2005

November 1st, Malvern Hills

A run out for Vee on a beautiful day to one of our favourite places. Never expected to be sitting in the sunshine with a picnic in November.

September 4th, VSCC 'See Red' race meeting, Donington Park

Our first time at a VSCC race meeting as opposed to hill climbs at Shelsley Walsh or Prescott. Loads to see in the paddock, this was a 'See Red' meeting which featured lots of Maseratis and Ferraris, including Schumacher's 2002 Championship winner, in addition to the more usual classic bikes and cars.

Stunned to see Bonhams (auctioneers) displaying the actual Type 35B (not a 59 as some web sites state) Bugatti that won the inaugural Monaco GP way back in 1929 driven by 'William Grover-Williams' (a pseudonym, an Englishman reputed to be an MI5 spy and captured and shot by the Nazis in WWII). Only two owners from new, the current one for the last 50 years, this car is unrestored but has been kept in racing order and must be the most historic Bugatti in the world. Stunning for us, because for years we have had a painting by Alan Fearnley hanging in our kitchen of this very car crossing the line at that race, inches in front of a Mercedes.

Lots of cars on track, although quite a long time between races. Good to see quite a few Bugattis being driven 'in anger', and a very rare (well, I've never seen one before) R-type MG of which only 10 were made between April and June 1935, after which MG withdrew from motor racing, and a couple of K3s. The starts in the vintage classes are very reminiscent of period film, with cars from down the grid weaving in and out of cars ahead of them getting away a bit slower, despite a higher qualifying position.

A blisteringly hot day with not a cloud in the sky, we were treated to a display by a Spitfire from Coningsby (typical, after all the times we've shown up there hoping to see a flight and been disappointed) and believe it or not, more aerobatics from a DHL Boeing 757!

On the way there we passed a TF going in the opposite direction, a pretty rare sight away from an organised run. Astonished to see it again on the way home, again going in the other direction, on the same stretch of road. Probably the last outing for Bee in this season of mixed weather, except for the odd sunny Sunday morning to get the paper, and a mere gnat's gambol at 85 trouble-free miles.

August 13th, 3rd Lincolnshire Wander

A bit disappointing this year after last. The hotel cocked up our booking, the weather on the Sunday was pretty dire, the run wasn't the most interesting (even taking into account the weather) and soon over, and the journey back on the Sunday was cold, blustery and showery.

Friday was a saving grace, the afternoon being warm and sunny. We went to Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre where they have a restored Lancaster 'Just Jane' which although it doesn't fly does take passengers on taxiing trips up and down the runway in the operational seats on the aircraft for 119 a time (sadly not Fridays). There is also a privately owned MkIX Spitfire and we were lucky enough to see it wheeled out and take off for a fly-past at a wedding in Rugby. Lots of other displays in the main hangar, control tower, and several other buildings. Another saving grace was The Barge pub restaurant close to the B&B - excellent freshly prepared food and wines and very good value with nothing more than 10.

The run called in at the Bubble Car Museum near Cranwell. Quite interesting, although only about an hours-worth at most. Their crowning glory is ... (was, deleted as the owner is now a non-person). Cranwell RAF College has spectacular main gates and main hall, and we only found out afterwards it also has its own Heritage Centre which would have been an interesting visit to pad out the day. As it was we were back at the finish by 2pm (as were most of the other runners) so decided to drive on to Heckington and take another look at the railway museum and the eight-sailed windmill (running at the time) to get some more flour. 4pm we left the run finish after a nice cream tea to sit and look at the runway and hanger of the at Battle of Britain Memorial Flight" at Coningsby in case anything was happening (the main flight was on the south coast all weekend) and it started raining torrentially for about an hour. When we got back to the B&B we had to sit in the car for about 10 minutes waiting for it to ease off so we could make a dash for the front door, but then had to paddle though about an inch of water to do so. Just some leaks at the bottom corners of the screen, some of which ran down the doors and dripped on the sill carpets, but not too bad. However it seems to leak worse when parked than when driving, so before the weather gets too cold I must lift the screen and try resealing the rubbers.

On Friday we had found out that a Spitfire was due to fly out from Coningsby at about 11am on Sunday so decided to delay our departure for that. In the event it was very blustery and none took off, although two were wheeled out to within a few yards of the fence and their engines run up which was pretty good. A bit showery on the way home, car dried out and got wet again a couple of times, but fortunately finished mostly dry. 390 miles, the only problem being the wipers in the downpour late on Saturday started clicking louder and louder and getting sloppier and sloppier. I felt behind the dash and discovered the big nut that connects the rack tube to the gearbox was coming loose so tightened it up with my fingers without slowing down or stopping, and that was enough to solve the problem until I could get a spanner on it back home.

August 5th-7th, Wales Walk, Arans

A trip to Snowdonia in Vee with a pal, his first time in an MGB. First words were "This isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be ...", which I suppose was a compliment. A group of eight of us were staying in a hut near the village of Dinas Mawddwy which saw us staggering up a muddy hillside trying to avoid the cow pats, bulls and cows in the pitch black ... and that was before we had been to the pub!

Pretty strenuous walk on the Saturday on a group of hills just north-east of Cadair Idris, about 12 miles and over a kilometre of incline. I think that is about my limit, being a once a year walker, although my boots didn't help being about 40 years old from my Scouting days - leather, weighed a ton, very hard, and gave me two stonking blisters on the back of my heels. Definitely new light-weights needed for next year. However the real killer as usual is my right knee which always give me real gip going downhill at the end of the day. Very pleasant walk round the Precipice Walk near Dolgellau on Sunday morning (fortunately very little downhill!) and a good run back to Solihull in Vee.

July 17th, Black Pudding Run, Bury

3rd time for the Black Pudding, 1st time for us. Saturday morning departure was cold and grey and left us wishing we had jackets, Sunday hot and sunny with us wishing we had shorts! However even on the Saturday the weather improved steadily until by lunchtime in the high peaks of Derbyshire we had a pleasant lunch break between Ashbourne (a pain to get through) and Buxton. After that we called in at Dunge Valley Gardens which was a real little gem tucked in a hidden valley, before making our way to The Old Mill Hotel at Ramsbottom.

Hot at 9am on the Sunday, a similar run to the Pendle in 2003, even stopping off at Downham ('Born and Bred'). A bit too much in towns in the first part, but after that and with other stops at Wycoller Village and Greenberfield Locks pretty villages and lots of hills and dales. Quite long at 80 plus miles, and very hot, so we were quiet tired when reaching the finish at Hoghton Tower and the Lancashire Car Show. We had decided to stay over just the Saturday night (just as well, I don't think we could have stood another night with four drunken Thai's in the next room singing the same song over and over again), so still had another hundred and odd miles to get back home.

We had our share of black puddings - as a delicious starter in a mustard sauce on Saturday night, with the full English on Sunday morning, and one each to bring home on finishing the run! 340 trouble-free miles.

July 3rd, Arden Heritage Run

If we have a 'local' run at all this is it. Participated several times since in inauguration in 1974 the day after The British Motor Museum at Gaydon opened, and once again a beautiful route of about 60 miles through some classic Warwickshire and Cotswolds countryside between Evesham Country Park and Saul Canal Festival just south of Gloucester. For those with the Lyndsay Porter 'Guide to Purchase and DIY Restoration of the MGB' you may be interested to hear that the car featured on the front cover - 456 KAC - is alive and looking good in Warwickshire and currently on its 4th time round the clock!

After several changes in the forecast the day dawned sunny with light well-broken cloud, although a little cool in the breeze. The route took us to Birdlip which was convenient in time and location for a lunch break at Crickley Hills with its superb views. By now what cloud there had been was nearly all burnt off and the air getting very warm, and at Saul itself was positively hot. Lots to see and do along the canals, it's always nice to have somewhere specific to make for and spend some time wandering around rather than spend all day in the car. 200 plus cars, I bet someone could have made a fortune from picking up all the fallen-off bits from the very bumpy field used for parking :o).

Still very hot when we started for home, tee-shirts all the way. 145 trouble-free and dry miles.

June.

I had been intending to look at the accelerator cable for a while - like 15 years - as it was a bit sticky and jerky especially in the lower gears. See here for the trials and tribulations.

May 29th.

I'd had a new seat webbing for the Navigator for a couple of weeks but not had the opportunity to fit it until now, hers had lost all its 'stretch' and left her wedged between the tubing of the seat frame. Initially a bit sensitive on the subject as mine seemed OK ("are you saying I'm too heavy?") she cheered up when I said I'd had to replace mine several years earlier, both having been replaced anyway when I restored the car in 1990/91. See here and click on 'Seats' for some tips.

May 28th, Dragon Challenge, North Wales

Ironic that our longest 3-day event should be followed by the longest 1-day - 170-odd miles on the run plus 85 miles each way to get to and from the start/finish. We had opted to travel M42-M6-M54 to get to the start instead of the usual scenic route to save time and as it was very blustery we had the hood up as top-down on the motorway isn't much fun at the best of times. Good weather when we started out became full cloud by the time we arrived at the start near Welshpool. Nevertheless the hood came down for the start of the run, but the weather worsened, becoming very blustery and wet for the best of the scenery over the mountains so up went the hood. The weather didn't really improve until we were on the homeward leg from Caenarfon in mid-afternoon by which time there didn't seem much point in taking it down again as it was a straight fast run back to Welshpool, only for it to go up again for the homeward journey on the motorways, a shame really as by now the weather was warm and sunny.

Stopped at the Llechwedd Slate Caverns near Blaenau Ffestiniog for lunch, and cold, wet, windy and miserable it was too, a bit of a shock to the system immediately following the warmest May day for 50 years. Grey, wet houses in grey, wet streets towered over by grey, wet mountains of slate spoil. Expensive too, nearly 9 each for just one of the 25 minute tours of the caverns. 2nd stop in Caenarfon was just long enough to work out the intermediate mileages in the route book for the final leg back to Welshpool. Too long really, we spent about 10 hours in the car and didn't even get the best of the mountain scenery because of the rain and low cloud.

All a bit disappointing, and as we passed through so many places we had been before we reckon we have 'done' north and mid Wales now and so shall leave it a few years before we do another Welsh run. 342 trouble-free as ever miles.

May 2nd, Broadland Heritage Run, Lowestoft

The first organised run of the season, and a superb route of 90 miles through Suffolk starting from Carlton Colville Transport Museum near Lowestoft to Ickworth Hose and Gardens near Bury St Edmunds. Just over half way round there was an optional stop at Stonham Barns and Suffolk Owl Sanctuary (the flying displays were a hit with the Navigator), Corn Craft shops and cafe for a drink and snack in the sunshine, and some classic Suffolk villages such as Bildeston, Chelworth and particularly Lavenham. It started raining about 7.30am on the day but as we arrived at the start we could see blue sky and the sun came out in minutes. Car was pretty grubby by then, and splashing round the muddy lanes for the first few miles, but apart from a few spots of rain early on the day got better and better and we finished the run and travelled back to the hotel in T-shirts which at 5pm early in May is pretty good.

The journey down was pretty good, a bit cloudy and a few spots to start off with, a beautiful middle part of the day, then cooler and a little more rain approaching Lowestoft but kept the hood down. Journey back started off well enough but mizzle just after Bedford developed into solid rain which only stopped at Kenilworth. However from then on the roads were dry so by the time we arrived back home Bee had pretty-well dried out, finished off by warm sunshine for the rest of the afternoon. Probably one of our longest three-day trips at 542 miles but 100 of that was getting back from the end of the run to Lowestoft, then retracing our steps again that day, because I hadn't bothered enquiring where it finished assuming it would be near the start. If I'd known we would have spent the 2nd night at the Six Bells at Bardwell, which was only a few miles from the finish, and where we stayed for the Iceni run last year. Still, enjoyed the driving, even in the rain. And Bee was trouble-free as usual, not even any leaks from the new windscreen and seals, maybe they bedded in over the winter. Well, one problem was a strut for the windstop broke again in particularly blustery conditions on the A14 past Cambridge but you can't blame Bee for that.

Late April - Three days before the Broadland Heritage Run while fettling Bee I can hear an occasional 'ting' at idle which sounds like the cooling fan grommets, they were pretty grotty when I replaced the water pump many years ago. Still, I can live with an occasional ting ... except next day it is ten-times worse, so get a fitting kit which does the trick. Then the day before the run I discover the two 'cotton reel' exhaust mounts at the back have broken. The exhaust is supported properly, but could bang up and hit the body over a bump. No time to get anything mail-order, but try Halfords on the off-chance, and they have them in stock at 99p!

April 3rd - The first Sunday run to get the paper in Bee this year! Not a particularly cold winter but a succession of frosts which meant salt, and not much rain to wash it off. One of the longest periods without using Bee for many years, barely 300 miles in 6 months in each of Bee and Vee, although Vee did get a run to Worcester during a fine spell in March.

February 20th - missed the International MG Show and Spares Day at Stoneleigh this year waiting for the birth of our 2nd grandchild. Byron Phillip Fenton Kenny eventually put in an appearance on 28th February.