Around Britain in a Bond Bug- 2
September 12th John o Groats-Dundee.
At either end of the John o Groats/Landsend route there are 2 hotels where a white line is painted across the road this is were you should line up. If your planning this trip You should also register with the Landsend /John o'Groats Club just to prove you've done it.
So once the cars were lined up the photos taken and the paperwork sorted we were off. At 9.30 we started heading back down country through Wick and up over the Highlands. On the way we passed a group of intrepid cyclists that had set out half an hour before us (Lets hope they all made it). The weather was not as good as it had been but the cars were running well and we covered a lot of miles before stopping for lunch.
While filling up with petrol at around lunch time we were directed to a nice little pub in Tomatin. You could have made a comedy about this place. It was full of the English aristocracy "up for the hunting". They all had more plums then my works stock cupboard and to make matters worse they were all dressed in green wellies and tweed. What is it with these folk?- They insisted on letting the whole of the pub know there views on life and the universe. Your trying to eat your bap while having to listen to tales on what they'd shot. One conversation went:- "are you a Retard?"..."No but I am going to retire soon"....
Thank god I'm a poor Bugger I say!
After we had taken lunch our chauffeurs opened up the roof of our bugs then stowed the canapés into the boot.
This area of Scotland is well known for its ski resorts so its very high in places. Your not really aware of the wind that's up there until there's a sudden gust. At one point I felt The Bug leave the ground like it had levitated (Slightly unnerving).
Later that day Alan was taking his turn to lead followed closely by Ian. Well I wasn't hanging around but despite the best efforts I couldn't catch him. On and on we raced heading for Dundee. Eventually we caught him up only to be told there was something wrong with his Bug. He said there was a strange noise coming from the rear which we soon diagnosed as a wheel bearing. Well your up in the middle of nowhere so what do you do?. You limp the 13 miles to the Hotel then get the Bug Club network working. Jeff was soon phoning around and it wasn't long before we had the name of a local Bugger and a Reliant specialist. Alan was slightly subdued during the evening as his Bug is his pride and joy and visions of not completing the trip must have gone through his mind.
September 13th Dundee-Doncaster.
The following morning after a phone call to the garage we left Alan's car to be repaired and headed into town. We decided to head for HMS Discovery. This ship had been locked in Ice for 2 years during its long history and is well worth checking out if your in the area. On return to the garage Alan's car was nearly done and we were shortly on our way- Thanks to RG Consort for helping us out on a very busy day.
After leaving Dundee at around 2.30 we again headed South stopping off at the Border on the way down. The later start meant it was dark towards the end of our journey and I must admit I was feeling pretty knackered. At one point I took the lads down the wrong road and ended up in the middle of the countryside. I knew where we were- we were lost! Well what do you expect when there's no street lights. We finally made it to Doncaster but alas to late for the Bar -OH POO.
September 14th Doncaster-Salisbury
So far Ian was the only one running who had not had a breakdown. I had followed TAW 830J many miles with its previous owners (Viv and Chris Wooley) and it had always gone well. Was this going to be the only car not to break down we wondered?. Today's drive was fairly short compared to the days before and was fairly uneventful but it had to happen- As Ian rounded a roundabout the Bug would not go where it was supposed to- he had picked up a puncture in the front tyre. The wheel was soon changed and there was no further incidents.
September 15th Salisbury-Landsend.
Another memorable day! After leaving the hotel We met up with Tony Godfrey where we stopped for a break. After leaving the little Chef I got that sinking feeling when you know there's something not quite right with the car. At one point it would hardly go up a hill so I asked the lads to pull in at the next lay buy. A new condenser was fitted and the plan was for me to head off before the others and nurse it to Landsend. Well so much for that idea- the engine was running as sweet as a nut, so well I had to stop as I was out of range on the radio front. The whole of the trip from Alan's was done without using Motorways. This proved difficult at Exeter as the road signs try and get you on to them. But despite a few wrong turnings we made it out of the town and on through Cornwall. During this stretch we were met by Terry in his Bug so now we had 6 Bugs in a line. At this point I was leading but a wrong turning gave the chance for Jeff to take the lead on the final straight. This was only fair as it was him that put it all together. With around 5 miles to go I was counting down the miles thinking if this thing breaks down now I push the bloody thing. 4..3..2.. 1 mile to go and we entered the outskirts of Landsend. At this point we were met by a few more Bug club members and after a quick chat we were ready for the big push to the finish. Well at this point there was 4 grinning Buggers and the grins just got Bigger as we rounded into the final straight and through a throng of ribbon and Bug club members, Friends, relatives and enthusiasts. I always give the Bug a good pat after a long run and she deserved it. Thanks to Chris/Liz, Tony, Les/Sue, Alec, Terry and the families and everybody else that turned up-It was an unforgettable event.
After lots of photos were taken we signed the registration Book then visited the museum. This features loads of things to do with the Le-JOG run. After returning to Penzance it was then time to hit the Bar and a very fine evening was had by all. If your down in the area I would recommend the Luggers T bone steaks or carvery (very Nice)
September 16th Rest day..
This day had been put aside as a take in the sites day and recover from the inevitable hangovers. I was a little late getting up and was slightly peeved to find my Bug had been vandalized during the night. The damage was minor but still annoying. Some drunken youths had tried to gain excess into some of the cars overnight and had pulled the window ripping the stitching. Once I got home it took about 2 hours to repair it as the sewing machine was not quite man enough for the job.
Jeff and myself spent the day at St Michael's mount and a lighthouse museum. This was followed with a load more eating and drinking.
September 17...Return home!
After a day of giving our arse's a rest it was time to clamber back in the Bugs and say our goodbyes to all our mates.
The plan was to return home on this day but I wasn't to keen on doing a Landsend to Hemel Hempstead trip in one day so had phoned the girls at work and managed to sweet talk another day off. We then changed the itinerary and the plan was to stop at the Eden project . Bearing in mind this was a Monday I was very surprised to see signs in St Austell saying it was full. But sure enough when we got about 4 mile from the entrance there was a queue stretching out in front. Various discussion went on via the walkie talkies and we decided to give it a miss although I will come back and view the project at a later date. We then headed up country via Exmoor and Porlock hill. Alan had previously warned me about this hill but I thought it can't be any worse then the one's in Scotland. How wrong I was- The first part is ok as your going up, the bit across the top is very scenic- its the bit at the end going down that's the hair raising bit. I was breaking as much as I could but the Bug did not want to slow down, I even stuck the handbrake on but that didn't do much either. Speaking to Jeff afterwards suspecting there was something wrong with my breaks he said he had the same experience. Alan/Jeff and Myself spent our final night in Minehead, Ian had said he's goodbyes earlier and had made his way home to Cheddar.
Well it had to come to and end eventually. We made our way up to Cheddar to meet Ian who still had a walkie talkie and then left Alan who headed back home to Dudley leaving Jeff and Myself. Jeff showed me through his home town of Swindon and I then made my way back home. Brilliant..
Thanks Jeff for putting it all together. Thanks Ian, Alan and all the friends & family. Bug Club members and all those who sponsored....Next year Round The world?