Saturday, 13 February 2010

Sunday Driving with Petrolhead Nirvana

Sunday 7th February saw unusualy mild weather for the time of year. So, who was I to turn down a chance to get the roof off and go for a brisk winters day blast? Meeting up at our favourite London haunt, the Ace cafe, we headed through the city and down to the coast.

Driving from London to Southampton would normally take around an hour in average traffic conditions via the M3 motorway.......but where's the fun in that!? I clamped a camera to the roll bar and off we went by a slightly more twisty, round about, route. The group included an Audi R8, BMW M3, Tazio, Ferrari 355 and f360 spyder, TVR Chimera, MX5, Cosworth, MGF, New GTR and my Sebring SX. We must have been driving very slowly because it took us much longer than the usual hour. Four hours later we arrived at the Jolly Sailor pub on the Hamble River had a leisurely lunch then took another 2 hours to drive home again.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Toy Run and New Years Day Meet

Well I've been back from my Overland to Oz trip for a couple of months now. Pedro arrived back shortly after me and is currently back in the Dreamshack having his engine rebuilt; it seems I may have cracked the crank case during that incident fording a river in Pakistan!

I've still been finding time for a bit of driving though; as well as regular meets at the Ace cafe with Petrolhead Nirvana we've also managed a few days out. Even at full fitness Pedro wouldn't stand a chance of keeping up with these guys so my Sebring is out of storage and back on the road. I realise most people store convertibles through the winter and use them in the summer but things have worked out a little differently this year.

On 30th december I met up with members of Petrolhead Nirvana, Fueltopia and Pistonheads at the Ace Cafe in London for our last drive together in 2009. Getting into the festive spirit we loaded our cars up with toys and headed across London to the Shooting Star Hospice in Hampton.

The Shooting Star Children's Hospice provides care, support and advice for children and young people with life-limiting conditions and their families. These care services are offered free of charge to families, 365 days a year across the western half of London and north Surrey. The care services are based around the needs of the whole family, so as well as caring for the children and young people, there are activities for siblings and support groups for parents and grandparents. This makes a real difference to families who find themselves in unimaginable circumstances helping them live life to the full by providing opportunities for fun and laughter, as well as helping them through the tougher times.

Shooting Star House provides expert care throughout the course of a child's illness and in the final stages of their life, supporting the family at all times.

Despite the Bad weather we had a good turn out of cars and received a warm welcome from the staff and children at Shooting Star who all wanted to take turns sitting in the cars, beeping the horns and hearing the engines rev. I think the smiles say it all.

We all loved meeting the children, families and staff and they certainly loved seeing the cars. It was really wonderful to see so many happy, smiling faces, hopefully we can return in the summer with even more interesting cars for them to play in.
Well we didn't get far into 2010 before the Petrolhead itch struck. Somebody suggested a New Years day drive and before you knew it we were tucking into hangover breakfasts at the Ace Cafe and set out to start the New years in style.
A new addition to the club joined us for the run down to the Phoenix Green "Weird and Unusual" car show, Mike and his white Audi R8. Also in the convoy were the usual suspects, F360, Viper SRT-10, BMW 130i, Mazda MX5's, Toyota Supra, Cosworth, Hawk Stratos and of course my Sebring SX.
Phoenix Green certainly lived up to the "weird and unusal" tag with a huge variety of fun, interesting, classic and, in some cases, quite frankly just odd vehicles which made everyone smile.
Someone mentioned Brooklands museum had a New Year car meet on too and we hit the road for a quick blast up to Brooklands. When we got there however we all decided we were too tight to pay a £9 entrance fee when we'd just had a great car show for nothing so spent the money on a pub lunch instead. It was a sunny but very cold day and I had the roof off so suggested one of my locals which I knew had a roaring open fire. Despite being in sunny surrey the Kingfisher aren't used to this kind of line up in their car park!

Friday, 30 October 2009


Things have been so hectic since I got back from Oz so my blog has been a bit neglected. I was back at work the day after I flew back to London and pedro arrived back in the UK last week, he's straight back in Mark's garage, Dreamshack, so I'm sure he'll have the engine out and the oil leak cured in no time. Further investigation will tell but his theory is that I've bent the crank case when I hit something underwater fording a Pakistani river. anyway, more of that later meanwhile back to where I left off.....

I flew from Singapore into Brisbane where Tracey, my best mate from school days, lives with her husband Gary (aka Reg). They emmigrated to Cairns about 11 years ago and only moved into their new house in Brisbane a week before I arrived!

They were surprisingly organised...not a box in site...they were all hidden in the garage! I did however hear the occassional cry of "Where's....?" "I can't find.....?" etc Apparently Nelson the dog doesn't travel well, Tracey spent the 3 day drive from Cairns hanging out of the window to escape the smell of his farts! Reg found this highly amusing as he was in their other car towing the boat. Nelson seems to have settled into his new home now though.

In need of some rest, I spent a couple of days chilling out, walking Nelson round the bay, drinking copious amounts of wine and rum in the evenings and eating yummy aussie seafood!
I've been to Australia a couple of times before so as I only had 12 days I decided i'd rather spend the time catching up with friends and family than sight-seeing. Tracey and I did manage one day out though, we drove along the coast and took the ferry over to North Stradbrooke Island.
After a huge seafood platter lunch we figured we'd better walk it off with a stroll round the coastline.

Tracey insists she saw two turtles in this inlet, I couldn't spot seems every time I turned away they resurfaced, hmmm.

Big signs warned of weak cliff edges......

This didn't stop Tracey showing off her builders bum though!

I didn't spot the turtles, we did both see whales off this headland though! Unfortunately they were too far off shore to catch them on my poxy compact camera (my slr lies in a watery grave and the insurance didn't pay up quick enough for me to get a replacement before this trip) I was stoked anyway, I've paid for whale watching trips a couple of times and never spotted anything so to see them unexpectedly, just off the coast was amazing.
After a bit of shopping in the fab little shops on the island we had to floor it back in time to catch the ferry!

After Brisbane it was a (relatively) short flight down to Melbourne where my cousin Jodie and her husband Aaron met me at the airport. Jodie's going to hate this photo but she kept trying to escape the camera so it's the only one I have. If you look closely you'll see Aaron in the background preparing the traditional aussie barbie.
last time I saw Jodie she only had one baby, now there's three! Have you ever seen such cheeky looking monsters? Charlotte, Harley and Britney.
Britney was desperate for me to see her riding her pony so here she is at Pony club. They have four horses and on my first day in Melbourne i had the dubious pleasure of accompanying Jodie to the vets where her horse Cruize went in a stallion and came out a gelding! I'll spare you the photos!
Uncle Ted, my mum's brother, and aunty Carol. Really good to see them again after so long and mum was over the moon to see pictures of her brother looking so well.

The night before I had to go to Melbourne for my flight the children tried to feign illness so they could say goodbye. I placated them by agreeing to go to school with them in the morning.
Harley, Britney and Aaron's daughter Lauren.

Jodie lives in Toongabie which is a 2 hour drive from Melbourne, she drove me back in to town and I spent my last few hours before my flight with aunty Carol's sister Valda, her boyfriend and her son's Matthew, Robert and Nathan.
Last time Valda and the boys saw me I was in hospital with lots of tubes in me! They had come to the UK on holiday a few years ago. Towards the end of their stay we headed to Dublin for a few days where I collapsed and was rushed to hospital! It turned out I had Pancreatitis caused by gall stones...a LOT of gall stones (I told my doctor my stomach hurt!!) I was kept in for two weeks before being deemed fit enough to travel back to the UK for further treatment which wound up being five ERCP procedures and open surgery resulting in 6 months off work!!
With flights to catch it meant Valda and the boys had to leave me in hospital, catch the ferry back to Wales and drive the car, which I'd borrowed from a friend, back to London. They felt terrible about leaving me when I was so ill but really had no choice and my travel insurance were brilliant, they flew my mate Beth to Dublin to accompany me on my flight home.
All the same it was an emmotional reunion and they were very happy to see me back on my feet. Valda managed to dodge the camera though....I'll get you next time!!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Thailand and Malaysia

After visiting Cope I was keen to get to Singapore as quickly as possible. I have to be back at work in London on 14th October which doesn't leave much time in Australia. So Thailand and Malaysia passed by quickly. I didn't want to waste time lost in Bangkok traffic so I took the ringroad, stopping for the night at Damoen Saduak.

The rooms in the guest house were dusty, dirty, had more cobwebs than the Addams family house and the bed sheet was a giant towel which was bizarre. The place had a kitsch wild west theme but was in a beautiful setting built over the canal and of course, near another gorgeous temple!

Damoen Saduak is famous for it's floating market on the canal. The guide book says it's not as "touristy" as the floating market in Bangkok. Of course the danger of guide books saying things like that is that it attracts tourists and the locals will cater to the tourists. Hence an abundance of tiger balm sales men and stalls selling tourist souvenirs. I have to confess to buying a few souvenirs and some of the beautiful silk scarfs.

A lot of tourists were hiring boats to "tour" the market which seemed like a bit of a con to me as you can walk round it all by the shore.
I bought some fruit from the boat ladies, just one condition, first I wanted to take a picture!

Just south of Damoen Saduak something rather special happened.....Pedro went round the clock!!!
00000 miles! Now if I want to sell him I can advertise him as "low mileage, careful lady owner, never raced or rallied" ;-)
At Hat Yai, a Thai town close to the Malay border, I faced a moral dilemma. These birds were for sale. I desperately wanted to buy one, set the bird free and then take the beautiful cage home for decoration, I thought they would look lovely with a trailing plant inside. Ultimately I talked myself out of it, figuring although I would have the satisfaction of seeing one bird go free, I would be encouraging the trade.

One of the more amusing juices available in Malaysian service stations!

Driving on to Penang Island I spotted a Volkswagon garage, Pedro wasn't sounding too great so we stopped in for a quick tune up and a carb cleaning.

White teddy enjoyed the surfing and I relaxed on the beach with a few Mojito's before a long, stressful drive to Singapore the next day leaving trails and puddles of oil behind us! The oil seal was replaced twice but didn't last long.

Due to the problems in China there is not enough time for me to drive around Australia, looks like I'll have to come back and do that as a seperate trip :-)
Pedro is now in a shipping container heading back to the UK. He wasn't allowed on the roll on/roll off ship because of his massive oil leak. I pointed out that technically he wasn't leaking oil anymore as it was all on the road, not in the engine. Unfortunately the shipping company like to be able to drive the cars on and off of the ship which would have neccesitated putting more oil in the engine....bringing us back to problem A. There's just no pleasing some people. I mean, the poor old car has just driven over 20,000 miles on some of the worst roads in the world!
Actually the shipping agents were wonderful; they made all the arrangements for Pedro to be shipped and got my flights booked so I was on my way to Oz next morning!