Tag Archives: Triumph

Stags on Tour – 2024

The thing about blogging, and I recognise that not every blogger subscribes to this point of view, is that it really helps if you have something worthwhile to blog about.  Now, it certainly isn’t the case that we’ve just sat on our backsides and done absolutely nothing since returning from Spain twenty something months ago, but in all truthfulness there really hasn’t been too much to blog about – or perhaps more to the point, I just haven’t felt the urge to put fingers to keyboard.

But what about Stags on Tour 2023?‘, I hear you cry.  ‘Didn’t that memorable adventure get your creative juices flowing?‘.  Well, of course it did, but for some inexplicable reason I just couldn’t be arsed to sit down and write about it at the time, and as the months slipped past the passage of time started to become more of an obstacle than an incentive.  Still, one of the wonders of this ‘internet thingy’ is the ability to play all sorts of tricks, such as backdating a blog and pretending that it was written months ago – rather like handing in your homework a week late and convincing your teacher that it really was in on time!  So a short account of Stags on Tour 2023 will magically appear shortly.
Anyway, to business.  This year, the Famous Five (David, Jane, Denise, John and Finn the dog) decided to go exploring in South Wales.  Perhaps, given the weather we’ve had so far this year, thinking that we’d be ‘going topless’ in early April was a touch ambitious, but in the end the rain held off for much of the time, and we were able to feel the wind in our hair and the sun on our faces when the weather allowed.  This year it was the turn of the  ‘White Stag Team’  to set the route and do the bookings, so the itinerary looked like this:

  • Day 1.  Home to The Gower Peninsula.  Staying overnight at the Kings Head in Llangennith.
  • Day 2. Llangennith to Pendine Sands via Kidwelly Castle. Staying overnight at Caban.
  • Day 3. Pendine to Manorbier with lunch in Tenby and staying overnight at the Castlemead Country House.
  • Day 4. Manorbier to home, skirting the northern edge of the Bannau Brycheiniog (that’s Brecon Beacons to you and me) National Park.

Tuesday 2nd April dawned reasonably dry and clear, so after meeting up with the Green Stag Team just off the A417 we headed westward around Gloucester and into The Forest of Dean.  The Green Stag had their top off, so before long we followed suit and were enjoying the gentle ‘burble’ of 16 cylinders singing in unison.  All would have been well if the route I’d chosen hadn’t slavishly followed the A465 ‘Heads of the Valleys’ road from Abergavenny to Neath, which just happens currently to be the largest civil engineering project in the western world! Well, perhaps I exaggerate just a touch; but believe me, if you want to enjoy free-flowing, open-top motoring – pick another route.

Arriving on the Gower, our route took us to The Mumbles where we’d hoped to enjoy the allegedly stunning scenery, but unfortunately by this time the rain was falling, so after a short walk and coffee stop we made our way to Llangennith and the King’s Arms.  Comfortable accommodation and a bar within STAGgering (see what I did there?) distance made this a good choice; so Day One’s objective was achieved with the troops all in good order.

Day Two started with a visit to Kidwelly Castle which, I must admit, I’d never previously heard of.  Famed for having been one of the most powerful castles in Wales, to say nothing of having featured in the opening scene of ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, it’s well worth a visit if you happen to be passing (which, to be honest is unlikely). Our next stop was Pendine Sands, which had its moments of fame in the 1920’s when the seven mile long beach became the location of choice for those brave enough to make attempts on the world land speed  record. Rivalry between Malcolm Campbell and John Parry-Thomas saw the record pushed to 174mph until, in 1927, Parry-Thomas was tragically killed when his car overturned at more than 170mph.  We stayed in the brand new, and quite comfortable Caban, which sits alongside The Museum of Speed, right on the beach.

A room with a view, or what?

Unsurprisingly, the Museum’s focus is the history of the various speed record attempts, but most importantly it’s the usual location for ‘Babs’, Parry-Thomas’s record-breaking car, which after the fatal crash lay buried in the sands until it was unearthed in 1969 and subjected to a 16 year-long restoration.  Unfortunately our visit coincided with the car’s absence for some essential repairs – shame they didn’t think to tell us that before we paid our entrance fee!Day Three was dry and sunny for our short journey to Tenby which, I confidently informed my traveling companions, I had last visited on a family holiday in 1955 – aged three.  If the town looked a tad unfamiliar to me it was probably unsurprising as I’ve subsequently discovered that the holiday was in Teignmouth; so, wrong town, wrong county and wrong country, but otherwise a very understandable mistake.  Our accommodation that evening in Manorbier was a bit of a mixed bag.  Clearly trying to live up to its ‘country house‘ name, it’s obviously tried hard to cultivate a ‘shabby chic’ atmosphere – well, they got the first bit spot-on, but chic it definitely was not.  Having said which the evening meal they provided was excellent.

Our journey home on Day Four was pretty uneventful.  We deliberately chose a more northerly return route to avoid the roadworks on the Heads of the Valleys road, and this took us through some wonderful countryside skirting the Brecon Beacons.  I had a momentary panic as we passed Sennybridge Military Training Area until I remembered that it was just a 40 year-old memory and I’d no longer have to dig innumerable trenches and traipse across endless sodden hillsides while muttering those memorable words ‘if it ain’t raining, it ain’t training’. Arriving back in Gloucestershire Stags on Tour 2024 ended ‘happily ever after’ with the sun shining, the cars purring and The Famous Five already thinking ahead to their next adventure and what trouble we might get into………  I’m looking forward to it already.

A West Country Stag Party

This would be a pretty poor ‘Triumph Blog’ if it didn’t occasionally include some mention of Triumphs – so here goes….

Some months ago our good friend Dave Hardy suggested that we take our Stags (he and Jane have a lovely green MK2) for a short road trip to the West Country, and as he volunteered to do the route planning and hotel booking we could hardly refuse.  Despite having to delay the start by a couple of days to enable us to attend Tom and Emily’s marriage ceremony, that still left five days for a blitzkreig tour which, as it turned out, was just about right.

  • Day One.  (Monday 3rd April). Met with David, Jane and Finn (the dog) in Cirencester before enjoying a gentle cruise down to the Blue Ball Inn at Linton, stopping for a break at the Windmill at Portishead.  A topless afternoon drive along the north Somerset and Devon coast and an exciting blast up Porlock Hill – will the cars make it?…… No problem!  Joined for supper that evening by Simon and Debbie Kidner, who live just around the corner.
  • Day Two.  A lovely run across the eastern edge of Exmoor with a brief stop for coffee at Heanton Court – a Hardy ancestral home! And then down the coast for lunch and a short stroll around Boscastle, marvelling at just how high the floods went in 2004 (was it really that long ago?). Nice weather – so topless again for the afternoon run down to Fowey.  Overnight at the Ship Inn.
  • Day Three. The day started with a brief, and rather damp, ‘sea cruise’ across the Fowey River on the Bodinnick Ferry before visiting Slapton Sands for a short walk and to collect a £25 parking fine.  Followed by an interesting drive along some of the smallest and muddiest lanes that our intrepid leader could find to the Waterman’s Arms near Totnes.  Supper that evening at the nearby Maltster’s Arms. 

    In France we call zis ‘ze carwash’
  • Day Four.  Another cracking day and another opportunity to get our tops off.  Our lunchtime stop was at Lyme Regis, beloved holiday destination of Mrs Ewbank, before a pleasant drive along the coast, with great views of Chesil Beach, ending up at The New Inn at Cerne Abbas.  At supper that evening we were joined by Jane’s brother-in-law, Jeremy.
  • Day Five.  The final leg of our ‘Staggering Adventure’  took us home through some of Dorset’s most scenic countryside (topless of course) and eventually back to Cirencester. 

In all we covered just a tad short of 500 miles with no breakdowns or dramas of any kind (leaving aside the parking fine!).  Lovely places, good food and great company – what more could anyone want?

Hark the Herald almost sings!

Our trip to Spain and Portugal seems like a very long time ago – but the summer hasn’t been wasted because I’ve been putting quite a few hours into completing the rebuild of our 1971 Triumph Herald 13/60 convertible.  I’d originally planned to have it completed for the Tufty Club meeting at Stratford in early August when the 60th birthday of the Herald was being celebrated but, like most ambitious deadlines, that milestone came and went and the car is still a little way off being ready.

As I shall be ‘off the road’ for a few weeks in a fortnight’s time I thought I’d put up a few photos of how the car now looks – just to prove that all those hours in the garage haven’t been completely wasted….

I Like A Challenge

I like a challenge and, although I’ve probably got more than enough to keep me busy for the foreseeable future , when I heard about this rather unloved little Triumph Herald convertible I couldn’t resist going to look at it and ………. well one thing leads to another.  So we now have four Triumphs and I have a BIG challenge for the winter months.

This latest member of the Ewbank stable is a 1967 Herald 1200 convertible which by all accounts has sat, untouched, in a garage for at least the last 26 years, maybe longer.  It has 89,000 probably genuine miles on the clock and although the bodywork is tatty and a bit rusty in places the car seems to be generally sound – which is to say that it’s only rusted through in one or two places!  The engine currently seems to be seized but with a bit of luck and a lot of gentle persuasion I’m hopeful that I may be able to get it turning again and hopefully save it from the scrap pile.

Hours of endless fun in prospect.  It’s strange how these enthusiasms addictions can take you isn’t it?

Move over Fangio, Denise is on the track!

Driving the TR3A on the open road is great fun but we bought it with the intention of also using it on the track from time to time, so when the opportunity came we booked ourselves onto a TR Register Track Day at Blyton Park on Lincolnshire.

Whilst I don’t think that either of us is completely ready for F1 just yet, and the Triumph didn’t seem to have quite the poke of some of the other cars on the track, we had a great time storming around the relatively short circuit trying to keep out of the way of our fellow enthusiasts.  The TR behaved magnificently throughout the day, though the smell of overheating brake linings and rapidly thinning oil reminded us that any 56 year old vehicle deserves to be treated with respect – unless of course you have deep pockets.

Denise first track day at Blyton Park
Denise on one of her early laps and accompanied by Simon from TR Enterprises – hopefully the poor chap will recover soon!

A very enjoyable Saturday was spent with the Lunt family who, as usual, were wonderful hosts, accommodating and feeding us royally and taking us off to a fascinating garden at Hall Farm in Harpswell.  Our visit just happened to coincide with an Archaeology Day where we learned the answer to the age-old question ‘when is a Saxon wall not a Saxon wall?’ and were given valuable instruction on how to extrapolate medieval living standards from a single shard of pottery.


On Sunday morning we were once again up to our metaphorical nuts (and bolts) in Triumphs when we spent a few hours at the very well organised TR International weekend at Lincoln Showground.  What can I tell you ……… there were lots of Triumphs.

TR International - Lincoln July 2016
Now, where did we park the car?

Le Mans Classic 2016

Working on that age-old (and probably deeply flawed) principle that lightning seldom strikes in the same place twice, and having replaced the Stag’s steering rack after it let us down at Laon earlier in the year, we decided to chance our luck once again and set off confidently for the Le Mans Classic along with the majority of Gloucester TSSC members.

TSSC gathering at le Havre en route to Le Mans
Preparing for our own ‘Le Mans’ start as we exit the Le Havre Ferry Port – any resemblance to a convoy is purely coincidental

As it turned out the car behaved impeccably from start to finish and thanks to the perfect weather, great classic racing and some very sociable company we were treated to a memorable and very enjoyable long weekend in La Belle France  – just don’t get me started on Brexit again!

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The real thing! The start of the first race for Vintage cars – Talbots, Bentleys, Bugattis, you name it and it was racing.

A New Baby!

Yesterday was ‘collection day’ for the latest member of the Ewbank fleet.  After an early morning start, and a two and a half hour drive across to Huntingdon, the sun was more or less shining when we arrived at TRGB’s premises, though the forecast threatened rain for the return journey.   The first and only real problem of the day came when we realised that the colour of Denise’s jacket clashed violently with that of the car – fortunately she has more than one jacket, otherwise a full re-spray might have been on the cards!PENT9426

TRGB had kindly erected the hood for us in anticipation of the weather, but they also advised that we do without the side-screens until such time as we get used to the car.   As we drove the 125 miles home I thought for a little while that we might avoid getting rained upon, but this is England in April and sure enough the heavens opened big time as I took my turn behind the wheel down the Fosse Way.  I’m sure that the hood must have offered some protection from the elements, though the rain seemed to have no difficulty in getting me thoroughly soaked and cold in  record time.  That said, driving the TR3 is just so much fun that you can’t stay miserable for too long when you’re behind the wheel, no matter what the weather has in store.

We spent much of today cleaning and finding our way around the car.  Considering that most of the rebuild seems to have been done around 18 or so years ago it really is in great condition, though there again perhaps that’s not too surprising when you consider that the car has only done about 5,000 miles since most of the work was completed.  Anyway, the bottom line is that our third Triumph is now firmly ensconced as one of the family – all we have to do now is find somewhere to keep it!

Down Memory Lane

As Saturday dawned bright and moderately warm we decided to drop the top on the Z3 and drive down to Calne to take a look at the Atwell Wilson Motor Museum which sits on the outskirts of the town.  With probably no more than half a dozen other visitors in the building it wasn’t exactly crowded, and it was nice to be able to get up close and personal with some of the exhibits.  They have an ‘eclectic’ range of vehicles on display , ranging from the 1920s through to the eighties and most are in pretty good condition.

The Atwell Wilson Motor Museum

The only Triumph car on display was a Dolomite Sprint, which was apparently on loan from the Heritage Collection at Canley, though there was a nice little Standard from the late 20’s and a 1920 Triumph 550 motorcycle – which by all accounts was the model that gave Triumph their first success before they went into car manufacturing.

Triumph 550 Motorcycle
Apart from the tyres this is exactly the state it was found in after sitting in a garden for 80 years.

On our way home we stopped at Avebury to get a meal in the pub and then walk round the Stone Circle.  Fascinating place (the Circle, not the pub) and much more accessible than Stonehenge – well worth a visit.

Avebury Stone Circle
I’m pretty sure they didn’t have colour film in Neolithic times!

 

 

 

Triumphant Again!

Now, I’m not yet admitting that its become an obsession, but owning four ‘classic’ cars, three of which happen to be Triumphs, should, I have to agree, probably be thought of as something more than an ‘ enthusiasm’.  Of course, on the positive side, with interest rates routinely running some way below inflation, buying cars that we can enjoy and which will hopefully increase in value could be thought of a sensible investment.  On a rather more negative note, finding somewhere to keep these investments warm and dry is starting to prove a bit of a problem.  No matter ….. as Wilkins Micawber so prophetically said,  ……..’something will turn up’!

In point of fact this latest extravagance is really an early BIG birthday present for ‘er indoors’; and as Denise has promised that she’s going to be responsible for everything short of major repairs and maintenance,  I probably won’t even get around to opening the bonnet from time to time.  Fat chance!  Just look at the little beauty!

1960 Triumph TR3A, originally exported to the USA before being re-imported and completely rebuilt in the early nineties.  Around 75,000 probably genuine miles on the clock.  Standard other than the change to an overdrive gearbox (apparently from a TR4), the engine capacity increased to 2.2 litres (as per the TR4), and the addition of a rollbar, full harness seatbelts and Minilite type wheels.  The missing bumpers will be replaced with stainless steel versions as part of the purchase.

Forgive me father, for its been three months since my last Blog

No excuse really, other than whenever my conscience has told me to sit down and update the blog there always seems to have been a valid reason/excuse for not doing so.  Its not as though we’ve been sat at home twiddling our thumbs without having lots to report – such as buying (another) Triumph, a fun trip to Belgium (not a phrase that would readily spring to mind), an enjoyable reunion with old friends and a few days camping on the South Coast, to name but a few.

Anyway, with that confession out of the way I can now hopefully get back to reporting the odd short snapshot of Ewbank life as and when interesting things happen that liven up our otherwise bleak and empty lives……………..

The latest addition to the motoring stable is a 1975 Triumph Stag bought at auction back in May.  With the rebuild of the GT6 more or less complete it started to dawn on me that, lovely little car though it may be, driving the tiny Triumph for longer distances was going to be a less than comfortable experience – the fact that I need a Stannah Stairlift to extract myself from the driver’s seat says it all.  Despite their early reputation of abysmal reliability I’ve always liked the lines of the Michelotti designed Stag, and the noise of that Triumph V8 is just wonderful – so when three cars came up for auction at Brightwells back in May I decided to take a look.

Examining the three offerings was like a scene out of Goldilocks and the Three Bears: one was a complete wreck and would obviously take years to restore, the next was low mileage and therefore likely to be expensive …… and the last, it seemed to me, was ‘just right’.  The rest, as they say, is history; six days later the car was sat on the drive at home with a brand new MOT and ready for some serious tinkering.

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