Preston & District “Not the bank Holiday Weekend Away to Cockermouth (Delayed)

Right, all meet at The Wheatsheaf, 09:00 for bacon butties and tea
or coffee”, was the command from Bill Ryding, to start this years weekend away. So we all dutifully got up at some unearthly hour to travel to Beetham where The Wheatsheaf is located. “If Bill can get up early then so can we”. Who was to know the wily old fox was staying the night, so he and Lillian only had to drag themselves down the stairs whilst we all fought with the peak
hour rush on the M6 around Preston! Still the bacon baps and drinks were very welcoming, and set us on our way to our first stop, after the group hug under the sign of the Wheatsheaf.

Thirteen cars were off after a Le Mans style drivers’ start, to find their way to our first major stop at a surprise venue, the Town Hall at Barrow in Furness. Comfort break stops not to be reported on to save space. Mick Bamber and Andy Shultz left the CB first to lay a protective coat on the newly refurbished concourse at the Town Hall. This was a piece of typical P&DMGEC organising, consisting of the biggest sheet of plastic known to the North West being laid
as each car was reversed over it. It turns out that although only one car dropped oil, it was enough for all the others put together. It has been said that Barry carried a 25 gallon drum of engine oil instead of a suitcase, to replenish the car during the weekend! We were met by The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, together with Ann Taylforth, the events organiser, who had done a great job in coordinating our visit with Bill some weeks earlier. We were then treated to an accompanied tour of the Town Hall, including the Mayor’s Parlour, and the council chamber. Here a photo was taken of Bill receiving
the Coat of Arms of Barrow from the Mayor, Rory McLury together with a letter of recognition of our visit.

After that we had lunch in the banqueting suite, again organised by Ann. At this point I must congratulate her on everything she did for us, she even had minders watching the cars whilst we were in the Town Hall, well done for her organising skills.

After our visit we had a picturesque route taking in the coast road up to ‘the end of the earth’. You know the place, where the scientists were proved wrong, that the Earth is actually flat, as can be seen at Ravenglass! Here we visited The Ratty Arms, who provided us with tea, coffee and biscuits, or if like me you were burning in the wonderful weather, you plumped for a long
shandy etc. Yes this is only day one, and so much packed in, and still not at Cockermouth. Finaly the push to our destination. Once again we took in the coastal scenes, up through Egremont, Frizington, Gallowbarrow, and in to The Trout at Cockermouth.

A small note here to say, what a beautiful job has been done to The Trout. It must have been a hard slog returning it to replicate its former glory after the terrible floods that engulfed the place in November 2009. Well done to all the staff and contractors, you would not know it had been damaged. It was sad to hear from the manager who drives an MGF, and who visits our website regularly to keep abreast of what we are up to, when asked “How’s the
‘F’ then?” replied “It was drowned”. He had only just taken possession of a replacement that week. Its nice to know that all the staff had stayed on, thus keeping the inherent friendliness that brought us back in the first place.

After refreshments, showers etc, and evening meals, day one slipped silently away in the bar, and off to bed. Day two, and once again the sun was out and ready to burn the uncovered heads! Our president, Jeff Reid, drove up to join us this day, and enjoyed the trip I’m told. This was something different,
and we had to take calculators, sextants, maps, notebooks and pens, as brains were the order of the day. As usual, the brains got lost, and each crew had to navigate approx 40 miles, at an average speed pre-calculated before knowing how far, or where we were to travel. Only to say there would be a checkpoint, “somewhere along the route, so no cheating!” As most people would choose
sensible average speeds, and as most people would expect Jo and I to select a testosterone average, we fooled everyone by choosing the slowest average. The plan was to get in front of all, and then slow everyone up, including might I say Alan and Dot, so to be triumphant and very, very, clever! We spent a lovely half hour with tea and biscuits, on the terrace, at an out of the way
hotel. Whilst watching the Peacocks and their chicks, we could hear the V8s roaring thro’ the quiet lanes and we chuckled at them as we knew we would win. We dutifully kept Bill and Mick waiting at their checkpoint for nearly 2 hours, whilst everyone else, including Alan and Dot, were back at the Trout, enjoying refreshments.

Oops, not quite the best plan, we lost!  First place went to Steve Somerfield, but he cheated as well, saw him and Jeff stopped at the side of the road, taking in drinks. So ya boo hiss! That left us to relax for the rest of the day,
checking out “The Bitter End” pub, where they were offering great food and real ale. After we walked around Cockermouth seeing all that was ruined, and all that was renewed after the floods. Later it was evening meal at the Trout and an early night to gear up for day three, one hundred of the best miles that the South Lakes and Coast have to offer. Sunday 27th June 2010 “A Driving Day”. was our route title, and what a day this was to be.
The plan was in four parts, and there were to be questions to be filled in along the way to add interest.
1. Navigate to a small Garden Centre, where coffee and biscuits were arranged.
2. Navigate to the Oddfellos Arms in Caldbeck, for a pub lunch.
3. Off to Brathwaite, and The Royal Oak for refreshments.
4. Return to Cockermouth, via the Whinlatter pass.
Part one was hilarious. For once our route maps were not up to the usual accuracy. That’s my polite way of saying, “The instructions were wrong Bill/Mick.” Still we all made it, and the numerous different ways to Bank Mill Garden Centre created many a laugh whist taking refreshments.

Part two gave me a chance to open up the ‘C’, whilst Andy and Carole, followed. I wanted Andy to check out my suspension, as I have been having one or two problems. Thus we drove off, and once there was nobody in front, “Gave it some welly”, as they say. All was going well, and we had both just overtaken Henry Clitheroe in his MGA, when Andy received a call from Alan
and Dot, After 39 years of uninterrupted motoring the BGT had broken down! We decided that we would both go back to help. This time I was following Andy. By the time we reached Alan and Dot, Jo’s nails were chewed to nothing, suffice to say, that V8 goes! Here I cannot advise about the rest of the route, but to say that I was told the route, food, and enjoyment were as usual at the
top of the tree. At Braithwaite, those that made it met up with Betty Norwood. You may remember she gave us a fascinating talk, at The Welcome Inn, earlier in the year, about her experiences as a Traffic Cop in the sixties, driving an MGA. Of course she was a “Lady Police Officer”, dressed in starched uniform
in those days, a bit different from the macho “Interceptors” of today. Bill took a photo of Betty, next to Henry Clitheroe’s MGA, for old times’ sake.

Back to Alan and Dot, (Is it me, or are they always being mentioned?). After standing by the gate, letting all the rest of the party through, Dot returned to the car to carry on. By this time all the others had driven off and abandoned them to fend for themselves. They drove as far as Port Carlisle before the car broke down. The car was going nowhere, they were next to the Solway Firth, and the tide was rapidly rising, (slight exaggeration for effect), they were on their own. Then the cavalry arrived. Andy was the cavalry; Jo and I were just the extras! Dot spotted the problem straight away, so Andy got out his breakdown kit, but believe it or not he didn’t have the correct rotor arm for a 1972 BGT. More like the donkeys on Blackpool beach than the Cavalry. Neither did he have a correct distributor for a 1972 BGT. Oh where is the AA when you need them? The tide was rising, the extras gave their opinions. With this advice Andy as usual botched the wrong distributor and rotor arm, to get it working. We drove back, stopping once or twice to re-time or adjust the points, to keep them going. Jo and I wore 1939 gas masks to filter out the fumes, and we eventually got back to The Trout. Once there the Earl of Cardigan saved the day with the spare rotor arm from his 1939 TC. Talk about “The Light Brigade”, just the job, the car was fixed. The moral of the story Andy, always carry a rotor arm for a 1939 MG TC.

With all these adventures, all stories told, the holiday was concluded the following day with a choose your own route home day. Once again P&DMGEC has had the best of times together, with many thanks to Bill Ryding with the help of Mick Bamber for their time organising it all.

Mike Newton.