.
If you want to follow in our footsteps, Phil’s beautifully created tour notes can be read or downloaded below.
Thanks for reading and see you at the next one.
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