Friday 9 August 2013

Day 65 - Doncaster to Solihull

After breakfast in the Little Chef next the the Travelodge, we made our way to the house of the chap who has bought the Imp. He came back from work and took us to find a hire car and then we drove back to his house to swap all our stuff from the Imp into the hire car (a Vauxhall Astra).  It all just about fits but its a tight squeeze. For a car that feels like its twice as big as the Imp, it has no more storage room. And so it was time to say goodbye my trusty steed. It was a bit sad but given the mounting problems it was time to park it ready for some love and care. Driving off in the Vauxhall felt most unfamiliar.  It feels too tall but its quiet, soaks up the bumps and even has a radio.
We drove South to Bourne to visit Mike Pilbeam at Pilbeam Racing Designs.  Ros and I had met him and his wife on a visit many years ago. We spent almost two hours chatting about cars and things and Mike bought us all an ice cream when a van ventured past. Unfortunately there was only one racing car in the workshop at the time. The boys would have liked to see a bit more but made do patting the bookkeeper's big black Labrador.
From Bourne the navigator sent us through some small roads for about 10 miles before getting us onto the motorways. These flowed very well all the way to Solihull where we got off into a traffic jamb. However, we were soon at my Great Uncle and Aunt's house and were welcomed in. After a good dinner we put some washing in the machine and got the boys off to bed. The end of another big day.

Day 63 - Aberfeldy to Scone

When I woke this morning my right eye was even worse that it had been over the weekend. I got an appointment with the local surgery but it was for 9:30 and the boys were still asleep at 9:00. This meant they didn't get to eat much of their breakfast before we had to run down the road. I had hoped that the lady at the B&B might offer to look after them for half an hour while I went off but she was not that friendly or accommodating.
The doctor was quite concerned about my eye and referred me to the eye specialist at The Royal Perth Infirmary. So instead of going to the Iron age reconstruction we drove back to Perth. At least it was another great drive. The ophthalmic doctor shared the GP's concerns and wondered if I might have an abscess on my eye. Her colleague thought probably not, so I have got some drops and some cream to put in and have to go back to see if its working at 9AM tomorrow.
This still left just enough time to return to Kenmore to see the Iron age reconstruction. It is a roundhouse made over the Loch with piles pushed into the mud down to the bedrock and a floor, walls and roof built in this. It reconstructs a dwelling excavated underwater further down the Loch. As a reconstruction rather that a theme park, it only shows things they have found in the archaeology and not all the fancy stuff we might associate with the Iron age. It was quite interesting and I think the boys got a bit out of it.
Then it was time to head to the hotel I had booked at lunch time. Its a 4 star hotel on a golf course and very posh but discounted tonight so its almost affordable. We have a bedroom with two single beds, a bathroom with shower, bath and toilet, a second toilet and a big sitting room with a television two sofas a microwave and kettle. Even a trouser press. They still feel the need to charge for the internet though.

Day 64 - Scone to Doncaster

After a rather fancy breakfast at the hotel restaurant we packed up quickly and set off for the Royal Perth Infirmary as we were running late. Or rather we didn't, as the Imp's battery was flat. With a push from the boys we were soon on our way.
I thought my eye had improved overnight but the opthalmologist seemed to think it was no better or perhaps worse. She changed my eye drops and suggested I go to Accident & Emergency when we get to Solihull.
I decided to stop off at Linwood to see the last relic of the factory where the Imps were made on the way down to Doncaster. It took three passes to figure out which building it was and where the entrance was. The building is a 60's / 70's style two story office. Inside there are a few photographs of the factory when it was in production and plaques commemorating its opening. With permission of the very friendly owner we pushed the car back in front of the building to take a photograph of the car. We bad  brief chat before we pushed off to get some lunch.
After lunch we headed to Doncaster. The navigator seemed to take us back Northwards before getting onto the A74. We had a few stops on the way, one for petrol, one just for eye drops and one for drops and sunglasses. One of the drops dilates the pupil and this then let's too much light in and is uncomfortable. I mostly drove with the right eye closed but that is a bit disorientating. After the A74 / M6 we turned off onto the A66 from Penrith to Scotch Corner.
By now I knew we were in a bit of trouble. The oil pressure / coolant temp warning light had come on and as it was cool and there was enough oil I assumed this was a voltage problem. It went out when I disconnected the temp sender.  The fuel gauge was reading near empty when I knew there was at least half a tank left. About half way to Scotch corner we felt the first misfire. Soon there wouldn't be enough charge to run the coil. Spotting the village of Bowes, I pulled off but somehow misread the signs and ended up returning back up the A66. We got to a break in the barrier where we could do a U turn but the engine cut out. There was no hope of push starting this time and the road was busy with fast cars. Luckily we were opposite a lay by where there was a recovery service truck. This was there to do free recoveries from the previous stretch of the A66 where the hard shoulder was closed for road works. The two chaps came over and, after getting the boys safely into their truck, pushed the Imp over the busy road into the lay by. I explained my problem and they offered to try out their charged up battery. However, this didn't do anything so I started wondering what else could be wrong. In the end however, we tried their half charged battery and this fired it up straight away. They then very kindly gave me the batter for nothing. It was too big to fit into the battery tray so I had to tie it in with rope after undoing the air filter to squeeze it in.
So then we were on our way again. I wasn't sure how far this new battery would get us but as things seemed to run well we pushed on almost to Doncaster. There we stopped for a take away and to look up a hotel to stay at. By now it was dark and we needed to turn the lights on so thankfully the hotel was quite near. The Travelodge on the A1 is a bit old and tired but at £36 it was good value.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Day 62 - Perth to Aberfeldy

Monday morning came too early. The boys slept in until after 9AM. When they got up we bought breakfast and then set about pulling down the tent and packing up the car. Its hard to believe that so much stuff fits into so small a car.
Once packed up, we headed into Perth city to buy a SIM card for the computer and to look for the next Harry Potter book for Timothy. It took a while to achieve both but once done and after lunch we visited the tourist bureau to book accommodation near Loch Tay. We ended up with a B&B in Aberfeldy at £109 which I thought was a bit steep.
We had planned to visit the Scottish Crannog Centre near Kenmore but as time was pressing on thought we'd leave that to the morning and take a drive instead. We headed up to Pitlochry and from there along the road to the north of Loch Tummel.  This was a lovely narrow windy road spoilt only by slow German tourists. From the Western end of the Loch we crossed the bridge and headed South through what may be a national park but is moorland grazed by highland cattle. This road is just a single lane and winds its way up and over a small mountain. With no walls or hedges the visibility is better and we could really enjoy a spirited drive. The fastest I think I got to was 74km/he but it was great fun.
Ros and I had done the same route in reverse after the Imp national we attended nearly 15 years ago. Then we did it in a hire car and wished that we had an Imp.
The mountain road leads down to Kenmore on the Eastern side of Loch Tay. We drove West to Killing before heading back on the Southern side of the Loch. We were hoping to find petrol in Kilin as we'd driven further than expected and were nearly out. The road on the South side of the Tay is narrower but there were very few cara on it. There was a moment meeting a BMW mini at a blind bend but good reactions on both sides prevented any problems. We managed to get into Aberfeldy without running dry and soon found petrol and our B&B. We had a cheap meal at a nearby pub and then got off to bed.

Day 60 & 61 - Perth

After arriving in our hotel in Glasgow around 4:30AM I felt bad waking the boys up at 8:30. I wanted to get to thee Imp Club National in Perth by 11AM so as to join the scenic run. With much pushing we left just a bit late and the zoomed along faster than I had trough the whole journey to date. After a bit of a struggle to find the racecourse we came to the driveway just as the convoy of Imps were coming out. I wish I had kept straight on with them but instead I turned into the driveway so as to check in with rally control. However, the desire to join a convoy of Imps overcame me and we made a hasty U turn around a spectator and over the grass and set off after the Imps. Unfortunately we were at the back with a mix of Imps and modern cars.

The run took us to Glen Almond Estate, Scottish holiday home fort the Rootes family. There were around 100 Imps parked all around. Several people spotted us as the loonies that had driven half way around thee world to be there and we were made very welcome. The next stop was the Famous Grouse distillery where we had lunch. Luckily the accept credit cards as we still hasn't had a chance to get pounds from an ATM yet. We made our own way back to the the racecourse stopping to get money and eye drops for my conjunctivitis on the way.
Putting up the tent in the strong wind would have been impossible without the help of Simon and Karen Benoy. After this, we headed to the restaurant for dinner where we sat with ex pat Aussies Mike and Tich Marsh who had visited us a couple of years ago and used the blue Imp for a day. Sadly it wasn't running that well at the time.

After a good sleep we woke and had a late breakfast. After that it was time to take the Imp onto the display field. The Marshall suggested it should be parked right at the front in pride of place. Meanwhile the boys played in the Kid Club. After that they enjoyed watching the juggler and trying out his equipment. As well as looking at the massive array of cars, I met up with Corey Graeme who had made the most fantastic Imp shaped birthday cake imaginable. We arranged to secretly get the cake to the restaurant to cut it at dinner.

I was awarded the prize for furthest traveled in an imp. At 14,500km or there abouts. It might take a while to beat that record.

Some of the organizers suggested we cut the cake after the evenings entertainment. That way everyone could sing happy birthday etc. Unfortunately, Timothy was almost asleep by the time we got to it.  I think he loved the cake though.

Friday 2 August 2013

Day 59 - Lough Derg to Belfast

Today we woke a little late to a overcast but dry day. This was good news as I wanted to pack up the tent and don't like folding up a wet tent. It took rather a long time but it all fitted in well enough. But that was before adding the sailing gear. We then had to dress quickly in our wetsuits and buoyancy vests, pull the sails up and get onto the water.

The rain started as we sailed out to the start line. Today it took about an hour and a half to get the first race underway. There was a postponement and at least two general recalls. After some good and some dreadful tries at starting, the real start was pretty poor. I was too far back from the line and behind a couple of rows of boats. Despite this, another competitor told me in was listed among those black flagged for the race. If this via true, I think it might have come from the previous start. The race was not great. We never recovered from the bad start and another capsize, this time at the gybe mark in the trapezoid, didn't help.

The second race was better. After another  general recall and a long delay, we got another poor start but we were able to tack early and didn't loosed much time ducking behind boats. Then we sailed two long tacks and a couple of short ones to make the buoy in around 20th. We lost a few places on the run but gained quite a few on the next upwind leg. In the end we must have been around 20th but I didn't stop after the race to see the results.

Once we were back on land I de-rigged the boat and Timothy took the name in insulation tape off the transom. Then Michael and I got into the car where I changed and got ready to go. But where was Timothy? Still in his sailing gear wandering around aimlessly. I aimed him at the showers with some dry clothes. When he came out we popped up to the clubhouse to say some goodbyes and scoff some of the cake on offer and then we left.

We were hoping to take the scenic route to Belfast but I was worried that we wouldn't make it in time so we returned down the motorway to Dublin and then on the motorway North. A boring trip but stress free. I was also hoping to drop in to see some Imp Club members but it was getting too late for visiting so we have come directly to the ferry. First impressions are that this Stema Line ferry is much better than the one from Cherbourg.

Now for a couple of hours sleep before driving to a hotel in Glasgow.

Thursday 1 August 2013

Day 58 - Lough Derg races 9 & 10

It was another morning of drizzle. We ate our cereal in the tent and slowly got ready to sail. The wind was below 5 knots as we sailed the 2 miles to the start line. The first start was a big mess with boats stuck on port tack or stopped and others trying to power past them. As seems to be the routine now, the race was postponed or recalled. By the second start the wind had picked up to above 12 knots. We had a great start at the port end just behind the Barwood's and possibly able to tack across the fleet. This was also recalled. The final start was okay but nothing special. I am too cautious and fall into the big dip in the start line. I find it impossible to get transects to tell me if I'm close to the line or not. Anyway the race was okay we ended up mid fleet without any incidents.

The second race was much the same but we got a poor start and were well back in the pack. The wind was up above our comfort level and we I made a few poor decisions and a few messed up tacks put us back around 50th. Timothy didn't want to fly the spinnaker so we didn't have a chance to catch many boats down wind and finished in 50th place.

As there were only two races, we got back early. We packed the boat up, showered and returned to the tent for a rest.  I got some sleep but I doubt that the boys did. There was a meal on in the club house in the evening followed by " Nation's Night" where each country puts on a short performance. We sang The Wild Colonial Boy with lyrics changed to suit the occasion. This was followed by handing out Vegemite sandwiches and fairy bread. It seemed to go down well.

We left before the end as both boys and I are really tired and can't wait to get to bed.