Wonderful Wales – tour in ‘Regie’ the 4cv

As usual when it comes to holidays, Mario gets left at home and ‘brother’ Regie the 4cv convertible gets to play, no offence to Mario but Regie is just a better car for touring, the 850 Dauphine Gordini Engine means we can keep up safely with modern traffic on the road, it’s more comfortable for longer journeys and hasn’t got a roof, which hopefully is a good thing!

This year we had decided to go on an organised car tour – Watton’s Wander, organised by one of James’ rally pals. It was a relaxed four day tour around South Wales.  As this was to be our holiday for 2016, we decided to make the trip West worthwhile and spent a couple of days visiting other motoring friends in Devon and Somerset on route. We had a lovely couple of days and Regie spent some time with one of his Girlfriends – Bluebelle a Morris Minor convertible, although he wasn’t so impressed with being left behind while Bluebelle’s humans took us for a ride to the seaside. It was fun and interesting to experience the differences between the two fairly similar classics.

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On a rather wet Monday morning we left our friends and set off for Wales. Our first stop and meeting place was The Plough Inn just outside of Llandelio, Carmarthenshire. We arrived in the early evening and had soon joined old friends and fellow entrants in the bar. By the morning the bad weather had cleared and we set off on out first adventure.

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Day one –  Pembrokeshire Coast and secret coves

After skirting Carmarthen, our first stop off was Laugharne, the home of Dylan Thomas. The Castle looked lovely but their was a very high tide and the area around it was flooded!

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A few miles further on was the famous Pendine Sands, unfortunately the high tide meant we couldn’t see the vast sands used for motor racing but we spend an interesting time at the Babs Museum. Babs was a land speed record car from the 20’s, the driver John Parry-Thomas was killed on the sands in Babs and the car was buried in the sand dunes until 1969 when it was exhumed and restored. The car spends much of it’s time at Brookland’s but luckily for us it was at Pendine.

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We had a lovely picturesque drive along the beautiful coastline, stopping off in St David’s to see the Cathedral and then the Llys-y-Fran reservoir and dam, which was also a Hill Climb course – obviously we had to have a drive up it.

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This trip is all very relaxed and not competitive, the benefit of which is you can go off route if you wish. It was disappointing not to see the actual sand at Pendine so we made a detour on our return route. We were hoping to get Regie on the beach for a picture but unfortunately the barrier was locked.

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Day two – the Black Mountains and Valleys

A rather chilly and grey day but dry and we were still ‘roof down’. The morning started in the valley’s with some rather tricky map reading designed to take us through a series of fords and some rather bleak mountain roads. Even James who is an experienced rally navigator found the instructions rather unfathomable but with James Mann and Tracy in the Vintage Lagonda we made it through to Llangadog and found a lovely pub for lunch, not long after most of the group joined us. ‘Josephine’ the Lagonda was was originally brought by James Mann’s grandfather in the 30’s and he competed in the Monte Carlo rally in 1936. James and his Brother took Josephine back on the Historic event last year on the 80th anniversary.

We were very impressed that the Welsh farmers had painted the sheep to match Regie!

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Towards the end of the day we stopped off at Talley Abbey. The weather was closing in and it looked very dramatic against the dark sky, we weekened for the last few miles back and put the roof up!

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Day three – The Brecon Beacons Valley’s and Hidden treasures

It was a beautiful morning as we packed up and left the Plough, for a stunning drive into the Brecon Beacons. The scenery was breathtaking as we traversed a series of mountain roads. Most of the group stopped off at the Penderyn Distillery, there wasn’t enough time for a tour but we stocked up on the lovely Brecon Gin which we had been drinking in the hotel.

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Stopping off for lunch at the Mountain Railway and afternoon tea in Brecon itself, we were soon crossing the famous Epynt ranges, home to many well known rallies.  The land is owned by the MoD, the army were very much in evidence and we just sneaked through before they began ‘Live firing’! It wasn’t much further to our second hotel the Lake Country Hotel and Spa at Llangammarch Wells.

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Day Four – The lakes of the Cambrian Mountains

Our final tour took us back West, the route up through the Elan Valley and the series of reservoirs was truly stunning. At one point a difficult spot of navigation went a little wrong and we ended up through a series of beautiful farms and tiny tracks until arriving at a gate – luckily unlocked and we managed to get through and join the original route.

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Lunch was at the seaside in Aberystwyth, fish and chips on the prom in the sunshine. Another stop at at railway drew quite an audience who wanted to know all about Regie and Josephine.

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The final drive back to the hotel took in lots of famous rallying roads, through forests, around reservoirs and across moors including this well known remote phonebox ‘Tregarron 262’ where, historically, road rally competitors would phone for instructions.

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The cars on the event were a mix of old and new with MG’s, Porsche, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Lagonda and more. Regie performed well and kept up with the Lagonda, everyone was very surprised at how well he went. It was the first time we had been on a trip like this and we really enjoyed it. The event finished with a great dinner at the hotel and a few drinks!, we’d had a fun week with old friends and made some new ones.

The following morning we set off for England, spotting this rather large group of Hillman Imps along the way. We saw quite a few groups of cars or bikes during the week as it is a perfect area with good roads for classic motoring.

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On the way back we detoured to Blaenavon, a world heritage site of Industrial Landscape. It was a great place and although we didn’t have time to do most of the attractions we did go to  the Ironworks which was an amazing place and well worth the visit. This is somewhere we will try to go back to in the future.

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The Road to Wembley 1966 – Goodwood Revival 2016

Better late than never, finally here we are looking back on the 2016 Goodwood Revival.

The Revival is Mario’s favourite weekend of the year and definitely his hardest. We were back again as part of the GRTC Goodwood revival Transport Corps working as period taxi’s to help keep the event working successfully. Our task is to move people between the circuit, Lavant Corner, the Kennels, Goodwood House and the Hotel. Mario was all spruced up for the event and wearing his rather splendid new roof rack.dsc01398The weekend started with the annual drivers cricket match at the house which always has a great collection of classics including this wonderful Autobianchi. It also has one of the best flying displays of the weekend.dsc01399dsc01400dsc01401dsc01403dsc01404dsc01429dsc01434

For the second year running we were working a new shift pattern which would allow us more time to enjoy the event. I don’t think this means that Mario works any less, just that it is crammed into a smaller time frame. The hours we were driving – on Friday we did 1pm until 8.45pm we just didn’t stop and over the weekend travelled around 300km. Mario was very well behaved this year and didn’t put a foot wrong, although he did need some work after the event to replace failed lights and part of the suspension!, it’s fun doing the taxi’s but it is hard on the cars and the drivers! Most people loved having the chance to ride in Mario and really enjoyed the experience although one rather grumpy lunch passenger did say that they “used to have cars ‘like these’ before they could afford a proper one” – rather rude we thought!dsc01550dsc01553dsc01554

The extra time for us, failed to materialise though, as we we had been invited with Mario’s ‘brother’ Regie the Renault 4cv, to take part in the daily ‘Road to Wembley’ parade which took up most of the mornings. It was fun though to go round the track and gave us an opportunity to take friends on a special trip. We had to decorate Regie for the occasion with scarfs, rosettes, World Cup Willie, Union Jacks plus replica programmes, tickets and of course wooden rattles to wave.

The whole Revival was themed around the 66 Football World Cup final with crowds of supporters, police horses, banners etc and there was a pitch hosting ‘the match’ at the drivers club. The parade was for cars that could have been on the road in 1966, driving to Wembley with English and German fans. It was good fun and even the Marshalls got into the spirit of the day playing football on the side of the track, out at St Mary’s.dsc01360 dsc01391dsc01395 dsc01396 dsc01453dsc01560dsc01467 dsc01470 dsc01474 dsc01483 dsc01488 dsc01490 dsc01494 dsc01499 dsc01502 dsc01504 dsc01508 dsc01510 dsc01511 dsc01515 dsc01524 dsc01527 dsc01532 dsc01537 dsc01541 dsc01542regie-at-goodwood-friday-9-sept-2016 On Saturday the weather was terrible, which made the parade a bit of a washout, roof up and it made you very aware of how bad the conditions were for the competitors with very poor visability.dsc01578 dsc01579 dsc01580 dsc01593 dsc01596 dsc01599 dsc01601 Poor Mario got absolutely filthy working the afternoon shift, the roads surrounding the circuit were dreadful and covered with mud from the carparks.dsc01617 dsc01619 dsc01620dsc01463dsc01610dsc01626 dsc01627 Sunday however was glorious and sunny – proper Goodwood weather. We managed to have a look around the site before and after the parade.dsc01636 dsc01637 dsc01638 dsc01641 dsc01644 A great area was the tunnel linking Piccadilly Circus and Green Park undergrounds, it had been built with great attention to detail (I spent 20 years travelling through Piccadilly Circus) the ‘staff’ were superb and there was even an original ticket machine.dsc01645 dsc01648 dsc01650 dsc01652 dsc01656 dsc01658 dsc01665 The sunshine made Sunday’s parade more fun.dsc01696 dsc01700 dsc01706 dsc01714 dsc01719 dsc01728 dsc01735 dsc01738 dsc01746 dsc01758 dsc01759 dsc01761 dsc01765 The Setterington Cup for Austin A40 Pedal cars is always popular.dsc01778 dsc01783 dsc01788 dsc01799 We even managed to get a quick look round the paddock.dsc01807 dsc01808 dsc01810
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And the Freddy March ‘Spirit of Aviation’dsc01813 dsc01814 dsc01816 dsc01817 dsc01820 dsc01822A brilliant desert display of military vehicles was a special exhibition to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the SAS Regiment in 1941dsc01825 dsc01826dsc01830dsc01832 dsc01834On duty driving between the hotel and circuit through Goodwood Estate gives you a wonderful view of some of the flying displays.dsc01842 dsc01843 dsc01844 dsc01846 dsc01850 dsc01852 dsc01857 dsc01861 dsc01862 dsc01863 dsc01872dsc01840So, we’re sorry for the lack of pictures of the racing or the rest of the stuff going on at the circuit but with working, the parade and the rain, we just didn’t get to see that much else of what was going on. We had a great weekend though with friends old and new and are looking forward already to Revival 2017.