September - 'Autumn Leaves' run Wye valley

Well at least we had our hood down One of the ruins that Henry knocked about a bit About two weeks before our daughter's wedding, and Jen and I are so punch-drunk with wedding arrangements that we are like zombies. We get to the end, but not without a few wrong turnings. More than once we were scratching out heads trying to work out which way we should go when one of the other runners would appear heading in the opposite direction. No prizes for us this time.

August - Mid Wales Meander

Black Tulip (left) and Aconite
side by side Ready to start from the Lion Hotel
Lentwardine in Shropshire Little sunny clearing
bounded by a stream - perfect for a lunch stop Spectacular views from the head of one of the valleys One smaller run we regularly participate in is for all sports and classics, limited to about 25-30 cars in total. On these runs we might get half a dozen MGBs. I was amazed to find that an Aconite roadster has arrived at the start immediately after me and parked beside 'Bee', making an ideal comparison picture for all those people who wonder what the two colours look like, and more importantly, how they compare. Black Tulip is on the left, Aconite on the right.

Before the start one of the cars wouldn't start, despite several people leaning under the bonnet offering advice. At this point the local vicar wanders in to the car park, and Jenny says under her breath "Ask him to say one for that car". The vicar sticks his head under the bonnet and the next thing you know - it bursts into life!

Some steep, narrow, winding mountain tracks this year - perfect MG country. 'Bee' had a narrow escape at one of the stopping points though. The first Jennie and I knew about it was hearing someone say "That purple car has just been hit". Now how many purple cars do you think there are around? Exactly. One. We had filled the car park of this craft centre, and someone else (not a runner) came in looking for a space but there wasn't one, so he reversed the length of the car park to get out, straight at 'Bee'. With loads of people shouting him he eventually stopped, but not before he made contact with 'Bee's over-rider. He then drove off, of course, without stopping to see if he had done any damage, but not before about 20 people got his number. Jennie and I went back to the car park with our hearts in our mouths expecting to see mangled metal and chrome. We were very relieved to find that he had only nudged an over-rider and moved it about 1/8". Even though there was no lasting damage, I felt like reporting him to the police for failing to stop after an accident as I was so angry about his ignorance compounding his incompetence. But a few more miles in 'Bee' calmed me down.

August - The Snowdon Run

Sunny line-up on Llandudno promenade 'Bee' and me outside the White House (White House
that is) Yet another Welsh Castle (we've seen a few of them
this year) - Conwy this time Damp finish at Plas Newydd
Anglesey Drove up to Llandudno on the Saturday in glorious weather. Sunday morning about 150 MGs displayed in the sun on the Promenade before being flagged off at intervals. Part of the route took us over a single-track road to the Swallow Falls at Betws-y-Coed, but unfortunately one of the leading cars decided they were in no hurry. Most of the following cars were too polite to overtake, which meant that by the time we entered this single-track road we were in convoy. Inevitably, there were a few cars coming the other way that pulled into passing places - and then had to wait until 150 cars crawled past! Not good public relations for classic runs, I fear. This has happened on other runs, and I make the following plea from the heart: If you are enjoying a gentle meander through the countryside, fine. But if you see two or three cars, particularly cars not on the run, behind you, for goodness sake please pull over and let them pass.

Before we started I turned to the last page of the route to see if I could work out where we were going to finish. Found a couple of place names that were on the way home which was good news, as we had quite a long way to go. It came as some surprise, therefore, to find ourselves crossing the bridge to Anglesey - about as far away from home as we could get without falling into the sea! The Welsh and their frequent re-use of place-names have a lot to answer for. And then it rained.

July - Northumberland

A section of Hadrians Wall Holy Island castle Parish Church and the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory Bamburgh Castle from Seahouses on a fine evening Five days in Northumberland using Seahouses as a base. Superb driving country. Visited a section of Hadrians Wall at a place called 'Twice Brewed' (there is also a 'Once Brewed'). As we arrive in Seahouses after a torrential downpour in Alnwick we get a shout of "Nice car!" from a Newcastle United supporter. Visited many of the castles in the area, Berwick on Tweed (very interesting 'walk and talk' from a local guide around the walls), and the Grace Darling lifeboat museum. Also went to Lindisfarne on Holy Island which is cut off by the tide twice a day. Holy Island is a place I have always wanted to visit, it's castle always looks so mysterious in photographs. The reality was a little disappointing (less mysterious than touristy, which after all, is only what we were) but it was still worth it. Although it rained every day, we also had the hood down every day. And at least it tended to clear in the evenings giving us superb views over Seahouses Harbour to the Farne Islands and Bamburgh Castle. Bamburgh Castle is the home of the Armstrong family, of engineering fame. Armstrong was the first person to light a house with electricity, using hydroelectric power. Found an owl sanctuary on the way home, at Kirkleatham Owl Centre - navigators treat.

June - Castles of Wales

Caernarfon Castle - site of the Investiture of Charles,
Prince of Wales in 1969 Caernarfon's river from the Castle walls Back in the hills and valleys
hardly another car to be seen Journey's end at Knighton
a delightful town on the English/Welsh border and a major access point for Offa's Dyke A two-day run with an overnight stop at Caenarfon. Weather a bit showery on the Saturday - particularly round Snowdon and the Llanberis Pass, Sunday was fine and sunny. Both days saw spectacular coastal and mountain scenery with the opportunity to explore a number of the many Welsh castles. Joint winners of the Treasure Hunt, we clinched the prize (two large umbrellas - very useful this year) by being first to shout out the date of the Investiture of Charles, Prince of Wales at Caenarfon. Since there had been a display at the castle covering the event there was no excuse!

May - My Birthday Surprise

The cake-maker recreated the image from a photograph I had taken earlier in the year Organisers jet-skiing For the MG nut who has (almost) everything - a birthday cake with a picture of your car on it, down to the correct registration number, courtesy of daughter. We celebrated with a meal and high jinks at Dave & Busters in Solihull.

May - Cider Chase

Lunch-break at Dunkerton's Cider Farm Broadfield Vineyard
Herefordshire. My first alcoholic tipple was cider, but of the mass-produced variety, and I haven't drunk it for years so I bought a couple of speciality ciders from Weston's cider farm. One was 'Old Rosie' scrumpy, and unlike the mass-produced 'Scrumpy Jack' that you can get in supermarkets which is crystal-clear, this is cloudy in the bottle - the real McCoy - cracking stuff. One word of caution though, the young woman running the farm shop is called Rosie, and she takes umbrage if you get her and the cider mixed up and call her 'Old Rosie'!

April - The Kimber Run

Bee has covered about 25k miles over eight years and until April 98 had never let us down, not even failed to start. In April we were on our way to the start of the Kimber run and about 10 miles short Bee just cut out. At first I thought it was ignition but it turned out to be the fuel pump. To be fair she had given me a warning a few days earlier, but I had, switched the ignition off and on a couple of time and it burst in to life. Not this time. Nor with tapping with a hammer. Only thing for it was to change it at the roadside - I had bought a new pump as a spare before the France trip and deliberately left it in the boot. We had come to a halt in a bit of a dirt layby, and because of the soft ground and all the usual reasons for not working under a car supported just by a jack, even a hydraulic trolley jack, changed it with all four wheels on the car and on the ground. Surprisingly easy, even to the extent that the petrol stopped siphoning out despite the fact that the angle of the ground meant that the right rear corner of the car was the lowest point. About an hour later we were on our way again. I have to say that out of a dozen MGs that passed by as I was working on the car, only one stopped and asked if I needed any help.

The start and finish was at Lyme Park this year in place of Chatsworth, which was the mid-day stop instead. As Lyme Park is a long way the other side of Chatsworth for us, and we were late anyway, and we had never visited the house and gardens, we took this opportunity and made Chatsworth our finishing point (forgoing the finishers medal). Started raining just as we were thinking of starting out for home.

January - Packwood House Warwickshire.

Packwood House An ideal day for a spin and to try out my new camera.