That was hard work! I need another holiday now to recover!
It was great to see everyone and I'm glad I showed up. Thank you to all the Shiters who also turned up, and especially the ones who tried to help with my car.
Now then... my car.
Based on last year's performance (in February, remember) and with some servicing completed in between, I had complete confidence in a 45 year old Cadillac getting me there and back in style.
Driving down as far as Bicester on Sunday: no problem. Bicester to Selsey on Monday: no problem. And after that it all went to pieces.
Tuesday morning: flat as a pancake, needed a jump from a bloke who was working on-site. We put it down to "a change of air" as I have heard of this happening. Had to be jumped a couple more times too, including randomly stopping on the way back to Selsey. In the end I had to message Billy on my phone, to get him to ask Dan to call me. Dan was nothing short of brilliant, turning out immediately and arriving at my stranded car just before midnight. At least I got to meet the Pig Iron Volvo! It's lovely too. Dan changed my battery for a spare one he had, then followed me most of the way back, including a fuel stop (one of many!). Apparently the Volvo was struggling to keep up with the Cadillac...
Wednesday, and more jump-starting from random strangers before I could get up to Portsdown Hill. And boy was it hot up there! I got sunburnt. Still, it was very nice to meet everyone (again, in some cases). You guys must be getting fed up of my car being faulty at all the wrong times! I know I am.
Thursday, we deliberately didn't leave the caravan, thinking if the car had a rest day it might help it recover a bit.
Friday we had to head for home, and yes, again needed a jump. And at several points along the way to Telford, where we had a staging post booked at the Premier Inn.
Saturday, I discovered there was a handy motor factor's - stand up, Van Beek's, a brilliantly old-school sort of place! - where I could buy a lovely new Duracell battery. And a spanner to fit it. So I did, and filled the tank again.
And got maybe 10 miles.
I'm very used to this car running out of electricity now so I coasted into the side of the A41. No credit on my phone. So I walked, until I came to a shop where I could buy a top-up, whereupon I rang Roger (my mate from many collection missions, including both Huggy and Giffer) and got him to message another friend on Facebook, who I knew had a trailer. Neil wasn't sure it would be big enough, although it has carried his Land Cruiser, but I said we would find a way. So some hours later, Neil turned up and we set about trying to load the Cadillac onto his trailer. Unfortunately this trailer has no winch. Huggy is a heavy old lump to push! We recruited a passing tractor driver to push the car up which worked rather well; and then discovered that not only did Neil's trailer have a savage puncture, there was a soft tyre on the other side too. And of course neither of us had a suitable jack. So Neil called the RAC, who changed the wheel and pumped up the other one in a matter of minutes. From there to home was relatively plain sailing, except for the thunderstorm that landed on us just as we arrived back in Barrow. Neil dropped us off and promised to come back in the morning to drop the car.
Which is what happened. So now you're up-to-date and my headaches are back. Photos when I can be bothered to release them from the camera!