We had decided to make a holiday of the weekend at
Prescott in the Cotswolds and to book a Bed &
Breakfast accommodation for Friday to Monday night
inclusive. That proved to be the first problem as the
first ten or so places I rang were booked up. Eventually,
after searching further afield on the internet, a room was
found at Bourton on the Water, which proved to be an
Friday morning dawned at home in the Peak District
with an early start planned. This was thwarted by the
incessant heavy rain, which kept us putting off our start
until the early afternoon. The rain persisted until we
were south of Birmingham and we stopped off for a coffee
break at a Little Chef. Several of the diners were taken
with the Healey and bombarded me with questions, until
another Healey pulled into the car park. The light blue
Bugeye of our friends Peter and Dorothy Hobson had chanced
to choose the same refreshment venue.
The evening at Bourton on the Water was delightful
and the sun setting on the Cotswold stone buildings was
spectacular, in contrast to the dining establishment,
which was decidedly indifferent albeit expensive compared
with up North.
Saturday dawned with a promising start and we spent
the morning exploring the lovely countryside in the
Cotswolds. Every time we stopped someone would come up for
a chat, mostly about the Healey. The natives were
decidedly friendly. We stopped for a coffee in
Broadway and were immediately approached by a
Japanese tourist who was keen to have the Healey in the
foreground of a photo with my wife and I standing grinning
foolishly beside it. More people approached wanting to see
under the bonnet. Eventually we hurried away with only a
brief time to gulp down a coffee before our parking time
expired. When we returned to the car even more people were
gathered around wanting a chat.
It was starting to drizzle a little as we arrived a
Prescott, but it held off enough for us to walk the hill
climb. Then it poured down in earnest for the rest of the
afternoon and evening. A few stalwarts tried the various
fun runs planned by the organisers, but the bad weather
put most of us off and we just drifted around the two
marquees chatting and waiting for the BBQ to fire up.
The marquees were crammed and seating space was at
a premium. We all departed that evening praying for a fine
day on the morrow.
Our prayers were answered and the Sunday weather
was just right. Not too hot and no rain all day.
The turn out was excellent, my guess is about a
couple of hundred classics, mainly Healeys. The hill climb
was busy all day and pretty well fully booked and the
concours event was well subscribed.
I had never done a hill climb before and on the
first run Ilma, my wife, decided to accompany me. I never
managed to get out of second gear and I was shaking like a
leaf when I finished. Ilma decided that I was on my own
A couple of solo runs found me managing my gearbox
more efficiently and on the fourth run I was accompanied
by Northern member, Terry Moores complete with video
camera and stop watch. I gave it my best shot and caught
up the car in front of me - my cussing was caught on
camera of course. Despite the hold up I had achieved a run
of 66 seconds, which was not too bad and I think I
bettered that on the final run.
Full of enthusiasm I had a chat with the HDI lads,
Pat Cooper and Alan Cameron, and hopefully I will give
hill climbing a shot next season, the Healey record for
the hill is around 54 seconds, so I have a lot to learn.
Monday and the weather was again fine. A day
touring around what was described as the 'Romantic Route'
of the Cotswolds. Most enjoyable.
A stop at Northleach and we had a chat with a local
builder, who had seen the Healey but did not associate it
with us initially. He told us he thought it belonged to
some fascist and had made sure that he had left sticky
finger marks all over it. (Fortunately for him he was only
That evening found us sitting at a table on the
pavement in Bourton eating fish and chips out of the
paper. It's years since we had done that. I am sure they
Even the trip home proved eventful. We stopped at
Stow in the Wold and parked up in the market place.
Immediately we were descended upon and had to show a
couple of guys the workings of the Healey. We escaped and
found a quiet alley where we stumbled on an art gallery
specialising in classic auto art.
The owner of the gallery, Nick Sykes, is also the
owner of a recently restored BJ8, a club member and a very
accomplished artist. He shut up shop and joined me to come
and look over my Healey, which was, once again, surrounded
by interested onlookers.
Nick, having lavished a lot of time, love and hard
earned cash on his Healey, swears he will never sell it.
At the same time he is reluctant to use it to any extent
lest it becomes tarnished. I can understand this view but,
having used mine more extensively over the past year than
hitherto, I now firmly believe that the greatest pleasure
in owning these classics is the driving of them. (Although
having just spent around six hours cleaning the wire
wheels after my return I have to wonder!!) A sample of
Nick's art can be seen below. If you want to commission
him to draw your pride and joy, bear in mind each drawing
can take around 100 hours to complete!
The rest of the journey home proved wet. A stop
over at Yoxall and a chat with my old friend Denis Welch
on how to improve performance, in the event that I sign up
for next years hill climbing competition, completed a
marks to David Morgan and his team for the organisation of
an excellent event.