Planning to round off our 500 touring season, we headed off down to Petersfield with Chairman Rod and First Lady Sally and after an overnight stop rendezvoused with Vince and Joy, Paul and Christine, Roger and Janet and Jack in his immaculate D.
Jack had a new engine fitted just before he came and on the journey down it had developed a misfire and done its best to jettison most of its oil.
So the six of us set off for the Portsmouth ferry with Jack coaxing his car along the M3 and determined to get on to the island.
After a very pleasant crossing we made the short trip to Ryde but Jack expired (his car that is) very shortly after landing. There was little the Fiat Fiddlers could do at this point on a busy road but Simon and Laura, good friends of Jack’s living on the island, came to the rescue with a tow to our digs. Some intensive Fiat Fiddling ensued and, with the AA man also involved, they managed to cure the misfire but the more fundamental problem of the chronic oil leak remained with all agreeing that this would mean a recovery back to the mainland.
Not a man to be beaten that easily, Jack coaxed the car along short distances for the shows on the first couple of days and then fitted himself into the rear of our car for the remainder of the trip, supplementing our walkie-talkie instructions with semaphore hand signals wherever he could!
So, after a traditional fish and chip supper the night before, Saturday dawned and we made the scenic overland trip the first day of the show on Newport Quay. This was a great setting with lots of exotic machinery for the men to drool over, the sun shone, there were lots of crowds and we had a chance to explore the delights of the town.
After a hearty and very sociable evening in a Sandown Hostelry we were up bright and breezy the next morning for the short drive for the second day of the show on the Esplanade at Ryde. The sun shone again and this time we had our own very special display area on a viewing platform suspended over a lake that only 500’s were able to access because of their small size. This turned out to be a delightful day, exploring the sea front, pier and great beaches.
With the formal business of the shows out of the way we had a couple of days to explore the island and on Monday morning we had a break from the cars and walked along the promenade from Sandown to Shanklin where a reviving coffee awaited before catching the bus back or returning on the IoW coast path, depending on the energy levels.
We then set off in convoy to explore the east coast of the island dropping in at the highly recommended Isle of Wight Pearl Centre where my wallet became somewhat lighter.
We then visited Jack’s good friends Simon and Laura (the Good Samaritans mentioned earlier). Simon and Laura moved to the island a few years ago from London and have taken on a wonderful old farmhouse in a very isolated location but with fantastic views. A whole article could be written about the house and our afternoon there but suffice it to say that the house and its gardens were very unusual and would keep Simon and Laura occupied for a lifetime and the collection of cars (including a Steyr and Simca special), spares and memorabilia meant that men had to be physically dragged away when the time to go came. Many thanks to Simon and Laura for their wonderful hospitality!
Steve and I have only been on the island once before for an hour or so but nevertheless, it was agreed by the others that we would be in charge of the itinerary for the last day – a very brave decision.
We headed north to East Cowes and crossed on the chain ferry to Cowes proper causing great interest and amusement to the ferry crew who halted the oncoming traffic for photographs!
As we posed for photographs on Cowes Quay, the wind blew Sally’s designer cap into the sea. This caused great hilarity to the rest of us but distress for Sally. Never fear Vince is here – calling upon his past scouting motto of “be prepared” he quickly acquired a crabbing line and after some expert modifications and a couple of practice casts, he managed to hook the cap and haul it back to dry land to a round of applause from us and quizzical looks from the locals who thought we were bonkers!
We then followed the coast road – very dramatic with the wild sea – to the quaint town of Yarmouth for lunch and a bit more exploring. Our final stop of the day was the famous Needles where the more intrepid amongst us ventured to the Old Battery where we explored the historic fortifications and hung on for dear life as the high winds continued to batter the island.
We returned back to our digs along the Military Road, which was ranked in the Daily Telegraph’s top ten drives and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Wednesday dawned and we made the short trip back to Fishbourne for the ferry to Portsmouth, some of us nervous about the crossing because of the very high winds, but we need not have worried, the ferry made light work of the crossing with the gale blowing us home.
Regrettably, our favoured route home along the A34 was closed so we had to divert to the M27 and M3 which, given the strong cross winds, was a bit of a white-knuckle ride at times.
Once again we would like to thank all our fellow club members who make these trips so special and full of laughs. And a big thank-you to Florence, our trusty little car, who once again didn’t miss a beat.