AOHO’s ‘Meet the Members’ Tour – Phil’s Blog

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Phil Robinson's Healey Elliot
Phil Robinson’s Healey Elliot


Day Three

So whats happened today.  Well the idea of today was to finally give Eric Hall a go in his old but now re-built Elliott.  This was a great moment but more of that in a bit.

The day dawned with a slightly thick head after a brilliant meal at the Queen vic pub in Maldon.  Maldon and the hotel itself were superb.  Maldon is an old town that sees tug boats coming through when the  tide is high enough.  The hotel has recently been refurbished but lost none of its character.  It had its own brewery in the old stables that brewed up a decent pint.

Off we went in the morning but firstly I had to take a look at the oil leak I had under the boot!!   Terry had me slightly worried when he came in and said our Elliott has a leak.  It turned out to be an oil can had leaked. Anyway once underway we had  to cross the Thames estuary.  To begin with we were led by Bob Collins as we were ‘on his manor’ so to speak.  Bob was saying goodbye after a few miles as he went home and we continued to the QE2 bridge.  It was so striking how the traffic changed very quickly and the attitude of the drivers switched to a lot more aggressiveness than politeness.  Anyway we toughed it out with only one mishap en route.  My Uncle Frank driving my Healey 100 decided to run up the back of David Griffin in the Beutler.  There was some damage so he is in the bad books!

On we went to the Thee Blackbirds in BexleyHeath where everyone parked and I drove to Eric and Jenny’s house nearby.  I arrived and Eric was ready and waiting and I guided him into the car and drove the short distance to the pub where everyone was waiting.  I gave the Elliott the beans (went fast) to show what it was like and Eric commented how wonderful it was to be back in the car.  They recounted how they took their daughter on many a holiday with a made up baby seat in the back and even told me that they went to Warwick in it on their honeymoon.  Eric’s friend Barry drove Eric’s Silverstone to the pub and as Bob had gone home it was good to have another Silverstone on board.  Two hours quickly went by but not without us learning something from Eric.  His memory of the car is still very sharp even today.  If your not aware Terry and myself live in a small village called Wingrave in Buckinghamshire, with the next village being Wing.  It turned out that Eric was stationed at RAF wing in the war.  Who knows he may have even danced with my Gran or Terrys Mum back in the day.

We left, saying our goodbyes to Eric and Jenny and their friends and decided to go to Faversham, mainly due to their recommendation.  It was a lovely town for an afternoon tea stop.  We then drove to Ramsgate where we all convened n the bar at about 6, where we sat on the balcony watching the sun go down over the estuary  before retiring to the restaurant for dinner.  The hotel we are staying in has a tunnel and after enough beers we plucked up the courage to ask the staff where the tunnel was that went from the hotel, under the road to the bar.  We found it and a photo is attached.

Tomorrow is  a longer drive to Batemans the home of Rudyard kipling (who wrote The Jungle Book) for lunch then onto Bognor Regis to meet Clive Willoughby.

Day Four

Well it was a day of coincidences today, but more of that in a minute…

We had a great night in the Pegwell Bay Hotel in Ramsgate and after a good breakfast we steeled ourselves for the day ahead and packed up our cars in the rain.  We had further to drive today and the start was wet, very wet.  Frank put the roof up on his 100, whilst Dave and Jim toughed it out.  After a quick fuel stop we set on our way to Batemans, the former home of Rudyard Kipling.  Our aim was to meet Bill Cakebread and his wife, Val, where he had arranged for a line up in the car park.  The route to Batemans was great with many swooping corners on the A and B roads.  Indeed a few off us reported the back ends stepping out once or twice.

We arrived on time at 12.00 and sure enough Bill and Val were waiting for us in their fantastic green Silverstone. Then to everyones delight John Carpenter turned up in his Abbott.  We know John from our trip to the Nurburgring in 2017, so it was great to see him again, and it was our first Abbott on the tour.

We all convened in the tea room, where by now the weather had changed to a beautiful Autumnal day, and then coincidence number one.  Barry and John and their wives walked around the corner.  Barry is the big hearted guy who regularly takes Eric Hall out in his Silverstone.  We had seen the four of them the previous day at Eric’s.  They didn’t know we would be there so we made a joke about them stalking us and insisted they joined us for a group photo in the car park.

We all spent  a good two hours looking around Kiplings home and thoroughly enjoyed it.  He was a keen motorist, often being chased by the police in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s in his cars.  His first was a steam car before purchasing a Lanchester.  His favourite, an early Rolls Royce is still in the garage at the house.

It was time to go as we had an appointment to see Clive Willoughby.  We were a little apprehensive about the drive as the area can be congested, but some careful planning by TBW, ensured we missed almost all of it.  We were not far from Bognor Regis, when a Toyota Avensis muscled into our four car convoy and split us up.  I pulled in for him to overtake but he refused to.  I was cursing and moanaing in the car and then after a couple of minutes I said to Ralph, that looks like Clive Richardson.  Sure enough it was.  He had encountered us on his route to Bognor and joined the convoy.  We arrived into Bognor, quickly checked in and then we were off again to meet Clive.  It was only a very short drive and in literally 3 minutes we were lined up in the Dunes, right by the beach with a few local residents cars.  There was a very nicely presented Alvis which caught my eye.  The local residents all came out and there was even some racing royalty.  The chief mechanic from Maclaren from the 80’s was there.  I have forgotten his name already.  We were also pleased to meet Chris pilbeam and his wife who had made the effort to come see us.  My phone went off and another member was en route to see us.  John Jaap turned up and its always great to see him.  I noticed another gentleman showing an interest in Tony’s Westland.  After a quick chat we realised he was a member as well.  Julian Parsons had come from Worthing to say hello.  We invited him to join us for dinner and he came along with his wife.

Dinner was a fantastic meal expertly organised by Clivea at the Lamb at Pagham, and eventually we all toddled off to our beds after an excellent day all round.  Today sees us off to Blandford forum to meet Richard Bonham Christe and a number of members, then onto Exeter to have dinner with the HDC.  Oh and by the way its Anns 70th birthday today!

AOHO Meet the Member's Tour - Day Four

Day Five

Day 5 dawned blustery and a little chillier, It is starting to feel autumnal.  We had a busy day planned today with out first stop at Blandford forum at the Charlton Inn, kindly organised by Richard Bonham Christie.  The journey there went well especially the run down the A354 where we let our Healeys stretch their legs and we arrived on time.  What a great stop.  The pub location was perfect and it had a great carpark, alongside the main road.  We lined up our Healeys and the number of people going by and acknowledging us was superb.  We had a number of members join us, including Roger Crouch, John Humphreys (both ex-committee members), and Nick Fletcher.  Roger had a lovely Alvis Healey, which parked next to Warrens Nash Healey, showed remarkable similarities in the body lines.  John and his wife had turned up in his beautiful Westland and Nick came in is Riley as he hasn’t quite finished his Silverstone.  We had an amazing buffet lunch as there was so many of us.  Richard had invited some other classic enthusiasts, so we had a number of other models there as well, Including a Tornado Talisman.  This pleased my Uncle crash happy Frank, who has a Gilbern Invader.  He has been taking some mickey taking about plastic cars built out of bath tubs.  He almost jumped for joy when he say that Richards really nice looking Silverstone had a fibre glass body.  You had to look close as it is done so well.

Towards the end of the meet, Neil and Cass Collins turned up all the way from Essex, to join us on the rest of the tour.  We said our goodbyes and then left for Exeter.

We had planned a route to go around the top of of Weymouth, where we had planned a tea stop whilst Terry picked up one of Ann’s old friends who would join us in Exeter and help celebrate her birthday.  As Terry picked Sue, his starter motor fell to pieces inside the flywheel housing.  We decided to push on literally by push starting Terry.  Ann and Sue decamped into the Beutler with David as there is more room in the back.  Sue said the ride was exhiliarating and it seemed so as the statice from the fibre glass roof caused her hair to stand on end.

We arrived into Exeter at the wrong time as we hit the rush hour.  We all know what Healeys are like in traffic, so we were finally glad to make it into the car park.  Terry decided to leave the starter motor till the morning as it was Ann’s birthday.  We stayed at the White Hart Inn in Exeter, which proved to be the worst hotel and food of the tour by far.  It was a shame as the place had atmosphere.  They even ran out of beer for an hour (criminal as it is a Marstons pub / hotel).  Still we didn’t let it dampen our spirits as we were being joined by our friends from the HDC.  A significant number turned up including Pam Cummins.  It really was great to see them.  We were also joined by Paul and Ros Delderfield and Simon Purser (who owns the ex Tony Brookes Silverstone).  It was a great night in the end as we celebrated Anns birthday.

AOHO Meet the Members Tour Group Photo

Day 7
It dawned nice and bright and Cass and Neil breathed a sigh of relief and set about drying Neils trousers out with a  hairdryer as the Laundrette was not open until 9.  We had a reasonably long drive from South Molton to Beckhampton ahead of us, and wanted to get on the road early.  Off we set at about 9am onto the roads of Devon.  And what roads they were.  Well to be honest apart from the short section of the M5 we had to do they were fantastic.  The pace seemed to pick up and we encountered some pretty spirited driving on fast A roads.  It was great fun to be honest and when we finally stopped for lunch there was smiles all round.  Our morning coffee stop was at the Haynes Museum.  This was pure chance that we drove by, so we decided to stop and use their café.  The site is impressive and holds the biggest collection of classics in the country.  Even their coffee was excellent.  There was some talk of the AGM there next year so we will see.
The lunch stop was a beautiful pub with excellent food, organised by Bas and Marjorie Sykes.  We were also honoured to have Bill and Mary Sheppard make a big effort to come and see us.  Bill has been poorly of late but is slowly on the mend and hoping to get back into his Alvis at some point next year.  We had one other member join us, none other than Peter Healey.  He had arrived in a well turned out Sprite, although he did tell me that he had located the Sprite he first owned when he was in his early twenties and was hoping to purchase it soon.  
The two hour slot disappeared far to fast as usual and we were back onto the road for the shorter run to Cheltenham.  Again the roads were spectacular as we were blessed by the traffic gods and once again the driving took to Mille Miglia style.  All too soon we arrived at the Double Tree in Cheltenham, where we were joined by Ken and Joyce, in Oly the Abbott.  This was great as it completed the list of major models for us to drive into Warwick the next day.  We quickly washed and convened in the bar to watch the England game of football and then we were off to dinner.  Dinner was very good with the presentation of the food being excellent.  Most people retired early to catch up on a few zz’s.
Day 8
AOHO Members in Warwick
Again it  was a beautiful crisp day and after a good breakfast we jumped into our cars and lined up in the car park.  Richard Scargill had turned up in his Elliott the night before but had to turn round as his lights had failed.  He re-joined us in the morning and off we went on our hour long journey into the centre of Warwick.  We had 10 cars in a row, which is always very difficult to keep in a convoy.  We were extremely lucky as we had little trouble keeping together.  We arrived at a planned stop at the Halford Arms on the Fosse Way, where we had arranged to pick another member up.  Robert Birkmyre was waiting for us and he chose a ride in Franks car (Warwick 100).
We arrived into the market square to find Harry Barnes waiting for us in his lovely powder blue Abbott and Peter Richardson and Roy Thomas as well.  The space fitted the number of cars perfectly and we parked up and set about enjoying the autumn sunshine.  The response from the public was really excellent.  There was a constant stream of people asking questions and invariably being surprised that all the cars were made locally.  Harry had chatted to a south African guy called Clive, who proclaimed that he was Donalds great Nephew.  He was there purely by coincidence.  He waited for us to arrive and sure enough you could see the family resemblance.   Clive had a great look around all the cars and was amazed by them.  We were also treated to visits from Nick Maltby, who has been updating his website with all the information on the tour.  It can be found here, and Robert Eyre who is the archivist responsible for the Healey collection at the Warwick archives.
Soon enough it was time to say our goodbyes, we had a quick group photo and off we went home.
So in summary we travelled about 1100 miles (from Wingrave), and involved a total of 36 members.  In fact as TBW and I got home and Terry found his phone we realised we had missed Bernhard Linck who had travelled all the way from Germany.  He is here in Wingrave now and we will take him to Warrens today, so lets call that 37.  
Hopefully you have all enjoyed the blog
See you all sometime in your Healeys.
Take care.


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