Today (Sunday) we spent a really enjoyable morning at The Classic Motor Hub which we’ve just discovered tucked away in the depths of the Cotswold countryside, about 10 miles up the road at Ablington near Bibury. As it was a warm and sunny day we took the TR3A; fortunately I’d given it a bit of a ‘spruce up’ in preparation because the general standard of the cars there was fantastic. We joined perhaps two hundred visitors, most of whom arrived in or on classic vehicles – everything from Massey Ferguson tractors to vintage Bugattis – and spent a couple of hours wandering around oggling the carson display as well as those in the car park.
Nineteen sixties Ferraris at several million pounds a go, Italian boy racers at extravagant prices, quirky French veterans, monstrous Americans, stately Bentleys, fabulous Aston Martins and even a canary yellow Rolls Royce fit for any pop star! You name it and it was probably there. Well worth a return visit on the first Sunday of the month.
Another monster photo day yesterday I’m afraid. Quite why we should have felt the need to take hundreds of pictures of classic cars is beyond me, but there’s something instinctive about wanting to capture the beauty of a vehicle that someone has spent countless hours doing their level best to bring back to factory condition – or better.
Outside of a museum I’ve never seen so many wonderful classic cars in one place, and the fact that each and every one of these was running as smoothly as it did the day it came off the production line up to 100 years ago is remarkable. Everything from baby Austins through to Studebakers the size of a bungalow, the exotic alongside the everyday. Brilliant – even for those who aren’t dyed in the wool petrolheads.
The Deco Festival takes place in Napier each February to celebrate the town’s re-birth following the 1931 earthquake and the fires that followed, which together did a pretty good job of levelling much of the town. Each year the locals and thousands of visitors from far and wide dress up in their 1920s and 30s finery and stroll or drive around the town, much of which was re-built in the deco style, enjoying the sun and the spectacle. Highly recommended for those planning to pass this way at around this time of year.
The last (and only other) time I was in New Zealand was as part of a round the world sailing jolly; having had a hand in the organisation I was fortunate enough to be able to take my pick of the legs and chose a 7 day jaunt across the Tasman Sea from Hobart to Nelson and then on to Wellington. On that occasion I met up with Bernard Redshaw, a Kiwi who had worked with me in Blandford for several years, and so we couldn’t pass through Nelson this time without again touching base with Bernard who now lives in the town.
Nelson is a gem of a place tucked in at the end of Tasman Bay with a wonderful mountain backdrop and a lovely benign climate. Having arrived on Saturday morning we spent an hour or so before lunch wandering around the weekly market which had a nice feel about it with genuinely local produce and nice knick-knacks – none of the mass produced tat that many ‘local’ markets in the UK seem to be full of these days.
The afternoon was spent wandering around the Museum of Wearable Art. Now, those who know me could with some justification leap to the conclusion that a display of clothing made from materials such as wire mesh, pencils and cable ties might not necessarily be my thing – but on this occasion they’d be wrong. It was simply fantastic, really well presented and well worth a visit if you’re in Nelson or want to spend a few minutes looking at the website. As a bonus the Museum also houses a collection of about 120 classic cars, most of which are in concours condition and another hour or so was spent wandering happily down memory lane drooling over the exhibits.
Yesterday (Sunday) Bernard kindly drove us out to Lake Rotoiti which is about 50 miles to the south east of Nelson and a really beautiful spot. We called in briefly at the ‘bach’ (country retreat) of one of Bernard’s friends, Pete, who very kindly gave us coffee before we popped down to look at his collection of ‘classic’ boats – as lifestyles go I’d say that the New Zealanders have got it just about right!