Wednesday 30 September 2015

Task 30: Take a Caterham for a spin in the Sussex countryside

Michael, our older son, is a mechanical engineer, and like so many engineers before him, decided to build himself a kit car. He collected various large pieces of metal, went on a welding course, bought himself a boiler suit and set to work in our garage. Meanwhile Andrew and I dreamt of being taken for nippy little rides along country lanes. That was in 2006. In 2011 I threw a wobbly, the pieces of partially welded metal were swiftly removed from our garage, and the kit car was re-homed in Derby where Michael lives.  Here's an up to date photo of the car, hot off the press, taken outside Michael's workshop. Note that the car now boasts two very fine embryonic front wheels and some interesting inner bits - that's definitely progress. But somehow I don't think we're going to get our ride in it this side of er - 2020?

So earlier this year when my friend Linda suggested taking her partner Peter's Caterham kit car for a spin as one of my sixtyat60 tasks, it seemed like far too good an opportunity to miss. 

On Sunday, the day before our Caterham spin, I experienced something of a sartorial meltdown - I mean, what does one wear when riding in a jazzy little sports car through the leafy lanes of Sussex on a sunny September day? In the end I decided that the best course of action was to model myself upon Bridget Jones (I refer you to the film Bridget Jones' Diary), who in the infamous sports car scene with Daniel Cleaver was modelling herself upon a screen goddess. On Monday Andrew and I duly eased ourselves (and I do mean eased ourselves) into the Caterham and posed for the camera. Here below are Bridget & Daniel and Andrew & me (I should just explain that Andrew and I are in the right hand photo in case you're finding it difficult to tell the difference).


Peter had spent hours fine tuning, polishing and buffing up the Caterham so that it would look at its very best for our mini road trip. Andrew firmly gripped the wheel, revved the engine, eased the car into first gear - and we were away! 

I suspect if anyone were to read through all my blogs to date, they'd notice that I have a bit of an obsession with the weather. I feel sure I use the phrase 'bluer than blue' far too often. But the sky was....well, very blue on Monday. Which was especially fantastic since we'd originally arranged to do the task on a summer's day in August and had to put our plans on hold because it was bucketing down with rain. This is what the view was like from inside the car on Monday.

Andrew did most of the driving through the leafy lanes. I took over for about 5 miles where the road was straight and not too bumpy, but in truth I really enjoyed being a passenger. It may not surprise you to hear that Andrew loved being at the wheel - he had a big smile on his face from start to finish (I watched him gradually morphing into Toad of Toad Hall). 

We met up with Linda and Peter at the Ginger Fox near Albourne for lunch. The food was wonderful and really good value.  We all returned to the car park feeling full of bonhomie (and calories) and took a selfie to mark the occasion. I do think Peter is looking a little squeezed out of the photo, which seems very unfair after all his hard work. Andrew and I returned to our own car. What an anticlimax. Andrew uttered small 'poop poop' noises all the way home. 

I'm really grateful to LInda for coming up with such a great idea, to Peter for allowing us to take over the controls of his special vehicle, and to both of them for being splendid Caterham companions. It was a lovely task from beginning to end - my scarf didn't fly off like Bridget's, the weather stayed dry, and the car wasn't stolen, even though Andrew accidentally left the keys in the ignition all through lunch...... 

Michael - over to you now - we're counting the days!

I'm doing the sixtyat60challenge to raise funds for Alzheimer's Research UK. For further information or to make a donation please visit my JustGiving page at  

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