A Report by Caroline Curran
The Northern Centre Weekend organised every year by the very competent Ken Broster took itself to the North east for a change of scenery and also to enable us to join with the newly formed local sub- centre and its delightful members.
The hotel for our weekend was the Copthorne in Newcastle and was situated on the banks of the River Tyne and all the rooms had a lovely view over the river and the old swing bridge.
The weather was predictable, cold and heavy rain, with some sunshine, but that did not dampen the pleasure in meeting old and new friends who enjoy this event year after year wherever it may be.
Some guests opted to travel up to Newcastle on Friday, however Tony and I travelled up on Saturday morning with the Stonier family. As we approached Newcastle we saw the amazing Angel of the North and wondered at the feat of engineering that has kept it upright despite howling winds and rain! Not long after this we had our first disaster - running out of fuel on a busy dual carriageway. Those of you who were in St Moritz with us will remember all the practice I had in directing traffic around stranded Healey’s and so remembering what I had learnt, I waved at very “reluctant to move” cars, to go around Mike Stonier’s and out car whilst Tony deposited the contents of the spare fuel can into the Healey. Tony swore blind that he intended stopping on the A1 for fuel but found himself in the wrong line at the critical moment. –(Sorry, heard this one before)
Anyway we arrived safely at the hotel shortly later and after a few hellos we went shopping in Newcastle and had some lunch with the retail therapy!
Those guests who arrived Friday had either gone to Beamish, winner of the 2005 large attraction award, or had simply gone driving around the Northumberland area. The rest went to the pub up the road to sample the fair.
The evening saw us all meeting up for drinks prior to being entertained during dinner by Howard, an excellent magician. His tricks and illusions kept us all concentrating at trying to catch him out but to no avail.
The following day brought more rain and our usual debate on whether to drive with “top on or off” was a non-starter. It was pouring down and grey skies surrounded us, so I’m afraid I did not have my usual argument about top on or off with Tony and gave in very easily.
The route for today’s drive had been organised by the members of the Tyneside Sub centre and took us out of Newcastle up the coast towards Whitley Bay, unfortunately it was a bit misty but you could still appreciate the beautiful coastline and the sandy beaches up in this part of the country. The road conditions were poor and coming out of Whitley Bay we had our second disaster, spinning out of control on a diesel spill on a sharp right hand turn, The Healey shot up an embankment, hit a post and came to rest peeping over the top of a golf course with some very bemused golfers looking at us in amazement. We had hit a marker post but as the ground was very wet, we had hardly done any damage to the car. I hope all the other Healeys arriving behind us did not have too much of a shock and Tony and I would like to thank everyone who came to our assistance. The car was pushed off the slope, inspected, checked over and appeared all right to drive. Special thanks also go to Murray Shand,
from the Tyneside sub-centre who shot off to his house nearby and returned with an indicator glass to replace our broken one!
We eventually set off again and followed the route through many lovely villages and past Bamborough Castle. The rain was unrelenting and unfortunately we had to give up following the route. We headed back to Newcastle, when I had the not so brilliant idea of trying to get to Hadrian's Wall to catch up with the other Healeys. Then the third disaster happened, the car suddenly stopped on a dual carriageway, we managed to coast into a bus lay-by and after pushing it up and down a few times to try and bump start it, we gave in and called the recovery service. They tried to charge the battery- no avail-the car was dead. At this point we decided to recover the Healey to the hotel and were awaiting a low- loader when we were joined by the Police- yet again the magnetism of a Healey with its bonnet up had won and they stopped to have a look. Having satisfied themselves that we were okay and fully taxed they left us to await the recovery truck. The other Healeys were by now returning
to Newcastle via the other side of the bypass. The first to spot the raised bonnet was Mike Smith and Alan Wilson, they stopped and started to look at what was up when Alan diagnosed that the fuel pump was dead! All that pushing up and down the bus lay-by for nothing!! I am going to start a new sub section of the club for the ladies called “The Healey Pushers Club” anyone want to join and get a tee shirt?
Photo by Bernard Jones.
We safely returned to the hotel and soon discovered that the faulty pump was yet again a non standard item. Fuel pumps everywhere and not one pump we could use. Then Mike Stonier came to the rescue with a Heath Robinson affair that Tony soon had fitted with the help of Bernard Jones and the car was running again, a great relief to Tony as he did not wish to see the car leave the event on a trailer. Many thanks to Bernard & Mike for the help and the loan. The evening was another success, with lovely food, good company and excellent entertainment from a very talented band. The trophy presentation followed dinner and a couple of new trophies were presented like the “Nearest car to Sprite” trophy which was presented to Neil Canterbury who looked very proud in his lovely blue mini. There was also a special presentation for the car most modified whilst on the event, which went to (yes you guessed) my Tony and he very reluctantly stepped up to receive his award (pictures were taken).
As always happens Monday morning brought the best day of the weekend for the weather we awoke to brilliant sunshine and it was made even harder for everyone to say goodbye. A number of guests who were staying on went off on the previous day’s route to enjoy it in the sunshine. Those guests heading south went off in groups and all seemed to end up in the Cathedral at Durham. We sat in the square in the afternoon sun eating fish & chips with the sun beating down (where were you yesterday?). Soon it was time to say even more goodbyes and we departed Durham homeward bound via the A1 and the M62, as we approached the Pennines we had more of the wet stuff and the hood had to be hurriedly erected. This was not before we had been soaked whilst pulling off the motorway to do it.
Many thanks go to Ken and Kathy for their tireless efforts organising the weekend, thanks also to John Stanger-Leathes (who was classic rallying in Wales and was unable to join us ) and his team from Tyneside sub-centre for their work on the Sunday run (you can’t plan the weather guys). Finally thanks to everyone who support these events by attending them, your company as usual was wonderful and it was lovely to see you all again. Tony and I look forward to seeing you later this year at other Healey events around the country / Europe / World. Have a lovely summer “happy healeying”