RCC Season Starter Rally, Derbyshire 8th – 10th March 2019

Retro Caravan Club Season Starter Rally, before the snow came.

The first rally of the year. We booked this during the late Indian summer a couple of weeks before thinking it would be good to get away from the DIY for a few days. How the weather can change! We were among a further seven or eight RCC members stuck on a hillside for a cold and wet weekend.

We met up in the campsites unheated marquee in the evening. It didn’t take long for members to sneak back to the warmth of the caravans.

We went for a walk along the local canal on the Saturday morning while keeping an eye on the weather forecast which wasn’t good and wasn’t getting any better. Thinking that we might not stay long on Sunday we decided to have the tea and cake on Saturday instead. By 5 O’clock with overnight snow and 40mph winds we decided we’d make a dash for it on Saturday evening. We quickly packed up and then struggled to pull the caravan up the hill off the pitch and to the campsite exit. Due mainly to not warming the car up properly before setting off.

We had a great run back home via fish n chips in Swaffham. A long way to go for just one night but think we made the right choice.

The Classic Car and Restoration Show at NEC, Thursday 21st – Sunday 24th March

Something a bit different. It was mooted in the New Year while it was still on the rotisserie that it might be good to have the Triumph 2500S on the Retro Caravan Club stand. As they always seem to, everything took longer than planned. With the car not even starting the Sunday before, we managed to get it MoT’d on the Wednesday with the aim to then put the tow bar on and leave. But, by the time it was on and the lights were working, but the car wasn’t (loose wire on the starter motor) it was decided it was too late to set off so we delayed our get away until 6 the following morning.

We made it! Unhitching our accommodation for the weekend.

So with the caravan attached and fingers crossed we set off for the cars maiden voyage. Dropping the caravan off at the campsite we got to the NEC by 10.30 and started setting up. The evening was spent in the local carvery followed by an early night. Up with the larks on the Friday morning for the press day of the show. Then followed three long days with the evenings spent in Chris and Cams camper eating and drinking.

Lots of visitors to the stand over the weekend.

Only problem we had was the indicators not working once we unhitched the caravan but a brief chat to the folks on the Triumph 2000 club stand and a new flasher unit got them working again. It was decided to keep the car unwashed until the Sunday when we washed half in the morning and the rest at the end of the day.

Take down day on the Sunday was a tad busy with so many carss trying to get out while others were trying to get in. We decided to try and head back on the Sunday. Although the side lights had stopped working on the caravan but was easy enough to sort after a bit of head scratching. It will be nice when I can start or finish a journey without a problem with the car…

Birthday weekend, North Norfolk, 13th to 17th April 2019

For the first time in what seems like ages we set off for a weekend on our own, no rally’s or car shows to attend, just a weekend of RnR on a cold and Windy North Norfolk coast. While we tried, it was a bit too cold to be sitting outside the caravan. But we did get plenty of walking in and a very nice birthday meal at Rocky Bottoms. With a stop off for a nights hotel stay and a spa treat on the way home.

Only problem over the weekend was synchro going on 2nd gear. Double de-clutching when not towing is one thing but with the caravan on the back it certainly makes the car work a bit harder. So the first day back after a nice restful weekend saw me removing the gearbox. Will it be back in in time for our trip to Isle of Wight in two weeks time?

30th TSSC Isle of Wight, 1st to 8th May 2019

The answer to the question at the end of the last blog was yes, I picked the gearbox up on the Monday, had it fitted by 7 O’clock that evening. It was booked in for a tune-up on the Tuesday before leaving on the Wednesday as I was having trouble getting the tuning correct. That’s when the problems started. We had a phone call in the afternoon saying the technician wanted a word. So up to the garage we went dreading the worst. It wasn’t the worst but meant it wouldn’t be going to TSSC Isle of Wight in the Herald. Loss of compression on 2 (75), 3 (25) and 4 (0) cylinders, a job for when we returned!

So the big Triumph was press-ganged into pulling the caravan. Setting off in plenty of time for the 4pm ferry, we arrived early enough for the 3pm one. Getting to the campsite in plenty of time to set up. This seems to be taking longer, mainly due to the light show that we we seem to put on these days. We had a good couple of days enjoying ourselves, including a walk to the Botanical Gardens, before the other members turned up and the TSSC weekend started.

Saturday saw a run out with celebratory cake and sparkly at the Isle of Wight Pearl who were also celebrating 30 years. Great choice for a midway break. We missed the evenings entertainment in preference to an early night. I think my body and brain had decided now was a good time to rest and was intent on taking full advantage of the situation.

Sundays trip and barbeque was at Sandown Airport. A much better parking situation to the previous year. Good burgers too. Again we missed the evenings games, but at least I was starting to feel a bit better. Monday saw the farewell run to the pub. Again we decided to miss this in favour of a walk. But it did give me an opportunity to take some nice pics as the cars were leaving.

Tuesday saw us walking down to Ventnor. This time to visit a pottery shop that we had been to the year before and where we had regretted not buying a piece of pottery. So this year we made ammends. Rain was forecast for the following day so that evening we took down the awning and packed everything away. Which was just as well as it poured all night right up to when we had to leave for the 10am ferry.

Again we were early and just managed to catch the earlier ferry arriving back at home mid afternoon.

Another great weekend, well organised and plent to do with some friendly people. I think the big Triumph is going to become a really good car to go away in.

TR7 on their way home
Cake time at the Pearl Centre
The obligatory Herald, to remind us that we didn’t have ours

European Classic Caravan Rally, Werchter, Belgium, 22nd May to 2nd June 2019

(Photo from https://gaetanlamarque.book.fr/)

After the disappointment of having to leave her at home when we went to the Isle of Wight and 2 weeks of will she/won’t she be ready for Europe, with well-cleaned valves and a new head gasket, and compression back to where it should be, the Herald was ready to be reunited with the Viking – our combo was complete again! Allowing ourselves plenty of time to get to Dover for our 1.45 ferry, we actually arrived at 12.10 and were told we could go on the earlier, 12.25 crossing. Once on board we could see why – the ferry was almost empty. We found ourselves some seats, bought a drink and ate our packed lunch. Paul had a quick chat with the owner of an Austin Healey who had overtaken us on the approach to Dover before nodding off. By 2pm we were returning to the car and on our way. It was just a short journey to our first campsite and so by 4pm we were set up and relaxing with a cuppa and a slice of cake.

We caused quite a stir as we drove in and within minutes had a couple coming to tell us that they had a Triumph Herald when they got married in 1966.

The campsite was lovely, just 40 pitches, only about half of which were occupied. Each pitch was demarcated with willow trees, which gave the feeling of camping in an orchard. We walked to and round the local town and had a drive out on the Friday to the Dunkirk beaches. All in all, a very relaxing time. Knowing what the next site was like, having stayed there after ECCR 2017, I would have been quite happy to stay at De Panne but it had been agreed that we would meet the rest of the RCC contingent on Saturday, so we packed up and had a leisurely drive along the coast road towards Ostend, then inland to Jabekke. We arrived in time for lunch and then sat in the sun waiting for the rest to arrive. By the evening there were 12 RCC caravans with 2 more due the next day. The rest of the time at Jabekke was spent socialising, walking and, on Monday, a drive out to the Museum aan de Ijzer – translated as ‘On the Yser’ – which is a European Peace Site with a museum depicting WW1 from the point of view of the Belgian and Flemish people. The elevator takes you up to the 22nd floor with its glass walls looking out over the Belgian countryside (an additional two flights of steps take you to the outdoor viewing terrace). A slow walk back down sees the museum spread out over each floor, telling the story of how WW1 unfolded, and the part played by Belgium in the conflict. We spent a very though-provoking 2 hours making our way down to the ground floor, where an ice-cream van was conveniently waiting to sell us some delicious ices. A quick stop off at the supermarket on the return journey and then an evening spent chatting and packing ready for the last leg of the journey to the ECCR.

All ready for the convoy

After congregating in the carpark, we were all ready to convoy the final 80 miles to the ECCR. The journey went well, and we were among the first ‘foreign’ arrivals, which meant that we were able to get a good area, with all of us together. With a total of 23 caravans we made 4 rows, arranged in 2 streets, we appeared to be the biggest group within the rally. Once the flags and bunting went up it was impossible to miss us! After a quiet night on camp, Wednesday was spent watching the rest of the caravans arrive. There really are some beautiful combo’s around and this gathering is definitely the place to show them all off en-mass.

After the opening ceremony on Thursday evening, where we were welcomed with prosecco and nibbles, the RCC members gathered together for the now traditional ‘bring-your-own-meal street party’. Having ordered our fresh bread on Thursday, as soon as we woke up on Friday morning, we (Paul) had to go over to the marquee to collect our croissants and baguette for breakfast. Friday proved to be warm and sunny and so we had a lazy start to the day, sitting outside the caravan and chatting to other club members. Several of the others went out to the shops and we decided to drive out to a local beauty spot to go for a walk. However, on the way there we both remarked that we could smell petrol, so Paul popped the bonnet and discovered that there was petrol spewing out from the carburettor, so we decided to abandon the walk and get back to the campsite as soon as possible, stopping only to get petrol and some provisions at the local supermarket. Of course, back at the caravan, as soon as to bonnet went up there was a collection of men offering to ‘help’. A couple of these really were helpful, the rest just a bit annoying! Unfortunately, in the process of sorting what he thought would be an easy fix, Paul broke off a bracket which was pretty vital. Fortunately, Alan was able to drive Paul to a car spares shop about 25 miles away where they bought a tube of epoxy resin to stick the piece back on. As a safe-guard, Paul also fashioned a temporary replacement from an empty drink can, just in case the glue didn’t work. Once stuck, it was just a case of waiting for it to dry and hope that it worked. The Friday evening entertainment was beer tasting and a rock-and-roll dance class, with caravanners having been encouraged to dress in 50’s or 60’s fashion. Trying to follow dance instructions in Belgian proved to be a bit tricky but we learned a ‘stroll’ as well as a couple of jive moves.

One of the two RCC ‘lanes’

Saturday morning dawned and promised to be another hot day. Paul felt hopeful that the glue had worked, and intended to go for a short drive out just to check that we were good to go, but by the time we had tidied up the ‘van for the open caravan session, and had set out a few things for sale at the ‘flea market’, it was getting a bit busy with people looking around at the goods for sale so we decided to stay put and chance it in the morning. We spent a pleasant few hours looking around and managed to buy a retro kitchen stand for or next caravan, and a very retro toilet to go in our toilet tent. Both will need a bit of restoration but should look good once done. By late afternoon it was time to pack away ready for an early departure next morning, then a shower ready for the Saturday evening closing ceremony, communal meal and band. We had a nice meal but the length of time it took to get everyone through caused lots of discussion as to how we can prevent the long queues when the RCC host the ECCR next year. The band struck up at about 9.30 and we had fun dancing until 11.00 when we returned to the caravan for a much-needed sleep.

We woke up at about 7am on Sunday morning, did the final packing, bid our farewells and left with fingers crossed that the car would be ok. The journey to Hook of Holland was pretty uneventful, just a small traffic jam neat Antwerp, which caused a bit of a worry as it was so hot, but we got through it and arrived at the port at about mid-day. After boarding we found our cabin, had some lunch, then a walk around the deck, before settling down for a snooze. All in all, the crossing passed in a very relaxed way, we even managed to freshen up with a shower before dinner and the drive home.

So, now back home, what can I say? Another fantastic performance from the little blue Herald, with just a peppering of tlc from Paul 😉

TSSC Norfolk Camping Weekend, 14th – 16th June

(Main picture from Flickr taken by Nivek.Old.Gold on our journey home)

Just a short drive this weekend as we were to attend the Norfolk TSSC camping weekend at Kelling Heath. We were first to arrive mid-afternoon, so got set up and waited for the rest to arrive. A total of 8 pitches were taken, but sadly not all had Triumphs parked on them. Mike had his TR7, and Dominic and Colin came in their Spitfires, but the rest had used modern vehicles to either tow the caravan or carry the tent. Friday evening was chilly so after a brief time sitting out under the gazebo we retired to the warmth of our caravan.

Saturday morning saw several of the others go off to the Broads, but we opted for a walk along the coast. We seemed to spend most of the day just ahead of a raincloud, but it eventually caught us up just as we reached Cley. We sheltered under a tree until the drops found their way through the leaves then decided to make a dash for somewhere more solid to shelter. Just as we set out, a bus came by, so we flagged it down and admitted defeat! By the time we reached the Mickleburgh stop, the rain had passed over, so we walked back up the hill and back to our pitch for a cuppa and cake. We all gathered in the gazebo for a ‘Bring-and Share’ BBQ in the evening, using the BBQ’s to keep us warm as it was another chilly evening.

After a lazy start on Sunday morning we were all packed away by about 10.30. Some of the group decided to go for a drive along the coast towards Waxham but as we would have to take the caravan we decided to head in the opposite direction towards home. It was short weekend in terms of camping but enjoyable none-the-less, and we were able to get to know a few people who we will meet again in the Peaks in a couple of weeks’ time. And of course, the only way to spend out first wedding anniversary!

Dominic’s Triumph Spitfire 1500
Mike’s TR7 with Colin’s Spit behind

TSSC Peak Run, 27th June to 1st July

We had heard a lot about the Derwent Valley TSSC Peaks Weekend so decided that this year it would be good to give it a go. We booked for the full 4 nights from Thursday to Monday and having worked out that it would be about a 4-hour drive we planned our departure so that we could stop at the Friendly Farmer for lunch. We arrived at the campsite at about 4pm and got ourselves set up, including the newly refurbished bucket and chuck-it in the retro style! There were about half a dozen other pitches taken, with the majority of people due to arrive on Friday, and once again Paul was disappointed to see a lack of Triumphs, although hopefully that more would arrive on Friday. As we were quite close to Manchester we had arranged to go and visit James in his new flat so set off by 9.00 on Friday morning to tackle to Manchester traffic. Apart from the jams and queues to get in and out of the city, we had a good day with James showing us around his new home including lunch at his favourite pizzeria. Back at the campsite, the evening was spent with a few games and light entertainment. We were introduced to a new game – Malkkey (which we will be buying when we get home) but opted out of the sing-along quiz as we felt a little unsure about what was going to be expected of us!

Saturday morning was scheduled to be a treasure hunt but we decided to go for a walk into Ashbourne. Unfortunately, by the time we got back everyone had started the treasure hunt, so we sat and chilled at the caravan. There was quite a build-up of anticipation for the evening’s entertainment from regular attendees, many of whom had brought fancy dress for the theme of The Sea. As newbies we were unsure about what to expect so hung about on the edges to just watch and learn! The many games and competitions seemed to involve lots of eating and drinking and generally making mockery of each other. Entertaining to watch but we weren’t quite ready to participate!

Despite the raucous of the previous evening, everyone was up and about early on Sunday morning for the famous Peaks Run. Having collected our directions we set out for what proved to be a very long but enjoyable run up through the Peaks as far as the Blue John Mines and back down again, including a drive through a fairly deep ford and a slight reroute as one of the planned roads was closed. We finished at Heage Windmill where we all had our picnics and made our judgements for the People’s Choice. We were thrilled to be chosen as runners up and were presented with a lovely photograph of the hills we had just driven through. Back at the campsite, many of the others had packed up and left. We took a walk to the next village for a pub meal then went back to join everyone else who was staying for a drink and chat.

Line up of Heralds at Heage Windmill

We were in no hurry to leave the following day so had a late breakfast in bed before packing away and leaving at about 11.00. We took a different route home and stopped off in a lay-by for a picnic lunch of whatever was left in the fridge. We reached home at about 3.30 having had a really enjoyable weekend in some good company and a great location.

North Norfolk Railway Vintage Transport Day, 6th-7th July 2019

We went to this a couple of years ago with the car and caravan but spent most of the show catching a train and walking around Sherringham. This year we thought we’d spend it at the car show. We managed, through a fellow classic caravan owning friend, to camp over on the Saturday night along side their caravan. This made it worthwhile setting up properly, getting the kitchen and our “new” toilet tent decked out with our recently refurbished Eltex bucket-and-chuck-it camping toilet. So yes, we were being proper show offs this year.

Eltex Camping toilet and Izal Medicated toilet paper.
Our refurbished Eltex camping toilet along with good ol’ Izal Medicated toilet paper.

It was a bit odd camping in a field as opposed to a proper campsite but with an invite to a fully sized retro caravan for a few drinks it certainly helped make it a weekend.
We were up bright and early on the Sunday not wanting to get caught in our nightwear as the classic cars arrived. It was a nice feeling sitting there having our tea and toast as a great selection of classic cars drove past and parked up.
There was a good selection of Triumphs on show and light blue with white stripe Heralds were in abundance (well two others). It was good to catch up with so many people that we knew now that we tend not to do so many local shows. We ended up being one of the last to leave the field, a great day and good show of cars.

Two other light blue with white strip heralds amongst the good selection of small chassis Triumphs.

RCC Essex Rally and Mersea Island, 26th to 30th July 2019

After a few cancellations (probably due to the weather forecast?) this ended up as a small rally of just 3 units in an absolutely massive rally field! Rufus couldn’t believe the amount of space he had to chase rabbits, this and the fact that the field was gated made it a perfect location for dogs. Whilst Rufus kept himself occupied, the humans set to work on the Pimms – a bit of an early start but it’s always Pimms o’clock somewhere!

With the forecast rain in mind we had taken our retro tent to act as a ‘club house’, so after a game of Molkky (which didn’t get at all competitive!) we all gathered for a drink and a natter.

As predicted, Saturday saw rain almost all day, but it didn’t really affect what everyone did, and we managed a few outings between showers. We gathered together for a joint BBQ in the evening, along with the obligatory quiz (which involved trying to interpret ‘Essex-speak’) and a few beers.

There was no set time to be off the site on Sunday so John, and Lynnsey, Mark and Harry set off after an extended coffee morning, while we opted to stay another night before going on to another site further up the coast.

This is a lovely site, with very friendly, welcoming owners. Hopefully one to be returned to, with perhaps a few more attendees next time.

Our next port of call was Mersea Island. Somewhere that we’ve both wanted to go to for a while. There’s something about crossing over a causway to get to an island. It was quite a trip down memory lane for both of us. Christina with her boys and Paul was he was a boy. Very expensive campsites but another one we can tick off.

Small but perfectly formed