Wednesday 19 June 2024

Blackbushe Air Day - '24

Last year we got sunburnt - that was last year.

This year the forecast looked ominous, but it was one of those days with very small - but very intense showers, it's just down the road from my house, so it seemed rude to not go.

We set off a little later that we'd planned & so avoided the first of the showers, be we arrived with plenty of time to spare & were handed a goody bag - some shows complain about costs & ask the exhibitors to pay to show their cars, Blackbushe fives us a goody bag as a token of appreciation. It was particularly appreciated this year as I'd been looking for a new baseball cap for driving the car - either blue or orange - & there in the bag was - a blue baseball cap! Nice quality too.

Because of the forecast weather, many of the anticipated cars & planes didn't arrive, but there was plenty to see with the star of the show being a late entry Grumman Albatross, fantastically preserved & modernised with a beige leather interior & sofa beds, so the guy that owns it has got possibly the only warbird / hot rod / caravan that flies & can land on land, water, or snow. It was simply the best toy EVER.

There was quite a lot to see, a good range of classic cars - though the Tesla electric Elise somehow crept in - can't explain that & I've never seen it before, though obviously it must be pretty local 😄

There was also a TR£ based FibreFab Jamaican, now there can't be too many of them in the UK

A few people asked about the Stylus, one even knew it came after the Fury & between the showers - which were biblical, we had a very nice day.


There's been a bit of a clonk coming from the Stylus, so this evening I put it on ramps to look for the source, once ensconced underneath & looking around, I saw some wetness, just a smudge on a fuel pipe. Pretty obvious what's happened, the handbrake cable - which is clear of the hose most of the time, has rubbed through it. Only just, there's been no petrol smell, but enough to wet the outside of the hose where the fuel shouldn't be. When designing the fuel tank I thought the centre-top would be a great place to put the return line.

So I took the fuel hose down & replaced it with a new section & moved the handbrake cable a little. I'll need to keep a close eye on this & may need to do a better fix, but hoorah for the car - that could've gone pop in Devon, or Yorkshire, not going pop at all, but just giving me enough weepage to notice is a marvellous thing & an easy fix.

Never did find the source of the clonk though.

Monday 17 June 2024

RogueRunners '24 Epilogue

It's over for another year, but what were the overriding impressions?

Yes it rained - what of it?
I remember the rain - it was quite memorable, but really, there were only two really wet days & we got out in the cars on both, so let's put that to one side. The roads were very good, the traffic was pretty good, the George Inn in Piercebridge was memorable - all good memories, not necessarily for the right reasons.

The days up to the Wednesday were superb, with good weather & flowing roads that were what we'd gone for. After that the wet weather provided a challenge, but I'd like to think we rose to it, we certainly had fun & the camaraderie was there in spades. We had commemorative gifts designed & crafted by Linda & we had beer & cake.

As ever it's the people that make the trip, some people drop out, others join in, so the RogueRunners is a shifting sand of perhaps unlikely road-mates, but we always seem to rub along nicely & manage without the egos & rules that some other tours seem to suffer.

Rogues, you are EPIC & I salute you all.

Monday 10 June 2024

RogeRunners '24 Day 7 - Hartside Pass

One of those days I'm afraid. One of our number set off for home, but as we were preparing the cars someone said "no route possible". This is a stupid "feature" of TomToms, if a waypoint is placed on a road which on the day you choose to travel happens to be closed, it'll just say "No route possible" like "computer says no". There's no way to re-plan, not even any way to investigate which way point is causing the problem, you just can't use the route. Neither can you turn off "traffic" & drive to the problem & navigate from there. Stupid!

Anyway, I & my tech-support girlfriend went up to the room & got the laptop out, opened the route in the TomTom route planner, found the closed road, when onto T.Y.R.E. & corrected the problem, re-filed it, put it in the SatNav & confirmed it now worked. We imported it into her SatNav & it worked, so she went off to get into her car ready while I loaded the route onto my SatNav. Suitably equipped, I went down to load the V2 route onto everyone else's SatNav & they'd all gone. Apparently a couple of people didn't have traffic on their SatNav so they'd decide to go.

So about 20 mins after the main group had left, myself & my girlfriend set off. The traffic was quite bad, with several HGVs slowing us up, then up on the moors we found a lovely smooth road & were starting to enjoy ourselves when the rain started.

It came down in stair rods with no shelter for miles around, but I carried on because it started to ease off. After a small aquaplane moment I pulled into a pub / café called appropriately "The Traveller's rest" to find that my girlfriend had been trying to attract my attention for the last five miles because her wipers had stopped. We talked about the options for a few minutes, then covered up the cars & went in for a very nice coffee & cake as the heavens opened again. As we sat there an aged local told us
about the Robin Hood he'd built & his collection of aged tractors.

After another coffee, the rain stopped, so we went out & found - miraculously - the wipers were working again, but not wanting to chance our arm, we headed home.

RogueRunners '24 Day 6 - Lakes Loop

After yesterdays wetness we were hoping for a drier day & indeed we got a driER day - just not as dry as we would've liked. We chose a truncated route, out to the Lake District & back, the traffic through the main tripper area wasn't heavy, but it was slow - at it's worst following a camper at 20mph along a lovely winding 60 limit road for ten miles, only to have it pull over to let traffic pass at the very spot where we turned off the road - there may have been a little bad language.

But before this we stopped at the Aira Force tea rooms - it's national Trust so £6 for 2hrs parking! We found the cafĂ© & fortunately it was dry enough to sit outside.

But before that we had to pass over Tan Hill. Usually this is very pleasant, today would be more of a challenge.

You can see the problem here - not the sheep, the clouds cloaking the hill top, we carried on in roughly that direction until the sky darkened & the road narrowed.......

......the horizon vanished & the temperature dropped. At this stage the hood & the heater were very much ON.

Things LOOMED at us out of the fog, by now were were obviously going pretty slow & the few folk we saw were looking at us even stranger than usual.

By now we were in what a pilot would call "Instrument Flying Conditions" looking at the SatNav to determine which way the road went & then looking for that feature in the road ahead. At some point we must've past the Tan Hill Inn, but it wasn't at all obvious, then we felt rather than saw the down gradient & suddenly we were out of the bottom of it & could SEE.

At some point on the way back I'd got separated from the others & as I trundled along a familiar shape appeared in a Quarry entrance. 

Richard was having throttle cable trouble, so while I knew he was perfectly capable of fixing it & would have everything he needed, I pulled over because I don't like the last person to be driving on their own - just in case.

So I was the last back to the hotel, but we'd had an adventure.


Monday 3 June 2024

RogueRunners '24 Day 5 - Wensleydale & Tebay

Wet, in fact WET, the forecast showed a swirling mass of rain centred on our hotel for the entire day - & it was right. You may notice from this photo that while some of the cars are less that water proof, Matt's car has no roof at all - or wirdscreen.

But before then, we'd bidden a fond farewell to two of our number, Mark in the Alpine had family duties to attend to & Ken in the MX5. But down to business, we'd decided on the Tebay & Wensleydale route as it would drop Mark onto the M6, but then we realised it would take 4 hours to get there + cake & petrol stops, so he wisely elected to head out to the A1 instead.

The rain started as forecast & we set off, but although the rain wasn't that heavy, the roads were already waterlogged, presumably because the fields were still very wet, we soldiered on (or perhaps sailored on) until the first cake stop. At the very nice Toft Barn café we made the decision to abandon the run & look for an indoor attraction, which turned out to be the Wensleydale Creamery.

However, on retuning to the cars, One of Matt's rear wings was showing some detachment as a result of an influx of water, so him & Richard set off for the hotel. The rest of us had a pleasant luncheon at the creamery after a drive along what would've been a very pleasant road by a river, but after a while a message came through that Richard's car had also succumbed to the puddles, but they had both got back to the hotel.

Those of us at the Creamery had to decide on a plan. The quick route home was via the A1(m), but while it was "easy" the spray would be horrendous & on those roads in those conditions one needs to maintain a good speed, or the lorries will be overtaking & pumping water in through the side of the car, which precluded taking it steady & watching out for deep puddles.

Option two was the A66, but that was little better & there didn't seem to be a direct route due north on a decent road to get onto it.

Option three was to modify the tail end of an earlier route to run on a good, wide moorland road - there would be puddles & it would require concentration, but we could rumble along at a speed of our choosing & keep away from other traffic that might not realise that we weren't sitting in an armchair in air-conditioned comfort like they were.

The principle downside to this for me was having to fill up with super petrol at a tiny rural filling station for 12p/litre more than the usual price for standard petrol.

However, we all got safely if somewhat damply home (the Stylus' driver's side footwell was awash) & after drying out, could sit around & have beer & supper.

RogueRunners 24 Day 4 - North & South

Once again everyone elected to go the short route & it looked like it could be wet, but in the end we out-ran the rain coming up from the south & apart from a short shower while we were in a cafe, we stayed dry.

But I began the day with the hood up & side windows out as we headed up onto the moors almost immediately, at one stage new tarmac had been laid - not really fresh, but in the last few weeks. As we drove up into the cloud base this tarmac was steaming lending an eerie air & another layer of strangeness to the sheep licking it - I mean 500 acres of grass & they're licking the tarmac?

Linda & I stopped in a scenic spot for a little photography & then we came down off the moors along winding hairpin roads & found our café tucked up a side alley & very nice it was too (flapjack laced with marmalade - mmmmmm), though the ladies in charge wagged fingers at us because we hadn't called them, apparently 10 cups of coffee at once is a challenge.

While we were there it rained quite heavily & we thought we were in for a soaking, but by the time we'd left it had stopped & apart from the hoods being a bit wet, we got away with it.

From there it was back up onto the moors passing Tan Hill & calling in to Brough Castle ice cream parlour for quite a long visit while I walked around to the back of the castle for some photos & a hoard of small children watched cows & stoked lambs.

After that we were held up by traffic once or twice - up until then any vehicles ahead had almost instantly turned off or pulled over - except for one woman in a Range Rover who held up some of our party doing 25 - 30 along the centre of wideish moor roads. A late re-fuel in Darlington embroiled us in traffic, but it melted away long before our hotel & we repaired to the bar with cries of "EPIC!"

Personally I thought it was the best route I've written, a little bit of knarly technical, some hairpins & a lot of fast moorland roads, other opinions are of course available.  

Thursday 30 May 2024

RogueRunners '24 Day 3 - Whitby Loop

Everybody did the short route today - just as well as the first back was at 17:00, all was going well until a village with an awkward junction, where I thought everyone turned right.

I was wrong, I turned right & found myself alone with Mark in the Alpine & a SatNav telling me to turn around.

Then the SatNav went strange, it still gave me instructions, but I had no line to follow, so I was glad of Mark's presence, but that was the last we saw of the main group.

We headed out over moorland roads & within not too long at all found ourselves looking across a valley at Whitby Abby. There were signs out about the swing bridge being closed, but fortunately it was open for us & we went up toward the abbey & turned inland.

We had problems in Pickering where the high street was closed for market day. That split up the four of us that had managed to find each other, but we re-grouped at a petrol station & moved on. Then there was an altercation with a deer that had been hiding in a verge & chose the moment I drove past to bolt. I think it was OK - my car was.

We stopped for coffee in a village that had the most Yorkshire man I've ever come across serving in the café. Everything you've heard rolled into one "ee if yer all pay on't card thee bank'll charge me a fortune, 'ave ee not got cash?"

Later we heard that the other group had called in & he'd accused the Alpine of being a Porsche & he didn't hold with for'n cars. The village also boasted a public loo decorated with a small bicycle - I think it had been hung up by the health & safety man going by the size of the chains - they would easily support my car. 

After that there was quite a lot of knarly, twisty, steep roads, I like the technical lanes, but there was rather a lot & I was very pleased to see a white line in the middle of the road, although others said this was their favourite day.

There was also a road with gates across which we had no truck with after our experience a couple of years ago & a little later another one, but I suspect that was because the SatNav believed the road I'd picked was closed - it wasn't, so we drove along it until the SatNav sorted it's life out. Later we found out that others had tried the gated road.

Wednesday 29 May 2024

RogueRunners '24 Day 2 Bowland Loop

Bowland you ask? Yes, it looked intriguing on the map, an area to the south of the lake district with very few towns & some wriggly roads.

But the day started with a surprise for one of our No. who had ordered a vegetarian breakfast & it arrived with a slice of black pudding. This wasn't to be the last of the hotel strangeness.

This was obviously the first proper route & the SatNavs never know which way to go until they start moving & work out which way is forward, so we got to the courtyard exit & I made a quick calculation, decided we were going west & headed out over the medieval bridge. the SatVavv seemed to be OK with this until it directed us round the block, past the hotel & along the road to the south.

The Sevens were desperately short of petrol, so we stopped at the first fuelling stop - Scotch Corner on the A1 where it was an eye watering 20p / litre more than most places.

We headed south initially through quite heavy traffic, some of which was caused by folk cycling three abreast with no consideration for the queue forming behind them. There were also large numbers of motorcycles heading the other way as the roads became better. After a while we found ourselves on the sweeping moorland roads we'd come to find, a couple of us pulled over in a cut-out layby at the top of a hill & took some photos of the other cars, but getting out of this foxhole reversed the running order, so when we arrived in Kettlewell, some were already parked up & wrestling with the parking machine.

The problem was it would either accept cash or contactless card. Except that it wouldn't accept cash & the process of button pushing to persuade it to take a card was beyond most of us.

Eventually we each had a ticket & went for an ice cream - "apple crumble" - excellent.

More excellent roads followed & we ended up on a strange loop which I don't remember planning, but it was good never the less, we did at one point pass a sizable Gypsy encampment complete with horses, it looked like there was a horsey event on maybe?

By this point it was hot & I was thirsty, fortunately we arrived at the appointed cake stop "Puddleducks" for a break, parking was limited & a few drove past, but those of us that braved the queue (which diminished behind us) were rewarded with a treat & a few chats with other car people, bike people & even sidecar people

By this time we were meandering back & I drove an excellent moorland road with newbie Mark in his Alpine - exactly the kind of road it was designed for, but time was pressing & we decided not to stop at the Brough Castle ice cream parlour, Mark was doing the short route, I the long, so I went back to see who else was about & found Linda & Richard, we were all doing the long route, so we set off - & I immediately took the wrong road. However the SatNav took me back to where I should've been & after another excellent wide, empty road, I caught up with the others & we cruised back to the hotel.

Brilliant day.

Tuesday 28 May 2024

RogueRunners 24 - Day 1

There had been some re-arranging.

Initially my plan had been to drive to my girlfriend's house & leave from there on the Saturday, this was gazumped by the need to get drawings issued at work, so it was to be  very early start & a long drive round the M25 & up the A1. It was also pretty chilly, but I had a thick ski jacket on & was fine.

When I arrived at the designated meet point (the Stamford Garden Centre), my ex-next-door-neighbour Mark there & chatting with a couple of the other rogues, after years of looking at my my succession of interesting cars, he bought himself an Alpine & was keen to put some miles on it.

We all had the customary good breakfast before heading out onto the A1 to put paid to a few miles & get to the good stuff. This year I'd threaded the route up the eastern side of the A1, which was fine, not proper "blatting territory", but good in parts & better that a motorway. At one point we passed a 1930's car full of people waving furiously at anything that looked as if it might wave back.

Then suddenly, there was a level crossing, the traffic melted away & the road became sublime, we were enjoying ourselves so much that we completely omitted to fill the cars up - well - someone said "is that the fuel stop?" about 12 miles out, someone else said "I think it's about 6 miles from the hotel, so it's not that one". They were wrong, so the Sevens arrived at the hotel somewhat thirsty.

As indeed were we, so after moving the cars into the hotel courtyard at the invitation of the staff (the cars with the innovation of lockable doors stayed outside), we visited the bar & retired to the rather wonderful beer garden overlooking the river Tees.

Wednesday 15 May 2024

RogueRunners '24 - Prologue

The time has nearly come.

After the improved weather on the Devon trip this year, hopes are high for the official RogueRunners 2024 "Ten Years Running", a group of like minded people will be assembling from across the country to take part - which makes it sound like a large event - there are ten of us in nine cars.

A few will meet at Thurrock & drive to the breakfast venue in Stamford just off the A1, two will set off the night before & stay overnight near the breakfast venue, two are local(ish) etc. So the real start point will be a  cafĂ© for breakfast.

There will then be a drive northwards to Piercebridge mostly on small roads, there will also be reasonably frequent stops for cake & coffee & once we're all ensconced & the cars are parked up we'll gather for tea & possibly a beer or two.

Over the next week we will tour the Yorkshire / Cumbria / Northumberland area, taking in the best roads & some damn fine scenery - also quite a lot of cake & ice cream.

There will also probably be a breakdown or two - a couple of the participants will be disappointed if there isn't, so far the Stylus has been reliable, fingers will be crossed.

Tuesday 30 April 2024

Devon Two

 After the Devon trip last year, a few kind folk suggested they'd quite enjoyed it in spite of the weather, so as it's a very easy thing to arrange, I arranged it.

The North Devon roads are good, but the surfaces are politely described as "variable". Because it's Devon, the off season is the essential choice to keep the camper numbers to a minimum.

But I digress. The Saturday started early to get to Andover in time for breakfast at a Premier Inn in Andover. The sign said "please wait here to be seated", but after five minutes of seeing no staff whatsoever, we walked in & found the others. We had a decent cooked breakfast & could easily have walked out past the one or two waving staff & left, but being good citizens we stopped & paid.

Spurning the A303, we headed for the A30 to get our fill of villages not yet blighted by 20mph limits & after a while stopped for coffee at the curiously named "Udder farm shop" where a large & airy café was rammed full of people. But being hardy out door folk in soft top cars (mostly), we sat outside for coffee & cake. We were in no hurry, so we chatted a while before setting off again, heading for the next coffee & cake stop at Pip's Railway Carriage Café, set in - a railway carriage. I arrived first & pulled in to find not many parking places, while wandering about, I checked my phone & found a distress call from a maiden in umm - distress.

Some years ago while in Scotland Linda had gone over some rough road which had been the final straw for one of her car's cycle wing stays, which being a Tiger Sportscars part had failed at the obvious design flaw. I happened to be on the scene first & took the broken item off so she could continue & later got it welded up by a bear of a man in Selkirk for £20. The other one had now broken at the same place, so having gone back & found her, I once again removed the offending item & Robert - who'd kindly waited with her put it in the boot of his car.

By now the others were no-where to be seen at the café, so we moved on, rolling through Somerset & into Devon, travelling across Exmoor, where it was FREEZING driving along in low cloud.

Bizarrely we arrived at the B&B first & were shown to a very posh room with a lovely view - because being the organiser has it's benefits. After the others had arrived & unpacked, there was a brief panic when one of our number tried to load the day two route & found "NO ROUTE POSSIBLE". This is a TomTom thing, if you put a waypoint on a road which is subsequently closed it goes into a panic. Why it cant just say "can't do waypoint X - what shall I do?" I really can't imagine. We found the problem, sorted it out (OK - Linda did) & strolled into Ilfracombe & found the same restaurant we ate at last year. Called the Smuggler's ...... something or other, is is the epitome of a seaside restaurant, all manor of stuff dangling from the beamed ceiling & a menu consisting of simple but very well prepared food. This year we avoided walking up to the Damien Hurst statue "Verity" as we didn't want to be put off our meals. I'm sure there's a few people who will rejoice when it gets moved.

After a good night's sleep in the big room (did I tell you we had the big room?) & a good breakfast, we headed out of town on the windy road. We were following more or less the same route as last year except that I'd taken out all the small roads which were just a nightmare. First stop was the honey farm where we stopped last year, but this time there were no other car clubs. We headed out & found the A39 with it's hairpins, there wasn't a lot of traffic & we got in some enjoyable miles in the sunshine. Yes unlike last year, he Sun had got his hat on, hip hip hip hooray!

The return to the B&B included the toll road at Purlock & bits some of us missed out on last year while avoiding the worst of the bits that the rest of us endured, this gave us time to park up & have a stroll in Lynmoth, which was very pleasant. Again the Smuggler's -- Something gave us a very good tea for a very reasonable price & we climbed the hill back to Laston House satisfied.

Day three & time to head back, but not without a little more blatting. I'd laid the route to go through the bits of Ilfracombe we hadn't seen - it was a mistake as the roads were small & clogged & we were stuck in rush hour traffic for the first 25 miles. However, it cleared & apart from a couple of slow drivers we had a good run down to Porlock Weir for a coffee. it's an odd little place, but very nice. At this point our group started to split up, with different people having different places to be & eventually just three of us went into the official split-up point for lunch before taking some larger roads back home.

So before I sat down to write all this I made up some stiffening pieces & tack-welded them onto the Tiger's cycle wing stay & tomorrow they'll get welded on properly by my brother, because - in only 17 days time it the proper RogueRunners trip!

Tuesday 2 April 2024

Out At Last

 It was an action-packed long weekend with my girlfriend, Good Friday was Wheels day - as reported, Saturday was a beer festival at the excellent & local Disruption brewery where the house band included one of the stressmen from work - look up "Stone Soup" on YouTube for their brand of heavyish, bluesish rock. We walked there & had intended on getting the bus back, but it was a nice day, so we strolled & then cut back through the woods without meeting so much a single axe murderer.

On the third day of the holiday we got up not quite so early & this time succeeded in attending a car meet in the Stylus. it's the first time it's had two people in it since I took the back suspension apart & replaced the tyres & the was a slight rub over some of the larger undulations, but a small adjustment of the Panhard |Rod should've fixed that. But here you go, enjoy some pictures from Blackbushe.

Not Actually a Fiat - It's a Puch

Almost a Fiat, it's a coachbuilt Arbarth Fiat

That Pop is lovely