After enjoying the members meeting at Goodwood, I messed around tidying up a few bits and pieces on Jagger, nothing too serious just a bit of fettling in preparation for our first rally of the season organised by our friends at Brooklands.
On the April morning of the rally it was quite cold so out came the WW2 flying jacket to keep me warm. When we arrived at the starting point, Henfold Lakes near Dorking, we were handed our route book and after enjoying a breakfast roll and cup of coffee the briefing took place before we set off for a drive in the beautiful Surrey, Sussex and Kent countryside.
Our destination was Penshurst Place and gardens in Kent, a 14th century medieval house which some of us explored before enjoying lunch in the on site coffee shop. In the afternoon we took a leisurely drive to a Brooklands favourite haunt, Ghyll Manor where they serve the most magnificent scones and cakes for that very British affair - afternoon tea.
Some of the cars at the starting point Henfold Lakes.
And here we are parked up at Penshurst Place.
The navigator and my aforementioned flying jacket keeping me warm.
Not long after this get together we met again with our Brooklands chums for our first trip across the channel in 2016 to attend the 25th running of the Laon Historique, something which had been described to me as a must do event.
Because our bookings were made quite late all the hotels nearby were full and so we stayed around 30 miles from the city, which was no big deal. Twenty five Brooklands members brought their cars along which made this the largest contingent for a overseas trip to date. We travelled by ferry and one by one the cars arrived at the hotel, some which I recognised and some I had never seen before.
After a night’s rest we ventured into the town of Laon to get our registration packs for the day long rally which had more than 1200 cars participating. The rally was so large it was split into two groups, those in group A drove the route clockwise and those in group B anti clockwise. Needless to say it was complete chaos at the start, which took almost an hour to get away from due to mass congestion caused by cars heading off in all directions.
When we finally escaped the town we enjoyed beautiful and typical french countryside. At one point all cars had to drive through a stream and if that was not bad enough both groups of cars met each other on a single track road with no passing points - something I was none too thrilled about and leaving me to think we will not be returning to participate in this event again.
We awoke the following morning not inclined to venture back to Laon for the gathering in the town and instead drove to Le Touquet where a few miles from the town we found a beautiful chateau to rest our weary heads for the night before our journey home the following day. The kind owners upgraded our room and gave us a safe place to park the E-Type which was much appreciated and left us in no doubt that Château de Montreuil is a place we will definitely return to.
Some of the Brooklands members cars parked up at the hotel.
The start of the rally and we attempt to leave Laon, all 1200 of us!
The beautiful Château de Montreal.
In July we returned to France to attend the biannual Le Mans Classic travelling with our friends Bob and Ann who brought their kids along. Our convoy consisted of a Mini Cooper, Bob’s E-Type and my Mercedes 300SL and we stayed at the Ibis Hotel, a short tram ride from the circuit.
Two years ago we did what most people do when they go to Le Mans, we camped but her indoors was not in the least bit amused with the camping experience and I was under strict instructions that if we were to return to Circuit de la Sarthe, we would not be sleeping in a field! Just as well really because as it turned out, the weather was scorching hot and it must have been uncomfortable trying to sleep in a tent in those conditions.
It’s not only me who thinks Le Mans is a magical place, whenever one walks around the place it seems like everyone in attendance is a Brit and most of the classic cars I saw had UK plates. There are a huge amount of top quality cars in attendance, not only from the participants but also from the spectators and below are some of the fine examples I saw.
Ever seen one of these before?
One of the earliest cars in existence, a Simplex.
I've yet to see this many ladies surround Jagger........
Unfortunately over the past couple of years Jagger has picked up one or two scratches and stone chips, nothing too serious but enough for me to want them sorted. Soon after we got back from Le Mans I drove to Lee Ridley’s paint shop. As I turned into the yard I could hardly believe my eyes, sitting there was the black E-Type I saw when I first visited Lee - this is the car I mentioned at the beginning of this story which looked so stunning it convinced me that Lee was the right man to restore Jagger back to his former glory. Just like me, the owner had returned his car to Lee for a minor touch up, what a coincidence!
A week has passed by and today is the day to return to the paint shop and collect my pride and joy. On arrival no surprises were in store because Jagger was sitting in the yard looking just as stunning as the day I came to collect him when the restoration had been completed a few years ago. I cannot speak too highly of Lee, he is such a skilled perfectionist who does a fantastic job.