The Lee Holland Stages, Anglesey, March 2014
The day started well enough, the weather was warm and there was a slight daffodil nodding breeze. The sun however was a little on the shy side for my liking and was slowly been bullied into submission by a dark cloud or two that loomed above. Still there was no knowing what the weather on Anglesey would be like until we got there as it seems to exist in it’s own little weather bubble. A change in plan was in order for today as Tony and I were travelling in one of the vans with Jon and Rob. It was a bit reminiscent of being in a mini bus on a school trip although I found it quite comical when Tony nodded off at one point and then promptly slid sideways and fell off the end of the seat when Jon went quickly round a roundabout! It could be said that was just deserts for him forgetting to pack the camping stove so I could cook the hotdogs on Sunday. Yes that’s right, Tony only had “one little job to do” and that was to remember to pack the stove into the van when he was in the garage loading tyres and spare car bits ‘n’ bobs all of which were of no use to me in the cooking of hotdogs! There then ensued a lengthy conversation about alternative means of cooking hotdogs that included the use of a kettle and a microwave, not together I may add, but it all amounted to nothing as Tony was instructed to by another cooker when we stopped at the shop near the track.
There were no police stops this trip so we made it to the track for scrutineering in good time. Having successfully passed over those irritating little speed bumps, that make your whole world shudder, we pulled into the track and it was noisy and quite busy when we got there as there was a track day taking place. No time to watch though as the car was whipped out of it’s protective shuttle quicker than you could blink your eye. Well it nearly was. Tony’s other little job to do was to watch Jon reverse off the trailer. Not a difficult task you may think but I am not sure Tony’s mind was was all together on the job in hand as the more Jon reversed, the more the shuttle lid closed back down. Stop! Stop! came the cry. They say a photo can speak a thousand words and I think the one below perfectly explains what had happened!
Right, noise testing first – check. Scrutineering next, suits and helmets – not check. Where were the suits and helmets? They were in the van with the navigator. Where was the navigator and his van? Well …… they were stuck in Bangor and we were at the track. First rule of rally club: always keep the suits and helmets with the car – will be a check for future events! P.S. They didn’t have any camping stoves at the shop. Camping gas canisters, yes, but camping stoves, no. Tony appeared with two disposable BBQ’s. I just rolled my eyes and chuckled……thankfully I had made sandwiches. Errrrrmmmm where were the sandwiches and the food bag? Stuck in Bangor with the navigator, his van, the helmets and the suits! Oh and nice prank call Tony on the way to the hotel. I’d already checked there was room for you in Andy’s van before I left with Jon and Rob so no, you weren’t stranded at the track!
It’s become a bit of a home from home the hotel we stay at each time we race on Anglesey. We seemed to be the only guests this time. Richard made himself at home behind the bar and a round of applause erupted when the land lady confirmed a supply of bottled cider and a bottle of Disaranno. Little faces soon began to look worried though when she also confirmed a very limited supply of Guinness was available. Who was going to change their drink of choice then? Newbies or Oldies? Soon I found it quite comical to see how much enjoyment a group of grown men can get out of reclining chairs and settees and later on most took great delight in shouting at the person on the telly in The Cube and telling them they were doing it all wrong. Food ordered it soon became time to sit down and eat. Now although the food was good there seemed to be the usual imbalance between the quantity of meat to vegetables provided. All I’ll say is that somebody in the kitchen must have a fetish for new potatoes and carrots. A few eyebrows were raised. That’s all I’m saying. Dinner over I decided to slip away quietly to my bed when the discussion at the bar turned to the rum selection and bottles with bits of bark in it! Yes, bark!
I’m convinced that somebody must have changed the clocks that night as there was no way enough sleep had been had before the dulcet tones of the alarm work me. Auto pilot kicked in…….got to be down for breakfast at 7……..yes, 7. I wasn’t last down, Josh was. What? He’s ill so get’s let off? Oh, OK, I was last down for breakfast. Well that’s alright because I didn’t want much for breakfast and I had wrapped up warm for the day with so many layers that if I didn’t get outside soon, I’d melt away! A smile erupted on Tony’s face as he practically skipped his way down the corridor, it was raining. Great. Rain is good for Subaru drivers who sit in a car most of the day in the dry, but is not good for those of us who are spectators…..and photographers….and journalists! Boo! Yay, I’d put a big brolly in the food bag before we left!
The rain had stopped by the time we arrived. The fog hung on though and wrapped everything in a veil of mist, the kind of mist that turns hair frizzy! Not that I was bothered though as the bone chilling wind soon made me put hoods up and up they stayed all day. My how people have become camera shy these days. I don’t seem to have my usual collection of “setting out base camp” photos this time round, just a lot of backs of heads as people see the camera…..I’ll get you all at some point during the day, when your guard is down, you’ll see!
The visibility wasn’t too good thanks to the clinging fog but a quick look over my shoulder showed a glimpse of sun warming the top of Snowdon. It transpired that that’s where the sun would decide to stay all day unlike at home where there were reports coming through of sitting out in the sun enjoying a drink or two. Hmmm. Oh yeah, I’d worked out if I registered for WIFI I got 15 minutes free, bargain! Tony had moved onto another part of the track for the rest stage one so I started to make my way back to the van for a warm. Hang on a minute. Was that Tony and Andy coming in? Earlier cars were still out. The sight of them appearing back into base camp brought people running in from all directions. Was there a problem with the car already? Not that flipping gear box again surely? It transpired Tony had spun the car and Andy lost his sense of direction (who wouldn’t when Tony turns the car into a Waltzer!) so they went wrong on the next split. Nothing to worry about at all Andy as even the most experienced navigators miss a split sometimes don’t they Mr M? It was good to get it out of the way during stage one as after that for the remaining stages Andy was nothing more than perfect each time. The Micra came back in after finishing round one and Richard the navigator emerged from the car in a snow flurry of paper. “They added an extra chicane and they didn’t tell us about it until the start line!” ……well words to that effect!
The boys did well in the following rounds and a great ‘friendly’ Subaru/Micra battle ensued for the rest of the day. A knocking sound developed when they came in after one stage in the afternoon. A lengthy conversation then took place over what exactly the sound was. It was quite funny. Tapping? Banging? Knocking? Flapping? So many words for just one sound.
It was a pretty uneventful drive back to Telford, we normally get stuck in traffic but the A55 behaved it’s self. After the cars were unloaded it was the normal quick turnaround and down The Plough for a celebratory drink…..or two. And the camping stove? That now lives in the back of Jon’s van and everyone is very happy with that arrangement 😀.