First the trip was on, then it was off, then it was on again and almost off again. Not the Association’s fault but rather the precarious happenings within the life of Waugh.
The journey could not have been better; the company was second to none with the events and reroutes unscripted yet seemingly contrived in some way.
The car an old 3.2 Jaguar XJ Sport specially bagged for the event by my mate Buster (John Mcleod of Loch Inch) who ensured it would perform over the 2112 miles consuming 77.5 gallons of juice averaging 27.2 miles per gallon at an average speed of 49.2mph, which was entirely down to loads of dual carriageway and motorway driving.
Not bad considering we (Marlene and I) were nearly incinerated on the last day's drive when a visit to Baby Harry at Biggleswade revealed a petrol leak from below the fuel pump. Caused by a split fuel hose, (aka washing machine hose) the mind boggles at who would do such a stupid thing. The AA man said it was quite a common practice as people tried to save brass on both maintenance and funerals.
Day one which was delayed by a day (a New Luce freak storm) was to include a doddle up the West coast to see my nephew and his family near Oban. Instead a 5 am start on the 18th of September with a drive from Home to JOG on the deadly A77 & A9 put almost 400 miles under the bonnet give or take a nat. A quick slumber and shower in the chosen hotel and then downstairs to say hello to all the other (no doubt unbalanced) 30th End to Enders. It was good to say hello, enjoy the assembled company and quaff loads of beer and food. But more important to exchange emergency numbers with Jack, Don, Geoff and Brian (did I give you mine? Oops) .
An extra treat for me was the chance meeting with Christian. A young man (ex- soldier) who tried to end his life a couple of years ago, luckily he failed and started what is slowly turning into an epic journey on foot. Christian is walking unaided around our coast, helping to raise money for the forces charity Help 4 Hero's (H4H) www.facebook.com/christian.britain.3
If you can help him in any way please do so. I had already promised him logistical support for when he eventually reached S.W. Scotland. Christian who is the young good looking one says he will be happy sleeping with my chucks and ducks and stays shy of using caravans or houses.
So day two arrived with the usual group photo which no doubt will appear somewhere else in our Magazine. As a result of the good banter and chatter we did not get going till almost nine thirty. A misty pleasant 400 mile drive down the East coast of Scotland to the land of the Geordie with a pleasant stay at the Park Lodge, 4 Gold Star B&B in my childhood stomping grounds Whitley Bay. It was time to visit Aunty Anne who at 92 was more or less confined to her bed which meant Marlene and I could scrump all of her apples almost filling the boot before heading on a short hop to Leeds during day three.
The old Harry Ramsden’s fish and chip shop in Guiseley was to be our day three destination, followed by a night with family who were in the act of packing in anticipation of a house move a couple of days later.
However, first we had to visit the figure of Northumberlandia. She is the centre piece of a landform park that nestles amongst the lakes on the Blagdon Estate, located a couple of miles north of Newcastle Airport. I reckon she will soon become one of the places to see, an icon that may or may not offend. I found her absolutely fascinating. Well done Mr Jencks.
Day four was another short drive down to Leicester, visiting Marlene’s older sister and where one of our Israeli grandchildren Nadav has a house. A quick visit to my sister Jewell en route through South Yorkshire meant we were in fine form for our long haul down to LE.
Day five at 5am, broom, broom, off to a quick start, first obstacles M1/M69 Junction closed. No probs, down the M1 up the M6 down the M42, nope M6/M42 closed North and South??
Onwards and forwards to the M5. a tad behind schedule with a few more miles on the clock, yet still with plenty of time to pick up a hitchhiker heading for the cliffs of Cornwall. Our new passenger was on his way to an area not far from St. Ives to take soundings and pictures of waves, birds and whatever creatures of the land and sea he could capture. He then orchestrates the sounds into musical symphonies which you can access at www.philipgoddard.com.
His expected visit was rather different from my earlier visits (61-62) to the same place, where as a young soldier I learned to climb and abseil on high cliffs, with names like Commando Ridge and Black Slab. Despite the tragic death of one young soldier I still have fond memories of the area. Hitchhiker was safely delivered and we still had plenty of time for brunch and a walk around St Ives bay before booking into the Premier Inn and heading for LE and group pictures. The chap on the gate (who was kind enough to let me in without payment) said (as I gave my ‘I’ve forgotten my membership cards’ excuses) “You did the same last year when on your quad” what a memory he has.
Day six was another longish haul heading towards Biggleswade where my daughter was due to give birth. Message arrived whilst on the M4 heading east, “Change of plan, booked you into Premier Inn Stevenage” Daughter had been admitted into the Lister Hospital.
Arrived at Biggleswade to find no one at home, car leaking petrol with me desperate for a pee. Such is life.
Baby Vine arrived with mum and dad pushing the pram after going on a short walk to the other grandparents. Shortly after, as I was emptying the emergency bottle down the loo, the AA man arrived holding his `I can fix anything spanner`. He did.
After the usual photos and lunch it was time to head home. See how far we get? then bunk down for the night. Sleeping bags in the boot, pillows on the back seat, coffee and soup in the flasks. However car shuteye was not required and we finally arrived home in New Luce shortly after 9pm following 4 x 2 hr drives A1, A66, M6, A75 the only snag was Scotch Corner services closed along with the Hotel because of power cuts.
A great trip? No.
A trip to remember? Yes and looking forward to the 40th.
Glad we did it? Bloody right!
Now all we have to do is think about the next adventure and what we leave in the memory banks of the children, grandchildren and (to date) one great grandchild.
P.S. Anyone want to buy a Jag?